Seven Steps To Being An Effective Christian

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Do you want to be an effective Christian here on planet earth? Of course, you do.

So what’s the key?

Handing out tracts in the workplace or leaving them wedged in the mirrors of public restrooms. Maybe.

How about telling people how Jesus has changed your life? That’s on the right track for sure.

What about when you laugh and sing praises to our Lord?

Can that be an effective witness for the Lord?

Yes, according to Psalm 126:2 in the Classic Amplified Bible which says:

“Then were our mouths filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing. Then they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.”

Some people say. . .Brother Harold, things are so stressful that I can’t be filled with laughter. There’s nothing to laugh about.

First, God did not call you to be stressed. I Peter 5:7 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

Casting the whole off your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about your watchfully.”

Plus, you can ALWAYS laugh at the devil.

Psalm 37:13 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“The Lord laughs at [the wicked], for He sees that their own day [of defeat] is coming.”

When I learned to laugh at the devil and call him for the liar he is. . .things began to change in my life. The days of weariness, doubt and fear were replaced with Holy Ghost power, faith and joy.

If I’ve been under intense attack. . .I pray first. Then I look for something to make me laugh and smile.

Over the years, the characters of the Peanuts cartoon strip provided many such moments. I’ve always admired the wisdom of Charles Schultz, who created the characters and also inspired many other comic strip writers.

Let me share a few reasons why I like the late Charles Schultz.

First, his Christian faith was important to him.

You can see it throughout his comic strips and in the annual Charlie Brown Christmas TV special where he has Linus quoting the Luke Chapter 2 to explain why we celebrate Christmas. It’s become a classic.

But when the Charlie Brown Christmas special was first pitched. . .CBS executives balked at Linus reading the passage from Luke. They wanted it removed but Schultz would not back down. Reluctantly, the executives agreed to let it stay in even though they feared it would cause the special to be a huge flop.

The scene with Linus reading Luke lasted 51 seconds. When Linus finished Charlie Brown understood the real meaning of Christmas.

By the way, the half hour special aired on Thursday, December 9, 1965 and imagine the surprise of the CBS executives when they learned that 50 percent of the televisions in the United States were tuned in to that broadcast. The special also won an Emmy and a Peabody award.

Schultz stood up for what he believed and the Lord stood up for him.

Second, Schultz never gave up his dream.

Every cartoon he submitted was rejected by his high school yearbook. Walt Disney Studios wouldn’t hire him because of his “lack of talent.”

Third, well, there are a lot of other reasons but let us move on by sharing two of our favorite quotes by Schultz

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”

And my favorite Schultz quote is:

“Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

My fine wife Bev and I were inspired and blessed by our visit to the Charles Schultz Museum several years ago in Santa Rosa, CA.

Let’s discuss why many people fail by what is referred to as the Charlie Brown Complex.

Psychologists coined that phrase when someone lacks confidence in one’s self.

John Maxwell said:

“If there is one quality that would make you successful in motivating people or convincing people to follow your lead, that trait would be authentic confidence."

Where does authentic confidence come from?

To have authentic confidence in life, your confidence must originate from the right source.

Your parents, teachers, friends and others may instill confidence in you but there is only one lasting source that will never be shaken by the adversities of life or the disappointment in others.

Psalm 71:5 in the Amplified Bible says:

“For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.”

As a follow up let me share two other related thoughts and scriptures.

First, it’s important that you place your confidence in the right person.

Psalm 146:3 in New Living Translation says:

“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”      

Second, man or woman may/will/can disappoint you but God never will.

Psalm 118:8 in the Amplified Bible says:

“It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Now back to Charlie Brown who was undoubtedly … short on confidence.

His friend Lucy didn’t help. Do you have some ‘friends’ like that?

In one of the strips. . .Lucy said:

“You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life.”

Lucy also told Charlie Brown that she never liked his face.

And, of course, she always pulled the football away as Charlie Brown approached it . . . causing him to fall flat on his back even though she promised not to.

Most everyone knows someone like that.

The things said by Lucy to Charlie Brown could and have filled volumes.

Unfortunately, some people do have Charlie Brown days.

Those close to them minimize their importance or ability to succeed in life. . .reinforcing the view of some. . .who always expect the worse to happen.

Then, too many believers expect to have a Charlie Brown day. . .one where nothing seemingly goes right.

Here are ten things that might qualify having a Charlie Brown sort of day.

First, you show up at Motel 6 and they’ve turn off the lights.

Second, your boss tells you not to remove your coat.

Third, the bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.

Fourth, you wake up in the morning and your dentures are locked together.

Fifth, your car horn accidentally gets stuck while you’re following a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.

Sixth, you walk to work on a summer morning only to find that you have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe the entire way.

Seventh, you return from a vacation and discover a new name on your mailbox.                                        

Eight, you step on the bathroom scales and it flashes “one at a time please.”

Ninth, your brakes go out just a highway patrolman motions for you to pull over.

Tenth, your income tax return bounces.

If you’re having a Charlie Brown kind of day. . .don’t give in, give up, back up, back down, sit down, quit or walk away.

Recognize that whatever comes your way. . .God can turn it around for good.

Here are seven keys to overcoming the Charlie Brown Complex.

First, don’t let anything get you down.

Ephesians 3:12-13 in the Message Bible says:

When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don't let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud! “

This passage contains some keys to never letting anything or anyone get you down.

#1     Trust in Him.

#2     Say whatever needs to be said. . .based on His Word.

#3     Be bold.

#4     Go wherever you need to do.

#5     Don’t let your present trouble. . .get you down.

