Archive for June, 2015

Jennifer Fulwiler atheism ChristianityFor life-long atheist Jennifer Fulwiler, the pivotal moment came when she held her first child for the first time.

“I looked down and thought ‘what is this baby’?” she recalled in a YouTube video. “From a pure atheist, materialist perspective, he is a collection of randomly evolved chemical reactions.

“I realized if that’s true, then all the love I feel for him is nothing more than chemical reactions in my brain. I looked down at him and I realized, ‘that’s not true’. It’s not the truth.”

Jennifer went on to research the world’s major faiths, but considered Christianity not worth the bother. Then her husband suggested she investigate Christianity because one of its most significant claims — that Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh — would be easy to disprove if it wasn’t true.

So she did. Jennifer discovered a world of deeply intellectual thinkers (like Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo) who were also serious Jesus followers.

Men like them made such a compelling, reason-based case for the life, death and resurrection of Christ that, in Jennifer’s words, “I started to think something world-changing happened in first-century Palestine.”

Jennifer realized that atheists “don’t have the lock on reason that I thought. Christians had all the knowledge of science, but they have the total picture of the human experience — love and triumph and hope. Christians could articulate that in a way that atheists couldn’t.”

The result of all this is Jennifer went from denying there is a creator, to becoming a serious follower of the man who many people believe is the Son of God.

Why do all this? Let me make it clear that following Jesus can be hard, especially when most of the world (sometimes including your family and friends) doesn’t follow Him and you can be mocked or even disowned for your beliefs.

As far as I’m concerned, the upside more than compensates. When I decided to follow Jesus, little things immediately changed (I stopped cursing and swearing) and bigger things followed (my wife and I have a firm commitment to donate regularly to charities and to our church).

In other words, like me, you’ll get a new perspective on life. The holy grails of our culture — gaining power and prestige, buying a bigger house, going on expensive cruises, having the latest iPhone — will start to look shallow and pointless.

You’ll start living for the approval of your creator, who the Bible says “loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in his Son would not be lost, but have eternal life.”

And as you start living for God and start attending a church regularly, you’ll be surrounded by others who are also in the midst of being transformed by following Jesus.

Finally, when this life is over, you’ll have real and solid hope that you won’t become nothing more than rancid worm food. You’ll become a citizen of Heaven.

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

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TruthOfMotivation 6.15What’s your motivation to do good? I wondered about that after encountering this meme.

Is it true that people who follow Jesus of Nazareth — who many people consider to be God’s Son — do good only because of fear and a desire of eternal reward in Heaven?

Here’s the answer: Almost all Jesus followers are motivated by faith and trust in Jesus. In the primary source documents about His life on earth, Jesus told His followers stuff like this:

  • Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God.
  • Whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
  • Be generous. Give to the poor.

It’s statements like these, and many more, that inspire millions of Jesus followers to fuel the work of organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion Canada, World Vision, Food For The Hungry, International Justice Mission, World Relief Canada and many more.

Most Jesus followers keep in mind this key statement, found in one of the primary source documents about Jesus: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Jesus, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Since God loves the world (and that means EVERYONE in it), then those who follow God’s Son should have the same attitude.

Is it true that atheists only do “the right thing” because “it’s the human thing to do”? Well, let’s look at the truth: figuring out what is right is very often like staring into a mud puddle. What’s right for one person (atheist or otherwise) is often quite wrong for another. Just a few bloodcurdling examples:

  • In Nazi Germany, the right thing to do was imprison, torture and exterminate millions of Jews, gypsies, Slavic people, homosexuals, Jesus followers and many other groups.
  • In 1994 Rwanda, the right thing to do, for thousands of Hutu people, was slaughter members of the Tutsi tribe. As many as a million died before the massacre ended.
  • During the 1970s in Cambodia, the right thing to do, for many thousands of members of the Pol Pot regime, was execute, starve and torture more than a million people.

When I consider all this, it makes sense to decide what is good or right by following the one person who always had (and has) it figured out: Jesus of Nazareth.

By following in Jesus and trusting in what He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection, you’ll find yourself doing good things. Why? Because when you believe in Jesus, your life will be, in a word, transformed. Now and for all eternity.

