What is a Christian?

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

John 14:23-24

My boys holding candles representing the “Light of the world” during a Christmas Eve service.


My children are filled with curiosity fueled by their tireless and abundant energy and (possibly) too many sweets. This curiosity makes me the direct target of many, many challenging questions numbering into the hundreds during our average 12-hour day. Inevitably, I leave them disappointed… unable in my aging, finite and exhausted mind to meet the herculean challenge of answering all of their earnest questions.

If you have enjoyed the privilege of spending any significant length of time with someone between the ages 3 and 7, you probably understand the feeling—and you likely well know that one deeply philosophical question is followed in strict pattern by one absolutely ridiculous could-have-fallen-from-the-sky inquiry. It goes something like this:

“Mommy, how close can I actually get to the sun without dying?”

“Mommy, can you describe exactly what a booger should taste like?”

“Mommy, can you ask God if we will live in our human bodies when we die?”

“Mommy, do sidewalks have shadows?”

“Mommy, is God a number since numbers never end?”

“Mommy, how are batteries made?”

“Mommy, if I eat an apple seed will I have a baby?”

“Mommy, what is the biggest thing in the whole world?”

You know… typical questions from the pint-sized philosopher.

Although tiresome, these questions are not at all useless. They are great warm-ups for the questions occasionally thrown at me from an adult over a hot cup of tea—and especially for the ones too important to forfeit a response, such as this:

“So, what is a Christian?”

It’s such a great question—and one that always stops my breath for a second. We absolutely need church-attending (or not) folks to consider this question here in the South, and we absolutely need to be asked to answer it. It can be tempting to stack many assumptions regarding the intentions behind this question and balance them on top of one another to avoid the awkwardness of getting right to the heart of the gospel. Oh, how we don’t want to offend. Oh, how we want to make others feel good so that we can also feel good about how they feel about us. Oh how easy it feels to say a Christian is any or everybody who calls themselves one. But what good is this if it’s not true?

The reality is that “What is a Christian?” is an earnest question in need of an honest answer. And we can not fabricate this one, lest we do so out of the delusion that we are mini-gods. Jesus tells us explicitly in his teachings: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:23-24).

A Christian is someone who obeys and submits to the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ.

“But how do I do this?”

You must prioritize a discovery and an openness to learn what Jesus taught and submit to it seriously in full faith so that it leaves nothing in your life untouched by what you have learned from Him.

“What did Jesus teach?”

He taught many things, but foremost Christ taught that we are all sinners (have turned away from God) and that we must repent (earnestly ask forgiveness from God) in order to receive enormous and incredible forgiveness given through Christ to our souls (the merciful, unearned favor of God to return to His presence). Jesus taught that if we are to “take up our cross and follow Him” (Matt.16:24-26) — we are to make a study of Him and His life that we may learn from Him and model our actions by Him here on earth.

And He stated that the road following Him is not easy, but when we follow Him He provides us a Helper (the Holy Spirit) and we will never be without His help for us.

So many of us have spent our time sitting in pews, singing hymns, owning a Bible, attending Christian private schools, and saying bedtime prayer poems that we may have missed it…

And others of us have devastatingly never heard this good news offered by Christ before. Forgiveness! The presence of God to help us! Could this be true? Is this not a myth?

It is true! And it is so real, my beloved reader…

And just in case you are one of the many who may have missed it, I wanted to make sure I stop and answer this question (like I do with my own children) that you receive a very straight-forward answer here.

In brief, a Christian is someone who believes this to be true: that Jesus is the Son of God who died for their sins, rose from the dead, reigns now as King over all, and because this is true they follow His teachings found in the Holy Bible and repent of their sins, accept the beautiful gift of forgiveness so that they may enter God’s presence, and submit to Jesus’ kingship over their life for an eternity.

Reader, a Christian is someone who believes that God has done the seemingly impossible because He is the very definition of LOVE itself. He has offered rescue to a broken, dying, and undeserving world.

You may need to ask yourself one very important follow-up question in sincerity: “Am I a Christian?”

And if you find yourself in need of a friend to discuss the possibilities of the answer to your question, my husband and I are absolutely available.

With all of my heart—Your humble servant,


If a brisket sizzles in Austin, but you’re not there to eat it—does it still make your mouth water?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Too much has happened since my last post to fully catch you up on the transitions. The short of it is that at the same time I launched into homeschooling my children, my family sold our beautiful home in Wake Forest and lived in transition for a while in that beautiful small town. Then we packed up and moved to the most oxymoronic city in the South—Austin, Texas (if you are wondering what I mean by ‘oxymoronic’ then you’ve probably never been to this incredible city).

I now have a better understanding what people mean when they use the verb “to uproot“, as in “What do you mean you’re uprooting your entire life to move to a new and unfamiliar place?

And even more… “Why would you uproot you’re entire life to plant a church in the South? Isn’t it saturated?

If the saturation of churches in the South were equivalent to a saturation of the gospel, then—sure—you may be right.

And, yes, there is some gospel here.

Someone once told me that sharing the gospel is like working to clean up a pile of bricks in the middle of the road… the more hands, the better, so I’m not really worried about the logic behind our decision.

The truth is that we don’t know why God moved us to Austin, but we know HE did it. He opened the doors and provided the confirmation through the faithful leadership at our small church in Wake Forest. He cut ties back home for us and propelled us forward onto Highway 40 toward our next life assignment—to live humble lives loving the people God puts around us in Austin by sharing the gospel with them through word and action. He provided a job waiting for my husband, free furniture, and a 3-bedroom apartment in a city where finding anywhere to live is a miracle from Heaven. He did this. We did not choose the details, we just chose to follow Him. We put all of our cards on table and He took them.

