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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 in and why?

I’m a Christian, which means I follow Jesus Christ. Serious Christians 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 basic Christianity says 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 the Christian faith is a belief that Jesus took on all the sins of those who believe in 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 Christian. 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. And sadly, that includes my biological family.

There’s nothing oppressive in this. Our creator is a just God, not an inflatable Homer Simpson lawn decoration. And yet a section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’ 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 a Christian for more than a decade and I STILL haven’t met a single person 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 in the case of Christianity, mock people who believe Jesus Christ is 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 Christian who created the worldwide “L’Arche” homes for severely challenged people) is evidence.
  • Poetry is evidence.
  • The continuing impact of Jesus Christ 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 Christ.

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 the Bible, a section simply called ‘John’).
  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 ‘Isaiah’).
  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 John).
  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 ‘2 Peter’).
  5. Is forgiving: In ‘Luke’, one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus life, Jesus asks “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 ‘Malachi’).

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 Christ — whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God — act as a pacifier?

Sadly, the answer for some Christians 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 Christ. 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 Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Serious Christians 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? With whom can we find 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?

As a serious Christian, I believe a relationship with Jesus Christ 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: pure 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 Christian 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, Liberia 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 Christians 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 Christians are all about. We are about having a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ, who we believe is God’s son.

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 Christ 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 Christian.

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 Christianity 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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13+-+1-5I love this challenging quote. At the same time, I’m mystified as to why atheists consider it so credible, given that it was spoken by a man (definitely a brilliant man) who died in 1931. It’s hardly a stretch to write that there’s been a whole lot of research done since then.

Without getting into boring details of studies and terminologies (anyone who needs that stuff can certainly find it online), I’ll toss out a few interesting tidbits.

On life after death: In 1991, Pam Reynolds had a near-death experience while undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm.
Reynolds was kept literally brain-dead by the surgical team for 45 minutes. Despite being clinically dead, when Reynolds was resuscitated, she described some amazing things — like interacting with deceased relatives.

According to Time magazine, as many as 18 percent of people brought back from death after a heart attack said they’d had a near-death experience.

On the existence of Heaven: In 2008, neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III suffered an E coli meningitis infection which attacked his brain and plunged him deep into a week-long coma. Brain scans showed that his entire cortex was not functioning.
Against all odds, Mr. Alexander woke up a week later. And he claimed to have experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.
In his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, he asserts that there is an eternity of perfect splendor awaiting us beyond the grave, complete with angels, clouds, and departed relatives.

On a personal God: The Internet is overflowing with blogs and articles from people who have experienced God in an intimate, personal way. So I’ll contribute two quotes from the Bible:

  • “God even knows how many hairs you have on your head” (from a section called ‘Luke’ – even my wife can’t make that claim).
  • “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you” (from a section called ‘Jeremiah’).

Granted, none of this is the scientific proof that many people demand. But let’s be honest here: the creator and master of time, space and universe, who’s responsible for the air you are breathing right now, will ALWAYS be beyond proving or disproving.

God will ALWAYS be past our ability to fully comprehend. Looking for a metaphor? It would be like asking a porcupine to understand the theory of relativity.

So let’s look beyond this to what we CAN understand:
1. God created YOU.
2. God wants to have a personal, eternal relationship with YOU, but there’s a barrier in the way: the wrong things you’ve done (including living your life as if He doesn’t exist) and the right things you haven’t done.
3. You can never do enough to make up for the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you haven’t done.
4. You don’t have to. Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians (and many others) consider to be God’s son, did the heavy lifting for you when he died to make up for the sins of everyone who accepts Him and believes in Him.
5. All you need to do is accept the gift of Jesus; make Him your lord and saviour, so you can see your life transformed NOW and have eternal life with Him.

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

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