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If you’ve been a born-again believer for any length of time, you’ll have personally experienced what I call the “split personality” or “tale of two churches” characteristic of Christianity. I’m not talking about the Catholic/Protestant divide or the countless denominations that have since arisen because of that divide; I’m talking about God’s Church and the worldly church.
These are the two Christian churches co-existing today. I could call them the “real” church and the “fake” church, but that would be a misrepresentation, as both churches are real. I know, because, even as a born-again believer and card-carrying member of God’s Church, I actively participated in worldly churches.
I don’t anymore.
Here’s why. (more…)
So I’m sitting on a bus in North Charleston, and a young man gets on. After a minute of rummaging through his dozen or so pockets up and down the legs of his droopy pants, he comes up empty-handed: No money for the fare. As I sit watching him, God tells me to take the $5 in my purse and pay his fare. My initial gut response is “NO WAY!”, since the fare is only $2 and putting in a $5 is the kind of excess that blows my very tight budget and messes with my daughter-of-two-accountants’ head. God tells me again to pay his fare (more insistent this time), letting me know that I’ll get it back, so I get up and give the driver my $5 bill. The young man, who’d been on the verge of being kicked off the bus, has now secured a seat and a transfer to get wherever he’s going. He gives me a smile and a thanks, and I sit down and enjoy the rest of the ride.
When the bus arrives at its final destination in Charleston, I hop off and cross the street to get a connecting bus. As I’m crossing, a $5 bill gently blows across my path. I reach down and pick it up. Then God says “See? I told you I’d give it back to you.” (more…)
I travel a lot. There are a few things that always go with me on my travels, like my hairdryer and my kettle. My hairdryer I use for any number of purposes, such as to heat a cold room or melt cheese on my sandwich or – very occasionally – to dry my hair, but my kettle I just use as a kettle.
Like most of my belongings, my kettle has seen better days. But while it still works, it will be put to work.
This morning, my trusty old kettle stopped working. After five years of nearly daily labor, it just stopped. I unplugged it and plugged it back in, but it was still stubbornly still. No gurgle and pop-pop-pop to indicate it was on its way to a boil. No heat. No steam rising.
After Jesus launched his ministry, he was filled with a constant sense of urgency in his mission. He even worked on the Sabbath, which was such a big no-no to the Jewish powers-that-be that they got in his face about it. But Jesus pointed out that if an animal belonging to one of them fell into a ditch, surely they’d break the Sabbath to rescue it, and by that same token people who’ve fallen into spiritual ditches and have been suffering there for years also need immediate rescue, even on a Sabbath. The Jewish ptb didn’t have the same sense of urgency to help people that Jesus had and it showed in their superficial application of God’s laws, so when Jesus told them that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, they considered it to be heresy rather than God’s truth.
Maybe not you, but most Christians today have lost their sense of urgency when it comes to hauling people up out of spiritual holes. Jesus never took time off other than to eat and sleep. His focus was 100% on his ministry work because he had a sense of urgency that this work was all that mattered. If we as Jesus’ followers are supposed to model him in all ways, why do we not have a sense of urgency to get the message out to repent and believe the gospel? (more…)
The relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus goes much deeper than mere blood. They were cousins, but we only hear of them interacting in the womb, at Jesus’ baptism, and then shortly before John’s beheading. We can assume that, as cousins, they spent time together growing up and then later, as young men, probably passionately debated scriptures, with Jesus (the younger by a few months) likely besting his older cousin at every turn. At Jesus’ baptism at the River Jordan, John is obviously in awe of his younger cousin and openly considers himself to be so low as to not even to be worthy to put Jesus’ sandals on his feet. When John tells Jesus that he should be the one getting baptized, Jesus gently chides him to go ahead with the baptism in order to fulfill scripture. We catch there a glimpse of the younger cousin again schooling his older cousin.
Jesus calls John the greatest of those born of women, but then also calls him lowest in the kingdom (that is, born of the Spirit). What did Jesus mean by that? It almost sounds like an insult, just as John sending his disciples to Jesus to ask if he were actually “the one” sounds like an insult. Did the cousins have a falling-out that is not recorded in scripture? (more…)
Death is a funny old thing.
We all have to face it sooner or later, but most people spend their lives either pretending death doesn’t exist or doing everything in their power to prevent it.
Born-agains, on the other hand, actually look forward to death the way Jesus looked forward to death because death means an end to our labours and a release from our pain-prone body and the anti-Christ world that hates us. (more…)
Being born again is a definitive marker in a person’s history. It is that “moment outside of time” when the spirits of the world are cast out and God’s spirit enters in. The entrance of God’s spirit into a soul means that the soul has come to life, as there is no life outside of God.
You literally become a new person not by your own hand but by God’s.
But this new person still lives in the world, with all its decay, filth, and problems. Even worse, the possibility to go back to one’s “old ways” is constantly a temptation not because the old ways are better than God’s ways but because they’re familiar and habitual. Familiarity and habit are strong temptations, if they’re against God. When you become born again, you need to establish new God-centered familiarities and habits, but that takes time. (more…)