Why did God command us to love him but not to love our parents? Why are we instead commanded to honor them?
God made us in such a way that we would naturally want to love him. In other words, we have an inbuilt desire to love him. However, through misapplying our free will, we sometimes give the love that’s meant for God to people and things. This is why God included the Commandment to love him specifically, and to do so with all our heart and all our soul and all our might. If we keep this Commandment, we won’t stray off the “love path” (lol) and mistakenly give the love that we’ve been made to give to God to someone or something else.
Our parents are not God. No matter how hard they try to be good parents, they are all too human and all too prone to the flaws and faults of humans. While God does put into our parents’ hearts a certain measure of his love for us at our birth, that love is conditional and can fade with time. Many things can happen to negatively affect the love. God invites and enables parents to love their children and vice-versa, but his Commandment is for us to love him.
Rather than commanding us to love our parents, God commands us to honor them instead. In simplistic terms, we honor our parents by not speaking badly of them. If we have a grievance with them, we take it to God. We take it ONLY to God. In Genesis, one of Noah’s three sons exposed his father’s nakedness to his brothers, but Noah’s two other sons honored their father by walking backwards towards him as he lay drunk and asleep and covered his nakedness with a garment. They covered their father; they didn’t gawk at him or expose him or ridicule him or blame him for his mistake: They covered him. And for so doing, they were later blessed by Noah and by God. The son who exposed Noah was cursed.
While it seems relatively straight-forward, honoring our parents is one of the most frequently broken Commandments among Christians. I have heard countless professional preachers present themselves as survivors of child abuse and go into gory detail about their alcoholic mother and/or physically abusive father. Then they make things worse by inviting their listeners to share their own abuse experiences.
Most of us born-agains love our parents and have no problem keeping the Commandment to honor them. But for those who do have a difficult relationship with their mother and/or their father, honoring can still be done even in the absence of affection. All that is required is a respect for the role played by the parents (not respect for how well the role is played; respect for the role itself). And at the same time, we should always speak kindly of our parents, covering their mistakes like Noah’s two respectful sons covered his. Do this, and you’ll be blessed. Don’t do it, and you’ll be cursed, because you’ll be breaking a Commandment, and nothing good ever comes from willfully breaking God’s Commandments.
Today is a windy day.
When my cat was still on Earth in her earthly body (she’s in Heaven now, in her heavenly body), she was terrified of windy days – not because of the wind itself (I don’t think she knew what wind was at that time), but because of the way the bushes and trees would flail and lash at her and the leaves would chase her around the yard. I think she thought they were moving on their own volition and were on the attack.
So she refused to go outside on windy days.
Smart cat. ;D
Plants do move on their own volition (very very slowly), but that’s not what makes them flail and lash on occasion, nor is it what makes dead leaves blow around. The invisible wind does that.
When I was an atheist, I believed the forces that governed my life were external to me and beyond my control. I believed bad things happened to me not because of anything I did, but because systems were bad or people were bad. And so, to my mind, economic and political trees flailed and lashed at me, and people chased me around like leaves. I was as blind to the spiritual forces working in my life as my cat was to the wind blowing through the yard. But at least my cat had the excuse of not knowing science and the good sense to stay indoors on windy days; I had no excuse but spiritual blindness and the bad sense to constantly throw myself into the spiritual maelstrom. Being completely clueless as to why things were the way they were, I grew more and more confused and desperate every day.
You’re not born with spiritual blindness; you acquire it through sin and pride. Most of the world labors under some degree of spiritual blindness. In fact, metaphorically speaking, most of the world believes that dead leaves are attacking them, and trees and bushes are out to get them. Not knowing how God’s Holy Spirit and all the other holy and unholy spirits work in their lives, they attribute their misery and “bad luck” to influences like political systems or absent parents. Very few understand that the measure you mete out is the measure you get in return, mitigated by God’s mercy. Very few acknowledge that the Ten Commandments have been written on their hearts by God himself, and are as much a part of them as their DNA.
For the first 36 years of my life, I was like most people in the world, believing that trees and leaves were out to get me. Even worse, I always blamed my problems and failures on someone or something else. I never made the connection between my ungodly life choices and the misery that followed. God’s Ten Commandments were written on my heart just as deeply as they were on everyone else’s, but my spiritual blindness made me spiritually illiterate.
Atheism is a form of acquired spiritual illiteracy.
The only cure for spiritual blindness is, of course, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to God any other way but by Jesus. Like my cat taking shelter indoors on windy days, you can take shelter under the mighty hand of God as a follower of Jesus. And then you’ll be able to see. The spiritual winds will still blow and the elements will still lash at you, but at least you’ll know why: you’ll make the connection between the choices you make in life and the kind of life you get in return. From this knowledge, you can then learn to make better choices. You don’t need to see the wind to know it’s there, any more than you need to see God’s Law to know it’s there, because you can clearly see the impacts of both.
By the way, my cat in Heaven now knows what wind is. In fact, she knows a lot more about most things than I do. All of God’s creatures in Heaven are given a full measure of God’s Spirit. Someday, they’ll be teaching us the miraculous “science” of the heavenly realms, if and when we make it home.
Someone asked me today which church he should attend that isn’t “lame”. He wanted to know if there was anything better than Catholicism, because he’d had bad experiences at Catholic churches.
