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What did Paul mean when he said “run the race to win”?

He meant we’re to give it everything we’ve got, even if we know we’re competing against faster runners. Because the winner in the race Paul’s talking about isn’t the one who comes first (or second or third), but all those who make it to the end. Making it all the way to the end is what will make us winners. Stopping short of the end won’t.

Jesus already ran the race, and won. In fact, he was first over the finish line. No matter how hard or how fast we run, we’re never going to beat that. Jesus had to run the race first or we wouldn’t have been able to. He set the course for us. We run the course that Jesus set.


I saw a sign outside a church a couple of days ago that read “CONGRATULATIONS, BLUENOSE MARATHON PARTICIPANTS!” The Bluenose Marathon is an annual race that (usually) takes place in Halifax on the May long weekend. Like with other marathons held in other cities, the Bluenose Marathon clogs up the main arteries of Halifax and causes chaos with local traffic, particularly with transit. But that doesn’t matter, because people need to run. And amidst the thousands of runners, someone’s gotta win. But according to that church with the sign out front, even just participating in the race already is worthy of congratulations.

God disagrees. Being a participant in the race Paul talks about and Jesus ran is all well and good, and God will give you every advantage if you indicate that you want to run it, but you have it run it to win. You have to give your best shot not just at the starting line or towards the middle of the race, but all the way to the end. Which means you’ve got to make it to the finish line, or you ain’t gonna win.

There are no congratulations forthcoming for those who don’t make it to the finish line.

You don’t get congratulated just for participating. You get encouraged. You get assisted. You get guided and encouraged some more. But you don’t get congratulated unless you make it all the way to the end.

Jesus said those who endure to the end will be saved, not those who say they intend to endure or those who put in a few spiritual miles and then quit. Those who endure to the end will be saved, those who run the race to win.


Shame on that church for lauding people just for participating. Shame on it! That is not a message that makes people want to endure to the end. That’s a message that makes people lazy and slack and proud of accomplishing nothing but showing up. Why are we congratulating people just for showing up? Is the bar really that low now?

You don’t have to answer that. We know what the answer is. Yes, the bar really is that low now, and I see it in every mainstream church that tells people all they have to do is “believe” and they’ll make it to Heaven. I guess that’s an improvement over telling people all they have to do is pay indulgences and they’ll make it to Heaven. That’s what the Catholic church used to promise people – pay a certain amount of money and you’ll get to Heaven. I don’t know what’s sadder about that – people demanding the money in the form of indulgences, or people believing you can buy your way into Heaven. But believing that you can simply “believe” your way in isn’t much better.


We born-again believers can be better than that. We need to be better than that. We need to set our sights on the finish line and not stop until God sends his congratulations in the form of a one-way, first-class, all-expenses paid ticket to Heaven. We cannot stop halfway and consider the job done. We cannot let ourselves fall for the lies of those who tell us either it’s not necessary to run or that we’ve won already just by participating in the race.

We have not won until we endure to the end.

We run the race to win, even if it means we have to drag ourselves over the finish line by dint of sheer will.

Only those who endure the race to the end – to the very, very end – will be saved.


Very few career pastors and preachers talk about where Jesus got his talent pool. Fact is, when Jesus chose his twelve disciples, he didn’t go to the temple and recruit the elders there; he didn’t go to synagogues or to schools run by the Pharisees. Not one of the twelve was a member of the religious elite or of any religious sect. None of them had any experience in teaching or preaching, but that didn’t seem to be a barrier to their being chosen and it also didn’t seem to be a requirement for the job. Rather than look for people who earned their living in a religious role, Jesus sourced his talent from places like fishing boats and from the IRS of his day. Anyone who was sourced from a religious sect (like Paul, who was educated as a Pharisee) disavowed the sect when they became Jesus’ follower.

Very few professional pastors and preachers talk about where Jesus got his talent pool, because it would highlight how little regard Jesus had for mainstream religion or for those who were trained in it or made their living from it. Throughout history, God almost exclusively chose people disconnected from mainstream religion to be his voice. He didn’t do this to be ironic, but because he knew his chosen few would do the job they were sent to do, not get bogged down in dogma, money, and misplaced obligation. Jesus himself, the son of a carpenter, of dubious parentage, and allegedly uneducated, was the poster child for the person least likely to be the Messiah.

If you’re genuinely born-again, you have personal experience in how God chooses the “least likely”. I was an atheist until I was born-again at age 36, so I guess I’m a case in point. Zero religious background (other than being dragged to church as a very young child), zero religious training, zero knowledge of scripture, and then one day BOOM!, I’m a follower of Jesus. A few years later, with no formal religious training, I’m teaching scripture, based solely on God’s guidance through his Spirit.

