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As I consider this meme, I’m going to assume you, the reader, are neither illiterate or seven years old. That means the creator of this meme is feeling condescendingly sorry for you and anyone else who is open to spirituality.

But I believe you’re reading this because you sense that everything this “age of information” claims is important just doesn’t cut it. Money, power, sex, giant screen TVs, cruise ship vacations and the latest iPhone leave something untouched in your soul.

How did this universe come to be? What is the purpose of life? What happens after we die? Why is there rap and hip-hop? (just kidding!) These questions, and more, are not addressed by science or this age of information.

There are lots of websites, gurus and spiritual paths that do attempt to answer these questions. So let me take you for a walk down my path. It’s a path that, in western culture, is often mocked and marginalized. But don’t let that close your mind.

I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. After much thought, prayer, reading and debating with brave Jesus followers, I decided to walk with Him at age 42. All these years later, I’ve never regretted it.

Original-source biographies of His physical life on earth show us that Jesus offers answers to the questions that continually stymie science and this age of information.

God is the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Who else can we look to? Justin Bieber? Alfred Einstein? Steven Hawking? Even the most brilliant thinkers can’t offer up anything more credible.

The purpose of life is to abide–that is, to to remain stable or fixed in a state–in God. Welcome Him into your heart and life. Recognize that, as Jesus makes clear, God sees you. He knows you. And He loves you. As this life makes very clear, God’s love doesn’t mean you’ll be free from challenges, pain and tragedy. It DOES mean that you’ll never go through it alone. And that can make all the difference.

What happens after we die is entirely up to you. Jesus believes in Heaven (His followers believe He’s there now) and that there’s a place for EVERYONE there. But here’s the thing: Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

On the surface, that means Heaven is empty. But in fact, it’s full of people who decided to follow Jesus. That’s because Jesus sacrificed His physical life on earth to make up for ALL the wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do.

So when this life ends and we all stand before God, He doesn’t see the “sins” of Jesus followers. He sees us like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And He welcomes us to spend eternity with Him.

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

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If you pay attention to the news and know anything about Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), then you might be familiar with what Rainn Wilson is talking about.

Furthermore, if you agree with the actor (best known for the TV sitcom The Office) then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want nothing to do with Jesus or the people who claim to follow Him.

But I can’t stress this enough: it’s absolutely VITAL that you separate Jesus from His followers (and that includes ME) because I strongly believe how you think about Him will effect your life now and for all eternity.

When He was physically on Earth, Jesus was never (NEVER!) about gun rights, prosperity theology (think of TV preachers like Joel Osteen, Paula White and the fabulously named Creflo Dollar), anti-science, limited government (that neglects the destitute) and fierce nationalism. And today, when Jesus followers like me believe He lives in the hearts and minds of anyone who claims Him as Lord and Savior, He still isn’t.

Conversely, Jesus isn’t just about what people at the opposite end of the political spectrum claim. He wasn’t just a woman’s rights advocate or a fanatical anti-poverty crusader. Nor was He a card-carrying socialist, as some might believe. And it’s a misrepresentation to claim Jesus was primarily a humble servant of the abject poor.

So what was (and is) He about? Thousands of books have tackled that question because it’s important, especially in a violent, pandemic-ridden world staggering like a drunk leaving the bar.

While we’ll never have a definitive answer that everyone can agree on, here are a few snapshots that convinced me to follow Jesus:

  • Telling religious leaders, who brought Him an adulteress woman for judgment, that anyone who had never sinned can cast the first stone at her. They all left and Jesus forgave the woman.
  • Healing a man’s diseased hand on the very day when religious authorities forbade people from doing any kind of work.
  • Revealing to His followers that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.
  • Informing people that it wasn’t good enough to tolerate their opponents. They must actually love them. (!!)
  • Announcing “I and my father are one” and allowing his followers to worship Him.
  • Letting a woman clean his feet with expensive perfume, then telling a critical follower, who thought the perfume could have been sold and the money given to poor people, that “You will always have the poor with you. But you will not always have me.”
  • Allowing religious authorities to arrest Him on trumped-up charges, then doing nothing to stop His execution because “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.

I’m presenting a very, very incomplete picture of Jesus (that’s why so many books have been written about His life, death and resurrection). But I hope it’s enough for you to explore further. Some will tell you it’s a waste of time, but I believe your entire future is at stake. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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This meme, showing the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed by radical Islamic terrorists, answers the question plainly and succinctly, doesn’t it?

