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Archive for January, 2017

Bill HicksWhat would Bill Hicks think if he knew his words were still having an impact more than 20 years after his death?

The American comedian and social critic (1961-1994) wasn’t an atheist but, as you can read in this graphic meme (found in an atheist Internet community), he was no fan of his Christian upbringing.

But did Bill get it right? Is this an accurate depiction of God, as serious Christians understand Him? Or is it a simplistic way to avoid a life of faith?

Let me spell out some facts about the God of the Bible, then you can make up your own mind.

1. God is the creator of time, space, the universe and YOU. You say your parents, not God, made you? Certainly. But what – or who – gave them and all humans the ability to reproduce?

2. Yes, God’s love is infinite. To start with, there are lots of sections of the Bible that explain this. Here is one, from a section called ‘1 John1: “God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them.” Another quote from the same section: “We should love each other, because love comes from God.”

3. God is perfect. A section of the Bible, called, ‘Matthew’, puts it this simply: “your Father in heaven is perfect”.
Do I understand how this can be so in a world that has childhood cancer and dementia? Certainly not. But I’ve read so much from people who rage against God for these things; it all strikes me as a depressing waste of time and energy.
Far better, I’ve found, is to acknowledge that God is God and I am NOT and there is much that I’ll never understand until this life is finished.

4. As the creator of this world and everyone in it, God has the right to hold all of us to account for how we live our lives. He is the sole judge.

5. On our own, we will never, ever be able to explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do.

6. God knows we can’t meet His standards. But rather than drop His standards, He found a better way: send His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to this world. Jesus taught us the ways of God and the ways of true love for God, for ourselves and for others.
Finally, Jesus paid the penalty for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do by dying on a cross.

7. Here’s the crux of the matter. One of the most famous quotes from the Bible, in a section called ‘John’, says “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.”
Notice that it says ‘whoever believes in him’? If you believe in Jesus and trust in what He did for YOU, then God no longer sees the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. He only sees His Son’s perfection.

8. If you don’t trust in and believe in Jesus, then when this life ends, you have to sufficiently explain yourself before God. If you can’t pull that off (and trust me, you CAN’T), then you face eternity separated from God. I guess that’s the “eternal suffering” part of Bill Hicks’ quote.

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

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Religion badWhy did I save this graphic after first seeing it in an atheist community? Because I can do better.

Yes, “religion” offers false hope for the poor. Yes, “religion” offers pretend wisdom for the stupid.

But it also offers opportunities to be judgemental. Hard-hearted. Unforgiving. Obsessed with keeping irrelevant rules. Unloving of anyone outside the “religious” group.

Had enough? I certainly have. That’s why I’ll always stand up, with any member of the atheist world, and declare that “religion” is downright horrible.

Before I go any further, let me clarify: the “religion” I’m referring to is what most of our culture generally thinks of when they hear the word. NOT the dictionary definition.

Let me move you on to something far more life-affirming, soul-enhancing and character-building: faith. In this case, faith in Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God.

Jesus had as much interest in “religion” as you, me and the creator of the meme that inspired this blog. In other words, ZERO.

During His physical time on earth, Jesus spent much of his time opposing the dominant religious authorities in ancient Israel. In ‘Matthew’, one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life, he notes “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden”.

Yep. Nailed it.

So what about faith – in this case, faith in Jesus? Now we’re talking about something entirely different. We’re talking about:

  • Understanding who God is – the perfect and mysterious creator of time, space and the universe.
  • Understanding who we are – horribly imperfect people who can never live up to God’s standard of perfection.
  • Understanding who Jesus is – God’s absolutely perfect love GIFT to everyone who is willing to believe in Him and follow Him above everyone and everything else.

When you understand this and accept the gift of Jesus, you also understand that you no longer have to live up to God’s standard of perfection because Jesus paid the penalty for everything wrong you’ve ever done and everything right you’ve ever failed to do.

Finally, when you understand all this, you’ll want to become more like Jesus. You’ll want to be more generous and less selfish, more compassionate and less judgemental, more concerned about others and less preoccupied with yourself.

This is all part of the miracle that happens when you cast aside the priorities of our culture and make Jesus your priority. It’s a life-long process of change and growth that doesn’t end until you’re finished with this life and start your next life – eternity in the transforming, glorious presence of your Creator.

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

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ChristeningI find it hard to believe that anyone still thinks like this. But sadly, there continues to be parents who believe that dipping their baby in water at a church will keep the little beaner out of hell.

That’s why, when I saw this graphic in an atheist community, I saved it for Frank’s Cottage. This is a good opportunity to tell you the truth about christenings, baptisms and many other traditions associated with the Christian faith.

Let me make it absolutely clear (and I’m supported by the Bible): christenings and baptisms don’t save you from ANYTHING. They save you from ZERO. Nothing.

In fact, they are as essential to Christianity as a screen door is to a submarine.

So what’s the point?

If christenings are done with the right motivation and understanding, then they serve to make a public statement on behalf of parents: they tell a church congregation that the parents are committed to raising their child with Christian values and with a full understanding of who Jesus is and what He continues to accomplish in this world.

In other words, it’s a commitment that, in Bible-believing churches, will hold the parents accountable for how their raise their child. From this perspective, a christening is absolutely a good thing.

Baptisms? This is also public statement, making it clear to everyone who witnesses the ritual of immersing your entire body in water that you have washed away the “old” you to make way for the “new” you.

This new you believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do.

This might seem just symbolic, but consider this: Jesus Christ Himself insisted on getting baptized. At first, the man who baptized Jesus insisted he wasn’t worthy. Here is Jesus’s response, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’: But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”

And so it was done. But please note, this still doesn’t mean getting baptized is the key to Heaven. Baptism happens as a result of a change of heart and mind. It’s evidence of what has already happened. And that certainly applies to the baptism of Jesus.

In fact, while Jesus was on a Roman cross, dying for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do, a section of the Bible called ‘Luke’ records a robber being crucified on a cross next to him.

As they died together, the robber said “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” [Jesus] said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Notice what didn’t happen? There was no baptism. The man on the cross recognized his failures, recognized who Jesus is and what Jesus’s death could do for him and did the only thing he could do: speak his hopes to Jesus. The result? Jesus gave that robber a place in Heaven.

So, set aside any strange Christian traditions you might have heard about. Concentrate on the good news for YOU. Jesus is God’s gift to YOU. Will you accept that gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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