A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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HEAVEN NINE

stuff

One topic that makes many born-agains intensely uncomfortable is earthly possessions.

You know – your stuff. Your belongings. The ‘treasures’ you cherish and the things you use daily  that you can’t imagine doing without, like your car, your furniture, your pots and pans, your dishes, your phone.

Your stuff.

Jesus had no stuff. Whatever he’d accumulated in Nazareth before leaving home to preach, he likely left behind in Nazareth. He had only the clothes on his back when John baptized him. As a preacher, he roamed from village to village, using what he found along the way but taking nothing with him.

Jesus is our model on how we are to live our lives. All born-agains accept this as God’s truth, but when it comes to earthly possessions, some get very touchy.

People can get really attached to their stuff.

The rich young ruler was attached to his stuff, too, and Jesus saw that it was preventing him from doing God’s will. That’s why he told him to get rid of it.

All of it.

Yikes.

Some of you reading this are probably feeling distinctly uncomfortable right about now. Maybe you’re thinking that getting rid of your stuff doesn’t apply to you because you can do God’s will well enough WITH all your stuff in tow, thank you very much.

That’s between you and God, but Jesus is our example, and he had no stuff. Before he left Nazareth, he likely had lots of stuff, but as soon as he started preaching, he let it all go. It would have slowed him down and redirected his energy and attention. Stuff can do that to you. Possessions can possess you even more than you possess them.

Better to live each day as if it were your last, because it could be. We came into this world empty-handed, and we’ll leave empty-handed. When we become born-again, we die to this world. What does that mean, to “die to this world”? When you die, you no longer have any stuff. Other people get what had been yours. If we are to live our born-again lives as if we died to the world, then our stuff has to go, just as the cursing, the fornicating, the lying, the stealing, the coveting, etc., also have to go.

When we become born-again, we leave the world spiritually and enter into a transition zone between Heaven and Earth. Our body is still in the world, but our spirit is not. What the world holds dear, we no longer value. That includes our and everyone else’s stuff.

I know this is hard for some of you to read. You might even point to clever arguments that show you can have your stuff and still do God’s will, have your cake and eat it, too. As long as your possessions don’t possess you, you can keep them, right?

Right?

Jesus is our example. He had no stuff.

“Sell what you have, give to the poor, and come follow me.”

HEAVEN SEVEN

Bye-bye

As born-agains, the spiritual tools we value the most, use the most, and need the most have no place in Heaven.

Imagine that!

The Ten Commandments are obsolete.

The directives God gave us through Jesus don’t apply.

We don’t have to pray.

And there aren’t even any Bibles (King James or otherwise).

Imagine that!

Faith, hope and charity have value only in this life.

We don’t need faith in Heaven because, as Paul told us, we’ll see and know God fully as he is.

We won’t need hope, either, because we’ll have everything we want and there won’t be any adversities to overcome.

And we won’t need charity, the self-less love that’s expressed by obedience to God’s will. There won’t be any need for charity in Heaven because we’ll all have the mind of God, so we’ll all be doing God’s will automatically.

As for praying, we won’t need to do that any more because we won’t have to talk to God and Jesus in faith, trusting they hear us; we’ll be able to talk to them face-to-face.

So you see, there’s no ‘faith, hope and charity’ or praying in Heaven because there’s no need for them.

And there’s no free will, either (to which I say: THANK GOD FOR THAT!).

I’m glad God gave me free will, but I’ll be even gladder to kiss that double-edged mother good-bye.

It’s caused me a lot of problems.

Bye-bye, free will!

Bye-bye, Bible!

Bye-bye, faith hope and charity!

Bye-bye, loving your enemies!

Bye-bye to everything but God’s will and God’s goodness, because that’s all we’ll need when we arrive in Heaven. God will provide us with everything else, just like he provides for us on Earth.

And the last thing we’ll say good-bye to is good-bye itself, because there are never any partings in Heaven. Everything and everyone are there to stay.

HEAVEN SIX

Look up

If you had any idea how much God loves you and how much he does for you every second of every day, you’d never get off the floor, you’d be crying so much, face down, in total gratitude.

But God doesn’t want you on your face crying. He wants you looking up and laughing and running around and playing and listening to him and hugging him and sitting on his lap. He wants you to pay attention to your big brother, Jesus, and to follow his example in everything you do. And he likes it when you think of him every so often, not as an obligation, but just to say “hi”. In fact, he loves it when you drop by in prayer for no other reason than to say “Hi, Dad”. That means everything to him, just like it does to earthly parents. He doesn’t want anything from you. He just wants you to make the right choices for your own benefit, not for his.

