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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Most of us know who Stephen Hawking is. For younger readers, Kirk Cameron was a swoon-worthy idol during his time acting on the 1980s TV comedy Growing Pains.

You might also not be aware that during the show’s seven-season run, Cameron decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. Since the show ended, Cameron, now in his 50s, has starred in and/or produced many faith-themed movies and documentaries.

So why is he being mocked in this meme? Well, many of his productions have been….underwhelming. And some of his socially conservative public statements have made him a target of criticism from media, atheists and many celebrities.

What’s interesting about the meme that sparked this blog is how it singles out one controversial person while ignoring other Jesus followers who are widely admired for their intelligence and accomplishments.

Immediately, I can think of several:

  • Academy Award-winning actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington
  • Country singers Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood
  • Scientist Francis S. Collins, who led the way in mapping the human genome (I wrote about him here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-3o)
  • U.S. talk show host Stephen Colbert

There are many, many more Jesus-following notables – I listed a few in this blog: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-e9.

Here’s the thing, though: it’s not about who’s on what side, it’s not about popularity contests and it’s certainly not about anyone’s IQ. All these “measurements” are distractions, designed to prevent us from thinking about the big questions: who am I? Why am I here? What happens after this life ends?

If you’re willing to consider these questions, then consider this: you’re a creation of God. And one of the original-source biographies of Jesus says “God loved the world so much that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost, but have eternal life.”

Maybe you’ve read that statement before. Did you know it applies to you? God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son, so that if YOU believe in Him then YOU will not be lost, but have eternal life.

If this doesn’t make sense, then let me ask: do you believe there’s something beyond this life? Maybe even a “good” place and a “bad” place? If yes, then ponder these words that Jesus told anyone willing to listen: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

So that’s the ticket we need to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus and His Father. None of us have any hope of achieving perfection, so what to do? Simple. Trust in Jesus. Declare Him Lord, Saviour and your best friend.

If you do that with serious sincerity, then He’ll come into your life and start to make you more of the person God created you to be. And when this life ends, God will see you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And the doors of Heaven will be opened to you.

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

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If you believe there’s a Heaven (or “magic castle in the sky” as this atheist meme calls it), then maybe you think getting there requires prayer, Bible reading and giving money to churches.

Or, more likely, you’re very leery of Christianity precisely because you believe that’s what this religion requires.

I fully understand. So let’s start by dispensing of “religion”, a nasty, negative term I want nothing to do with (and here’s why: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-q1).

Now let’s move past Christianity to what — or more specifically, who — is really worth your time and consideration: Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the son of God.

When He was physically on earth, Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Notice what He didn’t mention? Not a word about praying hard, reading your Bible or giving money to a church.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these behaviours are positive and important and I do my very imperfect best to carry them out. But Jesus makes it clear: they have nothing to do with that happens to you and me after this life ends.

So we’re left with the uncomfortable, unattainable goal of being perfect. Should you give up on that, go your merry way and hope for the best? Some do. But let me propose a different way forward, a way that works for me and million of other very imperfect people.

Place your trust and your faith in Jesus. Declare Him your saviour and your best friend and endeavour to follow Him to the best of your ability.

When you do that — when you realize He’s a gift that only requires you to accept it (Him) — then God sees you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And when this life ends, that means Heaven will be your new and permanent home.

Just as important, it means a new beginning for you RIGHT NOW. When you say yes, with complete sincerity, to Jesus, He comes into your life and starts to make you more like the person you were created to be.

One of Jesus’s earliest and most influential followers described what that means: “God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Are you interested? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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Sometimes, I wish God was like pop machine. I insert spiritual money (a heartfelt prayer), hit the button for whatever I really want at the moment, then it pops out. Wouldn’t that be cool?

I guess, judging by this atheist meme (featuring Emmy/Golden Globe-winning actor Steve Buscemi) some folks wish this so bad that when it doesn’t happen, they angrily decide there is no God.

