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Archive for the ‘Me & The World’ Category

Maybe you’re among the people who believe the opinion in this atheist meme. But I’m encouraged that you’re open-minded enough to read this blog and be willing to ponder a mindset that prevails in much of our world.

So, let’s start with some questions:

  1. Is it superstition to believe there must be something behind all we see and experience?
  2. Is it a lie to believe that something must have created the universe–and set up the precise conditions that allow life to flourish on this planet?
  3. Is it superstition to believe that this “something” could be more than a blind, pitiless, indifferent creator?
  4. Is it a lie to believe morals are real – that some things are always right (like generosity and caring for our planet) and always wrong (like rape and pedophilia)?

If you’re still with me, then I believe you’re willing to ask your own questions, such as:

  • Since I believe morals are real, where did they come from?
  • Since I believe there is something behind all I see and experience, did this Something create these morals and stick them in the hearts of most people?
  • If these morals are in most people, does that mean this Something actually cares how I live my life?
  • If this Something cares how I live my life, does it mean this Something cares about ME?

A man named Jesus of Nazareth certainly believed in this Something. In fact, Jesus believed He was sent to this planet to represent our creator, to make sure we understand that this creator DOES care about us. Furthermore, He LOVES us and wants to have a relationship with us starting RIGHT NOW and stretching beyond this life.

How can this work? It’s not easy to understand, since we’re finite people who struggle with our thoughts, our emotions and our behaviours. But Jesus can show us the way, helping us to see the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

This is more important that you might think, because Jesus tells anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” In other words, that’s the standard we must meet in order to spend eternity with our creator.

It’s hardly a stretch to declare that no one can meet that standard. So what to do? The answer is simple: become a Jesus follower. Make Him your lord, your saviour, your best friend. Read about His remarkable life, work to follow His directions on how to live, and ask your creator to forgive you every time to do wrong or fail to do right. Then spend time with other Jesus followers; your creator can work through them to help you become the person He designed you to be

Do all this to the best of your ability and when this life ends, your creator will see you just as He sees Jesus: perfect in every way. And you’ll be welcomed to spend eternity with Him.

Sound like a good deal? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

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Perhaps you’ve had thoughts along the lines of this atheist meme. “No one can even prove God exists. So why should I bother with Him?”

I get that. We can feel foolish for believing something our culture insists is a joke.

But is it? I’m not about to explain all the evidence for a creator. Many websites make that case very well (check out the ‘links’ tab for a few of them). I’ll just highlight one: the existence of this universe and the fact it’s ridiculously fine-tuned to allow life as we know it.

The website Biologos.org explains my point like this: “If the universe had physical constants with even slightly different values, the universe simply could not support life. It would expand too quickly, or never form carbon atoms, or never make complex molecules like DNA.”

I hope this gives you something to think about. But notice the meme is making a different point? It claims God can’t prove He exists. That leaves me scratching my head; just because God hasn’t proven His existence certainly doesn’t mean He can’t.

Consider this: If God proved He exists, then there would be limits on His gift of free-will — in this case, the freedom to be an atheist. If the horrors of human history prove anything, it’s that God champions free-will above everything.

So if you’re beginning to suspect the claims of this meme are not important, then move on to consider a man. Not only did He believe God exists, He believed He was put on this planet to show people God’s new and better way of living and thinking.

His radical philosophy includes:

  • Don’t just try to tolerate those you dislike–actually LOVE them.
  • Don’t fight back against someone who wants to harm you. If they hit you on one cheek, let them hit the other cheek, too.
  • You will be judged the same way you judge others. God will treat you the same way you treat others.
  • If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then God will forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive, then God will not forgive you.

This man — Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God — made another point that’s even more important than what you’ve just read. He told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Oooo, that’s a tough one — an impossibility for us very imperfect humans to achieve. And the point Jesus is making is that perfection is the only ticket that will get us into Heaven when this life is finished.

So what to do? The solution is to trust in and follow Jesus. Original-source documents of His physical life on earth say that as the Son of God, He was put to death to make up for ALL the wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things His followers failed to do.

