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Tell me – will you still worship God when you can’t get into restaurants and cinemas?
Will you still worship God when you can’t fly or take a train or even get on a bus?
How about when you can’t get into grocery stores? Will you still worship God then?
Because those days are coming, when access will be denied. For some, those days are already here.
Will you still worship God when you lose your job or get court martialed or a dishonorable discharge?
How about when you lose your home and your bank account is frozen and you have no money? How about when you can’t get on the Internet anymore and your driver’s license is suspended?
What will happen to your worship when you’re being rounded up for incarceration in a containment camp? Will you still worship God then?
Because those days are coming, too, for some sooner than others.
We need to worship God no matter what’s going on in our lives and no matter what the world throws at us. Worshiping God doesn’t mean going into a certain building and saying certain things. We can worship God wherever we are and under whatever circumstances we find ourselves. In fact, the worse the circumstances, the more we need to worship and the more we need to thank God.
LOVE FOR OUR ENEMIES AND PRAISE AND THANKFULNESS TO GOD IS OUR WORSHIP, as born-again believers, and it shouldn’t stop just because we can no longer get into restaurants or are being hunted down like animals. The worse the times, the more fervent the faith must be; the worse we’re treated, the more we must love in return.
So tell me – will you be worshiping God just in the good times or also in the bad?
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Be very, very, very careful how you apply this scripture.
Jesus was kind to the unkind and even to the condemned.
Think of how kind he was to Judas Iscariot, even knowing all along that Judas would betray him and was therefore condemned for all eternity.
And think that he let Judas kiss him, even knowing that the kiss was a signal to arrest him.
Most people are messed up these days, and we know from scripture that most are condemned, having chosen the broad way. But we, as born-again believers, are still to love these people and be kind to them. Jesus’ directive to love and bless our enemies and to pray for them has the same weight as a Commandment, meaning that it’s non-negotiable.
Non-negotiable means there are no exceptions and no exemptions. It has to be done.
Let me be brutally frank: being unkind to people solely because they are unkind to you or are your spiritual enemy is a sin. Violating any of the Commandments is a sin, and being kind to the unkind has the same weight as a Commandment. If you purposely and persistently sin and refuse to repent, you will lose your grace and join those on the broad way.
Don’t do that.
You can love your enemies and be kind to them from a distance. You can keep your distance from them, if that’s what you prefer and if that’s how God guides you. But you still need be kind to them according to Jesus’ directive, which he told us outright was another Commandment.
Your kindness may help diffuse a situation they’re going through. Your kindness may be the only kindness they’ve been shown in a long time. Your kindness may even inspire them to be kind to someone else.
Ultimately, your kindness may keep them from a worse eternal condemnation. This is the purpose of being kind to the unkind, of loving your enemies.
The spiritual directive to be kind in the face of unkindness is the highest calling of a born-again believer. It is ultimately what will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.
When your enemy hungers, feed him.
When he thirsts, give him something to drink.
When he is naked, clothe him.
When he curses you, bless him.
You know the drill.
Being kind to the unkind is a non-negotiable Commandment and probably the most difficult of all to keep.
But keep it you must.
As with everything, ask God for help with this.
You cannot be kind to the unkind on your own steam.
Ask God for help.
And if you mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Make your amends, and do better next time.
When we were little kids, we learned simple songs. The songs had at most a dozen notes in an easy-to-reach range, a simple and catchy tune, and lyrics that didn’t always make sense but were easy to remember. Think “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. We sang these songs at daycare or at school or with our mother at home. Sometimes we’d sing them quietly to ourselves if we were sad or scared, as a way to recall happier times and comfort ourselves. They were as much a part of our lives as play time, snack time, and bedtime. They became part of us and still are part of us today.
I mention these childhood songs because, as born-again believers, we need to learn a new song. We’re old enough now to choose the notes ourselves, but the lyrics should go like this: (more…)
In the instant before I was born again, during what I now call “the moment outside of time”, God imprinted on my soul this one simple truth: The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned. It was reminder of the “cause and effect” principle that I’d ignored or pretended didn’t exist up to that point in my earthly life, but its impression on me was indelible from then onward. Now, whenever things go a bit south in my life, I immediately remind myself: “The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned”, and I do whatever is necessary to bring my thinking and doing back in line with God’s will.
Most Christian pastors side-step the principle of cause and effect when teaching their flock, instead referring to God as “a Great Mystery” who works in ways that we cannot possibly fathom. Granted, we can’t know God’s mind perfectly (we just don’t have that capability in our current form), but we can very definitely know the principles he has established for us to live by (more…)
What does it mean to “love your enemies”? Jesus was very specific about what this “love” entailed – he said PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES and wish blessings on them. He said if they’re hungry, feed them; if they’re cold, clothe them. He said to choose to forgive them. He was very clear on what he meant by “love”.
He also called these people our “enemies”.
Think about that.
You can pray for someone, wish blessings on them, choose to forgive them, feed and clothe them, and still mostly steer clear of them. The two positions (loving them and staying away from them) are not mutually exclusive.
You don’t hang out with your enemies. Why on Earth would you want to do something as stupid as that?
God gave us a brain and common sense for one reason and one reason only: To use them.
