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Posts Tagged ‘Frank’s Cottage’

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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Perhaps you’ve had thoughts along the lines of this atheist meme. “No one can even prove God exists. So why should I bother with Him?”

I get that. We can feel foolish for believing something our culture insists is a joke.

But is it? I’m not about to explain all the evidence for a creator. Many websites make that case very well (check out the ‘links’ tab for a few of them). I’ll just highlight one: the existence of this universe and the fact it’s ridiculously fine-tuned to allow life as we know it.

The website Biologos.org explains my point like this: “If the universe had physical constants with even slightly different values, the universe simply could not support life. It would expand too quickly, or never form carbon atoms, or never make complex molecules like DNA.”

I hope this gives you something to think about. But notice the meme is making a different point? It claims God can’t prove He exists. That leaves me scratching my head; just because God hasn’t proven His existence certainly doesn’t mean He can’t.

Consider this: If God proved He exists, then there would be limits on His gift of free-will — in this case, the freedom to be an atheist. If the horrors of human history prove anything, it’s that God champions free-will above everything.

So if you’re beginning to suspect the claims of this meme are not important, then move on to consider a man. Not only did He believe God exists, He believed He was put on this planet to show people God’s new and better way of living and thinking.

His radical philosophy includes:

  • Don’t just try to tolerate those you dislike–actually LOVE them.
  • Don’t fight back against someone who wants to harm you. If they hit you on one cheek, let them hit the other cheek, too.
  • You will be judged the same way you judge others. God will treat you the same way you treat others.
  • If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then God will forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive, then God will not forgive you.

This man — Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God — made another point that’s even more important than what you’ve just read. He told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Oooo, that’s a tough one — an impossibility for us very imperfect humans to achieve. And the point Jesus is making is that perfection is the only ticket that will get us into Heaven when this life is finished.

So what to do? The solution is to trust in and follow Jesus. Original-source documents of His physical life on earth say that as the Son of God, He was put to death to make up for ALL the wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things His followers failed to do.

When you trust in and follow Jesus, God sees you like He sees Jesus: perfect in every way. Not only will that get you into Heaven, it also opens the door to God coming into your life RIGHT NOW to help you become the person He always wanted 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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Most of us have grown so accustomed to living in a credit card world that we give it no more thought than breathing or going to the bathroom.

We use the card, a bill arrives every month and we either pay it off or pay the minimum and eventually deal with the interest charges.

This system exists in another world, too: the world of our behaviour. When I’m rude to another driver, engage in hurtful gossip or find shady ways to avoid paying taxes, that goes on my spiritual credit card. When I ignore the needs of people around me, stay silent in the face of injustices or fail to use my God-given gifts for good, that goes on my spiritual credit card.

You might notice that I’m writing about two elements of behaviour: the wrong things we do and the right things we fail to do.

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), I know both elements are equally important to my creator.

Do you pay attention to both? I often don’t and that’s something I need to pray about, asking God to open my eyes and heart to see and act on the opportunities He gives me to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world.

Returning to the spiritual credit card theme, I’ve built up quite a list of items, many of them things I’m not even aware of. So have you.

As with the credit card in your purse or wallet, all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do must be paid for at some point. This is more important than you might think because Jesus tells everyone who’s willing to listen that You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Jesus says this because when this life ends, perfection is the admission price to spending eternity with Him in Heaven. Nothing else will get you past the bouncer at the door.

So my question is: how will you pay off your spiritual credit card? I know that I can’t pay off my card and achieve perfection. It’s simply not possible. And I believe that’s the case for you, too.

Acknowledging this FACT means someone has to pay off our cards for us. And the only person who qualifies – the only person who is perfect – is Jesus.

When He was physically on earth, government and religious officials who were offended by His words and deeds arrested him on trumped-up charges and put Him to death. But their actions served an entirely different and life-changing purpose: His death paid all the credit card charges for everyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

Now, when God looks at Jesus followers, all He sees is His Son’s perfection. And that’s what the bouncer at the door to Heaven will see, too. But just as important, when you say yes to God’s gift of Jesus, you welcome Him into your life RIGHT NOW to help you become 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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I’m fascinated by the underlying points being made by this meme. Maybe you’ve noticed them too:

  1. Authority, revelation or faith are absolutely useless when it comes to beliefs.
  2. evidence will always destroy beliefs.

