A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?

You say you’re a believer, but what is it exactly that you believe?

Some people believe that Jesus is the Christ; some don’t.

Some people believe that God answers all prayers; some don’t.

Some people believe that simply claiming to be a Christian is enough to get you into to Heaven; some don’t.

Some people can’t articulate their beliefs at all when you ask them what they believe. Some look confused. Some go blank. Some shy away. Some get belligerent and demand to know What kind of a question is that?!? Some lower their eyes and say nothing.

The rest usually just change the subject.

What about you? What do you believe?

If you were standing before God’s throne right now and God asked you what you believe, what would you say? You can’t lie to God. You can’t not answer God, not when you’re standing before his throne. So what would you say?

I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I do want to put a bee in your bonnet and plant a seed in your heart. If you can’t easily articulate what it is that you believe, you need to start thinking about it. You need to start praying on it. You need to ask God’s help.

Because some day someone is going to ask you what you believe, and you’re going to need to answer without hesitation and with rock-solid conviction.

Could you do that now?

*****

For centuries, believers were spoon-fed their beliefs in the form of creeds they had to memorize and recite in unison along with everyone else. A group of men would get together every now and then and decide what other people needed to believe, word-for-word. Anyone who refused to swallow and regurgitate the creed on command was deemed a heretic and cast out of the church, in much the same way as those who believed in Jesus during his ministry years were cast out of the synagogue.

The problem with creeds is that they mix lies into the truth. The devil is very adept at doing that. So believers see the truth in the creed and then tend to overlook the lies, suffering from a kind of selective spiritual blindness. I don’t think they recite the lies knowing they’re lies, they just don’t believe them to be true.

I was taught a creed soon after I became a born-again believer. And then I was taught another creed. And another. Every church has its own creed that attendees have to recite at some point during the service. It’s like an anthem, but spoken instead of sung. Most people honestly don’t pay much attention to the words of a creed, any more than they pay attention to the words of an anthem. Maybe if they did pay attention to the words, they’d speak them differently.

*****

“I was born in Canada and have lived in Canada most of my life. Yet this country has become like a foreign country to me. Its values no longer reflect mine. It’s creed is anathema to me.

“For example, Canada introduced Medical Assistance in Dying (MAD) a few years ago. It was originally sold to the Canadian public as a mercy extended to those who were at death’s door and suffering unendurable pain. Then it was further extended to those who were suffering pain but were not at death’s door. Then the notion of ‘pain’ was extended to include mental anguish, such as you might feel if your boyfriend dumped you. Young people were then invited to apply for MAD. Old people were invited to apply for MAD. Parents were invited to apply for MAD for their babies. Now every Canadian citizen and permanent resident can apply for MAD and be executed by the state FREE OF CHARGE in Canada. MAD is mostly done by lethal injection.

“I no longer recognize my country. This is not the Canada I grew up in, this is not the ‘true north strong and free’, as the anthem informs us. Asking someone to kill you is not being ‘glorious and free’. This is state execution dressed up as mercy killing. This is preying on the sick and the weak.

“The creed of Canada has become demonic. When God is kicked out of a nation (as he has been in Canada), he will leave, but demons will rush in to take his place. There is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum. The demons have taken over the reins of power in Canada and they are doing what demons do best – masquerading as angels of light. So it’s not a state execution by lethal injection, it’s a mercy killing; it’s euthanasia. The same medical professionals tasked with keeping you well now counsel your death, in their expert opinion. In their expert opinion you need to die, if you say you want to die. Even if you don’t say you want to die, in their expert opinion they will suggest death as a solution to your problem(s). In their expert opinion, MAD is the only solution. MAD is Medical Assistance in Dying, which is the fancy phrase for ‘we gon’ kill yo’ ass’. The real acronym is MAD, but the experts call it MAID, for obvious reasons.

“This is what I believe. They are all murderers, every health professional involved in MAD and all those who support this ungodly creed. There is nothing merciful in murder. Medical Assistance in Dying is not MAID, it’s MAD. Those who do it and those who support it are likewise mad. This is what I believe. This is my creed. I am an unCanadian, a social heretic. I cannot call darkness light. I cannot mangle an acronym. I cannot believe lies. I cannot repeat lies. I am an unCanadian who believes in God and follows Jesus.