He just wants you to come home.

HEAVEN FIVE

Heavenly garden

Every born-again believer has three main jobs while they’re here on Earth – the first is to tell people about Heaven, the second is to show them how to get there, and the third is to “endure to the end”.

If you’re reading this, your end hasn’t come yet, so you’d better keep enduring. Otherwise, Heaven is no guarantee for you, any more than it is for anyone.

As for telling people about Heaven and showing them how to get there – the best way to find out about Heaven is to read scripture and ask God questions, and the best way to show people how to get to Heaven is to point to how Jesus lived his life and to make the choices he made.

Jesus is not just our example of how to live a good life – he’s everyone’s example, no exceptions.

One thing we need to clear about is that Earth is a knock-off of Heaven – a very small, very imperfect knock-off. Earth is bound by time and space, whereas Heaven is boundless and eternal. Earth can corrode and rot, but Heaven cannot. There is no death, disease or decay in Heaven. Everything and everyone are perfected, but not in a mindless or automaton kind of way. On the contrary: Imagine the best day you’ve ever lived on Earth, when your mind was clear and sharp, your body was primed and invigorated, and the weather was exhilarating. That’s a foretaste of how you’ll live every day in Heaven. Now combine that with the emotional ecstasy you experienced on being reborn, at that instant when the demons exited and God’s spirit entered in. There are no words on Earth to describe that ecstasy because it is not an earthly sensation; it’s Heaven.

So this is what Heaven is like – perfect senses, perfect body, perfect feelings, perfect weather. Every day, all day.

And the sleeps at night – like nothing you’ve ever experienced on Earth! Absolutely perfect sleeps, without exception.

When you ask people what they think Heaven is like, they usually talk about clouds and harps and angel wings. This is not Heaven; this is satanic propaganda to make Heaven look alien and boring and dissuade you from wanting to go home. Because that’s what Heaven is – home: The true homeland of all souls. We’ve already been there because we were created there. And every iota of our being wants to go back.

In fact, we want to go back so much, we try to recreate Heaven here on Earth. We do it through social systems (where everyone is equal and is watched over by allegedly ‘benign’ leaders who strive for the ‘common good’) or through medical care (where people are injected with chemicals to appear ‘beautiful’ and ‘youthful’ and ‘healthy’) or by living beyond our means. We are goaded to strive for artificially ‘perfected’ bodies, to live in a dream home with a dream kitchen, and to take occasional breaks from our dream jobs to go on dream vacations, sometimes in our dream cars. None of these things are, of course, anywhere near perfect, and none of them ever truly satisfy us, no matter how “dreamy” we or our surroundings become. Other than for the presence of God’s spirit, it’s impossible to recreate the ease and perfection of Heaven here. God made it impossible so that we wouldn’t get too comfortable on Earth and lose sight of our true destination.

There is nothing on Earth that can compare to Heaven, except for the presence of God’s spirit and the beauty of God’s creation.

In Heaven, everyone believes in God and everyone follows Jesus. Everyone is young and beautiful and healthy. There is no pain, either physical or mental, no regrets, no bad memories, and no bad thoughts Everyone is athletic and everyone can “sing like the angels”. There is only love in Heaven; no fear. Nothing rots. There are no conspiracies against God; no grumbling; no doubters. Think of the best day or best moments you’ve ever experienced, and then expand that into infinity. That’s Heaven.

As Jesus reminded us, we each have our own personal space in Heaven. It’s our real forever home. God has shown me mine. It’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in a home, and all my “treasures” are there. It’s small and cosy, and there’s a beautiful garden out back with all my favourite trees and flowers and butterflies and birds. My cats are there, too (they even have their own wing!), along with all my favourite foods. And there’s a huge skating surface to the rear of my property where I can figure skate to my heart’s content, performing tricks and manoeuvres that I could never do while on Earth in my imperfect, non-athletic body.

By the way – you’re all invited to come visit me in Heaven, if you make it and I make it. Just drop by and say: “You invited me on your blog”, and we’ll sit down and have a big slice of whatever you fancy the most, washed down with your favourite beverage. And then we’ll have a good old chat, because we’ll instantly be the best of friends in a way we could never be on Earth.

Only those who love God and choose his way will make it to Heaven. Maybe some people we knew on Earth will be there, but maybe not. Those who don’t make it, we have no recollection of when we’re in Heaven. We don’t mourn them or miss them because, for us, it’s as if they never existed.