Doesn’t that seem a little….shallow and self-centred?

From my faith perspective–I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son–the creator and master of time, space and the universe is absolutely NOT a spiritual Santa Claus.

Does He care about us? Absolutely. In fact, one of the four original-source biographies of Jesus states: 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.

Furthermore, one of Jesus’s earliest followers told people to pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. This same follower went on to write God will use his glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus.

Have you noticed the word he keeps using?

Needs. Not wants.

Most people living in well-off countries–and that definitely includes ME–often confuse the two words, especially as our culture insists that just about everything is a “need.” (Don’t believe me? Just watch a few TV commercials with a critical, questioning attitude.)

So if I earnestly ask God for a bigger-screen TV or the absolute newest iPhone, God may very well ignore me. If I close my eyes and wish the traffic would clear up so I can get to a movie theatre on time, God may very well pay no attention. If I pray for my favourite political party to win the next election, God may do nothing about it.

My wife and I have two cars. We don’t need two cars.

I have 700 CDs. I don’t need even one CD.

I have a fancy Apple desktop computer. I don’t need any kind of computer.

What do I really need in this life? Food. Water. Clothing. A basic income. Some kind of shelter that provides heat in the winter. Decent health. Love (but even that’s questionable).

See the difference?

One other thing I need is a sense of purpose. That’s where following Jesus comes into the picture. He gives me that purpose: to care for others, to have a strong confidence there’s something good beyond this life, and to tell others about Him and the gift of eternal life He offers to anyone willing to accept it.

Are you looking for a purpose beyond the superficial, meaningless wants of this culture? Then I suggest looking into Jesus with an open mind. He can change your life, just as He did mine.

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

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It’s been said that you can twist the Christian Bible to support almost any position. The paraphrases in this atheist meme certainly prove that.

The point is easy to see: the creator and master of time, space and the universe is an emotional abuser, constantly tearing down anyone who claims to love Him. Maybe you even feel that way.

There are too many paraphrases to discuss each one, but let me tell you right now: if I ever, for even a minute, thought God was an emotional abuser, I never would have decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is His Son. I would not have married a Jesus follower and I’d never even think of entering a church.

So why don’t I agree with this meme? Because the cherry-picked paraphrases (most are not word-for-word quotes) are diametrically opposed to the entire over-arching theme of the Christian Bible. That theme is: God created us, we rejected Him, the world is a mess as a result, and He is constantly inviting to return home to Him.

In fact, this theme is the point of one of Jesus’s most famous stories, about the prodigal son. In that “parable,” the son tells his rich father he wants to get his slice of the family inheritance and leave home. The father sadly agrees, then the son goes out and blows his inheritance through partying, drugs, alcohol, sex and any other way of rock star living that our culture offers us.

Now in poverty, the son is reduced to taking whatever degrading job he can find until he realizes that any kind of life back home is better than what he has now. So he returns home, fully intending to apologize, throw himself on the mercy of his father and hope he can at least get a job as a labourer.

But even before he arrives, the father sees him, runs to him, embraces him in a tearful bear hug and orders his staff to put on a big celebration. The son’s awful behaviour is forgiven because he’s home again. Home!

That’s the overarching theme of the Bible. And the forgiveness the son receives is because of the sacrifice of Jesus. When Roman officials crucified Jesus on trumped up charges, His death wiped out all the wrong things His followers (like me) committed, and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Now, when this life ends, we are welcomed into Heaven because God sees us like He sees Jesus: perfect in every way.

Just one Bible quote makes this clear: This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger. He came to help, to put the world right again.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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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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The statement in this meme, made by a Swiss-Austrian-American philosopher of science, is becoming increasingly popular in today’s culture. It’s a perfect fit with the “you have your truth, I have mine” approach to life.

