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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality blog’

Most of us know who Stephen Hawking is. For younger readers, Kirk Cameron was a swoon-worthy idol during his time acting on the 1980s TV comedy Growing Pains.

You might also not be aware that during the show’s seven-season run, Cameron decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. Since the show ended, Cameron, now in his 50s, has starred in and/or produced many faith-themed movies and documentaries.

So why is he being mocked in this meme? Well, many of his productions have been….underwhelming. And some of his socially conservative public statements have made him a target of criticism from media, atheists and many celebrities.

What’s interesting about the meme that sparked this blog is how it singles out one controversial person while ignoring other Jesus followers who are widely admired for their intelligence and accomplishments.

Immediately, I can think of several:

  • Academy Award-winning actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington
  • Country singers Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood
  • Scientist Francis S. Collins, who led the way in mapping the human genome (I wrote about him here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-3o)
  • U.S. talk show host Stephen Colbert

There are many, many more Jesus-following notables – I listed a few in this blog: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-e9.

Here’s the thing, though: it’s not about who’s on what side, it’s not about popularity contests and it’s certainly not about anyone’s IQ. All these “measurements” are distractions, designed to prevent us from thinking about the big questions: who am I? Why am I here? What happens after this life ends?

If you’re willing to consider these questions, then consider this: you’re a creation of God. And one of the original-source biographies of Jesus 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.”

Maybe you’ve read that statement before. Did you know it applies to you? God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son, so that if YOU believe in Him then YOU will not be lost, but have eternal life.

If this doesn’t make sense, then let me ask: do you believe there’s something beyond this life? Maybe even a “good” place and a “bad” place? If yes, then ponder these words that Jesus told anyone willing to listen: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

So that’s the ticket we need to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus and His Father. None of us have any hope of achieving perfection, so what to do? Simple. Trust in Jesus. Declare Him Lord, Saviour and your best friend.

If you do that with serious sincerity, then He’ll come into your life and start to make you more of the person God created you to be. And when this life ends, God will see you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And the doors of Heaven will be opened to you.

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

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The statement in this meme, made by a Swiss-Austrian-American philosopher of science, is becoming increasingly popular in today’s culture. It’s a perfect fit with the “you have your truth, I have mine” approach to life.

I must write, however, that popularity should never be a measuring stick of truth. Remember: Adolf Hitler was extremely popular for many years and Osama Bin Laden still has millions of fans. So does rap music (hey, this old white guy’s gotta have some fun). 😉

Now consider this: is child pornography always wrong? I feel quite safe in believing that outside of a few very disturbed individuals, all of us would agree. So isn’t that an absolute truth?

Here’s another one: genocide. Can you find anyone besides the occasional megalomaniac dictator and his lunatic followers who think genocide has its time and place?

I believe slavery, racism and deliberately poisoning our air/land/water can be added to the list of universal wrongs.

So there you have it. Five examples of absolute truth and it took me just a few minutes to mentally find them. I bet you can find several others.

If you agree with me so far, then that means most of us strongly believe in a clear and unchanging morality. That leads to my next question: where did this morality come from?

Some people claim morals are simply the result of evolution. But in his book Making Sense of God, Tim Keller notes it’s hard to imagine that noble and moral acts like self-sacrifice or service for someone “outside your family, tribe, or race could have been a trait that led to greater rates of survival.”

I’m going to be bold & radical and declare that absolute truth comes from the creator of time, space, the universe and YOU. In other words, it comes from God.

Now a step further: the originator of absolute truth and morals is perfect and, as the only being capable of sitting in judgment of humanity, that’s the standard He uses. I believe this because I follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son) and Jesus tells anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

Well, that certainly creates a problem, doesn’t it? If you believe there’s life beyond the 70 or 80 years on this planet, how can you and I get in on that life when we’re so, SO far from being anywhere close to perfect?

The answer is we can’t. Not on our own strength and efforts. We’ll always, ALWAYS fall short.

But God solved this by offering Jesus as a gift to anyone willing to accept it. Jesus died to make up for ALL wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things His followers have failed to do. So when this life ends and we go to meet God, all He will see in Jesus’s followers is perfection. And we’ll be let in the door to spend eternity with Him.

Just as important, when you seriously and sincerely accept the gift of Jesus, you welcome Him to come into your life RIGHT NOW and start the lifelong process of making you more like the person God created you to be.

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

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DavidBerkowitzIf you’re over 40, you might get a chill as I resurrect a shadowy name from the 1970s: Son of Sam.

This was the nickname David Berkowitz gave himself as he terrorized New York City, killing six people and wounding seven in 1976-77. In prison since then, he claimed during his trial that he was under the influence of a demon who possessed his neighbour’s dog.

Berkowitz was in the news not too long ago, responding to a 2011 Fox News reporter’s inquiry to reveal he would no longer seek parole because his faith has already made him free.

“I am not saying this jokingly,” he wrote. “Jesus Christ [who many people believe is the Son of God] has already forgiven and pardoned me, and I believe this. He has given me a whole new life, which I do not deserve. I am forever grateful for such forgiveness.”

Before you begin protesting, Berkowitz has expressed remorse for his crimes, dating back to 2007 when he issued an apology on his website. He expressed remorse again in his Fox News letter, writing “I have deep regret and sorrow over my past criminal actions.”

But that’s not the point of this essay. The point is more controversial. Has the Son of Sam been forgiven by Jesus? Has he been given “a whole new life”?

The answer, if Berkowitz is sincere, is YES. If he came to believe that Jesus died to pay for his crimes, and as a result asked for the forgiveness Jesus made available to every person on this planet, then YES. If he’s committed himself to following Jesus, then YES.

Isn’t this outrageous? That’s the scandal of God’s grace (unmerited favour) through Jesus. It isn’t just available to you and I for those times we exceeded the speed limit or lied to our supervisors or paid for some service under the table. It’s available for everything. For everyone, including the Son of Sam.

Our culture may not consider this a good thing. But it is. In fact, I regard this grace as one of the things that most separates following Jesus from other faiths. And it is based on a complete lack of what some cultures call a “caste” system that ranks people’s value.

When Paul, one of the earliest Jesus followers, wrote in a letter that “all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory,” he didn’t include a footnote that singled out some people or groups as having sinned more (or less). That statement is the great equalizer for all humanity. See? No caste system.

So, if you’re carrying around something that pesters you like a persistent backache, do what David Berkowitz has done: place your trust in Jesus, ask for forgiveness with complete sincerity, then receive it. And believe it, because that forgiveness is as real and enduring as death, taxes, and annoying reality TV shows.

Even if you’re not burdened with guilt, give some consideration to this  faith that goes beyond our wavering ability to forgive. It provides permanent grace, an extraordinary gift to a broken world.

What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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