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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is there any truth to this viewpoint, which I found on an atheist Internet community? Unfortunately, yes.

Just visit some Christian or Muslim communities in Google+ or Facebook and you’re sure to encounter a few “religious” people who believe they have all the answers to life’s questions.

But isn’t this the case for every group out there? I’ve spent time in atheist Internet communities and have encountered many, many people who announce their opinions — such as the assumption stated in this graphic — as if they were scientifically proven facts. It just ain’t so.

Most Christians I know absolutely do not go around claiming to know it all. In fact, it just takes a few moments of mature, respectful conversation with thoughtful Christians to discover they have all kinds of questions about the things they don’t know. And I’m one of them.

But here’s the thing: it’s not about what we don’t know. It’s about what we DO know. Here’s a brief summary:

1. God loves every person on this planet, no exceptions. How do serious Christians know this? Because we shine a light on a very important part of the Bible, simply called ‘John’, that 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.

2. God wants a living, breathing relationship with us. Consider these Bible excerpts:
Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have (from a section called ‘Philippians). Notice the word “everything” in what we are to pray for?
I came to give life—life that is full and good (from ‘John’).
I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future (from ‘Jeremiah’).

3. The wrong things we’ve done, and the right things we’ve failed to do, have put a wall between us and God. Evidence? All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness (from ‘Romans’).

4. God went to extraordinary lengths to knock down that wall, by offering Jesus — His life, his sacrificial death, His glorious resurrection — as a gift to anyone willing to accept Him. The evidence: Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us (also from ‘Romans’).

5. When you accept the gift of Jesus, God no longer sees the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. He only sees His Son’s perfection. And when you accept the gift of Jesus, He comes into your life and starts a process of change that doesn’t end until this life finishes and you spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

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

 

 

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Dictionary.com has several definitions for “pawn”. The one that seems most relevant to this atheist graphic is “someone who is used or manipulated to further another person’s purposes”.

Based on all this, I’m quite happy to report that the graphic is gloriously CORRECT.

Before I explain why, let me make one thing clear: every person on this planet is a pawn. Including YOU.

We are pawns of political parties, special interest groups, Hollywood stars, loved ones, sports “heroes”, big business, social media and almost anything else you can name.

We are constantly on the receiving end of manipulation, even as we seek — often unconsciously — to manipulate others. In fact, I could be accused of attempting to manipulate you right now.

So how is the graphic that inspired this blog so thoroughly right? Because serious Christians like me, who believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, WANT to be a pawn.

We want to be used or manipulated to further God’s agenda in a world that even optimistic people must admit isn’t doing well. His agenda starts and ends with restoring us to Him.

Right now, most of us have little or no connection to our creator because we follow the agenda of our culture: Earn more money. Get more power. Buy bigger flat-screen TVs. Obsess about the lives of celebrities. Botox our way to better looks. Pamper ourselves with luxurious vacations.

Notice the common denominator? All these agenda items are about me-me-me.

Now consider God’s agenda:

  • Love your enemies and pray for them (spoken by Jesus in a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’).
  • Do for others what you would have them do for you (found in ‘Luke’). Notice how active this is? Jesus is saying don’t just avoid doing wrong things to others, get out there and do good things.
  • Avoid judging others, because how you judge them is how God will judge you (also from ‘Matthew’).
  • Put others ahead of yourself, just as Jesus did when he was physically on earth (from ‘Philippians’).
  • Show mercy to others and leave judgement to God (from ‘James’)
  • Help those who are in need (also from ‘James’).
  • Live with a sense of thankfulness (from ‘1 Thessalonians’).

Notice the common denominator? These agenda items are about others. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I write that if all of us strived to live this way, our world would be a better place.

But how can we make this a priority when we so often do wrong and fail to do right? I have a radical, life-changing answer: accept the gift of Jesus Christ, who is offered to EVERYONE.

Accept that Jesus died to wipe all your ‘sin’ off the books. Welcome Him into your heart and mind. Then watch as He starts changing your life — a project that can begin NOW and end when you finish life on this planet and then spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

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

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When I first encountered this atheist graphic, I experienced a moment of heart sickness because there are Christians out there who actually think like this.

