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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

I encountered this meme on Facebook and was immediately struck by its warm and inviting messages. I own more than 700 CDs (yes, I’m happily ‘old school’) and music is always part of my daily life.

That, however, is not why I saved the meme. Instead, it was the first sentence. Notice the love relationship only happens when you love music first? In other words, there’s no love unless you initiate it.

There’s a whole other relationship, that’s even more important than music, which doesn’t require you to do the heavy lifting. I’ll reveal it now, but you may be surprised and even annoyed when you read it, so I hope you’ll keep an open mind.

It’s your creator.

Still with me? Yay! Let me unpack this statement so you’ll fully grasp what I’m writing about.

The creator and master of time, space and the universe loves every person on this planet. No exceptions. I can write that because of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son.

One of the original-source documents about Jesus’ physical life on earth explains that “this is how much God loved the world—He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish, but experience everlasting life.”

There are two things worth noting about this statement:

  1. Notice how it doesn’t say anything about God responding to us? He took the initiative. He acted first. Out of love.
  2. There is no footnote stating the gift is only offered to people who qualify – people who have their act together, who are “good enough”. This explains my earlier statement: all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do don’t disqualify us from God’s love.

It’s clear that this gift of Jesus is important and whether or not we accept it is life-changing. But why? We will “experience everlasting life” through Jesus because when He was put to death by the religious and political leaders of His day, He paid the price for all the moral crimes of everyone who follows Him.

And why is that so vital? Jesus explains it when He told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” So perfection is what it takes to spend eternity in Heaven with God and we can only achieve that through Jesus.

The second message in the meme, about music being the perfect life companion, is nice. But there’s a much, much better life companion: Jesus.

When you accept the gift of Jesus and make Him your lord and saviour, He comes into your life right now and starts to make you more like the person God designed you to be. Music is wonderful, but it certainly can’t do anything like that.

So what do you think? Interested in accepting God’s remarkable, life-changing gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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I’ll admit right now that I initially found the image in this meme shocking. Can there be people in our world who actually think this way?

After a moment’s contemplation, my conclusion is, sadly, yes. I guess they believe that God is no smarter than a bag of hammers and can be manipulated by anyone who knows how to “work the system”.

But maybe there’s something else going on here. Perhaps this meme is a blunt, crude challenge to followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

Are we Jesus followers subconsciously living like the girl in the meme? Oh, we’re not burning down houses, committing murder or running Ponzi schemes, but some of us are living however we please and believing the forgiveness offered by Jesus is a “get out of jail” card to play whenever our conscience bothers us.

That’s absolutely not what following Jesus is all about and I apologize right now if you’ve met someone (perhaps me?) who appears to live this way.

Here are the facts of the matter:

  1. Do you want to get to Heaven when this life ends? Then just being good isn’t going to get you there. Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
  2. No one but Jesus has ever, or will ever, meet Heaven’s admission standard.
  3. God, knowing we couldn’t achieve eternity with Him on our own, did the heavy lifting by sending Jesus. He showed us how to live and then sacrificed His life to pay for ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do.
  4. Anyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him has their moral crimes wiped off the books. Every sin has been forgiven–even the ones you and I might think are unforgivable–and God now sees that person as perfect.

If you’ve read this far, then I’m sure you’ve figured out this is a big deal. A game changer. Something that should begin transforming you as you come to fully understand what Jesus has done.

That’s a key part of placing your faith and trust in Jesus–He comes into your life and starts making you the person God meant for you to be. He makes you interested:

  • in gathering with other Jesus followers
  • in reading original-source documents about His life
  • in leaving behind your old, unsatisfying, superficial ways of living.

This remarkable process of transformation won’t end until this life is finished and you go to meet Him.

Are you understanding that the forgiveness offered by Jesus through His life, His death, and His resurrection three days later is more incredible and more important than anything you could hope to experience on planet Earth? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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If you’ve ever thought about Jesus of Nazareth — who many people believe is the Son of God — then perhaps this meme’s message has crossed your mind.

