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Posts Tagged ‘John 3:16’

Lists are usually easy and fun to read, so I’ve been enjoying “32 Reasons to be an Atheist (as Opposed to a Christian)”, a blog by someone calling themselves ‘Violetwisp’.

Many of his/her points are worth consideration by people who are open to spirituality. Let’s check out a few of them:

1. You don’t have to get up on Sunday mornings if you don’t feel like it. This is referring to attending church services. Well, I’m a Christian and there are Sundays when I don’t go. People who follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) don’t have to go to church—indeed, going to church doesn’t make anyone a Christian, just as going to McDonald’s doesn’t make anyone a Big Mac.

The idea behind attending church is to be surrounded by people who are doing their best to follow Jesus. Together, we learn from each other and from our leaders what it means to be a Christian. And there’s no one taking attendance.

3. You don’t have to fake smile at people and pretend God is making your life wonderful. Sadly, there are lots of Christians who are faking their way through their faith. Sometimes, I’m one of them. The key thing that ‘Violetwisp’ misses here is that Jesus never, ever promised people that following Him would make their lives wonderful.

In fact, sometimes following Jesus makes my life harder—for example, I’m the only Christian in my biological family and that creates some challenges. But that’s OK; I didn’t decide to follow Him to put me on Easy Street. I follow Him because on my own, I can’t make me the person I want to be. But He can and, by the time this life ends, I’ll be much closer to that ideal person.

4. You can stop pretending that three gods are one god. This is referring to the Trinity, a key element of Christianity that says there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do I understand this fully? Certainly not. Does this cause me to lose sleep? Certainly not.

I don’t need to understand how the Trinity works to believe it, just as I don’t need to understand how airplanes defy gravity before taking a flight to visit distant family members.

11. You don’t have to worry about your god being racist, choosing only one ethnic group to care about, then deciding Europe and North America are worth it only in recent years, but Asia is a lost cause. Just because God started His mysterious, planet-changing work in the Middle East hardly means he doesn’t care about the rest of the world.

In fact, there’s a key section of the Bible, simply called ‘John,’ that fully explains how He thinks about humanity: God loved the world [that means everyone in it, including Asians] so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.

God wants all people—including YOU—to accept the gift of His Son and, through Him, have their sins forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven. Interested? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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

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

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

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

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

1. God loves every person on this planet, no exceptions. How do serious Christians know this? Because we shine a light on a very important part of the Bible, simply called ‘John’, that states God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Bill HicksWhat would Bill Hicks think if he knew his words were still having an impact more than 20 years after his death?

The American comedian and social critic (1961-1994) wasn’t an atheist but, as you can read in this graphic meme (found in an atheist Internet community), he was no fan of his Christian upbringing.

But did Bill get it right? Is this an accurate depiction of God, as serious Christians understand Him? Or is it a simplistic way to avoid a life of faith?

Let me spell out some facts about the God of the Bible, then you can make up your own mind.

1. God is the creator of time, space, the universe and YOU. You say your parents, not God, made you? Certainly. But what – or who – gave them and all humans the ability to reproduce?

2. Yes, God’s love is infinite. To start with, there are lots of sections of the Bible that explain this. Here is one, from a section called ‘1 John1: “God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them.” Another quote from the same section: “We should love each other, because love comes from God.”

3. God is perfect. A section of the Bible, called, ‘Matthew’, puts it this simply: “your Father in heaven is perfect”.
Do I understand how this can be so in a world that has childhood cancer and dementia? Certainly not. But I’ve read so much from people who rage against God for these things; it all strikes me as a depressing waste of time and energy.
Far better, I’ve found, is to acknowledge that God is God and I am NOT and there is much that I’ll never understand until this life is finished.

4. As the creator of this world and everyone in it, God has the right to hold all of us to account for how we live our lives. He is the sole judge.

5. On our own, we will never, ever be able to explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do.

6. God knows we can’t meet His standards. But rather than drop His standards, He found a better way: send His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to this world. Jesus taught us the ways of God and the ways of true love for God, for ourselves and for others.
Finally, Jesus paid the penalty for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do by dying on a cross.

7. Here’s the crux of the matter. One of the most famous quotes from the Bible, in a section called ‘John’, says “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.”
Notice that it says ‘whoever believes in him’? If you believe in Jesus and trust in what He did for YOU, then God no longer sees the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. He only sees His Son’s perfection.

