A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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Monthly Archives: March 2015

STOP, AND CHOOSE TO FORGIVE

STOP

Every day, I ask God what I should write about. Today he said: “Forgiveness.”

Then he said to tell everyone to stop what they’re doing.

Just STOP.

He said this is the most important thing you’ll do today.

Stop whatever else you’re doing and pay attention.

Forgiveness is not a touchy-feely warm ‘n’ fuzzy group hug kind of emotion.

Forgiveness is a choice.

And chances are that you won’t want to make that choice.

But if you don’t, you won’t get to heaven.

These are the facts. God isn’t going to change the facts just because you don’t feel like forgiving everyone.

Yes, EVERYONE.

No-one gets into heaven with any unforgiveness on their soul. If you’re harboring resentment or grudges, that’s unforgiveness. If you’re blaming someone for something they did last week or 60 years ago, that’s unforgiveness. Having unforgiveness on your soul is the same as having unrepentant murder.

The end of your world will come in your lifetime. That’s a guarantee. It may come in 20 years or it may come in 20 seconds.

But when it does come, you won’t get into heaven with unforgiveness on your soul.

Once your time is up, it’s too late to make the choice to forgive. God, in his mercy, may give you one final chance, but don’t count on it. It all depends on how many times you’ve been told to forgive, and how many times you’ve rejected the advice.

God is patient, but he’s no sucker.

So whatever it is you’ve been holding onto, let it go. Just say: “I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.”

Just like that.

Say: “I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.”

And then make good on your choice by choosing not to think or talk about the grievance anymore. And if it pops into your head for whatever reason, say again: I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE. Every time it pops up, say again: I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

 

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

 

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

If you don’t choose to forgive, God will not forgive you.

If God doesn’t forgive you, that means no soul healing and no ‘heaven on Earth’ as a born-again.

And if you refuse to forgive even up to the moment of your death, your unforgiveness means you go to hell.

Forever.

There is no other option.

Forgiveness leads to heaven; unforgiveness leads to hell.

This is a spiritual fact of life.

If you’re living or working in an abusive situation, leave immediately and choose to forgive.

Do not go back. Do not press charges or file a report. If you’ve already pressed charges or filed a report, drop them.

Do not go back into the abusive situation, but choose to forgive.

Jesus says we are to forgive our abusers not seven times by seventy times seven.

He means there are no limits to how many times we forgive: we forgive as many times as we’re hurt.

Jesus says that if we don’t forgive those who hurt us, God will not forgive us. If God doesn’t forgive us, we won’t get into heaven.

If God doesn’t forgive us, we won’t get into heaven.

Let that sink in: If God doesn’t forgive you, you won’t get into heaven.

That’s another spiritual fact of life.

So how do you get God to forgive you?

By choosing to forgive others.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

There are ZERO exceptions.

Just like there are no asterisks on the Ten Commandments, stating in fine print below that it’s OK to murder in self-defense or in the line of duty, there are no asterisks and fine print below Jesus’ directive to forgive.

What you choose to do with this information is up to you, but God and Jesus are begging you to choose NOW to forgive everyone for everything.

CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.

It may be the best and last thing you ever do.

HAMMER

hammer

I always find it interesting and also very educational that Jesus only railed against a chosen few. He didn’t yell at the heathens for being, well, heathen; he didn’t yell at the “lost sheep” for being lost or the “sick” for being sick: he yelled at the Pharisees and the Sadducees and other legalists for being hard-headed and hard-hearted.

 

In Jesus’ eyes, these people should have “known better”, as my grandmother would say. They had the knowledge, but they didn’t use God’s help to translate it into wisdom.

 

Something was blocking them.

 

When Jesus burst on the scene, he seemed to have come from nowhere. Those who loved truth immediately recognized him as the Messiah and dropped everything to follow him. He drew huge crowds. He preached and healed. He was The One.

