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A CALL TO REPENTANCE: THE SERMON THAT SHOULD BE HEARD IN THE CHURCHES OF EVERY FORMER CHRISTIAN NATION
“I have set before you life and death… choose life.”
When a nation turns from God, and instead of repenting, rebels; when a nation chooses death instead of life, and yet still demands the reward of freedom that comes with choosing life; when a nation cries in its anthem for God to keep its land “glorious and free”, and yet opposes God by supporting laws that kill the unborn, the sick, and the aged: then God has no choice but to give that nation its reward not according to its cries and demands, but its due.
God is giving that rebellious nation not what it wants, but what it has earned.
All formerly Christian nations are now reaping the rewards of choosing death, even while the people of those nations take to the streets and demand the rewards of choosing life.
Instead of repentance, there’s rebellion. Instead of understanding, there’s confusion. Instead of turning back to God and choosing to live in accordance with the Gospel, there’s a doubling down of sin and pride and the tabling of further demands.
But these rebellions now taking place across former Christendom are nothing new. They’ve been seen before, in heavenly places, when a third of God’s angels refused to accept God’s rule and rebelled. I don’t think I need to remind you that their reward for rebellion was a fall from grace followed by eternal damnation.
We who call ourselves Christians are supposed to be children of God. We who call ourselves Christians are supposed to be followers of Jesus. Children of God and followers of Jesus need to set the good example and show guidance to others, not fall in lockstep with the rebellious, many of whom don’t even believe that God exists.
As Christians, we need to lead the call for repentance in former Christian nations, not in an effort to bring those nations back to what they were previously (that will never happen), but to call forth any among them who still love God and still choose life. We need to remind those few, through the call to repentance, that rebellion against the way things are in the world – including restrictions on freedoms – is rebellion against God’s justice as it plays out in the world. We need to remind those few that God’s justice is perfect, and that to rebel against it is to rebel against God. We also need to remind those few what the rewards are for rebelling against God.
And we need to remind them what the rewards are for doing God’s will.
I hope I am preaching to the choir here, but I know there are some hearing this sermon who will reject its message and will continue to embrace rebellion. Those same people will also continue to call themselves Christians, even as they trail behind Satan, waving banners cursing their neighbour and doing the will of the Father of Lies. Some will do these things conscious that they’re rebelling against God, while others will do it blindly, lost in confusion.
But for those very few of you who understand that the way forward is through repentance, not rebellion – your job is to lead the way. Even if you’re the only one – lead the way. Stand separate from those who rebel. Repent and pray for those who have been blinded and have gone astray. It is the job of the church to pray for those who are in the church as well as for those who have gone astray. I see in the protests in former Christian nations only rebellion against God’s justice and curses against those who are administering it. These things should not be done by Christians.
This is a call to repentance to all those who choose life. The fall from grace of former Christian nations is nothing new, and neither is their rebellion against the rewards for choosing death. Scripture tells us that such falls from grace have happened before, but scripture also teaches us that the way forward is always to stand separate from the rebellious and to repent.
Stand separate, repent, and preach repentance, and you will receive the reward of repentance, which is freedom.
Run with the mob, rebel, and preach rebellion, and you will receive the reward of rebellion, which is slavery.
The choice, as always, is yours, but the right choice – the one that leads to life – is to stand separate, repent, and preach repentance.
May you always choose life.
As a Christian, I know that the Ten Commandments are the Law for me. The Commandments tell me what I can and cannot do, and they comfort me.
At the same time, as a Canadian, I also know that I have rights and freedoms that are guaranteed to me under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Charter is part of the Canadian Constitution and is the highest law of the land. No Canadian law is higher, and no Canadian law can supersede my rights and freedoms as a Canadian. Even under a state of emergency, my rights and freedoms remain intact. They cannot be nullified by any temporary directive or order. That is my guaranteed right as a Canadian.