They, on the other hand, can never forget us or what they’ve forfeited by their wrong choices while on Earth. That’s one of the most horrendous aspects of Hell – never being able to forget or overcome regrets or escape the consequences of bad choices. Hell is one long tortuous panic attack that never ends. And that’s on a good day in the Pit.

God’s shown me my little piece of Heaven so I’ll know what’s waiting for me if I keep on the right path. This helps me endure what’s going on here now and also provides a powerful incentive to make the right choices, especially when the temptations are strong. Paul was shown Heaven; everyone who’s born again is shown Heaven. All you have to do is ask God and he’ll show you, when you’re ready. Bug him enough, and he’ll show you a little sneak-peek, even if you’re not quite ready. He loves showing you what he’s got “stored up” for you. He just doesn’t want you to get ahead of yourself and assume that Heaven is a given.

Because Heaven is not a given, not for anyone.

Hell still remains an option as long as you’re here.

Our best experiences on Earth are a foretaste of Heaven. Don’t mess it up for yourself.

Follow Jesus all the way home.

HEAVEN TWO

God's perfect justice

We know that God’s justice is perfect, so we know that our situation in life is what we’ve earned from our choices. The same principle that governs the spiritual realm also governs the physical realm.

You only get back what you put out.

You only get what you’ve earned.

A man with some degree of wisdom once said: We live in the best of all possible worlds.

That’s another way of saying God’s justice is perfect.

If we live in the best of all possible worlds because God’s justice is perfect, then the world as we experience it is what we’ve earned.

Collectively, we’ve earned the wars, the famines, the pestilences, the rapes, the murders, the wealth, the poverty, and everything else that happens on Earth.

Individually, we’ve earned the debts, the jobs, the relationship hassles, the gifts, the tears, the losses, and even the illnesses.

If you believe that God’s justice is perfect, then you have to accept what is written above.

Many people have difficulty accepting that things are the way they are because of God’s perfect justice. They would rather blame others (including God) for their problems than to point a finger at themselves. This deflection of blame is the number one reason keeping people from turning back to God.

Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and yet both Adam and Eve were guilty by reason of their own free will choice.

God didn’t banish them from Paradise; they banished themselves.

What choices have you made that brought you to where you are now? What personal outcomes have you blamed on other people or on political systems or corporations?

Who or what are you blaming now?

God’s justice is perfect. We can only get back what we put out.

You can stop the pain, if you want to, by stopping the blame. You can stand before God and say: I’m only getting what I deserve, both good and bad.

And while you’re standing there, you can also thank God for always making the best of every situation. God loves us all the same, so he always mitigates our punishments, just as he always boosts our rewards.

That’s the God we serve. That’s our Dad. That’s his perfect justice.

We live in the best of all possible worlds.

We only get back what we put out.

If you want a good life, make good choices.

Amen.

DEATH

life starts

To the world (non-believers), death is defeat. It means “game over”, battle lost, start crying. Non-believers use every means at their disposal to prolong their life, as their goal is to delay death and live as long as they can.

In contrast, to believers, death is when real life begins. It’s what we’re living for, so the less time we spend on Earth, the better.

The night before he died, Jesus told his disciples that if they loved him, they’d be happy for him because he was going home. His disciples were crying, but he told them they should instead be happy. He said that where he was going was infinitely better than where he was, and that if they really understood that, they’d be celebrating with him, not crying and trying to hold him back.

We’re trapped in our mortal bodies, and death is the only way out. It’s important that we see our body as something separate from who we really are. Paul called the body a vessel of the spirit, and so it is. We should look after our body (just as we would any vessel that we use daily), but we shouldn’t obsess over it. Our body is just a container. It’s what our body contains that we should be obsessing over.

A few days ago, I caught the tail-end of a film discussion. A woman was describing how the director had been forced by popular consent to change the film’s ending from the main character dying to the main character “riding off into the sunset”. She referred to the “riding off into the sunset” ending as a happy ending.  Listening to the woman, I recalled how I viewed death when I was an atheist. I saw it as inescapable and inevitable, but I didn’t want to think about and I certainly didn’t want to talk about it. If someone got sick and died – well, that person “lost the battle”. Death was ugly and sad; the thought of it was like a funeral dirge overlaying the Happy Birthday song of life.

