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The relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus goes much deeper than mere blood. They were cousins, but we only hear of them interacting in the womb, at Jesus’ baptism, and then shortly before John’s beheading. We can assume that, as cousins, they spent time together growing up and then later, as young men, probably passionately debated scriptures, with Jesus (the younger by a few months) likely besting his older cousin at every turn. At Jesus’ baptism at the River Jordan, John is obviously in awe of his younger cousin and openly considers himself to be so low as to not even to be worthy to put Jesus’ sandals on his feet. When John tells Jesus that he should be the one getting baptized, Jesus gently chides him to go ahead with the baptism in order to fulfill scripture. We catch there a glimpse of the younger cousin again schooling his older cousin.
Jesus calls John the greatest of those born of women, but then also calls him lowest in the kingdom (that is, born of the Spirit). What did Jesus mean by that? It almost sounds like an insult, just as John sending his disciples to Jesus to ask if he were actually “the one” sounds like an insult. Did the cousins have a falling-out that is not recorded in scripture? (more…)
Being born again is a definitive marker in a person’s history. It is that “moment outside of time” when the spirits of the world are cast out and God’s spirit enters in. The entrance of God’s spirit into a soul means that the soul has come to life, as there is no life outside of God.
You literally become a new person not by your own hand but by God’s.
But this new person still lives in the world, with all its decay, filth, and problems. Even worse, the possibility to go back to one’s “old ways” is constantly a temptation not because the old ways are better than God’s ways but because they’re familiar and habitual. Familiarity and habit are strong temptations, if they’re against God. When you become born again, you need to establish new God-centered familiarities and habits, but that takes time. (more…)
Do you put God first?
When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, he said:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.
Do you do that? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, more than you love anyone or anything else?
Do you put God first in everything?
What does it even mean to put God first? (more…)
I’ve been born-again for 20 years.
Being born-again is the best thing — by far and without question — that ever happened to me. I lived as an atheist into adulthood, and then one day suddenly I was born again.
I woke up one morning an atheist and went to bed that night a believer.
It can happen that fast.
What also happened fast was the sea-change in the words that came out of my mouth and out of my pen. My voice stayed the same, but a whole different vocabulary emerged. (more…)
The dividing of Christians into denominations is not God’s work; it is the work of the devil.
Those who adhere to one denomination or another rather than cleave to God in Jesus’ name are doing the devil’s work, not God’s.
If you are a born-again Christian, you are to stand on God as your rock and follow Jesus as your Lord and high priest, master, teacher, brother, and best friend.
Following the tenets of this denomination or that, adhering to creeds rather than to God’s Word is like swearing an oath, which Jesus tells us not to do. Denominational creeds come from the devil. (more…)
I have spent the past couple of days reading online blog postings and listening to audio recordings of what Jesus meant when he called his disciples to forsake all. This is a major sticking point for many people, and their interpretation of that particular scripture can be very telling. (more…)
When I was a kid in the 1970s, I did the trick-or-treating thing every Hallowe’en, along with all the other kids in my neighbourhood. For many of us, it was the highlight of the fall season and second only to Christmas on the annual excitement scale. Other than for our masks, our costumes were mostly hand-made by us and pretty low-tech (two hangers taped together at the hooks were angel wings; an upside-down ice-cream container with a rayon scarf trailing from it was Maid Marion’s headpiece; a big cardboard box with holes cut out for the arms was a TV set, etc.), but we didn’t care how ridiculous we looked because, for most of us, Hallowe’en was all about the free chips, candy and chocolate bars. The costumes were just a means to that end.
We saw our neighbourhood homes as dispensers of the free treats we so craved (and considered our birthright on that one amazing night), and for that reason all the houses we intended to hit were considered friendly turf. We didn’t anticipate having any problems when we stomped up the steps with our pillowcases bulging with loot; we didn’t expect to be challenged when we shouted “TRICK OR TREAT!”; we just expected to be given free grub, and we’d be on our way.
But there was this one house in our subdivision that gave me the creeps. Every Hallowe’en, I would go there only because the older kids I was trick-or-treating with would go there, but it bothered me. It was the only house I wanted to get away from as quickly as I could. I don’t even remember whether they gave good treats or not; I just remember that I thought the place and the people in it were creepy.
Here’s why: (more…)