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Archive for the ‘Me & The World’ Category

I imagine there are lots of people who saw this newspaper comic, instantly agreed with the sentiment, then moved on with their lives.

That kind of reaction isn’t surprising. North American culture strongly discourages thinking about anything connected with spirituality and most of us obey that directive.

But I’m hoping you’re reading this because you’re not one of those people. And maybe you’re wondering if Close To Home cartoonist John McPherson is being a little too stereotypical. You would be right.

It’s easy to follow the masses and believe the creator of time, space and the universe loves to punish “sinners”. But it’s simply not true, at least in the Christian faith.

Consider this quote from a section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’: God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.

Here’s another quote, pointing in the same direction, from ‘John’: God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son [Jesus Christ] merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

These Bible quotes portray God as doing everything He can to NOT “smite” any sinners. In fact, He wants to rescue people like me (and you) from the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do.

It’s no secret that we are incapable of perfect living. Even agreeing on a universal definition of perfect behaviour is beyond humanity.

So, as the Bible quote from ‘John’ hints at, God sent Jesus to show us what God is like: compassionate, forgiving, encouraging, strengthening, consoling, healing, absolutely consistent and all powerful. In fact, look at Jesus and you’re looking at God.

There’s one other characteristic of God that I saved for last, because it’s problematic for us sinful people: perfection. God is perfect and that’s His criteria for judging his creations.

How can we achieve this impossible standard? This is an important question because after this life ends, only the people judged to be perfect will spend eternity in Heaven with God and His Son.

Thankfully, this absolutely does NOT mean we’re all doomed. As the quote from ‘John’ indicates, God sent Jesus to “put the world right”. This means that for those of us who believe in Him and follow Him, Jesus sacrificed His life to pay the cost for ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do.

Then, three days after His death, Jesus came back to life and appeared to hundreds of people (it’s stated plainly in a section of the Bible called ‘1 Corinthians’). That proves He was — and is — God’s Divine Son with the power to wipe sin off the books. As a result, when God looks at Christ followers, all He sees is His Son’s perfection.

This is glorious news and a universe away from the “smiting” God portrayed in Close To Home. Do you agree? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Lists are usually easy and fun to read, so I’ve been enjoying “32 Reasons to be an Atheist (as Opposed to a Christian)”, a blog by someone calling themselves ‘Violetwisp’.

Many of his/her points are worth consideration by people who are open to spirituality. Let’s check out a few of them:

1. You don’t have to get up on Sunday mornings if you don’t feel like it. This is referring to attending church services. Well, I’m a Christian and there are Sundays when I don’t go. People who follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) don’t have to go to church—indeed, going to church doesn’t make anyone a Christian, just as going to McDonald’s doesn’t make anyone a Big Mac.

The idea behind attending church is to be surrounded by people who are doing their best to follow Jesus. Together, we learn from each other and from our leaders what it means to be a Christian. And there’s no one taking attendance.

3. You don’t have to fake smile at people and pretend God is making your life wonderful. Sadly, there are lots of Christians who are faking their way through their faith. Sometimes, I’m one of them. The key thing that ‘Violetwisp’ misses here is that Jesus never, ever promised people that following Him would make their lives wonderful.

In fact, sometimes following Jesus makes my life harder—for example, I’m the only Christian in my biological family and that creates some challenges. But that’s OK; I didn’t decide to follow Him to put me on Easy Street. I follow Him because on my own, I can’t make me the person I want to be. But He can and, by the time this life ends, I’ll be much closer to that ideal person.

4. You can stop pretending that three gods are one god. This is referring to the Trinity, a key element of Christianity that says there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do I understand this fully? Certainly not. Does this cause me to lose sleep? Certainly not.

I don’t need to understand how the Trinity works to believe it, just as I don’t need to understand how airplanes defy gravity before taking a flight to visit distant family members.

11. You don’t have to worry about your god being racist, choosing only one ethnic group to care about, then deciding Europe and North America are worth it only in recent years, but Asia is a lost cause. Just because God started His mysterious, planet-changing work in the Middle East hardly means he doesn’t care about the rest of the world.

In fact, there’s a key section of the Bible, simply called ‘John,’ that fully explains how He thinks about humanity: God loved the world [that means everyone in it, including Asians] so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.

God wants all people—including YOU—to accept the gift of His Son and, through Him, have their sins forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven. Interested? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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I was having on online conversation with someone who has a very unorthodox view of Christianity when he asked some fascinating questions:

What is there in God which makes God perfect? And what (by extension) is in Jesus Christ that makes him better than all of us?

