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How to be a Stronger Christian

There is no one size fits all when it comes to acting like a Christian. Being a contributing Christian isn’t easy – it requires time and effort. With everything that takes place among our daily lives, such as family duties, deadlines and responsibilities, we often lose sight of our highest calling – how to be a stronger Christian.

Every Christian has their own way of growing closer to God. Some like a personal approach and others can’t wait to share their faith with others. Regardless of your approach to strengthening your relationship with God, we should continually try to make it stronger. Here are some ways to become a stronger Christian:

Get more involved with church – Too many Christians think of Sunday Church as a weekly appointment they have to attend. If you’re part of this group it’s never too late to change. Instead of clocking in and clocking out each Sunday morning, try to find ways you can be more involved throughout the week. Maybe you can join chorus or help guide the youth group.

Go on a mission trip – Traveling on a mission trip is a great way to strengthen your relationship with God as well as share His word with others. People who go on mission trips often return with a new perspective and a sense of clarity. Their priorities are realigned for the better and the group mentality of helping others is life transforming. Talk to your church about joining their next mission trip or ask to organize one if it’s not planned already.

Read the Bible – Don’t just wait for Sunday to open up the Bible. Taking some time out of each day to read the Bible will help keep you stay focused on what’s most important. The words of the Bible educate, motivate and inspire, three things we should all have a daily dose of in our busy lives.

One way to read the Bible more often is to join a Bible study group. Ask some people at church if they know of one or if they’re interested in starting one. Through sharing each other’s insights, you’ll build on each other’s knowledge.

Become a volunteer – Giving your own time is one of the best gifts you can give. Whether it’s at a local homeless shelter or school, volunteering and serving others is a great way to mimic Jesus’s footsteps. It’s a truly rewarding experience if you haven’t volunteered before.

Chime in to Christian music – Most of the music we hear on the radio isn’t suitable for Christians. In fact, it seems like what’s allowed on the radio gets worse with each year that passes. Profanity and sexual content has almost become a standard in the music industry. However you won’t find that when tuning into your local Christian station or buying Christian music.

Strengthening your relationship with God is a lifelong commitment. There are countless ways to grow as a Christian and the path is different for everyone. These are just a few ways that you can further your relationship and spend more time studying His word.

Jensen is a contributing writer for the First Baptist Church or Orlando.

Christmas Traditions

Origins Unclear

The origins of many Christmas traditions are unclear and are often the result of the fusing of elements from many folklores and faiths. This is particularly true where a country has adopted different faiths over the centuries. Ancient practices are continued and absorbed into new belief systems and passed down the generations.

Advent

Advent, derived from the Latin word Adventus meaning “coming”, is a season celebrated by many Christian denominations in anticipation of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a period traditionally marked by the keeping of many customs including fasting and the hanging of purple and blue decorations in churches. In northern England woman would carry two dolls which represented the Virgin Mary and Jesus in order to collect money from those who saw them. The failure to donate having seen the dolls was considered to bring bad luck. In Normandy children were sent to run through fields and orchards carrying burning torches to set fire to piles of straw. This was believed to eradicate vermin from the crops. The most common traditions that survive in Western cultures are use of the Christmas Advent calendar and Christmas stockings.

Countdown Calendars

Christmas Advent calendars have their origins in the German Lutheran tradition of counting down the first 24 days of December. The first know example was produced in 1851 and was handmade. The first printed advent calendar is believed to have been produced in Hamburg circa 1903 but the concept was popularised by the German printing company Reichhold and Lang who produced and marketed more than 30 designs before their demise in 1930. Advent or countdown calendars are now used in many cultures to mark the passing of days approaching significant celebrations.

Modern Calendars

Today’s calendars are normally manufactured from card and feature 24 perforated and numbered windows which can be opened each day to reveal pictures or small gifts such as sweets and chocolates. Advent calendars are mainly aimed at children and are produced in huge quantities by toy and confectionary companies at the risk of inviting criticism for their largely non-religious content. The calendars containing chocolates have been known to be popular with adults too !

Socks and Stockings

The exact origins of the Christmas stocking are unclear but appear to derive from several, mainly Nordic, legends. One story tells of a nobleman who died leaving his three daughters without dowries. St Nicholas felt sorry for the girls and threw gold coins down their chimney which were caught by their stockings hanging out to dry over the fireplace. Another tale surrounds the story of the Scandinavian figure Odin. Children would leave out their socks filled with food for Odin’s horse Sleipnir and in return the horse would leave treats in the socks for the children. This legend evolved to include St Nicholas or Santa Claus with the arrival of Christianity.

Larger Stockings

The modern commercial nature of Christmas has resulted in increasingly large numbers of gifts being given to children and adults alike. The old custom of leaving out a sock or stocking has evolved into the manufacture of larger and larger sock shaped bags to be left out for the visit of Father Christmas. In fact many such receptacles no longer resemble stockings at all and are merely Christmas gift sacks !

The Commercial World

So many Christmas traditions have been transformed by the intervention of the commercial world that the original significance of the legends have been lost to us but the charm of the Christmas stocking and Advent calendar do live on in most houses today, even in the absence of children !

The Contemporary Home offer a great selection of Christmas advent calendars for all the family.

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