That’s what Dawkins, the author and controversial atheist, is really saying here. As a person of faith, I don’t agree with him, but having beliefs with zero evidence to back them up is a sad way to live. That said, I can’t imagine there are many people walking around with beliefs for which they can’t provide at least a crumb of evidence.

In my case, I believe in and follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. I’m not going to get into the evidence for His life, miracles, death and resurrection here (there are many, many books and websites that explore the evidence in great detail), but I will write that without that evidence, I would not have become a Jesus follower.

Still, evidence AND faith are needed to become a Jesus follower and I have no problem with that. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all live with this mix. One quick example: getting on an airplane means placing your faith in the pilots, the maintenance crews and the manufacturer that this metal tube is gonna get you to your destination in one piece. (Wikipedia lists more than 200 examples of where that faith was misplaced, each time killing at least 100 people.)

So let’s get to my main point and that is: atheism is a belief. Atheists believe there is nothing behind all we see and experience. Atheists believe we have no soul and, when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s necessary).

What is the evidence for these beliefs? I imagine they would point to this horribly messed up world and declare no god would ever allow wars, ethnic cleansing, dementia, poverty or hurricanes. All of that is good evidence. But for millions and millions and millions of people like me, it’s nowhere near enough.

Without exploring this in detail (that would require entire blogs), suffice it to say that much of this evidence can be explained by the gift of freewill. For example, poverty happens because:

  • Economic systems keep rich countries rich and poor countries poor.
  • governments spend billions of dollars on military instead of education, social programs and providing clean water.
  • Corruption prevents resources from getting to people in need.

As a Jesus follower, I know that the creator and master of time, space and the universe is working to change that, while still respecting His gift of freewill. Jesus-following organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, LifeWater, Compassion Canada and Christian Blind Mission are among the tools He’s using.

So, what kind of beliefs do you want? Atheism strikes me as being utterly hope-less and I don’t think anyone wants to live without hope. So check out Jesus. Learn why He’s God’s gift to anyone willing to follow Him. And how accepting the gift of Jesus provides you with credible, meaningful hope for this life and the life to come.

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When I came upon this meme, I immediately saw two inferences: (1) only people who our culture considers “weak” go to church and, (2) church (or any kind of faith, for that matter) cannot help us get through life’s challenges.

From my perspective, these broad generalizations entirely miss the point of faith.

Most importantly, when hard times smack you in the face, do you want to face them alone? As my pastor friend Ross Carkner points out, “church isn’t a place that you go to, but a people you do life with. And life isn’t an individual sport; it’s often a war and we do battle together.”

Ross’s point is significant because unlike, say, a wine-tasting group or a book club, church deals with the most important matters of life. And because of that, churches are uniquely equipped to help you deal with disappointments and bad news.

Are people of faith weak and incapable of standing tall when setbacks strike like a hurricane? Some folks might think so, but those of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) know that He’s the one who makes us strong.

We are strengthened through His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do) and His resurrection. We are made capable of forgiving even the most heinous crimes because through Jesus, we are totally forgiven.

That might make us seem weak to some, but there’s no point in living life angry and bitter. Before deciding to follow Jesus, that’s what I was like and it made me unpleasant to be around.

When Jesus followers encounter hard times, we absolutely want to fall to our knees and start praying. I know many critics of faith believe prayer is an eye-rolling waste of time, but for us, it:

  • connects us to Jesus
  • helps us to discern how He wants us to respond to the challenges before us
  • gives us the willpower to stand tall

Just as important as these points, connecting to Jesus helps us to understand that life isn’t just about our needs, our hopes and our struggles. It’s about seeing – and responding to – the pain and suffering around us.

Because of our faith in Jesus, we become God’s ambassadors in a world that even the most optimistic person will admit isn’t doing very well. Out of that has come Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion Canada, Christian Blind Mission, International Justice Mission and many other charities that are helping people in crisis to get back on their feet and stand tall.

So let me end by making a suggestion that ties directly into the meme: if you have young kids, take them to church, even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on and even if you’re not sure what you believe. When you take that step, you keep the door of faith open for your children to explore. If you’re a person open to spirituality, I believe that would be important to you.

Agree? Disagree? Post your response below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting with God can:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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