Contempo Christianity

Inspirational posters at Steve Henderson Fine Art capture the joy and freedom that true Christianity offers.

I’m a Christian, but I try to be a sensible one — a person who listens before speaking, who thinks twice before mouthing off, who is accepting of human beings without believing everything I am told.

21st century Christianity has its issues, and often, what people interpret as Christ’s message is human agenda. My articles on Christianity explore the adventures and challenges of living this life in the 21st century. If you’re not a Christian, I’m not out to convert you; if you are a Christian, I’m ready to dialogue. The articles are located both within this site and at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity.

Myths Christians Believe about Movies Like Noah

Desperately Need a Place of Rest? You’ve Got One.

Your Learning Curve, as a Christian

When You Can’t Take It Anymore

Einstein Said That! Or Was It Jesus?

“We Have Worms!”

Why Are Christians So Weird?

Child of God: You Are Much Beloved

Angry Jesus: I Don’t Want to Follow Him, Either

Do Negative Thoughts Affect Your Prayers?

Me, Me, Me, and Oh, You Too, Lord

Shutting up the Voices in Our Heads

“Reading the Bible Makes Me Fall Asleep”

How Many Friends Do You Have?

Jesus Isn’t All You Need — He’s All You’ve GOT

Christianity and the Problem of Hell

The Audacity of Despair

Sleeping Christians: Wake. Up.

Missional. Intentional. Authentic: Meaningless

The U.S. Is Not a Christian Nation: And It Never Was

God. God? GOD! Are You THERE?

Salvation Is Free. Our Time Is Not.

Don’t Worry: It’s NOT All up to You

“God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.” Yuck

Do Christians Have a Message Worth Hearing?

Is It Okay to Talk to the Grave of Your Loved One?

Are We Truly Free?

Christians: It’s Time to Read Grown-up Books

Panic Attack Christianity

This Article Really Isn’t about Sex

Stop Attacking Yourself

We’re Not All Extroverts — and Introverts Aren’t Abnormal

Nasty Biting — Unintentional — Things We Say

Transparency and Trust in Christianity

Living as a Christian in Uncertain Times

High Anxiety: Conquer Your Fear

God, the Dentist

When People Lie to Us

Reading through the Bible in a Year (YAWN)

Just How Naked Do I Have to Get?

When You’re Not as Happy as You Wish You Were

Money, Power, Fame and Name

Who’s Your Guru?

The Dissident Christian: Does This Describe You?

Break away from Controlling People

A Nobody Who Was Somebody (Like You, or Me)

Christianity Is Simpler Than You Think

Your Right to Privacy: Protect It

“I’m a Christian, but I’m not Religious”

Two Reasons Why the World Hates Christians

You’re a Name, not a Number

Self-Acceptance — Why Is This So Difficult?

Seminar Christianity

Who are YOU to Speak for the LORD?

Feeling Sad During the Holiday Season

Quit Yelling at Your Brother

Downton Abbey, Mind Control, and Your Christian Life

Put Your Money Where Your Beliefs Are

Surviving the Holidays

Feeling Abandoned?

Make a Difference, Every Day, as a Christian

Sham Christians: Don’t Be Fooled by Them

Is Your Job Meaningless?

King Kong God

Your Christian Mission Statement

The Atheist’s Cry to God

Christian Thinkers: Let’s Be Those People

The Privacy of Our Minds

Please Do Not Give Me a Stressy Bessy Doll for Christmas. I Already Own One.

Baaaaaadddd Christians — Redeemed!

10 Ways to Be a Successful Christian

The Four Year Old Christian

Christian Leadership and Ordinary People

Praying for Miley, Britney, and Lindsay

Eliminating Creativity

Wives and Husbands — Homosexual Style

Christianity Lessons from Facebook

People Call Us Stupid, You Know

Should Christians Think?

Only . . . BELIEVE!

Three Halloween No No’s for Christians

Why I — a Christian — Celebrate Halloween

Unchurched, or Church Free?

Not All Homeschoolers Are Christian

Don’t Be Afraid of What You See

The Big Halloween Bash

Accepting Ourselves

Snipping and Sniping at God

The Statement No Christian Should Make

Christians: Can We Stop Using This Sentence?

Praying: How Specific Must We Be?

The Sinless Christian

Oppression and Impoverishment, American Style

Worrying about the Future

Role Models: Do We Need Them?

Ordinary Christians: That Describes All of Us

Christians Who Make a Difference

Is the Bible Boring?

How to — Not — Evangelize

Do Christians use the F-Word?

Manipulating Children

The Proverbs 32 Male

Oops! Did God Forget You?

