A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

Home » 2021

Yearly Archives: 2021

TREASURES ON EARTH

I have a houseplant named Florence. She’s a poinsettia. My mother gave her to me last Christmas. I’ve moved 6 times since last Christmas, and each time Florence has moved with me. She just had her first birthday on Christmas Day, celebrating in grand style by showing off her brand new red leaves.

Poinsettias are fascinating plants. Many of us buy them at Christmas time and then discard them before Easter, but I can’t kill things that are still alive and breathing. Not even bugs. I let them live until God takes them home. So Florence will be with me for as long as she keeps breathing.

I didn’t know much about poinsettias until I got Florence. As you may or may not know, poinsettias are native to Mexico, so they’re not big fans of the Canadian climate. Florence would die if I planted her outside, even in the summertime. She was born in a pot and she’ll die in a pot.

Plants can teach you many things about life. I’ve moved so often over the past several decades that I’ve never bothered to get any plants. It wasn’t practical for me to have them. The few plants I did get were given to me by my mother, maybe in a subconscious attempt on her part to get me to stay in one place for more than a few months. So when Florence was deposited on my doorstep last Christmas, my first impulse was to give her away. I’m glad I didn’t. Here’s what she’s taught me so far.

Plants have friends. When I first moved out to the country, I rented a furnished house that came with a live potted cactus. It was just a little wee thing that I called Shorty. I set Florence down next to Shorty, and over the next few months, the strangest thing happened: They started growing towards each other. I had set them in front of an east-facing window, but instead of growing towards the window, they grew towards each other until their leaves were touching. At one point, I turned the plants around so that their “backs” were towards each other, but their leaves on that side started doing the same thing. They were friends.

Unfortunately, I had to leave Shorty behind when we moved to where we are now, but that was a life lesson for Florence, I guess. She’ll make other friends someday, and she’ll see Shorty again when she gets to Heaven.

Plants need down-time. Poinsettias are primarily green plants when they are thriving. They only turn red during their down-time, which is the cooler and darker months of the year. The red color of their leaves indicates an absence of chlorophyll. In the cooler darker months, poinsettias shut down most of their chlorophyll production in order to survive as a plant. The lack of chlorophyll results in the brilliant red leaves that are the plant’s calling card. So what we’ve come to associate poinsettias with (brilliant red leaves) is actually a sign of their partial hibernation in survival mode. Poinsettias turn red for much the same reason as trees turn red in the fall.

To get Florence to turn red for her first birthday (December 25), I had to give her her own bedroom and put her to bed at sundown every day, starting in October. She needed total rest and darkness for at least 12 hours out of 24, followed by indirect sunlight only, so I gave her the northeast-facing bedroom. She seems to like it there. I’ve been rewarded for my diligence with a burst of red bracts just in time for Christmas.

Plants do not like to move. They are rooted for a reason. Every time I move Florence, she weeps white liquid and her leaves completely droop. I guess that’s her stress response to rapid changes in lighting, humidity, air pressure, etc. As soon as I set her down someplace that isn’t moving, the weeping stops and her leaves slowly return to their normal position. Florence doesn’t even like a breeze. I set her outside a few times in the spring, on warm days with the lightest of breezes, but she completely drooped then, too. She is decidedly a houseplant.

I was a reluctant plant-mother, but I’ve grown into my role nicely. Poinsettias are a relatively low maintenance plant-child. The only other time I had a plant was when my mother gave me one to put into a hanging pot outside of a house I was renting one summer in downtown Halifax, nearly 10 years ago. I didn’t have a place to hang the plant, so I would set it down on the doorstep each morning and take it into the house each evening (I didn’t want it to get stolen). I called the plant “Flower”, and that was that. Once you name them, they’re yours for life.

Unlike Florence, who is growing upwards, Flower was a spreading plant. It was her nature to spread out. Within a year, she’d outgrown three pots, and by the time I moved her to her final resting place, I had to move her in a wagon on the back of a pick-up truck (lol). I had bought the wagon specifically for her.

Flower’s in Heaven now. Shortly after her first birthday, I planted her in a location that she did not take to, and she died soon afterwards. I guess, like Florence, Flower was a houseplant at heart, too. I know for sure she’s in Heaven and flourishing, and I’ll see her again when I get there.

God surrounds us with living things that we can share our time on Earth with. Each of these things we can have a relationship with and learn from. We can show them good stewardship and treat them as we would want to be treated, if we were them. If God puts them into our hands in some way, he wants us to look after them, so we have to look after them. They’ll look after us, too. Then, when it’s their time to go home, God will take them, but we’ll see them again when we get there.

