Christian Fundamentals

In every aspect of life, there are essentials that govern that particular aspect. They can be rules, practices, or principles that form the basis of the aspect you live by. It is no different with Christianity. The fundamentals of Christianity are central to how we live our lives. If you are not a Christian and have found that the articles on this site have stirred something within your heart, you are encouraged to continue reading and take the next step. Even if you have stepped away from religion, this page is here to assist you to reaffirm your faith. Regardless of your current relationship with God, it is always good to consider these fundamentals once in a while to update your faith.

0001. Becoming A Christian

Leap of Faith

So what do you need to do to become a Christian? Believe it or not, it is not rocket science. God did the hard part 2000 years ago, when Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and rose three days later from the grave. What you must do is acknowledge it in your heart, and desire him as your Lord and savior. In order to do this, say the following prayer out loud:

"Dear Father in Heaven, I admit that I fall short of your glory and that I am a sinner. There is no way I alone can cross this great divide that separates us. However, I acknowledge that you sent your son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and to save my soul. You have provided a bridge traversing the distance so that I may be able to spend eternity with you. I regret every one of the past sins I have committed, and ask the Holy Spirit to come live in my heart and provide me a path to come closer to you. I declare Jesus as my Lord and savior. Amen."

If you said that prayer, you are now a Christian and on a new path forward in your life.

0002. Next Steps

Next Steps

Congratulations on becoming a follower of God (or rededicating yourself to God)! You have begun a journey that will open your heart, mind, and soul to many things you never considered before. However, after receiving your "Get to the Millennial Kingdom for Free Card," you may be wondering what to do next. After all, accepting Jesus as your savior is just the first step on a very long road.

In John 3:3 (CSB), "Jesus replied, 'Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" So what does it mean to be born again? Well, let us think about what it was like to be born the first time. You will not remember it of course, but you were born an infant. And over the course of the next twenty years, you became an adult. But how did you grow from an infant to an adult? First, you needed nourishment. If you ate two to three meals everyday, you became bigger and stronger physically. Second, you needed education. If you received a school and/or college education, you became bigger and stronger intellectually. And last, you needed guidance. If you received support from good family and friends in your life, you became bigger and stronger mentally.

When becoming followers of Christ, we start off the same way spiritually, as infants. And if we want to come closer to God and grow in Christ, we need exactly the same three things: nourishment, education, and guidance. Without them, we will remain an infant spiritually. Sadly, the fact is that a majority of Americans in our culture today are not getting enough spiritual nourishment, education and guidance. They believe simply accepting Christ as their savior and going to church on Christmas and Easter will gain them all the rewards of Heaven. However, let's suppose that everybody was required to meet at Heaven's door on Judgment Day in clothing that represented their spiritual maturity. How many would show up in diapers or toddler clothing, and how many would be wearing adult clothing? How would you feel showing up to God's house wearing diapers? Not a pretty picture, is it. So how do we go about getting our spiritual nourishment, education and guidance to come closer to God? Below are topics that are the fundamental building blocks of a solid Christian foundation on which to begin your journey.

0003. Talking to God
(also known as praying)


What is the most direct way to get to know someone? We have all sorts of ways to communicate with one another with technology today. However, the very best way to get to know someone is to simply talk to them. It is the same with God. Talking to God, more commonly known as praying, is a fundamental component in coming closer to God.

So how does this praying concept work? It might conjure up images of using King James English (shalls and thous), or being dressed in monk robes and meditating for hours. It is nothing that dramatic (which culture likes to exaggerate), but you can begin with these fundamental pointers.

Having the Right Mindset about Prayer

First off, prayer is not a wishing well, or a letter to Santa at the North Pole. You can ask to win the lottery (everybody does it at least once), or ask to find that perfect spouse, but using God as a genie in a bottle is not the right approach. Sure, Psalms 37:4 (NIV) states: "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." But what is the condition of your heart in relation with God? That is a key takeaway from the verse, so here are some tips:

Tip #1: When praying, open by being thankful. This culture tends to focus on the negative and what you don't have. So naturally this tends to lead to complaining about what isn't right in your life. We have one holiday where we celebrate Thanksgiving, then the same evening or next day attempt to trample one another buying sale items. Instead, think about what is good in your life at that particular moment, and thank God for providing for you.