“There is no life outside of Christ. You must die spiritually to be reborn. This is what I believe. There is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum. This is what I believe. When God is kicked out of a nation, demons rush in to take his place. This is what I believe. You cannot get rid of a nation’s demons by casting them out – you need to repent them out. You need to get down on your knees and repent them out. You need to get down on your face and repent them out. But you first need to take care of your own soul before you can take care of the souls of others. That is the Law of the Beam in the Eye. This is what I believe. You cannot take away someone’s pain by killing them. Pain does not end in death if a soul is unrepentant. This is what I believe. The pain of an unrepentant soul continues for all eternity. This what I believe.

“There is no mercy in killing the desperate. There is only murder. Canada is MAD. The demons have taken control. This is what I believe.”

*****

When you stand before God on Judgement Day, you’ll have to know what you believe before you get there. You won’t have either the time or the ability to formulate your thoughts once you’re there; you will arrive fully formed. There will be no addition to your thought processes once you’re before the throne. You’ll make no more decisions of the will. There will only be you as you are, nothing added and nothing taken away. You will be judged on that, and the judgement will stand for eternity.

Most people don’t believe this. Most people don’t believe in God, or if they do, they believe they’ll get a second chance even on Judgement Day. They believe they’ll still have time.

But we born-again believers are not most people. Our beliefs need to be based in God’s Truth, not in the world’s truth and not in the truth of nominal believers who simply spout what they’ve been told to spout. While we still have time to formulate and refine our beliefs, we need to test them against God’s Truth. We need to see whether or not they hold up under examination. We need to be sure that we’re standing on God’s rock and not in the devil’s quicksand.

What do you believe? Do you stand by your beliefs? Do you live by your beliefs? Are you willing to die for your beliefs?

If you’re not willing to die for your beliefs, then you don’t really believe them; you only say you believe them. That’s called lip service. God does not look kindly on lip servers who say they believe in him but prove they don’t when put to the test.

I cannot tell you what to believe. Even God can’t tell you. It’s your choice, what you believe. It’s your free will choice. The record of your free will beliefs along with the record of your free will words and deeds are all you’ll take with you when you leave your human body. Everything else you (think) you own you’ll have to leave behind, because you don’t really own it. You don’t even own your body. It’s just on loan for the time you’re here. God owns your body, just as he owns your soul and everything else in Heaven and on Earth. The only thing he doesn’t own is your free will.

What you believe has eternal ramifications. The thoughts you entertain become you – not the thoughts that appear out of thin air and sidle up to you unbidden, asking for a light, but the thoughts you entertain. Better make sure those thoughts are godly. Better make sure your beliefs are godly. Better make sure your words and deeds are godly, because you don’t know when you’ll be whisked away and stood before God’s throne. But it will happen, that is a guarantee. And when it does, it will be too late for you to change your beliefs or words or deeds, and you’ll be judged on them. For all eternity, you’ll be judged on them. That is a scriptural Truth spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Gospels.

So what do you believe?

Do your beliefs inform your words and deeds, or is there a disconnect between what you believe and what you say and do?

Do people know what you believe by what you say and do, or do they have to dig deeper to discern the real you? Do you hide your beliefs?

Do you hide your beliefs?

*****

There was a time when I hand-wrote upwards of 40 pages a day. I couldn’t not write. The words clamored to get out, and so spilled down my arm and onto the page. My pen moved like a lie detector needle, leaving big sprawling cursive strokes that spanned multiple lines and making my Grade 2 cursive teacher weep for the horror of it all. It was illegible, my cursed cursive, but it wasn’t meant to be read by anyone but me. And even I didn’t read it. It was just words that needed out and so I let them out.

After I was born-again, I couldn’t write for three years. The compulsion to record words on a page was gone. When it came back, I wrote Faith Revolution, which was my first attempt to express my newfound beliefs in written word format. Sections of Faith Revolution later became the first entries in this blog.

“I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not….”

I don’t hide my beliefs. Sometimes I give too much away. I don’t write in multiple-line-sprawling cursive anymore (other than for my signature); I type, thanks to an old boss who’d hired my mini skirt and high heels fresh out of university without asking first whether I could actually type. I could, if you call using only your pointer finger “typing”. I guess what I did was more “pecking” than typing. Within a few days of starting the job, I was given the ultimatum to involve my other nine digits in my secretarial pursuits, or I’d be out the door. And so, over the next few weeks, I taught myself to 10-finger type, and that skill I still put to good use today.

A threat can be an excellent motivator.

*****

God doesn’t threaten us, but he does warn us. He warns us that time will have an end, and that after time comes the judgement. He warns us that there’s a right way and a wrong way, and that there are rewards for both – good rewards for choosing the right way and bad rewards for choosing the wrong. These are meant to be motivators, but they’re not threats. God doesn’t coerce, he guides. He is consistent in his guidance; it is never his goal to confuse but to clarify. The Ten Commandments are as clear as it gets.

