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Below is the 1st Chapter of “Authentic Living”
This past week, someone who claims to be a Christian, was making fun of me, for wanting to reach people for Christ. He follows the world’s way and laughs with someone else at me, for wanting to go across the country, in one of the most sinful places in USA, to preach the Good News about Jesus Christ. Well, people always take me for a joke. This time I got up and said “Aren’t you a Christian?” He replied and told me, “Once saved, always saved.” I rebuked him and said, “You hypocritical Christian, don’t you know faith without deeds is dead in itself. You can’t talk the talk and not walk it.”
I wrote this above paragraph when I first came to Christ about 10 years ago, in 2010. I was still in high school. The above conversation is one I wish I never had. I wish I could go back and not say what I said, but I did say it. I think I will leave that in this book as an example of how not to reach people for Christ.
I was dating a girl that lived in New Jersey. I was so in love with her and with spreading the Gospel. Her hometown Part Norris, New Jersey had a ton of false teachings being preached in that area. I was passionate for a long time to go start a church there and bring the truth of the Gospel to that city. One problem though, everytime I try to go, there was always something or someone trying to stop me from going. I was accepted to buy a house through chase bank in Port Norris, but I couldn’t get a job out there, walmart wouldn’t let me transfer out there either, so I stayed in Texas.
Two things I want you to take from my story.
- Crazy Faith is following God into the darkness of a situation, when your not sure really how things will turn out. If God is calling you to go, do something, listen.
- When God calls, he will provide. Chase Bank accepted me for the house, but I couldn’t find a job. God never open the door for a job. So I stayed in Dallas, believing one day I will see New Jersey. In 2017, I joined the US Marines and on one of my plane flights, we landed in New Jersey. I had 20 minutes to go from one plane to another plane. I had no time to preach, but when I saw New Jersey from the sky as we lifted off the ground, I knew, God is no liar. I may not have gotten a chance to preach the Gospel, but God laid it in my heart that one day I see New Jersey.
What did James Say?
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” (James 2:14-24) (NIV)
You can’t be a Christian, and have nothing in your life to prove that you’re a Christian. That’s the truth, because the word of God is the truth. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or know Jesus died for you, even the devil and the demons know that, but are they going to Heaven? God gave us his Word, called Jesus Christ and also a written word called the bible. Can’t pick one and not the other, have to pick both.
What are deeds?
1) You can give to the homeless
3) Walk away from Sin
Do you notice what James says? “Suppose a brother or a sister”. In the Greek, words have many different meanings. In this verse James writes “ἀδελφός” (adelphos) which means “brother”. This word shows up 43 times in the bible. In Matthew 10:2, we see this form of the word “brother” show up “and Andrew his brother (“ἀδελφός”); and James”. The reason that is important to understand is because when James write’s “Suppose a brother or a sister.” He is speaking on behalf of somebody close to you like family members. It’s very possible that he is also speaking on behalf of other christians to. Making the claim the other believers are more than just church members, but “ἀδελφός”. Over and over in the bible the church gets called “Child of God”. Christians are all “ἀδελφός”. In Mark 3:35, Jesus uses the same word to mark a person who does the will of God “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
The reason I point that out is because it says, “without clothes and daily food…but does nothing about their physical needs”. In 2016, I started my journey of homelessness. I thought that if I sleep outside a church, maybe I would be left alone. Instead once a week, a different police officer or security will come waking me up in the middle of the night. Asking me why I’m there. Wanting to get my photo State ID to run my background check out in the middle of the night. I just wanted to sleep. I would tell Dallas Police my story of how I became homeless and how I plan on getting out of the homeless situation. One time a security officer at the church told me to leave before 7am, so the members of the church don’t see me. The only reason I was allowed to sleep in that church parking lot was because I was a member of the church. I remember when Pastor Todd Wagner stood on stage at Watermark Community Church and said, “We’re committed here at watermark in making sure that no member of our body is homeless.” I remember when one of the leaders in that church told me one day, “I would help you, but I have roommates.” I remembered one morning at 3am or 4am I woke up hearing someone say, “Hey Sir, Hey Sir. I’m sorry to wake you up, but can you move your truck over there so we can set up our work out equipment right here in this area?” To this day I wish that guy would of asked me, “Hey Sir, do you need help?” These things are not strengthen my heart for the local church, but have hardened my heart to the local church. No wonder I don’t serve in the church, no wonder I much rather start a whole new church to serve those are are rejected by the local churches. I ended up joining the US Marines out of this homelessness. I became homeless again a 2nd time and upon the 2nd round, a security officer at watermark come up to my car and asked me to leave the property. So not only was a devoted Christian, I was serving in the US Marines and that’s the way I was treated by Watermark Community Church. I wasn’t a member of the church the 2nd time, because how do you expect me to be a member? Currently though, Not homeless, and I’m starting to pursue membership again.