I mention this because Paul knew his rights and freedoms as a Roman citizen. He was first and foremost a follower and apostle of Jesus, but he was also a Roman citizen. The rights afforded him as a Roman citizen gave him special protections by the Roman soldiers who helped him escape from the posse of temple elders who were planning to kill him. Being a Roman citizen also enabled Paul to live a life of relative freedom and comfort in Rome during the years he was awaiting trial.
While we’re yet in the world, we need to know what our rights and freedoms are in whatever country we are a citizen or resident. And not only do we need to know those rights and freedoms – we need to claim them, we need to assert them, and we need to stand on them, like Paul did. If we don’t know our rights, we can easily be misled by threats and coercion, or by the ignorance or malignance of people in positions of authority over us.
Case in point: Several years ago, I rented an apartment in Nova Scotia that was heated by electricity. The landlord told me, when I signed the lease, that the electricity bill was a certain amount per month on average. When it came time for me to move into the apartment, I called the power company to have the electricity account changed to my name. I also asked, out of curiosity, what the average power bill was. I was SHOCKED (pun intended lol) to hear that it was three times the amount I’d been told by the landlord.
When I got off the phone, I prayed. I knew there was no way I could afford the apartment with the power bill that high, and the apartment just wasn’t worth the high cost anyway. So I asked God to help me find a way out of the lease that wouldn’t involve me simply walking away from it.
He immediately had me go online to a website that had a verbatim copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, which are the laws governing landlord and tenant relations in Nova Scotia. I had never read the Act before. Once on that website, God guided me to the very clause that would get me out of the lease. I remember staring at it for a few minutes and thinking: “This can’t be real, I must be misunderstanding it”. So I called the government department responsible for landlord tenant issues and asked them to confirm whether the clause would in fact get me out of the lease. The woman I spoke with confirmed that it would. She herself had to consult with a colleague to make sure her interpretation of the clause was correct, because, as she confided, she’d been working at the department for over 20 years, and no-one had ever, to her knowledge, used that clause to get out of a lease.
I called the landlord and informed him that I was moving out (I’d never actually moved in) and told him why and on what grounds. The landlord then consulted with his lawyer about what I’d told him, and he was informed by his lawyer that the reason was sound and irrefutable. The lawyer also advised him to give me back all my money and to let me go. To the landlord’s credit, he did, and that was that.
Laws are made for a reason. God cherishes laws, and he wants us also to cherish them and to use them to our benefit. The Ten Commandments are there for our guidance and comfort, just as the laws of the land are there for our protection. Like Paul, we need to know the laws of the land pertaining to our rights, we need to claim them, we need to assert them, and we need to stand on them. For me, whether it’s the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Residential Tenancies Act – these laws have been put there by God for my protection as much as the Commandments have been put there for my guidance and comfort.
God wants me, as his child, to take full advantage of every right and freedom afforded me as a Canadian. But it is my responsibility to learn about my rights under the various laws of the land, and then to assert them. No-one is going to do that for me; I have to do it for myself.
I invite you now to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the laws of whatever land you’re living in. I’m going to post a link to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms below, for any Canadians who are reading this. As with the Commandments, we are responsible not only for knowing the laws, but for informing others about them. Informing others about them is as important as informing ourselves.
Remember – the rights afforded Canadian citizens under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms cannot by nullified under any circumstance, including a state of emergency.
May God bless you for reading this, and may you be blessed for keeping informed of – AND ASSERTING – your rightful freedoms. Just as God helped me to use a little-known law to get out of a deceitful lease, he will use his Law and the laws of the land to help all of his children thrive in the Kingdom and survive in the world. That’s his job as our Father.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: http://www.charter.ofrightsandfreedoms.ca/
It’s a strange thing for me, as a former atheist, to hear about someone who is a self-described “former Christian”.
I cannot imagine life without Jesus and God. What I mean to say is that there is no life outside of Jesus and God. Without them, all you do is stumble from one disaster to the next, one drink to the next, one obsession to the next, never really understanding why things are the way they are or why your life is so full of pain. And so you look for an explanation by blaming others or political systems or (worst of all) yourself. Without Jesus and God, there is no real peace and no real joy, because the presence of Jesus and God, through God’s Holy Spirit, is the sole source of happiness. Jesus called this a “wellspring” surging up inside you that never runs dry.