I’ve never wondered about these things, but I imagine many people have, given the overwhelming imperfection of this world. If you’re one of those people, I hope my research and thoughts will be helpful.

Is God perfect (i.e. without fault)? Many people say yes, based on the words of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son). In a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew,’ Jesus establishes this astonishing standard for anyone who follows Him: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Two points that need to be made here:

  1. Since God’s existence can’t be proven or disproven, the same can be very credibly written about Him being perfect.
  2. Who defines perfection? Ask 10 people this question and I’m pretty sure you’ll get at least five dramatically different responses.

So what is there in God that makes Him perfect? For me, it’s establishing free will for all human beings and then sticking with free will no matter what. Some might see this as bad, given wars, human trafficking, terrorism, hip-hop and most of Steven Seagal’s movies (hey, gotta keep it from getting too serious).

But I see free will as being the characteristic of perfection because it’s the characteristic of absolutely perfect love. And by perfect, I also mean the word’s less-known second definition: “complete, not deficient” (according to the Oxford dictionary).

That perfect love is also exhibited in Jesus Christ. Learn about his life by reading the Bible and you’ll find out He has unfathomable wisdom, unmatched understanding of the human condition, unshakeable trust in God and a willingness to sacrifice Himself for the good of everyone who’s willing to follow Him.

Why the sacrifice? Because the wrong things we do and the right things we fail to do build an impenetrable wall between us and God. When someone as remarkable as Mother Teresa knew she couldn’t be good enough to overcome that wall without Jesus, then what does that say about me? What does that say about YOU?

Only one person can—and has—penetrated that wall: Jesus Christ. Nowhere is there even the slightest shred of evidence to suggest he had even one fault. So he was capable of taking the penalty—eternal separation from God—that we deserve onto His perfect shoulders when he was put to death.

God rewarded that sacrifice by raising Him from the dead, putting Him in charge of EVERYTHING and offering Him as a life-changing gift to everyone on this planet. Including YOU. Are you willing to consider accepting this astounding gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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This meme, helpfully supplied by an atheist faith community, left me puzzled.

The viewpoint, from the creator of the animated TV shows Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, sets up an adversarial relationship between faith and knowledge.

So let’s ask the question: are faith and knowledge compatible? Does one have to “win” over the other?

Consider the words from thoughtful people of faith (specifically, Christianity, which is my faith):

Blogger Tom Gilson (ThinkingChristian.net) says “belief doesn’t arrive out of thin air, or wishful thinking, or fear, or hopefulness, or (especially) pretending. There is a strong knowledge connection there.”

The website BibleAsk.org goes even further, stating “There is no such thing as ‘blind’ faith. Genuine faith is built on facts presented to the mind. In the Bible, faith and knowledge are never in contradiction. Knowledge always comes before faith, and where there is no knowledge there can be no faith. Without knowledge, it is impossible to have faith.”

The point here is that thoughtful followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) have no interest in the either-or relationship between faith and knowledge advanced by Seth MacFarlane and others. And they’re backed up by the Bible. Chew on these excerpts, all from a section called ‘Proverbs’:

  • Wise people want to learn more, so they listen closely to gain knowledge.
  • Intelligent people want more knowledge, but fools only want more nonsense.
  • Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.

Most Christians take these Bible excerpts seriously. In fact, some of those Christians, like author and geneticist Francis S. Collins, are among the most knowledgeable in the world and they work to advance knowledge, not hinder it. You can read about just a few of these people here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-3o.

So that’s the good news. You can accept God’s gift of His Son — whose sacrificial death and amazing resurrection makes up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do — and also advance the cause of knowledge. Both are utterly, beautifully compatible.

Interesting in knowing more about Jesus and how He can make you into the person God intends you to be? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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As soon as I saw this meme, found in a Facebook atheist group, my “spidey-sense” started tingling because it presents a golden opportunity to tell you the truth about “belief systems”.

First of all, every person on this planet has a belief system, including atheists. I’ve had hundreds of online interactions with atheist people. In almost every encounter, I’ve found:

  1. They believe there is nothing behind all we see and experience
.
  2. They believe humans have no soul, so when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s necessary).
  3. They believe all people of faith are deluded, lacking in intelligence and even dangerous.

So, what kind of belief system do YOU have? This is an important question because if you’re open to spirituality, then you have beliefs about existence and the universe. You might even have beliefs about what comes after this life is finished.

So…do you honestly think (as the meme suggests) that your belief system has submerged you in mediocrity and distracted you from the real dangers of our existence?

Let me toss something else your way. Think about the often horrifying history of humanity. Think about our culture as it is today—the obsession with social media and celebrities, the belief that being “politically correct” will somehow make life better for everyone, the fixation on getting more money, more “toys” and more power.