The dead relatives and friends I went to see at funeral homes looked odd to me. It was them, and it wasn’t them. I couldn’t quite place what made them look different (skin tone? prone position? set of the mouth?). The “life”, as they say, was gone out of them, but what was that life? As an atheist, I had no answer for that.

Now, as a believer, I have an answer. I know what the “life” is that leaves the body at death. And I see death as something to look forward to as long as I stay in God’s grace.

I’m not afraid of death and it doesn’t make me sad to think or talk about it. On the contrary, I’m looking forward to death the way an expectant mother looks forward to giving birth for the first time – slightly nervous about the pain that might accompany the event, but joyously excited about what comes afterwards.

What I dislike about death now is how it is misrepresented in mainstream so-called Christian religion. I hate the lies that are spouted at funerals (which I no longer attend). I hate the presumption that all Christians go to Heaven. It’s a flat-out lie. Jesus dealt with the same presumption with the Jews of his day, and he also hated that lie. The Jews hated him for telling them that their presumption was a lie. Instead of listening and accepting truth, they hated him. This same skewed mindset about death and Heaven pervades mainstream Christianity today.

Death is a happy ending for those who die in God’s grace. It’s their reward or “payment for services rendered”.  We need to revise our view of death to see it not as a failure or ‘sad ending’, but as Jesus saw it. Heaven is everything we’ve ever wanted. It’s a place of no tears, no pain, no unhappiness, no dissatisfaction, no ugliness, no homelessness, no rot, no decay, no hunger and no sickness. If we make it to Heaven, we’ll be ‘perfected’ in every way. This is not something to cry over or be afraid of. We’d be crazy to cry over that. Our earthly bodies are but a pale shadow of what our glorious Heavenly bodies will be. It’s like our souls are now wrapped in a filthy rag (our Earthly bodies), but some day, if we stay close to God, our soul be wrapped in the finest of materials (our Heavenly bodies).

Despite how much we have to look forward to in Heaven, we are never to hasten our own death. Suicide (even doctor-assisted) is self-murder, and murder is contrary to the commandments. Those who knowingly and willingly violate the commandments and remain unrepentant will not be rewarded by a place in Heaven. God has written his laws in our hearts, so there is no excuse for doing what we know in our heart-of-hearts is wrong.

The best course is to live out your life to its natural conclusion and go willingly when your time has come. I have no doubt whatsoever that people know when their time has come. God tells them, one way or another, and then gives them time to repent. He also gives them strength to endure, if they align their wills with his. Even those who don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear will know when their time has come. God loves us all equally and doesn’t want any of us to go to Hell. But to Hell we’ll go, if, even on our death bed, we choose man’s laws over God’s.

Jesus infuriated the Jews of his day when he told them outright that they would likely go to Hell and that the people they looked down on (tax collectors, prostitutes, beggars, etc.) would likely go to Heaven. The religious Jews saw their Jewishness as a ticket to Heaven, but nothing could be further from the truth. The religious ‘Christians’ of today have the same arrogance and false expectations. And if you point that out to them, you’ll get the same response as Jesus got.

Sometimes, as Jesus showed us, it’s better to say nothing.

The world sees death as a medical failure and something to fear. Don’t be fooled by that lie. But also don’t be fooled by the lie that Heaven is a sure bet for believers. Rather, see death as Jesus saw it – a great reward and homecoming for those who freely do God’s will. There is no happier ending than what awaits those very, very, very few who die in God’s grace and in God’s time.

Aim for Heaven. Don’t proudly expect it – aim for it.

TWO

HPIM1168.JPG

Paul preached to believers knowing that most of them would not make it to Heaven. That’s why he was so hard-hitting; he wanted to press home how perfect and priceless the reward of Heaven was, and how difficult it was to get there. His job was to motivate and energize the few lovers of truth who heard his words; and if, in the process, he alienated most of those he encountered, that was justifiable collateral damage. He wasn’t running a daycare or feel-good religious retreat. His mission, like that of all believers before and since him, was to get the information out about salvation so that people could make up their own minds about whether to say “yay” or “nay” to God.

That’s all it’s ever been about, folks – making an informed choice for or against God, and sustaining that choice to the end.

If getting to Heaven meant a hard life on Earth filled with persecution, poverty, pain, homelessness, suffering, tests and trials, so be it. Paul was clear that whatever the cost, it was worth it. When I read about Paul’s journeys and “adventures” (i.e., shipwrecks, imprisonments, death sentences, etc.) and how against all odds he just kept going with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, I can only shake my head in awe. Now THERE was a man who put his money where his mouth was. I can’t even fast for 24 hours without grumbling along with my stomach and sneaking a Snickers (praying that God’s looking the other way).