I see this kind of horrific mindset every time someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) almost gleefully tells gay people or atheist people that they’re going to burn in hell.

it’s almost as if they think God WANTS some people to burn. Not only is that a sickening thought, it’s also wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here’s the truth, according to the Bible:

  • 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 a section called ‘John’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth.)
  • God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning (from a section called ‘2 Peter’).
  • God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth (From ‘1 Timothy’).

Does any of this sound like God is holding a lighter, just itching to turn you into a screaming torch?

These Bible quotes point to an important bottom line: every person on this planet has done wrong and failed to do right. No exceptions. And this is serious business because according to the Bible, God is perfect and that’s His standard for judging all of humanity (see ‘Matthew’, another biography of Jesus).

When this life is finished, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ says every one of us will appear before God and have to somehow explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

I guarantee you it’s not going to go well. But God offers a solution: Jesus Christ. When Jesus was found guilty of ridiculous, trumped-up charges and crucified on a Roman cross, that death paid the penalty you and I would have to pay for our sins. He took our punishment on His shoulders.

I call that an extraordinary, life-changing gift. And that gift is available to EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done (or not done). As author Philip Yancey put it so well in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “God gave up His own Son rather than give up on humanity”.

How can you get in on this gift? Just accept it. That’s all.

When you believe that Jesus took the penalty for your sins and decide you want to follow Him, He’ll come into your heart and start a life-long process of making you the person God created you to be. And when this life ends and you stand before God, the only thing God will see is His Son’s perfection.

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

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I’m pretty sure that when he drew this particular comic strip, Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis didn’t think it would become an educational tool. But the moment I saw it, my spidey sense tingled and I snapped a photo with my iPhone.

Pastis is criticizing Christianity here and even if you agree with him, I hope you’re open-minded enough to read on as I tell you the truth about this faith.

1. Going to church will NOT get you, or anyone else, into Heaven. This very common misconception has no connection with Bible-based Christianity.

Don’t get me wrong; attending regular services is a great idea. At church you can learn who God is, why He is passionately interested in YOU and how you can become the person He created you to be.

Oh, and along the way, you’ll learn exactly what Heaven is, why it’s the best place to be when this life ends and how you can make that happen.

But it doesn’t matter how often you attend church; on its own, it still won’t get you to Heaven.

2. In theory, cleaning up your act can get you into Heaven. But what does that mean? I can tell you right now that it means, way, WAY more than putting an end to drinking, swearing and carousing.

In terms of the Bible (which serious Christians believe is God’s guidebook to this life and the life to come), it means becoming perfect. In fact, a section of the Bible simply called ‘Matthew’ puts it this way: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect”.

I feel quite safe in writing that no one on this planet except Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son) has ever, EVER come close to that standard.

So, how are you feeling now about your chances of qualifying for Heaven on your own efforts?

3. Are there judgemental, “religious” people in Heaven? Nope. Not even one. The people who arrive there after this life ends are transformed; ALL their character flaws are deleted, leaving only the best behind to live in eternity with their Creator.

In fact, think of the people in your life who you most admire, who you love spending time with, who inspire and encourage you, who bring you joy. Those are the kind of people in Heaven.

So after all this, how do you get to Heaven? It’s simple: God offers you Jesus Christ — His life, His groundbreaking teachings, His remarkable compassion, His sin-destroying sacrificial death, His life-restoring resurrection — as a gift. All you need to do is accept that gift.

When you say yes to the gift of Jesus, He enters your soul and starts the life-long process of making you into the person God created you to be. That process finally finishes when this life ends and you enter into eternity with Him.

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

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Elton John is being too kind here. The reality is, “organized religion” absolutely, overwhelmingly does not work.

In fact, “organized religion” is so wildly unsuccessful that just putting those two words together causes a negative reaction in people like me.

Because I follow Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God — you might not understand. Aren’t people like me all about “religion”? In a word, NO.