This is what I told him:
There is just one church – God’s.
And God’s church is never lame.
God’s church is the collective of born-again souls that are still in earthly bodies on Earth. It is founded and headed by Jesus, and all of the members are called and chosen and faithful. They don’t get to join God’s church on their own volition; God calls and chooses them. As long as they remain faithful, they will remain in his church.
That is God’s church on Earth, and there is only one (and it is never lame). It meets 24/7; there is never a time when God’s church is not in service, and everyone in it wants to be there. They cannot imagine wanting to be anywhere else on Earth other than in God’s church.
Buildings and organizations that call themselves churches are not God’s church. They are buildings and organizations that are at best social clubs and at worst cults. But they are not God’s church.
When Jesus started God’s church nearly 2000 years ago, he envisioned a time when buildings and organizations would be considered the church, and he warned his followers about it. He said that God is looking for people who will worship in spirit and in truth, not in buildings. Paul also warned us, saying that wolves in sheep’s clothing would try to prevent people from entering God’s church by taking over the social club churches and cult churches and teaching the sheep lies. The wolves are in control of those churches now and have been for some time. Paul’s warnings were accurate. There is not one of the social club churches or cult churches that the wolves don’t control.
The only church that remains true to the teachings of Jesus Christ is God’s church, and there is just one of those. It meets wherever true believers are, and it’s always in service, night and day.
That’s the church you should attend.
How you get into it is between you and God.
Ask him for help, and he’ll show you what to do.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Be very, very, very careful how you apply this scripture.
Jesus was kind to the unkind and even to the condemned.
Think of how kind he was to Judas Iscariot, even knowing all along that Judas would betray him and was therefore condemned for all eternity.
And think that he let Judas kiss him, even knowing that the kiss was a signal to arrest him.
Most people are messed up these days, and we know from scripture that most are condemned, having chosen the broad way. But we, as born-again believers, are still to love these people and be kind to them. Jesus’ directive to love and bless our enemies and to pray for them has the same weight as a Commandment, meaning that it’s non-negotiable.
Non-negotiable means there are no exceptions and no exemptions. It has to be done.
Let me be brutally frank: being unkind to people solely because they are unkind to you or are your spiritual enemy is a sin. Violating any of the Commandments is a sin, and being kind to the unkind has the same weight as a Commandment. If you purposely and persistently sin and refuse to repent, you will lose your grace and join those on the broad way.
Don’t do that.
You can love your enemies and be kind to them from a distance. You can keep your distance from them, if that’s what you prefer and if that’s how God guides you. But you still need be kind to them according to Jesus’ directive, which he told us outright was another Commandment.
Your kindness may help diffuse a situation they’re going through. Your kindness may be the only kindness they’ve been shown in a long time. Your kindness may even inspire them to be kind to someone else.
Ultimately, your kindness may keep them from a worse eternal condemnation. This is the purpose of being kind to the unkind, of loving your enemies.
The spiritual directive to be kind in the face of unkindness is the highest calling of a born-again believer. It is ultimately what will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.
When your enemy hungers, feed him.
When he thirsts, give him something to drink.
When he is naked, clothe him.
When he curses you, bless him.
You know the drill.
Being kind to the unkind is a non-negotiable Commandment and probably the most difficult of all to keep.
But keep it you must.
As with everything, ask God for help with this.
You cannot be kind to the unkind on your own steam.
Ask God for help.
And if you mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Make your amends, and do better next time.
Every once in a while, an ad for a TV show will pop up on my screen while I’m browsing the internet. The themes of the shows likely have to do with my online activity with this blog and my internet searches on all things God, so every now and then I’ll get an ad for a show about Satan. The actor playing that role (who in their right mind would play such a role? But maybe I’ve answered my question right there…) – the actor playing the role is classically good-looking in a bad-boy kind of way, and he’s usually shown wearing aviator shades. The “look” the creative producers are going for, I’d wager, is “cool”. I’ve never seen the show and have no intention of watching it, but that’s what I can figure from the ads that appear every now and then: “Satan is cool; watch this show about Satan being cool, and you’ll be cool, too!”
I’ve never really thought of Satan as being cool. When I was an atheist, I didn’t believe Satan existed any more than I believed God existed, so I didn’t spend any time thinking about Satan’s personality. Then, as soon as I was born-again, I knew that Satan was the last thing from cool. Slippery, yes; slimy, yes; to be avoided at all costs, yes; but cool, definitely not.
To the world, cool usually means a good-looking rebel who bucks the established order without breaking a sweat and wins all the goodies (including the good-looking mate) in the end. But this is not my version of cool. To me, cool implies fearlessness, a consistent and constant state where nothing ruffles you, where no amount of provocation sways you from your convictions. It also usually involves an attractiveness that is not necessarily based on looks but on charisma. I’ve known “cool” people who were not great-looking but strongly compelling. You overlooked their lack of looks (in fact, you didn’t even notice it) because their engaging personality made up for it.
Cool, in my books, also implies a quiet heroism based on doing the right thing and never backing down, regardless of the consequences. Someone who’s “cool” is also a quiet hero, someone who has your back, though you might not know it. Only later do you find out what was done for you, what was arranged behind the scenes, what deals were made and threats neutralized. All of this was done for you but never spoken about. Just done as a matter of course because that’s what cool people do, that’s what quiet heroes do, that’s what people who do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing do. That, to me, is a cool person.
