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I have another excerpt for you today, from my book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.” It tells us that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s what you do while you are there that does.
The book reaches out to those who may be suffering from anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, self-doubt, hopelessness, and the many other usual suspects.
The book is on sale right now at this site. It sells for $19.99 in the retail stores, but on this site it is only $15.99, and the shipping has been cut in half as well. A total savings of over $6.00.
Just click on the “Bookstore,” tab at the top of this page and check it out.
Going to Church Doesn’t Make You a Christian Any More than
Going to McDonalds Makes You a Hamburger
In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
1 Corinthians 11:18–19
So many people go to church and criticize what is going on there. They think they have the perfect plan to reach out to others. They may be right in some ways, but we must never think that our ways are the only ways. God knows those who are truly members of the body of Christ and He wants those He has gifted for the task do the true leading of the church.
I have been going to church for many years. Does that make me a Christian? Some people think attending church is all you need to do to make it to heaven. The answer is, of course not.
I have seen churchgoers come to church Sunday after Sunday and then go home, tell filthy jokes to their friends, use profanity on a regular basis, and be bigoted about minority groups. Jesus would not do these things if He were on earth today. He accepted everyone—even those on the fringes of mainstream society. He would be gentle and frown on those who used language not acceptable by God’s standard.
The formula is very clear: We need to develop four habits to be a strong Christian after we have accepted Jesus into our hearts.
1. Read the Bible
3. Tithe (give back to God)
4. Fellowship with other believers
1. Read the Bible. I don’t mean scanning it for a certain verse. I don’t mean reading only the chapter the message or lesson is about. And I don’t mean reading it only when there is a crisis. I mean we need to continue to read God’s Word—every day.
I realize this may be a tough task, with all of the hustle and bustle in today’s busy world. But most of us find time to read the newspaper. (There are much more exciting stories in the Bible—and they are all true.) We should be able to read a few verses in the Bible daily to get draw closer to God. It’s all a matter of priorities.
It’s so much easier for me to remain close to God when I’m consistently reading the Bible. I’ve read it through a couple of times already and every time I read it again, I find things I hadn’t seen before.
Joining a Bible study group (Bible Study Fellowship1) has been great for me. The rewards are more than I can explain. I love sharing the verses we’re assigned to read each week. Imagine ten to twelve men/women all commenting on the same verses. The different insights help me understand what the words really mean. I enjoy the time, and I know that I have to study each week if I want to take part in the discussion. I need the commitment to study each night. It helps me to stay on task.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16–17
2. Pray. This is the close encounter with God that we need every day. I can’t emphasize this more strongly than to say that prayer works! Some people say, “I prayed for weeks, and nothing happened.” God hears those prayers. He is listening, but we must remember that God answers prayers on His timetable and not on ours. God may decide that what we’re praying for is not what He wants for us. He will answer our prayers in a way that will help us understand why He moved in the direction He did. We may see that it was good that things worked out the way they did. God loves us, and He wants the best for us. When we pray, He listens, and then He helps us out in a way that He feels is best for us.
When I prayed for God to help me write this book several years ago is just one example of how He answers our prayers.
Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.
3. Tithe. I’m the first to admit that I was very slow in getting around to tithing to God. I know that I need to give more to my church. I give every time there is an offering, but I am talking about a full commitment of giving 10% of your earnings to God each month. This is a difficult commitment for many people—me included.
God has blessed me a great deal, and I want to show Him how much I care for Him by giving back some of the money He has provided for me. (It’s all His anyway!)
I have had some very good times through tithing. When I was first married and we had some little rug rats running around the house, I tithed. It was tough because we weren’t making a lot of money back then. The amazing part of those times was that the bills still got paid and we still had money for clothes. We often got a check in the mail that we weren’t expecting. It might be a rebate or refund that we forgot was coming.
There were also times when a note with the bill said, “You may skip paying this month.” It was the timing that was wonderful. It seemed that every time we received a check, it was in the month that was very tight for us. God provided for us. He feeds even the little sparrows, doesn’t He?
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.
4. Fellowship. I feel this is the most important part of being a Christian. There was a time (before March 21st, 2001) that I didn’t think I needed to go to church to grow as a Christian. I felt that some of the so-called Christians in church weren’t Christians anyway. (You know what? That is true, but it’s not the point to me anymore.)
The point is that me, myself, and I—all three of us—need to be in church to continue to grow! It doesn’t matter if some of the members are not acting like Christians. What does matter is how I act and the state of my relationship with God. I can’t think of a better place to grow as a Christian. The lessons I learn from what I hear in the sermons are very valuable and can teach me how to cope during the next week.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Becoming a fully developed (mature) Christian takes a lot of work and effort. Try to build each one of the four aspects into your walk with God. It may take a while, but you will feel the love of God in you grow as you add each one.
Something to Ponder
Isn’t it funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe anything the Bible says?