Serious followers of Christ have zero interest in “religion” because it does exactly what Elton John says. Religious people seem addicted to:

  • harshly opposing anyone who doesn’t agree with them
  • judging others based on horribly superficial criteria like clothing, body jewelry, language and political positions
  • ignoring or downplaying their own weaknesses
  • isolating themselves from the world, instead of working to improve it

Where does this all lead? So often, it leads to religious people concluding that because they’re right, everyone else is wrong. It’s a pretty short trip from that conclusion to persecuting those “wrong” people.

Unfortunately, history overflows with horrifying examples of that thinking, from Christians rioting against Jews in the Middle Ages to present-day Islamic terrorists murdering Christians, Jews and anyone else who opposes their radical agenda.

There you have it; the hateful lemmings of “organized religion”.

Now let me advance to you the position of Jesus Christ. In his book The End of Religion, Bruxy Cavey notes that in the Bible, Jesus “is not portrayed as the founder of a world religion, but the challenger of all religions. I am not suggesting that Jesus opposes all forms of organization, but that he opposes dependence on any one organization for our connection with God.”

Bruxy, a Canadian pastor, goes on to make this statement: “the primary mission of Jesus was to tear down religion as the foundation for people’s connection with God and to replace it with himself.”

Exactly. Being a Christian is not about being part of a religion. It’s about establishing a relationship with the Son of God through prayer, reading the Bible and attending church. As that relationship deepens, Christ followers open their heart, minds and souls to being led by Jesus to a place where we:

  1. Come to understand and support God’s position that all people, from terrorists to politicians, from blue-collar workers to billionaires, are worthy of His passionate love.
  2. Humbly agree that no one has the inside track on virtue; everyone has “sinned” — that is, missed the mark of what we can be — and that by following Jesus, God can and does change that through radical forgiveness.
  3. Recognize that we are Christ’s loving ambassadors in a world that most of us will agree is not doing very well. In fact, as Christ’s ambassadors, Christians are really God’s agents of change — allowing Him to work through us to make this planet a better place.

Do you want to be one of God’s agents of change? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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When I saw this meme, helpfully posted in an atheism community, it instantly grabbed my attention because most of us, me included, don’t really know who believes in Heaven.

So I did some research. According to Wikipedia:

Buddhists seem to believe Heaven is a temporary illusionary reality (though, to be honest, it’s hard to nail down exactly what Buddhism teaches in this respect).

Hindus believe Heaven is a place of eternal, sublime beauty for liberated souls, but it’s not Hinduism’s final pursuit. Like Buddhism (from which it springs), I find it’s difficult to discern an exact Hindu concept of Heaven.

Sikhs believe “Heaven and Hell are not places for living hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not exist otherwise.”

Jews — at least the orthodox strain — believe Heaven is part of a three-level universe; it’s above, Earth is in the middle and the underworld is the realm of the dead.

Muslims believe Heaven is an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds.

So, in this way, the graphic meme has a good point: others besides Christians believe they could be going to Heaven when this life ends.

So why do most serious Christians (who believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God) believe that Heaven — the dwelling place of God, His angels, His Son and all truly committed followers of Jesus — is only open to those who proclaim Christ as Lord and Saviour?

The answer is simple: Serious Christians believe in what the Bible says and in it (a section on Jesus’s life called ‘John’), Jesus tells people “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me”.

Is that exclusionary? In one sense, absolutely. In another sense, absolutely not. Anyone can accept God’s gift of Jesus Christ — His miracles and teaching, His dying on a cross to make up for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do, and His resurrection from the dead.

All these things are taught in the Bible and there’s plenty of evidence to back up the key elements of Christ’s life. (Visit http://www.carm.org or http://www.ReasonableFaith.org and read the evidence for yourself.)

The key thing is — and this is the best news you’re ever going to read — it doesn’t matter if you’ve ignored God and His Son up ’til now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve followed another faith or guru. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed evil for which you can’t forgive yourself. All of it becomes secondary when you believe in Christ and dedicate your life to following Him.

If you’ve done that, then all of Heaven is yours. And that Heaven, which includes an intimate relationship with God through His Son, starts right now, in THIS life.

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

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