A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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THE SCAM OF FAUX PERSECUTION

Another day in Lockdownland (formerly known as Canada), and yet another slew of pastors arrested for defying attendance restrictions at their churches.

Note that these pastors aren’t being arrested for preaching the Word. If they were being arrested for preaching the Word, I’d be supporting them. But they’re allowed to preach the Word. No-one’s stopping them. Christianity is not outlawed in Canada. The Bible isn’t banned.

No, these pastors are being arrested for the very unsexy and worldly crime of violating attendance restrictions. There is absolutely no persecution involved whatsoever. They’re being arrested as anyone else would be arrested for doing the same thing at any other kind of building within the restriction zone.

There is no persecution involved. Zero persecution. If a daycare were to open under the same attendance restrictions and the daycare workers arrested, could they claim persecution? Of course not. And neither should any of these arrested pastors.

Frankly, these guys (and they’re all guys, from what I’ve seen) are just being drama queens. They’re not fighting for freedom of assembly or freedom of religion, and they’re not achieving anything other than this: bringing donations to their organizations.

Scratch an arrested pastor and I guarantee you’ll find, just under the surface, a fund soliciting donations.

Faux persecution is big bucks these days. It’s bringing lots of money into the coffers of the affected churches.

I’m past disgusted with this and all the gullible so-called Christians who are supporting it.

This is not about freedom of religion. This is not about persecution. It’s about purposely and flagrantly violating an attendance restriction that everyone in the community has to abide by and could be worked around if the pastors were operating in good faith.

But clearly they’re not.

Jesus NEVER did what these pastors are doing. When Jesus was threatened with arrest for preaching the Word (that is, when he was actually being persecuted), he went somewhere else. He also advised his followers to go somewhere else, if the Word was not welcome. There is nothing in the gospel showing followers of Jesus defying worldly powers and allowing themselves to be arrested for violating a restriction that has nothing to do with preaching the Word.

Christians are supposed to follow Jesus in everything they do. He never protested and he never purposely opposed worldly powers. The pastors getting themselves arrested are not following Jesus and are leading their flocks astray. They’re also sowing enmity between Christians and the greater community, as the greater community sees the violation of restrictions as endangering their health and safety. This is not something Jesus did or would condone. This is anti-Christ behavior.

The pastors need to stop their shenanigans and get back to the job of following Jesus and preaching the Word, in whatever way they can, working either within or around the restrictions (not opposing them). And every penny that they’ve collected during their faux persecution campaigns they need to return with an apology.

I am past disgusted with the worldly church. There is precious little of Jesus in anything they do. They are giving God and Jesus a bad name, and in the process paving the way for real persecution of real Christians in the near future.

These are the modern-day Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees.

These are the modern-day Judases.

Their organizations are rotten to the core.

If you’re attending one of these worldly churches, get out while you still can. There is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost by staying in them.

Come out of her, my people!

LOCKING HORNS WITH THE WORLDLY CHURCH

I’ve discussed here before Jesus’ arms-length relationship with the world. His concern was doing his father’s business and tending the lost sheep of the house of Israel, not making the world a better place. In fact, he spent no time at all confronting worldly powers about the evil they liberally dispensed. It was not his business.

What he did confront, however, was the worldly church. He set a clear distinction between those who did not know (the heathen) and those who said they knew but lived as if they didn’t (the hypocrites). The religious powers-that-be were constantly in his crosshairs, just as he was in theirs.

I have also had occasion to lock horns with religious powers-that-be and their supporters in the worldly church, and it is always an aggravating experience. Jesus was not a social justice warrior; he fought for Truth as it manifested in God’s Kingdom, not in the world. Jesus well knew that the world, being under the control of Satan, was not the realm of Truth. As he constantly reminded us: “My Kingdom is not of this world”.

Which is why I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall of unbelief when worldly Christians tell me that the evil of the world needs to be confronted by the church. Jesus never confronted the world. He never upbraided the world. He let the world be. It was not his Father’s business and therefore not his concern. God put the world under the control of Satan, so why would Jesus confront Satan? It would be like fighting against God.

Jesus didn’t advocate fighting against the powers-that-be in the world. When they came for him, he avoided them until it was his time, and then he submitted to them. In the worldly court, during his trial, he refused to defend himself. He submitted to the charges and then submitted to the punishment. Pontius Pilate was perplexed that Jesus would not speak in his own defense. In fact, he was so perplexed that he recommended that Jesus get the lightest possible sentence and be released. It was only at the insistence of the religious powers-that-be that Pilate decreed the death sentence.