 

Then he came to the attention of the religious authorities. These were the wealthy Jews who held political as well as religious control over what they called the “rabble”. Initially, the Pharisees and Sadducees were curious about Jesus and wanted to meet him; then they met him and became Jesus’ worst enemies.

 

What did they have against Jesus?

 

He knew who and what they were. He could see past their religious façade and wasn’t afraid to tell them so. He didn’t respect their authority because he knew it didn’t come from God. He knew they were hypocrites and he had no qualms about calling them hypocrites to their face and to the world.

 

We all, as born-agains, have encountered these kinds of self-important legalists. They seem to know a lot about God, but they’re blind, to varying degrees, and the cause is always the same: Arrogance. To me, they have a curious kind of relationship with God – dutiful and ritualistic, but very arm’s length and lacking in warmth and intimacy. They remind me of the petulant older brother in the Prodigal Son parable.

 

Jesus railed at these hypocrites because he knew the only way he could reach them was to smash through their arrogance. They were so used to demanding and receiving “respect” that it threw them for a loop when someone refused to bow down to them. Jesus railed at them because ultimately he wanted to help them. But first he had to break them.

 

Some (a very few) were broken, but most persisted in their hardness. They refused to see Jesus as the Messiah because he had no formal education and came from a working-class family and a poor part of the country. His followers were likewise uneducated and from modest backgrounds. This did not fit the preconceived mold of who or how the Messiah should be. Like Satan, the legalists refused to bow down to someone so lowly.

 

They saw Jesus through the eyes of the world, not the eyes of God. Their arrogance blinded them and also prejudiced them against Jesus. They couldn’t get past his provincial accent and his lack of formal training. He wasn’t in their club. He wasn’t one of them. If he wasn’t one of them, how could he possibly be The One?

 

Legalists are good at quoting chapter and verse, but so are demons. Following Jesus means more than just memorizing scripture and spewing it on cue. Arrogance is the worst form of blindness because it renders you nearly immune to help, and we’re all here to get help. If we didn’t need help, we wouldn’t still be here.

 

I can’t imagine knowing God and at the same time rejecting Jesus. But Satan can imagine it, and so can the religious legalists who’ve hounded and harassed and tortured and killed true believers ever since Adam’s son Cain slew Abel. We all, as born-agains, have encountered these kinds of ice-cold believers, and they might even be the death of us, as they were with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hit them and hit them hard with spiritual hammers, while there’s still time. It may be that one of them might yet crack.

ON SHUTTING UP IN THE CHURCH

pulpit

Physically, I’m a woman. I don’t think about that fact much; I just kind of take it for granted. God made me female, and that’s the way I am.

So it always surprises me when someone uses the fact that I’m a woman as grounds for telling me that I can’t do something or that I should just shut up. I’m not very good at shutting up, never have been – not as an atheist, and certainly not as a born-again follower of Jesus.

I mention this because I came across a website today that seemed to have good “God intel”. I was just about to email the site’s creator to tell him how much I enjoyed his site when God suggested I take a look at one of the blogs first. It was about “Women in the church” and how they are just to shut up. More to the point, and based on the blog-writer’s rather narrow interpretation of scripture, women shouldn’t teach, women shouldn’t preach, and women sure as heck shouldn’t hold ministerial positions of authority over men.

Needless to say, after reading that blog, I moved my half-written email to the “draft” file and had a little chat with God. I even tried the blog-writer’s advice of “shutting up” on for size, but it didn’t fit me very well. I kept thinking: Why would God give me the gift of grace if he doesn’t want me to use it? Jesus tells us that we are not to put our light under a bushel but on a candle stick, so that all will see it. He also tells us not to bury God’s gifts but to invest them so that they’ll grow. In other words, Jesus wasn’t telling me or anyone else to shut up about God but rather to do the opposite.

The Old Testament was all about genetic exclusivity. If you weren’t one of the twelve tribes of Israel, you weren’t in “the chosen” club. Certainly, you could petition to get in, but it was a lengthy and complicated procedure. Few “gentiles” bothered to do it, unless they truly felt called.

