Born Again? How is that possible?

It’s been told to us that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Huh, Jesus what are you talking about? I’m a grown man. I’m too big, and I just can’t put my mother through all that pain again, and she’s not around anymore anyway. Even if she was how would I get back into her womb anyway? Gads, that’s not only impractical, but it’s impossible. So how will I or anyone else be saved and enter into that kingdom of heaven. No way Jesus, there’s got to be a mistake here, a misunderstanding of some sort.

So, Jesus re-stated the declaration: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” [1]

Okay, clarify that some more. Like I stated before: I’m a grown man weighing in at 175 pounds, nearly 6-feet tall with arms and legs and two-feet which sometimes struggle just to get around.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ]2]

“Oh, so watch the wind, eh?” I asked.  “All I know about the wind is that today it’s blowing in from the north heading south and yesterday it was coming from the west swirling around a bit heading toward the northeast. And that dag gone wind disturbs my golf shot. It causes hurricanes and tornadoes too disturbing all the homes we’ve built. Yeah, that’s all I know about the wind. It’s not predictable. This is really getting mysterious. Jesus, why don’t you make it easier for us simpletons to understand. Yeah, for sure, I would rather go to that peaceful place you call heaven when this body of mine wears out rather than into that fearful tortuous hell-fire, but requiring me to be born again?

“Alright, Listen closely.” Jesus tells me again. “You were once born of the flesh as your dad and mother enjoyed that wedding night when he planted a seed within your mother. You were once a seed and now after all these years you’ve grown into manhood with intelligence and the ability to make choices and yes, to impregnate your wife for her to provide you with sons and daughters. You’ve watched how a tiny seed grows into that beautiful flower, how that seed sends out roots to absorb nutrients and water sending the vine upwards into the air to receive heat and light from the sun and thus it grows mightily big, the vine expanding into branches and leaves that shed a shadow for you to sit under protecting your sensitive skin from sun-burn. Do you not understand how this all came about?”

“Well, sort of, but really it is a mystery to us earthlings how it could be done in just 6 days.”

“Yes”, Jesus answered and started to explain it a bit more. “It was done so we’d have friends on this earth of yours to fellowship with and to love. Really it was not that hard, my Father spoke it to be and it was done. He provided water and the wind. You can see water, and you feel the wind. You only see the wind bristling the branches of the tree tops and sending your golf ball into the creek, but you don’t really see the wind, do you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“But you do see the water, don’t you? You feel the coolness of the water when you go for a dip in the lake or pool, but you do not see the wind which represents the spirit. When you put your hand in the moving waters of a steam that water passes your fingers once and that water is gone downstream as different waters now pass over your hand. You feel the wind whipping your head of hair as it comes and goes. When you stand in your shower the water from above passes over your head, down your cheeks, over your shoulders, your backside, your belly and, yes those parts your ancestors covered in shame, over your legs and down through your toes and out the drain cleansing your body sending the fleshly accumulated dirt into the pits never to be seen again, washed clean. That dirt is gone.”

“Come now and be baptized just as John poured the water over my head baptizing me and then the spirit came upon me.” [3]

“The second part is being born of the spirit which I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, [4] another helper, another guide, yes that spirit of truth that will abide with you working within you as it blows away the fears, the doubts, the ways of the world, the dark clouds hiding the truth, the wind swirling around exposing myths built upon sand. Your inner soul gets cleansed setting you free blowing away the shifting sands, so you can build your dwelling on solid rock, on solid ground becoming one of my branches reaching out to others.”

“A new commandment I give to you: to love one another as I have loved you. [5]  You did not choose me, but I have come into this world to choose you as my friend, not as a servant, but as a beloved friend being trusted with these truths for you to share with those that come near your path, and that’s why all this is being revealed to you.”

“Come now and enter into the Kingdom of My Father prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [6]

 

[1] John 3:6   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
[2] John 3:8   The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
[3] Matthew 3:13-17
[4] John 14:16
[5] John 13:34-35   A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
[6] Matthew 25:34

Alone with un-familar faces.

The other day as I sat having breakfast in the assembly hall of a large church in Houston, TX, I was  looking over the crowd, hundreds from all over the country in small groups enjoying the chatter over the eggs, a slice of sausage, a biscuit with gravy, I caught myself scanning from one to another wanting to know if there was anyone present I would or could recognize. Looking at their facial composition, skin tones from light to pitch dark, looking at the eyes and the raised brows above, ripples, the shapes of the nose, mouth and chin, the cheek bones and crevices flowing out from the eyes, from the sides of the nose down to edges of their lips, by their head of hair hiding or circling the ears, mustaches and beards, whether they were wearing glasses or still had good eyesight. All those unique features within an average ovalish area of 8 to 9” by 5 or 6”. There were many older folks close to or in retirement, many in the 50’s pushing the golden years, those still young enough that their hair was without grey streaks, 20’s to 30’s, teens and elementary children too were eating away before the morning devotional.

Nope, I did not recognize anyone. Hundreds of un-familiar faces.

My mind then wondered, how is this, why is this? Hundreds of people, each with totally different facial features contained within such a small oval shape.  Look at the features of a group of horses or herds of cows, a few monkeys and their head features are so similar, it is hard to distinguish one monkey from another, one cow from another. Would one monkey be able to recognize his cousin from a dozen of others perched in a nearby tree?

Humans are unique. Our DNA is unique. Our designer has made us this way. A photo of a face is used to identify a criminal walking the streets. Our finger prints are used as an identifying tool. The one and only designer must have wanted to be able to recognize each and everyone of us as an individual, as a unique person so very different from all the rest.  The designer, the grand architect wanted to recognize each one of us distinguished from the millions. Surely the maker could have formed us a bit more like monkeys with the addition of free will,  intelligence and enough curiosity to invent technology.