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

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faithIf I’ve learned anything during my years of writing about faith, it’s that there are folks out there who absolutely DETEST that word.

Most of those people would vigorously agree with the graphic that inspired this essay, which I found on an Internet atheism community.

Maybe you’ve never given the word much thought, but now that you’ve read the graphic, you’re thinking “ya, it’s all about ignorance!”.

So let’s look at the word for a moment. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines faith as: 1. complete trust or confidence; 2. firm, especially religious, belief; 3. religion or creed; 4. loyalty, trustworthiness.

First off, I want nothing to do with “religion” and this blog explains why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-eu.

Secondly, would anyone in their right mind credibly call someone like Henry Schaefer ignorant? Schaefer, a chemist, earned the 1979 American Chemical Society Award in pure chemistry. He also wrote Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?

Here’s another person that no thinking person could ever label ignorant: Ard Louis teaches theoretical physics at Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Before that, he managed to get rid of just enough ignorance to teach theoretical chemistry at Cambridge University.

What do Schaefer and Louis have in common? They follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. And there are many, many more Jesus followers who are making contributions in chemistry, physics, engineering and biomedical sciences.

Schaefer and Louis have what the Pocket Oxford calls “complete trust or confidence” in Jesus — His teachings, His death, His resurrection and the truth of what He said about His creator (who also happens to be your creator).

So what isn’t faith? A pastor at my church, Henry Shore, laid it out:

  • Faith is not a positive mental attitude.
  • Faith is not a belief in a force or in a formula
  • Faith is not psyching yourself up with wishful thinking
  • Faith is not believing I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.
  • Faith is not believing if I believe hard enough, like some TV preachers would have us believe, then it’ll become a reality.
  • Faith is not faith in our words, it is not faith in ourselves, it is not faith in faith.
  • True faith is in God. The focus isn’t on the faith; but on the object of our faith.

From a Jesus perspective, faith is having firm belief — based on a mix of evidence and belief — that there is a creator for all that you and I see and experience. And that creator offers you and me a gift: Jesus.

Look into that gift. Talk to knowledgeable Jesus followers about Him. Despite what your friends and family may tell you, this is important and serious stuff. And it’s good news.

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Albert Einstein God quoteDid Albert Einstein believe in God?

A quick Internet search reveals this question has been debated for many decades, even before the famed physicist (1879-1955) and secular Jew died.

According to Wikipedia, Einstein used many labels to describe his “religious” views, including agnostic (one who simply doesn’t know if there’s a God) and religious nonbeliever (which appears to be pursuing inner spirituality without any connection to a creator).

Whichever term you prefer, I get the feeling Einstein lived most, if not all, of his life as if there was no God. In other words, he likely had more in common with atheists than with people of faith.

All that said, what about the quote in the graphic that inspired this essay? In some ways, he and I are in absolute agreement.

I am weak. Just like every other person on this planet. Fear, mistrust and self-doubt are part of my makeup. Just as they are part of yours.

So rather than God being a product of my human weakness, God is the solution — but not the sort of distant, disinterested creator that Einstein may or may not have believed in. (Wikipedia’s Einstein entry indicates he once wrote, “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this.”)

A creator who simply winds up the universe like a clock, then walks away and lets it run with no concern or involvement is not a creator I would bother with. Would you?

But a creator that inspired and energized the entire life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s son)? Ah, that’s a God who’s making a difference in this broken world.

According to the Bible (which a majority of Christians take very seriously), that God offers this world a gift: Jesus, his life, teachings, sacrificial death and resurrection.

In ‘John’, one of four Bible accounts of Jesus life, a creator who cares about this world and everyone in it, “didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He [Jesus] came to help, to put the world right again.

Because all of us are weak, because all of us do wrong and fail to do right, I call that good news. And by accepting the gift of Jesus, we accept a perfect, eternal source of energy, confidence and love to help us overcome our weaknesses.

In addition, we have the encouragement (and often, the example) of other Jesus followers. When I join them in church, in prayer/discussion groups, in trips to help people in the developing world, I benefit from (and help contribute to) a synergy: the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you want to get in on this? Yes or no, type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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