You might be surprised to know that lots of people like me, who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many folks believe is the Son of God) agree with the meme. The world would be a better place without the tribalism, intolerance and judgmentalism of “religion”.

Then I watched a short video from Solas (a Scottish non-profit promoting faith in Jesus) that popped up in my Facebook feed. And it paints a startling view of a world supposedly rid of “religion”.

Host Andy Bannister notes there are officially secular countries that have aggressively tried to wipe out religion — or as I much, MUCH prefer to call it, “faith”. Those countries include the Soviet Union (when it existed) and North Korea.

Just consider the horrifying track record of government oppression and persecution in these undemocratic countries and one other Andy missed – China. Suddenly, secularism doesn’t look so attractive.

Ah, but what about the mostly secular Scandinavian nations admired by so many critics of faith? Those countries rank high on the happiness, tolerance and quality-of-life scales.

Andy points out “the things they hold most dear are very religious – the idea that human beings have rights and value and dignity and significance is actually a deeply Christian idea.”

Furthermore, the Man who I follow is all about two things:

  1. The rights, value and dignity of all human beings. During His physical time on Earth, Jesus didn’t hesitate to break many social taboos in His culture to show women and social outcasts that they are NOT second-class citizens in God’s kingdom.
  2. The uselessness of “religion”. Jesus often criticized people who used religion to gain power, oppress others and look good in public.

Jesus even went so far as to say this to anyone willing to listen: “Are you tired? Burned out on religion? Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Wow. Bet you didn’t know that about Jesus, did you? For many years, I certainly didn’t. It wasn’t until I looked hard into Jesus’s life, teachings, death and resurrection that I realized this guy is the real deal.

In fact, by committing my life to following Him, God no longer sees all the wrong things I’ve done and the right things I’ve failed to do. He only sees the perfection of His Son. And when this life ends, that perfection will get me into Heaven to hang out with Jesus for eternity. Sweet!  🙂

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

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While visiting the blog of Vinny, a guy who says he writes about “A bit of this…A bit of that…bit of everything”, one of his comments grabbed my attention.

“The good thing is I’m Catholic so I have a golden ticket [to Heaven],” Vinny wrote, after describing all his medical issues. “Front of the queue where St. Peter will give me a hug and point me to the pub up there, The Heavenly Arms.”

While appreciating his humourous tone — lots of us would love to find a Cheers pub or a Friends coffee shop in the Great Hereafter — this made me wonder: how many people believe their affiliation with some kind of faith group gives them a golden ticket to Heaven when this life ends?

Before I started following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the divine Son of God), I thought that’s what it took: get connected with the right group and I’m probably in.

But now that I’m on a life-long project to read about and understand the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, I can tell you that I was thoroughly, spectacularly wrong.

In one of the original-source biographies of His life, Jesus tells anyone willing to listen what is really needed to get a golden ticket: “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Yikes. Does that mean being a good Catholic or good Buddhist or good Muslim or even a good agnostic won’t cut it? If you believe Jesus, then NO. Your membership card in any of those  groups won’t get you in the door.

Man, this is a tough one, isn’t it? How can any person on this planet get into Heaven when nothing but perfection will get you past the bouncer?

The answer, thankfully, is simple: Follow Jesus. Make Him your Saviour, your best friend, the person you trust with your life starting RIGHT NOW.

Some of you might be asking how that will help your case. The help comes because Jesus is the only person who has ever been– and will ever be — perfect. That’s right: not even one stain on His record.

One of the men Jesus personally taught to follow Him, the ‘St. Peter’ Vinny referred to, stated it this plainly: “He never sinned and He never told a lie“. And the four primary-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on earth back up Peter’s assertion.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Catholic or Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu or agnostic. When you commit your life, with serious sincerity, to following Jesus, then God no longer sees the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. All He sees is His Son’s perfection — and that’s your golden ticket.

The great thing is, connecting with Jesus can make your life better immediately. In my case, following Him:

  • cleaned up my potty mouth
  • changed my career (I now work at organizations that specialize in telling people about Jesus)
  • influenced who I married (my wife is also a Jesus follower)

What do you think — is this the golden ticket you need? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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“Physics says you’re an impurity in an otherwise beautiful universe.”

That’s one of the headlines in a fascinating, challenging article, first published on the Slate online news site, that recently popped up in my internet feed.

Written by physics professor David Goldberg, the essay details four reasons why humanity shouldn’t exist in a universe he calls “almost absurdly finely tuned”.

