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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

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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Well colour me gobsmacked.

I don’t follow the National Basketball Association, but even I know who Kobe Bryant is. That’s why I was as shocked as so many others at the news that the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Laker and one of his daughters were among nine people who died January 2020 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Bryant’s entire career (1996-2016) was with the Lakers. He is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His accomplishments:

  • Five NBA championships
  • 18-time all-star (a league record)
  • NBA’s Most Valuable Player in the 2007-2008 season
  • Fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
  • Two-time basketball Olympic gold medalist

Tragedies are a fact of life in this world, but it seems like they don’t often happen to famous people.

That said, there’s a message in the midst of this horrible event. When even wealthy, renowned sports gods can unexpectedly die at an early age, what does that say to us ordinary folks?

The answer is plain: you and I could be done with this life before the end of the day. All our plans, our retirement savings, our accomplishments, our possessions, our relationships—in other words, everything we (and our culture) value—could be left at the side of the road.

That’s leads to another question: Do you believe you have a soul?

I know I do and I believe you have a soul, too And I know our souls have incredible value. God tells me so. Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s perfect Son) says “What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

Kobe Bryant had everything our culture says a person could hope for: awards, fame, riches, relationships (a wife, Vanessa, and four daughters) and possessions. Now, I believe he faces his maker and has to account for every wrong thing he ever did and every right thing he failed to do.

I can write this because Jesus says “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

That’s a tough standard. In fact, that’s an impossible standard for any human being to meet. And God knows it. That’s why He sent Jesus to this earth to show us how to live and then, for the people who believe in Him and follow Him, to pay the penalty for all the wrongs things they’ve done and all the right things they’ve failed to do.

The beauty of that gift is that God no longer sees our glowing wrongs. All He sees is His Son’s perfection.

We’ll never know where Kobe Bryant stood with God. But you can make sure you’re in the right place. Just accept the gift of Jesus and watch how He starts to change your life for the better right now.

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

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Let’s talk about the gods most of us worship.

Perhaps it’s not the God known to many people, including those who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many believe is the Son of God). That’s probably who the creator of this meme, found on an atheist website, was thinking about.

So who — or what — god might it be? The list of candidates is, sadly, longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

  • Wealth: how many people sacrifice relationships, family life, peace and even a good night’s sleep trying to fill their bank accounts to overflowing? And how much do we really, really need to retire comfortably?
  • Toys: Are our garages big enough to hold the boats, RVs, ATVs and riding lawnmowers that our culture says we should own? Can I find the space needed to cram an 85-inch flat-screen TV into the family room?
  • Career: Is it enough to be a regional manager? Wouldn’t my resume look even better if I was a vice-president? Or maybe a government cabinet minister?
  • Public image: How many of us strive to look endlessly happy and witty on social media?
  • Sex: According to the publisher of adult-entertainment trade publication XBIZ, the North American pornography industry earns at least $6 billion annually. Can anyone credibly insist it’s not a god to millions?

I’m not off the hook here. My wife can easily advance the case that my photography hobby (obsession?) and computer are gods that I kneel before.

So what about you? If you look hard in the mirror, can you admit one or more of these gods sits on the throne of your life? And admit they’re probably not providing the satisfaction and purpose that our culture insists they should?

I write all this to tell you the creator of the universe leaves all these petty little gods in the dust. Why? Because wealth, toys, career, public image and sex couldn’t possibly care less about YOU in this life or the life to come. And when this life ends, all those little gods are left behind like smelly litter.

Believe it or not, the creator of the universe knows YOU and cares about YOU. Jeremiah, an ancient prophet, puts it like this: The Lord says, “I love you people with a love that continues forever.”

Maybe you’ve read that statement, then looked at your life or at the state of our planet and declared “no way”. So just consider these facts:

  1. Rock-hard evidence of God’s love for YOU is the gift of freewill. That gift is why this world is in its current broken state.
  2. Imagine how much worse things would be if God wasn’t involved in the world, if He wasn’t working in ways you and I will never understand in this life. No, don’t imagine it because that’s depressing. Just consider being thankful.

So what do you do with this love? Let me suggest a radical answer: accept God’s gift of His Son Jesus of Nazareth. When you accept Him and follow Him, God know longer sees the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. He only sees His Son’s perfection, transferred onto you.

