Once we learn something new, we quickly forget what it was like not to know it.
It doesn’t take long for someone who is new to the faith to forget what life was like before Jesus. Likewise, a person who begins attending Church quickly forgets what it was like to walk into a building for the first time.
This becomes an obstacle for Churches and individuals who want to reach new people with the message of salvation in Jesus. They approach their building and programs like everyone knows what is happening and why.
One vital step to reaching your neighbor for Jesus is to try and put yourself in their shoes.
Liking puppies is different than owning a full-grown dog.
Puppies are cute, and everyone loves them. They touch your heart with their cuddles and tiny bodies.
Dogs take work. They require food, water, vets, grooming, and walks continually.
Whenever you take on a new project for you or your children, be careful about getting into something with a limited window of instant joy and a lifetime of work. Knowing the commitment required down the road is an important factor to consider.
Responsibility and a willingness to work are essential when the cuteness is gone and things mature.
That is true in all relationships.
One of the primary definitions of a guru is a teacher with knowledge and expertise.
A guru has studied and learned everything possible about one topic. They have dedicated their lives to having knowledge that few others obtain. Then they willingly share what they have learned with others.
The trouble comes when they think their knowledge transfers to other areas.
This could be a sports star talking about politics, an actor speaking about writing, or even a preacher talking about things not found in the Bible.
Be careful whose voice you listen to for advice, teachers abound, but only a few are true gurus.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 – NIV 2011)
Some of the decisions Christians make seem crazy to people who do not follow Jesus. That is because we are focused on things that others cannot see.
Living for eternity gives you a perspective that is complicated to understand if your focus is somewhere else. And if you do follow Jesus, keep your eyes fixed on the prize no matter what anyone else says.
Some things deserve another try.
Take another taste of sushi, coffee, vegetables, dark chocolate, cheeses, or wine. Go for a brisk walk, dance, draw, paint, or try to play an instrument now that you are older. Also, consider Jesus, reading the Bible, a life of faith, and doing things God’s way.
Often our first experiences are not the best. That’s normal. Don’t let that prohibit you from returning to try them again. Many of the best things in life are acquired tastes.
There are so many things I would like to say to my former self. I could spend all day telling myself to be more humble, listen closely, cherish people, make good choices, and do a hundred other things.
But what would I want to tell my future self?
I suppose I would like to be reminded that I did my best. Based on the information I had, the resources at my disposal, and the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, I tried to use my life in the best way possible.
It is possible to look at your life filled with guilt, regrets, remorse, and a lot of “if I could do it all over again” and become depressed. I could feel like a failure because I am evaluating my past based on what I know then. The truth is that I am trying to let God guide me now. I know I am sinful and make foolish mistakes, but I really am trying to do my best.
I cannot go back and rewrite the past. So in the future, I hope I can remember that while I made mistakes, God was still working on me and through me.
In my part of the country, it doesn’t take long for the yellow flower of dandelions to spread across an entire lawn. The puffy white seeds are blown easily across the yard, where they catch root and sprout another plant.
I wish to live in a world where God’s love and good deeds spread just as quickly.
Sure, not everything will take root, but if we spread enough gospel seed, it won’t take long until we change the whole look of the landscape.
All positive change starts with a decision.
We can slide into bad situations. It is a slow fade into poor choices. One compromise leads to another and another until we are a long way from where you want to be. No one decides they want to be fat. It just happens one meal and one snack at a time.
Now sometimes, our decisions do not translate into actions. We have a goal or a dream, but we are unwilling to pay the price to make it happen.
Still, all positive change starts with a decision. There comes a time when we set our mind to go in a new direction, start behaving differently or accept a truth, and everything flows from that point. A choice should lead to one action and then another, and you can move anywhere.
What choice do you need to make today?
It is time to stop wavering and move in the direction God wants you to go and become the person he desires.
The first piece of information you hear about something becomes the most formative in your mind. A child is told something, and the blank slate of their mind will judge everything against that information for the rest of their life.
This can be as simple as don’t hit girls to something more complex like how the earth was created. We make up our minds, and then, whether we admit it or not, we judge every new piece of information against the original teaching.
Once you understand this concept, it will help to explain so many things to you. This is why dysfunctional families continually repeat the cycle of dysfunction. It is because this is how ordinary people behave in their minds. It also explains why changing someone’s mind about almost any topic is difficult. Their views are set, and they have years of experience that informs them they are correct.
The application of this idea is significant for parents in two ways. First, this is why every parent needs to be teaching their children, along with all the children they encounter, about God and his word. They need to give the information first. And if parents do not know enough, they need their children involved in numerous activities and ministries at the Church to teach them.
Second, parents and church members must discuss deep and complex topics with young Christian people. Otherwise, they will go to college, and someone will talk to them about these subjects and capture their mind with unchristian teaching.
The old saying is “first in wins.” That means the first person to get information from someone will always be the most significant influence. They have won the battle for the mind. So as a Christian, we need to ensure that we are working to be first in everything possible.
I believe that most humans are good people. They want the best for themselves and others without hurting anyone. And here, in a small midwestern town, this is evident everywhere.
People work hard, try to have a loving marriage, raise their kids to be nice, and are kind to their neighbors. Most of the people in my town are good people or “the salt of the earth,” as some will say.
The next natural step is to attend Church occasionally and add a little Jesus to your life. That makes your in-laws, wife, kids, and preacher happy. And when you die, you can go to heaven.
Unfortunately, reading through the gospels about the life and teachings of Jesus makes it hard to maintain this concept. Jesus never wants to be a part of our lives. Instead, he wants us to follow him completely. We are to take up their cross daily and do things that will go against our natural inclinations.
Being a Christian is never about adding a little Jesus to an already good life.
So let me ask you this simple question as a test. How would your life be different if you did not follow Jesus? How would things change if you were not a Christian? Would there be any difference beyond not being in Church occasionally? If not, maybe you have just added a little Jesus to make a few people happier with you.