Paul took his cue from Jesus and the prophets. They likewise kept going against all odds, and they likewise pressed their followers hard to set their sights above (not below), to think as God thinks (not as man thinks), and to endure to the end. They were not hosting a popularity contest, and good thing, too, considering how unpopular most of them were and how unwelcome their message. They expected most people to walk away, but they persevered in their mission solely for the few who would not.

Nothing has changed in that regard. Jesus said: Wherever two are gathered in my name, there am I among them. He didn’t say you needed a quorum of 12 or 70 – just two. I think, in part, he said this because he knew that getting even two true believers in the same room at the same time would be a monumental task in itself, seeing that true believers are so few and far between. A megachurch filled with true believers every Sunday? Not bloody likely.

Over a million Hebrews were ‘sprung’ from Egypt during the Exodus. That was a supernatural event, orchestrated by God. Of those million+ souls who left Egypt that miraculous day, only two eventually made it to the Promised Land.

Two out of a million+.

That fact should give you pause.

God’s very specific about it in the scriptures, though I’m not surprised that no sermons are preached on it in the satanic churches that pass for “Christianity” these days. Wouldn’t want the congregation to start asking questions about whether or not they were actually going to make it to the Promised Land. After all, if you listen to mainstream Christianity, you’ll think that everyone gets to go to Heaven, as long as they have some kind of vaguely defined ‘belief’ in Jesus.

God wants us to know how hard it is to get into Heaven. As much as he wants us to know how much he loves us, he also wants us to know how very very very profoundly difficult – almost impossible – it is to get into Heaven. It’s hard to get into heaven because heaven is so amazing and wonderful, and because sin has no place there. Heaven is the greatest of rewards and the only one worth striving for. All of the Earth’s combined wealth and beauty is not even fit to form the dirt on the ground in Heaven, that’s how amazing and wonderful Heaven is. Many have been told that Heaven is their birthright, but Heaven is not anyone’s birthright: it’s a reward for services rendered by doing God’s will.  If you’re not rendering those services by doing God’s will, then you won’t be rewarded. It’s that simple.

Just two of the original million+ Hebrews who left Egypt made it to the Promised Land. In case you missed it, that’s a metaphor, a guide, and a warning for us born-agains. The Hebrews were sprung from a geo-political prison; born-agains are sprung from demonic prisons, but both Hebrews and born-agains have God’s miraculous intervention to thank for their freedom. Born-agains are meant to see the Hebrews’ 2:1,000,000+ ratio and then understand that God means business when it comes to getting into the Promised Land. You can argue against this all you want and twist scripture to say otherwise, but the truth is: getting into Heaven is impossible without God’s help, and God only helps those who sincerely do his will.

If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to fully align your will with God’s and live your life accordingly. However, it will be too late some day. Now’s the time for you to do this. If doing God’s will isn’t the number one priority in your life, make it the number one priority now and keep it number one for the rest of your days. Live your life as Jesus lived his. It’s not brain surgery; just follow the commandments, treat ALL PEOPLE as you would want to be treated (no matter how nasty they are to you), and spread the Good Word. God will show you how and support you – mind, body and soul – every step of the way.

God’s entire purpose for creating the universe and putting us on Earth is to persuade us to come home to Heaven. That’s his plan. He doesn’t want to keep us out of Heaven, but he needs us to be sincere in our commitment to following Jesus and choosing his way. Lip servers and lukewarm fence-sitting Christians don’t get into heaven. People with unrepentant sin on their souls don’t get into heaven, and neither do those who actively, consciously and persistently choose what they know is not God’s will.

Be wary of those who’ve relabeled sin as “love”. This is the latest trick of the devil, and a temptation and test for true believers.

Jesus clearly showed us God’s way. Our job is to choose it, live it, and show it to others, just like Jesus did. Then maybe – MAYBE – we’ll get to go home.

ARE YOU ON GOD WELFARE?

God's blank check

Hey, YOU! Yes, you.

Are you on God welfare?

Are you pulling your weight in the kingdom?

Are you earning your keep? Just doing enough to slide by?

Or are you not doing any work at all for God?

Even as a 12-year-old, Jesus understood the concept of “working for God”. During his ministry years, he worked for God full-time. In fact, he was notorious for pulling double and even triple shifts. As his followers, we’re supposed to be like him. He’s not supposed to do all the work and we just tag along for the free ride – no. We’re supposed to be out there working as hard as he did.