#6     Be proud of who you are in Him.

Don’t let your present troubles get you down. . .not once in a while. . .not ever.

Remember the Apostle Paul was lashed 195 times...beaten with rods 3 times...stoned and left for dead...shipwrecked 3 times.

Know this … Jesus can heal your wounds as you move on to your next victory.

No matter what you’ve been going through. . .it’s time to move on in your faith.

Second, whatever you’re facing is preparation for your next assignment.

In preparation for your next assignment. . .the most important thing you can do is to stay pure before the Lord.

Joshua 7:13 in the New Living Translation says:

“Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.”

God instructed the children of Israel to purify themselves . . .in the King James Version He says sanctify yourselves. According to the Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word for sanctify means:

“to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate.”

Part of your daily preparation should be to sanctify yourself. . .consecrate and yes, prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

How do you purify yourself for your next assignment?

1.      Enter into His presence

2.      Read your instruction manual/battle plan, in other words The Bible

3.      Repent of anything you’ve done wrong.

4.      Eliminate any doubt about the outcome of your mission

5.      Receive your forgiveness

6.      Determine who will be in the foxhole with you

7.      Get out in front of your battle by praising God

Preparation precedes victory in every battle.

2 Corinthians 4:17 in the Amplified Bible says:

“For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!].”

We must never give the enemy permission to discourage us. . .or destroy our dreams. We must view every adversity as an opportunity to learn and advance to the next level in our dreams.

This leads perfectly into number 3.

Third, chose to be happy.

Charlie Brown once said:

“The smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what I have been blessed with. I choose to be happy.”

Being happy is a choice. . .it’s one that each of us makes on a regular basis. . . sometimes a moment by moment basis.

Happiness is a spiritual quality.

A mind full of Rich Thoughts from the Word of God. . .a heart full of love and compassion. . .and a willingness to serve and help others is a happy heart no matter what’s going on around the person.

Happiness comes from the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 in the Amplified Bible says:

“All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.”

True happiness comes from within.

Happiness found on the outside is temporary and often fleeting.

For instance, today, I’m happy when the Duke Blue Devils pull out a squeaker of a game after being down by 23 points in the last ten minutes of the game.

I’m unhappy when the New York Yankees don’t make it to the World Series.

I’m happy when we receive videos and Marco’s from our daughters and granddaughters throughout the week.  

Happiness that’s based on external events is not permanent.

Happiness from within our heart and spirit becomes deeper … it’s called joy.

Abraham Lincoln said:

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Matthew 5:8 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”

Fourth, it’s not about where you go in life but who you’re traveling with.

Always be there for others especially those of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].”

One of my favorite strips shows Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, clinging to his back. The caption reads:

“In life, it’s not where you go—it’s who you travel with.”

When you’re in the midst of a battle and someone yells “incoming” it’s important to know who’s in the foxhole with you.

Is it someone you can depend on?

Is it someone you can trust?

The television programs I enjoy watching are those where bad guys lose and good guys win.

It’s not unusual to hear one good guy say to another “I’ve got your back.”

No question God has our backs. . .but you also need to know as you head into battle that your friends have your back as well.

I Corinthians 15:33 in the New Living Translation says:

“Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”  

Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, said:

“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”

Fifth, never let fear control you.

Charlie Brown once said to Linus:

“Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening it just stops you from enjoying the good.”

The most often quoted verse about worry and fear is 2 Timothy 1:17:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

Here are seven quick truths found in this verse.

First, fear doesn’t come from God.

Second, God doesn’t want you timid. . .he doesn’t want you to be a coward when it comes to expressing your Godly opinions and doing what’s right. . .and, he doesn’t want you cringing about the things you think could go wrong.

Third, God has given you a special gift. . .dispensation.

Fourth, God has given you a spirit of power. . .the strength to overcome any and everything.

Fifth, God always wants you acting in love.

Sixth, God wants your life to be calm. . .not living in the tyranny of the urgent. His desire is that you have a well-balanced mind.

Seventh, God wants you living a life disciplined by the Word. . .exercising self-control over the temptations of the enemy.

As you can see. . .there’s much more to the verse. . .than just overcoming fear.

One more verse.

Isaiah 41:10 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.”

Sixth, expect the best.

Charlie Brown told Linus once:

“I think I’m afraid to be happy because whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens.”

Psalm 25:12 in The Living Bible says:

“Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best.”

From the moment you open your eyes in the morning. . .you need to begin expecting a supernatural move of God in your life. . .the very best life has to offer.

Psalm 5:3 in the New International Version says:

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

Psalm 62:5 says:

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

I begin each day filled with supernatural expectation about the manifestation of God’s presence, peace, protection, promises, power, promotion and provision.

Child of God, if you begin your day with supernatural expectations . . . you’ll never be disappointed.

Jeremiah 29:13 in the Message Bible says:

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. . .You can count on it.’”


I also like this quote from a Charlie Brown strip.

“Day is over, night has come.

Today is gone, what’s done is done.

Embrace your dream, through the night,

Tomorrow comes with a whole new light.”

Seventh, do something for someone else.

There is a cartoon strip where Charlie Brown and Snoopy are sitting on the edge of a pier looking out at the water. The caption says:

“Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.”

Philippians 2:4 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.”

God wants us to do good to others.

Hebrews 13:16 says:

“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word for good comes from a root word (G2095) which means:

“to be well off, fare well, prosper”

Hebrews 13:16 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

One last thought on how to overcome the Charlie Brown Complex.

Learn to do the Snoopy Happy Dance. . .I guarantee you. . .it will increase your confidence and prepare you for whatever the enemy throws your way.