The worst enemies of believers are not the worldly powers-that-be but the religious ones. It wasn’t the Romans who were hunting down Jesus’ followers in the early church, it was the religious powers-that-be, like Saul (later known as Paul). Our worst enemies, as believers, will always be those who call themselves Christians but show by their actions (if not their words) that they are anti-Christ.

Jesus warned us that our worst enemies would not be strangers but those under our own roof. And so they are.

I mention confrontation with the worldly church because of the issues currently being faced by many congregations in the form of attendance restrictions or outright banning of services. I am not in favour of openly defying worldly powers regarding attendance restrictions or closures, which puts me in direct opposition with most of Christendom. When Jesus was told not to go somewhere on pain of arrest, he didn’t go there. He worked around the restriction. When the early church was outlawed and told not to gather on pain of arrest, they fled and went underground. THEY DID NOT CONFRONT THE WORLDLY POWERS-THAT-BE or in any way protest the worldly decrees.

But there is a spirit of confrontation with the world that is growing stronger in so-called Christian congregations, and it is not a Godly spirit. I heartily oppose the face-covering mandate on any number of grounds, but I don’t protest it. I just don’t go where face coverings are required, or if I have to go, I state my exemption (which is part of the mandate). So far, I haven’t had any major problems. I don’t openly protest worldly decrees because Jesus didn’t, and I follow Jesus, not the worldly church.

I also don’t protest closures or meeting restrictions being imposed on congregations because these are the same restrictions being imposed on every other form of gathering, and the worldly church doesn’t deserve any special treatment in that regard. There are any number of work-arounds they could resort to, such as having three or four smaller services instead of one large one, or meeting virtually. These are work-arounds that are reasonable. I don’t attend weekly services (I’m in God’s church every day, all day), so I don’t have any particular sympathy for pastors who are openly defying attendance restrictions and getting themselves and their parishioners arrested and their buildings locked down.

Jesus would never have done this. There is no guidance in scripture supporting openly opposing or protesting worldly decrees. When believers in the early church didn’t agree with decrees not to gather, they quietly did work-arounds (like leaving town or going underground); they didn’t openly protest. The defiant pastors today aren’t getting arrested for preaching the Word; they’re getting arrested for not adhering to attendance restrictions. This is completely avoidable and has nothing to do with God’s Kingdom or preaching the Word. In confronting worldly powers and getting arrested, they are not setting a good example for their flock. Jesus never confronted worldly powers, only religious ones.

For us born-again believers, our worst enemies are not in the world but in the worldly church, just as they were for Jesus and just as Jesus warned us they would be for us. Our response to the world should always be the same: to keep it at arm’s length, but to be cordial and kind. Our response to the worldly church, however, should of necessity be confrontational, as Jesus showed us in his dealings with the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and so on. Our concern is not evil in the world (God put the world under Satan and didn’t tell us to fight it), but evil in the worldly church. It is to be confronted and corrected. But in so doing, expect to be aggravated and occasionally have to overturn a few tables.

LET THEM GO

When I was still an atheist, I had occasion to be at a location in Toronto that was the site of constant protests. It was an alleyway sandwiched between two rows of low buildings. On the day that I attended the location, I was confronted by a Christian minister while trying to push past chanting protesters to get to a back gate.

“You’ll burn in Hell!” was the ministers greeting to me as he blocked my path and waved a pamphlet in my face. I responded with words that I won’t print here; his reply to my curses was to curse me back and lunge closer. “THERE’S NO HOPE FOR YOU IF YOU GO THROUGH THAT GATE!” he roared. I got a good look at his face while he was shouting at me. It was red with fury, but his eyes were dead cold. This to me at the time was the face of Christianity.

Ten years later I was born-again. The Jesus I came to know as a born-again believer was nothing like the minister who screamed and lunged at me in the back alley. I vowed never to be like that hate-filled man in my dealings with unbelievers.

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Scripture is clear that most people are on the broad path and very, very few are on the narrow one. Scripture is also clear that people are on the broad path because they want to be. No-one forced them onto it. They are there because they want to be. I was an atheist because I wanted to be. The last thing I wanted as an atheist was to be a Christian.

Another way to look at it is that even knowing about the narrow path, most people don’t want to be on it. It is their free will choice to be on the broad path. God permits them their choice because he respects their right to choose. He doesn’t agree with their choice, but he respects their right to choose.

We need to do the same.

Jesus didn’t bang his head against the wall of unbelief.

He didn’t preach to unbelievers.

He didn’t scream and lunge at unbelievers, even those he thought might be condemned.

He let them go, just as he let those who no longer wanted to follow him go.

Even knowing years in advance that Judas Iscariot would betray him, Jesus didn’t try to talk him out of it. He was kind to Judas and treated him no differently than the other disciples. Even knowing that Judas had chosen against him, Jesus let him go.