Tip #2: When praying, be humble. This culture requires you to shout and say, "Look at me and what I can do," in order to get attention. However, no one ever makes it to where they are by themselves. We all have someone that we stood on their shoulders, whether it be teachers, mentors, friends, or family members. Acknowledge that you cannot do it alone, and that you need God's help.

Tip #3: When praying, be honest. This culture loves to deflect and spin answers to avoid being honest about issues and matters. God knows everything about you, so what do you accomplish by dancing around the thing you might be fearful of or ashamed about? He already knows, so acknowledge it. If you are angry, frustrated, happy, or sad, let God know how you feel.

If you incorporate these three tips into your prayers, then your heart will be in the right place, and God can help you accomplish things you cannot even imagine.

Developing a Prayer Routine

When culture talks about exercise, it is always about a routine. If you just do something once or every once in awhile, you are not going to get any significant results. It requires a constant routine to see results. The same thing is true with prayer. If you want to come closer to God, you need a consistent prayer routine. However, that doesn't mean it needs hours of commitment. Here is my daily approach, and you can either follow it or develop one of your own.

Morning Prayer: The quietest time of my day is just as I am waking up in the morning, before I turn on the television or look at my smartphone. So I close my eyes in bed, and first recite the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13. Then I make the following statement of affirmation to God dedicating the day to him:

"I am a child of God that he does not forget. Through God I can accomplish all things. I am thankful for all God has given me: [insert your list here]. I have God's favor today in all matters. God will bless me spiritually, financially, intellectually, and physically, so that I may use those increases as a blessing to others."

After that, I talk to God about the day to come, and ask for his strength, focus, and energy to get through it. It takes about five minutes total, and puts my head and heart in a good place before getting out of bed.

Evening Prayer: Okay, now the day is over. It might have been a good day, or it might have been an absolute nightmare. You might still have to cook dinner, take care of the kids, get some chores done, or maybe you have that favorite show coming on that you want to watch. However, before I get too involved with the evening's activities, I pray for about another five minutes, usually in the shower while washing the day away. I first acknowledge God and thank him for the day, even if it was a really crappy one. I go over what went right because he was watching over me, and what could have gone better. Finally, I ask for a peaceful evening (regardless whether by myself or among family/friends), and a good night's rest to start tomorrow off great.

As you get used to a routine like this, you can vary it as needed based on the events of the day. Stuck in traffic for awhile? A perfect time to talk to God. A family crisis that pops up during the day? An urgent and/or unwarranted request at work? A quick 30-second prayer can strengthen you before diving into the chaos. On the weekends, try to set aside some more quiet time to talk to God.

Returning to Psalms 37:4, the first part of the verse reads, "Take delight in the Lord..." A prayer routine like this does just that because it establishes a mindset that you want to spend time with God and acknowledge him in your life. And as stated previously, the verse ends "....he will give you the desires of your heart."

0004. Listening to God
(also known as reading the Bible)

Reading the Bible

When you are in a conversation with several people, what is the best way to gain knowledge from them? I tend to be a chatterbox and usually want to contribute something to the conversation. However, I always need to remind myself that if I want to get something out of the conversation, I need to let others speak and listen to them. It is the same with God. If you want to learn from God and come closer to him, then you will need to listen to him. So how does one go about doing that?

So what if I told you there was one resource that would provide you everything you would ever need in your life? Would you believe me? You would not need to attend any master class or pay huge sums of money to a life coach. You would not need to subscribe to a membership or video channel to get that next secret of life lesson. You could view that resource online free of charge and, if you pay just a small amount of money one time, you could have the physical resource in your hands whenever you wanted. You see, the best way to learn from God is to read the Bible, also known as the Holy Scriptures. Want to have a moral code to live by? Check. Want to know God's history with the country of Israel? Check. Want to read some really beautiful poetry? Check. Want action, adventure, betrayal, and deceit? Check. Want to know what the future holds for humanity? Check. The Bible has it all. Morals, history, poetry, conflict, and prophecy are just some of the many topics God wishes us to know and to understand about him.