Perhaps Bible school-trained and seminary-educated pastors and preachers don’t dwell on where Jesus sourced his talent because it would reflect poorly on them. They would be presenting themselves as the talent pool that Jesus not only overlooked but outright rejected. The best pastor I ever heard preach was neither Bible school-trained nor seminary-educated. He had a background in radio, so he had some voice training, but his knowledge of scripture came from scripture and from God, not from a formal program of study. Unfortunately, being influenced by the mainstream denominational church he eventually accepted a full-time job from, he’s been scrambling over the past few years to stack up letters behind his name, and his sermons reflect his shift in focus. Now instead of preaching the Word, he preaches his denominational agenda and the theologians he’s studying. I stopped listening to his sermons because of it. God was no longer in them.

For the most part, professional pastors and preachers are like car mechanics – they’re in an industry that requires their customers to keep on needing them, so they rightly or wrongly keep finding things that need to be fixed. You could drive a new car off the lot and straight into a repair shop, and the mechanic would find something wrong with it. That is a guarantee. In the same way, pastors and preachers who rely on your donations to keep their church business going will also keep you thinking that you need constant spiritual realignment, so you’d better keep coming back. And don’t forget to bring your wallet! That village well in Africa isn’t going to dig itself, any more than the power bills at the church will pay themselves. Your ongoing support is sincerely appreciated, it truly is. See you next Sunday!

When Jesus made his remark about not being able to serve both God and mammon, he was referring to people in general, but he was targeting in particular professional preachers and all those who made their money from religion. Christianity is awash in preachers who preach only for the money, and if you took that incentive away, they would stop preaching. There are many ways to know whether or not someone is genuinely sent from God, but the main way is whether they’ll preach the Word for free.


There should never be an expectation of having to pay to hear God’s Word. There should never be a sense of obligation to give a financial offering during a service. The “Donate” button should not exist on a Christian website. Mammon and God’s Word should be entirely separate from each other. You shouldn’t have to worry about having your purse stolen while you’re at a church service because you shouldn’t be bringing your purse to church.

How, then, is a church building to be maintained? In the same way Paul’s ministry was maintained (through the labouring of the ministers in other pursuits and the free-will offerings of believers) or Jesus’ ministry was maintained (through followers’ free-will donations, as God led them to give). Years ago, when I did some stupid things and was down and out as a result, sitting on the side of a highway bawling my eyes out, God spoke to a woman who was driving by to give me the only cash she had in her purse at the time, which happened to be $20. So the woman turned her car around, drove back to me, and gave me the $20. It was all the money that she had with her and it was then all the money that I had, but it was enough to feed me for the next few days. The good Lord always provides for his children.


When he chose his disciples, Jesus didn’t go to the professional preachers and those who made a living from religion, because he knew what was in their heart. God guided Jesus to look for his disciples elsewhere. Nothing has changed in that regard over the past 2000 years; the true followers of Jesus are either teaching and preaching or preparing to do so, and none of them are doing it for money: All of them do it for free.

Remember Simon, the magician who offered the disciples money to give him the power to baptize people in the Holy Spirit? Professional preachers and teachers or anyone who expects money in exchange for preaching God’s Word are Simon’s descendants in spirit. Jesus steered clear of these people and didn’t include them among his chosen few because he knew their hearts were not right with God.


I hope, if you’re a professional preacher (or have a “Donate” button on your website), you’ll consider these words and consider your ways.


I post this without commentary.

The video says it all.


Before being born-again, I followed no-one. I had no ‘heroes’, though I did have phases of admiring this or that writer. I was what you would call fiercely independent. The truth is, I didn’t respect anyone enough in those days to want to follow them.

This all changed the second I was reborn. I became a follower of Jesus before I even knew I was a Christian. I willingly submitted to Truth and Love, to believing something was True for no other reason than that God told me it was. I had never believed like that before. Sure, I’d fallen for the smooth lies of lovers, but I had to consciously force myself to believe them: I had to suspend my disbelief.

But in the hours and days after my rebirth, when God was revealing his Truth to me, there was no suspension of disbelief. There was no forcing. There was just an internal nodding of “yes” to the obvious Truth of the matter, even though just a few hours or days earlier, as an atheist, I would rather have slit my wrists than to accept God’s Truth as self-evident.

When God’s Spirit inhabits you and surrounds you and enlivens you, God’s Truth is self-evident. Nothing else is self-evident except God’s Truth. I never believed like that until I was reborn. I didn’t believe such belief was possible – to believe beyond doubt and with a certain certainty that dismisses even death as a casual thing of little value, if it tries to get between me and my belief.

What I’m trying to say here is that I’m not consciously trying to believe God’s Truth as a born-again believer; I cannot NOT believe. Believing and breathing are one in the same for me now. In believing like this – from the core of my being – I became a follower of Jesus before I even knew the details of what it was I believed. I became a follower before I could frame the words “follower of Jesus” and apply them to me.

I came to my belief not as dogma or theology that was an external set of beliefs that I had to swallow and regurgitate, but as a lived reality that was not only more real than anything I’d ever experienced before, but that happened without my willing it to happen. I was born again, and at that same instant the reality of my unshakeable belief in God’s Truth simply was.

It became inseparable from me.

I and my belief are one.


