A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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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.

SEVEN SIMPLE WORDS

The Bible is a big book. I’ve written about it here and here, and I’ll probably never stop writing about it until the day I die. There are no Bibles in Heaven (which may surprise some people), but there are billions of Bibles on Earth. Sadly, most of them aren’t read.

The Bible is a big book with lots of words. Knowing that, and also knowing that most people won’t read the Bible, Jesus summed it up for us in seven simple words: TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD BE TREATED. He told us that is the Law and the prophets. It’s also the core of his gospel message: TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD BE TREATED. Whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, whether you’re sick or well, whether you’re (as Paul would say) “abased or abounding”, whether you’re hated or loved, you treat others as you would be treated. You don’t just treat Christians as you would be treated, you treat everyone as you would be treated, old and young, rich and poor, friend and foe, black, white, and everything in between.

When you do that, when you treat others as you would be treated, Jesus doesn’t just stand at the door and knock, he comes right in to live with you and brings God’s Holy Spirit with him, the same Spirit that was in the Old and New Testament prophets, and the same Spirit that was in Jesus during his time on Earth. You’ll know when God’s Holy Spirit has arrived because you’ll have no fear, the way Jesus had no fear. You’ll only have love and joy and compassion. Not once was Jesus shown to be anything but cool as a cucumber, even in his anger against the hypocrites, even when he was getting the bum’s rush from Nazareth, and even during his crucifixion. You don’t get cool like that on your own merits; that level of cool only comes from the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

So when you treat others as you would be treated, in season and out, in good days and bad, God’s Spirit will be with you, and you’ll keep your cool. You’ll stand your spiritual ground. You’ll endure to the end, which is what we’re all here for. If you don’t treat others as you would be treated, God’s Spirit won’t come to live with you, you won’t keep your cool, and you won’t endure to the end, which means you won’t get to Heaven, no matter how hard you try.

Seven simple words: TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD BE TREATED. That is the Law and the prophets and the gospel.

Do that, and you’ll live.

HE IS RISEN! JOIN THE CHAIN

God’s holy angels were at the empty tomb, declaring Jesus’ resurrection, just as they had been at Jesus’ birth, declaring him the Messiah. The angels are often overlooked in the resurrection narrative, but they appear to be the first witnesses, and their job was to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen and to tell them to tell others.

Angels were a constant presence in Jesus’ life on Earth, from just before his conception to just after his resurrection. They manifested in visual form (that is, visual to humans) when they had a particularly important message to convey. And when they manifested in their heavenly form (with glistening white robes), the message was of utmost importance.

The angels who appeared at the tomb were wearing their glistening robes. We don’t know their names, but their job was to bear witness to the resurrection. Since those few precious words spoken at the empty tomb nearly 2,000 years ago, their witness has been repeated millions upon millions of times, creating a long human and angelic chain of “HE IS RISEN!” echoing through the ages.

When we declare Jesus risen – that is, that Jesus is Lord and Messiah – we stand with God’s holy angels who appeared at the tomb. We repeat their message, which was given to them directly from God: We repeat God’s words. We bear witness to the resurrection and all that it implies.

Our robes may not be glistening white (or even robes), but the words – “HE IS RISEN!” – are just as precious as they were when they came out of the mouths of the holy angels. And like God’s holy angels, we are also tasked with telling others the good news.

In doing this, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the angels and join the chain.

HE IS RISEN!

Hallelujah!

Now go and tell others.

PIZZA FOR PASSOVER

Well, I’m officially crazy: I just baked an organic pizza for the local sea gulls.

Let me explain.

It’s almost Passover, which means it’s also almost the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate the Passover, which includes eating unleavened bread during the meal.

For the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we’re supposed to remove all yeasted products from our home. I had a frozen pizza sitting in my freezer for the past few months, so out it goes (yeast in the crust). But I couldn’t just throw it in the garbage (what a waste!) and I couldn’t give it to the birds frozen (they might complain…), so I baked it for them.