I have lots of treasures in Heaven. Jesus says that Heaven is where we should be storing our treasures, so that’s where I’m storing mine. Flower’s in Heaven with Pumpkin (my pet cat) and Priscilla (my pet fly), and someday Florence will be there, too, waiting for me. They’ve all shared their life with me, as I’ve shared my life with them, some for a short time, and some for a longer time. In Heaven, we’ll be together forever. That’s the joy of it. And that’s a big part of what draws me home.

GETHSEMANE AT CHRISTMAS

It’s a strange thing to think about Jesus’ death a few weeks before the holiday commemorating his birth, but we don’t always get to choose our thoughts.

Jesus didn’t want to have to suffer in order to do what he knew he had to do. So he asked God if there was some other way to accomplish the same ends. God told him gently “No”. God told him gently “No” three times before Jesus’ resolve finally kicked in. Thank God it did, because then Jesus was unstoppable.

It’s critically important to understand that JESUS DID NOT WANT TO SUFFER. If he had wanted to suffer, it would have been an indication that he was spiritually unwell. People who are spiritually sound do not want to suffer. They may choose to suffer because they know it’s part and parcel of what has to be done, but they don’t rush up to volunteer to suffer with a big grin on their face, waving their arms in the air and yelling “ooh ooh ooh, pick me, pick me, I want to suffer!”, and then proudly displaying an “I suffered for YOU!” sticker on their shirt.

People who self-flagellate or have themselves crucified are not well souls. God doesn’t ask us to voluntarily suffer or to hurt ourselves as a grand gesture in his name, though sometimes suffering is part of the package deal of doing God’s will. In those cases, the suffering is a means to an end, like it was for Jesus, not an end in itself.

We’ll all be in our own Garden of Gethsemane at some point in our lives. When you find yourself there, don’t beat yourself up because you don’t want to suffer. Don’t think that you’re somehow spiritually inadequate because you want to find a way around the suffering in order to get where you need to go. It’s OK not to want to suffer. It’s OK to ask God if there’s some other way to do what has to be done. It’s OK for your whole being – body and soul – to recoil at the prospect of what lies ahead. It’s OK to ask God not once, not twice, but three times or more if there’s some other way around the suffering. God understands. Maybe there will be a way around it for you, or maybe there won’t.

Jesus did not want to suffer. He chose to suffer, but he didn’t want to do it and he hated every second of it. He did it because it was the only way through, not because he wanted to suffer, and not because he saw suffering as an end in itself, like some form of masochistic self-sacrifice.

There are very few things I find more repulsive and aggravating than when people claim that being a Christian means embracing a life of self-sacrifice, self-effacement, and humility. This could not be farther from the Truth. Being a Christian means we’re to follow Jesus’ example of how to live life, and Jesus lived every day to the full – when he was hungry, he ate; when he was tired, he slept; when he was angry, he let loose; when he had a Word to preach, he did it without restraint; when he wanted a drink, he went to the pub; when he wanted some alone-time, he went up the nearest mountain – this is not a man who lived a life of self-sacrifice, self-effacement, or humility. On the contrary – this was a man who was his own person, who made his own decisions, who did not suffer fools gladly, and who hated suffering, because God made us to hate suffering, not embrace it.

Jesus was a healer: He healed people, he didn’t hurt them. He preached and practiced healing, which is the opposite of suffering.

Which is why Jesus’ agreement to suffer the worst kind of death for the sins of others is so monumental.

God is not asking us to suffer for other people. That was Jesus’ job at the end of his ministry, and it’s over and done. Our job is to treat others as we want to be treated and to pray for them. Suffering is sometimes part of the job, but it’s not the job in and of itself.

When our Garden of Gethsemane moment comes (and come it will for each of us), remember how Jesus dealt with it. Remember how he was up-front with God about not wanting to suffer. Remember how he asked if there was some other way around the suffering, and then remember how he accepted that it was God’s will that he suffer for a brief time, and how rock-solid his resolve became after he accepted it. This is our model. This is how we need to respond when the time comes.

But willingly choosing to suffer for the sake of suffering? That is not what Jesus did and that is not what God requires of us. You do not get spiritual brownie points for willingly choosing to suffer when you don’t have to. In fact, you only get the spiritual booby prize – the same prize that people get when they trumpet their charitable acts for others’ approval or pray standing up in public for all to see. As Jesus said, they have their reward.

When you give charity, do it anonymously so that only God knows; when you pray, do it privately, so that only God hears; and when you suffer, do it silently, so that only God sees.

I hope you have the best Christmas of your life.

SOUL TALK

Males of a certain age are hard-wired to think about sex about once an hour. Females are hard-wired to think as frequently about food. I think if a poll were taken about how often people of any age think about the state of their soul, the results would be nowhere near once an hour. It would be more like once a year or once a decade or even once in a lifetime, and yet the state of our soul is all that really matters, not sex or food.