This, I believe, is different from the experience of nominal Christians, who tend to cherry-pick what they will choose to believe about God and about Jesus, and then form their customized belief system based on what they choose to believe. This is how denominations and other cults are formed. But a system of belief so formed is external to the believer and so can be added to, adjusted or deleted at will, depending on who or what is influencing the set of beliefs at any given time. To a nominal Christian, belief is external, malleable, exchangeable, interchangeable, and ultimately disposable. To a nominal Christian, even belief in God is optional

This way of approaching God (or better said, keeping him at bay) is not the strait and narrow of following Jesus. To follow Jesus means not only to believe what he believed, but to believe HOW he believed, which was with a certain certainty that he would rather die for than deny. He did die for it. All genuine followers of Jesus die for their belief. This I know for a certainty. They are given the option to compromise their belief to gain more time on Earth or to stand firm and die. Genuine followers always choose to stand firm. It is a choice, and they choose it, like Jesus did.


Are you a nominal Christian or a follower of Jesus? Is your belief external to you or is it who you are? Can you separate yourself from your belief, and if you do so, what happens to you and your belief? Do you believe in God because you’ve been taught to believe in him, or do you believe in God because you cannot NOT believe? It is either one or the other; it can’t be both. You are either a nominal Christian or you’re a follower of Jesus. You can’t be both.

You’re either pregnant with God’s Spirit or you’re not.

You’re either a believer or you’re not.

You’re either a believer, or you’re not.



Just before Jesus cast out an evil spirit from the young son of a man who had gone to the disciples for help, Jesus asked him if he believed. The man replied he did, but then immediately broke down in tears and begged Jesus to make up for whatever was lacking in his belief. Faced with the life-or-death situation of his child’s illness, the man came clean about his unbelief. He admitted to himself and to God (through Jesus) that the belief he thought he had wasn’t belief at all. Belief that needs someone or something else to prop it up is not belief.

But God can work through repentance. Repentance can override a lack of belief. When the man repented in tears for his unbelief and sincerely begged for help, Jesus had the hook he needed to do the healing.

God will never turn away those who sincerely want what he is offering, who sincerely want his help. The key words here are “sincerely want”. Nominal Christians remain nominal for the sole reason that they don’t sincerely want what God is offering. They want it somewhat, but they want it on their terms and in their time, not on God’s terms and in God’s time.


You either believe, or you don’t.

You either want what God is offering, or you don’t.

There are no halfway positions; there is no such thing as a little bit of belief, any more than there is a little bit of pregnancy.

A thing either is or it isn’t.

You either believe, or you don’t.

If you believe, you’re a follower of Jesus.

If you don’t, you’re a nominal Christian.

A nominal Christian can become a believer the same way the tormented father of the tormented son became a believer – through genuine self-acknowledgment and sincere repentance. Those things are between you and God. You don’t go to other people for self-acknowledgement; you go to yourself. And you don’t go to other people to repent; you go to God.


For me, as a born-again believer and follower of Jesus, there is no life outside my belief in God. When I say belief in God, I mean love for God. I cannot separate myself from my belief and then say “I”, because there is no “I” without my belief: I am because I believe.

I have existed in this world as an unbeliever and I live now as a believer, and there is no comparison between the two states. There is no life outside belief in God. There is existence, yes, but life only comes through belief.


As most of you who read this blog already know, I will not wear a face covering for any reason. I’ve stated this before on a few occasions and I have not altered my position at all: I will not cover my face.

However, as there is a good chance that the face-covering mandates will return at some point in the near future, I thought it would be helpful if I explained in greater detail my reasoning for my position. This information could prove useful to someone someday.

Note that my decision not to cover my face is less a decision than an adherence to scriptural guidance. It’s a decision only in the sense that I agree to adhere to the guidance set forth in scripture.

I am a born-again follower of Jesus. Being born-again, I’m in God’s presence 24/7. That means there is never a time when I am not in God’s presence, whether I’m awake or asleep, and whether I’m consciously aware of God’s presence or not. For a visual of what it means spiritually to be in God’s presence, go to Revelation 7:9-17. There you’ll find a description of genuine born-again believers forming what Paul in Hebrews calls a “cloud of witnesses” (note that all of the spiritual realm is part of that cloud, not just born-again believers).

Being in God’s presence, I have an obligation not to cover my face. How do I know that? Because Moses, whenever he was in God’s presence, uncovered his face. During the process of receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses had to climb up the mountain to be with God to get the Law. When he came back down the mountain, away from God, he covered his face (since the shining of his face frightened the people), but whenever he communed with God, he uncovered his face. You can read about this in Exodus.

Unlike Moses, I don’t have to climb a mountain or go into a tabernacle to be with God: I’m with him 24/7, through his Spirit. I am always in God’s presence; I am always before God’s throne. And being always before God, I’m like Moses when he was before God, and Moses never covered his face before God. He just didn’t do it. In not covering his face, he set a clear example of how we are to face God, and that is with our faces uncovered.

If you are genuinely born-again, you are like Moses communing with God. You are always in God’s presence in the spiritual realm of his holy mountain and holy of holies, otherwise known as the Kingdom of God: You are always before God’s throne. YOU DO NOT COVER YOUR FACE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD. It is just not done. Whether or not you choose to adhere to that guidance is up to you (you have free will), but I’d recommend that you take Moses as your guide, not someone who doesn’t know God and has never been in his presence.

