Archive for March, 2014

Lacking facts? 3:14It has long been a criticism leveled by many atheists: spiritual people put faith on a pedestal and facts are harder to find than a government surplus.

Well, there’s no doubt about it: faith IS important to followers of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God). In fact, an ancient writer, who lived shortly after Jesus, wrote: “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find him.”

But does that mean that Jesus followers are just floating on a cloud of faith? Not a chance. Consider just these few facts:

1. Beyond the four original-source biographies detailing His life, death and resurrection, the website EveryStudent.com details how two ancient historians, Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120) and Flavius Josephus (A.D. 38-100+) wrote about Jesus and how He was put to death by Roman authorities.

2. Powerful evidence for Jesus’ resurrection (a central aspect of following Jesus) comes from a man named Paul, who spent years persecuting Jesus followers, then became one and told people throughout the Mediterranean about Him.

In one of Paul’s letters to early Jesus followers, he wrote “(After His resurrection) Jesus appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

Consider the enormity of that statement: Paul was telling these people that if they didn’t believe him about Jesus coming back to life three days after dying on a cross, there were all kinds of witnesses who could back him up.

3. There is also convincing evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. Some critics insist Jesus himself never made that claim — it was overzealous followers who “put the words in His mouth” when they wrote the four accounts of His life.

And yet, writer Steven Hemler makes this point, which I consider quite valid: “If Jesus was not crucified for blasphemy (claiming to be God’s son), then why did Jewish leaders want him killed? It is difficult to explain Jesus’ crucifixion, which is a well-attested historical fact, if he did not actually claim to be God’s son.”

There is lots of other hard evidence that I could explain, but you get the point. And if you don’t, then I challenge you to investigate for yourself (check out the links here: https://frankscottage.blog/links-to-other-sites/) because this is important stuff. In fact, from my viewpoint, your eternal fate rests on it because serious Jesus followers believe the original-source biographies when they say that Jesus is God’s gift to anyone willing to accept Him.

What does accepting Him mean? It means believing that His sacrificial death makes up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. So God no longer sees any of that. He sees us like He sees His Son – perfect in every way. And through that, we are welcomed to spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

Does this make sense to you? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Bible hates women? 3.14Maybe you’ve heard someone talk along these lines. Maybe you’ve thought it yourself. But it is true?

I could blather on about how Christianity upholds women in a way that its critics simply don’t want to acknowledge. But why listen to me when you can read it from women who publicly acknowledge their faith in Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the son of God)?

I emailed this graphic, originally published on an atheist Internet community, to several women who follow Jesus. Here is a sample of their responses:

Jerri Menges:
God chose a woman to bring the Saviour of man into the world. In the Bible, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, not only because He loved Lazarus, but because He loved Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus). He saw their hurt and He was compassionate for them, too.

In the Bible, I find my true worth: God knows who I am, He loves me just as I am, He even has plans for me, good plans.

Consider this: when God made Adam, He saw that Adam needed a helper, so he made woman (Eve). Man, His crown creation wasn’t complete. He needed a helper.

Margie Stevenson:
Google women of the Bible and read on!  God gave many women important gifts, talents and abilities to work for His good.

In my opinion, a women’s value to Christ is no different than a man’s value, at least not in how much we are valued. God made each of us, loves each of us and created two sexes for a very specific reason.

A woman’s value to Christ is that she complements a man….and therefore, completes the picture of God’s people on earth.  She is a child of God….this fact is the same for men and women, as different as we are.

Amber Anderson Skrabek:
The Bible advises men to appreciate and value their wives:

Proverbs 31:26: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:31: Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise.

Given the time the Bible was written, it is not surprising that there are comparatively few women mentioned. However, there are several examples of strong, Godly women who are highlighted and their inclusion is not accidental.

One needs only to look at the story of Mary Magdalene to see how Jesus valued women.

In Jesus’ time … Jews and Romans saw women as “lesser” beings, but Jesus did not. Mary Magdalene was an early and devoted follower of Christ. She is mentioned several times as a prominent disciple, and she remained faithful to Jesus even as he was crucified.

When Jesus was taken down from the cross, it was Mary and other women, all devoted followers of Christ, who attended to his body. It was these women, and not a man, who were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

Again, none of this was accidental. Jesus chose these women to be his witnesses and rewarded their faithfulness.

So what do you think? Male or female, do these words persuade you to rethink your position on Jesus of Nazareth? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Popularity 2.14

What do you think? Does the atheist person who created this graphic have a good point?

I guess that depends on what you think the point is; for me, this graphic (which criticizes Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God) doesn’t really speak about truth. It speaks about popularity.

Consider this: Nazism must be true, because it was very popular with a very large segment of Europe. For about a decade, people all over Germany, France, Austria and other countries were knocking on doors to get into the club.

And what about this: smoking cigarettes must be a good thing, since hundreds of millions of people have done it. In fact, there are still young people who knock on the door to get into the smokers club.

What I’m saying here is the truth of Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with His popularity. Zero. Zilch. Squat.

So let’s go further and explain why people are, for the most part, NOT knocking on the doors to get into the club.

1. Jesus starts with absolute reality and that reality is so unpopular, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I write that some people would rather cut off their ears than hear it: we do bad things and fail to do good things. All the time – so often, in fact, that we often don’t realize when it happens. (That’s certainly the case for me.)

It can be as small as failing to give to charity or getting unjustifiably angry with your spouse. And it can be as large as sabotaging a friend’s marriage, cheating on your taxes or defrauding your workplace. The size doesn’t matter. It’s still reality. It’s still bad. It’s still happening all the time.