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

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Oh man, talk about arriving late to the party. The American fantasy comedy TV series The Good Place finished its fourth and final season and I’d only seen part of the debut episode.

But then a friend turned me on to season 3, episode 9. That episode highlights Doug Forcett, a man doing absolutely everything he possibly can to live a “perfect” life. The idea is to earn enough points to gain him entry to The Good Place after his life is finished.

Doug (played by Michael McKean) lives off the grid, grows his own food, drinks recycled water (don’t imagine what that fully means), has adopted every stray dog he’s ever encountered and lets people take advantage of him.

Initially, this all seems great to Michael (Ted Danson). A reformed demon from the “bad place”, he’s now trying to get some of his human friends into The Good Place. In this episode, he’s masquerading as a reporter interviewing Doug because, as he tells Janet, his second-in-command, Doug “is the blueprint; he figured it all out.”

Leaving aside the silly comedic extremes, maybe that concept makes some sense to you. It’s definitely part of many faith systems—live right and you’ll get to The Good Place.

But read about how crazy this kind of thinking can become: Doug accidentally steps on a snail. His desperate attempts to resuscitate the creature fail, so after holding a funeral, he decides to walk three days (cars are bad for the environment and so he’d lose points if he used one) to make a donation to a mollusk association.

Even Michael starts to realize this is nuts, so he tells Doug “live your life. Travel. Drink regular water.”

“No, I can’t risk it,” Doug says. “There’s an accountant out there, measuring the value of everything I do. What if I do something and lose just enough points to keep me out of The Good Place?”

Thankfully, there is a way of living and thinking that’s absolutely opposite to Doug’s soul-crushing obligations. It’s called Christianity. Please stay with me while I explain this.

God’s standard is perfection. The evidence? Jesus of Nazareth (whom many people believe is God’s Son) says to anyone willing to listen that, “You must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

But God knows that no one can meet that standard and gain entry to “The Good Place”. So He came to earth as Jesus, taught us how to live, then died on a Roman cross to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

Now, anyone who believes in Jesus and decides to follow Him is seen by God as perfect. And that means they gain entry to The Good Place. Even better, it means that as soon as you accept the gift of Jesus, God enters your life and starts making you the person He created you to be.

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

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I imagine there are some folks who’ll read this meme, helpfully supplied by an atheist internet site, and nod their heads in agreement.

If you’re one of those people, then let me pose these questions: Why is the second question like the first? Can you explain the connection?

This strikes me as a ‘bait-and-switch’, like showing up to take advantage of a great deal on a car, then told none of those cars are available but hey, how about this vehicle at a higher price?

Just as those deals have nothing in common, so it is with this atheist meme.

A wise pastor friend weighed in on it. Ross Carkner noted that the term “master” often has nothing to do with the viewpoint advanced in the meme. How about ‘master electrician’ or ‘master craftsman’? Those images are every bit as relevant as the ancient cliche of the slave-driving master.

The work done by master craftsmen (or women) brings shapeless objects to life and provides them with a purpose. A master craftsman sees potential in what the rest of us may only dismiss as a gnarly piece of driftwood.

The craftsman shapes that wood, cutting away the bits that take away from the whole, sanding the sharp, brittle edges to gentle curves that are appealing to touch. Then he applies layers of lacquer to bring out the barely-seen colours and make the finished product something people admire as art.

I’ve seen so much evidence, in my life and the lives of others, that the Creator of the universe – the creator of you and me – is that kind of master. (This Frank’s Cottage blog details a remarkable example of God’s transforming work: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-5g.)

In the ancient world, a dude named Paul experienced this transformation. Then he told others about it: “I’m sure about this: the One who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus [who many people believe is God’s Son].”

That’s right; whether you know it or not, God the master craftsman has begun a good work in YOU. And He’s no quitter; He wants to finish that work and make you the person He knows you can be.

So how can you get in on this? Simple. Accept the gift of Jesus – His perfect life, sacrificial death and mind-blowing resurrection – whom God offers to every person on this planet.

When you decide to follow Jesus, then God comes into your life to begin changing you, a process that won’t end until you’re finished with this life. And when that day comes, you’ll spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven because God won’t see any of the wrong things you’ve done or the right things you’ve failed to do. He’ll only see His Son’s perfection.

There’s no bait-and-switch here. The incredible deal you came to accept is the incredible deal you’ll get. Sound good? Yes or no, comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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