Don’t worry, I have a great story to share. It was Christmas Eve 2016, I was living in my truck still. At the time I was a Support Manager at Walmart. Well, during my lunch break something happened to my wheel on my truck. Which led to my truck breaking down outside my job on Christmas Eve. I asked my boss if I can leave work early to fix my truck. I needed to go to the auto store to buy parts before every store in area closed, so she said yes. At the time I was a member of watermark, in a community group. I was asking for help from everyone I could, but no one could help because everyone had plans to leave town and be with family. Well my amazing friend Lincoln Neely came to my job on christmas eve and took me to the auto shop to get the parts I needed for my truck. Then I think he try helping me repair my truck, but he had somewhere to go. This day I ended up having to tell all my bosses that I was homeless, they offer me a ride home, but that truck was my home. So my bosses left me food, told the police guarding the store that I have permission to stay on property during christmas. I was having issues trying to take the drum off the wheel, I needed to repair my brakes. The drum was melted onto the brake pads. The cop at the store try to help, but he couldn’t get it and then a tow truck driver came and tried to help but he couldn’t either. The cool thing though is that the tow truck driver asked me if I wanted to come have dinner with his family Christmas Night. I accepted. I mean, what else was I going to do? On monday, Lincoln Neely came back and tried to help me get this drum off, but he couldn’t. I was trying for 3 days now. So Lincoln Neely called a tow truck, paid the tow truck and gave me $500. He told me, “Use this money to pay for the tow, repairs and whatever else you need.” 3 years later, being homeless a 2nd time, Lincoln Neely offers me a place to sleep at his apartment. I stayed for 1 night and then I told him that I couldn’t stay there. The reason was because he was living the life. I had no idea this guy what living in a luxurious apartment. I told him I didn’t want my eyes to look on riches and wealth, because then I might start trying to pursue that instead of God. This guy was a kind guy and he lived out James 2:15.
James goes one to write,“You have faith; I have deeds.” I want to call these 2 very different gospels. One message says that all you need is faith to be saved. The other message says that all you need are deeds to be saved. The problem is that neither of these messages are biblical. They sound good and taste great. But they will make your ears bleed and your stomach ache.
You Have Faith! Message
James writes, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” The difference between a Christian and Non-Christian is not believing in Jesus, it’s following Jesus. The demons saw Jesus walk the earth, live a sinless life and die on the cross. Believe me, the demons believe in Jesus, they believe in God. The Book of Job says that the Devil himself stood before God. So okay, you believe Jesus Died on the Cross, but what are you doing with that faith?
I Have Deeds! Message
The problem with this message is that faith isn’t connected to it. This is a “Saved by Works” message. There is nothing we can do to earn our way to Heaven. I can be the most righteous person on earth, but I still have a problem, that problem is sin. Our sin separates us from God. There is no way we can ever earn our salvation. Islam believes that you can earn your way to God. They believe that if all your right outweighs your wrong, that on the last day your going to get to Heaven. But how do you weigh all your deeds from the day your born to the day you die and then try to stand before a holy and righteous God who has never done wrong and try to justify yourself before him? You can’t. Even our righteous deeds are done out of selfish gain, which is a sin. So trying to live a righteous life in order to one day please a Holy God, you are still going to fall short, because your doing something for your own self gain. Selfishness is a sin. Even writing this book could be a sin, because I hope to increase my net worth by selling copies of it. Something that seems to righteous, like writing about God to inspire people to turn to Jesus, could be seasoned with selfishness.
The Biblical Message
James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” I think Abraham was stressed out at what God was calling him to do. He had his son at an old age and this son was the promised son that would become a great people that no one would be able to count, part of God’s promise to Abraham. Now God is asking him to offer his son on an altar. The story goes that right before Abraham was going to kill his son, God told him to stop. You can read in Genesis. What kind of Faith is this? An Obedient Faith. Abraham didn’t see completely clearly what God was planning or the test God was giving him. All he knew was that God was calling him to do something and he was going to be faithful in what God was calling him to do. Does that mean that God is going to call every father to offer their son? No. Now does God call every father to offer themselves on an altar of leading their family in the ways of the Lord? Yes. God calls each of our to offer ourselves to serving him in whichever platform he puts us in. Maybe your a manager, student, teacher, coach, marine, leader of marines or the president of a nation. Put your faith into action, in whatever environment God has put you in. As James writes, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
Anything that will glorify the Lord our God. Read the bible and do as it says, since Jesus tells us that those who do God’s will, those are the ones who will be saved, and not only that, but must believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. It’s just like being sold-out to Christ.
What did Jesus Say?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:21-25)
I think it’s important to read what Jesus said as we go through the letter James wrote. Can you guess why? That is right, because Jesus is God. I think it would be a great idea to understand God’s Point of view on any topic before we listen to a person’s point of view.
- Not Everyone who claims to be Christian is a Christian. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven”
- Christian’s have an Obedient Faith just like Abraham had. “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
- Non-Christians can be preachers that do great signs and miracles, but Jesus calls them “evildoers”. “‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” Right about now your thinking, “Wait a minute? How are they evildoers when they are preaching and performing all these signs?” The answer is in what Jesus says next.
- What are you building your life on? Are you building your life on your career, fitness, business start up, ministry achievements, kids, God wants us to build our lives upon him. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
I was Homeless 2 times. Is there a 3rd time coming? I hope not. Each time I fell down that hard in life, I still had a job and a car. I was able to stand back up from those 2 seasons and even earn the title of us marine in the middle of it all. Recently, I was in a really bad car accident in April 2019. It destroyed my back, left me broke physically, mentally and financially. I was trying to fix my back, find a job and while my debt was growing. I said mentally because for the first 3 or 4 months, I was playing the car accident in my head over and over and over. Today I’m better than ever. I got a job, a new car, i’m not homeless anymore and I started saving my money, I wasn’t doing that before the car accident. God is my Rock I’m building my life on, the storm will come, but God isn’t going anywhere.
Everyone who claims to be a Christian, will be tested to see if their faith in Christ is real or false. If it’s false that our house or our life will fail us in that storm, but if it’s real, then we will stand firm. God didn’t give us his word to be lazy and read it, but to get up and live it.