We need to follow Jesus in everything we do, including letting those who want nothing to do with Jesus go. Just let them go. The same for people who once said they believed but have fallen away. Just let them go. The falling away was foretold in scripture, as was Judas’s betrayal, and Jesus says scripture cannot be undone.

We born-agains need to turn our attention instead to our own people, to born-agains who love God and follow Jesus. Time is short: We need to strengthen and encourage each other and let the rest go. Jesus said he didn’t come into the world to save the world but to minister to those who are his in the world. Most people in the world want nothing to do with Jesus; most of the people are of their own free will on the broad path, so let them go. Most Christians want nothing to do with God’s Commandments, so let them go, too. They are no longer our responsibility. They have made their choice. Respect their right to choose (like God does) and let them go.

But we are still to treat others as we want to be treated, whether they are believers or not. This command does not change.

So be kind to unbelievers and those who have fallen away. The time they have now is the best they will ever have. There is no promise of Paradise for them when they die. Be kind to them, knowing what awaits them. They are beyond your prayers, but you can still be kind to them.

“Love your enemies” is not just a catchy campaign slogan for God’s Kingdom.

It’s a Commandment.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOOD NEWS?

QUICK – without thinking about it, tell me what the Good News is.

Jesus launched his ministry with the words “Repent, and believe the Good News!”

So what is the Good News he was talking about?

And what exactly does he want us to believe?

If you’re like most Christians, you won’t have a clue.

Most Christians will say something like: “Jesus died for our sins.”

But the truth is that Jesus preached the arrival of God’s Kingdom on Earth. His entire ministry was preaching and teaching about the Kingdom and how to live in it. Remember that Jesus’ people were at that time waiting for a deliverer to save them from the occupying Roman forces, just as his people previously had been waiting for someone to save them from their enemies (the heathens) who were constantly a threat to them. God had promised them such a deliverer, and Jesus preached the Good News that God had kept his promise: The Kingdom that would keep God’s people safe from their enemies had finally been established.

This is incredibly important to understand. You cannot preach or teach the Good News without understanding exactly what the Good News is. Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom not as an event that would happen thousands of years in the future, but as something that was happening then and there and would continue forever. The founding of the Kingdom that would have no end was the Good News, and it had to be believed (that is, taken on faith) because, as Jesus explained, you can’t see the Kingdom with your eyes: It’s within you.

Jesus was very clear that the Kingdom had come, and that his ability to cast out spirits “by the finger of God” was evidence of it. The Kingdom, as Jesus explained, is a spiritual realm, not a geopolitical one.  What the coming of the Kingdom accomplished was to give believers a safe spiritual space where they would be protected from their spiritual enemies, not a safe geopolitical space where they would be protected from their worldly enemies.

This is the Good News that Jesus preached. This is the gospel.

Unfortunately, most Christians today are preaching another gospel – that the Kingdom of God will only come at Jesus’ second coming, and that Jesus will at that time set up a geopolitical realm. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is that the kingdom came with Jesus and has continued for the past 2000 years. The truth also is that a false messiah who calls himself Jesus will emerge at some point out of the worsening chaos to “save the world”, and this false messiah will set up a global government that he will call the kingdom of God, dubbing himself “God” in the process. This is the reason for the lies being pushed lately that Jesus is God and that he is “coming back soon” to set up his kingdom.

Don’t be deceived. When Jesus proclaimed the Good News 2000 years ago, he was declaring the coming of God’s Kingdom at that time, and he never called himself God. He always referred to “The Father” as a separate person. The gospels make no sense if you read them as Jesus being God. Old Testament prophecy is very clear that “God’s suffering servant” and “prophet” (a term used interchangeably with “son of man”) will set up the kingdom that will have no end, and that this will be done in the midst of other kingdoms, not as a final kingdom.

The problem, as I see it, is that most Christians today don’t bother to read the Bible and are profoundly ignorant of scripture. They’ve been relying instead on priests and pastors and ministers and YouTube false prophets to spoon-feed them what they’re told is scripture, and in so doing are learning, believing, and spreading lies.

This problem can easily be resolved by people simply opening up the Bible and reading it for themselves, but most Christians don’t want to do that. And so, we have the major falling away that we are now experiencing, along with a whole generation of Christians who are gearing up to welcome the false messiah as Jesus/God.

Please read the Bible. If you have been given the very great privilege of teaching and preaching God’s Word, please read the Bible, and learn and know scripture before you try to teach others. Don’t rely on other people to teach you; learn from the Master himself (Jesus) and from his Father (God) through God’s Spirit. Don’t rely on people.