God commands us to set aside at least one day a week to focus on things pertaining to the soul. He called that day the Sabbath and made it holy. But the truth is, as born-again believers, we need to spend much more time than just one day a week focusing on the state of our soul. Thinking about where we are in relation to God and Jesus should be a daily activity that we look forward to and enjoy, not avoid and dread.

So how’s your soul? Have you thought about it lately? If your time on Earth ended today, do you think your soul would be ready for Heaven? Obviously, we can’t know for sure, but we can have a sense that we’re at least trending in the right direction. Those who claim they know for sure they’ll end up in Heaven are only fooling themselves. Scripture gives numerous examples of people who thought they were on their way to Heaven because they had a certain heritage or went to church and did charitable works and even performed miracles, but Jesus told them he never knew them and so they had no place in his home. There are other examples in scripture of people who started down the right path and then veered off at the end. It was where they were at the end of their life, not where they started out, that determined their place in eternity.

Judgement isn’t an aggregate of your good and bad works; it measures your soul at the point of death, not at birth or rebirth or at some other point. Which is why the question “how’s your soul?” is not something that should be asked once a week or once a decade, but several times a day. We should be examining and scanning the state of our soul morning, noon, and night, or at least as often as males think about sex and females about food.

But how is that possible? Jesus says that with God, all things are possible. OK, we can always believe what Jesus tells us, but still – how do we examine our soul day and night? Through prayer. Paul says we should pray without ceasing. Prayer is simply talking to God and Jesus and being conscious that they’re always with us through God’s Spirit. When you spend all day in prayer (that is, when you’re conscious of the presence of God and Jesus and talk to them every now and then), you can have a pretty good sense of where your soul is in relation to them. If you go off-track, they have no qualms about letting you know, and they’ll use whatever force is necessary to get your attention. (I speak here from extensive personal experience lol.)

Just like Linus carries around his blanket as a comforter, we have God and Jesus through the power of God’s Holy Spirit as our comforter, and like Linus and his blanket, we should cling to God and Jesus with everything we’ve got and consciously take them wherever we go. There’s no better way to stay on the straight and narrow than being aware that God and Jesus are right there with you all the time, watching your every step and knowing your every thought. If your soul is right with God, his constant presence should be a comfort to you. It’s intended to be a comfort. Jesus promised us it would be.

But if your soul isn’t right with God and the thought of God and Jesus always looking over your shoulder makes you uncomfortable, you’ve got some soul work to do, and right now would be the right time to start.

THE RIGHT CLICK

Scripture calls the serpent the most subtle of all creatures.

Jesus calls him the Father of Lies.

The devil is such a subtle and skillful liar that most people have difficulty discerning his lies as lies.

One of his greatest achievements, as we know, has been to convince most people that he doesn’t exist. Another of his achievements has been to rebrand sin as virtue. So, for instance, attacking God’s justice has been rebranded as “social justice”, depravity has been rebranded as “liberation”, and tolerance of depravity has been rebranded as “love”. The devil has also convinced many Christians that killing is OK, as long as it’s done in the name of the state or in self-defence.

The devil feeds on people’s ignorance of God’s Word. He does so by feeding their pride, vanity, lusts, and fears. If your pride, vanity, lusts or fears are being triggered, you know the source is the devil, not God.

Whether we consciously realize it or not, we’ve all had dealings with the devil, mainly through his minions. Jesus had up-close and personal experiences with the devil during a series of temptations. Satan made personal appearances in Jesus’ case, as Jesus would have been quite a feather in the devil’s cap had he caved to the temptations. 

You can tell those who have caved. If they’re not born-again but they’re at the top of their field or are a household name, they’ve caved. Jesus tells us that the world is under Satan, so anyone in positions of power or authority, or anyone who’s attained a certain level of success or celebrity who is not born-again has had to cave to the devil’s temptations, and they’re warned never to talk about it. There is no other way for them to achieve sustained success above a certain level except to be born-again, and very few born-again believers are drawn to the entertainment or arts industries, or to politics, law, business, banking, professional sports, medicine, etc., or religion.

Yes, I said religion.

Genuine born-again believers are not religious. Jesus was not religious. He did God’s will, he kept the Commandments, and he preached and taught the Word, but he wasn’t religious. In fact, he overthrew most of the tenets of the Judaic religion by claiming that the hundreds of Mosaic laws were no longer required. Jesus overthrew religiosity in the same way he overthrew the money-changers’ tables in the temple.