Passover begins this evening at sundown. I wrote last year about how important it is for Christians to celebrate Passover and by extension the Feast of Unleavened Bread. While it’s true we’re no longer under the Law (meaning, we don’t have to sacrifice animals to atone for our sins), God did direct his people to celebrate the Lord’s Passover for all time. It’s a directive that has as much weight as a Commandment.

In keeping the Passover, we commemorate the Hebrews’ final night in Egypt before the Exodus. On that night, the people were directed to eat a special meal in haste and to smear their doorposts with the blood of a slaughtered lamb to protect them from God, who would at midnight “pass over” them and their animals while killing every first-born among the Egyptians. The Passover also involves the reading of certain Bible passages and the singing of psalms, all to be done with shoes on and “loins girded” in expectation of a hasty departure.

Jesus urged his followers to continue keeping the Passover, but to keep it as he showed us during his final meal on Earth. The wine was to represent his blood instead of the ritual lamb’s blood, and the unleavened bread was to represent his body instead of the ritual lamb’s meat. This new Passover meal of Jesus’ blood and body was to commemorate the sacrifice that would take place the next day, with Jesus himself as the sacrificial offering. Remember that, by God’s decree, no bone was to broken in the Passover lamb, so even though the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, they left Jesus’ legs intact.

The Lord’s Passover is a bittersweet festival. As much as it celebrates God’s rescue of his people from slavery, it also commemorates the slaughter of millions of first-borns, including Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I tend to speed through the description of Jesus’ crucifixion as fast as I can when I read the gospels, just as I speed through the description of the slaughter of the firstborns. I don’t think these events should be dwelt on or even looked upon (see what happened to Lot’s wife when she turned to watch the destruction of Sodom). God’s judgement in action can be brutal for those on the receiving end. It’s enough for us to know that it does happen, and that it’s perfect.

I hope you choose to commemorate the Passover as God and Jesus directed us to do. If you still have yeasted products in your home, now’s a good time to remove them. I’m sure you can find some hungry birds who would be only too happy to take them off your hands.

DO YOU MICROMANAGE GOD?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand high and nodding in agreement. Yes, I’m guilty of trying to micromanage God on occasion, making vast and detailed plans that I expect him to follow to the letter. Of course I know I should wait for his inspiration to plan anything, but I still sometimes find myself galloping ahead at full speed and then looking over my shoulder wondering where God is and what’s taking him so long to catch up.

Well, God is right here where he’s always been, and when I do the galloping thing, he’s not going to catch up with me. He’s going to let me keep going on my own until I run out of steam, and then he’s going to very gently haul me back to the starting line and remind me again to wait for his cue and his blessing before I start my run.

Many of us find ourselves running on our own steam, wondering where God is and why he isn’t blessing our efforts. I see this especially in new Christians, just as I saw it in myself when I was first born-again. Truth be told, I was so prone to galloping off in all different directions as a newborn-again that God took away my ability to write for three years. I went from generating a dozen or so pages a day pre-rebirth to generating nothing longer than a grocery list post-rebirth. It was the strangest thing, but I didn’t fight it or question it. When the words finally came again, God gave me the funds to take a year off from work, and I wrote a book called Faith Revolution. I had to learn how to write by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit rather than the goading of the fallen spirits. I never did publish the book in its entirety, but I’ve used parts of it in this blog.

God is a great planner, and we’ve inherited that drive from him. I love making plans so much that I have to remind myself again and again to wait for God’s blessing before formulating the plans past the fantasy stage. If the plans are inspired by God, they come with God’s blessing baked in. That means you don’t have to ask for his blessing; the plans will come pre-approved and everything will fall into place. It’s only when we move ahead without God’s inspiration and therefore without God’s blessing that we fall into trouble.

Jesus did nothing without God’s inspiration. Everything he did was blessed by God because Jesus waited for God’s go-ahead before acting rather than running ahead and expecting God to bless his efforts after the fact. The one time that Jesus got ahead of himself was when he left his parents without telling them and went to Jerusalem to hang out with the temple elders. His parents were frantic, looking everywhere for him and thinking something horrible had happened to him. This is not the outcome of plans blessed by God.