8. If you don’t trust in and believe in Jesus, then when this life ends, you have to sufficiently explain yourself before God. If you can’t pull that off (and trust me, you CAN’T), then you face eternity separated from God. I guess that’s the “eternal suffering” part of Bill Hicks’ quote.

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

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Jennifer Fulwiler atheism ChristianityFor life-long atheist Jennifer Fulwiler, the pivotal moment came when she held her first child for the first time.

“I looked down and thought ‘what is this baby’?” she recalled in a YouTube video. “From a pure atheist, materialist perspective, he is a collection of randomly evolved chemical reactions.

“I realized if that’s true, then all the love I feel for him is nothing more than chemical reactions in my brain. I looked down at him and I realized, ‘that’s not true’. It’s not the truth.”

Jennifer went on to research the world’s major faiths, but considered Christianity not worth the bother. Then her husband suggested she investigate Christianity because one of its most significant claims — that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh — would be easy to disprove if it wasn’t true.

So she did. Jennifer discovered a world of deeply intellectual thinkers (like Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo) who were also serious Jesus followers.

Men like them made such a compelling, reason-based case for the life, death and resurrection of Christ that, in Jennifer’s words, “I started to think something world-changing happened in first-century Palestine.”

Jennifer realized that atheists “don’t have the lock on reason that I thought. Christians had all the knowledge of science, but they have the total picture of the human experience — love and triumph and hope. Christians could articulate that in a way that atheists couldn’t.”

The result of all this is Jennifer went from denying there is a creator, to becoming a serious follower of the man that most Christians know is the Son of God.

Why do all this? Let me make it clear that following Jesus can be hard, especially when most of the world (sometimes including your family and friends) doesn’t follow Him and you can be mocked or even disowned for your beliefs.

As far as I’m concerned, the upside more than compensates. When I decided to follow Jesus, little things immediately changed (I stopped cursing and swearing) and bigger things followed (my wife and I have a firm commitment to donate regularly to charities and to our church).

In other words, like me, you’ll get a new perspective on life. The holy grails of our culture — gaining power and prestige, buying a bigger house, going on expensive cruises, having the latest iPhone — will start to look shallow and pointless.

You’ll start living for the approval of your creator, who the Bible says “loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in his Son would not be lost, but have eternal life.”

And as you start living for God and start attending a church regularly, you’ll be surrounded by others who are also in the midst of being transformed by following Jesus.

Finally, when this life is over, you’ll have real and solid hope that you won’t become nothing more than rancid worm food. You’ll become a citizen of Heaven.

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

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TruthOfMotivation 6.15What’s your motivation to do good? I wondered about that after seeing this graphic on an Internet atheism community.

Is it true that people who follow Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians consider to be God’s Son — do good only because of fear and a desire of eternal reward in Heaven?

Here’s the answer: Almost all Christians are motivated by faith and trust in Jesus. When He was physically on earth, Jesus told His followers stuff like this:

  • Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God (that’s from a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’).
  • Whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me (also from ‘Matthew’).
  • Be generous. Give to the poor (from ‘Luke’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ life).

It’s statements like these, and many more in the Bible, that inspire millions of Jesus followers to fuel the work of Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion Canada, World Vision, Food For The Hungry, International Justice Mission, World Relief Canada and many more.

Most Christians keep in mind this key Bible statement, found in a section called ‘John’: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Jesus, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Since God loves the world (and that means EVERYONE in it), then those who follow God’s Son should have the same attitude.

Is it true that atheists only do “the right thing” because “it’s the human thing to do”? Well, let’s look at the truth: figuring out what is right is very often like staring into a mud puddle. What’s right for one person (atheist or otherwise) is often quite wrong for another. Just a few bloodcurdling examples:

  • In Nazi Germany, the right thing to do was imprison, torture and exterminate millions of Jews, gypsies, Slavic people, serious Christians and many other groups.
  • In 1994 Rwanda, the right thing to do, for thousands of Hutu people, was slaughter members of the Tutsi tribe. As many as a million died before the massacre ended.
  • During the 1970s in Cambodia, the right thing to do, for many thousands of members of the Pol Pot regime, was execute, starve and torture more than a million people.

When I consider all this, it makes sense to decide what is good or right by following the one person who always had (and has) it figured out: Jesus Christ.

By following in Jesus and trusting in what He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection, you’ll find yourself doing good things. Why? Because when you believe in Jesus, your life will be, in a word, transformed. Now and for all eternity.