So if you apply these character traits to Satan, you’ll see he’s the last thing from cool. But there is someone we know well and are getting to know better and better every day who does fit that description to a “T”.
His name is Jesus the Christ.
When he was in human form on Earth, Jesus was a cool guy in the truest sense of the word. Nothing fazed him. He never panicked. He could care less what people thought of him. And he feared only God. In fact, he looked at each and every situation not through the eyes of man but through the eyes of God. He saw the big picture but missed none of the details. He was incredibly strong in mind, body and spirit. He never caved to pressure or worried about public opinion.
At the same time, Jesus was intensely sympathetic, empathetic, sensitive, and passionate. He was no automaton and not in any way hard-hearted. Every choice he made, he explained why he was making it and he constantly made reference to scripture to back up his words.
We are to be like Jesus in everything we do. Not as cheap knock-offs, but as genuine followers remaining authentic to who we are (as God made us), while taking our cue from Jesus on how to respond to situations and people.
Being cool doesn’t mean you don’t occasionally lose your temper or cry (Jesus did both). It means that your response to a situation is warranted. We mourn with those who mourn, but we don’t wallow in tears of self-pity. We correct those who are teaching a false gospel (using forceful correction, if necessary), but we don’t get malicious with them. We occasionally have to overturn a few tables to get people’s attention, but we don’t resort to overturning tables on a daily basis. Like Jesus, we should do all things in good measure, and all according to what the situation calls for.
That’s being cool.
After he started his ministry work, Jesus was a rebel and an outcast from mainstream society, including mainstream religion. While the religious establishment continued to preach a doctrine of exclusionism, Jesus opened up God’s salvation to all people. While the religious establishment continued to preach an eye for an eye and hatred of one’s enemies, Jesus taught that we are to return unkindness with kindness and to love and bless our enemies. This new doctrine was incomprehensible to the religious establishment. It still is today.
The mainstream values of finding a job, getting married, having children, buying land, building a house, acquiring wealth and possessions, and dying at a ripe old age were also not part of the new doctrine preached by Jesus. Those he called to follow him left their jobs, spouses, children, land, houses, wealth and possessions to live a nomadic existence of itinerant preaching that was likely going to end in a gruesome death at a young age. All of this Jesus required of his followers because it was what God had required of him, and Jesus’ followers are to do everything that he does, using him as the example. And, like the doctrine of loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, this doctrine of living a nomadic existence as an itinerant preacher with no possessions beyond the clothes on your back is also incomprehensible to the religious establishment today. They think it doesn’t apply to them.
Being authentic to who we are as individuals while at the same time following Jesus’ example of how to respond to people and situations requires only one thing from us: putting God first. If we genuinely put God first in our lives, we will have no problem following Jesus in everything we do. When we’re called to ministry training, we will without a second thought walk away from our jobs, families, property and possessions, just like Jesus’ first disciples.
And most importantly, we will learn how to be cool, not as the world sees cool, but as Jesus was authentically cool during his time on Earth. Satan might have the appearance of cool, but he is all too aware of what awaits him when his time is up, and it terrifies him. Jesus has no such terror. He knew during his time on Earth the glory that awaited him in Heaven if he stuck to his allotted course, and it motivated and inspired him. Being terrified was never part of who Jesus was.
So – are you cool like Satan (that is, superficially cool, but underneath terrified) or are you cool like Jesus (authentically cool, and underneath still cool)?
I hope you’re cool like Jesus.
And just so you know, Jesus is just as cool now as he ever was. All the power and good looks he gained when he arrived in Heaven haven’t gone to his head. He’s still the same cool guy he was on Earth, only now he’s perfected and glorified, as we will be, too, if we stay our allotted course.
God is watching you.
All the time.
He sees everything you do, and I mean everything.
Not only that, but he’s also listening to everything you say, and he’s reading your every thought.
Most Christians don’t know this. They think that God can only see them when they go into a church building or when they pray. They are unaware that God knows every intimate detail about them, that this knowledge is current in real time, and that God’s constant surveillance will continue for the rest of their days on Earth.
If you love God and follow Jesus, this is a comfort to you. Knowing that God sees and knows everything about you keeps you in line. Like a mother watching over her child, God watching over us is a safety feature of being human. I frankly wouldn’t have it any other way.
I think if more believers actually believed that God was watching them and watching over them all the time, their behavior would radically change. If their mindset were “God can see me, God can hear me, God knows my thoughts”, they would adjust what they do, say, and think to what they know pleases God.
I remember as a teenager being so relieved when my parents would go out and leave me alone in the house. I felt then that I could really be myself. Being myself meant calling a friend to come over, getting drinks from the liquor cabinet, and indulging in porn. I had no idea at that time that “being myself” actually meant giving into temptation.
We are all made in the image of God. God does not swipe drinks from his parents’ liquor cabinet or sneak porn into the house. These are temptations.
If we’re made in God’s image, then our first impulse (our default) is to do good. We were made to do good, if not to be good (Jesus says there are none good but God). We are made to want what God wants for us. The only thing getting in our way and muddying the waters is our free will. Being conscious of God’s perpetual presence is an excellent way to overcome the temptations that come from free will.