Believing the cliche provides an easy reason not to bother exploring who Jesus is, if He matters at all in this pandemic world and, most importantly, if He should matter to YOU.

But I trust that because you’re here, you’re open to spirituality and open to going beyond the dogma pushed by our culture.

First of all, what’s a reasonable definition of “fun”? Among the answers offered by Dictionary.com, this one applies most to the meme: something that provides mirth or amusement.

So what are the “somethings” that Jesus followers supposedly avoid? We can certainly “party” – only for us, that shouldn’t have to include drugs and/or excessive alcohol. I’m going to be bold and suggest that folks who need these to enjoy socializing have problems that require immediate attention.

Sex? Up to the last 100 years ago or so, many Jesus followers bought into the bizarre and stifling notion that it was a necessary evil to have children. Once that was accomplished, we could move on to more noble pursuits.

I thank God that this lie has been dumped in the garbage bin of history. We can absolutely enjoy one of our creator’s greatest gifts. We’re just supposed to do it in the context of marriage.

I imagine this is part of what the meme is addressing. How dare we treat sex as something important and perhaps even sacred, rather than just another fun part of a drunken night on the town.

But look at the results of our culture’s obsession with sex: broken relationships, pedophilia, sex trafficking (see: Jeffrey Epstein), disease and violence (if you ever talk to a prostitute, ask how often she’s been beaten up). I’m sure more social ills can be added to the list.

In the end, I believe the pursuits valued by our culture are really about searching for meaning and significance. And that search will be fruitless until we are willing to ask the BIG questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • Is there more to life than 70-plus years of sleeping, working, going to the bathroom and waiting to expire?
  • What happens when this life ends?

This is where following Jesus makes sense. If you’re willing to explore who He is and how He can be part your life right now, I believe you’ll come to understand the words of a dude named Paul, who was one of His earliest and most remarkable followers. Paul told anyone willing to listen that “It is through Jesus that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are.”

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a fun 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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Well, this caught me off guard. And maybe it will surprise you, too.

In his new book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind, British author and historian Tom Holland, who is not a Christian, claims the morals of the western world would not exist without Christianity.

For many people, this claim might seem heretical, deluded and just plain wrong. But Holland makes a strong case.

Writing for stream.org, reviewer Jonathon Van Maren notes this:

While studying the ancient world, Holland writes, he realized something. Simply, the ancients were cruel, and their values utterly foreign to him. The Spartans routinely murdered “imperfect” children. The bodies of slaves were treated like outlets for the physical pleasure of those with power. Infanticide was common. The poor and the weak had no rights.

So how did we get from that horrific past to the much better (yet still very imperfect) present? Van Maren picks this up from Holland’s book:

It was Christianity, Holland writes. Christianity revolutionized sex and marriage, demanding that men control themselves and prohibiting all forms of rape. Christianity confined sexuality within monogamy. (It is ironic, Holland notes, that these are now the very standards for which Christianity is derided.) Christianity elevated women. In short, Christianity utterly transformed the world.

This is stunning – until you realize it’s part of a trend. Richard Dawkins, the celebrity atheist who wrote The God Delusion (considered by many to be a modern-day bible of atheism) has recently warned that if Christianity is wiped off the map in the western world, it could be replaced by something far, far worse.

That’s not a glowing endorsement for following Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the divine Son of God), until you remember it’s coming from a very public, articulate and strident critic of Christianity.

If you’ve gotten this far, perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, that’s nice. Glad Christianity did some good stuff. But what does that have to do with me?”

Well, since you’re open to spirituality, this is a good time to ask yourself what other faiths have contributed to western civilization. And I include atheism here, because it takes faith to believe there’s nothing behind all we see and experience.

If you’re partial to the self-help approach to spirituality, then my pastor friend Ross Carkner has a few questions:

Does self-help make the world a better place? Or does it just help me? And if it’s just about me, isn’t that narcissistic? To be worth anything, self-help must eventually be turned outwards — and when it does, what guides it?

Given the viewpoints of Tom Holland and Richard Dawkins, and given Ross’s thoughts about a self-help approach to life, let me ask you this: is it time you seriously investigated the claims of Jesus?