One of the main reasons we shouldn’t exist, Goldberg claims, is “the laws of physics themselves seem to be working against us. Ours isn’t just a randomly hostile universe, it’s an actively hostile universe.”

And yet, we do exist. And while Goldberg makes only one indirect reference to God, I’m going to challenge you by writing that God is the reason I’m here writing this blog and you’re here reading it.

Goldberg believes that even miniscule changes in the makeup of the universe would have made life on earth impossible. “If the universe were only minutely denser than the one we inhabit, it would have collapsed before it began,” he writes.

Ironically, his position is almost identical to the case built by scientists and authors who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God). Their point: this ‘actively hostile’ universe is fine-tuned by God in order to make life, as we know it, possible.

Why go to all that trouble? I believe it’s because our creator wants us here and that’s because He’s all about relationships. And every person on this planet can have that relationship.

You might shrug and wonder why anyone would bother. Briefly, here’s the reason: a relationship with God can make your life better now and when we depart what Shakespeare called “this mortal coil”.

Connecting with God can:

  • provide life-changing awareness that you are loved beyond all measure.
  • help you understand that all people are valuable, no matter who they are or what they’ve done (or not done).
  • strengthen you for the challenges ahead.
  • give you clarity on what’s right, what’s wrong – and the shifting tides of public opinion don’t change that.

Sadly, we very imperfect human beings have erected many barriers on the road to this relationship. Lack of faith, the wrongs things we’ve done, the right things we’ve failed to do, our stubborn insistence that we are our own gods — all these things and more build a wall between us and God.

But that hasn’t stopped God from doing all He can, while still maintaining His standards, to make a way for us. His Son Jesus is that way, made possible through His sacrificial death and game-changing resurrection.

Jesus clears away ALL barriers to a relationship with God — starting NOW and lasting for all eternity — for everyone who believes in Him, trusts in Him and follows Him.

If you say yes, with complete sincerity, to Jesus, then He’ll come into your life and start to make you the person God created you to be. That process won’t end until you go to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.

Interested? Yes or now, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Judgement:anger 1.16So, are there “religious” people out there who cast their anger and judgement on those who don’t believe in their “religion”? Absolutely.

The easiest example I can think of are radical Islamic terrorists. These religious people appear to be overflowing with judgement and anger.

But what about people of faith, like me, who deeply dislike “religion” (read here to find out why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-i9), but want you to fully understand what we believe and why?

I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. We believe Jesus is God’s divine and perfect Son, and an extraordinary gift to every human being. The only thing needed is to accept that gift.

In examining myself, I can’t find any judgement or anger at people who reject that gift. And that includes every member of my biological family.

Instead, what I experience is immense sadness. Why? Because every person who ever was, is and will be is hugely imperfect. We’ve missed the mark on being the kind of people God designed us to be. Indeed, we miss that mark daily and  in ways we can’t even see.

God doesn’t miss the mark. Never has, never will. And that’s the standard He sets for us. And before you angrily declare that’s an impossible standard to meet, let me wholeheartedly agree with you. Absolutely impossible.

Still, when this life is over, we’ll be called to stand before our maker and try to explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. And we will fail. Spectacularly.

That’s where Jesus comes in. The most important part of following Jesus is knowing and believing that Jesus took on all the “sins” of those who follow him and paid the price for those sins by dying on a Roman cross.

Jesus, who never did a single wrong thing, accepted the judgement and the penalty that every person who believes in Him (like me) deserved. In doing so, those of us who follow Jesus have nothing to account for. In God’s eyes we’re snow-white perfect.

See? The judgment doesn’t come from me or any other Jesus follower. It comes from the God of the universe.

So why do I experience immense sadness? Because most people (including my brothers and their families, plus our parents) walk away from that gift. They’ve swallowed our culture’s propaganda, that we’re all pretty much OK and if there’s a God, He’ll let us into Heaven just ‘cause, you know, we’re all pretty much OK.

Everyone who believes what our culture says WON’T be snow-white perfect when they stand before their maker. And instead of spending eternity in Heaven, they will be judged as not worthy. And they’ll spend forever separated from God.

There’s nothing oppressive in this. Our creator is a just God, not a Homer Simpson lawn decoration. And yet one of the men Jesus personally trained to follow Him notes “God is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End [of the world] because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

The best way to change is to follow Jesus and the best time is NOW. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Proving God 12.15I must be hanging out with the wrong people. I’ve been following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) for more than a decade and I STILL haven’t met even one other Jesus follower who is trying to “prove” God. Not one.

