Archive for March, 2015

Hate 3.15As soon as I saw this graphic on an atheist website, I felt sorry for Patricia Ruth Barker. Sorry that she ever thought she had to “hate” anyone before becoming an atheist.

Who taught Patricia this kind of warped thinking? Did she consider murderous terrorist groups and decide this is how “religious” people think? (I follow Jesus of Nazareth, but I’m absolutely not “religious” and this blog reveals why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-cP.)

Did she interact some religious people who, sadly, DO hate gay people and people of other faiths and figure this is standard thinking for spiritual people?

Since encountering this graphic, I’ve racked my brain to think of all the Jesus followers I’ve met who hate gays or people of other faiths. I can’t come up with a single person. And when I do encounter these misguided people, I’ll remind them of these passages from ancient documents and original-source biographies of Jesus (who many people believe is God’s Son):

  • Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • God loved the world so much [and that means EVERY PERSON in it] that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost. but have eternal life.
  • God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Most Jesus followers take these passages seriously. They tell me that Jesus  came for ALL people — gay or straight, Christian or Muslim or Atheist or Buddhist, criminal or Nobel prize winner, male or female, young or old. No exceptions. Ever.

This is one of the reasons I decided in my 40s to follow Jesus and trust in what He’s done for everyone who believes in Him. He died on a Roman cross to make up for ALL the wrong things I’ve done and ALL the right things I’ve failed to do. He made up for all the times when, despite my best efforts, I end up living as if there is no loving creator who wants to be part of my life.

I also follow Jesus because I know that by doing so, I welcome Him into my heart, mind and soul to make me more like Him. That means hating ONLY the wrong things I’ve done and the right things I don’t do.

It also means I believe in what many people call the “Golden Rule”: Do for others what you want them to do for you.

I want atheists and people of other faiths to respect me. So I darn well better respect them. When that exchange takes place, I get to tell them, like I’m telling you now, about my faith in Jesus and how He can change them (and YOU) for the better – for now and for all eternity.

What are your thoughts on this? Post a comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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Jesus fake not realSo, did a guy from the ancient Middle East called Jesus actually exist? And did he do miraculous stuff and change the world forever?

If you’re unsure, you probably haven’t looked into it. So using nothing but ancient writings and original source documents on His life, let me advance the case for Jesus being real and doing the things that people like me believe He did.

Consider the life of Paul, a tent maker from the ancient Turkish city of Tarsus. Paul was a devout Jew who went out of his way to persecute Jesus followers, supported by religious leaders who felt threatened by Jesus and His followers.

But something extraordinary happened to Paul. While travelling to Syria to arrest Jesus followers, ancient documents record Paul having a dramatic, life-changing spiritual encounter with Jesus.

After that, Paul became a fervent Jesus follower and travelled around the Mediterranean region starting churches and mentoring others who believed Jesus was the Son of God.

Think about it: Paul went from being a staunch member of the Jewish religion and culture to someone spurned by his own tribe, a black sheep to be forever shunned. Why would he do that to follow just another person who claimed to be special?

Think about it: travelling around the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago was HUGELY risky. Indeed, in letters he wrote to church leaders, Paul mentions being in prison for his faith, getting whipped five times and beaten three times. He also survived a stoning and several shipwrecks.

Again I ask, why would anyone go through all that? Could anyone possibility be that delusional for more than half his life?  To me, the answer is plain: Paul wasn’t delusional. He was risking it all because he knew Jesus existed and he knew Jesus was – and still is – God’s gift to a sick and broken world.

Think about it: If Paul got rich from his work telling everyone he could about Jesus Christ, his letters – and all other ancient documents – certainly don’t record it. Did he get girls? Again, no mention. Fame? He was probably well known among fellow Jesus followers, but to others he was everything from an annoyance to a serious threat. Thus the jail time (at least five years) and beatings. So, no riches, no girls and only dangerous notoriety. Would you go through all this for someone who didn’t exist?

What about this resurrection thing? Serious Jesus followers believe the original source accounts of Jesus being put to death by Roman soldiers (on the urging of vindictive religious leaders) and coming back to life three days later.

False? Well, consider that in a letter to fellow Jesus followers, Paul writes “After that [His resurrection], Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.

In other words, Paul wrote that there were living witnesses to the resurrection. And as Tom Harper wrote in his book For Christ’s Sake, “Paul is saying those who do not believe him can go and find out for themselves.”

