Archive for August, 2015

Aug. 2015I guess there are some atheists out there who believe that people of faith are just gritting their teeth and tolerating this nauseating existence before going on to unending glory in the life to come.

But from my perspective as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s divine Son), atheists and Jesus followers have “life before death” as a common belief.

Let me make this as clear as possible: while life after death is of supreme importance, life BEFORE death is just as significant.

How can I write that? Consider these words of Jesus, recorded in one of the primary source documents about His life: “I came to give life—life that is full and good.”

He’s not talking about life after death; He’s talking about life RIGHT NOW.

So what does that mean?

1.  Life becomes full and good because you’ve join a worldwide movement of believers. So you don’t have to make a go of it solo. You can attend a church, read about Jesus, regularly pray with (and for) others and support each other through good times and bad.

2.  Life becomes full and good because you have a new power that helps you set aside the meaningless, superficial priorities of our culture and focus on what’s truly important.

So you are put on a path to stop worrying about whether you have a new car, the latest smartphone and the biggest flat-screen TV. You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness because you realize that happiness comes through following Jesus.

3.  Life becomes full and good because you have a pathway to becoming truly generous. It’s no longer about getting a charitable tax break or seeking something in return when you give. It’s about being Jesus’s ambassador in a world most of us are willing to admit isn’t doing very well.

4.  Life become full and good when you realize that the 70-odd years most of us spend on this planet is merely a blip in time compared to the eternity Jesus followers have in Heaven with Jesus.

The blessing of that perspective means we no longer have to put so much stake in every good or bad thing that happens to us in this life. We see the bigger picture and it changes everything.

5.  Life become full and good because you realize that Jesus died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. So the burden of guilt and shame is lifted from you; God sees you as He sees His Son: perfect in every way.

(This blog highlights an amazing example of the power of God’s forgiveness: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.)

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat this and claim followers of Jesus float on a cloud of bliss. Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”

That means the world doesn’t automatically have the final say on your life. If you decide to follower Jesus, then HE has the final say. And that final say is glorious.

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

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Open mindedAccording to Dictionary.com, to be open-minded is to have have or show a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments. It also means being unprejudiced, unbigoted and impartial.

As I pondered these definitions and looked at the message of the graphic above (posted in an internet atheism community), I realized something: being fully, completely open-minded is absolutely impossible.

First of all, consider the person who created this graphic. The arbitrary words make it clear: he or she is close-minded when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God). It’s easy to make this statement because he or she didn’t write “Most open-minded Christians probably won’t (or might not) be a Christian for long”.

The wording in this graph sounds like a fact — which the author certainly cannot prove. And sadly, from my interactions with online atheists, I can tell you that a majority of them are all about proof. Ironically, most of these people are close-minded to anything else.

Secondly, the thing about Christianity is it can’t be proven. And I don’t regard that as a bad thing. In fact, I think the lack of conclusive, scientific proof about Christianity is no accident. If God is about anything, He is about free will. Make Christianity provable and at that moment, free will is gone.

A lack of free will means atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics and everyone else who doesn’t follow Jesus can’t be who they are — since they’ve all been proven wrong.

God has shown again and again that He’s not interested in goose-stepping robots. He’s interested in an eternal relationship, through Jesus, with free-thinking, overwhelmingly imperfect people who realize they’ll never really get their lives together without Jesus. In other words, people like YOU and me.

I like how famed British writer and thinker G.K. Chesterton wrote about being open-minded: “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

That’s what I did when I decided, at age 41, to follow Jesus. He’s as solid as I (and many millions of others around the world) need Him to be.

Making that decision didn’t mean I suddenly lost respect for those who don’t follow Jesus. In fact, I’m called to love them just as God loves them and offers His Son to them as a gift.

What happens when you accept that gift? If you’re serious about it, your life should begin to change almost immediately. In my case, I effortlessly stopped using offensive language. And that was just the start.

With Jesus in my life, I became more generous. I changed jobs to one that is focused on telling people about Jesus. I married a woman who is also committed to Jesus.

More changes are coming. In fact, those changes won’t end until I’m finished with this life and go to Heaven to spend eternity in God’s presence.

The same can happen to you. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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end of the worldI am just LOVING the photos used to illustrate the point in this meme, found on an internet atheism community.

Apparently as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), I’m rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation of a nuclear holocaust annihilating our world. And I have no use for gloriously sunny summer days. Yech. Where’s my wonderful atomic bomb? 😉

OK, now that we’ve had a laugh, consider this: in all my years of being a Jesus follower, I’ve never met a single person who’s counting the days ’til God puts an end to this planet.

