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!
What's the big deal about Jesus??
Why do I display banners all over my site about Jesus? Because I want YOU to have what I have, what my wife has and what most of my family have! :D
When you build a house, you first have to build a foundation that will securely support the house. If the foundation is weak or unstable, the house will eventually become weak and unstable too! If the foundation is strong and solid, the house has a much better chance of standing for a very long time, surviving bad weather, riding out earthquakes and so on.
Same thing with your life! If the foundation you've built your life on is shaky, unstable or doesn't exist at all, you're going to have a hard time surviving. Relying on your own strength to get through, leaning on drugs, alcohol or nicotine or relying on another person to be happy or make you feel complete are all shaky, unstable foundations.
When Jesus is the foundation of your life, you start to change for the better, and things that would have knocked you down before suddenly aren't that scary anymore.
I want you to choose Jesus as your foundation because I want you to have the close, personal relationship with God that I have access to! I don't get five dollars if you 'join up', I don't get a gold certificate or a pat on the back if you choose to follow Jesus, I'll just smile and give thanks that one more person has escaped an empty and meaningless life.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the one who wants everyone to make a 180-degree turn in their lives and follow him. When you turn away from your old ways and follow Jesus, he makes you a new person, he saves you from permanent punishment and brings you into a very close, personal and loving relationship with God! Think about it, Jesus enables you to have an intimate "first-name basis" relationship with God!
Jesus is God in the flesh. He came down from Heaven, and when the time was right, he started traveling around from town to town, performing miracles and teaching people about how to live a better life by listening to and obeying God.
During those times, a lot of religious people didn't like what Jesus had to say because his message meant freedom from rituals and harsh rules that the religious people made up. These religious people argued frequently with Jesus and wanted to kill him, and eventually they succeeded. Jesus could have commanded thousands of angels to come to his rescue, but he willingly gave up his life, he was nailed to a cross, and he died a horrible death so that you and I could have a new, and better life.
You might ask "Hey, I'm a good person, why do I need Jesus?" You may say "Man, I'm having too much fun to get into all that religious stuff!" or the ever-popular "Sorry, 'organized religion' just isn't for me". There are just as many excuses not to follow Jesus as there are reasons to follow him. Why care about Jesus? Why would you make changes in your life just to follow in Jesus' footsteps?
Simple...following Jesus is the ultimate life 'reset'...you go from alone and on your own to having access to the Creator of the universe! You gain a new big family of believers and a life after this one in Heaven. Your life becomes better with each day that you grow closer to God!
Hey, listen, 'better' doesn't always mean 'easier'...I think Christians can have it pretty hard sometimes...but when you're a Christian, you've got a loving Father who listens to your prayers, a Savior who gives you strength and a Spirit that points you in the right direction. You are no longer alone in your struggles. By choosing Jesus and becoming a Christian, there is a HUGE family of Christians all over the world who are called to love you and help you when times are tough.
Jesus willingly and freely allowed himself to die a painful and gruesome death on a wooden cross so that we can have a closer relationship with God. It's NOT some religious thing, it's a life thing, a love thing. God loves us SOOO much, y'all. His heart yearns to have a close and intimate relationship with each every one of us. We have to make a choice, though. God is all-powerful and certainly has the power to force us to worship and love him, but he won't do it. He loves us too much, and leaves the choice up to us. We have to choose to have a relationship with him.
I'm not going to preach hellfire, brimstone and gnashing of teeth to you. I AM going to tell you that if you die in this life and you aren't in Jesus, you will not be going to Heaven. Jesus says in the Bible that the only way to God, the only way to Heaven, is through him. Do you really want to spend all eternity burning, being tortured and writhing in agony? Wouldn't you rather be in Heaven, in the presence of your Creator, joyfully receiving the reward Jesus died to give all of us? Think about the most painful thing, both physically and emotionally, that's ever happened to you. Now, think about that happening to you, over and over and over again, magnified a billion times, for all of eternity? That would stink, and I don't think you want that for you, or your loved ones. The great news is Jesus rescues us from all of that! :-)
How can I choose Jesus?
Look, 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! 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 you will 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 swindling or stealing or killing or abusing or molesting or lying
- Being constantly mean, rude, uncaring or abusive
- Practicing witchcraft (card or palm-reading, making curses or spells)
- Uncontrolled/untreated drug or alcohol use.
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.
• Count the cost. 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 an almost fifteen-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 and reign 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 you've prayed that prayer, and 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 you should too. It can be in a pool, a horse-trough, a deep bathtub or even the ocean...being baptized by other Christians tells the world, and God, that you're serious about this.
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 wages serious spiritual warfare against Christians, 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 is already defeated! 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.
Here are just a few things to remember that will help you keep the devil at bay and help you remain a strong Christian:
Be confident 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.
Get a Bible and read it regularly (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 Find a Bible that you can understand and get 'fed' spiritually from. 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 Internation 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. Also, if there's something in the Bible you just don't understand, seek out other Christians and get their opinion.
(A note to new Christians who are very new to the Bible: We 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 be in the dark about something.)
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 close 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. It's best if 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 one, but 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.
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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 at Amazon or other 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!