Jesus overthrew all that. Just as God promised through his Old Testament prophets, the kingdom has been taken away from “the chosen” and given to those who are considered more worthy (meaning, the followers of Jesus). Salvation is no longer based on membership in the Olde Jewish Boys’ Club but on the belief in Jesus as the Messiah and on a genuine willingness to live by faith by follow the promptings of God’s spirit. Jesus’ followers come from every nationality and culture and are of both sexes. In fact, Jesus even overrode gender by stating that his followers should strive to become spiritually like eunuchs (Matthew 19:12), who are neither male nor female, just like the angels are neither male nor female.

When God looks at me, he doesn’t see me solely as a female. He sees my will and my soul first, and my sex is secondary. What I’m saying is – my femaleness is just not an issue with him. If it’s not an issue with God, then it shouldn’t be an issue with anyone who says he’s a follower of Jesus. God made me a woman but he also made me a born-again believer, which de facto makes me a spiritual eunuch. I am a woman to those who are outside the kingdom, but to those inside the kingdom, I am simply brethren. As brethren, we all equally have the right and duty to preach the Word of God, whether our voice is high or low.

So no, I’m not going to shut up in the church or elsewhere. God doesn’t want me to, Jesus doesn’t want me to, and neither do I. If you can’t get past my sex, the problem is yours, not mine. Physically I’m a woman, but spiritually I’m genderless, just like Jesus. Maybe you should try looking at me through your spiritual eyes, not your physical ones.

I’M A SAINT

imasaint1

If you’re genuinely born again, you’re a saint, not a sinner.

Yet how many times have you heard the phrase “We’re all sinners” in relation to Christians?

If you’ve heard it even once, that’s already one time too many.

Catholicism states that you can’t be a saint unless you’re dead and a pope decrees you’re a saint.

Then Catholics are told to pray to you and you get a day named after you and maybe even some made-in-China trinkets molded in your image.

That’s right – in total violation of what God says in the Old Testament about praying to dead people or making graven images, Catholicism orders you to do both, if you’re a ‘good Catholic’.

A sinner is someone who is unholy. Born-agains certainly have the potential to be unholy (we’ll have that potential, through our free will, until the day we die), but by definition we can’t be sinners because then God’s holy spirit wouldn’t be with us. And if God’s holy spirit isn’t with us, then we’re not, by definition, born again.

God’s holy spirit cannot be in the same place as an unholy spirit. The two are mutually exclusive. Where evil dwells, God’s spirit will not dwell. You can’t have demons and God’s spirit in you at the same time.

You cannot be holy and unholy.

So you see the difficulty with born-again Christians being told they’re sinners.

We’re born sinners, but we’re born again saints.

The next time a preacher calls you a sinner even knowing you’re a born-again Christian, tell that preacher he’s dead wrong. You’re a saint. And if the preacher or the pope has a problem with you calling yourself a saint, tell them to take it up with God.

Freedom

good better best

Jesus is the greatest of all freedom fighters. He told us that knowing the truth will make us free, and so it does. God is truth, so knowing God as our Dad brings us into God’s kingdom on Earth and makes us free from the attacks of our spiritual enemies. This is the true freedom that God promised Israel through the Old Testament prophets. This is true safety and security, not the fake one promoted by the Homeland Security organizations of the world. As long as we keep wanting and choosing what God wants for us (knowing that God wants only the best), then we are secure in our safety and freedom.

 

But at the same time God loves and encourages free thought. In fact, he loves the notion of free thought so much that he embedded it in the concept of free will. We are free to think our way into choosing what God knows is best for us, and we are equally free to think our way into rejecting it.

 

We are as free to be illogical and wrong in our thought processes as we are free to be logical and correct.

 

Why would God do that? Why wouldn’t he just make us receptive only to correctness rather than allow us to doubt and make wrong choices based on those doubts?

