I know some people will jump all over this one, but I find my most effective time to pray is around 1 in the morning, when I have been awakened from a sound sleep and am still in a somnambulant state. Analytic thought is at a low point — which is where the scoffing comes in (“See, I told you that Christians don’t think!“), but sometimes, our thinking and overthinking get in the way. So last night, at 1 in the morning, it became very clear to me: Christianity does not have to be as difficult...

by School Of Life on 25 September 2017

Christianity is a lifelong journey, taken one moment at a time, and we keep learning and changing and growing until the last breath leaves our lips. Here are 10 Ways to Be a Successful Christian 1) Talk to God. A lot. I tend to do this in my head, since thinking is faster than speaking, in the same way that typing is faster than writing by hand. And people don’t look at you weirdly. Praying is essentially talking to God, as if He were a Person, which He is. You just can’t see Him, touch Him,...

by School Of Life on 25 September 2017

Theoretically there are millions of Christians in my home country, the United States, but for some reason, we are always looking for a major revival before we expect to see any significant changes made in our collective lifestyle. Things used to be better, we are told, back when Beaver was a young boy and there was prayer in schools. Or further back, when Laura Ingalls Wilder was eating tough chicken on the prairie and rap music consisted of what teachers did with rulers to children’s knuckles....

by School Of Life on 25 September 2017

The first time I heard this sentence: “Jesus talked about hell more than anything else,” I knew it was inaccurate, but hadn’t read the Bible enough to say so with confidence. Now that I have grown up, as a Christian, and started chewing meat, I read very little about hell, and much, much more about love. Another favorite topic of Jesus’s, but not necessarily ours, is forgiveness. We all know we’re supposed to do it, we feel bad when we don’t, and sometimes it’s easier to just not...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Saying Thank You to God does not have to be a chore — but then again, given the way we are instructed to do things within a cold, contemporary, corporate Christian environment, it is a bit difficult: “We must thank God for everything,” we are admonished, or . . . what? He’ll kick us? Actually, the apostle Paul’s oft quoted words of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — “Give thanks in all circumstances,” reflect the important prepositional distinction of “in” as opposed to “for,” meaning...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

There is a tiresome joke among Christians about patience that goes like this: “I don’t want to pray for patience, because by golly, God will send me all sorts of circumstances to try it!” Ha Ha. What’s not so funny is that, deep down, many people actually believe this, reflecting their impression of a marionette god, one that pulls our strings as if we were puppets, and if we don’t pray correctly — with enough caveats so that God doesn’t sadistically misinterpret what we really...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

“Jesus is love.” How often do we hear this? If we’re around Christians, or within Christian circles, then we’ve probably heard it a lot. At the same time, however, it wouldn’t be unusual if we were confused, because, though people talk about Jesus, and His love for us, from the moment we grab a bulletin at the church door, actually living as if we believed it were true is a different matter. Do YOU know anyone who worships and follows Jesus as if they really, really believed He loved...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

For many years of my young middle adulthood, life was smooth. Not perfect, obviously — when you raise a family of six on one ridiculously modest income, there’s always the stress of making the mandated property tax, insurance payments, and assorted fees involved in living in a “civilized,” bureaucratic regime. But life was relatively predictable, and God was good. I knew that latter because people were always telling me how good God is, and how much He loves us, and how He is always there...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Discipline is an ambiguous word, easily misunderstood because its two major applications are so at variance with one another. In a good sense, discipline is what athletes do — training their bodies to achieve top performance through practice, hard work, persistence, attention to diet and daily living habits — in short, they demand much of themselves without approaching punishment. Anyone who chooses to do something well — fine art painting, knitting, gardening, cooking — disciplines themselves...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Many Christians — myself included — have looked to various events and stories of the Bible as paralleling our own lives. We derive wisdom, teaching, instruction and comfort from the Exodus adventure and subsequent wanderings of the Israelite in the desert, or we see ourselves in the man who called out to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24) This is one of the purposes of God’s Word — in detailing actual, historical events describing the involvement of...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017