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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 5:48’

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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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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If you read the statment in this atheist meme and declared “Yes, that’s me,” well, let me join you and say it even louder: “YES, THAT’S ME.”

Repeat Frank’s Cottage visitors know that I’m not a fan of religion. Perhaps it works for some folks, but I join much of the world in seeing religion as little more than:

  1. Following rules, many of them petty and pointless.
  2. Putting on appearances, so everyone will think you “have it all together”.
  3. Using the first two points to self-righteously judge people who don’t follow all the rules and don’t have it all together.

In the end, religion puts rules, appearances and judgmentalism ahead of people. It often descends into cold-hearted tribalism – ranking people based on whether they’re in or out of our “religion”.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Let me offer an alternative that puts human beings ahead of dogma and traditions. Prepare yourself, because that alternative is controversial. That alternative is life-giving. That alternative, in my opinion, defines humanism for all time.

That alternative is Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the divine Son of God.

During His physical time on earth, Jesus often ran afoul of rule-obsessed, stone-hearted religious leaders.

They were aghast at seeing Him hang out with what many in ancient Israel regarded as the bottom-feeders of their society. Today, those people might be:

  • supporters of widely disliked politicians or political parties
  • those who have unchanging ideas about right and wrong
  • convicts and those who have spent time in prison
  • alcoholics or drug addicts

In one of His four original-source biographies, Jesus says this about fans of religion:

They don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show.

Jesus leaves dogma and traditions at the side of the road. In fact, He goes so far as to ask:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He challenges us with the truth about what’s required to qualify for Heaven when this life is finished: “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

None of us can meet that standard, so Jesus took on his shoulders ALL the wrong things we’ve done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do. He took them to the cross, where He was put to death on trumped-up charges. Then He showed His mastery over death by coming back to life three days later.

Now, anyone who declares Jesus as Lord and Saviour takes on His perfection. That’s how God sees Jesus followers and they spend eternity with their Creator.

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

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While the word “vaccine” has always had a positive connotation for most people, it’s now seen as a life-saver, a restorer of normal life and a saviour for the business community.

That’s a tall order, but a planet battered by the COVID-19 pandemic needs the vaccines being rolled out right now to be all that and more.

Sadly, the products being furiously manufactured don’t address humanity’s other serious problems. But there is a vaccine that does. So keep your mind open while I do my very imperfect best to explain it.

This vaccine isn’t a product. It’s a man. And He came to this planet on a rescue mission for anyone willing to listen to Him.

  • He saw how people like me so often struggle with greed, fear and regret.
  • He recognized that we seem unable to decide which of this world’s many competing voices should get our attention and resources.
  • Finally, He grasped how desperately we want love and acceptance–and will sometimes do horrible things to ourselves and others to get even a temporary version of them.

Knowing humanity’s spiritual and moral systems don’t address our real needs, He offers us something entirely different: Himself.

If you’ve read this far, then I’m going to risk losing you by revealing who He is: Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

With startling confidence and self-awareness, Jesus said this to anyone willing to listen: “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you carry. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble. And you will be able to get some rest.”

How does He do that? He taught that pursuing fame, riches and power won’t result in a satisfying life. But a life soaked in gratitude and love will.

In his book The End of Religion, Canadian writer Bruxy Cavey unpacks that by noting “the more of a fundamentalist someone becomes about the teachings of Jesus, the more loving, forgiving and gracious that person should become.

Jesus taught so much more, and ancient, original-source biographies describe how He backed up His authority by healing sick people and even bringing someone back to life.

Finally, Jesus proved His love for us by allowing Himself to be put to death to pay for every wrong thing His followers have done, and every right thing we’ve failed to do. That’s necessary because Jesus made it clear that “you must be perfect, just as your father in Heaven is perfect.”

The result of His Son’s sacrifice is when God looks at Jesus followers, He sees us as perfect like His Son, and welcomes us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

If you’re wondering how to get your hands on this vaccine, it’s simple: become a serious, dedicated Jesus follower. When you do that, He comes into your life NOW and starts to make you more of the person God created you to be.

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

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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 primary 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 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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