Think about it: was Paul just lying? Was this just more delusions? Paul put his credibility as a Jesus follower on the line with his statement. And there’s no reasonable justification to doubt him.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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WindowForTruth 3.15Sometimes I’m bursting with appreciation for the graphics that atheist people post on the internet. They often present Heaven-sent opportunities to tell people what God and Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is His Son) are all about.

This is one of those glorious opportunities. Here we go:

1. God sends NO ONE to Hell. People send themselves to Hell through the wrong things they’ve done and through the right things they’ve failed to do.

That includes kicking God out of our lives and turning our backs on His gift of Jesus.

2. Even if you ignore my first point, who says God sends everyone to Hell for having an abortion? This graphic conveniently ignores the fact of forgiveness.

Why do I call it a fact? Because Jesus is quite clear about it. One of His earliest followers wrote “if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.”

Please note: this isn’t a scam we can pull on a dimwitted creator. This is serious business and I explain it in detail here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-8n.

3. “Kills His only Son”. First of all, it was Roman authorities who did the killing. They were urged on by manipulative religious authorities who felt threatened by Jesus, His popularity and His disregard for their petty religious rules and regulations.

Secondly, God allowed Jesus to die because a significant part of Jesus’s mission — many people would declare it was the most important part — was to be a sacrifice that would make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Well, it would do that for everyone who accepts the gift of Jesus.

For the people who accept that gift, who declare Jesus to be their Lord, their Saviour and their best friend, God no longer sees our “sins”. He sees only the perfection of His Son.

Why was a death necessary? Because this “sinning” business is deadly stuff, far more lethal than most of us truly understand. And nothing we can do or say or think or pray can make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. All our efforts will always fall short. Always.

So God did the heavy lifting for us by offering the gift of His Son and His sacrifice. So carefully consider everything our culture tells you about life, about right and wrong, about how we should live and about what happens after this life ends. Does it make complete sense in light of a God that loves YOU, offers the gift of Jesus to YOU and wants YOU to spend eternity in Heaven with him?

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

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Freddie Mercury QueenThanks to the advice of a wise friend, I’ve been reading up about rock singer Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), the flamboyant, amazingly talented lead singer of Queen.

Even now, more than 30 years after his death from AIDS-related pneumonia, most of us can hum such classic Queen hits as We Are The Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love or Bohemian Rhapsody. Mercury wrote or co-wrote these and many other songs that are staples of classic rock radio.

By any measure of our culture, Mercury was an over-the-top, break-open-the-champagne success. Fame, wealth, peer recognition and adoring fans were all his.

So what can explain the lyrics in the Queen song The Show Must Go On? Several times, Mercury (who was by then quite ill) sings “What are we living for?”

In addition, during one of his last interviews, Mercury said:

  • “I don’t have any real friends. I don’t think I do. I discard them. People tell me they’re friends, but there we are. I don’t believe them.”
  • “You can be in a crowded area and still be the loneliest person, because you don’t really belong to anyone.”
  • “In fact, my kind of loneliness is the hardest to bear. Loneliness doesn’t mean being shut away in a room by yourself.”

Does this sound like a man who had it all? Despite the approval of our culture, despite the 18-room London mansion, the extraordinary voice and the legion of male and female lovers, Mercury showed me (and you) something important: these are not the stuff of contentment. Indeed, these are lies.

In his last days, did Mercury pursue something deeper and more eternally important? We’ll never know. But it’s not too late for you and me to do that.

Strip away what our culture says is vital (and what Mercury proved is NOT) and you’re left with something very, very controversial. You’re left with God, your creator.

I’ll be bold and declare that beyond friends, parents, relatives, spouses and children, the only relationship that is completely loving and completely permanent (so permanent that it continues beyond this life) is with God.

God created you. And He offers you the gift of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son.

Jesus teaches us how to live — to REALLY live — with such crazy notions as forgiving your enemies, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbour as much as you love yourself, not judging others unless you’re ready to be judged the same way, and doing for others what you want them to do for you.

Jesus did more than teach. He told his followers that for everyone who believes in Him, He would die on a cross to make up for the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do. Then He did it. And original-source documents of His life on Earth say He came back to life.

Just by believing in Him and following Him, you can have Jesus wiping out all your failures, too. And you can have a richer and fuller life NOW. Interested? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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