Unfortunately, very few Christians got that memo and so have continued to follow religion rather than Jesus, ritual rather than faith, lies rather than Truth. The devil has a field day with these people. They’re how Christianity is being destroyed from within.

The key to discerning the devil’s lies is to view the world through the lens of God’s Holy Spirit, as Jesus did. This can only be done if you’re born-again. The day I was born-again, I remember feeling that everything had clicked into place and the world finally made sense. It was like when you’re getting your eyes tested, sitting in the dark behind the eye-testing gizmo. You strain to make sense of the blurry letters on the wall as the optometrist clicks through one lens at a time, and then suddenly, with the right click — YOU SEE!

I’d strained to make sense of the world for years until I was born again, but since then, the way of the world appears self-evident to me. In fact, it’s now so self-evident, I can’t unsee it, and it boggles my mind that I could have been so blind to it all those years. But the blindness was supernatural, just as the clarity of vision is supernatural. I didn’t make myself blind any more than I made myself see. This is all God’s doing.

As subtle and as skilled a liar as the devil is, Jesus tells us that we born-agains have the capacity, through the power of God’s Spirit, to be as wise as him. Just as we can know God’s mind, we can also know the devil’s and the minds of those who serve him. And in knowing their minds, we can discern their lies.

But in striving to be as wise as a serpent, we need to remember to remain as gentle as a dove. The devil uses his wisdom to harm people; we need to use ours to help them.

SINLESS

There’s a difference between perfect and sinless.

During his time on Earth, Jesus wasn’t perfect, but he was sinless. The sinless part is what counts in the spiritual realm.

Mistakes are built into the human experience and therefore unavoidable. If Jesus hadn’t made them, he wouldn’t have been human. Mind you, he made a lot fewer mistakes than we do, but he did make a few boo-boos of note. We know this, because some of them were included in the Gospels. This was done purposely to show us that Jesus wasn’t perfect. Even so, humanity didn’t need a Jesus who was perfect; humanity needed a Jesus who was sinless, and we got that.

Being imperfect and making occasional mistakes, Jesus could not possibly have been God, because God is perfect. Scripture is crystal clear about that. God doesn’t make mistakes, so Jesus could not possibly have been God. If Jesus hadn’t made mistakes during his time on Earth, he would have been God, but he wasn’t. He was fully human and infused with a full measure of God’s Spirit, more fully than any human before or since. But he wasn’t God and he wasn’t perfect.

It was sinlessness that made Jesus the Messiah, not perfection.

God doesn’t change. Scripture tells us that. So if God doesn’t change – ever – than how could he have changed himself into mortal form, shed his perfection and every other absolute characteristic, and come down to Earth as a human? God’s changes in appearance are only due to the perceptions of those who behold him. God himself never changes (scripture says that when we get to Heaven, we’ll see God as he is). Change implies imperfection, and God is perfect.

We also know that, physically, Jesus was not a heart-throb. In fact, he was described as “despised” (not attractive) and less than commanding (not tall). This was during his time on Earth. Since his glorification, Jesus has been physically perfected. He is now gloriously beautiful and perfect, like everyone in Heaven is beautiful and perfect. He started to change physically already during his post-resurrection appearances, for the 40 days before he ascended. The disciples recognized him by the things he said and did, not by his appearance.

We need to remember that Jesus made occasional mistakes and that he wasn’t perfect. We don’t follow an automaton; we follow a sinless human who made occasional mistakes but who has since been glorified and now lives in perfection at the right hand of God. We follow the example of someone who was once an imperfect but sinless human who is now perfected, as we will be perfected if we make it home.

So if someone tries to tell you that Jesus is God, tell them he can’t be God because he wasn’t perfect, and God is perfect. If they then tell you that God “shed” his perfection to dwell among humans, tell them that God doesn’t change. Scripture says so.

Jesus was imperfect but sinless. Thank God, he was imperfect but sinless. His mistakes make ours more bearable and him more approachable, and his sinlessness gives us a way home.

A SHOUT-OUT TO THE SIDE-STEPPERS

I write this for those of you who have side-stepped the tyranny thus far and who have no intention to stop side-stepping it.

As you know, there are very few of us left. I wanted to reach out to you to let you know you’re not alone, and to encourage you to continue the side-stepping. Not defying, side-stepping. Finding ways around the obstacles, like Jesus did, always following what Jesus did. Continuing your life as before, but side-stepping while you’re doing it. Kind of like stepping over and around steaming piles of doggie-do on the sidewalk. No need to plow through them when you can just side-step around them. God will show you how.

The news of the world is not good today (when is it ever?). One by one, countries are falling to ever-worsening tyranny. Of course, tyranny is nothing new. It’s just that most of us in the Western world were lulled into thinking we would never have to deal with it in our day and on our own turf, and yet here we are.

