The mumblings of a Christian autistic husband, dad, IT guy and amateur radio operator - Will Brokenbourgh / AF7EC
He isn't some ancient person who only lived a long time ago. He isn't dead. He's not about stained-glass windows. He's not about religion. Nope. Jesus is a loving, understanding rescuer, and he wants to rescue everyone!
If you know Jesus, you already know about, and celebrate, the freedom he gives you. If you don't know Jesus, read on...
What's the big deal about Jesus?
He's about breaking chains -- your chains!
"Why would Jesus give a hoot about me?" you might ask. It's because he truly and honestly loves you! Why does he love you? Because he created you. Jesus is God. Yeah, really! :-)
Do you know what true love is? It's not some warm fuzzy feeling inside of your heart when you see your girlfriend. It's not the "sweep a girl off her feet" romance that TV and movies portray. It's definitely not feeling gratified after a one-night-stand. Jesus gave us true love. He allowed himself to be beaten, tortured and killed for you. Yep, little ol' you. "Why would he do that?" you ask. Because he's crazy in love with you!
Reasons why you think you can't be loved by Jesus
"I'm not worth anything!"
You ARE worth a lot to God! You might see yourself as poor, broke, unloveable or 'unlucky'. You might be in the middle of dreaming up schemes to make money, you might be breaking the law, you might be using drugs or alcohol to help yourself get by in a cruel world. You might be fooling around with a man or woman without being married. You may think you've never amounted to anything so why would it be different now. But you know what? God sees you for who can be, instead of who you are now! You don't need to have it all together in order to know Jesus -- he will meet you where you are, if you really want him.
"I'm too busy for all of that"
Yeah, life can be busy. Bills to pay, kids to raise, deadlines to meet and deals to make. Sure, everyone needs a way to make money so they can afford to live. But here's the cool thing about Jesus -- the closer you get to him, the more you learn about him, the more time you give to him -- he often gives back two, three or ten times more of what you gave him! I'm not kidding! Long-story-short -- the more time you make for Jesus, the less hectic life seems.
"Jesus ain't real!"
He most definitely is! There is historical proof that Jesus lived among us 2,000+ years ago. There are also historical accounts of him being killed on the cross. If you don't believe Jesus is God, then that's something you'll need to work out with him personally, as I'm not going to spend a lot time trying to convince you. People who live to prove Christians wrong sometimes have a powerful, and personal encounter with Jesus that sets them straight.
"I went to church in the past and it wasn't for me"
"People at church hurt me deeply and I've never been back"
Guess what? I had a similar experience myself. I was raised in a church that had very different beliefs compared to 'mainstream' Christian churches. The people, and the stuff taught at that church just didn't sit right with me, so I couldn't wait to get away from it when I was older. Problem is, sometimes we "use a nuclear bomb to kill a fly" and overreact to 'church hurt'. God is perfect, but people are not, and it's hard to avoid people when getting together to worship and learn about God. People can really mess you up, but it shouldn't stop you from having a relationship with God.
It's too bad, but there are some people who act mean, judgmental and 'holier than thou' in churches all over the world. It stinks and it can cause problems with people who are really there to get closer to Jesus. All human beings have attitude and personality quirks, and that often can frustrate or upset other people. In short, don't give up on Jesus just because a person made you mad, hurt your feelings or made you feel 'less than' -- ignore those folks' bad behavior and instead just focus on Jesus himself.
"Maybe when I get my life together, then I'll look into Jesus"
What goal do you need to reach before you 'have it together'? What things in life do you need to accomplish before you'll really go after Jesus? It's a lie, my friend. The devil, Satan, does exist, and he does nothing but lie, lie, LIE to people about God, and themselves. I don't think anyone ever really 'gets it together' in their lifetime. We'll always have that one thing we want to change about ourselves, that one skeleton in our closet we need to clean out or that one event in our past we need to mend. Jesus wants you right now, right in the middle of your mess! As long as you're willing to turn away from the junk that's messing you up and follow Jesus instead, he doesn't care if you're a drug addict, a prostitute or a thief. He looks passed all of your faults and looks at your heart. If you have a heart that longs for real, true love, Jesus will meet that need.
"All that Jesus stuff is too restricting!"
"I don't see why I need Jesus. I'm doing what I want, and life's great!"
Every thing that pushes us away from Jesus clamps onto us with a big, fat boat-anchor-like chain. Living with a boyfriend and having sex without being married? That's not freedom, that's a chain. Thinking about getting high after work instead of hanging out with your kids? Another heavy, rusty chain, gripping your arms and legs tight. Stealing stuff from your parents, neighbors, stores or job? Another chain, another thing pulling you down.