So when I hear about people who claim to be former Christians, I can only assume they were never Christians to begin with. Because having been a born-again adult for nearly the same length of time as I was an atheist adult, I’m able to compare the two states of being, and there is no way I would give up being a Christian. There is nothing that anyone could offer me to stop being a Christian – no amount of money, and no degree of threat. And yes, I will likely be tested on this (and I pray to God that I’ll hold my spiritual ground when the time comes), but on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being miserable and 10 being happy, I easily rate my born-again years as a solid 10 and my godless years, sadly, as a 1.
It’s not that there weren’t occasional flashes of something approaching happiness when I was an atheist. I found a certain measure of peace walking through the woods or along a shoreline. Sometimes I would find that same fleeting peace roaming deserted city streets at night or, oddly enough, in a library. Reading was my main escape from the omnipresent emotional pain of my atheist years, along with men, booze, travel, and learning about things (that is, learning about everything except God). I was perpetually chasing one lust after the other, one enthusiasm after the other, hoping for I don’t even know what, maybe some kind of resolution or eureka moment when “the truth” would suddenly burst into view, or someone would tenderly confirm that I had value beyond the fading desirability of my youth.
When you’re young and outwardly confident, as I was as an unbeliever, things come to you easily. People bend to you. When you mess up, they make allowances for you. You get second chances, and then third chances. I was always an exception to the rule; whatever charm I had, I worked it, and it worked well for me, or so I thought at the time. I rode the heady wave of pride, thinking I had it all figured out, thinking I could get whatever or whoever I wanted just by sheer force of will. But waves have troughs as well as crests, and all waves eventually come crashing down on a shoreline somewhere, leaving nothing behind but a bit of froth and a few bubbles.
I mention these things not because I remember my atheist years fondly (I definitely do not), but because I cannot fathom on any level that someone would consciously want to give up being born-again. Being in God’s Kingdom is exactly as Jesus says it is – the pearl of such great value that you sell everything you have to buy it, or the treasure that you hide in a field and then sell everything to buy that field so you can possess the treasure forever. Being born-again, you unhesitatingly give up everything in exchange for the presence of God’s Spirit, because there is nothing of greater value on Earth. Nothing comes close. My worst day of being a believer is still leaps and bounds better than my best day of being an unbeliever.
Do I still get sad as a Christian? Of course I do. I still have free will and emotions. People can still hurt me, and I can still do stupid things and hurt myself. But instead of running to a bottle or to other people for comfort when I get sad, or running into the woods or down to the ocean, I run to God and am healed in an instant. As an atheist, it took me days, months, or even years to get over things, and some wounds festered for decades until I was finally healed at my rebirth.
So you see, I’ve seen life from both sides – as an unbeliever and a believer. As an atheist, I was afforded all the privileges of youth, while as a believer, those privileges are long gone. But if I had all those privileges of youth as an atheist, why was I so miserable? Even more mysteriously, if I no longer have those youthful privileges as a believer, why am I so happy? Am I crazy? Certainly, there are those who knew me as an atheist and who see me now who think I’m crazy, because I’m cheerful without apparent cause. No-one can have as little as I have materially and still be happy. Right?
There was a professor in university I was inordinately fond of (to put it politely). When I was no longer his student, I wrote him a long letter, to which he responded with a few lines of pleasantries, ending with the (for me at the time) jarring question: “Are you happy?” It was an odd inquiry, given our history, and I remember being angered by it. In writing to him, I had hoped to reignite something, not discuss “happiness”, which was to me at that time a thing of little value.
That was a long time ago. I still have the letter somewhere, though I haven’t read it for years. I think if I received such a letter (or one like it) today, I would be thrilled that someone took the time to write to me, and so grateful for the extension of kindness underlying the pleasantries. As for the very pointed question at the end, I would immediately have grabbed a pen and piece of paper and scribbled in response: “Yes, yes I’m happy! Thank you so much for asking! And I hope you’re happy, too!”