Boot, meet face.

Jesus lived under a double-whammy tyranny of the Roman occupation and a tyrannical king. Even so, that didn’t stop him from doing what he came to do. God enabled him to side-step the tyranny until it was his time.

The ever-worsening tyranny outside our windows shouldn’t stop us, either. We just need to avoid certain places until it’s our time.

I wrote earlier about how the tyranny has created a dividing line between those who submit to it and those who don’t. There is no instance anywhere in the Gospels of Jesus submitting to tyranny, medical or otherwise. He just didn’t do it. He was a healer; he didn’t need to go to the world for healing: the world came to him. Anyone who claims that Jesus would have gone to the world for healing or would have told his followers to go to the world for healing doesn’t know God and doesn’t know Jesus and has no authority to speak in their names.

The Old Testament tells us what God thinks of worldly medicine men. King Asa, after relying on Syria to help him win a war rather than relying on God, then suffers a rapidly-deteriorating foot disease that ultimately kills him. Instead of going to God for help, King Asa goes to a series of doctors, all of whom fail him. This reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood who spends everything she has on doctors for 12 years, to no avail. But when she reaches out to Jesus as he passes by, she’s instantly and thoroughly healed. It was that simple. No reason to believe that every healing can’t be that simple, o ye of little faith!

We side-steppers know that God, through his Spirit, is the source of all genuine healing. Jesus healed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We, as Jesus followers, also heal by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. To turn our backs on God, like Asa did, and to go to the world for healing, like Asa did, is not an option for us, will NEVER be an option for us. Those who truly love God and truly follow Jesus will agree with this 100%.

No bribe is large enough and no threat is dire enough to make us change our minds. Jesus tells us that the most the world can do to us is kill our body. Well, our body has to die, anyway, for us to get to Heaven, so if that’s the worst the world can do, there really isn’t anything to fear, is there?

We just need to hang onto God’s hand for the rest of our time here. Side-step the tyranny until God signals our time is up, but otherwise hang on tight to God’s hand and follow behind Jesus.

We can do this.

We’ve come this far doing it.

We can keep on doing it to the end.

THE ONE WHERE JESUS TELLS US TO GET A SWORD

God’s Commandments are inviolable. That means there are no asterisks (*) next to them denoting exceptions to the rule. If you break a Commandment, you will suffer for it – not because God is punishing you, but because you will cause others pain, which will come back to you in kind. Jesus tells us that the measure we mete out is the measure we get back. So when you break a Commandment and suffer for it, God isn’t causing your suffering: you’re doing it to yourself.

Killing people is a humongous no-no. It’s so big, it’s a Commandment. Killing someone (including yourself) for any reason is a violation of the Commandment. No exceptions. No asterisks. Just plain don’t do it.

If killing under any circumstance is a no-no, then why did Jesus tell us to get a sword?

Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t say to get a knife or a spear or slingshot or some other form of weapon: He very specifically said to get a sword. In Jesus’ day, swords were considered lethal weapons. Unlike knives or spears, which could be used for other purposes (e.g., hunting), swords were almost exclusively used to kill people. So, when you picked up a sword or carried one, it was assumed you were planning to kill with it.

But here’s the problem – if we kill someone, we’d be violating the Commandment, and we know with 100% certainty that Jesus would never advise us to break a Commandment. So how does Jesus telling us to get a sword align with God’s Commandment not to kill?

Over the centuries, most people have taken Jesus’ advice to get a sword to mean he’s giving them license to kill, with his blessing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A closer reading of scripture shows us that Jesus advised his followers to get a sword under certain circumstances and for a certain reason, and that reason was not to kill or even to wound. This we know for sure from scripture, for three main reasons.

First, God’s Commandment not to kill is inviolable. Jesus knew this and he also taught us that we are to keep God’s Commandments – all of them. It would be contradictory for Jesus to teach us not to kill, and then for him to turn around and give us his blessing to kill, and Jesus never contradicted himself. He also stood firmly on God’s Word, stating several times that scripture cannot be broken, and elevating scripture to a much higher position than “doctrines of men”. There are no instances in the gospel of Jesus killing or counseling to kill, and we are to live as he lived. That’s what it means to be his followers.

Second, Jesus immediately heals the soldier whose ear is chopped off. If Jesus meant for us to use a sword either defensively or offensively, he would have let the soldier suffer the wound. But he healed it instead. He did not want his followers even to wound someone, let alone kill them, and certainly not in his name.

Third, Jesus warns us that those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Here, again, we see Jesus reminding us that the measure we mete out, we get in return. He warned his followers against using a sword to kill, and reminded them over and over again to put their faith in God, not in their own devices.

