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There’s a curious but pivotal scripture that “gentle Jesus, meek and mind” Christians tend to skip because it doesn’t fit their image of Jesus. You know the one I mean – where a hungry Jesus curses a fig tree to death and then goes on a hangry rampage in the temple, overturning tables and whipping the moneychangers for violating God’s law.
Ya gotta admit – when Jesus does hangry, he does it memorably. Most of us when we’re hangry just snap at people and then head to the corner store for a candy bar or a bag of Doritos, but Jesus let it all out. And when he did, he did it with such impact and such righteousness that we’re still talking about it today. (more…)
In his letters, Paul was very clear about one thing: No earthly suffering is too much if it leads to Heaven as the reward.
Heaven is our reward if God judges that we’ve earned it. Most Christians have lost sight of that. Instead of longing for Heaven, they do everything in their power to postpone death. They run to the doctor, they demand a cure, they beg for prayers so they won’t die. Why is that? (more…)
When Jesus was 12, he gave his parents the slip and snuck off to the temple in Jerusalem to talk scripture. The learned elders were amazed at his knowledge and perceived he was clearly a prodigy destined for great things. But his parents experienced this event somewhat differently. For three days and nights, they frantically searched for their son. When they eventually found him, instead of apologizing, Jesus simply stated that he needed to be about his Father’s business. His parents, however, discerned otherwise, and back under their wing Jesus went. We hear nothing further about him until his “coming out” miracle at the wedding at Cana 18 years later (prompted, tellingly, by his mother, who signaled to Jesus that yes, it is finally time to be about your Father’s business).
Like the precocious 12-year-old Jesus who reveled in his knowledge of scripture, fully-grown men and women today engage in the same type of display. But instead of using temples, they vie to one-up each other on blogs, online forums or YouTube videos. And in so doing, they completely miss the point of knowing scripture. (more…)
On his last night on Earth in a mortal body, Jesus gave us a new Commandment to add to God’s Big Ten – to love one another as he loves us. He also asked us to do something in memory of him. That something he asked us to do was to perform a new ceremony during the annual meal commemorating Passover. He asked us to raise a cup in his name and to share it among ourselves, and to acknowledge that this cup represents his blood. But unlike the blood of the lamb that is smeared on the doorposts, this “blood” we are to drink in spiritual solidarity with Jesus, in memory of him. Same with the bread, which Jesus broke apart and shared among his followers; we are to eat the bread as if it were Jesus’ “body”. This is not an act of spiritual cannibalism but a recognition that Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb, and that if we want the benefits of that sacrifice, we must do as Jesus’ told us to do – to drink the blood of the lamb and to eat its flesh so that it becomes a part of us, so that Jesus becomes part of us. (more…)
In one of his final prayers before his crucifixion, Jesus asked God to protect his followers. He was very specific that they were to be protected – not taken out of the world, but protected while in the world. This request echoes God’s promise throughout the Old Testament that he would prosper and protect those who do his will and keep his Commandments. Jesus was inferring by his prayer that his followers would, in fact, do just that.
So here we are, nearly 2000 years later, and God is still making good on Jesus’ prayer. Genuine followers of Jesus are still prospering in everything they do and still being protected, AS LONG AS THEY CONSISTENTLY AND WILLINGLY CHOOSE TO DO GOD’S WILL AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. (more…)
The core characteristic that many people might find least sexy about Jesus is the same core characteristic that made him the Messiah: his willing obedience to God. Note that Jesus wasn’t just obedient – he was willingly obedient. It was this willful obedience of Jesus that God commended on a few occasions, saying: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” God didn’t say “This is my beloved son, whose strong faith I admire” or “This is my beloved son, who is always so nice to people”. No, God didn’t commend Jesus for his faith or his works – he commended him for his obedience in doing what “pleased” him. If God places such emphasis on willful obedience, then we should, too.
But what does it mean to be willingly obedient to God? And why is it so important? (more…)
No matter how old you are spiritually, you still need to eat your spiritual veggies.
They’re not something you just eat when you’re spiritually young; you need to keep on eating them until the day you die. In fact, when you come before God on Judgment Day, you should still have a little piece of spiritual spinach stuck between your front teeth. When he sees that, God will have a good laugh and he’ll also know you took his Word to heart to the very end.
So what are your spiritual veggies?
They’re what you learned when you first came to believe in God and follow Jesus, and they’re also the core tenets of what it means to be a Christian.
Here are the five main ones: (more…)
The hubris (another word for pride) of most Christians today is astounding. They spend a good deal of their time tsk-tsking at the world, pointing fingers and quoting scripture at people who have never picked up a Bible, let alone believe in God. They think they can force-feed Jesus to people who recoil at the very name, even though God himself could not accomplish this task. God shows us that only those who are open to hearing the Word will receive it, and yet the finger-pointing and Bible-thumping continue. Jesus NEVER forced the Word on anyone. He taught, helped and healed only those who came to him of their own free will. He forced no-one to listen to him or accept his help or advice, and neither should we.
So why is it that so many Christians feel compelled to force-feed the Word to people who aren’t interested or are openly hostile to it? Why do they hold non-believers to the same standards as believers? (more…)
Jesus told us nearly 2000 years ago that what God wants is people who genuinely want God. He’s fed up with lipservers and people who feign worship out of social obligation. God wants people to come to him in spirit and in truth, like Jesus did. Through spiritual rebirth, God has enabled us to come to him in spirit and in truth. And yet, nearly 2000 years later, mainstream Christianity still banks on people showing up at church once a week to fork over their hard-earned cash. (And they don’t even have to come to church, if they set up automatic withdrawal.) (more…)
What was going through Jesus’ mind when he left his family in Nazareth and set out alone on foot to do his ministry work? We know it happened very suddenly, this change, shortly after the wedding in Cana (where his mother prodded him to turn the water into wine and he knew it was his time). Even though Jesus had been preparing for it all his life, it was still monumental, this wormhole shift to full-time ministry work. He was a young man, trained as a carpenter and expected to take over the family carpentry business… until one day (to his mother’s secret dread and delight), he walked away.
Forty days and forty nights later, after nearly starving to death and being tempted by the devil, Jesus started calling others to walk away.
He’s still calling us. (more…)