As you read these words, God is reading them with you. He sees you reading them and knows your mindset exactly. He even knows your state of health to the tiniest detail. There is nothing about you – down to the sub-molecular level – that God doesn’t know. You cannot in any way fool God.
You can, however, fool the devils. They are also watching you, though their vision of you is not as clear as God’s. They can see you and hear you, but they cannot read your thoughts. They can speak into your thoughts, if you’re not born-again, but they cannot hear your thoughts. Being born-again provides you protection from “demon voices” through the protective power of God’s Holy Spirit that forms a spiritual firewall around you.
Because the devils don’t actually know your thoughts, you can fool them with your spoken and written words, as well as with your actions. God is the only one who has access to your thoughts, so he knows what your real intentions are. But not the devils. You can fool them. Jesus says to be as wise as serpents. Just as the demonic serpents fool mankind, you can and must also fool them. They don’t need to know your thoughts and your plans. Only God needs to know those.
In teaching about the Kingdom, Jesus gave very few of his inner thoughts away to his disciples. Scripture says he did this because he knew what was in their hearts (that is, their thoughts) and also because they could not at the time bear it (that is, understand it or handle the knowledge wisely). Jesus knew the thoughts of others because God told him. God tells us the thoughts of others, too, when we need to know. That is one aspect of private revelation.
If we were more aware of God’s presence in our lives, our choices would likely be godlier. Similarly, if we were more aware of the presence of demonic spirits in our lives, our choices would also likewise be godlier. Having an awareness of the constant presence of the supernatural realm around us (not as something to be conjured on occasion and in certain places, but as a perpetual reality that is there whether we are aware of it or not) fundamentally changes how we act, speak, and think. Far from being an intrusion, being under constant surveillance by spiritual forces acts as a safety barrier around our free will. It keeps us from doing, saying, and thinking things that will literally come back to haunt us.
Knowing that God is the only one who can know our unexpressed thoughts is a comfort as well. Our mind is our ultimate safe-space; the world can know everything else about us in relatively intimate detail, but it cannot know our thoughts unless we choose to reveal them. Like Jesus, it’s best to keep most of those hidden between you and God, revealing only what God advises.
As was prophesied by Simeon, Jesus caused his mother a lot of heartache.
Jesus didn’t do this on purpose; it was a side-effect of choosing to do his Father’s will rather than the world’s.
We need to be like Jesus in everything we do.
After setting her son on the path to ministry work, Mary got caught up in her motherly instincts and tried to protect Jesus from his enemies (like Peter later did and was called “Satan” for his efforts). This put Mary in direct opposition to Jesus until his resurrection, at which time she turned and became his follower.
In fact, when Jesus asked “Who is my mother? Who are my brethren?… Those who do the will of my Father in Heaven are my brother, sister and mother”, it was in direct reference to Mary and his siblings. He didn’t say this to hurt his family but to show the primacy of the spiritual bond shared by those who do God’s will. Our spiritual brethren are closer to us in kinship than our blood relatives. That’s why ALL (not some, ALL) of the disciples left their blood families, including spouses and children, when they started to follow Jesus. The focus on the blood-relative family that dominates the worldly church is anti-Christ.
Again, we are to follow Jesus in everything we do. We are not to follow the world, even if it calls itself Christian.
It is highly likely that those of you who are genuinely born-again have no born-again blood relatives, or at least none who are still on Earth. Being born-again is a lonely state (or better said, being born-again is an alone state). It puts you in conflict not only with your blood relatives, but also with the world in general. Paul told us to get along as much as possible with everyone, and Jesus said to make friends of the children of mammon so we have a fall-back if we fail, and we’d be wise to follow their advice. But our closest friends cannot be people of the world. That includes members of our family, if they’re not born again.
In any case, if we’re genuine followers of Jesus, people of the world won’t want to be around us. They’ll find any excuse not to be around us. We make their skin crawl, even if we don’t mention God or Jesus. Don’t take it personally (never be offended); it’s a spiritual aversion, not a personal one. Only when they’re on a mission from the devil (and I’m not jesting here) will people of the world seek out our company. Welcome them with the same courtesy and kindness you would anyone else, but be careful not to fall into their trap. If you give into them, you will suffer for it, but so will they for leading you astray.
When Jesus was in his house in Capernaum, Mary came looking for him not to help with his ministry, but to take him home to Nazareth (you know, the place that ran him out of town and tried to kill him). She thought he’d lost his mind in claiming to be the Messiah, and didn’t want him to be arrested. She well knew the penalty for falsely claiming to be the Messiah was death, particularly since the religious powers-that-be at the time were closely aligned with the Roman occupiers and didn’t want to lose their comfortable status quo, even for the genuine King of the Jews.
Mary knew Jesus was special among humans, but she likely considered him to be another prophet, rather than “that Prophet” (as Moses called the Messiah). We shouldn’t fault Mary for this. In most (not all, most) mothers, the instinct to protect their children from harm overrides any other allegiance. Mary was trying to protect Jesus when she came to get him in Capernaum.
We are also guilty, to some extent, of wanting to override God’s Commandments and Jesus’ teachings when it comes to our own loved ones. We don’t want to hurt them. We want to protect them. We tend to see the short-term benefits rather than the long-term ones, the worldly consequences rather than the heavenly ones.