Oh, I’m sure there are a few out there, wracking their brains on this absolutely unsolvable conundrum when they could be doing something useful.

If this graphic (kindly supplied by a Facebook atheism group) has any truth, then you’d think these few “theists” (people who believe in a creator) would realize the futility of their quest and simply move on.

It’s plain and simple: if God wanted us to “prove” His existence, it would have happened by now. He knows better than to allow such a thing. Because if it did happen, then atheists would be denied the freedom to declare there is no creator.

And if the endless horrors of human history absolutely PROVE anything, it’s that God is all about freewill. No matter how high the cost.

The result of that freewill is people can walk around saying God is fiction and laugh at people who do believe in Him and His divine Son.

Is there evidence for God? Absolutely.

  • The universe is evidence.
  • The materials used to create the computer I’m using now are evidence.
  • Sunrises and sunsets are evidence.
  • Jean Vanier (the extraordinary Canadian Jesus follower who, despite his many imperfections, created the worldwide “L’Arche” homes for severely challenged people) is evidence.
  • Poetry is evidence.
  • The continuing impact of Jesus is evidence.

I chose to examine this evidence (and much more) and declare it’s enough to convince me there is a creator and He offers an amazing, gobsmacking gift to anyone who is willing to accept it: Jesus.

Indeed, I’ve come to recognize that to know Jesus is to know God. Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, I can know that God:

  1. Loves this world and everyone in it: “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” (that’s from one of the primary-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on Earth).
  2. Hates the wrong things we do and right things we fail to do: “It is your sins that separate you from your God. He turns away from you when he sees them” (from one of the ancient prophets).
  3. Offers His son to everyone: “God did not send Jesus to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him” (also from one of the primary-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on Earth).
  4. Is extraordinarily patient with us: “God is restraining Himself on account of you, holding back the End [of the world] because He doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change (from one of the people Jesus personally trained to follow Him).
  5. Is forgiving: In one of the primary-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on Earth, Jesus said “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” At that time, He was dying on a Roman cross.
  6. Is unchanging: “I am the Lord—I do not change” (from one of the ancient prophets).

I could go on, but you surely get the point. Move past this tiresome, pointless ‘proving God’ thing and think about inviting him — through His Son — into your life.

Interested? Yes or no, comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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GETTING OVER YOURSELF

Getting Over YourselfWhen it comes to spirituality, who is it all about?

Our culture’s answer: YOU. What YOU like. What makes YOU comfortable. What fits in with YOUR lifestyle. What YOU have time for. What affirms how YOU are living YOUR life. What agrees with what YOU think is good or bad. What gives YOU a warm and fuzzy feeling.

In other words, YOU are God. You decide what spirituality is all about. And if you believe in a creator, YOU decree who he or she is and how he or she is going to assist YOU.

In this scenario, God is your servant, the one who gratefully helps YOU achieve all YOUR ambitions and YOUR wishes to be happy and fulfilled.

At this point, I hope you’re getting a little queasy. Because here is the truth:

“It’s not about you,” are the first words in the first chapter of Rick Warren’s 2002 bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life.

“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.

“If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

Looking for evidence? Consider this excerpt from the Bible, in a section called ‘Colossians’: Everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible … everything got started in Him [God] and finds its purpose in Him.

If this makes any sense, then you’ll have to admit that:

  • You are NOT God.
  • You don’t really have the powers that our culture insists you do.
  • REAL spirituality is about discovering your place in God’s world.

So how do you discover your place in His world? Start by establishing a relationship with Him. And yes, that IS possible, through Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son).

Indeed, in ‘John’, one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth, Jesus declares “I came to give life—life that is full and good”.

In a real, growing relationship with Jesus, you will realize that your abilities, your strengths and weaknesses, your passions can and will be used for a much greater good. For the good of all humanity, in this life and in the life to come.

I’m evidence of that. After 26 years in print journalism, I now use my writing skills to tell people about Jesus, how believing in Him and following Him translates into strength, purpose, energy, resolve and a capacity to do more, love more, care more than any of us can do on our own.

This writing is more valuable than anything I ever did in newspapers. It’s the most important writing I’ll ever do.

Does the relationship I’m writing about sound interesting? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Religion pacifierJust for fun, I Googled “What does the human mind need?” There was no definitive answer. In fact, none of the dozens of links I saw even address the question.

So I tried “The human mind cries out for…”. Again, nothing.

So does the human mind cry out for facts and reason? Makes sense to me. I’m sure it cries out for more than that, but let’s stick with these two and move on to the bottom statement in this graphic (which I found on an atheist website).