Choosing a Bible that Speaks to You

While looking at the Bible online is convenient, having a physical copy of the Bible is important because you can annotate it like a textbook. However, as simple as buying a Bible might sound, it can actually be one of the more complicated things a Christian does. What? How is that possible? It all has to do with the language most people speak: English. The English language is probably the most dynamic and ever-changing communication system ever invented. It has evolved more in the last forty years than in the previous three hundred years combined, due in part to technology. Words like internet, social media, and selfie did not exist a generation ago. Slang and acronyms fill countless pages of text across the digital ether space.

So here's the problem: the original biblical languages were not English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek, which are very structured languages. Therefore, for anyone who wants to read it in English, the Bible needs to be translated. And translating it to such a dynamic language as English causes huge problems, primarily because of you. Each of us uses and interprets English in a unique way. Therefore, a work as complex as the Bible needs to communicate its message across a very broad spectrum of English speakers, and no single translation can accomplish this task.

On the conservative end of the spectrum, the translation tries to go word-for-word from the original language. It remains accurate to the original text as possible, but it might be hard to read and understand for the reader. On the other end of the spectrum, the translation focuses less on the exact delivery and aims to convey the intent of the message through liberal paraphrasing. Therefore, a reader may understand the general message, but they may not grasp the context in which it was originally presented. When you fill the spectrum with all the English translations, you get something like this:

Bible Translation Spectrum

Even though I have probably confused you thoroughly, rest assured there is a way out of this translation maze. Below are links to six well-known and popular Bible verses. In the matrix for each passage are different translations representing the five sectors of the translation spectrum. Read each version out loud and see which one most closely resembles the style of English you use on a daily basis. If one translation stands out to you, then you have a starting point to buy a bible on Amazon or another book seller like Christian Book.

One final note about choosing a Bible. You don't need to purchase a expensive, fancy Bible with real leather or gilded page edges. Your Bible only needs to allow writing and highlighting, to hold loose notes, and to have a sturdy binding, because you will be opening and studying it a lot.

Devoting Time to Study the Bible

By becoming a Christian, you are automatically enrolled in Bible college. The good news: there is only one textbook, the Bible. The bad news: the course will last the rest of your life and you will not be graded until Judgment Day. Once you have a Bible in hand, the challenge will be finding time to read and study it. Otherwise, you will have just bought another paperweight that collects dust.

Much like talking to God, the best results are obtained when you create and establish a consistent routine. However, much like studying any other field, it requires several steps before what you learn becomes a part of your everyday life. Below are the general steps to studying the Bible.

Step 1 - Choosing a topic: Some think that reading the Bible cover-to-cover is a good starting point. However, a more effective way to get off to a good start is to list the top five needs you have, and choose one. This will help you narrow your focus to something impactful in your life. Once you have chosen a topic, do a quick online search to find what books and chapters of the Bible cover the subject matter. For example, let's say that you are struggling to get ahead both financially and in your career. An online search reveals that Psalms 37 might have relevance.

Step 2 - Read the chapter: A problem with the messages Christians receive nowadays is that they are a mash-up of single Bible verses. A single verse can be taken out of context and can be used to promote agendas. The way to avoid this problem is to read the entire chapter rather than one individual verse. At this stage of studying, just read the whole chapter in one sitting. It is possible you will not understand the meaning of some or even all of the chapter. Don't get discouraged though. Just absorb the words and let them sink in for a couple of days.

Step 3 - Reread the chapter: Now that you have had a day or two to dwell on the chapter, reread it again. There may be an idea or two that pops into your head that didn't when you read it the previous time. This is because the more times you repeat something, the more nuances you pick up. For example, the more you watch your favorite movie, the more you will pick up that you did not see in previous viewings, such as background music or camera angles. Rereading the chapter repeatedly fosters this process.

Step 4 - Understanding the context and times: With society as advanced as we are, one of the arguments against the Bible today is that it is not relevant to our times. However, the issue lies with our lack of understanding of the context in which it was written. Ask yourself how a person back then would have interpreted the chapter. What were the circumstances of their lives and the times they lived in and what was relevant to them?