After my unhappy experience with a church when I was young, I avoided anything to do with God like the plague. In fact, I rebelled and went the complete opposite direction from God. I'd have girlfriends and do whatever I wanted with them. I experimented with drugs and got drunk all the time. I started smoking, and broke traffic laws left and right. I was arrested and spent time in jail. I stole from my employer and would get high almost every night after work. I'm sure there are other things I did that made God pretty sad, too.
The point is, even doing whatever I wanted with whoever I wanted and with whatever I wanted, that empty spot inside of me still never got satisfied. No amount of porn, alcohol, sex, food, shopping or successful business deals will truly satisfy you -- only the pure and powerful love of Jesus can do that.
My marriage suffered and eventually I lost contact with some of my kids because of my 'do whatever I want' lifestyle. Through every nasty moment of my past life, I thought "Wow, this is living! I don't have to do what God wants, I'm doing what I want!" Yeah, I thought I was showing God who the boss was, but in reality I was just heaping up a bunch of stinky trash onto my life and getting bound by yet chain after chain. It took a family member being shot to death to get me seeking God, and ever since then, Jesus has been breaking chain after heavy chain in my life!
Jesus wants your heart, right now. If you haven't given your heart to him, what's holding you back? Are you afraid of what your friends or family will say? Worried about what your co-workers may think? It's not an easy decision, but choosing Jesus is the right choice! Look, you don't need a degree in Christianity and don't need to know how or why God works, all you need to do is trust him. It can be a scary first step, but once you overcome your fear, Jesus begins to pour his love, healing and power into your life, and he really does make a difference!
If your heart is broken, if you feel lonely, if life just seems like an empty joke to you, Jesus can fix that. Have you been looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend for the longest time, but no one seems to be the right match? Make Jesus your significant other and see what happens! Does life seem meaningless to you and you feel like ending it would be best for everyone? Just -- don't do that. Instead, ask Jesus to help you. You don't have to be a professional prayer, just find a moment alone, focus on him and ask him to help you. You don't have to make grand speeches or quote every book of the Bible, just say "Jesus, help me!".
How can I choose Jesus?
You could be a billionaire, have all kinds of money and power, but still be poor. You could be a successful executive, manager or business owner yet still be lacking. It doesn't matter if you're the wealthiest person on the planet, or the poorest...EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US NEED JESUS! Jesus is the only one who can fill that empty spot inside us! You could be a great person, be thoughtful and kind to others, but if you aren't living a life for God, all of your kindness and good deeds are wasted. From the President of the USA to a mass murderer in prison...we ALL need Jesus!
The great news is, it's not hard to become a Christian. Some religious people may tell you otherwise, but it's NOT hard to become a Christian. Want to know how it's done? Here it is:
• Decide that you WANT a change for the better in your life, and that you want to stop living an empty, meaningless life.
• Decide that you WANT a close relationship with God, who is your Creator.
• Decide in your heart AND your mind that you WANT to give up the
wrong people and things in your life and walk the right way...right behind
Jesus. Make no mistake, trying to live a life of sin AND also trying to
live a life for God are totally incompatible and can cause you to fail.
What's a sinful life? Most people already know in their hearts if they're living a sinful life, but the big ones are:
- Having sex when you're not married
- Living a homosexual lifestyle
- Living a life of stealing, swindling, killing, abusing, molesting or lying
- Being constantly mean, rude, uncaring or abusive
- Actively cheating on your wife or husband
- Practicing witchcraft (card or palm-reading, making curses or spells, using crystals)
- Uncontrolled / untreated drug or alcohol abuse.
If you are living a life where you are doing those kinds of things, or any thing that hurts or damages yourself or others...that's a sinful life. Hey, Christians make mistakes and do sinful things from time to time, but the difference is that we don't willingly keep on doing it, and we're forgiven thanks to Jesus dying on the cross for us.
• Make sure you are willing to commit your life to Jesus.
If you really want to be a Christian, you must make sure that you are ready to be a full-time Christian...not just when it's convenient for you. Being a full-time Christian means giving ALL of your life and ALL of your heart to God, not just on Sunday! That doesn't mean you have to quit your job and become a minister, it doesn't mean you have to be at church every day and night, it doesn't mean you can't have fun with your family, it just means that you have willingly given your heart to God, that you're living for him and not yourself. That might sound scary, but take it from a twenty-plus-year Christian, it's not scary at all, it's freeing! It just means that you will need to 'let go' and let God into your heart, your life, your work, and your circumstances.