When you trust in and follow Jesus, God sees you like He sees Jesus: perfect in every way. Not only will that get you into Heaven, it also opens the door to God coming into your life RIGHT NOW to help you become the person He always wanted you to be.

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

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Most of us have grown so accustomed to living in a credit card world that we give it no more thought than breathing or going to the bathroom.

We use the card, a bill arrives every month and we either pay it off or pay the minimum and eventually deal with the interest charges.

This system exists in another world, too: the world of our behaviour. When I’m rude to another driver, engage in hurtful gossip or find shady ways to avoid paying taxes, that goes on my spiritual credit card. When I ignore the needs of people around me, stay silent in the face of injustices or fail to use my God-given gifts for good, that goes on my spiritual credit card.

You might notice that I’m writing about two elements of behaviour: the wrong things we do and the right things we fail to do.

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), I know both elements are equally important to my creator.

Do you pay attention to both? I often don’t and that’s something I need to pray about, asking God to open my eyes and heart to see and act on the opportunities He gives me to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world.

Returning to the spiritual credit card theme, I’ve built up quite a list of items, many of them things I’m not even aware of. So have you.

As with the credit card in your purse or wallet, all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do must be paid for at some point. This is more important than you might think because Jesus tells everyone who’s willing to listen that You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Jesus says this because when this life ends, perfection is the admission price to spending eternity with Him in Heaven. Nothing else will get you past the bouncer at the door.

So my question is: how will you pay off your spiritual credit card? I know that I can’t pay off my card and achieve perfection. It’s simply not possible. And I believe that’s the case for you, too.

Acknowledging this FACT means someone has to pay off our cards for us. And the only person who qualifies – the only person who is perfect – is Jesus.

When He was physically on earth, government and religious officials who were offended by His words and deeds arrested him on trumped-up charges and put Him to death. But their actions served an entirely different and life-changing purpose: His death paid all the credit card charges for everyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

Now, when God looks at Jesus followers, all He sees is His Son’s perfection. And that’s what the bouncer at the door to Heaven will see, too. But just as important, when you say yes to God’s gift of Jesus, you welcome Him into your life RIGHT NOW to help you become the person God created you to be.

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

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I’m fascinated by the underlying points being made by this meme. Maybe you’ve noticed them too:

  1. Authority, revelation or faith are absolutely useless when it comes to beliefs.
  2. evidence will always destroy beliefs.

That’s what Dawkins, the author and controversial atheist, is really saying here. As a person of faith, I don’t agree with him, but having beliefs with zero evidence to back them up is a sad way to live. That said, I can’t imagine there are many people walking around with beliefs for which they can’t provide at least a crumb of evidence.

In my case, I believe in and follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. I’m not going to get into the evidence for His life, miracles, death and resurrection here (there are many, many books and websites that explore the evidence in great detail), but I will write that without that evidence, I would not have become a Jesus follower.

Still, evidence AND faith are needed to become a Jesus follower and I have no problem with that. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all live with this mix. One quick example: getting on an airplane means placing your faith in the pilots, the maintenance crews and the manufacturer that this metal tube is gonna get you to your destination in one piece. (Wikipedia lists more than 200 examples of where that faith was misplaced, each time killing at least 100 people.)

So let’s get to my main point and that is: atheism is a belief. Atheists believe there is nothing behind all we see and experience. Atheists believe we have no soul and, when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s necessary).

What is the evidence for these beliefs? I imagine they would point to this horribly messed up world and declare no god would ever allow wars, ethnic cleansing, dementia, poverty or hurricanes. All of that is good evidence. But for millions and millions and millions of people like me, it’s nowhere near enough.

Without exploring this in detail (that would require entire blogs), suffice it to say that much of this evidence can be explained by the gift of freewill. For example, poverty happens because:

  • Economic systems keep rich countries rich and poor countries poor.
  • governments spend billions of dollars on military instead of education, social programs and providing clean water.
  • Corruption prevents resources from getting to people in need.

As a Jesus follower, I know that the creator and master of time, space and the universe is working to change that, while still respecting His gift of freewill. Jesus-following organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, LifeWater, Compassion Canada and Christian Blind Mission are among the tools He’s using.

