Archive for September, 2015

Saying YES Jesus prayWell, how’s THAT for a challenging graphic?

And, as if the words aren’t tough enough, the person who posted the graphic in an internet atheism community added this note: “Remember: God LOVES them, just not enough to help. It’s really OUR fault…”

Stay with me while I unpack all this and, if I do a decent job, point you in an entirely different direction.

1.  Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) didn’t say “no”. He turned to his followers and told us He wants to work through US to say YES.

That’s why there are organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion, International Justice Mission, Food For The Hungry, Christian Medical & Dental Associations and many more.

These organizations provide emergency food, water and shelter after disasters; medical/dental care in desperately poor developing nations; agriculture training for impoverished farmers; basic literacy and vocational education for women.

Some Jesus-following organizations rescue people from slavery and sex trafficking, others put their staff at risk fighting life-threatening diseases like Ebola.

The work of these aid organizations is ongoing and never-ending. In other words, it’s Jesus saying YES, again and again and again.

2.  After reading #1, does it really sound like God loves them, just not enough to help? Really?

3.  The atheist commenter is right: In many, many ways, it’s really OUR fault.

  • WE support economic systems that keep rich nations rich and and poor nations poor.
  • In developed nations like Canada, where I live, WE come up with justifications for greed like “let’s help our poor before we help the poor elsewhere”. Then we DON’T help because “I pay taxes for government social programs to help them.”
    Not only is that ridiculous and stone-hearted, it also ignores the FACT that being poor in countries like Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Sweden, Australia, etc. is NOTHING like being poor in Haiti, Senegal, Somalia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, etc. There’s simply no comparison and no explanation should be necessary.
  • It’s really OUR fault (I’m referring to humanity in general, as opposed to God’s fault) because so many of the politicians, business leaders, bureaucrats and army leaders in struggling countries are horribly corrupt. They simply don’t care if their people are starving.

4.  So after reading all this, maybe you’re thinking “why doesn’t God just fix all this?” Sometimes, I think that too. Then I remember the precious gift of freewill. God gave it to us and human history has proven that He rarely interferes with that gift. No matter how badly we misuse it. Part of the reason for that gift is God wants to have a relationship, through His Son, with free-thinking people like me, YOU and every other human.

I decided to say YES to that relationship because it’s made my life better now and, when this life is finished, it’ll give me eternity with Him in Heaven.

What do YOU say to that relationship offer? Accept or reject, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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religiousWhat if I told you that I’m a serious man of faith who thoroughly, enthusiastically AGREES with this graphic?

Posted on an Internet atheism community, the message is probably aimed at followers of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God).

That said, I certainly don’t take any offence. Being “religious” no more makes a person “good” than going into MacDonald’s makes one a Big Mac.

In fact, I’ll go further and write that being “religious” is far more likely to make a person arrogant, petty, self-righteous and overwhelmingly judgmental.

Such characteristics should not be found in a devoted follower of Jesus. Indeed, one of his earliest followers wrote this:

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.

“We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

Compassion? A conviction that all of God’s creations (no matter how warped or broken they might be) are special? There’s precious little room for that in a person who’s busy being self-righteous and judgmental.

Let me be clear: Jesus followers are a long, long way from anything approaching “perfect”. There are still moments when I find myself spending more time opposing people and positions than supporting their right to free speech.

But that’s okay. Like it or not, all Jesus followers are a work in progress. If we’re serious about this journey with the Son of God, we strive to:

  • Regularly attend church (a hospital for sinners, NOT a museum of saints)
  • Read the original source documents about Jesus’s life on earth (which gives us insights on who God is, why He sent His Son and how we can live our lives like Jesus)
  • Give to charity, because as Jesus tells anyone willing to listen, “Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold … The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”
  • Practise humility and humbleness, because Jesus tells His followers, “For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
  • Tell others about how following Jesus has changed our lives for the better and can do the same for them. Why? Because He clearly instructs his followers to “go everywhere in the world. Tell the Good News (about God and eternal life in Heaven) to everyone.”

That’s why I’m writing this essay for YOU to read. I want you to experience the same positive life change as me. I want you to know, like I know, that God loves YOU passionately and offers YOU the gift of His Son.

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

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Christianity asking questionsWhen I found this graphic (kindly supplied by an Internet atheist community), my first thought was “All the answers? Wouldn’t that be nice!”

I can’t write about other faiths, but I can write about mine. As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth — who many people believe is God’s divine Son — I have all kinds of questions for which I’ve never found the answers. And likely never will.

Questions about the Bible. Questions about why Jesus did — and did not — do certain things. Questions about why this world is the way it is and why things never seem to really change.

I suspect most other Jesus followers have questions similar to mine. So right from the get-go, following Jesus is not among the faiths — I have no interest in ‘religion’ and here’s why: http://bit.ly/ReligionSlavery — that are targeted in this graphic.

In fact, there are examples of people asking challenging, emotional questions right in the Bible:

From a section called ‘Psalms’ – My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

While He hung on a Roman cross, convicted of trumped-up charges, Jesus cried out a similar question – My God, my God, why have You left me alone?

Also from Psalms – Lord, how long until You heal me? Lord, why do You stay so far away? Why do You hide from people in times of trouble? How long will You forget me, Lord? Will You forget me forever?

These are just a few examples of people in the Bible who felt no restrictions on asking tough questions. In fact, if the Son of God could ask such a difficult question, why can’t the rest of humanity?

This freedom is just one reason why, in my 40s, I decided to follow Jesus. Now maybe you’re thinking “Ya, but you didn’t get your questions answered. So where’s the upside to your argument?”

The upside is my unanswered questions are a powerful, and very necessary, reminder that God is God. And I am NOT. An ancient prophet stated it very clearly: The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

Another upside? A wise pastor friend told me that, when this life is done, all my questions likely won’t matter anymore. I’ll be in Heaven for all eternity with Jesus. Questions? What questions?

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

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