 

God loves it when we use the gifts he’s given us, and the gifts he loves us most to use are free thought and free will. God doesn’t want automatons serving him; he doesn’t want forced obedience: he wants us to come to him because we want to come to him. He wants us to weigh the pros and cons (do a cost/benefit analysis, if you will) and then decide what we think is best. Of course, he’s always putting in his two cents’ worth; he never leaves us guessing as to which option is the right one. He wrote his laws on our hearts, and if we’re still not sure, he gave us scripture, his spirit, and Jesus.

 

I love Jesus! He’s such a cool guy. Nothing ever fazes him. That’s because, when he was in his Earthly body, he lived fully in God’s promise of freedom, protection and security. That doesn’t mean, however, that he automatically did God’s will in everything – no, not at all. He took advantage of his free thought and free will to try to negotiate better terms with God.

 

One of these famous “negotiations” played out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was crucified. God had earlier told Jesus what was going to happen to him, and certainly Jesus knew from scripture what was going to happen to him, but he didn’t like it. Not one bit. And why would he? He was a virile young man in the peak of health. He didn’t want to die, and certainly not the way that was laid out for him. If he had willingly embraced his humiliation and crucifixion and gone marching to his death with a smile on his face, he would have been insane, and Jesus most certainly was not insane. So, trying to wheedle maybe a few more days or weeks or even hours out of God, Jesus asks him if there’s some other way he can do what needs to be done. He asks him once, and God says “No.” He asks him again, and again God says “No.” He asks him a third time, and when God’s answer is still “No”, Jesus throws in the towel and says he’ll do it.

 

Does he do it with a smile on his face? Not at all. We know from scripture that he barely spoke a word from that moment onwards. With his God-given free thought, Jesus weighed the pros and cons of what was required of him to be the Messiah. He also used it to try to find some way around the worst of the requirements, but God wasn’t budging. Still, he let Jesus think it through. Still, he stood firm while Jesus tried to find a short-cut that would not involve crucifixion. When the combined witness of God, scripture and his own heart showed Jesus that the best way to do what had to be done was simply to do it, Jesus conceded. He wasn’t coerced; he wasn’t forced; he could have said “no” and gone down another path that might have ended with him marrying Mary Magdalene and bouncing 12 Junior Jesus’s on his knee, but he deduced, through logic and God’s witness, that choosing God’s way was the best way to achieve his goal of Messiahship, so he chose it. God then strengthened him, and less than 24 hours later, Jesus took his place forever at the right hand of God.

 

David had a similar clash of wills with God over David’s first-born with Bathsheba. Through the prophet Nathan, God informed David that the child would fall ill and die, but David reasoned that maybe God would change his mind if he fasted and prayed and mourned. So, he held vigil for seven days and nights, refusing to eat or drink or even talk to anyone. Despite David’s efforts, the child died, but instead of mourning his death, David got up, took a shower, grabbed a bite to eat, and then headed over to Bathsheba’s private suite to “comfort” her in the Biblical way. His servants are taken aback by what they saw was his odd behavior at the death of his son, but he explained that while his child was still alive, there was a chance that God would change his mind and let the child live. The child’s death signaled that God would not change his mind, so David conceded. It was as simple as that. And at David’s concession, God strengthened him, and Solomon was conceived that very night.

 

God not only allows us but encourages us to use our free thought and free will. He invites us to align our wills with his not by coercion but by logical choice. God wants only the best for us, but sometimes no pain means no gain. God protects us spiritually, but spiritual protection doesn’t mean that we won’t have to suffer pain while still in our Earthly bodies. We need to make up our mind to accept that now, because, as with Jesus and David, some form of pain is almost definitely going to be in the cards if we intend to “endure to the end”. Still, maybe God will give us some wiggle room; who knows? It never hurts to ask. But if you do ask, and he doesn’t budge, you can be sure that what awaits you on the other side of that temporary pain is a whole lot of gain beyond your wildest dreams.