Balloons & Paperweights (poem by me)

You were a red balloon
floating up to the sky;
I was a paperweight,
who never said goodbye.

I admired the way
you never looked back;
You admired how steadily
I stood on that stack.

I guess that’s why
God caused us to meet,
so we could see each
one of us is truly unique.

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

© 2015 Kim Bond

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Closet Atheism

JOhn

When non-believers think of Christians, we want them to think of an upstanding man or woman who loves God and exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. We do not want them to think of abortion clinic bombers or funeral picketers. When they project those qualities on us, we want to scream, “NO, I AM NOT LIKE THAT! That’s a misunderstanding.”

Now consider how Christians think of atheists. What’s popping into your mind? Is it someone ridiculing your beliefs? Blaspheming God? Suing governmental institutions to exclude every reference to God? If we do not want to be stereotyped, we should stop stereotyping atheists. After all, there are LOTS of atheists that silently and privately disbelieve in God. This is closet atheism.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn some people you assumed were Christians actually do not believe in God at all. They have not told you or anybody else because they are afraid they will be rejected or be forced to endure a long, one-sided conversion speech. If we regard and respect all of God’s creation, quiet atheists among us will be more likely to voice their opinions about God. Then, your love for them will have opened the door for an intellectual conversation about God and the Bible.

Once the closet atheists in your life feel comfortable enough to confide their lack of belief in God, you may feel privileged to have this information. Yet at the same time, you may feel too intimidated to speak openly about your faith in God. Try this:

*Serve this person. In John 13, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. If our Savior washed feet, we should never feel too superior to serve another human being. Be ready. Look and pray for opportunities to fill needs in this person’s life.

 *Share your testimony. Wait for an appropriate time in natural conversation to share the story of how God delivered you, healed you, or saved you. If you cannot think of one that applies to yourself, share the true story of what God has done in someone else’s life. Atheists depend on logic to discern whether or not your story adds up so they may explain away the truth in their own mind. That does not matter. The truth of the testimony has an anointing that went forth when you spoke it. Spiritually, Jesus is knocking on their door. It is up to them to answer or not. Just do your part and speak the truth.

 *Discuss God and the Bible. The key word here is “discuss.” In a natural conversation, bring up God and the Bible. Ask them what bothers them about Christianity. Be ready to answer according to the Bible. The fact that your answers are Biblical will not mean much to the atheist since they do not regard it as God’s Word, but you know you are speaking the truth if it is Scripturally founded. Admit you do not know all the answers. Humility is a virtue.

Do not take it personally if an atheist rejects your words. They are rejecting Christ—not you! Do not become discouraged no matter how long this atheist rejects Christ. God may be working emotional healing and/or other Christians to witness of God’s truth into that person’s life. Just keep praying for this person’s faith to be ignited. I pray you will boldly and lovingly communicate God’s invitation into His kingdom to any unbelieving people in your life.

Supposing a non-believer in your life agrees to say the sinner’s prayer with you or answers an alter call while visiting your church or somehow finds faith in God, then what? Go ahead and celebrate! Just don’t abandon them after the celebration. Take the time to disciple them. Encourage the new Christian to: 1) confess their faith publicly and become baptized by showing them what steps are necessary to become baptized, 2) attend church regularly by inviting them, 3) read their Bible by giving them one as a gift, 4) lead a holy life by being a good example.

Consider how much time Jesus spent with His disciples and how He loved them. I pray the Lord gives you the ability to disciple a new Christian in your lifetime with the heart of Jesus. Some of our best opportunities come within our own family. Take the time to disciple new Christians especially if they are your brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, and your very own kids. God bless!

PRAYER: Lord, I pray the atheists in our lives would have the courage to confess their lack of belief. I pray You would inspire us to love them the way You love us. Let them see Your glory and be saved by Christ’s blood. Thank You, Lord, that You are good to all and have compassion on Your creation. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Catholics & Protestants

jo

We may not agree with everything other Christians say or do, but I hope we can agree on this basic definition of a Christian. A Christian is someone who believes all of the following: 1) Jesus is their Savior, 2) Jesus is the Son of God, 3) Jesus died, 4) His blood paid for the sins of mankind, and 5) Jesus rose from the dead.

Once we have isolated who is a Christian, we could further organize them by details of their belief system. If someone calls themselves a Catholic, it is implied that they follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. They have usually been baptized, confirmed, and received the Eucharist in a Catholic Church. In contrast, a Protestant is any non-Catholic Christian. This includes all denominations (and non-denominational) like Baptist, Charismatic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.

The two groups have inspired a great deal of curiosity by both Christians and non-Christians. The comparison between Catholicism and Protestantism could be the contents of a thick book. Yet, even an incredibly long book would still not account for the differences in the beliefs of individuals within each group. In this short passage, we will examine classic opinions toward authority, justification, and salvation. For contrast, we will identify basic principles from the reformation period that are commonly known as the “five solas.”

First, let’s look at sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). Catholics and Protestants agree the Bible is divinely inspired sacred writing. However, Catholics depend on tradition and the Pope’s authority while Protestants trust in the authority of Scripture alone.

Secondly, consider sola fide (faith alone). Both groups will say faith is required for the justification of man to God. Catholics depend on their faith and good works for justification. On the other hand, Protestants emphasize faith alone.

Thirdly, there is sola gratia (grace alone). Protestants and Catholics both confess we are saved by grace. Yet, Catholics state grace is received through sacraments (such as the Eucharist or communion). Protestants stress grace alone.

Next, let’s look at solo Christo (Christ alone). All Christians proclaim Christ as their Savior. Still, Catholics place a higher importance on Mary mother of Jesus and the role of priests while Protestants accentuate Christ alone.

Finally, examine soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone). Both Catholics and Protestants believe the faithful ascend to heaven. Catholics have been known to esteem and call on saints in heaven for help. On the contrary, Protestants exalt the glory of God alone.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:16, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Catholics and Protestants both have strengths and a history of achievements. By looking at the fruit of each group, we can see how both groups complement each other and how we can benefit from working together for the kingdom of God.

The world is waiting and watching us. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think it is possible for us to love one another in spite of our individual beliefs.

PRAYER: Lord, we invite you into our thoughts and attitudes about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to love one another as You have loved us. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!