I believe if you do this with open-minded honesty, you’ll be drawn to this extraordinary man and place Him at the centre your world now and in the life to come.

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

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Maybe you’ve wondered about the very pointed question in this meme. Certainly atheists and others have long argued that a loving creator would never devise anything as horrifying as hell.

So stick with me while we examine the facts around hell and a loving God.

1. Hell was absolutely NOT created for human beings. Says who? Says Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s perfect Son.

In one of the primary source documents about His physical life on earth, Jesus referred to hell as “the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels.” That’s right. NOT for people.

2. God’s love is absolutely unconditional. How do I know that? Because there are people in Heaven right now who have lived lives much more wretched and evil than you and me. I wrote a blog about one of those people: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-ko.

Maybe that fact disgusts you. I understand. But every person on this planet, including you and me, has committed moral crimes – either through the bad things we’ve done or through the good things we’ve failed to do. Every. Single. Person. So who are we to tell God where people should go after their lives end?

3. Hell continues to exist because many, many people – past, present and future – want it to exist. No, I’m not losing my sanity. Hear me out.

Getting into Heaven is simple. Just be absolutely perfect. It’s the price of admission because Jesus said, “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

How can anyone achieve this impossible standard? On our own, we can’t. But it’s a different story when we decide, with sober thoughtfulness, to follow Jesus. He sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for the moral crimes of every person who declares Him Lord and Saviour. For those followers, God doesn’t see our crimes; all He sees is His Son’s perfection.

So what happens to people who reject Jesus? They’re sending God a clear, unmistakable message: I don’t want to go to Heaven when this life finishes. I want to go to hell. And so the God of unconditional love grants them their wish, even though He desperately doesn’t want to.

I know God wants everyone – including YOU – in Heaven because one of the people Jesus personally trained to follow after him wrote “The Lord does not want any person to be punished forever. He wants all people to be sorry for their sins and turn from them.”

So consider Jesus to be a gift. All you need to do is accept it, then He’ll come into you life and start to make you more like the person He knows you can be. And when this life ends, you’ll meet Him face-to-face in Heaven. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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While I was being driven from work to pick up my car at the auto repair shop, the shuttle driver kept me fascinated explaining his research into family ancestry.

I can identify with him because while I haven’t done any ancestry research, I still place importance on my family’s past, present and future. I really like that sense of belonging.

Maybe you’ve heard it said that we all belong to what some spiritual folks call “God’s family”. Or maybe they’ve told you we’re all “children of God”. If you believe in a creator, that probably makes sense and has a sweet appeal.

But is it true? From the perspective of my faith – I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son – we are all God’s creations. Beyond the procreating actions of our parents, serious Jesus followers believe none of us would be here without God.

However, that doesn’t mean we’re in His family. Consider this: many of us know of someone whose family has a ‘black sheep’ – a person who, through their awful behaviour, has been kicked out of the family. They’re cut off from communication and banned from family events.

Now consider the character of God. Whether you agree or not, He’s perfect. How can I advance this? Well, let me quote Jesus: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Note what Jesus is saying:

  1. This is the character of God.
  2. We must also be perfect in order to meet God’s standard and, after our earthly lives end, spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

The reality is, we’ve all fallen horribly short of God’s standard. An ancient prophet wrote, “It is your sins that separate you from your God. He turns away from you when he sees them.” So we’re all black sheep who are NOT in God’s family.

But there’s good news here. God WANTS YOU in His family. In fact, He’s so driven by that desire that He sent Jesus to earth to show us how to live and then to sacrifice His life to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do.

If you give this serious thought, you’ll realize Jesus is a life-changing gift of love and mercy. All you have to do is accept it. And if you do that, with thoughtful sincerity, God sees you as He sees Jesus: perfect in every way.

Furthermore, if you accept the gift of Jesus, declare Him to be your Lord and Saviour, then you become more than God’s creation. You become part of His family. Then He comes into your life and starts to make you more like Jesus.

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 Jan. 25 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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