2. Many people think truth is kinda relative. But there is an objective morality to Jesus – a morality that doesn’t change with time or culture or anything else.

Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone’s doing it. And right is still right, even if no one is doing it. And that definitely makes Jesus unpopular.

3. The solution is as simple as accepting Jesus – a gift from God to ANYONE willing to accept Him.

Jesus came to serve anyone who believes in Him and follows Him – His death is a sacrifice that makes up for all the bad things we’ve done and all the good things we’ve failed to do. And His resurrection provides a way for eternal life with Him, long after our lives on planet Earth are finished.

This is overwhelmingly unpopular because it forces us to examine our lives and admit we have blown it so often that we can never do enough to make up for it. Even someone as remarkable as Mother Teresa knew that.

4. One final reason for the unpopularity of Jesus? It takes a combination of facts, reason and faith to become a Jesus follower. It will never, ever be possible to prove or disprove the existence of God. There is certainly evidence, but that evidence MUST be combined with a leap of faith (and I write about that here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-3i). That’s certainly enough to turn off many people.

And yet, in the end, following Jesus is so simple. And what you need to do to get in on God’s offer of a changed life NOW and for ETERNITY is remarkably straightforward.

Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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DiscoveryOfSelf 2.14Isn’t it funny how life works? Actor Brad Pitt claims leaving “religion” behind helped him discover who his is. And yet, for millions of people around the world, entering a life of faith accomplished the same thing.

What fascinates me about this graphic (found on an atheist Internet community) is Pitt’s words about the “comfort” of “religion” (a word I dislike – it carries a ton of negative baggage).

I’m a serious follower of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. Is my faith in Jesus a comfort? Of course it is. Just as a fat bank account or a prestigious career or a trophy spouse is a comfort for many others.

I’m comforted knowing that because I believe in and follow Jesus, His sacrificial death on a cross wipes my slate clean with the creator of the universe. God no longer sees the bad things I’ve done and the good things I’ve failed to do. He sees me as He sees Jesus – “in Him there is no sin” wrote one of His earliest followers .

But there’s something very uncomfortable about that, too. If I take what Jesus did for me seriously, then I’ll want to live up to His remarkable gift. I’ll want to welcome Jesus into my life so He can guide me away from bad behaviour and towards doing good.

You might think that’s easy to do and why on earth would I need Jesus to pull it off? I’ll tell you why: because it’s NOT easy to do. I miss the mark, of being the kind of person God knows I can be, so often that I don’t even realize it. And so does every other person on this planet.

It’s like we live blindfolded, believing everything our culture tells us, thinking we look so cool and “together” when, in God’s eyes — and He knows you and me better than we ever could — we are stumbling around like drunken fools.

That’s one part of the “discovery of self” that Brad Pitt mentioned. The other part is this: as a follower of Jesus, I know that God loves me more than my wife, more than my parents, more than my stepkids. More than all of them put together. That’s pretty remarkable, especially as most of us (whether we acknowledge it or not) live with a harsh critic in our heads.

Think hard about this: how often do you put yourself down? Do you even recognize all those occasions? Then consider this: God knows all your shortcomings. All the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Yet He loves you. And loves you so much that He offers you the gift of His son. All you have to do is accept it.

If you do accept that gift with a sincere heart (not just as a way to avoid judgement when this life ends), then you’ll start on a journey of self-discovery that will leave Brad Pitt’s in the dust.

Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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If anyone knows how to stimulate conversation, it’s militant atheist and U.S. talk show host Bill Maher. That said, I’m not sure Bill ever thought this quote would be used to explain a truth about following Jesus of Nazareth.

Bill asks a great question here. It’s a question I asked before and after I decided to follow Jesus (who many people believe is God’s Son) more than 10 years ago.

After making that decision, I held up Bill’s question to the hard light of examination. And I pondered the nature of all us human beings. Then the answer came to me.

  • What message am I sending when I selfishly refuse to talk to my wife if I don’t get my own way?
  • What message am I sending when I use all my tax return for vacations or electronic toys instead of putting some aside for charity?
  • What message am I sending when I’m driving to work and I give someone the one-finger salute because I don’t care for his or her driving?
  • What message am I sending when I pay a contractor under the table and avoid the taxes I should be paying?

It’s the same message every time. And it’s this simple: “God, don’t even lay one finger on the devil”.

When I do wrong and/or fail to do right, I’m telling my creator that I’m siding with His opponent. In fact, let me go so far as to write that I’m informing God that I like the devil more than I like Him.

If you’re a little disturbed, good. I’m certainly disturbed when I find my actions broadcasting that message. And yet, I seem to do it almost as often as breathing. In fact, when I live my life without acknowledging God and His gift to everyone who will accept it, I’m goose-stepping to the beat of His opponent.

Now take my “sins” and multiply them by, oh, a trillion. Now you can see why God doesn’t just defeat the devil. Because the actions of all humanity tell Him, with numbing frequency and nauseating volume, that we don’t want Him to. And so He doesn’t.

There is a way out of this deeply vicious cycle. A way to ensure that my actions don’t help fill up the bottomless sea of ugly messages to God. And that way is to accept His gift.

Tell God you’re sorry for the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Tell him you accept Jesus as your saviour and acknowledge His death wipes your past, present and future slate clean. And invite Jesus into your life.

If you’re serious about this, then watch things start to happen. Amazing, life-changing things.  You’ll never be the same. And you won’t be siding with God’s opponent anymore.

Does this make sense? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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