The Good News that Jesus preached all those years ago is that the Kingdom had come and that God’s people were now safe from their spiritual enemies if they followed Jesus’ teachings. That is the Good News that Jesus preached, and that is also the Good News we need to preach. Anything else is another gospel.

EZEKIEL 9: GOD’S VENGEANCE AND THE MARK

One of the most chilling passages in all of scripture is found in the book of Ezekiel, where God shows his prophet what he has planned for those who’ve turned from him. The chapter is as close to horror as the Bible gets. Gone is the God of love and mercy, and in his place is the God of vengeance who operates coldly and mechanically, and without pity.

We know that God is perfect in everything he is and everything he does, so his vengeance must likewise be perfect. In Ezekiel 9, we see vengeance without mercy, but we also see God with no other choice, having given the condemned warning after warning, to no avail. At some point, time is up. Infinite patience doesn’t mean the patience goes on infinitely; it means the patience is infinitely comprehensive while it lasts.

Here are some lines from the chapter:

“Go… through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:

Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children….

Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain.”

What we see is God planning to do to his own people – including little children – what he usually does only to the heathen. He is treating the children of Abraham as strangers and enemies, and disposing of them as such.

God doesn’t make idle threats. He lays out very plainly what he expects of us and the rewards we will get for fulfilling those expectations. And just as plainly he lays out what he doesn’t want from us, and the rewards we will get for defying him. God is not coy when it comes to eternal damnation. The devil is coy; God is not. God states his expectations plainly and openly, ensures we’ve understood, and then steps back to let us make up our own mind about what we want to do.

In the same chapter in Ezekiel, we read about the angelic scribe who uses a writer’s inkhorn to mark the people who are safe from God’s vengeance. The mark is made on the forehead of the righteous, presumably with an ink that’s visible only to those in the spiritual realm. Ezekiel’s mark is later mimicked in the infamous “mark of the beast” in the book of Revelation. That mark – the one you cannot buy or sell without – is clearly visible both to those in the spiritual realm and to those on Earth.

There is nothing worse than being beyond God’s mercy, as were those in Ezekiel’s vision. It does not get any worse than that. As long as you exist within the realm of God’s mercy, no matter how bad things get, there is still hope. You can still cling to hope. You can close your eyes and pray and hope. But when God’s mercy ends for you, there is no more hope. That place of no hope is either hell on Earth or Hell itself. The book of Revelation describes the emptying out of Hell onto Earth. It comes after the last of God’s people have been sealed (the final mark of God). Those without that final seal will not be protected from the fallen beings that will rule over the Earth in the planet’s dying days.

The final sealing also marks the end of the Age of Mercy and the beginning of the Age of Vengeance. At that time, there will be no more conversions, only the punishment of the condemned and the final testing of those who have been sealed. It will be Ezekiel 9 come to life.

However, those who are sealed by God can still fall. Note that Jesus said this time of tribulation is so horrendous, if God hadn’t “shortened” it, every human would be wiped out. But God shortens this time for the sake of his elect, that is, for the sake of those he has sealed and marked as his own. He doesn’t whisk them away to avoid the tribulation; he keeps them safe while they’re undergoing their final tests and purification.

If you’re genuinely born-again, you bear God’s mark of protection. You are marked as God’s, just as surely as the Hebrews were marked as God’s by the blood of the lamb smeared on the door frames of their homes on the first Passover. The mark of the blood was a sign to the avenging angels to pass over that household while killing all the first-born without the mark. God’s sealing of you as a born-again believer has the same effect. But just like many of the Hebrews who had been protected by the blood of the Passover lamb were later condemned in the wilderness, so, too, will many of those who have received God’s seal later fall away. This is stated both in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. Whoever has been sealed and bears God’s mark during the time of tribulation will still be tried (that is, tested and purified), and some will fall.

Being sealed by God and receiving his mark is the greatest of honors. It also provides the greatest of protection. Nothing on Earth surpasses it. But this honor and protection can still be lost through unrepentant sin. We live in a time of great trials and temptations. We are in a spiritual wilderness on our way to the eternal Promised Land, like the Hebrews were in an earthly wilderness on their way to the earthly Promised Land. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from our fallen state and bring us back into relationship with God, if through repentance we choose to have that relationship. But the relationship still needs to be maintained through our choosing the good (rather than choosing sin), or we will lose the relationship a second time, and there is no coming back from that.

We lost our relationship with God once, through Adam’s doing, and Jesus paid the price to reinstate us. If we lose our relationship again through our own doing, there is nothing and no-one who can redeem us at that point. We will be in the same position as the fallen angels and with the same fiery lake as our unavoidable reward. Let no-one deceive you into thinking “once saved, always saved” or “all you have to do is believe and you’re going to Heaven”. These are lies from the devil to keep you spiritually lazy and ripe for a second and irredeemable fall.