The guidance provided by scripture regarding face covering is meant for born-again believers and for anyone who comes before God. IT IS AN ABOMINATION FOR A CHILD OF GOD TO COVER HIS OR HER FACE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD, and A CHILD OF GOD IS ALWAYS IN GOD’S PRESENCE, THROUGH THE POWER OF GOD’S SPIRIT. That’s what it means to be born-again. Genuinely born-again followers of Jesus enjoy the one-on-one relationship with God that Adam had before his fall, and that Jesus had during his time on Earth.

I am a born-again follower of Jesus.

As such, I am always in the presence of God through his Spirit, as Jesus promised his followers they would be.

I will not cover my face.


Work, to Jesus, was not something you did 9 to 5. It was also not something you did full-time, part-time, seasonally, in shifts, or three weeks on, one week off. It was not contractual, in the sense that you had to agree to do and say certain things “on the job” that you may or may not do or say in your “off” hours.

It was not something you did for money.

Work, to Jesus, was not like that.

To Jesus, work was who he was. He was his work. He made no distinction between the work he did for God and who he was as a person.

We who live in the Kingdom and follow Jesus should also strive to be our work, as Jesus was his.


Today is my Sabbath. I’ve written before about how much I love the Sabbath. The Sabbath, of course, is our God-sanctioned day off from work. We need it and use it to rest from our labours. Keeping the Sabbath is also a Commandment. That means, not keeping the Sabbath is not an option. In keeping the Sabbath, we’re also to keep it holy, which means we’re not to devote our Sabbath day to profane (worldly) pursuits, including doing work for mammon.

I don’t always keep my Sabbath on the same day that most people keep theirs. Sometimes, I’m led by God to keep it on a different day, but the content of my Sabbath – regardless of the day I keep it – is still the same. Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and I take him at his word. I keep the Sabbath when God guides me to keep it, and I keep it holy, as he instructed in his Commandment.

Jesus, however, was infamous for breaking the Sabbath, or so his detractors accused. Because he made no distinction between the work he did and who he was, Jesus worked on the Sabbath without breaking the Sabbath. Like priests, Jesus was actually obligated and expected to work on the Sabbath, as he frequently pointed out to his detractors.

We again see Jesus’ take on work reflected in the famous interchange between him and Martha, when Martha asks Jesus to get Mary to help her with her chores. In asking Jesus to intervene, Martha likely assumed this tactic would shame Mary into helping her. So imagine her shock when Jesus instead sides with Mary and reminds Martha that, in sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning about the Kingdom, Mary has chosen the better job.


During the time they were with Jesus on Earth, the disciples did the same mundane daily chores that the rest of us generally do, such as shopping, food prep, and so on. However, shortly after they’d received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they allocated the mundane daily chores to others and spent all their time doing the work of the Kingdom. Like Jesus, they had finally become their work.

It took Paul some time to get there. Even while he was traveling and preaching and writing his letters, he still made tents for his daily bread. He also encouraged others to earn their way through the world rather than to rely on hand-outs. The six-day designated work-week was important to Paul, as it should be to us. Working six days a week is part of the same Commandment as keeping the Sabbath holy.


So where does all this information leave us? If you’re like me, you’re both working in the Kingdom and working in the world, as Paul was for most of his ministry. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m working only in the Kingdom, like Jesus, but I hope so. I’m on God’s time, not mine.

In the meantime, I’ve been blessed to have work that I can do anywhere in the world and where I’m my own boss. The work I do for the world (freelance writing and editing) also feeds the work I do for the Kingdom, which is a profound blessing. Even better, God is my agent. And being perfect at everything he does, God is a perfect agent, which means he only gets me work that suits me, that I have time for, and that satisfies my needs. I am never without.

How much longer I’ll be doing my worldly work is up to God: again, I’m on his time, not mine. When I do my God-sanctioned and God-given worldly work, I keep in mind that I’m always to do it (as scripture tells us) as if unto God, as if I were doing it for God: as if God were my client. So even in doing worldly work, I’m still doing Kingdom work if I do it unto God, which means if I do it to the best of my ability.

In doing both worldly work and Kingdom work, I see myself along with others doing the same. We’re in a vision given to John, which he recorded in the book of Revelation:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Revelation 7:9-17

There we are, having come through our own personal Tribulation and washed our robes in the sanctifying blood of Jesus, making them white. That is spiritual rebirth. Protected, guided, provided for, and comforted, we spend the rest of our time on Earth in what Paul called a “cloud” of witnesses – spiritually before the throne of God, rejoicing in God, and serving God only. If you’re genuinely born-again, you’re in John’s vision. Your work and everything you do is now a testimony to Jesus. Stick your face close enough to the words of that passage, and you’ll see yourself waving at you. I’m waving at you, too. Go ahead and wave back. 