If you’re in God’s kingdom (which you are, if you’re born again), then you have to work for God. No excuses and no exceptions. It’s the family business and we all have to pitch in.

Yet knowing this, and even knowing how hard Jesus worked during his ministry years, many born-agains are still sitting on their spiritual asses (and I don’t mean donkeys). Maybe they show up for a service once in a while, maybe they mumble a few “prayers” or read an occasional Bible verse, maybe they throw some money at a “Christian” charity, or maybe they just don’t do anything at all. Maybe they truly are good-for-nothing bums relying on spiritual hand-outs from God.

I’m not talking about being busy like Martha. That’s not the kind of work we need to do. Martha ran herself ragged doing chores that had nothing to do with the kingdom. Jesus was very clear that Mary was accomplishing far more by sitting at his feet and learning from him than Martha was by worrying and fussing over her chores.

Here are a few jobs that are always available in the family business. See which ones suit you best:

  • Go out into the world and preach the Good News.
  • Heal the spiritually sick.
  • Feed the spiritually poor.
  • Cast out demons.
  • Love your enemies.
  • Visit people in hospital.
  • Visit people in prison.
  • Treat other people as you want to be treated.
  • Choose to forgive.

You can sign up for some or all of these jobs, but you’ve got to do at least one. I suggest taking on as many as you think you can handle (with God’s help). It’s not enough just to ‘slide by’ in God’s kingdom. You have to earn your keep.

Jesus talked a lot about rewards. What he really meant was your spiritual paycheck. We all get paid for working in God’s kingdom. As born-agains, we get an advance on our pay (joy, peace, hanging out with God and Jesus, etc.) that’s enough to keep us going while we’re still here on Earth, but the big pay-out comes when we get to heaven.

God doesn’t expect us to work for free. He wants us to keep our reward in front of us. He wants us to use it as a motivation, just like we use money as a motivation for doing our earthly jobs. Would you do your earthly job without the motivation of money? Likely not. Then don’t pretend you’d work for God for free. I certainly wouldn’t work for free. Neither would Jesus. I love God and all, and I certainly want to do my part for the family business, but it’s heaven that’s motivating me.

Paul said that heaven is worth any and all suffering that the world can throw at us. He lived it and he meant it. I, too, have seen enough of heaven to know that Paul was right. Most born-agains have seen at least glimpses of it. If you haven’t yet, ask God to show you what he’s got waiting for you. He’s always happy to do so.

As born agains, what we do to earn our ‘daily bread’ should have the lowest priority in our lives. We should do our earthly job well, but it shouldn’t take precedence over the work we do for the kingdom. Jesus was a carpenter, but when he started his ministry work, he stopped being a carpenter. There’s no mention of him from that point onwards doing any other kind of work than God’s work. We all need to get to that point in our lives. We all need a “Matthew moment” when we just walk away from our earthly job and never look back.

If you can’t imagine doing that, then you’re storing up your treasures on Earth, not heaven. Jesus said to store your treasures in heaven. Nothing and no-one, not family, not friends, not possessions, not reputation, not obligations, not creature comforts – nothing should be more important to you than working for God.

Paul made tents during the first years of his ministry work. He was adamant that people earn their keep by their own labor. Paul didn’t say to stop doing earthly work altogether but to do whatever you had to do so you wouldn’t be a burden to others. But he isn’t known to us today as “Paul the Tentmaker”; he’s known as the Apostle Paul. He devoted just enough time and energy making tents to put a roof over his head and food in his mouth; otherwise, ALL the rest of his time and energy went to doing God’s work. Eventually, Paul stopped making tents altogether and lived on donations from those who voluntarily chose to support his ministry work.

We’re all eventually supposed to get to that point.

First, you need to get to where you can imagine walking away from it all and working full-time for the kingdom, and then, when the time’s right, you need to do it.

But before that can happen, you’ve got to get off and stay off God welfare.

STOP, AND CHOOSE TO FORGIVE

STOP

Every day, I ask God what I should write about. Today he said: “Forgiveness.”

Then he said to tell everyone to stop what they’re doing.

Just STOP.

He said this is the most important thing you’ll do today.

Stop whatever else you’re doing and pay attention.

Forgiveness is not a touchy-feely warm ‘n’ fuzzy group hug kind of emotion.

Forgiveness is a choice.

And chances are that you won’t want to make that choice.