So, you can understand what I mean when I say I feel like all of this has been happening to me. I have motion sickness from the massive amount of change and hardship this transition has brought with it. I am ready to settle in, establish routine, and somehow readjust to living in a city that is simple beyond our economic means. I’m ready to see God move—but I am selfishly asking that He steady the boat a bit. I’m not as steadfast and faithful as I believed myself to be, and I desperately need Him to calm the storm. I don’t want to walk on the waves. Steadfastness is not this girl’s strong-suit, but I am repentant and fully reliant on this God of grace who saves us.

Here is a picture of the great contrast between myself and God in this transition:

When I panic, He is constant.

When I am afraid, He is steadfast.

When I can’t sleep, He bids me to rest in Him.

When I am unwise, He offers loving correction and wisdom from His throne.

When I am angry, He wins me with kindness.

When I am intimidated by the beauty, style, and knowledge of the world, He reminds me that He looks at the heart.

When I am sinful, He is just and accepts the blood of His son at the weak offer of my repentance.

When I am scared of what other people think of me, He reminds me that He is to be feared above all.

When I am convinced I can not share the gospel—that my life is too messy and my walk is not straight enough to provide a great witness for Him—He reminds me that if all I am is a life upheld by His mercy and grace for me, that will be enough.

One friend once asked me, “Reagan, what do expect to find at the end?” and my answer is the same now as it was then… “Jesus. Just Jesus.”

And just maybe some good Austin brisket… in the end.

The Gospel in Five Minutes

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

I grew up in the southern United States right on the fifth notch of the Bible Belt, and there is one thing I know for sure about the place I am from—many have not heard the gospel. I live in a cultural phenomenon where many are raised with Jesus being a common household name (or, common explicative), but they have no or little awareness of the true living God’s character and His power to save. So, I would like to start with the gospel, and every once in a while I will come back to it again.

My husband and I believe the good news of Jesus is not just for unbelievers. We, devoted followers of Jesus, need to hear it frequently—if not daily. It refreshes our soul and evokes praise to our Father. We have seen the power of the gospel in action when told both to unbelievers and those who are fervent followers of Jesus. Just this past week, we saw how sharing the gospel with a devoted follower of Jesus prepared her heart for miraculous reconciliation with another believer in our church.

So whether or not you are a seasoned Christian or you’ve never heard the good news of Jesus, I hope this five minute telling of the gospel informs and refreshes your spirit.

The world is broken. You and I know this because we see and experience it every day. Marriages fall apart, children endure abuse, nations are at war, the elderly are often forgotten, racism is rampant. The world is broken.

But God did not originally create the world in this way. He originally created the world in perfect and peaceful order, and humans walked in perfect and right relationship with their Creator without sickness and without death. And because God is love, he did not hold humans captive in right relationship with Him, but He gave them a choice—to either trust that He is good and to obey His good commands, or to follow their own desires and disobey their Creator.

Those first humans who walked with God chose to disobey Him and follow their own desires. This decision resulted in a great divide between humans and God, and—since the beginning—all humanity has continued to walk away from God in disobedience. This disobedience is called sin, and sin is what led to the broken world we live in today that ends in death for every living thing.

But God is love. And despite our decision to reject His commands and to determine our own path, He had in mind—since the beginning of the world—a plan to restore us to right relationship with Him again. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish the otherwise impossible for us. Jesus lived this human life in perfect and right relationship with God. Jesus is our ultimate example of what it means to walk in right relationship with our Creator. Being the only human that has ever walked the earth without sin, Jesus then gave His life as a payment for the sin of the world. He died on the cross—nailed there by the very humans He came to save. But, He did not stay dead. Three days after He died on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead—conquering death and sin. Today, Jesus sits alive—in His human body—at the right hand of God our Creator in Heaven, ruling over Creation.

Jesus told the people who witnessed His life, “If anyone believes in him [Jesus], they will not perish but have eternal life.” If a person believes that Jesus is the Son of God and they repent of their sin acknowledging Jesus as Lord, their soul will be given new life and they will walk in right relationship with God our Creator once again.

Although we may turn and follow Jesus as King and walk in right relationship with our Creator again, it does not mean we will not suffer in this world. This world is still shrouded in sin, and there are many who do not know the saving power of Jesus our King. And even within ourselves when we become believers, we will continue to battle temptation to disobey the Lord and go our own way—but not without help. When we become followers of Jesus, God provides us with His Holy Spirit— a Helper for us who reminds us of God’s mercy and love and strengthens us to walk in right relationship with Him.

There will come a day when Jesus will return to the earth and God will make all things new again. As followers of Jesus, we are promised that we will inherit this new kingdom—where sin and death will exist no more and all will walk in right relationship with the Father.

See, from the beginning of time—our all-knowing Creator has been writing a beautiful redemptive story, a testament of His love for us.

So, I have a question for you. Where are you today? Is Jesus King over your life and are you walking in right relationship with your Creator God? Or are you far from God, living with brokenness in your spirit?

Our Creator made it simple for us—if we believe that Jesus is our Savior and we follow Him, we will be saved.

If you have questions about salvation or would like to learn more in scripture—please visit my contact page. I would love to start a conversation with you or put you in contact with a trusted church resource in your area.