I listen to a lot of sermons in my job. I read a lot of blogs. And almost without exception, the main message I hear coming from the pulpit today – whether spoken or written – is PROSPERITY. Many Christian teachers and preachers are working overtime to get us to see God as the eternal ATM of blessings and our professed belief in Jesus as the security PIN to access those blessings.
But it doesn’t work that way. You don’t just stumble through life, treating people like crap, and then show up in church on Sunday with your hands out, expecting God to fill them with goodies. (more…)
When Jesus compared “catching” people to catching fish, he was referring to using a net rather than a hook.
Net fishing is completely different than hook-and-line fishing. With net fishing, you can catch many fish at the same time, whereas with hook-and-line fishing, you catch only one at a time. Net fishing is also normally done in deep waters, and from a boat.
But both styles of fishing require the fisher to be astute: You don’t just rush down to the water and wildly cast your net or hook at random; you need to fish at the right time and in the right place and with the right equipment, and you need to be PATIENT. (more…)
Since being born-again 20 years ago, I have hesitated at times to call myself a “Christian” – not because I don’t love God and follow Jesus and don’t want to say so openly, but because I don’t identify with most people who call themselves Christian. The name has been so abused and misused and misapplied and watered down that it has lost its original meaning, morphing into the dreaded parody known as “churchianity”. (more…)
When I was first born-again 20 years ago, I remember reading the phrase “pray without ceasing” in one of Paul’s letters and wondering how someone could possibly do that. At the time, prayer for me (because I was a Catholic) meant getting down on my knees and repeating vain repetitions that I either memorized, like the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary”, or read straight from a prayer book or prayer card, like a script. I could not understand how people would be able to be down on their knees reciting the Our Father or Hail Mary 24/7 and still carry out their daily duties, but I gave it my best shot. I bought rosary beads, chaplets, and any other prayer beads I could find at the Catholic store and started the daily recitations on my knees. Morning, noon and night, at pre-set times, you could find me in my room, mumbling vain repetitions and counting out beads as eagerly as Matthew had counted coins at his tax collector job before being sprung by Jesus. (more…)
I don’t follow celebrity news, but sometimes celebrity news follows me when I log onto my various email accounts. Because of my Internet searches for “abornagainbeliever” (my website with WordPress), I am bombarded with “recommended for you” suggestions that include “born again”. Recently, as some of you might know, some high-profile celebrities have claimed to have become born-again Christians or to have had a “spiritual experience” that they attribute to God. Whether or not these experiences are genuine spiritual rebirths is for God to know. However, for your edification, and with a nod to celebrity cultural norms, I’ve compiled a “Top 10″ (plus 1) list of the main characteristics of a newly born-again follower of Jesus. You can compare these characteristics against the celebrity reports and draw your own conclusions. (more…)
What did Jesus teach the people in the synagogues during his ministry years? (more…)
People want to love and be loved.
People also want to love and be loved by God.
We are hardwired to love and be loved, whether we believe in God or not, just as we are hardwired to love and be loved by God, whether we believe in him or not.
We are hardwired to love and be loved, and we are hardwired to love God and be loved by him.
Show me someone who claims he or she doesn’t want to love or be loved, and I’ll show you a liar.
Fathers report an instantaneous surge of love for their children when they hold them in their arms for the first time. They say they “fell in love” with the child. That indescribable joy, packaged as the love of a parent for a child, is engendered by God so that children will know unconditional love, however imperfect. Mothers typically develop that love early in their pregnancy so it is already full-blown by the time the child arrives. A parents’ love is a stand-in for God’s love until the children are old enough to decide whether or not they want to receive God’s love and love him in return.
When we come to God as a follower of Jesus, our love for God starts to grow. That part of us that is hard-wired to love God is sparked into life. Sometimes it explodes as a full-blown love, depending on the circumstances, but mostly it grows over time the more we get to know and depend on God: our love for God and our faith in God grow together. (more…)