I must write, however, that popularity should never be a measuring stick of truth. Remember: Adolf Hitler was extremely popular for many years and Osama Bin Laden still has millions of fans. So does rap music (hey, this old white guy’s gotta have some fun). 😉

Now consider this: is child pornography always wrong? I feel quite safe in believing that outside of a few very disturbed individuals, all of us would agree. So isn’t that an absolute truth?

Here’s another one: genocide. Can you find anyone besides the occasional megalomaniac dictator and his lunatic followers who think genocide has its time and place?

I believe slavery, racism and deliberately poisoning our air/land/water can be added to the list of universal wrongs.

So there you have it. Five examples of absolute truth and it took me just a few minutes to mentally find them. I bet you can find several others.

If you agree with me so far, then that means most of us strongly believe in a clear and unchanging morality. That leads to my next question: where did this morality come from?

Some people claim morals are simply the result of evolution. But in his book Making Sense of God, Tim Keller notes it’s hard to imagine that noble and moral acts like self-sacrifice or service for someone “outside your family, tribe, or race could have been a trait that led to greater rates of survival.”

I’m going to be bold & radical and declare that absolute truth comes from the creator of time, space, the universe and YOU. In other words, it comes from God.

Now a step further: the originator of absolute truth and morals is perfect and, as the only being capable of sitting in judgment of humanity, that’s the standard He uses. I believe this because I follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son) and Jesus tells anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Well, that certainly creates a problem, doesn’t it? If you believe there’s life beyond the 70 or 80 years on this planet, how can you and I get in on that life when we’re so, SO far from being anywhere close to perfect?

The answer is we can’t. Not on our own strength and efforts. We’ll always, ALWAYS fall short.

But God solved this by offering Jesus as a gift to anyone willing to accept it. Jesus died to make up for ALL wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things His followers have failed to do. So when this life ends and we go to meet God, all He will see in Jesus’s followers is perfection. And we’ll be let in the door to spend eternity with Him.

Just as important, when you seriously and sincerely accept the gift of Jesus, you welcome Him to come into your life RIGHT NOW and start the lifelong process of making you more like 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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In my country (Canada), most classic rock fans will know a 1980s hit song called A Criminal Mind by keyboardist/songwriter/singer Larry Gowan.

In an episode of the ‘Behind The Vinyl’ video series, Gowan unpacks how the song came to be. It was cool to hear, for example, that A Criminal Mind was recorded in Ringo Starr’s home, which means if he was around, Ringo probably overheard the song dozens of times.

But what made me sit up and take notice was when Gowan pondered the lyrics — about an unrepentant, repeat offender — and said:

“I’ve come to believe everyone has this dark side in them, no matter how much [or little] of it has made it out into the world. And I think the song taps into that.”

Gowan is right. All of us have the ability to do wrong and fail to do right. Followers of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) readily acknowledge that truth because one of Jesus’s earliest and most influential followers wrote “All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness.”

There it is. Gowan knows it, Jesus followers like me know it and, perhaps, even you know it.

If you’re like me, you’ve tried to overcome your moral shortcomings. Occasionally you’ve even succeeded. But I bet that, like me, you’re like the world’s worst sharpshooter. You and I miss the target again and again and again and…..

This is important not just for today, but also for after this life ends. In one of the original-source biographies of his physical life on Earth, Jesus told anyone willing to listen that in order to hang out with Him and God, “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Yikes! I think it’s fair to write that none of us can meet that standard. So, on our own efforts, a bouncer will stop every one of us outside the door to Heaven.

Thankfully, you and I don’t have to rely on ourselves. Jesus did it for us, dying on a Roman cross to make up for ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do. Consider it a life-changing gift. All you have to do is accept it.

Commit your life to following Jesus and God will see you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. That means when you show up at the door to Heaven, the bouncer will welcome you inside for all eternity.

There’s something else to this gift, too. Accept it and Jesus will come into your life RIGHT NOW and start to make you more like the person God created you to be. Over time, you’ll come to see yourself and others in a new light. You’ll come to a new understanding of life and how this world works. Most important, you’ll become an ambassador for Jesus to a planet that desperately needs the hope only He can provide.