But being a follower of Jesus means that we likely have to turn our backs on our blood relatives, even to the point of not attending our own father’s funeral if it conflicts with God’s will. This is a hard pill for many people to swallow. Worldly Christians will outright refuse, and even born-agains will hesitate and mull it over and maybe ask God if there’s a way around it, a way to compromise that keeps their blood relatives and other loved ones from being hurt. Most times there isn’t: there is only God’s way or the world’s way.
The parable of the wedding guests is a prime example of people who chose what appears to be good (the world’s way) over what is actually good (God’s way). The invitees had any number of excuses why they could not attend the feast, all of which in the eyes of the world (and in the eyes of most Christians today) would have been reasonable, such as just having gotten married or just having purchased land or other possessions that needed looking after. How can you argue with the reasonableness of those responsibilities? And yet Jesus did just that, showing how these people were condemned in God’s eyes for choosing what had value in the world rather than what had value in the Kingdom.
We need always to choose what has value in God’s eyes, even and especially when it conflicts with the world and our loved ones. Jesus didn’t cave to his mother’s pleas to go home to Nazareth; in fact, he dismissed them as inconsequential, just as the invited wedding guests should have dismissed their new wife as inconsequential or their new land as inconsequential, just as Matthew actually did dismiss his tax collector job as inconsequential and Peter his family and fishing business as inconsequential.
All that should matter to us, as born-again believers, is doing God’s will, not the world’s will, and not our family’s will. Yes, you may cause your family some measure of heartache, but the alternative is your eternal damnation. When it comes down to choosing between what pleases God and what pleases your family, always choose to please God, like Jesus did.
Be like Jesus in everything you do.
My house in Heaven sits on hundreds of thousands of acres. Yes, that’s right – hundreds of thousands (it’s not a typo). We all get lots of space in Heaven, if that’s what we want.
It’s a small house (a cottage, really), just big enough for my furry little loved ones and I to eat and sleep and hang out, but with enough room for friends to visit, too. And you always get visitors in Heaven. Friends drop by every day, including (on occasion) The Big Guy and His Side-Kick.
I mean God and Jesus (lol).
They have a special room that’s just for them.
Inside the house are all my funny little keepsakes that I’ve loved and cherished over my lifetime. Most of them are no longer on Earth, or if they are, they’re no longer in my possession, but I remember them fondly and I used to mourn them. But now I know that all those things I lost or sold or broke or left behind are in Heaven waiting for me. All of them, and just as I remembered them. This makes me happy, thinking about that. I no longer mourn them, and it’s also easier to let other things go, knowing I’ll have them again someday, and that I’ll always have them from that point onward.
There are no good-byes in Heaven, and no breaking or losing anything. Everything is perfected and remains so for eternity.
Outside on my hundreds of thousands of acres are all the animals I’ve loved and wept over and eaten during my lifetime on Earth. They all get to spend their forever doing whatever makes them happy, and they all get along. No growling in Heaven. The ones I’ve eaten don’t know I’ve eaten them, and neither do I. They only remember the happy times they had on Earth, just like I only remember the happy times. No unhappy memories get into Heaven.
On my hundreds of thousands of acres are also some animals I’ve never actually seen during my time on Earth because they went extinct before I was born. And there are other animals I’ve never even heard of because they don’t exist in the fossil record. Lots of happy surprises in Heaven, for those who want them.
My land in Heaven is made up of all my favourite places and scenery on Earth, along with all my favorite flowers and trees and other plants. My favorite insects are waiting there for me, too. All of my favorite creatures are waiting for me.
Jesus says to store up your treasures in Heaven, and that’s what I’m doing. Storing up happy memories and beautiful scenes. My little slice of Heaven includes parts of the Grand Canyon, the Rockies and the Alps, a bit of the prairies, some forests and ocean cliffs, a stretch of rocky shore, and some coves and beaches. There are even a few islands dotting a handful of lakes. It’s all there waiting for me, all my beloved animals and plants and natural scenery, all in their own places but forming a seamless expanse as far as the eye can see.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I have neighbours in Heaven. We keep a neighbourly distance from each other. Travel options in Heaven are different than on Earth, so vast spaces can be crossed in an instant.
I’m telling you all this because there are so many lies being told on Earth about Heaven and what it looks like. It’s the devil’s job to downplay the wonders of Paradise (don’t get on his case about that; as I said, it’s his job), so we need to go to God directly and ask him ourselves.
Have you asked God yet what your place in Heaven looks like? Have you asked him to show you what’s waiting for you if you make it all the way home? If you haven’t asked God yet, you need to do it. God wants to show you. He’s waiting for you to ask him to show you, so ask him.
That’s how I know about my hundreds of thousands of acres. I asked God, and he showed me, and every day he shows me a little bit more. He’s not going to show me everything (that would ruin the surprise!), but just enough to boost my spirits and remind me what all the trials and tribulations on Earth are for, just enough to remind me what I’m fighting for.
People forget that; they forget that Heaven is the reward we’re striving for. We’re not fighting the good fight just for the sake of fighting; we’re fighting the good fight so we can go home again. I say “again”, because we were all created in Heaven. Our souls were formed in Heaven and we were reborn in the heavenly realms. Our yearning and love for God is in part a yearning and love for home.