God marks his own who are loyal to him. The devil will do the same to those who are loyal to him. Everyone has a mark. You cannot avoid having one. Those who are not born-again have already chosen who they are loyal to. Even if they claim to be atheists or a member of some other belief system, they have chosen against God and for the devil. It is that simple. If you don’t bear God’s mark, you bear the devil’s.

If you think God will be lenient with those who’ve chosen against him, reread Ezekiel 9.

If you think God will allow last-minute conversions after the final sealing of his people, reread Revelation.

We are very close to the final sealing.

One might even say we have arrived.

THE CLOSEST I’LL GET TO A MANIFESTO

As I’ve stated before, this blog is exclusively for those who are born-again. It is not written or intended for casual Christians or for those who hate or disbelieve in God. I am not an evangelical. I am not an apologist. I speak God’s Truth because I cannot speak otherwise.

I don’t argue God’s Truth; I speak it. If it offends you, go elsewhere. As long as I’m here on Earth, I will speak God’s Truth. No-one and nothing will stop me. You may shut down this blog, but you cannot shut me down. I will speak God’s Truth whether or not you want to hear it. I will continue to speak it until God takes me home.

That God’s Truth offends people is not my concern. I’m not going to change what I know to be Truth so as not to offend. Whoever is offended by God’s Truth can go somewhere else. It’s a big Internet. I’m not forcing anyone to read this blog. Everyone is welcome here, but if you find it offensive, please go. Don’t expect me to modify my words to appease you, because I won’t.

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When the time comes (and it may already be here) when there are no more conversions, we born-agains must let those who’ve chosen against God be. We must let them be. We must let them go and let them be. Scripture is very clear that we are to love our enemies. God loves even those who hates him, and Jesus tells us to be perfect even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We love them by letting them go and letting them be. They’ve made their choice; let them live the rewards of their choice; it is none of our business: it is between them and God. But if they ask you for food, feed them. If they ask you for shelter, shelter them. Even so, you can no longer preach the Word to them. They cannot hear and will never turn. We born-agains need to understand that and let them go.

When the time comes (and it may already be here) when there are no more conversions, our prayers need to turn exclusively to God’s people. Those who are not God’s people are beyond our prayers at that point. There will be no more intervening for those who are not born-again. After the final conversions, we must look to our own and pray for our own. We help all those who come to us for help, but our prayers are for our brethren.

When the time comes (and it may already be here) when there are no more conversions, we born-agains need to look after each other. We need to guide and encourage each other. We need especially to help the newborn-agains, because there’ll be a bumper crop. This final harvest will be so full of vim and vigour, they’ll be a true blessing to be around, but they’ll need strong guidance and a firm hand. Help them. Do what you can to keep them on the Way. Many will fall, through their own doing. Help who you can. Pray exclusively to strengthen your born-again brothers and sisters, and especially pray for the newborn-agains. That will be your job description after the conversions end.

I mention this now so that you’ll know what to do when the time comes. After the final turning, most of your family and friends will not be born-again. That is scriptural. You cannot change that. If you choose to stay with the unreborn, you will likely fall. They will betray you. Maybe not right away, but eventually. That is also scriptural. After the final turning, it will be best for you to be on your own or with other born-agains, tucked away somewhere quiet. It will be like the times of the early Church, when believers were hated and hunted for extermination. Those who survived went underground.

Be careful who you trust. Other born-agains you can mostly trust. Those who are not born-again you cannot trust at all. God and Jesus you can 100% trust.

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When the time comes when there are no more conversions:

Let the condemned be.

Pray for your brethren only.

Help the newborn-agains.

And be careful who you trust.

YOU HAVE NOT BECAUSE YOU ASK NOT, SO ASK!

God gave us free will as our birthright. In fact, our will is the only thing we own; everything else belongs to God.

It’s important that we understand that.

It’s even more important to understand that God respects our free will. That means, he won’t override it.

Then how do we get God to intervene when we need his help?

We pray.

Prayer gives permission to God to intervene in our lives.

When we pray, we hit the override button on our free will.

God knows what we need, but we need to ask him in order for him to be able to override our free will.

So ask him!

Jesus says we don’t have because we don’t ask. We need to ask God – that is, to make an inward and/or outward statement FROM THE HEART – if we want him to intervene. If we don’t do that, even though God knows we need something, he’s not going to intervene because he respects our free will.

I’ve written before about prayer simply being a conversation with God. But prayer, sadly, is something most people only do on occasion or for special purposes, whereas Paul tells us we need to “pray without ceasing”, that is, to pray ALL THE TIME.

