Archive for June, 2016

Etch A SketchSubmitted for your consideration: The Etch A Sketch.

Those of you of a certain age (i.e. children in the 1960s) will probably remember this fascinating little toy. For everyone else, here is the Wikipedia explanation:

An Etch A Sketch has a thick, flat gray screen in a red plastic frame. There are two knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. Twisting the knobs moves a stylus that displaces aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. 
The knobs create lineographic images. The left control moves the stylus horizontally, and the right one moves it vertically.

Wikipedia goes on to note that Etch A Sketch is one of the best known toys of the 1960s and was later inducted into something called the National Toy Hall of Fame.

So what’s my point? I didn’t give Etch A Sketch much thought until I heard a chaplain use it to illustrate the reality of life and what is to come after this life.

Consider this premise: everyone’s life, including yours, is like an Etch-A-Sketch. Through our thoughts, our actions and our inactions, we twist the knobs to paint a picture of our lives.

Most of us would like to think that the picture we’ve been drawing is pretty attractive. Not perfect, of course, but still pleasing to the eye.

That’s hardly a surprise. North American culture strongly discourages any kind of meaningful examination of all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. We’re taught, by parents, friends, workmates, teachers and the media that we’re all OK. And that’s that.

But is it?

Do something unconventional. Really think about your life, about:

  • All the things you regret
  • Everyone who makes you angry
  • Those moments when you are accused of being petty or harbouring secrets
  • Every behaviour that causes you to react negatively
  • Occasions where you passed up ‘doing the right thing’ because it might inconvenience you or your loved ones
  • The times you quickly, subconsciously decided to avoid telling the exact truth because it might make you look bad.

If you’ve been honest and serious about pondering these things, does your Etch A Sketch picture still look good? Mine looks like a drunk cat went crazy on the control knobs until it passed out. Ya, my picture is that messy. That ugly.

Can you fix this picture on your own? Can I? In a word, NO. We don’t have enough stamina, enough honesty, enough wisdom, enough humility to do what must be done to transform the mess into an attractive picture.

So let me be radical and suggest who can. Prepare yourself, because this really is RADICAL. I’m talking about God, your creator.

He can, and does, fix ugly Etch A Sketch pictures every minute of every day. And here’s how: He offers the gift of Jesus, His Son, to everyone who’s willing to accept Him. No matter how ugly or  disgusting or sickening your picture really, honestly is, when you accept the gift of Jesus, then you hand over the Etch A Sketch controls to God.

The first thing He does is shake the Etch A Sketch to wipe out the old picture. Then He starts drawing a new one. And that picture is beautiful. It shows you as generous, humble, wise, loving and unconcerned about “looking good”.

This picture isn’t drawn overnight. In fact, God won’t finish the picture until you and I are finished with this life and in Heaven with Jesus. So it takes patience.

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

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Bizarro GodThe first thing I did when I saw this cartoon in the newspaper was whip out my iPhone and make a photo. I knew it would be the inspiration to reveal the truth about God. And it is.

No doubt about it, our culture portrays God as “damning” souls to Hell. It’s the easiest and fastest way to figure out “religion” (especially Christianity) and requires the least amount of thought.
But is it the truth?

Consider these facts about the God that Jesus of Nazareth believed in and followed:

1. God is perfect. Many, many people will disagree with this, but that doesn’t change the truth. And that perfection is exemplified through Jesus, who many people believe is God’s Son.

One ancient document states it this simply & clearly: “God’s way is perfect”. In one of the original source documents of Jesus’ physical life on earth, He tells his followers, “What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus’ exemplifies that perfection. Here are quotes, from two of His earliest followers, that serve as illustrations: “He [Jesus] never sinned, and he never told a lie” and “There is no sin in Christ”.

2. God’s standard for all humanity is perfection. One of the men that Jesus personally trained to follower after Him that backs up that statement: “Be holy in everything you do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose you. In the Scriptures God says, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’”.

3. We cannot achieve God’s standard and get into Heaven on our own. I don’t think a single quote from Jesus is needed to prove that point.

4. In the end, we don’t have to be perfect. When we become followers of Jesus — His teachings, His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do) and glorious resurrection, God no longer sees our sins. He sees only His Son’s perfection.

This is a gift, offered to every person on this planet. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done (or not done). Their gender and age don’t matter. Their skin colour doesn’t matter. Their status in society doesn’t matter.

The gift is offered to EVERYONE, with no strings attached. And in my mind, this shows how much God loves me, YOU and every other human being.

So, who does the damning? Maybe it’s everybody who rejects that gift. They declare there is no God, there is no Jesus and there is no gift. By doing this, they can continue living the way they please with no thought to any consequences.

The result is pretty obvious. When this life is done, you come before God — with every single wrong thing you’ve done and every single right thing you’ve failed to do — utterly exposed. And as a result, you fall far, far short of God’s qualification for spending eternity in His presence.

Is this you? Are you choosing to damn yourself by declaring there’s no God and no gift? Maybe that’s how all your friends and loved ones think. But look beyond them; is this really what you want to do?

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

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