So, what kind of beliefs do you want? Atheism strikes me as being utterly hope-less and I don’t think anyone wants to live without hope. So check out Jesus. Learn why He’s God’s gift to anyone willing to follow Him. And how accepting the gift of Jesus provides you with credible, meaningful hope for this life and the life to come.

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When I came upon this meme, I immediately saw two inferences: (1) only people who our culture considers “weak” go to church and, (2) church (or any kind of faith, for that matter) cannot help us get through life’s challenges.

From my perspective, these broad generalizations entirely miss the point of faith.

Most importantly, when hard times smack you in the face, do you want to face them alone? As my pastor friend Ross Carkner points out, “church isn’t a place that you go to, but a people you do life with. And life isn’t an individual sport; it’s often a war and we do battle together.”

Ross’s point is significant because unlike, say, a wine-tasting group or a book club, church deals with the most important matters of life. And because of that, churches are uniquely equipped to help you deal with disappointments and bad news.

Are people of faith weak and incapable of standing tall when setbacks strike like a hurricane? Some folks might think so, but those of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) know that He’s the one who makes us strong.

We are strengthened through His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do) and His resurrection. We are made capable of forgiving even the most heinous crimes because through Jesus, we are totally forgiven.

That might make us seem weak to some, but there’s no point in living life angry and bitter. Before deciding to follow Jesus, that’s what I was like and it made me unpleasant to be around.

When Jesus followers encounter hard times, we absolutely want to fall to our knees and start praying. I know many critics of faith believe prayer is an eye-rolling waste of time, but for us, it:

  • connects us to Jesus
  • helps us to discern how He wants us to respond to the challenges before us
  • gives us the willpower to stand tall

Just as important as these points, connecting to Jesus helps us to understand that life isn’t just about our needs, our hopes and our struggles. It’s about seeing – and responding to – the pain and suffering around us.

Because of our faith in Jesus, we become God’s ambassadors in a world that even the most optimistic person will admit isn’t doing very well. Out of that has come Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion Canada, Christian Blind Mission, International Justice Mission and many other charities that are helping people in crisis to get back on their feet and stand tall.

So let me end by making a suggestion that ties directly into the meme: if you have young kids, take them to church, even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on and even if you’re not sure what you believe. When you take that step, you keep the door of faith open for your children to explore. If you’re a person open to spirituality, I believe that would be important to you.

Agree? Disagree? Post your response below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

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If you read the statment in this atheist meme and declared “Yes, that’s me,” well, let me join you and say it even louder: “YES, THAT’S ME.”

Repeat Frank’s Cottage visitors know that I’m not a fan of religion. Perhaps it works for some folks, but I join much of the world in seeing religion as little more than:

  1. Following rules, many of them petty and pointless.
  2. Putting on appearances, so everyone will think you “have it all together”.
  3. Using the first two points to self-righteously judge people who don’t follow all the rules and don’t have it all together.

In the end, religion puts rules, appearances and judgmentalism ahead of people. It often descends into cold-hearted tribalism – ranking people based on whether they’re in or out of our “religion”.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Let me offer an alternative that puts human beings ahead of dogma and traditions. Prepare yourself, because that alternative is controversial. That alternative is life-giving. That alternative, in my opinion, defines humanism for all time.

That alternative is Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the divine Son of God.

During His physical time on earth, Jesus often ran afoul of rule-obsessed, stone-hearted religious leaders.

They were aghast at seeing Him hang out with what many in ancient Israel regarded as the bottom-feeders of their society. Today, those people might be:

  • supporters of widely disliked politicians or political parties
  • those who have unchanging ideas about right and wrong
  • convicts and those who have spent time in prison
  • alcoholics or drug addicts

In one of His four original-source biographies, Jesus says this about fans of religion:

They don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show.

Jesus leaves dogma and traditions at the side of the road. In fact, He goes so far as to ask:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He challenges us with the truth about what’s required to qualify for Heaven when this life is finished: “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

None of us can meet that standard, so Jesus took on his shoulders ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do. He took them to the cross, where He was put to death on trumped-up charges. Then He showed His mastery over death by coming back to life three days later.