These words I could never have written with any sincerity as an unbeliever, though as a believer not to write them would be a lie.
Yes, I am happy. I have been happy since the day I was born again over 20 years ago. This simple fact would have been unfathomable to me as an unbeliever. The presence of God’s Spirit makes you happy. Happiness that endures through decades is not craziness; it’s “evidence of things unseen”.
Which is why I cannot understand why someone would want to be a “former Christian”. Why would you give up the pearl of great price or the eternal treasure buried in your field? There is nothing in the world that comes close to being born-again. God’s Holy Spirit is the greatest of all treasures, which is why Jesus turned down the temptation to own “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them” in exchange for giving up God. Think about it – Jesus was offered EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD and the power that goes with having everything in the world, and he turned it all down because the presence of God’s Spirit was of greater value.
We born-agains live every moment of our lives with God’s Spirit. How incomprehensibly blessed we are! “All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them” still fall short in value to what each of us has inside of us here and now, and to what God has promised us if we stay the course to the end. Those who are genuinely born-again would NEVER give this up.
We need to reaffirm what it means to be a Christian.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, I did the trick-or-treating thing every Hallowe’en, along with all the other kids in my neighbourhood. For many of us, it was the highlight of the fall season and second only to Christmas on the annual excitement scale. Other than for our masks, our costumes were mostly hand-made by us and pretty low-tech (two hangers taped together at the hooks were angel wings; an upside-down ice-cream container with a rayon scarf trailing from it was Maid Marion’s headpiece; a big cardboard box with holes cut out for the arms was a TV set, etc.), but we didn’t care how ridiculous we looked because, for most of us, Hallowe’en was all about the free chips, candy and chocolate bars. The costumes were just a means to that end.
We saw our neighbourhood homes as dispensers of the free treats we so craved (and considered our birthright on that one amazing night), and for that reason all the houses we intended to hit were considered friendly turf. We didn’t anticipate having any problems when we stomped up the steps with our pillowcases bulging with loot; we didn’t expect to be challenged when we shouted “TRICK OR TREAT!”; we just expected to be given free grub, and we’d be on our way.
But there was this one house in our subdivision that gave me the creeps. Every Hallowe’en, I would go there only because the older kids I was trick-or-treating with would go there, but it bothered me. It was the only house I wanted to get away from as quickly as I could. I don’t even remember whether they gave good treats or not; I just remember that I thought the place and the people in it were creepy.
Here’s why: (more…)
I have spent the past 18 years living as a Christian. Prior to that, I was a loud and proud atheist.
I have not changed.
My values have changed, but my personality has not. I am still the same impetuous, occasionally impatient, outspoken, laugh-out-loud, fearless person I always was. I did my own thing as an atheist, and I do my own thing now.
Being a Christian doesn’t prevent you from doing your own thing. It just changes what that “thing” is. (more…)
I was on a social media forum in the wee hours this morning, as the last of the votes were being tallied and it looked like Trump was indeed – and for many, unbelievably – going to take the White House. The people posting on the forum were all pro-Trump, and there was an infectiously giddy and festive atmosphere. It was a financial forum, so there were lots of investors bemoaning the sudden 800-point plunge of the DOW as the vote turned in Trump’s favour, which meant substantial losses in the 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars for some of them. But, to a man, every single poster who bemoaned their unexpected loss said in the same breath that the loss didn’t matter if it meant that America would get back on track again. (more…)
Canada recently passed a bill legalizing what they term as “medical aid in dying”, whose proper acronym, fittingly, is “MAD”. Countless religious leaders of all persuasions spoke out against this so-called medical procedure as the bill worked its way through the Canadian Parliament and then the Senate, but the majority of Canadians supported the bill and now support the law. In other words, the majority of Canadians consider that getting someone to help you kill yourself is not only a darn good idea but a “right” that should be protected by law. (more…)