Sunday Blog

Why do Christians fast?

Why do Christians fast?

Have you ever fasted before? Maybe your church does something like 21 days of prayer and fasting every year. A common question tho is “why do we fast” and also how do you fast? Because lets be honest, I get hangry if I just miss one meal.

Well, we see fasting throughout Scripture as a really good thing for us to do. It’s never commanded, but it’s pretty clear that there are a lot of benefits to actually fasting, especially before really important decisions because it allows you to clear your mind and focus solely on Jesus and hearing the voice of God. Which is what Christian fasting really is. It isn’t necessarily to starve ourselves from food, the main focus is to shift our focus completely 100% on God instead of fulfilling our personal fleshly desires. It’s about becoming more like Jesus and more dependent on the Holy Spirit. So if you’re fasting from food, the time that you would normally eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, should be spent with Him, through prayer, worship, or reading the Bible.

Now there are a few different types of fasting. The first one is a food fast for a certain amount of time where you only drink liquids. If you want to do this I would suggest talking to your doctor first to make sure that you’re ok to go an extended amount of time without food. Another type of fast that I suggest is a Daniel Fast. Which comes from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament where he only ate vegetables for 3 weeks straight. This type of fast is limited to vegetables, fruits, and grains. The third type of fast that I see a lot is a fast from TV or social media. And instead of spending time scrolling through IG, you’re spending time scrolling through Scripture.

So, to recap those three: Complete food fast, Daniel Fast, or media fast.

Now if you’re going to do a food fast, I have some tips. That also apply to the others as well.

Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal.
Continue to drink water to stay hydrated. While some individuals in the Bible fasted from both food and water, this choice can be dangerous if you’re not experienced with fasting or haven’t consulted a medical professional.
If you’re accustomed to drinking caffeine, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake for a few days before you fast or you may suffer headaches.
Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals, including raw foods before and after.
Only tell people if you have to, we aren’t supposed to make a scene out of it. Matthew 6:16-18 says, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Make a firm and prayerful commitment before you begin that you can remember while you’re fasting. Your commitment to fast is between you and God, so be sure to make a sincere and wholehearted commitment.
Consciously reflect on scripture and your experience. Your physical response will often reveal spiritual truths.

So those are my top 7 tips on fasting. By focusing your attention of Christ instead of the world, you are bound to become more like him and have clarity on whatever change or decision you are fasting over. I pray that this has helped and you better understand how and why we fast as Christians.

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What is spiritual warfare?

What is spiritual warfare?

A topic you may hear discussed in Christian settings, depending on which denomination you spend time around, is spiritual warfare and the fact that there is a real spiritual battle taking place all around us between good and evil.

John 3:8 says, “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. And once you and I became believers, that’s one of our roles here on earth as well. To destroy the works of the devil. Because the truth of the matter is that he will do anything possible to prevent us from moving forward with God’s plan for our lives and those around us. There are seasons where it may seem like all of hell has broken loose, but we can be confident that if we learn to press on and fight against it, we will be rewarded in the end.

One thing to note is that the more you fight for God, the more you are doing for the kingdom, the greater opposition you will face, but that means there’s even greater potential for fruit and victory once you break through. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Anytime we step out to follow God or lead others to follow God, we can expect a little spiritual warfare. But the cool thing is that the battle can be won!