• When you've made the wholehearted decision to leave an empty, meaningless and sinful life behind and want to truly follow Jesus, talk to God, either in your head or out loud and tell him the following, sincerely and honestly:
"Heavenly Father, I know that in the past I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I really am truly sorry. I am now ready to turn away from my past sinful life and turn to you. Please forgive me, and please help me from sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule in my heart starting this very moment. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen."
After praying that prayer, if you believe in your heart that you've been reborn into a new life in Jesus, you'll want to let the world know about your choice. How? New Christians in the first-century were baptized by total immersion in water, so why not do that too? It can be in a pool, a horse-trough, a deep bathtub, a lake, a (safe) river or even the ocean...being baptized by other Christians tells the world, and God, that you're serious about this. If you can't be baptised right away, don't let that stop you from becoming a Christian. Just stay strong in Jesus and eventually you'll get a chance to be baptised later down the road.
That's it! You don't have to learn a secret handshake, you don't have to complete some extensive Bible-study or training program, nor do you need to learn how to dance on your head to become a Christian, you just need a loving and faithful heart, a heart that wants a total and complete relationship with God that can only happen through a life in Jesus.
I'm a Christian, now what?
Satan (the devil) is very real and always tries his best to mess up, kill and destroy Christians -- both new and old. Many people give their hearts to Jesus, but unfortunately some people are either tricked by Satan or are lured back into the empty life they came from. Let me tell you this, though...Satan cannot take away anything that God has given you! Satan makes a loud noise and only gets his way by tricking and lying to people, but he is already marked for destruction, so he's trying to drag as many people as he can with him. Even though we are Christians, we still struggle with our sinful nature, and Satan tries to get his foot in the door that way. Lives are lost and destroyed every moment by Satan's schemes, but he cannot take Jesus away from you unless you let him.
The spiritual world is real
There is a whole other world out there that is invisible to us. It's a spiritual place where many things take place 'behind the scenes' from the familiar visible world we know. Just like the wind, radio waves and smells, this spiritual place is invisible, but very real! There are major events that happen there and they affect life in this visible world. The devil and his demons do their hardest work in the invisible world, trying to whisper lies to us about ourselves and God at every opportunity. You probably will not hear these whispers with your ears, but instead will 'hear' them as thoughts. Whatever the devil or his demons tell you is really the opposite of the truth! If they tell you you're a loser or that God doesn't love you, believe the opposite! As my wife often says, when it comes to the devil, you have to live in 'opposite land'. Be on-guard for the devil's schemes in the visible as well as the unseen spiritual world.
Here are just a few things to remember that will help you keep the devil at bay and help you remain a strong Christian:
Trust completely in God! After some non-Christians find out you have made the choice to follow Jesus and you have turned from the sinful life you lived before, they may joke about it, they may laugh or even give you a hard time about it. Don't doubt your decision! Jesus says in the Bible that people may treat you poorly after you choose him...don't let this shake your trust in God. Unfortunately, the devil uses people in our lives, such as family members, friends and co-workers to try to make us doubt and trick us out of our reward. Live such a good and loving life for God that eventually you'll win those people over to Jesus too! You freely made the decision to live for God...ask him for comfort when others don't share or understand your desire for a better life.
Find the right Bible and read it every day. The Bible is God's Word and it's very important to read and understand it! The Bible is one of the many ways God 'talks' to us. :-D It's very important to find a Bible that you can easily understand. Some people have a hard time with certain translations (for example, for me and my autistic mind the King James Version is just too old-fashioned and it is extremely difficult for me to comprehend. I personally prefer more modern Bible translations like NIV [New International Version] or NLT [New Living Translation]). The Bible's message is living and real, so reading it regularly, letting scriptures live and take root in your heart and using what you've learned and applying it to your everyday life is a crucial step in staying a strong Christian.
Very important: If there's something in the Bible you don't understand or is unclear to you, seek out other Christians and get their opinion! Not understanding something you read in the Bible can be a huge way for the devil to gain a way to your heart and throw you off!