Jesus never did that again to his parents, and I believe it was a very teachable moment for him about the importance of waiting for God’s signal. In fact, he learned his lesson so well that years later, when the time actually came for him to start his ministry work, his mother had to gently push him to start. The outcome was his first miracle of turning water into wine.

We need to wait for God’s inspiration and direction if we want similarly good outcomes for our efforts. It’s OK to make plans (sometimes there’s more pleasure in making plans than in actually doing them), but before you put anything into action, make sure it’s inspired by God and not just a figment of your imagination. You’ll know it’s inspired by God because it will unfold easily and without resistance. Things will just fall into place as if they were meant to be, because they are.

Your job in God’s great and perfect plan is to be ready and willing for whatever God knows you can handle. Let him know you’re waiting for his signal, and then leave the details and timing to God.

Wait on the Lord:

Be of good courage, and he will strengthen thine heart:

Wait, I say, on the Lord.  (Psalm 27)

WITNESSING

A big part of being born-again is witnessing our faith. God wants us not only to be a believer but to share our belief with the believing and unbelieving world. But what does “witnessing” actually mean? Is it giving a formal or informal presentation, like a speech or a lecture? Is it cornering unbelieving friends and relatives and grilling them on their sins? Is it going door to door or standing on a street corner handing out pamphlets to strangers?

Most Christians believe that witnessing is something you do extraneous to your everyday life, something special that you prepare in advance. But the truth is, witnessing is what you do all day, every day: In other words, it’s your life.

With our every word and every deed and every thought and every click, we witness before God and before the world of believers and unbelievers. We also witness before the spiritual realm of the fallen (whose sole goal is to get us to lose our grace), and before artificial intelligence algorithms that follow us around cyberspace and real space through internet-connected devices. Witnessing is not something you prepare in advance or do “special” – it’s everything you do. It’s how you spend your waking hours in the sight of other people, but also (and more importantly) what you do when you think no-one sees you.

That is your witness. You witness before God, people, fallen spirits, and advanced technology. When I was an atheist, one of the main reasons I dismissed Christianity was the witness of the people I knew who called themselves Christians. Sure, they went to “church” every Sunday, but Monday to Saturday they lived like me, and I was deep in sin. They never preached to me or tried to slip me a pamphlet – they just lived sinful lives in front of me. That was their witness.

We need to be aware of this. And we especially need to be aware that what we do behind closed doors, online, and in our head is just as much part of our witness as what we do in public. There is no “OFF” button to witnessing.

Remember that.

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN? This may seem a strange question to ask readers of a blog that is intended for born-again believers, but ask it I must. You don’t have to answer me. I’m not looking for an outward answer. You need to answer within yourselves.

Jesus said that we need to be born again. He said that if we’re not born again, we can’t see the Kingdom and can’t enter into it. And if we can’t see the Kingdom and can’t enter into it, we won’t make it home.

That’s why the question of whether or not you’re born again is so important and needs to be asked, even on a blog that’s written for born-again believers.

And if you’ve answered with “No” or “I think I am” or “I’m not sure”, you need to drop everything you’re doing and focus entirely on getting reborn.

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Spiritual rebirth is not something that you can arrange like a play date. You can’t order spiritual rebirth online. You can’t buy it – not with all the money in the world – and you can’t learn it from all the world’s wisdom. Even your minister or priest can’t make you born again, no matter how hard they try. Spiritual rebirth, as John tells us, comes from the will of God only, not from the will of man.

So how can you get born again?

Good question.

And the answer is: Ask God.

Since God is in charge of spiritual rebirth, it only makes sense to ask him how to get reborn.

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Spiritual rebirth happens at a time and place of God’s choosing. It won’t happen simply because you want it or because you recite something or do an altar call. I’ve had arguments with people about this. I’ve also had arguments with people who claim that spiritual rebirth is a long drawn-out process that happens over time rather than an instantaneous miracle. Gestation happens over time, yes, but birth happens suddenly and with a great cry and push. It’s the same with spiritual rebirth. The long process of spiritual gestation is not rebirth: the great final cry and push that brings a new being into life is rebirth.