God won’t force you to believe anything, but he will teach you the right way forward that will lead you Home. It’s up to you whether you’ll accept his teachings and base your beliefs on them. That is entirely up to you.

I believe everything God teaches me. I have no reason not to believe, as God has shown me time and time again that he is faithful in everything he says and does. He has shown me and he has shown others throughout the ages. When he says “I will never leave you nor forsake you”, that is not an empty promise: It’s a statement of fact.

What do I believe? The Word of God. The promises of God. Everything that comes from the mouth and hand of God. I believe everything Jesus taught us and continues to teach us through God’s Holy Spirit. I believe I was born again from atheism by a miracle of God. I believe I continue to live that miracle every day as I make my way Home. I believe that God’s Spirit guides me, protects me, smooths my way and informs my words, just as Jesus promised. I believe that Jesus is the one and only Messiah. There is no other and no need for another. I believe that Jesus is Lord.

What do I believe?

I believe.

DANCING WITH GOD

The physicality of God, in addition to his spirituality, is a contentious issue among theologians. I’m not – THANK GOD – a theologian, so I’m more interested in approaching this topic from the perspective of Truth (that is, from God’s perspective) than from the perspective of stubborn adherence to creed (that is, from man’s perspective).

God has a body. In fact, he doesn’t just have one body, he has an infinite number of bodies, and all of them are perfect. He can manifest into the bodies whenever he chooses to. They’re different shapes and sizes and colors, but each is totally flawless. It would be impossible for God to be in an imperfect body because his very nature is perfection. Each of God’s perfect bodies aligns perfectly with the situation he is manifesting into. That is, he’ll appear to you as you wish to see him or believe him to be or in the way that he knows you need to see him. That’s why there are so many different descriptions of God in the Bible.

Recall that we’re made in God’s image. If we ideally have two arms, two legs, one head, etc., then so does God in his infinite number of perfect bodies. But God, being God, to whom all things are possible, might also possibly manifest as a perfect form of something else. It would be his perfect prerogative to do so. Recall that God appeared to Adam and Eve, habitually walking with them in the Garden of Eden. Recall that God appeared to Moses and that Moses spoke to him face to face on occasion. Recall that Moses once witnessed God’s body from the back. How anyone can read the Bible and still assert that God doesn’t have a body is beyond me.

Jesus famously stated that God is a spirit, and as such should be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth. For most of us mere mortals, God will be to us a spirit during our time on Earth. He is to me. We born-agains know God as a spirit, because that is the fulfillment of the promise. God is with his children through his Spirit, in the same way he was with the OT prophets on occasion. The difference between born-again followers of Jesus and (most) of the OT prophets is that we have God’s Spirit with us continuously; most of the earlier prophets had to make do with cameo appearances and “sneak peeks”.

But if we make it to Heaven, I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll be talking to God face to face. I have no doubt that we’ll be hugging him and getting hugged in return. And I have no doubt that we’ll be dancing with him – you won’t know what it means to dance until you’ve danced with God in Heaven! His perfect body will be perfectly matched to your perfect body. He will anticipate your every move and move with you in perfect rhythm and perfect form. There will be no time but the beat of the music, no faltering, no missteps. There will just be perfect fluid movement in perfect motion, with feet barely touching the floor. It will be more like floating than dancing, because it will actually be more like floating. No earthly laws of gravity in Heaven!

“But Charlotte, how can you know this?”, whines every theologian everywhere.

Well, you could say I’ve had a vision, or you could say I’m just dreaming, or maybe you could say it’s a little of both. We know there’s going to be a wedding feast for those who make it to Heaven. Scripture says so. What would a wedding feast be without dancing? And what would dancing at a wedding feast be without a Father-Daughter dance?

These are the dreams and visions that sustain me. Paul says we see God now as through a glass darkly, that is, we can only have a vague idea of him; we’re not made to know him as he really is. Not yet. Not while we’re in an imperfect body with limited senses. But Paul also says that when we get Home, we’ll see God “face to face”. Paul doesn’t say we’ll “perceive” him as he is, but that we’ll SEE him as he is. Only the physically manifested can be seen.

We tend to focus entirely on Jesus, which is understandable, considering that he is our Leader and the one whose example we’re to follow. But Jesus himself focused on God during his time on Earth and promised us that we’d have the same relationship with the Father as he did. He was insistent that we get to know God as our Father – not just as our God, but as our Father. So the more we focus on God, the more we become like Jesus and the clearer God becomes to us. And the clearer God becomes to us, the closer we draw to him and to Home.