We need to ask God for help and advice through prayer all the time, not just on special occasions or before we fall asleep at night. We need to keep a running conversation with God all the time.

“You have not because you ask not.”

God’s people are strong-willed, even though to the world they might look otherwise. Unfortunately, strong-willed people tend also to be very independent and to think they can do everything for themselves, leaving God out of the picture. But even as strong as Jesus was (and he was by far the strongest person who ever lived), he still kept a running conversation with God, meaning that he prayed for God’s help and guidance all the time.

We need to do the same.

For everything,

All the time.

Because tests and temptations come at us non-stop. We may not see them as such, but they are. So we need to give God permission to intervene in every aspect of our lives, not just the “spiritual” parts. We need to ask his help and guidance when we choose our meals and our clothing, when we’re doing business deals, when we’re dealing with difficult people, when we’re going shopping – whatever choices we make in the run of a day, we need to get God’s help and guidance. We can even ask him to get the dog next door to stop barking. God will do that, if you ask him. Or if for some reason he chooses not to stop the dog from barking, he’ll at least make it so the barking doesn’t disturb you anymore. But he won’t do that if you don’t ask him.

This is what Jesus meant when he says “YOU HAVE NOT BECAUSE YOU ASK NOT.”

We need to ask. We need to keep the conversation with God running all day long, like Jesus did. God should be the first one we greet when we wake up in the morning, and the last one we say good-night to before we fall asleep. During the day, we should know he’s with us like a faithful companion and always ready to intervene at our word. But you have to ask. Yes, God knows everything, but you still need to ask. You need to give God permission, because he will not override your free will without your explicit permission.

If you do nothing else today, open a conversation with God and keep it going until the day you die. Know that God is with you at all times through his Spirit and he wants to guide and help you in everything you do. Give him permission for each thing you want help with, and remember to thank him. Thank Jesus, too, because he’s also with you in Spirit. We’re all one family in God’s Spirit. Jesus promised us we would be, and so we are.

If we have not it’s because we ask not.

So let’s ask!

NO LIMITS TO GOD’S LOVE

I’ve written before about how Jesus needs to be not only our guide but our measure. We need to measure ourselves against him to see how far we’ve progressed (or not) along our journey home.

One aspect of Jesus that perpetually has me in awe is his kindness toward those he knows are condemned. He knew long before Judas Iscariot took the 30 cursed coins that he would betray him, and yet Jesus continued to treat Judas the same as he treated all his other disciples, even up to and including the moment of his arrest.

Jesus extends the same courtesy to the fallen angels. I am careful when I write this, because I know it upsets some people, but God loves the condemned and the fallen as much as he loves the blessed and the saved. Even those beyond his help he treats with courtesy. He is not scornful or dismissive of them. Jesus reflects this Godly trait by his own treatment of the condemned. We born-agains need to learn from this, and do it.

On many an occasion, I’ve heard Christians rail against those they consider condemned, or dismiss the fallen angels and demons as unworthy of any consideration other than contempt. This is not the right approach to these beings. Remember that Jesus knew them in Heaven before he came down to Earth. He knew them and interacted with them in the heavenly realms. Before they rebelled and fell, they were his peers.

Scripture tells us not to judge others. God judges, we don’t. Our job is to treat everyone as we would want to be treated, without exception, even the suspected Judases among us.

My heart breaks when I think about my loved ones who’ve rejected Jesus. I know what they’re missing now and what they may in fact miss for all eternity unless they turn back to God, and it brings me to tears. But the choice is theirs; God doesn’t force himself on anyone. He honors their free will.

Now think of God and all of his loved ones he’s lost for eternity. He doesn’t stop loving them because they’ve rejected him; he loves them the same as before. Even knowing that they can never love him back or receive his Heavenly reward that he wanted so much to give them, he still loves them. And until it’s their time, he still protects them. He gives them the reward they think they need. As Jesus says: “They have their reward.”

Again, I know this topic is difficult for some Christians, but we are not “some Christians”. We are, if genuinely born-again, the prophesied remnant, the inheritors of God’s promise to redeem his people Israel, and the bearers of his Holy Spirit during our time on Earth. As inheritors of God’s promise, we are granted enormous privileges, and with them come equally enormous responsibilities. We need to open our minds to see as God sees, as exemplified in Jesus.

If Jesus didn’t curse the fallen spirits, then neither should we.

If Jesus didn’t curse Judas Iscariot, then neither should we curse the Judases in our lives.

Love does not distinguish between good and evil when it comes to treating others as we want to be treated. Jesus says God sends his rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike. God does this to show us what it means to treat all others (not just some, all others) as we want to be treated.

Let God do the judging, and let us get on with the loving.