Ask a mother who still has a child in her womb whether her baby’s been born. She’ll look at you all kinds of strange. The same holds true for spiritual rebirth. The born-again soul is something entirely different from the soul that is still gestating.

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Many people who claim to be born again are actually in a state of spiritual gestation. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not rebirth, so it’s not enough. Jesus said you must be born again. If you stop at the gestation stage, it will be no different than if you’d lived a life of unrepentant sin and died unrepentant. You’ll be like the people Jesus mentions in scripture who knock at the Master’s door, trying desperately to get in and saying: “We’ve eaten and drunk at your table, and you’ve taught in our streets”, to which the Master responds: “I never knew you.”

Imagine the horror of hearing Jesus say to you on Judgement Day “I never knew you”, knowing that because he never knew you, you weren’t going to Heaven.

I can’t think of anything worse.

And at that point, it will be too late to get to know to Jesus.

If your aim is Heaven, you need to be born again while you’re still on Earth. There is no other way to get where you want to go. Jesus says those who try to climb up some other way rather than entering through the door will not make it home. Jesus is the door, and God’s Way is how you enter.

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If you’re not born-again, you need to let God know that you want to be born again. You need to let him know that you want a relationship with him as your Dad and with Jesus as your Lord, teacher, brother, and best friend. You can only have these relationships if you’re born again, and if you don’t have them, you won’t make it home. It’s that simple.

So I ask you one more time: ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

Don’t tell me the answer. Tell yourself. And if your response isn’t a resounding “YES, THANK GOD!”, tell God in prayer that you want to be reborn. Then make being born again your one and only priority until you are.

CHRISTIAN SURVIVAL PREPPING

I’m paraphrasing here, but Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) once said that it wasn’t the obscure parts of the Bible that troubled him, it was the parts that were plain and clear and that he knew he wasn’t abiding by.

Jesus taught people in two ways: in parables for those who were still on the spiritual fence, and plainly for those who could handle the truth.

One of the plainest verses in the New Testament is about what to do when you get the order from God to flee. Let’s look at it:

“Let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve anything from his house.  And let no one in the field return for his cloak.” (Matthew 24:17-18)

Jesus says straight out what to expect and what to do. He doesn’t say “if you have time, go back and get what you need”, he tells us don’t even think about going back, not even for your coat.

So how does this plain-spoken warning from Jesus align with so-called Christian prepping? It doesn’t. A whole industry has grown up around “Christian end-time survival” that flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings on fleeing at a moment’s notice and with just the clothes on your back.

Jesus lived the last three years of his life on the run. He was constantly under threat of arrest, he had no possessions other than what he wore, and he never stayed for more than a few days in any one place. And yet so-called Christian preppers are, for instance, trying to sell you seeds that presumably you’re going to need more than a few days to plant, grow, and harvest. Or do you think God wants us to go on the run clutching an armful of potted tomatoes?

Let me be plain here. When things get really crazy over the next few years and the persecutions ramp up against those who won’t accept the “new normal” world order, you won’t be planting seeds, and if you do, you won’t be hanging around to watch them grow. You’ll be on the run, like Jesus, and the only thing you’ll be watching is your back to see who’s gaining on you. Whatever preps you’ve stockpiled you’ll have to leave behind for someone else. God will provide for you on the run, like he did for Jesus. But forget about bugging out to a fully-stocked and fortified bunker where you’ll be left in peace to ride out the coming purge. It ain’t gonna happen that way – not for you, and not for any real Christian.

Christian preppers are living in a fantasy world. Don’t fall for their lies. If you want to survive what’s coming, you’ll have to live like Jesus – ready to leave at a moment’s notice, constantly on the run, and traveling light. And while you’re on the run, you’ll be preaching and teaching and modeling the Word. The prepper lifestyle and the Christian-on-the-run lifestyle are dead opposite.