(A note to new Christians who are very new to the Bible: Christians have freedom in Jesus, so you don't have to follow the strict regulations found in the Old Testament [the part of the Bible before Jesus]. For example, it's not necessary for you to offer animal sacrifices for your sins, you don't have to eat unleavened bread [unless you want to], don't have to avoid pork and so-on. You should, however, obey the Ten Commandments, and any other law that is reinforced in the New Testament. If you're confused about any of this, seek out a mature Christian or trusted Christian leader for advice...it's best to get solid guidance than to let Satan lie to you and confuse you.)
Pray often. Prayer is our time to talk to God, and often he'll give us feedback in our Spirit through prayer, as well. You don't have to be a fancy talker, don't have to follow some set procedure to pray to God, just talk to him openly, honestly and with gratitude. Tell him how much you're grateful for Jesus, tell him how grateful you are for your home, the food in your kitchen or even something small like the good parking space you snagged at the mall today. Thank God for every good thing, and you'll grow even closer to him. Bring your troubles to him. Let me tell you, God already knows what you need, even before you ask him, but still ask him. Tell him what's bothering you. Tell him the areas you're having a hard time in. Tell him what your dreams are and tell him how much you love him.
Don't follow a ritual or a routine, make your prayers new and fresh every time you pray. You can pray out loud (in private, of course) in a closed room, outside or in your car, but if you don't have the luxury of privacy, pray silently, on the bus, at your job, wherever... God is everywhere, and shouldn't just be put in a neat little box on Sunday. Remember, be honest and confess your sins to God in your prayers. He knows everything, knows your heart and knows what you're thinking, so it's pointless to try to keep anything from him. Just let it all out, and ask God to help you deal with it.
Worship and interact regularly with other Christians. Singing spiritual songs, voicing your praise to God and learning his Word together with others in a group setting is very important. Joining a group of other Christians, such as a church or Christian fellowship is a great idea for all Christians, whether you're a new Christian or mature in Christ. Rubbing elbows with other Christians, making friends with them, having lunch or coffee with them, getting advice and having other Christians to lean on when life gets hard keeps a Christian strong.
I want to warn you, though...don't be pressured to join a church or group that makes people and people-made rituals more important than Jesus. What I mean is, a church that makes you jump through unreasonable hoops, a church that says only a leader can talk to God for you, a church that forces you to date only within that church, a church that demands a bunch of money from members or a church that requires you to do a bunch of rituals (besides taking communion or water baptism) should make you run, FAST, the other way. Don't get trapped! Jesus has given us freedom from men's rituals and religious slavery, don't be content to stay in a rebellious, confused or dying church and end up in bad spiritual shape...be on guard!
Find a church or group where you feel at peace. If the Spirit in you is warning you about a church's leaders or members going against what is in God's Word (the Bible), then either approach them with your concerns and point out any scriptures that support your concerns, or find somewhere else to worship. However, if you feel uncomfortable because other church members or leaders are encouraging you to change something about your sinful nature, don't get angry or upset like you might have in the past, instead take what you've been told and ask God about it in prayer.
Don't compare your walk with God with others. This is a tricky but important one, so let me explain. Always look to more mature and strong Christians as examples of how to live in Jesus, but don't compare your life with theirs. Just as every person has a different face, different taste in food or different shade of skin, every Christian has a different walk with God than other Christians. Everyone has their own weaknesses, own character flaws and own buttons that Satan tries to push, so don't get discouraged or disheartened if you aren't in the same place as that other brother or sister in Christ at your church.
Some Christians have a lot of money, some do not. Don't assume God is against you because you don't have as much money, don't have nice things or don't have as great a job as some other Christian. We're all different. If you were not wealthy when you became a Christian, don't get mad at God if you don't suddenly get rich. Remember, the rewards that really matter are not here on earth, but stored up in Heaven.
If you have a close relationship with God and stay faithful and obedient to him and trust him, you don't have to worry about things like money, food or rent...God will take care of that stuff if you give him the opportunity. Bottom-line: Concentrate on your own walk with God, and he will take care of your needs.
I could go on and on about how a Christian can stay strong and can keep from losing the spiritual battle we all fight everyday, but I will leave the rest of the advice for the countless men and women of God who have lived years as Christians. There are also tons of wonderful books and devotionals to help you out. Go to a Christian bookstore and look over some books you'd like to buy. Go online and find internet bookstores and check out Christian books. There is a book for just about every different spiritual need, so be patient and don't give up looking for something that will give you just the right advice!
If you've made the decision to follow Jesus and live a life for God, great! Welcome to the huge family of God! Always think about how good God is, be loving and forgiving toward others who are rude, inconsiderate or have hurt you, always seek advice from more mature Christians and keep God's Word close to your heart!