Loving your enemies does not mean hanging out with them or letting them walk all over you or dictate to you. Jesus never said to hang out with your enemies and let them walk all over you and dictate to you. They’re your enemies. Jesus said to love them, and then explained what he meant by “love”.
If you’re still confused by what “love your enemies” means, look at Jesus. What did he do? He had enemies aplenty, and the more he preached, the more enemies he had. He did not go where he was not welcome (i.e., enemy territory), but when he did, he didn’t mince his words or try to ingratiate himself. He called a spade a spade. Followers of Jesus should take their cue from Jesus.
Scripture is always very clear; it’s people who don’t read scripture and then try to preach it who make it unclear.
But what is the point of loving our enemies? What possible good does it do them? What possible good does it do us?
The truth of the matter is – we are to love our enemies for OUR sake, not for theirs. Our loving them (through prayer and blessings and forgiveness and not trash-talking them behind their back) aids our soul, not theirs. We unburden ourselves of sin when we choose to forgive. We bless ourselves when we bless others. Jesus famous cry to love our enemies was an instruction to us on how to heal spiritually and renew our spiritual healing every day through our free-will choice to forgive and bless. Only by forgiving and blessing are we filled with God’s holy spirit, as God’s spirit cannot and will not live in a place that harbors hate and unforgiveness.
Loving your enemies doesn’t mean you let your enemies constantly abuse you; loving your enemies means keeping your distance from them (THEY’RE YOUR ENEMIES, AFTER ALL –WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE AROUND THEM????) while all the while praying blessings on them.
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if your enemy is cold, clothe him: but otherwise, steer clear of him.
You love your enemies for your sake, not for theirs.
Again – YOU LOVE YOUR ENEMIES FOR YOUR SAKE, NOT FOR THEIRS.
That is how you stay holy (that is, filled with God’s spirit), and staying holy is how you get home.
Acts of terror, regardless of who perpetrates them, all have the same final outcome: the reduction of freedom. This means less freedom of movement, less freedom of association, less freedom of speech, less freedom of the press, and so on. The initial gut-level response to terror is almost always fear and the desire for revenge, but the long-term fall-out is always – ALWAYS – less freedom. Think of how the Patriot Act has stripped Americans and their allies of freedom since 9/11. From this, we can assume that all acts of terror have as their ultimate aim the reduction and curtailment of freedom.
Likewise, from this, we can assume that whoever is ultimately behind all acts of terror is someone who wants to take away our freedom and thereby control us.
God gave every one of us free will and has never asked for it back. Paul said that all things are possible, but not all things are good. That’s why God engraved his laws on our hearts and set the Ten Commandments in stone, so that we would always be able to discern the good within the possible, regardless of how beguiling the temptation was to do bad. But God still permits us to do bad, if that’s what we choose to do. He does not intervene in our freedom either to do good or to do bad, but he does try his hardest to persuade us to choose the good.
That is free will.
Given this reality, it must therefore be someone who is opposed to God who is behind terrorist acts. Anyone who wants to forcefully remove or curtail the freedom of others is not mirroring God’s way and is not acting as God’s ally. In other words, they do not respect our God-given free will. We know, from Jesus, that the world is under Satan. So whoever is working behind the scenes to perpetrate terrorist acts with the ultimate aim of controlling the population is working for Satan, as are all those who willingly agree to have their freedoms curtailed in direct response to terrorism.
The New Testament mentions “the synagogue of Satan” a few times. This is in reference to “Jews who call themselves Jews but are in fact not”. Muslims call the United States “the great Satan”. These references to Satan point to power strongholds in the world at any given time. The truth is that all people, regardless of where they live or what religion they espouse, are under Satan unless they are born-again followers of Jesus. Born-agains are in God’s kingdom on Earth and have pledged their allegiance to God. Those who have not done so are defacto worshippers of Satan and thus automatically fall under Satan’s jurisdiction.
So what does this mean for acts of terrorism like the one unleashed on Paris on Friday the thirteenth of November, 2015? It means that Satan is behind these acts, regardless of who gets the finger pointed at them. It means more freedom will be forcefully removed and also willingly forfeited. It means that the world on Saturday the fourteenth of November, 2015, is less free than it was the day before. It also means Satan’s control of the world is expanding.
Satan goes by many names and wears many hats. His favourite disguise is The Invisible Man because he fancies himself to be like God. He and his minions slip in and out of people’s minds, beguiling them to act in ways that they know in their heart is wrong. Sadly, most people give into them.
The only way to win people back from Satan is to do as Jesus told us to do: love our enemies. We need to pray for the human perpetrators of terrorism as much as we pray for those who suffer from their acts. We need to pray, not curse them. If we find them, we need to imprison them, not torture or kill them. We need to give them time to repent of their acts, in the same way as God gives us time. We do not repay an eye for an eye, but nor do we just let them get away with their crime. Jesus says not to overcome evil with evil but to overcome evil with good. He also says that praying for our enemies is like pouring hot coals on their heads. So pour away, my friends. Pour away!
It may be, from all the prayers pouring out of us, that even one evil-doer may some day turn, just as I did and just as you did.
This is how we win people back from Satan and in so doing make the world safer and freer.