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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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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Have you noticed the stereotyping that guides pretty much every thought in this meme?

Yes, famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919-95) was doing a whole lot of spiritual profiling when she made this statement. Let me break it down for you:

1. The clear inference is people of faith–in this case, Christians, since a church is almost always a Christian building–will always construct a church before a hospital. Where on earth does this strange viewpoint come from?

I’m sure there are a few misguided followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) who think this way, but most are smart enough to realize “church” is NOT a building; it’s a body of believers who are doing their imperfect best to live for their creator and be part of the work He is doing in this very broken world.

This accurate definition means a “church” can meet in a school gym (and many do), a community centre or even someone’s living room.

So, I’m glad to conclude that just like Madalyn, I’d rather have a hospital constructed before a church.

2. Why must a deed be done before a prayer said? Why can’t the two happen at the same time? Believe it or not, prayer is often a catalyst to doing deeds.

Through prayer, people who follow Jesus Christ communicate with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Through prayer, we discern what God wants us to do. Then we get out into the world and do it.

Evidence? check out the websites of Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Blind Mission, World Vision, Compassion Canada, International Justice Mission and many more. All the amazing work these aid organizations do is before, during and after prayer.

3. I guess I need to undertake a search because so far, I’ve yet to encounter even one Christian who strives to “escape into death”. Followers of Jesus Christ are deeply involved in life.

In my family alone, one stepdaughter has one child and another on the way. My stepson has two kids with another one coming. Oh, and while he’s being a father, he’s deeply involved in his church, sings in a community choir and helps out at the local bowling alley. Can anyone credibly tell me he’s striving to “escape into death”?

4. I’m happy to report that Christians are absolutely in agreement with Madalyn Murray O’Hair: we, too, want disease conquered, poverty banished and war eliminated.

We want this because not only will it make the world a better place, it’s what God wants. That’s why there are Christian doctors, Christian anti-poverty groups and Christian advocates for peace.

So, now that you know some facts about the people who follow Christ, are you more open to checking out the claims of Christianity? Our culture says don’t waste your time, but this is important stuff — now and after this life ends.

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Dogma: an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behaviour; a settled or established opinion, belief or principle.

–Dictionary.com

This word has taken on a negative context in our culture, suggesting narrow-minded inflexibility that many people insist is simply wrong.

Now, read this meme (posted in an atheist Internet community) again. Doesn’t it sound a little…dogmatic? Consider the points it makes:

“Dogmatic” people lack freedom. Well, freedom to do what? I’m a Christian, which means I believe Jesus Christ is the Divine Son of God and I do my best to live my life according to His principles.

What freedom does Lindsey believe I lack? Can I not think the world is a beautiful place? Of course I can. And I do.

Does this mean I’m going to walk around with rose-coloured glasses and ignore the many, many human-caused problems that plague this planet? Absolutely not. That would be delusional. So should I wonder if Lindsey is deluding herself?

“Dogmatic” people’s vision is clouded and close-minded. Really? Yet another dogmatic assertion. My vision is clear enough to see the world is beautiful AND horribly messed up. One of the reasons I’m a Christian is I believe faith in Jesus Christ is the starting point to fixing that mess.

As for the apparent horror of being “close-minded”, should my brain simply drift like an aimless amoeba for all time? Is that what Lindsey’s mind is doing?

I like what famed British writer and thinker G. K. Chesterton wrote about being open-minded: “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

I shut my mind on something solid when I decided to trust the evidence and believe that the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ paid the price for all the wrong things I’ve done and all the right things I’ve failed to do (a price I could NEVER pay on my own). By doing this, the Bible — which serious Christians believe is inspired by God from start to finish — says I’ll “not be lost but have eternal life” (that’s in a section simply called ‘John’).

What Christ did is a gift that’s offered to everyone, including Lindsey. Including YOU. If you accept that gift, a section of the Bible called ‘Galations’ says you’ll have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness [and] faithfulness”.

This won’t happen overnight. But if you say ‘yes’ to faith in Jesus, a life-long construction project will begin. And it won’t end until this life ends and you spend eternity with your creator.