Now, anyone who declares Jesus as Lord and Saviour takes on His perfection. That’s how God sees Jesus followers and they spend eternity with their Creator.

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

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When I saw this meme, I instantly thought about the church I attend and what it does in the community. Here are a few recent highlights:

  • Serves more than 1,500 free meals each month to people in need
  • Established a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association so it can better help people with mental issues
  • Created the Career Connection Network to help people find jobs
  • In partnership with the Calgary Food Bank, distributed almost 2,500 food hampers to hurting families during a one-year period.
  • Supports 250 families with special needs

I attend one of the largest churches in Canada; most are much, much smaller and don’t have the donor base to do this kind of work. But almost all of them are doing something – and doing it with less red tape and more efficiency than any government or business. The same applies to charities like Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion Canada.

Why is this happening? Because Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God, tells everyone who follows Him that “anything you did for any of my people here [and Jesus came for ALL people], you also did for me.” He also said this:The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”

I can’t speak for religion, since that has very little to do with faith in Jesus. (In fact, religion is often a scourge on society and I explain it here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-q1.)

But I can write about Jesus followers. So, to the creator of this meme, I ask: imagine what kind of world we’d be living in if Jesus followers weren’t obeying His directive and making life better for millions and millions of hurting people?

Sure, they may not be making gigantic financial contributions to science and medical research (that’s being covered quite nicely by taxpayers, foundations and wealthy philanthropists), but through their actions and donations, they are on the frontlines of the battle against misery and hopelessness.

That’s where Jesus – God’s perfect gift to everyone willing to accept Him – calls His followers to be. And if you’re willing to accept the gift of Jesus, two extraordinary things will happen:

  1. He will come into your life and start making you more of the person God designed you to be. That includes becoming more aware of the suffering around us and more willing to do something about it.
  2. God will no longer see any of the wrong things you’ve done or the right things you’ve failed to do. He’ll only see His Son’s perfection. And when this life ends, He’ll welcome you to spend all eternity with Him in Heaven.

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

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I encountered this meme on Facebook and was immediately struck by its warm and inviting messages. I own more than 700 CDs (yes, I’m happily ‘old school’) and music is always part of my daily life.

That, however, is not why I saved the meme. Instead, it was the first sentence. Notice the love relationship only happens when you love music first? In other words, there’s no love unless you initiate it.

There’s a whole other relationship, that’s even more important than music, which doesn’t require you to do the heavy lifting. I’ll reveal it now, but you may be surprised and even annoyed when you read it, so I hope you’ll keep an open mind.

It’s your creator.

Still with me? Yay! Let me unpack this statement so you’ll fully grasp what I’m writing about.

The creator and master of time, space and the universe loves every person on this planet. No exceptions. I can write that because of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son.

One of the primary source documents about Jesus’ physical life on earth explains that “this is how much God loved the world—He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish, but experience everlasting life.”

There are two things worth noting about this statement:

  1. Notice how it doesn’t say anything about God responding to us? He took the initiative. He acted first. Out of love.
  2. There is no footnote stating the gift is only offered to people who qualify – people who have their act together, who are “good enough”. This explains my earlier statement: all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do don’t disqualify us from God’s love.

It’s clear that this gift of Jesus is important and whether or not we accept it is life-changing. But why? We will “experience everlasting life” through Jesus because when He was put to death by the religious and political leaders of His day, He paid the price for all the moral crimes of everyone who follows Him.

And why is that so vital? Jesus explains it when He told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” So perfection is what it takes to spend eternity in Heaven with God and we can only achieve that through Jesus.

The second message in the meme, about music being the perfect life companion, is nice. But there’s a much, much better life companion: Jesus.

When you accept the gift of Jesus and make Him your lord and saviour, He comes into your life right now and starts to make you more like the person God designed you to be. Music is wonderful, but it certainly can’t do anything like that.