We will not be dancing with God as a spirit in Heaven, but with God in a very real, very touchable body that is the most perfect among perfected beings. And to you, he’ll look exactly as you imagine him, and to me, he’ll look exactly as I imagine him, because that’s what God does: He fits himself perfectly to each one of us, whether we’re still here on Earth in our flawed human body or in Heaven in our perfected one. Or perhaps he’ll appear as he wants us to see him, because he can do that, too.

As Jesus told us, God is Spirit. That fact is indisputable. But just as indisputable is God’s ability to manifest as a body, as scripture well attests. God will appear to you as you believe him to be, and he’ll appear to me as I believe him to be. When we’re speaking to a baby or a young child, we adjust our tone and facial expressions to soothe and engage. We don’t want to frighten the little ones; we want to make them smile. God does the same with us. His aim is not to overwhelm us, his children, but to connect with us and let his love flow through us.

That is like dancing: the flow of love across and between bodies in motion. We can do that now with God, in Spirit; but in Heaven, oh, in Heaven, that’s when the real dance begins.

THE SEASON OF THE SHOVEL

Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade, and sometimes ya gotta call it a shovel, lest ye be banned from the Internet.

Sin, though, is sin, and should always be called sin. You should never call sin anything other than what it is.

Sin is sin.

Whether a fashionable term or not, sin remains the sole state that separates us from God. Nothing that separates us from God is good, no matter how sparkly the packaging or slick the label, no matter how cleverly terms and symbols are co-opted and misapplied. Sin remains sin, and sin separates us from God.

Nothing that separates us from God can be good.

*****

As we enter the season of the shovel, we are faced with the dilemma of how to deal with in-your-face shoveldom 24/7, even in churches.  There is nothing to celebrate about shoveldom; it is the same sin that has gotten whole regions destroyed in the past and it will get whole regions destroyed again. As a born-again believer, I feel sorry for those who identify as shovels. Their shoveldom is a manifestation of sin on their soul. Those with a certain type of sin manifest that sin as shoveldom. Some choose to be shovels; others are tempted and fall for shoveldom, seeing the temptation as “who they are” instead of the temptation that it is.

No-one needs to be a shovel. Even those who claim to be born that way (in sin) don’t have to stay that way (in sin). While there is yet time, sin can be overcome.

I have a passing acquaintance with shoveldom, because when I was an atheist, I identified for a time as a half-shovel. In that state, I spent a lot of time with other half- or full-shovels (or variations on those themes), and I know this: They are messed up. They are not happy souls. They constantly act out their self-hatred and fear, as I did as an atheist half-shovel. And they are addicted to sex far beyond an urge that can be explained as a natural biological function (desire). Their desire is demonically inspired. It does not come from God.

I am not trying to belittle the shovel experience. A life lived in sin and based on sin is no life; there can be no real peace and no real joy. There can be short-lived euphoria, but no real peace and no real joy.

Nor can there be real love, not in that sinful state. There can be lust; there can be obsession; there can be possessiveness; there can be infatuation; there can even be companionship and a sense of obligation and responsibility; and there can be ungodly desire that rips you apart from the inside, but there cannot be love. Love is God and God is love, and where God and his Word are not welcome, love cannot be.

*****

The purpose of these words is to say that no matter how it’s relabeled or rebranded, sin remains sin. Sin separates us from God and therefore has no grounds to be celebrated or normalized. It is not normal for a soul to be separated from God. We were not made to be that way. That’s why Jesus came to pay the sin debt owed by Adam – to spring us from the abnormal state of sin.

That debt was paid for shovels, too, if they want to avail themselves of it. They don’t have to be shovels if they don’t want to be. Repentance is free to all, for a time, and God’s mercy extends to shovels and beyond, for a time. Shoveldom is a sin that is a manifestation of a deeper sin on a soul, but neither sin is beyond redemption.

Again – shoveldom is a sin that manifests as an indicator of other underlying sins on a soul: Deal with the underlying sins, and the other will disappear.

It did for me.

The cure for every spiritual ill isn’t to relabel or rebrand or normalize sin; the cure is always and only spiritual rebirth that results in reunification with God.

*****

As we enter yet another season of the shovel, let us not condemn shovels, but instead pray that those who identify as such find their way to God through genuine repentance and forgiveness, while there is still time.

Amen.