Why, then, did Jesus tell us we needed a sword?

Note that Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to get a sword at the beginning of his ministry, but at the end. At the beginning of his ministry, there were no restrictions on Jesus’ movement or on what he could say. He was not considered a “transgressor” at that time. But as his ministry proceeded and he started to get in the faces and up the noses of the religious ptb, he became a marked man, and his movements were more and more restricted. He eventually couldn’t go to certain areas unless he wanted to be arrested (which he didn’t want to be, so he didn’t go to those places). And yet, even under these ever-worsening restrictions and threats, he still didn’t counsel his followers to arm themselves.

It was only at the very end of his ministry, just before he permitted himself to be arrested and crucified, that Jesus advised his followers to get a sword. He explained that while earlier they had no need to be armed or even to carry any money (as everything was given to them and they were welcomed in most places they went), now things would be different. Now they would not be welcomed and would in fact be considered enemies of the state and enemies of the people. They would live as outlaws – transgressors – and be persecuted wherever they went.

Outlaws live on the fringes of society, without the protection of the state. They usually travel at night and off the main track, and live as surreptitiously as possible. To get what they need to survive, they have to rely not on people living within the bounds of mainstream society, but on shady characters who will very happily get them what they need, for a certain price. So Jesus’ followers would need money to deal with these characters and a sword to show them they weren’t to be messed with.

In other words, the sword is meant as a deterrent. Jesus never intended for his followers to use the sword to kill, but to appear as if they would. Otherwise, without a sword, they wouldn’t survive the rough world of outlaws that they would be plunged into as his followers.

I do not believe that we in Western society are yet at the point where we need to carry a weapon as a deterrent. As Christians, we can still move freely in society; we are not under threat of arrest for being Christian. Yes, many Christians have violated health protocols and have gotten arrested or restricted for doing that, but again, the arrests weren’t because these people were Christian, but because they were violating health protocols.

While we are still free to move around AS CHRISTIANS and don’t have to live on the run because we’re Christians, there’s no reason for us to carry a weapon. Jesus didn’t. Throughout his entire ministry, Jesus never carried a weapon, even when he was threatened with arrest in certain areas. It was only at the very end of his ministry that he counselled his followers to get a sword, as at that time they would be treated as criminals simply for being his followers.

Do I believe the time will come when we, as Christians in the Western world, will again be persecuted for being Christians (not simply for violating health protocols)? Yes, of course, the time will come. Scripture is very clear that it will. Whether or not it comes in our lifetime remains to be seen.

But for the time being, while we’re still free to move around AS CHRISTIANS, we have no need to arm ourselves. And if the time does come for us to arm ourselves because we’re being persecuted AS CHRISTIANS, we need to remind ourselves that our weapon is for the purpose of deterrence only, not for killing under any circumstance.

Jesus’ teachings and God’s Law should be our guide on weapon use, not the laws of the land. As born-again believers, we are Christians first and foremost and only. If the laws of the land give us permission to carry a weapon or to kill in self-defence, we are obligated by God’s Law not to do either, even though the state gives us permission. In Western society, we are not currently being persecuted AS CHRISTIANS, so we cannot justify before God carrying a weapon. Again, what the laws of the land permit us to do is irrelevant; before God, we cannot currently justify carrying a weapon. We are to live as Jesus did, and Jesus never carried a weapon: he only advised carrying one under extreme circumstances of persecution.

I know this teaching will not sit well with most Americans, but you have to decide whether you want to follow God’s Law or American law. I pray that you choose God’s Law, because being American does not make you exempt from the Commandment not to kill. There is no circumstance where killing a human being (including yourself) is justified before God. Killing is a violation of the Commandment, full stop.

If the time comes for us, as Christians, to carry a weapon, we will do so with God’s blessing, but only if we use our weapon as a deterrent.

WHEN THE MARK OF THE BEAST WILL COME

Sometimes you hear a phrase or read a line that triggers an understanding of something else tangentially related. This happened to me yesterday when I was glancing through an online forum thread about the newest variant. Someone had asked: “Can babies take the mark?”

There’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not the injections currently making the rounds are the mark of the beast. I would say they are not, mainly (but not only) for the following reason.

Scripture tells us that the mark will be mandated for everyone, no exceptions. The current injections include exceptions, and they also (for the time being) exclude babies and young children. But there will be zero exemptions for the mark of the beast. That is understood. Zero exceptions and zero exemptions:

AND HE CAUSETH ALL, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads….”

REVELATION 13:16

As we see from the scripture above, the mark will be mandated for everyone. But the taking of the mark is not something that can be done lightly, in the spiritual sense, as scripture also tells us that those who take the mark will be shut out of Heaven. This is the worst possible outcome for a human soul. So there has to be a free-will and informed decision involved in taking the mark. SOMEONE ELSE CANNOT MAKE THIS DECISION FOR YOU.