So what do you think? Interested in accepting God’s remarkable, life-changing gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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I’ll admit right now that I initially found the image in this meme shocking. Can there be people in our world who actually think this way?

After a moment’s contemplation, my conclusion is, sadly, yes. I guess they believe that God is no smarter than a bag of hammers and can be manipulated by anyone who knows how to “work the system”.

But maybe there’s something else going on here. Perhaps this meme is a blunt, crude challenge to followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

Are we Jesus followers subconsciously living like the girl in the meme? Oh, we’re not burning down houses, committing murder or running Ponzi schemes, but some of us are living however we please and believing the forgiveness offered by Jesus is a “get out of jail” card to play whenever our conscience bothers us.

That’s absolutely not what following Jesus is all about and I apologize right now if you’ve met someone (perhaps me?) who appears to live this way.

Here are the facts of the matter:

  1. Do you want to get to Heaven when this life ends? Then just being good isn’t going to get you there. Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
  2. No one but Jesus has ever, or will ever, meet Heaven’s admission standard.
  3. God, knowing we couldn’t achieve eternity with Him on our own, did the heavy lifting by sending Jesus. He showed us how to live and then sacrificed His life to pay for ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do.
  4. Anyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him has their moral crimes wiped off the books. Every sin has been forgiven–even the ones you and I might think are unforgivable–and God now sees that person as perfect.

If you’ve read this far, then I’m sure you’ve figured out this is a big deal. A game changer. Something that should begin transforming you as you come to fully understand what Jesus has done.

That’s a key part of placing your faith and trust in Jesus–He comes into your life and starts making you the person God meant for you to be. He makes you interested:

  • in gathering with other Jesus followers
  • in reading original-source documents about His life
  • in leaving behind your old, unsatisfying, superficial ways of living.

This remarkable process of transformation won’t end until this life is finished and you go to meet Him.

Are you understanding that the forgiveness offered by Jesus through His life, His death, and His resurrection three days later is more incredible and more important than anything you could hope to experience on planet Earth? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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If you’ve ever thought about Jesus of Nazareth — who many people believe is the Son of God — then perhaps this meme’s message has crossed your mind.

Believing the cliche in this meme – that Jesus followers aren’t allowed to ever have fun – provides an easy reason not to bother exploring who Jesus is, if He matters at all in this pandemic world and, most importantly, if He should matter to YOU.

But I trust that because you’re here, you’re open to spirituality and open to going beyond the dogma pushed by our culture.

First of all, what’s a reasonable definition of “fun”? Among the answers offered by Dictionary.com, this one applies most to the meme: something that provides mirth or amusement.

So what are the “somethings” that Jesus followers supposedly avoid? We can certainly “party” – only for us, that shouldn’t have to include drugs and/or excessive alcohol. I’m going to be bold and suggest that folks who need these to enjoy socializing have problems that require immediate attention.

Sex? Up to the last 100 years ago or so, many Jesus followers bought into the bizarre and stifling notion that having sex was a necessary evil to have children. Once that was accomplished, we could move on to more noble pursuits.

I thank God that this lie has been dumped in the garbage bin of history. We can absolutely enjoy one of our creator’s greatest gifts. We’re just supposed to do it in the context of marriage.

I imagine this is part of what the meme is addressing. How dare we treat sex as something important and perhaps even sacred, rather than just another fun part of a drunken night on the town.

But look at the results of our culture’s obsession with sex: broken relationships, pedophilia, sex trafficking (see: Jeffrey Epstein), disease and violence (if you ever talk to a prostitute, ask how often she’s been beaten up). I’m sure more social ills can be added to the list.

In the end, I believe the pursuits valued by our culture are really about searching for meaning and significance. And that search will be fruitless until we are willing to ask the BIG questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • Is there more to life than 70-plus years of sleeping, working, going to the bathroom and waiting to expire?
  • What happens when this life ends?

This is where following Jesus makes sense. If you’re willing to explore who He is and how He can be part your life right now, I believe you’ll come to understand the words of a dude named Paul, who was one of His earliest and most remarkable followers. Paul told anyone willing to listen that “It is through Jesus that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are.”

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

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