I’m a man of faith, but I certainly want nothing to do with “religion” (here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-eu). So does having faith in God and Jesus of Nazareth — who many people believe is the son of God — act as a pacifier?

Sadly, the answer for some Jesus followers is yes. But for most, the answer is absolutely NO. We see the world for how it truly is — broken, in desperate need of help. And we do our best to help, by going on trips to aid people in developing nations, by financially supporting aid organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, by asking our political leaders to do the right thing.

In other words, we strive, in our horribly imperfect way, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Why? because “God loved the world [and that means EVERYONE IN IT] so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.” That’s from one of the four original-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Serious Jesus followers believe this, so if God loves everyone, then followers of His Son should, too.

Let’s move on to the human heart. What does it need? I don’t think I’m off-base when I write that the hearts of most people need love, acceptance and a sense of purpose. Our hearts need forgiveness — for the wrong things we’ve done and for the right things we’ve failed to do. Our hearts need community — the sense that we’re not alone in whatever joy or misery we are experiencing.

Do hearts get these things from family and friends? Certainly. But friends drift away. Families become separated by emotions or geography and, inevitably, death. From power and money? Only for a relatively short time. Sex? Same thing. Boats, mansions, 100-inch TV screens, Vegas vacations and Ferraris? It won’t take long for most people to become bored of them.

So what’s left? Who can offer us absolutely unconditional love? Where can we get a sense of purpose that’s real and won’t change? How can we achieve a sense of community around something more important than wine-tasting, cruise ship vacations or extreme sports? And where can we get unconditional forgiveness?

I believe a relationship with Jesus is the answer to every one of those needs. God offers Jesus as a gift to you and me. When you accept that gift, with sincere seriousness, you open the door to God changing you, from the inside out. For the better. So you can join me in being an imperfect ambassador for Jesus in a broken world.

And when this life is over,  Jesus’ sacrificial death on a cross wipes away all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. So God sees you and me the way He sees Jesus: perfect in every way. And from there, we are welcome to spend eternity with Jesus.

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

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Hijacks mindIt’s such a common stereotype that many people accept it without a moment’s thought or investigation: people of faith just don’t think “critically”. For many years, I bought this sales pitch, too.

Only after becoming a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) did I check out the facts. And they left me astounded.

1. Between 1901 and 2000, more than 65 per cent of Nobel prize winners have identified Christianity as their religious preference. That’s according to the book 100 Years of Nobel Prizes.

The Christian Nobel list includes J.J. Thomson in physics, former Liberian president Helen Johnson Sirleaf for the peace prize, Ivan Pavlov in physiology or medicine and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in literature. A little bit of research will reveal that none of these people are brain-dead dolts.

2. In the entertainment world, how about actress Mira Sorvino (who won an Academy Award for Woody Allen’s 1995 move Mighty Aphrodite), Tyler Perry (who, besides his TV and movie acting/directing/screenwriting credits, owns a 200,000-square-foot movie studio) and two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington? Can anyone credibly state these people are idiots?

3. Scientists? I’ve already written an entire blog on just a few of the Jesus followers who are doing amazing work in the science world. You can read it here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-e9

So does “religion” hijack the mind? More often than not, yes. Religion is about following rules, keeping up appearances and judging others. That’s not what serious Jesus followers are all about. We are about having a life-long relationship with Jesus.

In my case, I did all kinds of critical thinking before deciding to follow Jesus at age 41. I read books from a wide variety of perspectives. I debated the basics of Christianity with Jesus followers. I thought long and hard about I’d read, what I’d heard, and how this world has always worked.

That’s not all it took for me to become a man of faith. It took an understanding that God is not the evil ogre that some people make Him out to be. And finally, it took a leap of faith.

A mix of reason, understanding and faith is what it takes to become a Jesus follower.

Maybe that sounds like a lot of work. Maybe you’re shrugging your shoulders and thinking “Meh, I don’t need this. What’s on TV?”

Fine. But if you were satisfied by what our culture insists are the keys to success — money, power, fame, toys, sex, the newest iPad and cruise-ship vacations — would you be reading this blog?

You know there has to be more to life than that. And maybe you’ve even wondered what happens when this life ends. Do you simply become rancid worm food or do you have a soul that lives on? These are important questions. And Jesus has the answers.

Want to know more? Click the ‘links to other sites’ tab at the top of this page or email me at fdking@hotmail.com. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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