My advice on how to “prep” for what’s coming? Let me be plain-spoken, like Jesus: We need to do less stockpiling and more abiding by what’s in the Bible.

ALPHA OMEGA

Jesus tells us to be offended in nothing. My grandmother used to call this “water off a duck’s back” or having a “thick skin”. But today we live in an age when being offended is a full-time job and considered a social virtue. Rather than to let the offence slide off us like water, we’re encouraged to trumpet it across every form of media and to never let it go.

We born-agains, however, are not to do that. Jesus tells us we’re to be offended in nothing and to love those who try to offend us. We do this by forgiving them, blessing them, and praying for them.

Again – we’re to be offended in nothing.

In a wolf pack, the alphas are the lead male and female, and the omegas are the lowly scapegoats. The alphas get to lord over the pack, eat first, make the decisions, and breed. The omegas, on the other hand, get sneered at by the rest of the pack, are bullied and beaten, are last in line for food, and never get to breed. That’s the agreement, anyway, within the pack. All the wolves have their established roles to play: the alphas are first, and the omegas are last.

In scripture, we read that God is “Alpha and Omega, first and last”. For years I assumed it meant that God was at the beginning of time and will be at the end of time, and endures forever. I saw “Alpha” and “Omega” as a chronological thing. But when I read about the wolf pack pecking order, I remembered what Jesus told us in the gospels – that “the last will be first, and the first will be last” – and I saw the scriptural concept of Alpha and Omega in a whole new light.

So I did a little more digging into the traits of omega wolves, and what I found was jaw-dropping. While most of the omegas are submissive by character (that is, they’re born that way), every now and then an omega comes along that has a whole different agenda. This omega is the “dark horse”, the wild card, the one that’s temporarily agreed to the lowly position because the role he was born to play (alpha) is currently occupied. These omegas are submissive only to avoid conflict and to halt the chain of aggression. Over time, some of them will leave to start another pack as the alpha, some will leave to become the fabled lone wolf, and some will eventually rise to challenge their own alphas and take over the pack.

Far from being a weakling or a pushover, the “wild card” omegas are the quintessential free spirits. They don’t fit into the wolf hierarchy and so choose to remain on the fringes, biding their time. They permit the other wolves to abuse them not because they’re weak, but because the abuse is inconsequential to them. They’re offended in nothing. They have a thick skin and another agenda.

When he came out as the Messiah at the start of his ministry, Jesus adopted the role of omega. There was no room for an alpha Messiah in the deeply entrenched hierarchy of Judaism, any more than there was room for Jesus in Bethlehem at his birth. And so he was pushed to the edges of established religion and hounded and mocked by the temple alphas, all the while playing the role of a lowly itinerant preacher, the son of a lowly carpenter, all the while biding his time, knowing who he was in God’s eyes, and one by one gathering a new pack around him.

God is the Creator and Lord over all, and yet he permits people to curse him, to disobey his commands, to act as if he doesn’t exist, and to destroy his creation. He permits all this not because he’s weak, but because he’s patient. He’s biding his time. God could easily stop all human acts of cruelty and stupidity, but then he wouldn’t be honoring his promise of free will to us. And so the Eternal Alpha Of All Alphas plays the lowly role of Omega, just as Jesus the Messiah played the lowly role of omega, and just as we, as Jesus’ followers, play the lowly role of omegas in the world, turning the other cheek not because we’re weak, but because we’re offended in nothing.

It takes more strength to endure abuse and not to return it than to be an abuser. It takes more strength to be patient than to lash out. We born-agains are spiritual alphas who appear to the world as lowly omegas because we’re offended in nothing, and we love our enemies, and we submit to offences. If our Lord and Creator can play the role of Omega when it serves his good purpose, and if Jesus could play the role of omega to further the Kingdom, then we should have no problem playing omegas for our short time on Earth.

We know who we are in God’s eyes. We know who we are in God’s Kingdom. What the world thinks of us is just water off a duck’s back.