Not even one.

Oh, I’m sure there are a few out there; maybe they’re holed up in some bizarre, remote compound with guns and emergency supplies (which wouldn’t make sense; what use would that stuff be if the world ended?). But they’re a rare and possibly damaged breed.

The rest of us are enjoying the same beautiful places that atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and agnostics appreciate. The only difference is most Jesus followers are keenly aware of who is behind not just sunny days, but every kind of day: the Creator and master of time, space and the universe.

That means the most beautiful day for Jesus followers is every day. Just like it is for the person who created this meme.

All that said, there is a grain of truth here: the end of the world is coming. Sadly, there is an industry out there amongst some Jesus followers who damage the credibility of Jesus by trying to predict that time.

All they — and you — have to do is read this excerpt from one of the original-source biographies of Jesus: “No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when that day or time will be. Only the Father knows.”

These are the words of Jesus. So why waste time trying to figure it out? Instead, I keep in mind these words of a man whom Jesus personally taught to follow Him: “God is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

That’s right. YOU, and millions of other people who don’t follow Jesus, are the reason this broken, sputtering world is still lurching forward.

If you believe there’s nothing beyond this life — and when you die, ALL that you are will become nothing more than worm food — then maybe these “holdouts” are a good thing to you.

But if you somehow know there MUST be more than 75 years of eating, sleeping, working, having children, getting sick and leaving behind all your precious possessions, then it’s worth seriously checking out Jesus.

He’s a gift, offered to every person on this planet, no matter how “good” or “bad” they (and YOU) are, how rich or poor you are, how joyous or miserable you are. That gift leads to eternal life in Heaven with Jesus. Look into it, ’cause no matter what our culture insists, this is the most important investigation you can ever undertake.

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10440724_10152229802268262_1660947865292267107_nIndoctrination: the act of indoctrinating, or teaching or inculcating a doctrine, principle, or ideology, especially one with a specific point of view – Dictionary.com

I found this graphic on an Internet atheism community, so it’s probably aimed at people of faith. The inference is clear: believing in a loving creator is false, so the only way to make it acceptable is to brainwash young minds that don’t know any better.

If that’s true, then how does one explain Rosalind Picard? According to Wikipedia, she’s a professor of media arts and sciences at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Picard is also director and founder of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, co-director of the Things That Think Consortium, and chief scientist and co-founder of Affectiva, an emotion measurement technology company.

Here’s the kicker: Picard, 60, says she was raised an atheist, but converted to Christianity as a young adult. So is it fair to say she was indoctrinated to believe there is no God? And if that’s true, why did this brilliant scientific mind go in the opposite direction – and stay there?

Let’s be honest here: absolutely EVERYONE gets certain ideas hammered into their minds while they’re young and defenceless. Deny it if you want, but think hard about your life.

  • If you live in a developed country, wasn’t it likely you were indoctrinated with the virtues of capitalism and democracy?
  • If your father abandoned your mother at a very young age, isn’t it possible you were indoctrinated to believe that he (and often, by extension, all men) are self-centred and irresponsible?
  • If you live in certain Middle Eastern countries, isn’t it quite feasible that you were indoctrinated to think of the United States — and by extension, the entire “west” — as immoral and evil?

In each of these cases, the truth didn’t matter very much. The world was seen through biased eyes, just as I believe the graphic that sparked this essay was created with a deep-seeded bias.

So, if you’ve given this some thought and realize you’ve had a long bias against following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the divine Son of God), then maybe this is the time to investigate this whole Jesus thing with an open mind.

Why Jesus and not other faiths? Consider these facts:
1.  Eight hugely important predictions about Jesus, made in ancient documents, came true. Among these were where Jesus was born, the fact He would be betrayed by a friend, that He would be crucified and that He would be resurrected.

2.  Jesus said that He alone was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can find God without Him. Nice claim, but what backs it up? Original-source documents about His physical life on earth detail all kinds of miracles performed by Jesus, including healing diseases, restoring sight, feeding thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread & fish and coming back from the dead.

3.  As the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (www.carm.org) explains, “Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Krishna did not rise from the dead.  Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God and raised others from the dead. Why trust anyone else?”

So what makes all this credible? Simply read about the life of one of Jesus’s most devoted followers, Paul of Tarsus. I write about him, and how he is a testament to Jesus’s reality, here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-g3

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