But if you don’t, you won’t get to heaven.

These are the facts. God isn’t going to change the facts just because you don’t feel like forgiving everyone.

Yes, EVERYONE.

No-one gets into heaven with any unforgiveness on their soul. If you’re harboring resentment or grudges, that’s unforgiveness. If you’re blaming someone for something they did last week or 60 years ago, that’s unforgiveness. Having unforgiveness on your soul is the same as having unrepentant murder.

The end of your world will come in your lifetime. That’s a guarantee. It may come in 20 years or it may come in 20 seconds.

But when it does come, you won’t get into heaven with unforgiveness on your soul.

Once your time is up, it’s too late to make the choice to forgive. God, in his mercy, may give you one final chance, but don’t count on it. It all depends on how many times you’ve been told to forgive, and how many times you’ve rejected the advice.

God is patient, but he’s no sucker.

So whatever it is you’ve been holding onto, let it go. Just say: “I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.”

Just like that.

Say: “I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.”

And then make good on your choice by choosing not to think or talk about the grievance anymore. And if it pops into your head for whatever reason, say again: I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE. Every time it pops up, say again: I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

 

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

 

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

If you don’t choose to forgive, God will not forgive you.

If God doesn’t forgive you, that means no soul healing and no ‘heaven on Earth’ as a born-again.

And if you refuse to forgive even up to the moment of your death, your unforgiveness means you go to hell.

Forever.

There is no other option.

Forgiveness leads to heaven; unforgiveness leads to hell.

This is a spiritual fact of life.

If you’re living or working in an abusive situation, leave immediately and choose to forgive.

Do not go back. Do not press charges or file a report. If you’ve already pressed charges or filed a report, drop them.

Do not go back into the abusive situation, but choose to forgive.

Jesus says we are to forgive our abusers not seven times by seventy times seven.

He means there are no limits to how many times we forgive: we forgive as many times as we’re hurt.

Jesus says that if we don’t forgive those who hurt us, God will not forgive us. If God doesn’t forgive us, we won’t get into heaven.

If God doesn’t forgive us, we won’t get into heaven.

Let that sink in: If God doesn’t forgive you, you won’t get into heaven.

That’s another spiritual fact of life.

So how do you get God to forgive you?

By choosing to forgive others.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

There are ZERO exceptions.

Just like there are no asterisks on the Ten Commandments, stating in fine print below that it’s OK to murder in self-defense or in the line of duty, there are no asterisks and fine print below Jesus’ directive to forgive.

What you choose to do with this information is up to you, but God and Jesus are begging you to choose NOW to forgive everyone for everything.

CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.

It may be the best and last thing you ever do.

THE TOP TEN IN 2015: PART 2: HEAR, O ISRAEL!

The Stones

This is the second of a ten-part series on the most important set of guidelines in human existence: the Ten Commandments. I’m not covering them in numerical order or even in order of importance. This isn’t a count-down; it’s a refresher.

(If you’ve already read this part, you can skip down to the horizontal line.)

The Ten Commandments are as equally relevant today as they were when they were given to Moses. In fact, they’re even more relevant. The main attack against the Commandments is that they’re “old-fashioned” and out of step with current realities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

God’s truth doesn’t change. Hemlines change; beauty ideals change; scientific theories come and go, but God’s truth remains as fresh and clear and refreshing as ever. And the worse it gets down here on Earth, the more we need God’s help and guidance.

Thank God for the Ten Commandments! They’re both your first and your last line of defence. They’re meant to be memorized as a “To Do” list and a “To Don’t” list; you should know them as automatically as you know your name.

 The commandments aren’t meant as a way to interfere with your pleasure, but to keep you from making choices that will lead to pain.

If you find yourself wondering what you should do, look to Jesus, because the solution to every problem we’ll ever face during our time here on Earth was modeled by something Jesus either said or did. And, as we know, Jesus based his teachings on the Ten Commandments.

_____________________________

HEAR, O ISRAEL!

 When Jesus told the rich guy to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow him, what exactly did he mean? Was he saying that driving a Maserati is a bad thing?

 

Jesus explains further on in the verse that being rich can make it impossible to get to heaven.

 

Keep in mind that this was the exact opposite of Jewish wisdom at the time – it was assumed that if you’re rich and have high social standing, God is blessing you, and if God is blessing you, then you must be on your way to heaven.

 

When Jesus suggested that the rich guy should give up his wealth in order to go to heaven and then said that it was next to impossible for rich people to get into heaven, he blew people’s minds.