For Jesus, working and doing God’s will were one and the same, and he did them night and day. For us born-again believers who are doing both worldly work and Kingdom work, we’re not that far off from how Jesus worked if we do everything we do as if unto God.

Even so, if God guides us to do it, we shouldn’t be ashamed to make tents. It’s always better to work than to beg; God never wants his children to beg. If we show the willingness to do whatever’s asked of us, God will bring us the resources we need in the world to continue our work in the Kingdom. That’s a guarantee.

Scripture tells us so.


 I spend some time every now and then watching videos uploaded to various social media channels. Most of the videos bemoan the state of modern life and suggest alternatives (stop consuming, stop using your smart phone, spend more time in the woods, etc.) that are impractical for most people. The common theme that runs through these presentations is that certain people or organizations are to blame for the dismal state of the world, that we are the victims of their wiles and whims, and there’s very little we can do about their evil deeds other than to escape them in any way we can. Fair enough, these are not Christian channels, or at least not overtly so. Some of the presenters even identify as “pagan”, though I’m sure if I told them what pagan really meant, they might back off from identifying as such. Or not.

For those who see through the eyes of the world – even for those who have rejected the world but still refuse to turn back to God – these are dreary times indeed. I personally cannot imagine how I would have handled the lockdowns and the worldwide, non-stop, fear-driven propaganda of the past two years if I were not a born-again believer. I try to imagine how atheist Charlotte would have responded to the muzzling, the socially enforced distancing, the mass injection campaigns, etc., and I hope that she would have given the whole thing the proverbial finger, as born-again Charlotte did. I imagine that atheist Charlotte would have been much less polite and much more vocal than born-again Charlotte, not shying away from getting into the faces of those who tried to get her to cover hers.

There’s still a lot of the atheist Charlotte in born-again Charlotte, not in the values, but in the force of personality and the refusal to swallow what is patently BS. That part of me did not change when I changed from atheist to believer. I got polite and patient as a believer; I did not get pussified. The part of me that doesn’t shy away from standing up and speaking the truth even when it goes against everyone else in the room God can use for Kingdom work; he already has.

But the part of me that blames others for my own problems or for the general state of the world did, thank God, change. It is a hard truth to get people to accept that the pain they feel is the pain they’ve earned, and that their own depression or other mental malady is not the result of a chemical imbalance in their brain. Rather, the chemical imbalance in their brain is the result of a sin-burdened soul expressing its pain through negative emotions and enabling evil to work directly through them. This is what causes the chemical imbalance. Likewise with the state of the world – the world is the way it is not because of the whims of a few deranged powerful people, but because nearly everyone in the world is unrepentantly doing evil, and they’re all simply getting back what they put out. This is a hard truth for most people to accept, mainly because it’s so simplistic. I guess they expect the guru at the top of the mountain to be more profound.

So I watch these videos that bemoan the state of the world with a sense of compassion for those who are suffering, but my compassion is also mixed with a sense of frustration. How do you get people to repent? The band-aid solutions of running away into the woods or rejecting modern technology will not help these people; they will only shift their suffering to a different environment to be expressed in other ways. The only way to truly get rid of pain and suffering is to sincerely repent and believe the Gospel, as Jesus advised. There is no other way.


We know what’s coming, if not in the short-term, then definitely in the long-term. Jesus told us and scripture tells us. The future, for the world, is not bright. Everyday life will become more and more controlled and monitored, as much to keep people in line as to weed out who won’t play along. The past two years have been a beta test of sorts to weed out the non-players, and I guess I’ve shown my hand. I will not play.

The people who make the videos I watch every now and then and those who comment below the videos are not unlike atheist Charlotte. They see that something is terribly wrong with the world and they refuse to accept the way things are, to go along to get along. But they stop short of genuinely wanting to know the truth at all costs, because if they did want to know the truth at all costs, they wouldn’t be blaming the world (or those who run it) for their problems; they’d be blaming themselves. And in so doing, they’d sooner or later be turning back to God, who is the one and only source of Truth. Everyone who genuinely wants the Truth eventually comes to God.

The hard truth is not that Truth is hard, but that it requires submission, like a little child submits, believing beyond doubt. It requires the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency. Atheist Charlotte turned into born-again believer Charlotte not from anything she read or listened to, or anything she ate or drank, or any ritual she engaged in or observed, but simply by saying “yes”. What exactly did she say
“yes” to? To whatever it took to make the pain go away. And that “yes”, as explained by God himself to atheist Charlotte, was saying “yes” to choosing to forgive. It was really that simple, and in an instant all the pain and confusion were gone.


And I didn’t even have to give up my cell phone.


I watch these videos as a born-again believer the same way that Jesus went to pubs – to keep in touch with people and their concerns. I don’t leave “religious” messages in the comment sections, any more than Jesus preached the Kingdom in the pubs. There would be no point. But every now and then God guides me to leave a word of encouragement or thanks, the way that Jesus would buy someone a drink or lend a sympathetic ear. The suffering people of the world are not our enemies – even those in positions of authority who impose hardships on us are not our enemies. We know who our real enemies are; Paul pointed them out: he said they weren’t flesh and blood, but were principalities and dominions in high places.