Yep, The Almighty creator made us this way so, that when I call upon Him, He can say: “yes Arnold, glad to hear your voice today? How can I help?”

I then entered the auditorium of this church where the morning worship service was about to start.  Ah, what a different atmosphere this was compared to the churches I’m accustomed to in my old age. Lights streaming across the stage, a large TV type screen on each adjacent wall, the lights flashed a large picture of the pastor standing on the center stage. It did not have a pulpit raised up as many of the older cathedral churches have, most having two, one for the pastor to use as he delivered his morning sermon, and one for announcements. In the rear of this thousand plus seat auditorium, there was the sound booth with 3 guys adjusting the controls of the computer driven sound system changing the booming effects to large speakers, adjusting the lighting effects streaking down from the ceiling.

From the street, I would not have recognized the building as a church except for the steeple atop the pointed roof and the name emblazed on the marquee on the street.  It appeared more like an auditorium. In America there is the divide between Catholicism and the numerous protestant denominations and sects, but the basics are the same adhering to the one God, the creator of all things sacrificing part of Himself to remove our transgressions so that we could enjoy that blessed reunion in that heavenly realm along with those we never recognized here on earth.

3 Meals per day? Ha, Ha. Gotch-ya.

How far back in history must you go to find that ancient people (now considered as those of our great grand-parents age) did not regularly eat according to the clock: 6 or 7am breakfast. 12 noon lunch and 6 pm dinner. That’s how it was for me as a kid growing up in the 50’s. You must eat 3 meals a day to maintain optimum health according to the ‘experts’ back then. We had eggs and/or pancakes with a glass of milk and possible orange juice before heading off to school carrying our brown paper sack of a peanut butter sandwich on white bread with a side of chips, possibly an apple and pickle thrown in for added benefit. Then when dad got home, family dinner time at 6 pm of spaghetti and meat balls and slice of bread to swipe the sauce off the plate.  Then homework time and be ready to slide under the covers at 10 after watching the b/w 9-inch TV for local news at 9.  That was life in the 50’s.

And now 60 years later we not only delight in 3 meals per day but snacks in-between. Oh, how I love to snack, to always have a goodie near-by to nibble on while being entertained by others.  Hersey chocolates are my favorite along with jelly beans and an occasional piece of licorice, fig bars or Ritz crackers (a pinch of salt) or a handful of pistachios.  Also, wow, a bowl of potato chips to dip into that sharp cheddar cheese dip between sips of beer while watching a 3-hour ball-game hit it off satisfying the stomach growl.

But, did our great grand-parents eat 3 meals a day when they were growing up? That would have been in the time before the calendars turned to 1900, closer to 1850. Society then was predominately agrarian working the farms, raising cows, goats, chickens, pigs and riding horses to get to the local market. Relaxation was walking to the near-by stream or lake to catch some fish and take a skinny dip. In between the seasons many would head off to the forests hunting a deer, fox, bear, buffalo. Life was not so convenient requiring lots of physical energy. Women were baking bread, feathering a chicken, scrubbing the farm dirt, instructing the kiddies on the realities of life. She was possibly a school mom. Sundays came, time to clean-up, dress up, greet and share news with neighbors at the local church.

The industrial revolution was beginning, and the young workers were moving from farms to the cities to eat lunch in the factories. Go back to 1904 when the first New Year celebration in Times Square and look at the crowd. You will not see any obese folks watching the ball drop. There are many black and white photos of people in the streets of NY in the 20’s to 40’s. No obese. I have hanging in my home office a 1928 photo of my grand-parents congregation of the Auburn Park SW church attending a Sunday School rally day. Lots of slim kids. No overly heavy people.

There were no fast food joints, no drive-ins, restaurants were few and far between, and pushing a cart through the aisles selecting your grocery list was unheard of. McDonalds was not. White castle was not. Nor a Burger King and the rest of the drive-throughs for a what else but a ‘happy meal’.  Yes, the advertisement of a very attractive slim young lady throwing her slim arms high in the air celebrating how happy you’ll be. The trauma of a hard day will end when you down that burger and fries with a diet Coke. We’re open 24/7. Gotch-ya.

Obesity is defined as having your waist size larger than your butt size. Another measurement of obesity is determined by the formula: (Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches x Height in inches)) x 703. That’s your BMI. Anything over 25 is getting close to obesity. A healthy body will be more like the hour glass shape. The US and Mexico supposedly have close to 40% of the population as obese. In the UK two-thirds of men and almost six in 10 women are overweight or obese.

So, here we are in 2018 when farming is done riding a John Deere and trucking the veggies across the country measured in hours for freshness. Chickens are raised by the thousands in large open-air cages. Cows are butchered in factories, and TV’s have 250 selections to choose from, telephones are in hand computers as we drive the free-ways to sit-down office work. Obesity is becoming the majority consuming food 3 times per day and nibbling the rest of the time. There are even voices being heard that smaller meals 4-5 times a day reduces obesity risk by 45 percent. [1] Three-meals per day lowers blood pressure.

So, who do we listen to for sound advice? The advertisers? The government agencies?

Does anyone fast anymore.  For those who may not know what that word (fast) means, I offer this simple definition: Go without food for a self-determined length of time, such as no food at all (water, yes) for a day, three days, 21 or 40 days, or even just a meal or two. Yes, it can be done. It used to be common among Christians to fast during lent before Easter. Oh, to think on that drives me up the wall. I thought that would be considered ‘works of the flesh’, so forget it, I’m saved by faith.

Satan says: “gotch-ya.”

[1] htps://www.alternet.org/story/152486/there_is_no_biological_reason_to_eat_three_meals_a_day_–_so_why_do_we_do_it