Archive for October, 2015

What About Money? Usually, when I encounter graphics on internet atheism communities, they’re created by people who know the Bible as well (if not better) than many Jesus followers.

Sadly, whoever is responsible for this one is an exception.

The actual quote, from a section of the Bible called ‘1 Timothy’, goes like this: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

Now I’m not surprised that this truth was misstated. Many of us have heard it put exactly how it is in the graphic. But I’m sure you can see the significant difference.

Money never has been and never will be the root of all evil. Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God, never said it was.

But He did state this, in an original-source biography of of His physical life on earth: “You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one and love the other, or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other. You cannot serve God and money at the same time.”

Whether or not you care about Jesus, His point is absolutely worth considering. Do you ‘serve’ money? When all is said and done, is it the driving force in your life? Is it the driving force in mine? It’s a good question for us to consider frequently because the more you love money:

  • The more you’ll do to get as much of it as possible.
  • The more you’ll sacrifice in your family and personal life.
  • The more you’ll turn a blind eye to the wrong things you do (and the right things you fail to do).
  • The more you’ll listen to people who are similarly driven to get more.

Think about all these things.

The accurate Bible quote about money that I mentioned above kinda negates the question posed in this graphic. But I’ll tackle it just the same.

Churches ask for money because it’s mandated in ancient documents. One of the four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth (may people believe He is still here, in spirit), notes this scene:

“Jesus looked up and saw some rich people putting their gifts to God into the Temple collection box. Then he saw a poor widow put two small copper coins into the box. He said [to his followers], ‘This poor widow gave only two small coins. But the truth is, she gave more than all those rich people. They have plenty, and they gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on’.”

Note two things about this excerpt:
1.  Jesus has nothing negative to say about giving to a “religious” institution.
2.  He makes a very clear point about what giving really means.

Beyond churches needing money to keep the lights on and (in Canada, where I live) the winter snow out of the parking lot, churches ask for money to do good.

For example, the church I attend has a million-dollar annual budget to support more than 20 non-profit organizations. These organizations supply food to the hungry, help troubled teens, provide emergency disaster relief, support churches in the developing world and much more.

Most churches that are truly committed to following Jesus are just like mine. God loves everyone — including the atheist who created the graphic that inspired this blog — so churches and the people who attend should show the same love.

Do we fall short on this? Absolutely. But please remember: churches are not museums for saints; they’re hospitals for sinners.

As far as I can see, every person on this planet is a long way from perfect. But by following Jesus and allowing Him to work in your life, you can come closer to sainthood. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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When I first saw this graphic, generously shared on an atheist internet community, my first reaction was “Hmm…wonder where I could buy a great shirt like this?”

I’m a person of faith who knows the world needs a cure for “religion”. You know, all that stuff that says you can torture, rape and kill ‘unbelievers’. (Or worse still, people who leave my “religion” for another “religion”.)

Am I overstating it? Then let’s examine the “religious” part of just one faith, Christianity. You may have experienced it:

  • People who appear to have it all together sitting in cold-hearted judgement of others.
  • People who sniff their disapproval of those with tattoos or nose rings.
  • People who claim they welcome others to their churches — as long as those people fit in, ’cause hey, we’re certainly NOT going to change for YOU.
  • People who seem to spend more time angrily opposing things than lovingly offering an alternative.

All this is how I see “religion”.

Is there a cure? Absolutely, but it’s controversial. It’s Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s divine Son.

Still with me, but wondering what the heck I’m writing about? Good.

During His physical time on earth, Jesus had little use for the rituals of “religion” and the self-righteous, soulless lives it so often produces.

In  one of the four original-source biographies of Jesus’ life, He says this to people like you and me: “Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.”

In his book The End of Religion, Canadian pastor Bruxy Cavey writes “Notice how Jesus is not pointing toward a different and better religion, but instead He invites us to Himself as an alternative to the weary way of religion.”

Exactly. That’s the thing you might not know: being a Jesus follower isn’t about a religion. It’s about a person and how you and I can have a relationship with Him that starts in this life and stretches into eternity.

That means no guilt-induced rituals that create nothing but spiritual fatigue. It also means thoughtfully, consciously turning away from the elitism of “us versus them” and the smugness of judgmentalism.

When people honestly, humbly come to Jesus, they come knowing they are every bit as imperfect as the people they are tempted to judge. They come with the realization that it’s them who must change.

That was the case for me when I decided to believe in and follow Jesus at age 42. And it’s made me a better person.

Do you want to be a better person without the shackles of religion? Then check out Jesus, because He tells everyone who will listen that “anyone who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again. The water I give people will be like a spring flowing inside them. It will bring them eternal life.”

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

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ImpressingYourselfWhen I encountered this graphic, posted on Facebook by a cousin, the rusty cogs in my mind started to creak.

Will people judge me (and you?) Absolutely. Like it or not, ALL of us judge — each other, what we watch on TV or the Internet, what we hear on the radio, what we read in tweets, Facebook posts or text messages.

We judge (often without realizing it) words, appearances, clothing, hairstyles, actions, possessions — you name it. There pretty much isn’t anything we don’t judge (or assess, if you prefer that term).

There’s something I found that addresses this tendency and provides wise words that can serve anyone well.

Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.” (From one of the original-source biographies of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God).

Most of us have heard the first part (another translation phrases it like this: judge not, lest you be judged), but the second part is just as important. Since all us judge, the key is HOW do we judge? Is it with wisdom, maturity and compassion?

As a Jesus follower, I know that’s how I want God to judge me when this life is finished. So I should be asking His help to make me the right kind of judge.

What about the rest of the graphic? Does it really make sense to live your life to impress yourself? What does that really mean?

For some people, it might mean impressing yourself with a big house, vehicles that make your neighbours drool with envy and at least one ridiculously large flat-screen TV.

Other people might look in the mirror and be impressed with what they see if they have a trophy wife (or husband) glued to their arm like eye candy.

What about careers and professional achievement? Does the title “chief executive officer”, “chairman of the board” or “PhD” on a business card impress you?

One of the reasons I follow Jesus is because I know that the Creator of time, space and the universe is so NOT impressed by the things that our culture considers impressive.

Another ancient prophet points out this life-changing truth: “People judge others by what they look like, but I [God] judge people by what is in their hearts.”

What’s in my heart? Like most other people, I can be petty, jealous, resentful, lazy and self-centred. That’s why I believe in, and follow, Jesus.

By following Jesus, I give Him permission to come into my life and begin a transformation — making me more like Him and less like the world. So I’m slowly becoming LESS petty, jealous, resentful, lazy and self-centred.

And because I follow Jesus, when my life on this earth is done and I go to meet God, He won’t see my faults. He’ll only see His Son’s perfection. And I’ll be welcome into Heaven to spend eternity with Jesus.

Does this sound attractive? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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