Our enemies are very real, but we can’t see them because they have no body. They’ve been disembodied, which is why they’re always trying to possess one of ours. Those are our enemies, but we don’t fight them directly. We can’t fight them directly, other than to cast them out, as Jesus did. But we can surely gain ground against them simply by being kind to the unkind. That’s another simple hard truth most people (even Christians) don’t want to hear.


You can’t escape pain by running from it. It follows you wherever you go and compounds the more you try to avoid or suppress it, including through medications. Band-aid measures like “going back to nature” are palliative to a certain extent and for a certain time, but the pain always finds you eventually. It is a spiritual guarantee. These methods – avoiding, suppressing, running from – are desperate attempts to treat the symptoms. To get rid of pain, you have to get rid of the cause of the pain, and that cause is ALWAYS sin.

I asked earlier how we can get people to repent, and there’s no single answer to that question. I repented 23 years ago because I hit rock-bottom, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, etc., but that way isn’t optimal for everyone. Some people when they hit rock-bottom kill themselves and take others with them. So sitting back and letting people hit rock-bottom might not be the best way to handle the situation in all cases. Guiding people to repentance is a case-by-case process.

There are many ways to get to God; in fact, there are as many ways as there are souls. As each soul makes its way through its allotted time and space on Earth, most are content to be controlled by the forces of the world. These souls will rarely value truth and most will never come to God. Conversely, the souls that are not content to be controlled by worldly forces or embrace worldly norms and values (I was among that lot) will actively look for ways out. These are the souls that do value truth. These are the souls that make the videos that I watch occasionally on various channels and the souls that comment on the videos. These are the souls that are open to Genuine Change, though they may resist it initially.

In Jesus’ day, these were the souls that hung back from actively following Jesus, but still somehow found themselves in the periphery of the crowds wherever Jesus went, and so overheard what he was saying. These were the souls that eventually came to Jesus, secretly, and under cover of night, looking for more answers. Some of these souls then eventually did come to God.


A hard truth is not something that’s difficult to understand; it’s something that’s difficult to accept. I rebelled against the world as an atheist, and in so doing I also rebelled against even the idea of God, because I equated God with the authorities of the world, as represented by the worldly church. That’s the devil’s doing and God permits it as a way to weed out those who genuinely want the Truth rather than those who just say they do. The worldly church is about as far removed from my experience of God as atheism is from the worldly church; it’s like they’re all totally different things. The God of the worldly church is not the God I have come to know and love as a born-again believer.

I wish that the people who make the videos that I watch every now and then would come to know my God as I know him. I wish they would repent and believe the Gospel. I wish they would follow Jesus. Then they wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore or feel like running off into the woods or trashing their cell phones to find peace: they would find it anywhere, anytime, under any circumstance just by being in God’s presence through his Spirit.

Hard truth isn’t so hard when you’ve got such a soft landing place as God’s hands.


I’ve written before, here and here and here, about the importance of private revelation, about keeping to yourself what God tells you in confidence or speaking out loud what God tells you to share. Sometimes he’ll tell you to keep it quiet for a while before revealing it to others, and sometimes he’ll tell you not to say anything at all about it, ever, that it’s a secret just between you and him. I like those secrets best, the ones that stay quiet. I like having secrets with God.

I remember, in the weeks after I was first born-again, God would tell me secret after secret, and again and again what he told me would come to pass. He was showing me how he works. He was teaching me that I could trust him. I learned to trust him in part because everything he told me came to pass just as he predicted.

It still does.

When God confides in us, tells us a secret that we’re to keep to ourselves or share later with others, we are in the same position with God as Jesus was during his time on Earth. God also shared secrets with Jesus, more than we can imagine. We know this because Jesus said to his disciples that there were many things they needed to know, but he couldn’t tell them yet because they couldn’t bear it. Several times he even told them to keep quiet the revelation that he was the Christ. Several times he told them “I tell you this now, so that when the time comes, you will know that I am he who was to come.” But after his resurrection, Jesus commanded his followers to tell the world everything he’d told them, most importantly that he is the Christ.

Being a follower of Jesus necessarily requires you to hold tight some secrets and reveal others, to always be in communication with God: to hear from him as well as to speak to him. To the world, a born-again believer bears a striking resemblance to a nutcase. Jesus was considered crazy not just by the powers-that-be in general, but also by those closest to him in blood. Even though his mother and siblings knew he could do things that defied natural laws (the water-into-wine trick must have been a big hit at family gatherings long before the wedding at Cana, since his mother seemed to be intimately aware of just how it worked), they were still afraid he’d lost his mind when he made the very public leap from being a prophet to being The Prophet foretold by Moses.

And there’s the rub: the difference between keeping it between you and God, and going public.