DISCERNING THE CREEPY FACTOR

I’ll have been born-again 22 years as of May 2021. In all that time, I’ve entered into a lot church buildings, spoken with a lot of people who called themselves Christians, and read and watched a lot of so-called Christian media. What I started to discern even as a newborn-again is what I call the creepy factor. I don’t think people are trying to be creepy; they just come across as creepy. Maybe you know what I mean and maybe you don’t, but the closest thing I can compare it to is someone who’s been brainwashed into a cult.

People caught up in a cult don’t actually believe what they claim to believe. They know it’s all BS, but they’re so heavily invested in it, that they’ve smothered that part of them that knows it’s BS so it won’t give them away. You know someone’s involved in a cult when their personality changes. When people are genuinely born-again, their personality doesn’t change. They have the same personality, but their values change. Cult members always change personality so that you almost don’t even recognize them anymore. That’s how much one part of them is overcompensating for knowing it’s all BS but not letting the other part of them that knows it’s BS get the upper hand and openly admit it.

Which brings me to the creepy cult factor that I discerned already as a newborn-again, way back in 1999. I’d been reborn from atheism, so everything I learned about God and Jesus as a newborn-again I learned from God and Jesus (and the Bible), not from people. God and Jesus and the Bible were my spiritual mother’s milk, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I was always at the spiritual teat, sucking and smacking away. During that time, I just assumed everyone who said they were Christian were actually Christian and had the same rebirth experience as I had. God let me believe that, the same way as God lets toddlers believe that all adults are good and kind and looking out for their best interests. It suits the toddlers’ purposes at that point to believe this half-truth, and God encourages them to keep believing it for a time. Even so, he let me believe that everyone who said they were Christian were actually Christian.

But toddlers occasionally fall down and go boom, and I was no exception. God had me going into a church building literally every day for the first three and a half years of my rebirth. Initially, it was Catholic buildings, and then it was Protestant buildings. That’s when I really started getting to know the creepy factor. Catholics are generally so lukewarm about the “celebration” of their beliefs that they’re just this side of corpse-like. There was very little what I would call creepy factor among Catholics, since they were basically just putting in time. There was nothing fake about their boredom at being “in church”. The boredom was genuine, and most of them didn’t hide it. The stampede for the door at the end of the service was something to behold.

Me, I was always the last one to leave the building. I thought God lived there (in a little box at the side of the altar), and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with him. God let me believe all this because it suited his purpose. Maybe he was testing me, or maybe was feeding me in a different way, or maybe he just liked seeing even one person who genuinely wanted to be there in what was called his house.

Protestants, on the other hand, have cornered the market on the creepy factor. I don’t know if it’s because of the way they’re raised or the kind of creepy people they’re around when they’re in a church building and it rubs off on them, but I never felt at home in a Protestant congregation. It was just like being in a Catholic congregation, but instead of genuine boredom, there was genuine fake faith. Now I’m not saying that everyone in the congregation was a fraud, but the feeling I got was that people were shouting alleluia with their mouths, not their hearts. The surface of their spiritual skin was warmish, but beneath the surface they were just as corpse-like as the Catholics. And when the service ended, there was just as much of a stampede for the door.

It made me equal parts sad and squirmy.

But the worst of it was the people who believed it was their duty to witness God’s love to strangers. It sounds like a good thing, right, to witness God’s love to strangers? But if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone saying they love but you can see in their eyes and hear in their voice that they actually don’t, then you have an idea what I’m talking about. When you tell someone that God loves them, they’re not going to feel God’s love unless you genuinely believe that God loves that person. You have to genuinely believe it in order for God to work through you. Otherwise, you’re just mouthing words like a brainwashed cult member. Fake faith. A version of the creepy factor.

Jesus hated the creepy factor. In fact, it was the one thing that drove him nuts whenever he went to dine with the religious powers-that-be of the day. He called it “hypocrisy”, and the powers-that-be hated him for it.

I see the creepy factor a lot in the Christian movies I’ve seen, particularly in the scenes where they’re trying to convince someone to “let Jesus into your heart”. Sometimes the creepy factor is so off the charts, I have to turn the movie off. In fact, it was one such scene that drove me to write this blog article tonight.

God doesn’t beg people to let him into their lives. Jesus never begged people to believe was the Messiah. He preached and taught. Scripture says that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. It doesn’t say that Jesus is out there on his knees, weeping and moaning and tearing his clothes to get your attention. No – he’s just quietly standing there knocking. No begging, no wheedling, no whining, no fixing you with a vacant stare, telling you how much he loves you. He just stands and knocks.