 

So what did Jesus mean by all this? Didn’t having wealth and social standing mean that God was blessing you?

 

Maybe under the Old Testament it meant that, but not under the New one.

 

Let’s look at the passage. The rich guy approached Jesus, asking what he should do to be saved. Jesus took a long hard look at him (even without an advanced degree in sociology, Jesus was excellent at sizing people up by appearance, attitude and situation) and perceived that he was well-dressed, well-spoken, and clearly wealthy. The rich guy was a ruler, too, so along with enjoying the privileged social standing of wealth, he also enjoyed a position of authority.

 

But Jesus also saw and heard in the rich guy a sincere desire to please God. He had come to Jesus asking for help, so obviously, despite his wealth and power, he felt that something wasn’t quite right. Had he been certain that he was being blessed by God through his wealth, high social standing and adherence to the commandments, he wouldn’t have asked Jesus what he needed to do to be saved. Yes, the rich guy knew something was wrong and he figured Jesus could tell him what it was, but probably the last thing he wanted to hear was that he would have to give up all his wealth and power.

 

The lust for money is framed in the Bible as being the root of all evil, so from that we can assume that the less money we have, the better it is for us. Yet money on its own is just inert matter; it can be neither good nor bad. The problem is our relationship to money – or, better said, our desire to gain money for the power, privilege and pleasure it can afford us. Lust here means that we make an idol out of money for the things it can buy us. Rich people tend to focus on money and use it to solve their problems rather than focus on God and ask for his help.

 

When Jesus told the rich guy to get rid of his wealth, he was not telling him that his wealth was the problem but that his relationship to his wealth was the problem. His wealth had become his idol, and this idol needed to be smashed (by selling all his possessions and then giving the money from the sale away) so that God could assume his rightful place in the guy’s life. Instead of relying on money and the things it could buy, the guy needed to rely on God.

 

When asked which of the Ten Commandments was the most important, Jesus unhesitatingly responded that it was the one that affirmed that the God of Israel was one God, and that we are to love God with everything we’ve got (heart, mind, soul, strength). When we put the love of something else before love of God, we’re breaking this commandment. Probably not meaning to (he had, after all, followed the other commandments to the best of his ability), the rich guy had put his wealth and power ahead of doing God’s will.

 

Most of us are like the rich guy, in that we consciously or unconsciously put other things or people ahead of God. But if you know God’s will and choose not to do it, you’re going to have problems. When the rich guy left, depressed and dismayed over what he’d heard from Jesus, the disciples then asked Jesus how they fared, since they’d already given everything up to follow him. Jesus replied that everyone who puts God first, ahead of wealth and family ties, is likely to receive rewards both on Earth and in heaven.

 

So, what or who is YOUR idol? What or who means more to you than God? Or, better said – what or who would you have a hard time walking away from, if Jesus told you that that thing or that person was keeping you from getting to heaven?

 

Could you give up your family and friends? Jesus did. He was alienated from his family (they thought he was crazy) and former friends throughout most of his ministry.

 

Could you give up your job? Jesus did, and turned into an itinerant preacher with no fixed address and no fixed income.

 

Could you give up your hometown and your past? Jesus did. As reviled as he was for being a Nazarene, the Nazarenes threw him out of town when he ‘came out’ as the Messiah. He just walked away from it all without a backward glance.

 

Could you give up your possessions? Jesus did. His only belongings appear to be the clothes on his back.

 

Could you give up having children or spouse? Jesus did. Despite the nonsense written about Jesus and Mary Magdalene getting married and having kids, Jesus never married nor had any children. In fact, he counseled people not to marry, knowing that spouses have the tendency to want to please each other and leave God out of the equation. By the same token, parents tend to want to do whatever it takes to make their children happy, so this can also lead to turning away from God. Their children can become their idol.

 

So I ask you again: WHAT OR WHO IS YOUR IDOL? What or who would you have a hard time giving up if Jesus told you that you had to, if you want to get to heaven?

 

There should be nothing or no-one that you wouldn’t walk away from, right here, right now, if Jesus told you that these things or these people were coming between you and heaven. Think of Matthew and how he walked away from his tax-collector job. He just got up and left.

 

Nothing and no-one should come between you and God. Nothing and no-one should be more important to you than doing whatever it takes to get to heaven.

 

When it comes to keeping the commandments, let Jesus be your model, not the rich guy.

The Ten Commandments Exodus 20-7-17