Jesus went public already when he was 12 years old, or at least he tried. He didn’t get very far, as it wasn’t his time yet to go public. God had to send his mother and father to reel him back in. That passionate part of Jesus that breaks through every so often even when he was an adult was difficult for the boy Jesus to restrain. It’s that same passionate part of Jesus that the Holy Spirit had a field day with during Jesus’ ministry years, particularly when Jesus was dealing with the religious hypocrites and with those who were sincerely penitent. God, through his Holy Spirit, could reach out through Jesus’ passion and actually touch people the way they needed to be touched – either as a well-timed and perfectly worded reprimand, or as a perfect healing. Those words were God’s words coming directly out of Jesus’ mouth, just as the healings were God’s healings coming directly out of Jesus’ hands.

Read through the Old and New testaments and you’ll find example after example of believers who spoke to and heard from God. We wouldn’t have a Bible if those people hadn’t spoken to and heard from God. Most of them were initially thought crazy or continued to be thought so by unbelievers, but when God told them to go public with his revelations, they did. Their revelations form the lion’s share of scripture.

We born-again believers by very definition speak to and hear from God on a daily basis. That is what it means to be born-again – to have God’s Holy Spirit constantly with us, so that we don’t need to perform a ritual or seek the services of an intermediary to get God’s attention. He’s always with us through his Spirit, the way he was with Jesus. This is an unfathomable privilege that even the Old Testament prophets did not have. They were visited only occasionally by God’s Spirit; they didn’t have the Spirit 24/7, as we do.

Most of what God tells me I keep to myself. Some of it I write in this blog, and some I tell specific people, as God guides me. This is no different from what Jesus did – keep some revelations to himself, reveal some to certain individuals, and go public with others, all in God’s time. What Jesus did, we’re to do. He was our example during his time on Earth. He told us: If they think I’m crazy, they’re going to think you’re crazy, too. And so “they” do. That’s in part why God tells us to keep some secrets to ourselves and to reveal others only at a certain time and place. Elsewise, the dogs might tear us to pieces, and the swine might steal our pearls.


If you’re born-again, Jesus is not only your Lord, he’s your Master.

In other words, he’s your schoolmaster, and the Holy Bible is your schoolbook.

Jesus came to Earth for two main reasons: to pay the sin price (redemption) and to teach his followers how to live in the Kingdom.

Both of these reasons – redemption and teaching about the Kingdom – are equally important.

Most people are at least vaguely aware of Jesus’ role as redeemer, but his teaching role is much less well known.

We, as born-again believers, know about Jesus being our teacher because we refer to his lessons and examples to guide us in our day-to-day lives.

We know that the Kingdom has come because we live in it. Jesus taught us how.


There’s a troubling assumption among some Christians that “Jesus is coming back soon” to set up his kingdom. They see the ever-worsening spiritual state of the world and consider this a precursor to Jesus’ second coming. Certainly, Jesus himself told us that he would be returning at the end of time, but he never said anything about setting up a worldly kingdom. In fact, he pointedly stated that his Kingdom is not of this world. The assumption that Jesus will set up a worldly kingdom is based solely on the misinterpretation of a single passage in the book of Revelation. Everything else in the Bible points to Jesus setting up a spiritual Kingdom that exists parallel to worldly kingdoms. That crucial task he’s already accomplished; if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.

The lessons Jesus taught his followers were intended to be applied immediately, not in some hazy future, millennia away. This is in part why Jesus occasionally got so impatient with his disciples. They weren’t applying the lessons he’d taught them, but were instead defaulting to the ways of the world. Jesus intended his lessons on the Kingdom to be applied immediately after they were taught, because the Kingdom had already come and would be expanding after his resurrection. Believers needed to know how to live in the Kingdom, as living in the Kingdom requires a different set of rules than living in the world.

An equally troubling assumption is that “Jesus did it all”, so we don’t have to do anything but “believe” and “have faith” and our eternal reward is handed to us on a silver platter. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus taught us our lessons so that we’d apply them; applying them means doing something beyond simply believing or having faith. Applying our lessons means living them day by day, in everything we do.


There’s no point in giving lessons unless tests are also given to see how well the lessons have been learned. God specializes in allowing “surprise” tests to be given to his children as the need arises. As I mentioned in an earlier article, we’re supernaturally shielded from knowing that they are tests; the shielding is done so that our response is organic. If we knew in advance that we’re being tested, we’d be able to prepare a carefully appropriate response, but God doesn’t want that. He wants to see our raw response, not our cooked or half-baked one. He wants to see how we really are, not how we say or think we are.

Have you been tested lately? Of course you have; we’re tested nearly every day. Think of a recent test you had and the circumstances that led up to it. How did you do? Be honest, now! I blush recalling how badly I’ve done on some of my tests. But thank God I’ve at least learned this: that no matter how dismally I do, I get back on my feet, brush myself off, and keep going.

That’s all God expects of us – not that we pass our tests with flying colors, like Jesus did, but that we do our best and don’t give up. Each of us has a different best, but we all have the capacity not to give up, we all have the capacity to keep going regardless of how dark our present circumstances. All it requires of us is a simple decision of the will, a silent “yes” to God, an inner nod that’s seen and understood only in the spiritual realm. Then God can strengthen us and we can keep going.