I hope you ask God today to show you what’s stored up in Heaven waiting for you. God wants to show you. He gets really excited when you ask him (the way people on Earth get excited when they’re planning a big surprise for someone they love), so go ahead – ask him. What you see will amaze you and give you the boost you need to keep going. Ask him every day, if you want. God is more than happy to show you. He loves you and he’s storing up everything on Earth that you love, just for you. It’s all waiting for you, if and when you make it home.
I wrote a while back about YouTube preachers, calling what they do “spiritual porn”, and so it is. They want to titillate in order to gain clicks and subscribers rather than to genuinely inform God’s people. As a follow-up, I’ve made a short list of the main signs to watch for when you’re discerning whether or not a preacher or teacher who claims to be sent by God (that is, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit) is in fact a false prophet. These are by no means the only signs, but they are the key ones.
Here they are, in no particular order of importance (because they are ALL important):
1. A false prophet conflates God and Jesus. This is huge. The claim that Jesus is God rather than the son of God is one of the main signs that you’re dealing with a false prophet. Jesus never referred to himself as God, saying only that God was in him through God’s Holy Spirit. If you’re genuinely born-again and you know God as your Heavenly Father and Jesus as your Messiah, then you know they are two very separate beings. I’ve written before about why this push to conflate God and Jesus is growing stronger. It has to do with the false prophet who will sit on a throne in the third temple in Jerusalem, claiming to be Jesus and demanding to be worshiped as God. This is scriptural prophecy. Jesus sits at the right hand of God, having lordship over creation, but he is not God.
2. A false prophet asks for financial donations. Like Judas, false prophets love money and are driven by it. All professional preachers (that is, preachers who get paid a salary to preach) are false prophets. For unsalaried independent false prophets, I guarantee you that somewhere on their website or YouTube account is a “Donations” button. I have yet to see a false prophet who hasn’t asked for money in exchange for preaching. And yes, I realize I include every professional minister, pastor, priest and dime-store preacher in this sweeping condemnation, but I stand by it.
If you genuinely love God, genuinely follow Jesus, and are genuinely born-again, you will NEVER ask for money to preach and teach the Word. Nor will you ask for money or suggest a donation for praying for people or ministering to their spiritual needs. “Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s, and unto God those things that are God’s.” Jesus accepted donations, but he never solicited them. If someone wants to give you money with no strings attached, take it. It’s a gift from God meant for your use, and you will bless the giver by taking it. But soliciting money or charging for your services as an alleged minister of God is a big red flag that you’re not what you say you are.
3. A false prophet preaches that Jesus is coming back soon to set up a worldly kingdom. I’ve written on several occasions about this. God’s Kingdom was set up by Jesus 2000 years ago and is a spiritual kingdom, not a worldly one. When Jesus comes back in glory (oh, what a sight to behold that will be!), he will not be hanging around to set up a worldly kingdom. Scripture says he’ll be sending his angels to the four corners of the earth to gather together the last of the faithful. There is no word about Jesus touching down on Earth, let along settling in for an extended stay.
Remember that Jesus has a glorified body now. He lives entirely in the heavenly realms. He told us he will appear in glory, which means he will appear in his second coming as he appears in Heaven. He will be in his heavenly glorified body. These bodies are not the same as flesh and blood bodies. They are not made for Earth. Are we to expect that Jesus gives up his glorified body for an earthly one? Scripture says nothing about Jesus doing that.
4. A false prophet over-quotes and misapplies scripture. Just before beginning his ministry work, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. One of the main tricks the devil and false prophets like to do is throw reams of scripture at you, usually citing chapter and verse to dazzle you with their knowledge. The truth is, however, that most of their quotes are misapplied and sometimes even shortened or cobbled together with other shortened quotes to change the context, giving them the opposite meaning to what God intended. Jesus easily dealt with the devil’s misapplied quotes because Jesus knew scripture. Most Christians these days don’t know scripture, which makes them easy to deceive. The better you know scripture, the less likely you’ll be able to be deceived by those who misapply it.
5. A false prophet has the whiff of BS. Like a slick snake-oil salesman, there’s something vaguely off about false prophets. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but they’re trying too hard to sell you something they can see you’re hesitant to buy. Something just doesn’t add up, regardless of how many Bible quotes they throw at you to convince you of their sincerity or legitimacy. As a woman, when I hear a false prophet, I’m reminded of some men I used to date before I was born again. After they’d dropped me off at my door at the end of the evening, they would use every line in the book to get me to invite them in. False prophets have the same slimy aggression, saying whatever it is they think you want to hear in order to get what they want. A prophet from God gives you the sense that Truth is being spoken, not lies. It may be uncomfortable at times to hear the Truth (because it convicts you and forces you to re-examine and re-evaluate your choices), but you still have the sense that it is Truth. This sense of Truth does not come from false prophets.
6. A false prophet will guarantee you’re going to Heaven just for “having faith” or “believing”. There is no greater reward than Heaven. Imagine saying to an athlete competing in trials to qualify for the Olympics that he’d won a gold medal simply for showing up at the trials. You’d be laughed to scorn if you claimed this, and yet false prophets have no problem handing out spiritual gold medals to anyone who shows up to listen to them. For a false prophet, the reward of Heaven is so cheap and easily achieved, all you have to do is “believe” and “have faith” and you’re in.