Does all this make you even slightly confident that humanity can somehow save the world without any help?

You might be feeling a little down now, so let me reveal a belief system that’s shot through with hope for you and for humanity.

This belief system starts with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. He loves every person on this planet, including YOU, He knows you better than you know yourself and He wants to be involved in your life.

What do I base this on? Consider these excerpts from the Bible:

All who love me [Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son] will obey my teaching. My Father will love them. My Father and I will come to them and live with them. (From a section called ‘John’)

You [God] know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts from far away. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. (From ‘Psalms’)

So how can you let God get involved in your life? Accept the gift of His Son. When you do that, 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. And then Jesus comes into your life and starts to make you more like Him. It’s a process that won’t end until you’re in Heaven with Jesus.

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

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Wow. There’s a lot of heavy stuff to digest here. So let me break it down as best as I can and hopefully help you see things very differently than the atheist who created and published this anti-Christian meme.

1.  As much as Christians may try, we can’t “save” anyone from spending eternity separated from the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Only God can do that, and thousands of years of history suggests that more often than not, He chooses to do that saving through very imperfect people like me.

2.  God has absolutely ZERO desire to “torture” anyone, even people that you and I may think deserve to be tortured. A section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’ describes God’s character like this: God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.

In fact, God wants every person on this planet to be in Heaven with Him and Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son. This can be infuriating to some people, because they want particularly nasty people to “burn in hell”.

I’m so thankful that God’s willingness to forgive everyone, for all the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do, is so much broader than any forgiveness even the best of us humans can ever offer. (Here’s just one astonishing example of God’s unfathomable forgiveness: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.)

3.  Who puts who into hell? Consider the person who created this meme. He or she seems to have pretty good basic knowledge of the Christian faith. Not only has this person rejected every part of that faith, he or she has gone out of their way to make that rejection public.

The only possible conclusion from this is they’ve decided they want to spend eternity separated from their creator. So God will grant that wish, even as He’s patiently hoping they’ll change their minds (see the Bible quote above.)

4.  After everything I’ve written, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I can’t love, respect, worship or believe in the kind of god this atheist created, then rejected. So we’re absolutely in agreement on this.

I can confidently write that the creator of the universe has a gift for YOU. That gift is Jesus Christ—his life and astonishing teachings, His horrible death on a Roman cross (to make up for the “sins” of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him) and his triumphant resurrection.

All you need to do is accept that gift, then watch as Jesus enters into your life and begins to change you for the better, all in preparation for spending eternity with Him. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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When I read this meme, helpfully created by an atheist, I started thinking hard about my Christian faith and about what Twain (1835-1910), the great American author/humourist/entrepreneur, had to say.

What “great” things have I given up in this life? Just look at the depiction of Twain in this meme. Can anyone credibly tell me smoking is a great thing?

As for alcohol (see the drink in his hand?), there is nothing in the Bible — which serious Christians believe is God’s handbook for this life and the life to come — that forbids enjoying the occasional beer or glass of wine.

Casual sex? Um, hasn’t the spread of sexually transmitted diseases taught us this isn’t necessarily the great thing that our culture says it is?

Money? God doesn’t forbid providing a comfortable life for people and their families. What He does frown upon is loving money more than people, more than honesty, more than integrity and more than generosity. In fact, a section of the Bible called ‘1 Timothy’ says “Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble”.

Power? There are all kinds of Christians in important positions who are not corrupted by power. Just one example is John Tyson, chairman of the U.S. food giant Tyson Foods. He has served with several significant non-profit organizations, including the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependance.

Now, about the “mediocre things of an imaginary (life)”. Twain believed there is nothing beyond the existence you are I are living now — in other words, when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be this blunt, but it’s necessary). Give this some serious thought; do you have this hopeless belief?

Consider the brokenness of our world — wars, human trafficking, man-made famines and ethnic cleansing. As far as I’m concerned, all this happens because people have rejected their creator, rejected the idea of a life beyond this one, and therefore believe they should do anything and everything to grab all the power, money and prestige they can.

If you’re willing to contemplate this ugly reality, then you might start to realize there MUST be something better than our 70-plus years on planet Earth.

And if you do that, you might question Twain’s opinion that what comes after this life is “mediocre”.

So how can you get in on the promise of a glorious life to come? It’s simple: God offers you the gift of His Son — His life, sacrificial death (for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do) and glorious resurrection.

Accept the gift. Commit yourself to learning about Jesus Christ and what it means to love Him and follow Him. When you do that, He’ll come into your life and start to prepare you for eternity by slowly making you the kind of person He knows you can be.

Interested? Yes or now, comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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