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

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Hate 3.15As soon as I saw this graphic on an atheist website, I felt sorry for Patricia Ruth Barker. Sorry that she ever thought she had to “hate” anyone before becoming an atheist.

Who taught Patricia this kind of warped thinking? Did she consider murderous terrorist groups and decide this is how “religious” people think? (I’m a Christian, but I’m absolutely not “religious” and this essay reveals why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-cP.)

Did she encounter some religious people who, sadly, DO hate gay people and people of other faiths and figure this is standard thinking for spiritual people?

Since encountering this graphic, I’ve racked my brain to think of all the Christians I’ve met who hate gays or people of other faiths. I can’t come up with a single person. And when I do encounter these misguided people, I’ll remind them of these passages from the Bible:

  • Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (from a section of the Bible called ‘1 John’).
  • God loved the world so much [and that means EVERY PERSON in it] that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost. but have eternal life (from ‘John’).
  • God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (also from 1 John).

Serious Christians take the Bible seriously. And I take these passages seriously. They tell me that Jesus Christ (whom Christians believe is God’s son) came for ALL people — gay or straight, Christian or Muslim or Atheist or Buddhist, criminal or Nobel prize winner, male or female, young or old. No exceptions. Ever.

This is one of the reasons I decided in my 40s to follow Jesus Christ and trust in what he did for everyone who believes in Him. He died on a Roman cross to make up for ALL the wrong things I’ve done and ALL the right things I’ve failed to do. He made up for all the times when, despite my best efforts, I end up living as if there is no loving creator who wants to be part of my life.

I also follow Jesus because I know that by doing so, I welcome Him into my heart, mind and soul to make me more like Him. That means hating ONLY the wrong things I’ve done and the right things I don’t do.

It also means I believe in what many people call the “Golden Rule”: Do for others what you want them to do for you (from a section of the Bible called ‘Luke’).

I want atheists and people of other faiths to respect me. So I darn well better respect them. When that exchange takes place, I get to tell them, like I’m telling you now, about my faith in Jesus and how He can change them (and you) for the better – for now and for all eternity.

What are your thoughts on this? Post a comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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Religion pacifierJust for fun, I Googled “What does the human mind need?” There was no definitive answer. In fact, none of the dozens of links I saw even address the question.

So I tried “The human mind cries out for…”. Again, nothing.

So does the human mind cry out for facts and reason? Makes sense to me. I’m sure it cries out for more than that, but let’s stick with these two and move on to the bottom statement in this graphic (which I found on an atheist website).

I’m a man of faith, but I certainly want nothing to do with “religion” (here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-eu). So does having faith in God and Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians believe is the son of God — act as a pacifier?

Sadly, the answer for some Christians is yes. But for most, the answer is absolutely NO. We see the world for how it truly is — broken, in desperate need of help. And we do our best to help, by going on trips to aid people in developing nations, by financially supporting aid organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, by asking our political leaders to do the right thing.

In other words, we strive, in our horribly imperfect way, to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Why? because “God loved the world [and that means EVERYONE IN IT] so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.” That’s from one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Serious Christians believe this, so if God loves everyone, then followers of His Son should, too.

Let’s move on to the human heart. What does it need? I don’t think I’m off-base when I write that the hearts of most people need love, acceptance and a sense of purpose. Our hearts need forgiveness — for the wrong things we’ve done and for the right things we’ve failed to do. Our hearts need community — the sense that we’re not alone in whatever joy or misery we are experiencing.

Do hearts get these things from family and friends? Certainly. But friends drift away. Families become separated by emotions or geography and, inevitably, death. From power and money? Only for a relatively short time. Sex? Same thing. Boats, mansions, 100-inch TV screens, Vegas vacations and Ferraris? It won’t take long for most people to become bored of them.

So what’s left? With whom can we find absolutely unconditional love? Where can we get a sense of purpose that’s real and won’t change? How can we achieve a sense of community around something more important than wine-tasting, cruise ship vacations or extreme sports? And where can we get unconditional forgiveness?

As a serious Christian, I believe a relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer to every one of those needs. God offers Jesus as a gift to you and me. When you accept that gift, with sincere seriousness, you open the door to God changing you, from the inside out. For the better. So you can join me in being an imperfect ambassador for Jesus in a broken world.

And when this life is over,  Jesus’ sacrificial death on a cross wipes away all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. So God sees you and me the way He sees Jesus: pure in every way. And from there, we are welcome to spend eternity with Jesus.

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

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