So, how can we fight and win the spiritual battle? Here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Avoid isolation. The first thing that most of us want to do when going through a spiritual battle is to isolate ourselves from others, but that’s never a good idea. Run to others that can help you in the fight.
  2. Pray. We have a God that loves us and wants to meet our needs. Often, we’re not equipped for the battle because we fail to go to the source of power. Trust God and lean on Him and He will give you strength.
  3. Claim the promises of God. God has never made a promise that He did not keep. Find His promises in Scripture and claim them when the road ahead is rocky.
  4. Confess your sin. If there is sin in your life you need to confess to God and turn away from it. Not only will sin keep us from hearing the voice of God, but it will give the enemy something to hang onto in the fight against us.
  5. Resist temptation. We often fail right here. The attack comes and we give up because we somehow believe there is no hope. If we trust in the power of God, the enemy will run.
  6. Avoid compromise. For some reason, this is easier said than done. Stay away from things and people that cause you to stumble. You are not strong enough. You are not the exception. Stay away. This includes people who are not necessarily sinful but who cause you to be discouraged.
  7. Claim the victory. The great thing about being a Christian is that we can have confidence in the victory because it has already been won! Stop looking for the victory and start living in response to it.
  8. Do the right thing. Knowing what is right is good but doing what is right is better. Do what you know is right whether you feel like it or not. When you feel the least like doing the right thing, that is when you need it most.
  9. Get some rest. Both spiritual and physical fatigue have the potential to cloud our judgment. We are vulnerable when we are tired. Sometimes the best thing that you can do is get along with God and His Word and get a good night of sleep.
  10. Praise God for His goodness. God has been so good to us! When we begin to praise Him for His many blessings in our life we cannot help but be encouraged.

So those are my top 10 tips on how to fight and win the spiritual battle going on around us and coming against us when we are spreading the kingdom. I pray that helps!

Peace.

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Is the Bible true?

Is the Bible true?

Is the Bible true and reliable? Is it really God’s Word?

If you believe that it is then we should be studying it daily and living out all of its teachings. But what makes us believe in it fully? Why have so many millions or billions of people changed their lives around because of the words inside this book? It’s fascinating isn’t it?

Well when we look at the Bible, one of the coolest things is the unity throughout. From the first page of Genesis to the last page of Revelation, the content and thoughts inside are all consistent. Which is incredible because it was written over the course of 1500 years by 40 authors in 3 different languages.

We believe the Bible to be God’s Word. Now it didn’t fall from the sky or anything crazy like that. We believe that the Holy Spirit empowered the authors of the Bible to write God’s thoughts. It wasn’t a weird thing at all. The authors knew that they were writing, knew what they were writing, and knew why they were writing it, it just so happens to be that they were led by the Spirit in the writing and they were sharing God’s actual thoughts.

One of the coolest things we see throughout Scripture is all of the prophecies relating to Israel and mankind as a whole. Super detailed. And a bunch of the stuff has already happened. Like hundreds of prophecies about Jesus that were actually fulfilled during his life. Looking at where he was born, how he would die, that he would rise again, the list goes on and on. It’s nuts.

But how do we know that things within the text weren’t changed over time? Well that’s where archaeology comes into play and how the text has spread. the Bible actually has more historical information on the ancient world than any other book. Even if you just use it as a history book it answers a lot of questions. But obviously we believe that it’s much more than a history book. There are over 5,000 manuscripts of scripture that has been found over the years. And in 1947 archaeologists found what’s called the Dead Sea Scrolls that contained a bunch of manuscripts that were 1000 years older than any that we had before then. And what’s even crazier is that there was a 99.5% accuracy between those and the others we had. And really the only errors or differences were sentence structures or misspelled words. The thoughts were identical.

Another thing when looking at the reliability of the Bible is Jesus. Was he a real person and did he actually do what the Bible says?

The answer is yes. We have writings from non-Christian, unbiased historians like Josephus and Tacitus that talk all about Jesus. Who he was, what he did, his death, everything. And they had no reason to aside from documenting history. So Jesus was for sure real, what makes you a Christian is whether or not you believe that he rose again and was actually the Messiah, which I definitely do.

There is no book like the Bible. It’s estimated to have 5 billion copies in print. Been translated into hundreds of languages. And the content is just as true today as it was back then.

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How to read the Old Testament

How to read the Old Testament

So, how do you read the Old Testament? Especially when there are all of these weird things like laws and killing animals and prophecies and everything. Does it even relate to today? Can we apply it at all?