Babies and young children cannot make free-will informed decisions. In fact, God considers anyone under the age of 20 unable to make decisions that affect their immortal soul. We know this, because everyone under the age of 20 when they left Egypt during the Exodus was permitted to enter the Promised Land, regardless of the type of life they’d led until then. There might have been a few minor exceptions (during general purges, like when whole families were obliterated), but the general rule was that those who were over the age of 20 at the Exodus had to perish in the desert (except for Caleb and Joshua), while those under the age of 20 at the Exodus could enter the Promised Land.

Which brings me to the point at hand – if the scripture states that everyone has to get the mark, this cannot by definition include those under the age of 20, which means there mustn’t be anyone under the age of 20 alive on Earth when the mark is made mandatory for everyone.

Think “Children of Men”, the movie, where no children have been born for nearly 20 years. This is the scenario that would have to occur for the mark to be made compulsory for everyone: There would have to be no-one under the age of 20 alive when the decree goes out for “ALL” to get the mark.

We know that the goal of the globalist eugenicists has been to take over the role of reproduction and control it. This is in the process of being done now, mainly through various injections causing sterility, along with technologies that literally cook and irradiate sperm and ovaries, and abortions and abortion pills that are readily available on demand. Added to that, of course, are the chemicals infusing our food, water and household items that are so much a part of modern life, no-one pays much heed to them anymore, even though their negative effects on human reproductive health are well-known, well-documented, and well-publicized.

That’s not to say that, along with sterilization, there won’t also be a sudden die-off of people under the age of 20. But I think the psychopaths who run this world will arrange instead for mass sterilization, miscarriages, still births, and abortions until there are simply no more births. And then perhaps they’ll kill off any under-20s who still remain, the way Herod had those under the age of 2 massacred.

There is definitely a precedent for killing children by decree.

So to answer the person’s question about whether or not babies can take the mark – no, babies can’t take the mark, as such a momentous decision with eternal ramifications cannot be made on someone’s behalf by someone else (such as parents or doctors or politicians). Babies can’t take the mark, children can’t take the mark – in fact, no-one under the age of 20 can take the mark. Which means that when the mark is finally given, there’ll be no-one under the age of 20 in the world, unless they’ve been marked with God’s seal and are in hiding.

Watch for signs of “unexplained” falling birth rates and rising incidences of miscarriages and still births, along with mass deaths of young children by SIDS or other inexplicable causes. As Jesus warned us:

“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!”

MATTHEW 24:19

BLESS YOUR CHALLENGES, DON’T CURSE THEM

We live in an age that values convenience and instant gratification.

But life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t convenient and instant: It’s full of challenges.

The most successful people in life, whether in the world or in the Kingdom, bless their challenges rather than curse them. They see challenges not as barriers but as opportunities to make themselves better.

Jesus was famous for embracing challenges, including his enemies. He never shied away from them, but always faced them head-on, guided and strengthened by God. We are to follow Jesus in everything we do, so if he embraced and blessed challenges, so should we.

All too often, our default (as modeled to us by the world) is to complain about challenges and barriers. Sometimes we complain to God, but mostly we complain to the world. We complain that things are too difficult. We complain that someone else has an unfair advantage by virtue of their sex or skin color or language or heritage. We complain about the transit system. We complain about bad drivers. We complain about the produce selection. We complain about the weather. We complain about prices going up and our income going down. We complain about our health. We complain about our relationships. In fact, we’re so good at complaining about our challenges, we’ll even complain on behalf of other people for challenges that don’t affect us and are in fact none of our business – but heck, if it’s a challenge, it needs to be cursed and complained about.

Right?

Not anymore.

We need to put that complaining mindset behind us as a relic that no longer has a place in our lives. We’re in the Kingdom, not the world, and Jesus showed us that challenges and barriers are opportunities to better ourselves, and so should be embraced, not cursed. That is the basis for his teaching on loving our enemies. We don’t curse those who hate us or challenge us; we love and bless them, and we embrace them even as we embrace the challenges they present to us.

Of course, like everything else in our lives, we’re not going to be able to bless and embrace our challenges without God’s help. Also (and this is important, so pay attention here), we’re not always going to succeed at overcoming our challenges. Sometimes – even after asking God’s help – we’re going to fail, because we need to fail occasionally.

That’s how we learn best and stay humble. Failure is as important to our progress in the Kingdom as success is, and like challenges (and enemies), failure should be embraced, not shunned and complained about.