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

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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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If you think about this meme, you’ll realize what it’s really claiming: the creator and master of time, space and universe is a moral sicko who deserves to be scorned by all rational people.

To that charge, let me suggest this: the meme’s creator is depending on you making a superficial conclusion and moving on with your life.

But I’m going to trust that you’re interested in spirituality, so you’re ready to consider a very different picture of God.

First, there’s no doubt in my mind that our creator is merciful. Followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son, consider God so merciful that He sent Jesus to show us how to live and, just as important, to show us the character of God.

I write that with confidence because in one of the original source documents of Jesus’ physical life on earth, He told anyone willing to listen that “I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

So does God’s mercy extend to “repentant” murderers. It depends. For those who don’t know the word ‘repent,’ dictionary.com puts it like this: to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc.

From my perspective as a Jesus follower, repenting for the bad things we do — and the good things we fail to do — is very good, but it’s only part of the equation. The other part is accepting the gift of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

When we make a conscious, thoughtful decision to put Jesus in charge of our lives, then His sacrificial death on a Roman cross wipes away our moral crimes. God sees us like He sees His Son: perfect. And it’s that perfection that opens the door to us spending eternity in Heaven with God and Jesus.

My point is this: repentance plus Jesus makes things right with our creator. I wrote a blog about one notorious man who put these two things together and saw his life transformed: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.

So what about “punishing a moral person for not believing in Him”? It’s not so much punishing as it is not achieving God’s standard for entry into Heaven. To expand on what I touched on earlier, that standard is perfection. I can write that because of what Jesus said: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

We can be a Michael Jordan of morality, but we’re still not perfect. Remember Mother Teresa? She was a shining rock star of morality, but she knew she fell short of God’s standard and that’s why she put Jesus in charge of her life.

So even if you believe you’re a moral person, please consider accepting the gift of Jesus. He’ll take you to a whole new place of morality and joy, starting right NOW. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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As the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) spread and entire countries shut down in a desperate bid to stop it, some of us felt growing unease, fear, impatience and frustration.

Is there nothing anyone can do to stop it? Does the battle seem hopeless?

Perhaps. But I found an Internet meme that explains exactly why it’s NOT hopeless, because it contrasts COVID-19 with one of the most remarkable people in the history of this planet.

You may scoff at what you’re about to read, but I’m hopeful that you’re open-minded enough to give my words mature, thoughtful consideration. It’s all I ask.

COVID-19 causes damage. But the man considered by many people to be the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, heals. How do I know this? Note these words by an ancient Hebrew writer: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. You can read one example of a life healed here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-5g.

Coronavirus creates fear. Jesus brings courage. Here’s evidence, written by an ancient Middle East prophet: Be determined and confident. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.

That courage made atheist Jennifer Fulwiller willing to re-examine her worldview after having her first child and, eventually, become a Jesus follower. I wrote a blog about her story: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-h4.

COVID-19 makes us weak. Jesus brings strength. The words passed along by an ancient Hebrew prophet: There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

That strength helped me decide to follow Jesus even though it created a division with all my biological family, which wants nothing to do with Him.

Coronavirus separates us. Jesus wipes away divisions and brings people together. From a person Jesus trained to follow after Him: In Christ, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or free, male or female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

COVID-19 creates chaos. Jesus gives us peace. The words of Jesus: Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give. I do not give it as the world does. So do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.

That peace helped a grieving mother to forgive her son’s killer. I wrote about it here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-qB.

Coronavirus is temporary. Jesus is eternal. From an ancient Hebrew prophet: Earth and sky will wear out, but not you; you’ll stay the same, year after year; you’ll never fade, you’ll never wear out.

COVID-19 can lead to death. Jesus always leads to life. The words of Jesus: I came so people can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

You can get in on everything Jesus brings to the world simply by making a serious decision to follow Him. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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