Well in other videos we will look deeper into things like the sacrificial system and the difference between Old and New Testament prophecy, but for now I think it makes the most sense to go through the layout of the Old Testament and show the differences between our Bible today and the Hebrew Bible.

First off, if you didn’t know, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and actually all of the books in the Old Testament make up the Hebrew Bible. The main difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was their messiah so they’re still waiting for him to come, but it’s the same God. We just believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

One important thing to note is that the Bible was meant to be understood as a whole. We should be reading it book by book in order to understand first how each verse relates to the book and then from a big picture perspective, how each book relates to the complete Bible. We need to study the history behind each book too because that will help us understand the content even more. Remember that the Bible is a history book. These are real stories that happened to real people in the real world, just a long time ago.

If you’ve tried to read the Old Testament before, you probably noticed that once you hit the prophetic books you got lost and it stopped making sense. Well that’s because the Christian Bible today is based off of what’s called the Septuagint, the Greek translation, and people that were in charge of organizing the layout changed it up a little bit from the original Hebrew version. So in the Bible Study you’ll see that our plan is more chronological so when you’re studying the books they make more sense.

In the Hebrew Bible it’s split into 3 clear sections. You have the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

The Law or the Torah is the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. Here we learn about Creation and the Fall of Man. We meet Abraham and Sarah and learn about their 12 sons. We follow the Israelites into slavery in Egypt and meet a man named Moses who actually sets the people free and is their fearless leader, bringing them to the Promised Land.

The second section of the Old Testament is the Prophets, which is split into two groups: the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets. The Former Prophets begins with a man named Joshua leading the Israelites, he was trained by Moses so they were in good hands. Over time tho, Israel began to fall apart and head towards destruction. We learn about that in the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.

And the second grouping is the Latter Prophets. They contain 3 large books and 12 “minor prophets” or shorter books. The big ones were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. And the minor ones were Hosea, Joel, Amos, a guy named Obadiah, and Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These books are also all about the destruction of Israel and their time in exile.

Then the third second section of the Bible is the Writings. Where we have poetic books like Psalms, Proverbs and Job. There are the scrolls: Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. The story of Daniel. And then a few historical books: Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

So to recap, we have the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Your Bible most likely has them a little out of order, but if you watch our other video on the timeline of the Bible you’ll be able to see where each book fits in history. And once you understand that, it will make a whole lot more sense.

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Top 10 "Did you knows" about the Bible

Top 10 "Did you knows" about the Bible

This week we are going to go a little lighter than normal and we are going to look at my top 10 “Did you knows” about the Bible.

Number one, it took over 1,000 years to complete the Old Testament. From around 1446 BC to about 430 BC.

Number two, contrary to the majority of Bibles today, the first Bibles didn’t have chapters or verses. A lot of them were just letters, which is also why I always suggest studying entire books instead of picking random verses out.

Speaking of Bibles, the smallest Bible is smaller than the tip of a pen.

Number four, the Bible is made up of about 40 different authors in total.

And there are over 6,000 prophecies throughout scripture and there were hundred of prophecies about Jesus’ first coming that all came true during his time on earth. And there’s far more prophecies for his second coming, which is pretty cool.

Number six, the world’s most “stolen book” is actually the Bible.
And number 7, the Bible has sold more copies than any other book in history. Since there are so many translations and printings, it’s estimated to have 5 billion copies in print. It’s been translated into 349 languages and 2,123 languages have at least one book of the Bible in that language, according to Guinness World Records. Whoah.

For number 8, Amen is the last word of the Bible. It’s done. It’s complete. We consider the Bible to be a closed canon, which means no books or letters can be added to it.

Number 9, the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, which says, “Jesus wept”. I love that because so simply it shows the human side of Jesus and I know it’s comforting for a lot of us to know Jesus dealt with the same feelings we may be going through.