When Paul argued the primacy of faith and belief, he was using it in two ways: 1) in contradistinction to the Law (meaning that, since Jesus’ sacrifice, simply fulfilling the 600+ dictates of the Law was not enough; you had to be washed by the blood of the Lamb Jesus, that is, be born again and receive Jesus as your Messiah), and 2) in showing that gentiles, not just the children of Abraham, could enter the Kingdom. Gentiles entered God’s Kingdom by faith (that is, rebirth through God’s Holy Spirit) rather than genetics (that is, as children of Abraham).
Yes, having faith in God and believing that Jesus is the Messiah are necessary mindsets for admission to Heaven, but they’re not all we need. Jesus tells us that we’ll be held accountable for our every word and every thought, and that he will “give every man according to his work”. False prophets deny this, claiming that belief and faith are all we need to get into Heaven. Genuine belief and genuine faith do not come solely from doing God’s will. In other words, you don’t gain belief and faith simply by doing God’s will. That is the realm of the Law, and we are no longer in that realm as born-again believers. We are in the kingdom, with admission by spiritual rebirth only. If faith and belief came solely from doing God’s will, demons would be in the kingdom and on their way to Heaven, because they do God’s will. They have no choice. But clearly, demons are not going to Heaven.
The truth is that you do God’s will because you believe and have faith, not the other way around. Your belief and your faith come from God, not from your works. Even so, if you genuinely believe and have faith, you will be obedient to God and do his will because you love him and cannot conceive of doing anything except what pleases him, like Jesus did. So if you say you have faith and believe but at the same time do things that are contrary to God’s will, you’re lying about your faith and belief: You’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to others. Your acts (that is, your words, thoughts and deeds) show your faith and belief, and you can’t fool God. He knows exactly who genuinely believes and who doesn’t.
But you can fool people, and that’s what a false prophet does in claiming that all you need to do is believe in Jesus and off you go to Heaven. Don’t be deceived.
7. A false prophet preaches the importance of family. Jesus was not a family man. In fact, he said that those who are worthy of the Kingdom neither marry nor are given in marriage, that they become “eunuchs” for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Eunuchs don’t have a wife/husband and kids. They give up having those relations. Jesus also said that his family were not blood relatives but those who did God’s will. These statements were as clear as Jesus could make them, and yet false prophets surround themselves with family members working in their ministry, especially their spouse, and pride themselves in their children and grandchildren.
Consider also that none of Jesus’ disciples and pre-resurrection followers were his family members. He had been rejected by his family as resoundingly as he had been rejected by Nazareth. He said that a prophet was not honored in his own family or country. Even John the Baptist was not a follower of Jesus, and Jesus did not choose him as a disciple. And he said that those who do not hate mother, father, sister, brother and children and spouse are not worthy of the Kingdom. I’m not sure how he could have made this any clearer.
8. A false prophet is surrounded by worldly wealth. This goes hand-in-hand with asking for donations, but a false prophet is easily spied by how much wealth he or she is surrounded by and how much store he or she puts on that wealth (including preps – I’m talking to someone here). Followers of Jesus are to live as Jesus lived, which is being constantly on the move, beholden to no-one, owning no property, and having no worldly ties. Followers of Jesus should live “with loins girded” and always ready to leave at a moment’s notice with nothing but the clothes on their back. God will provide for all needs. Prepping, unless directly instructed to you by God, shows a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for you. Surrounding yourself with worldly wealth does not reflect the gospel message to live like Jesus and his disciples.
9. A false prophet has a YouTube channel. I wrote here before about people who host YouTube channels being false prophets, every last one. I stand by that assertion. I don’t include videos that have been posted by a third party without the knowledge or permission of a preacher or teacher; I mean videos posted by people or organizations claiming to be inspired by God, whereas their real inspiration is clicks, subscribers, getting attention, and making money from their videos and ministries. These types of false prophets either make videos that are mostly just Bible quotes strung together out of context, or videos of themselves “hearing from God” or prophesying apocalyptic future events. None of these Bible-quoting or doom-and-gloom videos offer practical guidance for everyday life as a born-again believer, but instead catch your attention with apocalyptic and end-time warnings. In other words, their message is fear-based rather than instructional, which is a big red flag that you’re dealing with a false prophet.
False prophets like those on YouTube are not a new phenomenon. Both the old and new testaments make reference to them, with God stating that many claim to be from him though he didn’t send them, and Paul reminding us to test the spirits. Unfortunately, too many Christians believe that anyone claiming to be from God and quoting scripture is actually from God, despite Jesus’ direct warnings about false prophets, and despite evidence in the Bible that even Satan himself quotes scripture. We need to discern real from false, right from wrong, genuine from fake. We need to test the spirits and compare with scripture what people tell us, not just swallow whole whatever message is served up on the latest YouTube platter.
10. A false prophet is not born-again. Jesus says you must be born-again to enter the Kingdom. If false prophets were born-again, they wouldn’t be conflating God and Jesus, asking for donations, claiming that Jesus is coming back soon to set up a worldly kingdom, misapplying scripture, giving off a scent of BS, insisting you’re going to Heaven just for “believing”, preaching the importance of family, surrounding themselves with worldly wealth, and/or hosting a YouTube channel. If you ask a false prophet if they’re born again, most will say something like: “Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal savior”, but none will have a compelling rebirth story.