We need to remember that Jesus came to teach us as much as he came to redeem us. Teaching necessarily requires testing, and testing occasionally ends in less than satisfactory results. But our failures needn’t be the end of us; sometimes our failures are themselves meant to be our lessons.

So learn your lessons as Jesus taught them, do your best to apply them every day, and no matter how well or how badly you do on your tests, keep going.

Just get back up on your feet, brush yourself off, and keep going.

“Those who endure to the end will be saved.”


As we born-again believers make our way – God’s Way – along the strait and narrow of this life, we need to keep in mind that our greatest temptations probably won’t look like temptations; they’ll look like everyday concerns or ways of the world. They might even look like shortcuts that promise to get us to Heaven faster and with less effort.

Satan, for all his brilliance, still relies on the same old tricks that he used with Eve all those years ago: He finds our weaknesses and exploits them. He relabels forbidden fruit as “New!” and “Improved!”, burying the truth of the matter deep in the endless fine print that no-one bothers to read.

One of the worst things about temptations (if avoiding them is your goal) is that God supernaturally hides from you that they are temptations. You go into a temptation spiritually blind. God does that on purpose so that we’ll react organically to the scenario, not in a pre-processed way. I have been tempted on numerous occasions since I was reborn, and I’m sorry to report that I fell for many of them. The only positive thing I can take from my spiritual failures is that I learned from them by suffering the consequences of my bad choices, and the failures humbled me.

As we get closer and closer to our time to go Home (or in the other direction), we can be sure that our temptations won’t be the over-the-top type that Jesus was subjected to in the wilderness just before the start of his ministry. No, they’ll be much more subtle, which makes them that much more dangerous to us. For example, we might be tempted to break one or more of the Commandments, but it won’t appear as if we’re breaking them, either because “everyone is doing it” or the law of the land permits it. This is why we need to very clearly distinguish between God’s Law and worldly laws, between what is right in God’s eyes and what is right in the eyes of the world. Taking up arms with the intent to kill is a major temptation that born-again followers of Jesus hopefully never fall for, regardless of whether it has the blessing of the state.

Another temptation that comes to us disguised as something good is earning money. How much money do we need? Based on Jesus’ example, I’d say we need as much as it takes to put a roof over our head, food in our mouth, and clothes on our back, with a few extra pennies to pay for incidentals. Anything we earn beyond that is a temptation from the devil. God told me once that it’s useful to think of money as cancer cells, in which case we wouldn’t want to have any money at all, or at least no more than what we need to keep our immune system primed and pumped and humming along.

For many people, earning more money than you need is a lifelong temptation, though I’ve yet to hear of a deathbed confession that mentions any regret over not earning more. It’s like impending death completely cuts through the delusion that money has any real value beyond a roof, food, and clothing. If you take money concerns out of your life and let God dictate the amount you need, you free up a good portion of your day and your mind. For born-again believers, money should only be a tool; it should never be an end in itself beyond the bare minimum requirements.

Probably one of the biggest temptations in most people’s lives these days is complaining, especially publicly and before giving the offending person a chance to correct the wrong. Social media is usually the vehicle of choice for the complaining. Scripture tells us that if someone does something wrong, we need to go to that person and talk to him or her PRIVATELY. We’re not to make a show of it by standing up in public and thundering “J’ACCUSE!” That’s Satan’s job, to accuse. Our job is to take someone aside and quietly suggest that a change of behavior might be in order. If that doesn’t work, we’re to take a few more people to that person and quietly suggest the same. If even that fails, we need to pray for that person, but keep our distance. You don’t complain about them, not publicly and not privately. You pray for them.

Keep this in mind the next time you feel the urge to leave a bad review on social media. It’s a temptation. Best not to leave any review and let God deal with your grievance in his time and his way.

This category of temptations is called provocations, because they’re intended to provoke you into acting badly.

For the past month, I’ve been traveling for the first time in nearly two years, and I can tell you that the attitude of the people working in the hospitality industry in particular has changed drastically. I’ve suffered rudeness and arrogance that I’ve never experienced in all of my previous travels combined. Each time someone snaps at me or studiously ignores me, I have to bite my lip not to say anything that I’ll regret, just as I have to physically restrain my fingers not to type anything on a review that I’ll feel bad about later. So I instead step back and look at the goodness and kindness of the situation, if there is any (and there is always something), and I choose to overlook what wasn’t so good and kind. I choose to be grateful for small mercies rather than to be resentful. Note that I say “I choose” to do these things. Sometimes I have to make the choice with my nails digging into the palms of my hands. I have to learn (and relearn [and re-relearn]) to do this, because my default tends to be to get provoked, at which point my back goes up, my mouth opens, and out pours the invective. Mind you, what comes out isn’t necessarily inaccurate; it’s just not the best way to handle the situation.  

These are temptations in the form of provocations, and they are everywhere these days. We need to be on our guard, even knowing that God will prevent us from seeing these temptations as provocations, watching to see how we respond. I think that when we get to the point where our default is to have compassion for the offender rather than condemnation, we’ve passed that particular test, overcome that particular temptation.

And then on we move to the next one.