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

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Oh boy; there’s a lot of fabulous content in this anti-Christian atheist meme. So let’s get started.

1. Brainwashing: Is there brainwashing in Christianity? Sadly, yes. I’m sure if you search long enough, you’ll find some parents who, in effect, brainwash their children to ensure they grow up without ever, ever questioning their Christian beliefs.

Gee, wouldn’t that also apply to parents in other faiths, as well as atheist parents? YES.  In fact, whether Matthew Laramore likes it or not, all of us — including him — are brainwashed in some way. To deny that is to ignore reality.

2. Has the history of Christianity been marked by violence? Unfortunately, yes. People who are opposed to this faith often bring up the Crusades (a series of violent wars, in the 1100s and 1200s, aiming at retaking the Middle East from Islamic rule).

What most critics ignore, however, is at least some of the Crusade campaigns were a response to large-scale violence instigated by Muslim forces against Christians. Investigate for yourself, if you don’t believe me.

Either way, except for the occasional lone-wolf lunatic, Christianity left violence behind many centuries ago. I thank God that followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) understand that love, not violence, is the way to tell the world about Him.

3. The whole “wearing a half-naked dead man nailed against a crucifix” thing has nothing to do with promoting Christianity as non-violent.

It wasn’t Christians who nailed Jesus Christ to a cross; it was soldiers of the Roman Empire, acting on the orders of their leaders. Those leaders were responding to pressure from religious authorities, who believed Jesus was a threat to their power and the religious laws they forced on people. They were right.

This leads to a wonderful truth: Jesus Christ came to free us from brainwashing, from violence and from religious laws.

Looking for evidence? Consider these passages from the Bible:

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good he is. (From a section called ‘Psalms)
In other words, don’t be brainwashed; check out God for yourself.

Don’t fight back against someone who wants to do harm to you. If they hit you on the right cheek, let them hit the other cheek too. (from ‘Matthew’, one of the four accounts of Jesus’s physical time on earth).
In other words, don’t resort to violence, even if someone is violent against you.

Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. (Also from ‘Matthew’.)
In other words, it’s not about “religion”. It’s about a relationship with the Son of God that can start now and stretch into all eternity.

Consider all this carefully. Jesus is about good news, not about anything advanced by Matthew Laramore. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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JesusThe basis of Christianity is a transformed life, now and for all eternity, through faith in Jesus Christ. So this graphic, posted on an atheism Internet community, brings up a very good point.

Did the millions of people who lived and died before Jesus was physically on this earth, about 2,000 years ago, have any chance of going to Heaven? Maybe that’s a question that’s occurred to people like you, who are open to spirituality.

The Bible, which serious Christians believe is the inspired word of God, does not provide an absolutely clear answer – as I’ve discovered while researching the question.

Depending on which website you visit, there are long essays that quote various parts of the Bible to make this or that point. I gotta admit, reading some of this stuff made my eyes glaze over.

But in the end, each website came to the same conclusion: people were granted admission into Heaven, where they will spend eternity with their creator, through faith. Not in themselves. Not in their ability to live good lives, to be kind to others and/or to attend church regularly.

They went to Heaven based on faith only in God. A section of the Bible called ‘Romans’ explains how this faith thing worked in the life of Abraham, who (1) lived and died thousands of years before the arrival of Jesus, and (2) is often considered the common denominator in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths:

If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.

What we read in Scripture is, ‘Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.’

A section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ (written after Christ’s physical time on earth ended) mentions a number of other faith-filled people who were prominent in the centuries before Jesus arrived.

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.

People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted.

But they were after a far better country than that—Heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City [a place in Heaven] waiting for them.

I think it’s pretty plain, from these Bible excerpts, that the atheist who created the meme that inspired this blog didn’t bother to research the character and principles of God before asking the question.

So what’s YOUR viewpoint? If you believe there’s a glorious life after this one, how do you think you’ll get in on it? By just being a “good person”? (If that’s where you stand, who defines “good” and how good is good enough?)

What about faith in Jesus Christ? Does it make sense to you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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