Waiting, and Waiting, and Waiting on God

Christians and Dreadfully Debutante Dogs

God Is Not a Tinky Doodle

I Want to Be Moses

Christians: Please Stop Talking Like Weird People

What Unconditional Love Looks Like

In the Body of Christ, Are You a Toe, Mouth, or Elbow?

Dropping the Name of Jesus

Seventy Times Seven

The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift

Rejecting or Despising One Another

10 Responses to “Contempo Christianity”

  1. Anna Ramos says:

    I like what you have written here in the intro. It is nice to know I will not be intentionally judged for what I believe. I however am concerned with the comment that you won’t try to convert someone who is not a Christian. I recently watched an interview with Penn Jillette–on YouTube: Penn gets the gift of a Bible–that really addressed the concept of evangelism. Basically he (a very notable outspoken athiest) points out that if we truly believe that another person is headed to his destruction–one of the tenants of Christianity being that non-believers are headed down a path that leads to destruction, i.e. hell– the only loving thing to do is attempt to change his course. The way we as Christians do this is through evangelism. This does have to be done with some delicacy lest our efforts only push others away due to our insensitivity, which causes many to avoid the pain of rejection when an attempt to convert fails. However, no matter how poor the reception is, we cannot wrong others by choosing to let them continue without a warning at the very least.
    Thanks for inviting conversation, and God bless!

    • Anna: Thank you for your well thought out comments, and for taking time to write. Thank you, also, for giving me the idea for tomorrow’s Contempo Christianity column — I’ll discuss more the aspect of “witnessing,” and what our obligations Christians are (in so far as I can do in 700 words – this may take several parts!). To address some of what you say:

      1) Atheists are adept at telling Christians how we should live and conduct our lives. No matter how well an atheist appears to “know” the Bible, he is simply doing what too many Christians do — hurtling verses at people and saying, “What about that, huh? And that? What’re you going to do about that?” To that end, Satan himself quoted scripture to his own ends.
      2) For some reason, atheists have the illusion of being deep thinkers and analyzers. Maybe some of them are — but Christians, within the Christian community, are not allowed to express their thoughts with the freedom that atheists do. The reason that there are few deep thinkers within the realm of Christianity these days is because their voices are silenced and shut out — by other Christians.
      3) No, it is not enough to simply “get the message out.” Hashing the job is as bad as not doing it at all, but we justify this, as Christians, by saying, “Oh, well — maybe I didn’t say that right, but I SAID it. So it’s not MY fault if they don’t believe in Christ and wind up in eternal damnation.”
      4) If you truly want to get our message across, you will take time to find the best means to do this. Christ attracted people not by his words, but by his compassion, love, acceptance, and caring. He interacted with people nobody wanted anything to do with, and he treated them with dignity and respect — the Samaritan woman at the well, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, “sinners.” He took time to connect with them and establish a relationship. In contemporary Christianity, this “relationship” consists of inviting people to a Bible study, or subtly dropping the name of Jesus and expecting someone who has been hurt and burned by insensitive Christians in the past to pick this up.
      I’ll stop now! You bring up good, valid points, but there are different ways of looking at and addressing them. I myself would not be a Christian today if it depended upon the “message” I was given by a number of ham-fisted Christians. I was led to Christianity by a few wise, soft-spoken people — one of whom is my Norwegian Artist husband — who listened as I talked, encouraged me to ask questions, and listened as I processed through the answers. I discovered Christ — I was not persuaded and argued into the Kingdom. This, I believe, is what we need to allow people to do.

    • Jana Botkin says:

      Anna, our pastor showed us that video. Sure gets your attention, doesn’t it? I was really touched by Penn’s being touched. If only people could perceive God’s love instead of the Judgie McJudgerton ideas that permeate both believers and non-believers, they’d come running to Him.

      • Jana — so very right — getting across love without judgment. To a certain extent, even when we get it “right,” some people won’t see, as evidenced by Christ’s experience on earth. Obviously, He did it all right, all the time, and people still misinterpreted, or chose to misinterpret. As human beings, we carry around a lot of baggage, and it affects how we think of things.

        So, there’s nothing we can do with how people accept what we say or do, but there is everything we can do to affect what we say and do. And therein lies the challenge — which is insurmountable unless we walk closely and intimately with the Master every moment of every day.

        My goal, in writing about Christianity, is to encourage people to seek out that relationship, and not be satisfied with substitutes, which is essentially letting other people do the hard work of reading, analyzing, interpreting, studying, and praying for us. In America’s contemporary corporate Christian culture, too many of us are in danger of falling into a sense of complacency, “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth,” far too dependent upon the wisdom and teaching of others to even think that God could impart wisdom and teaching to us.

