Archive for April, 2016

religion as cerealI imagine if you’re opposed to “religion” (as I am), then this graphic makes a great deal of sense.

So let’s not talk about “religion”, which is all about following rules, looking good in public and casting sanctimonious judgement on people who might not have it all together. Oh, and forcing people to follow your religion or you’ll kill them and burn down their homes and places of worship.

Let’s talk about faith instead. The briefest and most casual examination might suggest they’re all the same. But I’m going to assume you’re reading this blog because you want to go deeper and get closer to the truth.

No matter what anyone claims, the truth is the world’s faiths are so NOT the same. In fact, after a few commonalities between Judaism, Islam and Christianity, there is very little in common between the world’s faiths.

Wait a second, you say. Don’t all the major faiths believe in what most of us know as the Golden Rule? Yes. But even here there’s a difference. Consider what I found on Wikipedia:

  • Islam – Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself
  • Buddhism – One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self
  • Hinduism – Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
  • Sikhism – If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart

None of these advance a positive action. The closest is Islam, but it’s not about action, just wishing. Contrast this with Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son. He tells everyone who will listen to “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. That’s from one of the original source documents of His life and it’s all about action. Not wishing. Not avoiding anything bad. Actually DOING GOOD.

What else is different? According to the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website, “Islam teaches that Jesus is not God in flesh–where Christianity does. Some religions teach that we reincarnate, while others do not. Some teach there is a Hell, and others do not.”

Here’s another significant difference: many faiths advance the notion of us reaching up to God, especially by doing good things and avoiding bad things.

Indeed, the reincarnation belief of Buddhism (which includes the scary notion of Karma) and Hinduism suggest your behaviour dictates the form of your reincarnation. Given how horribly imperfect we ALL are, reincarnation strikes me as very, very unpleasant.

Following Jesus is exactly opposite because it claims that God reaches down to us and offers to pull us up to Him. How? Certainly not by doing good and avoiding bad, because we can never do enough and avoid enough to pass God’s inspection.

Instead, God reaches down through Jesus – His life and teachings, His sacrificial death and His resurrection. Like Jesus Himself, that death and resurrection are gifts to anyone willing to accept them. And when we accept them, God sees us like he sees Jesus: perfect in every way.

That strikes me as a pretty good deal because accepting that gift doesn’t just mean I go to Heaven when I die. It means Jesus comes into my life and starts to change me NOW.

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

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Jeffrey DahmerWhen I saw this graphic, on an Internet atheism community, the first thing I did was check to confirm its message. And that message is true.

If your memory is foggy (or you weren’t born yet), here are the horrifying facts: between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer raped, murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys in the American state of Wisconsin.

Deemed sane enough to stand trial, Dahmer was convicted of 16 murders and received life sentences for each one.

While in a maximum security prison, Dahmer began reading the Bible and in May 1994, he was baptized.

Dahmer had weekly visits with his pastor until November of ’94, when he was murdered by another inmate.

So there are the dry facts, the “highlights” of which were used in this graphic to express disgust without having to include a single adjective or exclamation mark.

Do I understand how nauseating the point of this graphic is to most people? Absolutely. Looking beyond the emotion, do I believe the statements in the graphic? Absolutely. Indeed, this reality is among the most important reasons that I call myself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son).

If you’re still with me and you believe in God, think about this: do you really want the creator and master of time, space and the universe to be consumed by the hatred, pettiness, hard-heartedness and lack of mercy to which we human beings so often cling?

I can tell you right now that I would not follow Jesus if His Father was no better than His creations. What would be the point? God would not deserve my love and worship.

So the truth of Jeffery’s Dahmer’s prison life shows me the depth of God’s love and concern for ALL of humanity. He wants everyone, including YOU, to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

But how could that be possible when we all fall short of God’s standard of perfection? Every one of us has done wrong and failed to do right — so often, in fact, that there’s no way we can ever explain them all away or make up for them. In other words, we’re doomed.

Granted, I’m pretty certain no one reading this blog has even considered committing anything like the vile acts that Jeffery Dahmer did. But like it or not, that’s NOT the point. We’re still busted.

But God doesn’t want us to be busted. He wants us to spend eternity with Him. So He sent Jesus to earth to teach us about God, to show us how to live and, finally, to die as punishment for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

Believe in Jesus, commit yourself to following Him and when this life ends, God will see YOU just like he saw Jeffrey Dahmer: perfect, exactly like His Son. Without a single blemish. And He’ll welcome you into eternity with Him.

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

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Weekend_at_BerniesSomebody mentioned it a week or so ago and since then, I’ve been thinking about the 1989 American cult movie favourite Weekend at Bernie’s.

If you know anything about this comedy (and its 1993 sequel), you’ll know it’s hardly a cinematic classic. Basically, Larry and Richard do their best to make it seem like their corrupt boss (Bernie) is alive and partying because the boss ordered them to be killed unless he – the boss – stays alive.

What follows are various hijinks as Bernie the corpse appears to be partying at his mansion and even having sex. Oh, and Bernie has a habit of disappearing, causing no end of trouble for Larry and Richard. You’ve probably figured out by now that this ain’t Casablanca or Citizen Kane.

But something about the movie’s theme struck me. We all are trying to hide something, to put on appearances and make things seem real to others when we know very well the opposite is true.

For Larry and Richard, it was making a corpse appear to be alive. For you and me, it might be pretending we’re better people than we really are. More compassionate and less judgmental, more generous and less petty, more interested in doing what’s right and less interested in serving our own greedy “needs”.

We know the truth, but if we can just fool others, then we’ll:

  • qualify for the raise in pay
  • get the girl (or guy) we desire
  • gain the favour of someone with power and influence
  • earn the promotion we’ve long wanted
  • win the respect of others.

Now consider this: if you believe in a creator, maybe that creator is personally interested in YOU. And that creator knows you better than you know yourself.

Followers of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) believe God knows everything about us. We also believe He is perfect and that’s His standard for judging every person on this planet.

If that’s the case, what are you going to do with the knowledge that all the flaws you’ve carefully hidden from the world are absolutely out in the open with Him? How are you going to explain them away?

You may not like the answer, but here it is: you CAN’T. No one on this planet, no matter how virtuous they seem, can. No one is good enough to get into Heaven.

So here’s the good news: you don’t have to be. God made a way for every person to spend eternity with Him, no matter how good or bad they are. And that way is Jesus.

By dying on a Roman cross, Jesus paid the penalty for EVERY bad thing we’ve done and EVERY good thing we’ve failed to do. Our only obligation is accept what He did. Believe in what He did. And know that He is alive and ready to work in your heart RIGHT NOW.

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

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