So this is the creepy factor as I see it: People pretending to believe something they don’t really believe. I don’t know why they’re pretending to believe (that’s between them and God), but it has cult brainwashing written all over it. God called it lip service, in Old Testament days. Jesus called it hypocrisy. I call it the creepy factor because it makes my skin crawl.

Being born-again was the best thing that ever happened to me. I thank God every day for his grace, and even as I fall down go boom again and again and haul myself back onto my feet again and again, I love God more and more. I love God more than I love my life, more even than I love myself (and if you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’ll know that’s saying something).

When I was an atheist, I couldn’t imagine pretending to be a Christian. The thought of it was anathema to me. Even now, as a Christian myself, I find people who are pretending to be Christian just as loathsome, but for the opposite reason – I’m furious at them for holding God’s love and grace and mercy so cheap. It makes me want to scream at them. Unbelievers you can’t scream at, because they’re deaf and won’t hear you anyway, but people who say they’re believers but who don’t actually believe – they’re worse than unbelievers. They’re doubly deaf and doubly blind.

To hold God’s love and grace and mercy so cheap, to hold Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross so cheap – this has to be the worst sin of all. Jesus thought so, too, and told the powers-that-be as much. He said that the repentant and despised tax collectors and prostitutes would be marching into Heaven to great fanfare, but not the hypocrites. Not the lip servers. Not the brainwashed creepy fake believers.

Thank you, my friend, for reading this far. What I say here is something that needs to be said, because mainstream commercialized Christendom as it stands today is basically a load of hogwash that’s no better than a creepy cult. It has very little to do with God’s Kingdom or what Jesus taught during his ministry years. If you suspect that you might have a bit of the creepy factor in you, throw yourself at God’s mercy and pray for him to give you a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone. Pray for your beliefs to be based on God and Jesus and scripture, not the doctrines of men. So many people are believing lies and repeating lies and teaching lies that God’s Truth is being drowned out and his Word trampled underfoot. We were told this would happen, but don’t you be among those who are doing it, all the while staring vacantly into someone’s eyes and telling them how much God loves them.

We need to get real and stay real. Jesus was and is as real as it gets. There’s zero creepy factor in Jesus.

That’s what we should all strive for.

WHAT DOES “THE CHOSEN” MAKE YOU WANT TO DO?

Every so often, Jesus is resurrected in the entertainment industry as the latest fad. The productions are usually presented as “true to the gospel” or “based on the historical Jesus”, but there is always something slightly off about them. I’ve been born-again for nearly 21 years, and I’ve seen my fair share of these faddish entertainments come and go. The latest is a multi-season miniseries called “The Chosen”, which, according to the show’s director, is loosely based on the life of Jesus.

I have no problem with people depicting Jesus or his followers as a form of entertainment, if the depiction is true to the gospel. Jesus himself said that those who are not against him are for him. He also taught using vivid parables and whatever props were at hand (including small children) and encouraged his followers to do the same. So presenting God’s Word as a form of entertainment is a built-in feature of spreading the Good News. However (and this is a big however), from what I’ve seen and heard in “The Chosen”, the writers take liberties with the gospel that would make even Judas Iscariot blush.

Take, for instance, the character Matthew, who suffers from autism. In case this bypassed the writers of “The Chosen”, Jesus is a healer. If the actual Matthew had Asperger’s, Jesus would have healed him as a first order of business. He would have cast out the demons oppressing Matthew and there would have been no more twitching or depression for him to deal with. And we know that Matthew did not, in fact, suffer from any form of oppression because Jesus told his disciples that they were all “clean”, other than for Judas Iscariot. So depicting Matthew as demon-ridden indicates to me that this show is, well, just another faddish Jesus show at best (written by those who don’t know Jesus and don’t know the gospel) or “another gospel” at worst.

The litmus test for any representation of Jesus or the gospels is what it makes you want to do. If it makes you want to read God’s Word and grow closer to God and Jesus, then it’s likely inspired by God. If, however, it makes you want to watch more of the same show (rather than read the Bible) and get to know the actors and producers and directors of the show better (rather than get to know God and Jesus better), then the work is likely not inspired by God.

In watching the few minutes of the show that I could endure, the only thing I wanted to do was turn it off. There is something very “broad way” about “The Chosen”, but again, I can only speak for myself and my own impressions. Perhaps the show is inspiring others to draw closer to God and Jesus, or perhaps it’s only drawing them closer to whatever screen they’re watching it on.

In any case, God can work through anything, including depictions of Matthew as a demon-plagued outcast.  I myself will be steering clear of “The Chosen” (I would rather spend my time hanging out with God and Jesus, reading the Bible, and teaching God’s Word), but I pray that those who do choose to watch it will be inspired to want to get to know God and Jesus better, and to pick up a Bible and read the gospel for themselves.