And lastly, number 10, I love this one, there are a total of 365 verses that tell us not to fear. That could be broken down to every day of the year. Pretty cool. So no matter what you’re going through, chase after God’s promises for your life, because he wants you to thrive.

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Difference between Calvinism and Arminianism

Difference between Calvinism and Arminianism

Ok we don’t normally get too deep doctrinally, but I thought having a basic understanding of Calvinism and Arminianism is important. Granted what I’m going to share isn’t super deep, you can do much more research on this topic, but knowing which camp your doctrine falls into is important on how you read the Bible and evangelize. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that’s ok haha we’ll get into it.

One of the most divisive debates in the history of the Church centers around the opposing doctrines of salvation known as Calvinism and Arminianism. Calvinism is based on the theological beliefs and teachings of a leader of the Reformation named John Calvin who was alive in the 1500’s, and Arminianism is based on the views of the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius. Hence Calvinism and Arminianism.

Arminius actually studied under the son in law of Calvin, but when he was diving into the book of Romans he began to doubt some Calvinistic doctrines, which led to two ways of thinking.

Calvinism centers around the supreme sovereignty of God, predestination, the total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints.

Arminianism on the other hand emphasizes conditional election based on God’s foreknowledge, man’s free will to cooperate with God in salvation, Christ’s universal atonement, resistible grace, and salvation that can potentially be lost.

I know that sounds like a lot but lets look at a few of those topics to compare them side by side.

So, first, God’s sovereignty. This is the belief that God is in complete control over everything that happens in the universe. His will is the final cause of all things. Calvinists believe God is 100% sovereign and he knows everything that will happen because he planned it. Arminians believe God is sovereign, but has limited control in relation to man’s freedom and their response to it.

Another one, Election. This is the concept of how people are chosen for salvation. Calvinists believe that God elected some people to be saved and it has nothing to do with man’s future response. Arminians believe that election is based on God’s foreknowledge of those who would believe in him through faith, which means God chooses those who chose him on their own free will, based on man’s response to God’s offer of salvation.

You see how the two sides can be quite different? Ok one more, even tho there is a bunch. We have Perseverance of the saints, which is tied to the “once saved, always saved” debate and the question of eternal security. The Calvinist says that believers will persevere in salvation because God will see to it that none will be lost. Believers are secure in their faith because God will finish the work he began. On the other hand, Arminianism says that because of free will, believers can turn away or fall away from grace and potentially lose their salvation.

Man, that was deep. That was a lot haha. At the end of the day, no matter what you currently believe, it’s important to note that all of the doctrinal points in both theological positions, Calvinism and Arminianism, have a biblical foundation, which is why the debate has been so divisive and enduring throughout church history. Different denominations disagree over which points are correct, rejecting all or some of either system of theology, leaving a lot of us believers with a mixed perspective on what we truly believe. Because both Calvinism and Arminianism deal with concepts that go far beyond human comprehension, the debate is certain to continue as human beings try to explain an infinitely mysterious God.
And I hope that shed a little light on the topic. Peace.

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What is communion?

What is communion?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we help you dive deeper in your faith.

So you may have been in church before and you’ve been a part of something called communion. Where you get in line to walk up front and you eat a little piece of bread or gluten free cracker and you drink a little cup of wine or grape juice. And the pastor quotes Jesus saying, “do this in remembrance of me”.

But why do we do that? Where did that come from?

Well we have to go back to a story in the book of Exodus, where all of the Egyptian firstborns are killed as one of the plagues sent against them, but the Israelite children are saved, as long as their parents kill a lamb and sprinkled it’s blood over their doorpost at night. God then commanded the Israelites to celebrate this every year with a feast and called it Passover. It sounds wild I know. But the amazing part is the symbolism behind it.

Fast forward almost two thousand years and Jesus is sitting in the Upper Room with his disciples and they’re actually celebrating the Passover meal. One of the first things Jesus does is break a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God and then he said “This is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Then later on in the evening he took a cup of wine and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.

