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.

Christian Dating Sites

Online dating has become more than just something that strange lonely people do. It has become a legitimate and interesting way to meet other people who may be looking for the same things as you. Trying to meet someone at work, through friends or even at clubs can be exhausting and the possibilities seem to dry up very quickly. This is frustrating and can mean that you almost give up on dating altogether, but this is premature. There is another way to date that can be found on good online dating sites.

If you are a single person who is also religious then this maze of dating can become even smaller. The group of single people at your church is no doubt quite small and getting smaller every day. This can leave you feeling demoralised, but don’t give up. There are dating sites which specialise in uniting likeminded Christians, and these are the kinds of sites that can help you. You may be a bit sceptical but really what do you have to lose? Christian dating sites like most others are easy to use. The first step is to set up a profile for yourself. On your profile you will display a picture of yourself, give a brief list of personal details and then explain what you are looking for in a partner.

Dating sites take a lot of pressure out of dating as a whole. While in the real world you might be too shy to approach someone you find interesting or attractive, the anonymity of online dating provides a distance that can make plucking up the courage to send that first message a bit easier. The key is to be honest about what you are looking for. For some people looking online for a date is just about wanting to meet someone that you can have a decent conversation with.

For others, Christian online dating can be a way of meeting a husband or a wife. Even on Christian online dating sites you will find Christians who are looking for different kinds of relationship, but as a religious person seeking a Christian relationship, the logical result is marriage. You can be honest about this online if you want to be but the bedrock of any solid relationship and any marriage is having something in common and being able to communicate. Looking for a faith-based relationship is a good idea but a relationship is more than just religion, so rather use your faith as a starting point of a conversation to get to know more about the person you are interested in.

This is nothing to be ashamed of; with divorce rates as high as they are it can be difficult to find the right partner. But if a couple has a solid faith-based marriage, coupled with a shared interest or two, this sets a good foundation. If for example you and your partner share a love of art and painting, why not take a painting class together or make a regular date to check out the newest exhibitions in town.

Is my date a good match?

In the early stages of a relationship, it can be hard to know if the person you have been on a few dates with is really the right one for you. Even if you like them, do you have enough in common and do you share the same values? All of these questions can be very vexing, especially if you are keen to meet “the one” and settle down.

Tips to help you decide if your date is a good match

1. You have lots of things in common – having shared interests is very important for the longevity of any relationship. In the early days, love will help smooth out the bumps in your relationship, but as time goes on, love needs to mature into a solid friendship based on common ground. Opposites always attract, but if you have absolutely nothing in common besides potent chemistry, your relationship has little chance of making it past the early stages.

2. Shared values – for two people to be a good match in any relationship, they need to share the same values. For example, if you work hard with a view to saving enough money to provide for a future family, but your date is keen to take time out to travel the world and explore new horizons, it is highly unlikely you will remain together in the long term.

3. Approval of family and friends is important for lasting relationship success – whereas we tend to view new relationships through rose tinted spectacles, our loved ones are far more objective, so if they are dropping heavy hints that your beloved is perhaps not the one for you, take heed and listen to them instead of ignoring their advice.

4. You love spending every waking moment with the person and you think about them constantly – it is a good sign if you are completely besotted with your new date, although if they don’t feel the same way you are on a one-track road to heartache and misery! Enjoy the high of falling in love, but try and maintain a sense of objectivity just in case the person is not everything they first appear to be.

5. They appear to feel as strongly about the relationship as you – congratulations, you are in the best possible position for enjoying a fantastic new relationship with someone special! However, even if you are sure this person is “the one”, take it slowly and spend time getting to know them before you give them your heart on a platter—you need to be certain they are deserving of your love.