  2. I do appreciate the dialogue here and wanted to add my 2 cents to the equation. Sharing the message of hope, love and freedom isn’t about arguing or persuading someone. It’s simply sharing the gospel, which really is GOOD NEWS. Everybody loves good news. It is a most loving message that we share. We don’t shove it down people’s throat. We don’t try to hog tie them until they say, “give”. It’s sharing, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts. We share because we love. We love Jesus and we love people. We share not only words of life, but we share whatever the Spirit has given us to give. Time. Money. Attention. Words of kindness. prayer. friendship… We give freely as we have been freely given.

    It is the heart of our God that NONE should perish apart from Him. And those who walk with Him have the same heart. It’s not about rule-keeping. It’s not checking off our evangelism box. It’s about loving people to the fullest.

    I have no desire to convert people into becoming christians. I’m not trying to change people’s religion. I desire to see people encounter the living, loving Jesus of the Bible and be transformed by His power. There are too many “christians” who haven’t a clue who Jesus really is. Even Jesus says many will call to Him “Lord, Lord” (Master, King), and he’ll say to them, “I never knew you.” (You really don’t know me.)

    I pray that you will allow yourself to be lead by the Holy Spirit. I pray that you’ll commit yourself to be His servant and this blog will be just what it should be. I praise our King for the platform that he’s given you. Use it to exalt His name, my friend. Shalom.

    • Alecia — I found and read your comment the evening before a major opportunity came into my life. It was just what I needed, when I need it.

      I have been walking with God through a very narrow, winding path for the last eight years now, as He has made a total transformation in the way I think and live. Interestingly, I have been a Christian for nearly 31 years, and while I wasn’t asleep during that time — I sought Him and followed Him in my stumbling, bumbling way — the last eight years have been a refining process that, quite frankly, I hope is at the point of letting off a bit! I am so ready for the next step — I’m just waiting for Him to let me take it.

      Thank you for your prayer. I write each piece with an awareness that two people are sitting at the keyboard, and One of them has for more wisdom than the other.

      I am grateful for grace, because I know that I will never be 100 percent ready and in the right place. I will always mess up, because I will always get in the way. But God is gracious and kind, and His hand is always there to hold and steady me. Unconditional love. What a treasure. — Carolyn

  3. Dear Carolyn,

    In our present time of doom and gloom and everything dark, it is so refreshing to find your blog on Christianity for the realistic. I have always admired your comments on Fineart Views, and now I know where you get your common sense. I hope I can learn to put my thoughts into words as eloquently as you. Thank you for your “Voice”.

    • Thank you, Yvonne. Your words are warm and encouraging.

      It is a dark time. But as Christians, we always forget — we walk with the Light. That’s why Steve paints what he paints and I write what I write — two small candle flames (or LED lights?) added to others, compositely providing enough light to see through the shadows.

      I am glad that you found me and ask that you pass me on. I grow, one by one, by people who discover what I write, find that it makes sense, and continue in their questing, journeying lives.

      I write what I write because I believe that the large-scale message of Christianity — put out by the big names, big churches, big leadership, big ministries — is missing the mark, and we are growing complacent at a time when we should be standing tall and striding forth. Christ did not call us into this world to make declarations and demands for our own personal gain, and yet thousands of people follow others who stand at the pulpit and in front of the camera and say how easy it is — you just say the words.

      Still others spend hours in little groups and clusters, reading from four-color printing publications — like the Weekly Reader we used to get when I was a kid — about what somebody else says about the Bible. There always needs to be a moderator, a teacher, a leader — and yet the acolytes never grow knowledgeable enough or strong enough to think and read on their own.

      If our Christians are trained, from the beginning, to follow the leader — who will stand up and speak up when the leaders take us in a wrong direction?

      So that’s why I speak. Not because I’m a “leader,” not because I’m amazing (we all think we are, deep down, but life’s circumstances has a way of showing us otherwise), not because I’m influential (I’m small, and ordinary) — but because I’m His, He’s given me a desire and an ability to write, and as long as the opportunity is there to do so, I will do so. — Carolyn

  4. Redd says:

    O Wow.

    Carolyn, I thought I was the only one who thought like this. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I didn’t ‘get it’.

    Thank you.

    • Redd — Isn’t it so very, very good to find out that you’re not alone? That’s why I started writing — because I knew that there were many, many people feeling as if they were weird or unwanted by the God of the Universe, and I wanted them to know that NO! They’re not alone! They’re not weird! They’re not unwanted!

      They — you, I, many others — are very much loved and cherished by God. We have work to do.

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