And the next day, Jesus was crucified.

He broke bread to symbolize his body being broken.
And he took wine to symbolize the horrific murder that he was going to encounter.
And Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of me.” So today, whether you celebrate an actual Passover feast or if your church does communion every month, the act of breaking bread and drinking the wine is to be done in remembrance of what Jesus did for us and it’s a celebration of what it represented. The fact that he took away our sins and he will one day return again.

So it shouldn’t be a somber experience. I feel like a lot of churches make it that. It should be a celebration. We should be filled with gratitude. Jesus’ death resulted in us, you and me, living under a New Covenant. And we shouldn’t be sad because he’s no longer dead! He rose after three days and he’s coming back again in all of his glory to incorporate a new heaven and a new earth for all of us to live right alongside him.

So that is why we celebrate communion. Have the best week.

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How to read the New Testament

How to read the New Testament

If you’re just joining us for the first time, we also have a video on how to read the Old Testament, which may make sense to dive into first. Either way, today we are going to talk about how to read the New Testament.

As you know, I’m a huge proponent of reading the Bible in it’s completion and each book in its completion as well because that’s the way I think it was meant to be read, instead of a few verses from here, a few from there, a psalm, you know.

The Bible itself is a collection of 66 books that talk about God’s history and where we are going in the future. In the Old Testament, which is the first big section of the Bible, we see this back and forth of humans messing up God’s plan and then He shows up to help, then they mess up and it’s this massive cycle that they can’t seem to break. But God promises to one day send a Messiah, the Chosen One, who will change everything.

And so when we get to the New Testament, the second section, we get introduced to a man named Jesus who is this Messiah, who is actually God becoming Man. And he’s born in BC, a few years before our calendar becomes AD, and he’s born in a town called Bethlehem. Once Herod the Great died, Jesus and his parents moved back to Galilee to a town called Nazareth and we don’t really know much about his upbringing or even up until his public ministry aside from one story when he’s like 12 and sharing his wisdom in the temple. Jesus began his actual ministry around AD 26 and it lasted about 3.5 years before he was crucified for our sins, which means we are completely forgiven and cleansed if we put our faith in Jesus and walk out his instruction for our lives.

Then the rest of the New Testament shows how the church was started, what they were dealing with at the time, and it ends with a snapshot of the future, where God fully redeems humanity and the story of the Bible as a whole, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation, comes to a close and we see the big picture.

You following? So this second section, the New Testament as we call it is split into 27 books and they were all written within about 40 years of each other by Jesus’ followers. Which is far different from the Old Testament which was written in like 1500 years.

The New Testament begins with four books called the Gospels and they all tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but from different angles. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are almost identical and then John wrote his Gospel much later and filled in different stories and facts that the others may have missed. Then we have a book called Acts of the Apostles, which is all about Jesus commissioning his followers to go out into the world and spread the Gospel, the Good News. Then we have a bunch of books called the Letters of the Apostles, which were letters written directly to the churches being built at that time, and they give the churches and us new insight, direction, correction, and hope. These letters were written by a guy named Paul, a few from Jesus’ brothers James and Jude, and 5 from his followers, Peter and John. And lastly John wrote a prophetic book called Revelation, which was the last book to be written in the 90’s, not like 1990s, but like actual 90’s.

Without understanding this breakdown, you might be a little confused if you just read a random book in the New Testament, but if you can remember why each book was written and the layout, it’s going to make a lot more sense. I’d still suggest reading from Matthew through Revelation at least once before you do a deep dive at all. That way you can get the basics of New Testament doctrine and understand the big picture perspective.