Spiritual rebirth is an even bigger event than physical birth. All mothers remember in intimate and gory detail the circumstances surrounding the birth of their children, just as all those who are genuinely born again remember in intimate and glorious detail the circumstances surrounding their rebirth.
Being reborn is the most defining moment in your life, and every detail is permanently etched in your mind as if it just took place today. It is by far the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to you and is inexplicable in human terms because it is a miracle – that is, the immortal realm acting directly on the mortal realm, the spiritual on the earthly. False prophets have no such story and can provide no evidence that their lives changed drastically in an instant. Instead, most of them have a history either of attending Bible college or seminary, or a background they’d rather not talk about.
Sadly, not all false prophets know they’re false prophets. Some are demon-driven and think their “spiritual gifts” are from God, while others are just looking for attention and find that spiritually hungry people are easiest to attract and fool.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to discern a false prophet, but it covers the main points. Paul warned us that wolves would be coming for the sheep, and the wolves are everywhere these days, masquerading as believers. Don’t be fooled by them. It’s important to know whether or not the people you’re taking spiritual guidance from are false prophets, because they will lead you down the proverbial garden path, whether purposely or not. Their habit is to mix scriptural Truth with lies, leading you to err on the side of believing them solely for the small measure of Truth they do speak. This is how they get their hooks in you and this is also how they will lead you astray.
Not every body of water can be drunk from, just as not everyone claiming to be born-again or from God is actually born-again or from God. Discernment is key. The ten signs of a false prophet mentioned here should be applied to anyone you’re taking spiritual guidance from, even on a casual basis.
The wolves will soon outnumber the sheep. Best to cling tighter and tighter to the Good Shepherd. Best to rely on the source itself (the Bible) than on interpreters of it. Best to spend time with God and Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible than on ear-tickling worldly entertainment provided by false prophets on YouTube or TV or elsewhere.
But the choice is yours. I have stated here what is in your best interest if Heaven is your goal. What you choose to do with this information is up to you. I hope you choose what will lead you to eternal life, because that is the good and right choice. Everything else leads to eternal death.
God made the world for us.
More specifically, he made it for us to use as a resource.
He didn’t make it for us to exploit, but he also didn’t make it for us to turn into a nature museum or an object of worship.
He made the world for us to use, and he put the world and all its creatures under our stewardship.
He wants us to use the world and its resources wisely.
He doesn’t want us to harm and exploit the world, but he also doesn’t want us to worship it and prevent other people from using it.
I have a big problem with those who exploit nature, but I have just as big a problem with those who worship it and turn land that otherwise would be viable for housing and farming into protected parks.
As Christians, we need to use God’s earthly resources wisely. We should never exploit nature for money or power, but we should also not try to prevent other people from using natural resources to their benefit.
There are more than enough resources for everyone on this planet. The problem is that some people exploit those resources, while others try to prevent the resources from being used. Both approaches are wrong.
God wants us to use the world. He made it for us to use. This includes the resource of human societies. Some Christians are fanatical about rejecting the world, meaning the elements that are manmade, but God also inspired some of those elements to serve as our resources. Like nature, human society is our resource and, like nature, it should be used wisely. But it should be used.
Think of how Jesus lived and moved through the world during his ministry years. He rented rooms and houses, chartered boats, taught at local synagogues, and even preached in the temple in Jerusalem on occasion. He rejected the sin of the world, but he didn’t reject the world’s resources, whether natural or manmade. He knew God had put them there for his use, just as surely as God put the gold coin in the fish’s mouth for Jesus to pay the custom tax.
We are to be in the world, but not of the world. Being in the world means using its resources for our purposes. God wants us to use them and is very generous in providing for us. We do God a great disservice when we, in rejecting the ways of the world, also reject the resources of the world that God has put there for us. We throw out the baby with the bathwater. We shouldn’t do that.
God is beyond generous, even to those who hate him. Don’t reject the gifts he wants to give you through the natural and manmade resources of the world. This includes the gift of meat. Did you know that all the animals you eat have a place Heaven? Don’t feel bad or guilty about eating them. God put certain animals on Earth solely for that purpose. Just do what you can to make sure that they have a good life here (that’s what good stewardship is about) before it’s time for them to go home. To the best of your ability and knowledge, only support farmers who treat their livestock humanely.
Since Adam’s fall, the world has become a breeding ground for sin and is heading for sure destruction. But the world is also a near limitless bounty for those who do God’s will. Jesus showed us how to use the world’s resources, both natural and manmade. He ate well by accepting dinner invitations from the rich, he lived well by letting his female followers minister to his needs, and he dressed well by accepting gifts from his supporters. He didn’t solicit these gifts; he graciously accepted them and made use of them. These are all resources that God put in Jesus’ path to help him in his ministry work.
God knows what we need, and he’s more than willing to provide, as long as we do our part. So do your part in the Kingdom (don’t be spiritually or physically lazy!) and graciously accept God’s gifts that he so wants to give you. Use all of the resources God has put on Earth for your benefit, whether natural or manmade, because anything that benefits you as a born-again believer ultimately benefits God’s Kingdom.