Considering the above, I would like to challenge you right here and right now to make a list (even just a mental one) of all the things that you see as dragging you down or as being barriers to your success. Then I’d like to challenge you to take that list and turn it inside out, so that the challenges and curses become opportunities and blessings, so that instead of complaining about your challenges, you use them as a starting point and an opportunity to make yourself better.

Remember – you don’t overcome evil by cursing; you overcome evil by blessing. Jesus taught us that.

Now let’s put it into action.

A HOUSE FLY NAMED PRISCILLA, AND ALL OF GOD’S CREATURES

A family of coyotes sang outside my window last night. They woke me up after midnight to serenade me. Eastern coyotes are part wolf, and you can hear that in their howls and see it in their face and fur. Sometimes these coyotes are mistaken for wolves, and vice-versa.

I came face-to-face with a coyote a few years ago. It wasn’t planned. Just before going to bed, I’d opened the basement door to throw a bag of garbage into the enclosed stairwell. A coyote was crouched over a bag that was already there. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised, but I screamed and he yipped, and we both beat a hasty retreat.

I followed his paw prints the next day through the snow before losing track of them in thick underbrush. They plotted a straight line, like wolf prints, but I knew it had to be a coyote. Wolves haven’t been spotted in Nova Scotia for years.

Eastern coyotes have learned to fear humans, and for good reason: We’re always killing them. Back in 2010, the government of Nova Scotia, after decades of “following the science” (which clearly indicated that culls are counter-productive), suddenly did an about-face and called a cull that lasted several years. Most of the fur you see trimming Canada Goose jackets and hats is the bounty of that cull. I’ve often wondered if the main reason for the cull in the first place was to supply that industry.

The coyote population has rebounded in NS since the cull ended. I was overjoyed to hear the family singing last night. I would never lure them to my house, but I would also never chase them away. All animals, whether footed, winged or finned, great or small, are God’s babies, and he doesn’t look kindly on those who mistreat them. Scripture says that God has given us stewardship over all of them, which includes the right to eat some of them, but we are to treat humanely even those we slaughter for food.

Culling is not humane treatment, particularly culling by trap.

In the first three weeks after arriving at the farmhouse where I am now, I made friends with a house fly. It wasn’t my first impulse to be friends with her. I kept trying to shoo her away, but she was very persistent and very affectionate, so eventually I just let her hang around. I called her Priscilla. She would sit with me at my laptop while I was working, and take naps in the little crevices between the keyboard keys. Sometimes she would chase the cursor around the screen, like my cat used to do with her paw.

She was a very petite house fly, one of the smallest I’d ever seen, but she was so full of life. I would watch her bathe, which she did nearly half of her waking hours. When people say that flies are dirty, they’re dead wrong. Priscilla bathed as frequently as my cat, Pumpkin, used to bathe, maybe even more so. And like Pumpkin, she’d start at her head and make her way down to her butt, leaving out nothing in between. She’d pay special attention to cleaning the top of her head and her wings.

I’d never watched a house fly bathe before. I’d also never watched a house fly take naps or eat. I started to share my meals with Priscilla – she had a particular fondness for hot chocolate and anything sweet. I’d put little bits of everything I was eating on a plate for her, but like a little kid, she still wanted what was on my plate, not what was on hers, even though they were the same things.

When she wasn’t hanging out with me at my work desk, she’d be in the kitchen waiting for me to cook up some more hot chocolate. She never tried to go outside, although I left the windows and doors open on occasion. She was a true house fly.

The night before she went home, we sat in the kitchen together and I told her about Heaven. I knew her time was coming, because she was getting slower in her movements. Wherever I was those last few days, she’d sit next to me and rest. I’d put my finger right up to her and almost touch her, but she’d never budge. She had no fear of me at all. That last night, I read to her from the Bible, after I’d told her about Heaven and the kind of life she would live there.

The next day she went home.

I’d never cried over a house fly before, but I cried over Priscilla. Even so, I was happy that she was home, and I know I’ll see her again, if I make it there, too.

A few months ago, I’d talked to God about getting a pet. But God told me that the life I would be leading from hereon in would make it impossible for me to keep an animal. So he sent me a house fly named Priscilla instead. And now he’s sent me a family of wild coyotes to sing me lullabies.

I know that wherever I go for the rest of my time on Earth, God will send his babies to amuse me and awe me and keep me company. Just like all the Earth and everything on it is mine by virtue of being God’s daughter, all the creatures on it are mine, too. I don’t need one particular pet, because I’ve got all of God’s babies, and he’ll be sending them to me one by one (or family by family), as the need arises. And from each of them, I’ll learn something I need to learn at that particular time.

God’s Kingdom isn’t only people – it’s all of God’s creatures, and they preach and teach the Word just by living their lives.