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How to accept Jesus into your heart

How to accept Jesus into your heart

HOW TO ACCEPT JESUS INTO YOUR HEART

So, how do you accept Jesus into your heart? What does that mean?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

Accepting Jesus into your heart is simply accepting his way of living, loving, and leading our lives. When Jesus came to earth we believe that he was God in the flesh. 100% God and 100% man at the same time. He came and taught about the Kingdom of Heaven and showed everyone around him a new type of perspective that they weren’t used to. A new heart. This new way of thinking was the motivation behind everything that Jesus did. And as believers we are invited to live the same way.

And so when we talk about accepting Jesus, that means that we are being saved from being trapped in sin, which results in eternal punishment. And it’s that faith in Jesus that saves us by his grace. He died and rose again just to pay the price for our sins. Salvation doesn’t come from our good deeds or by doing anything special, it’s a free gift from God just because He loves us so much. We need to turn away from our sins, believe that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior, and submit to Him as Lord of our lives. By doing so, we receive salvation and eternal life.

So if you haven’t taken that next step on your faith journey, to begin a personal relationship with God where you will be saved from the consequences of your sins, I’d love to invite you to repeat this prayer with me.

“Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and Savior of the world. I believe that you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I believe that through your sacrifice, I am a new person. Forgive me for my sin and fill me with your Spirit. Today, I choose to follow you for the rest of my life as Lord of my life. Amen.”

How awesome is that! Now what are the next steps?

First, tell another Christian that you accepted Jesus in your life. It’s something to celebrate!

Second, find a local church community to get plugged into. Doing life together is what will help you grow.

Third, try to read the Bible and spend time in prayer for at least 10-15 minutes every day. If you don’t have a Bible, you can buy one at the store or online or use the YouVersion Bible app. If you don’t know what translation to use, if you want it closer to the original language I’d suggest ESV, if you want it a little more modern I’d suggest NLT. So, 10-15 minutes a day of prayer and reading.

And finally, get baptized. Check out the next time your church is offering baptisms. It’s a biblical thing to do. Basically an outward expression of an inward decision.

So that’s what it means to accept Jesus into your heart and the next steps to take once you do.

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What is discipleship?

What is discipleship?

WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP?

A word that you might have heard in church often but aren’t sure what it means is discipleship. So what is discipleship?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

Well to be a disciple is to be a follower of Jesus and the act of discipleship is to go through a process of becoming more and more like him through the Holy Spirit in your life. Through spending time in Scripture, through prayer, by being led by the spirit.

When Jesus was building his crew of twelve disciples, he would walk up to them and say, “Follow me, I’ll make you fisher’s of men.” You see, Jesus was Jewish and when a rabbi invited someone to follow them it was an incredible honor. It gave them unlimited access to the rabbi to ask him questions and also to experience firsthand how the Scriptures should be lived out.

Becoming a disciple required a commitment to submit to the rabbis authority, but it also meant that every day was full of opportunities to learn new things about God. And as a rabbi this is the kind of relationship Jesus invited his disciples to experience. For them, following Jesus included sharing his enthusiasm for declaring the good news and spreading the teachings around the world.

And it’s the same for us today. We should be going through a massive life change when we become disciples - when we accept Jesus into our hearts. We’re no longer dead to sin, but alive and the spirit is living inside of us.

We are called to living to higher standards now. But one thing I see so often in the church is that you can’t tell the difference between someone who is a Christian and someone who isn’t. Which is so far against what we see in Scripture. It’s not a repeat this prayer and you’re good type of thing, it’s a full on life transformation. And when we become disciples, we’re supposed to be bringing in more disciples. Every person that’s a believer is a “fisher of men” as Jesus put it. And if there isn’t a life change and people aren’t making more disciples then maybe they need to revisit what all of this means. Not from a place of judgement but from a place of concern. But yo, a lot of things are supposed to be different now. Like, I love God with all of my heart, soul, and strength, and now I need to go out and make disciples.

I need to learn about God,
I need to spend time with him,
I need to hear from him,
And through all of that I need to bring more people in and help them live a transformed life as well.
That’s what real discipleship is.

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