Step 5 - Linking the original context to your circumstance: Once you understand what the chapter was conveying in the previous step, you can then apply it to your life experience. What you will find is that the struggles of individuals back then were not so different from the struggles we deal with today, whether it be addiction, insecurity, poverty, fear, corruption, or being labeled an outcast. You will also discover that the message the Bible conveys is timeless. What part of their life circumstance is similar to your own experience? This will allow the Bible to provide relevance in your life.

Step 6 - Application of the chapter to your daily life: From your understanding of the chapter, what minor change in your current lifestyle can you make now to apply what you have learned? There is a reason the word "minor" is used. People read Bible passages and the first reaction is to think that they need to make wholesale life changes to realign themselves to God. While this may be true, this has two possible setbacks. The first is that the person becomes discouraged and quits altogether because the change required is too daunting. The second is that the person goes cold turkey, and there are very few who can accomplish this successfully without significant negative consequences to their lives and relationships. A cruise ship cannot turn around on a dime; it takes time and space. The same goes with your life. For example, in Matthew 19:21-22, Jesus tells a rich man to sell everything and follow him, but he gets discouraged and leaves. Perhaps you can apply the lesson in smaller increments, beginning with donating a box of clothing you no longer wear to a homeless shelter. That may spur you to find other stuff you bought over the years but now collects dust. Over months and years, this little habit creates a spirit of generosity and minimalism within you that you could not have conceived of when you made this minor change.

Step 7 - Follow up: Develop a time frame to check up on the application of the chapter to see if the lesson has made an impact to your lifestyle and relationship with God. The time frame can vary from several months to a year. Much like seeing your dentist every six months, it is just a check-up. You may discover new or alternative ways to apply the chapter, or you may find that something needs to be adjusted. Either way, it is a method of measuring progress.

After you have completed all the steps, it's time to choose a new topic and begin again. Note that the process is important, not the time frame it takes to complete. Some needs in your life can be addressed in a couple of weeks, while others may take months or even years to see growth. After all, your life is not a television show where the weekly crisis is resolved by the end of the episode. The important thing is to establish the routine, you have the rest of your life to apply what you have learned.

0005. Finding Community
(formerly known as going to church)

Finding Community

When I was growing up, my mother dragged me to church every Sunday, and going always felt like a chore. The word "church" tends to bring up mixed emotions in many. Some of the thoughts that have run through my head over the years include waking up too early on Sunday, missing football games, falling asleep during the pastor's sermon, and singing hymns out of tune. However, have you ever thought what the purpose of church is for?

There was no such thing as church immediately following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus' followers were instructed to go and tell the world about salvation through accepting Christ as savior. That's it. So these disciples went on journeys throughout the known world and talked to people. Once they left to continue their journeys, believers left behind needed something to remind them of the message they had heard and to reinforce this new faith. Therefore, these individuals formed a community to continue to learn and grow. This is the concept of church: a community of participating individuals wanting to come closer to God.

Unfortunately, culture today has a much different idea about church. Many churchgoers believe they go to church to be spoon-fed a sermon about grace and love, to sing some hymns, and to put something in the offering bucket. And by doing so, they believe they have fulfilled their God quota for the week. The idea of a participating community is an absolute foreign concept. We have so much else going on in our lives right now, many do not bother putting any more time into church. The COVID pandemic did not help matters, as most individuals filled their religious allocation with online sermons by big megachurches to the point where many do not feel to call to go back to their local church.

If we revisit the original concept, our case for growth in our relationship with God would benefit tremendously if we had like-minded individuals we could talk to about questions we had, or issues we needed to share. In other words, fellowship with other Christians. Where is the most likely place to find that for new believers? The number one answer, of course, is church. However, I would not necessarily limit yourself to this option. Today there are other alternatives, from finding a group online like Facebook or Meetup, to talking with family, friends, and colleagues. It may surprise you to find you are in a similar situation as they are.

I will note that this is the hardest of the three fundamentals to find and maintain. You can pray anytime and read the Bible anywhere. Unfortunately, finding that community where you feel you belong is much like dating. Some of you may have had really bad experiences with church previously. Don't get discouraged if you struggle finding community. I have struggled with this as well in my life, and it's not easy. But I also have several close friends that I talk to on a regular basis where I feel a sense of community that keeps me moving closer to God. The key is to never stop searching, for if you never stop, God will eventually find you.

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