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Posts Tagged ‘theology’

The late, great Andy Rooney (a beloved commentator on TV’s 60 Minutes for more than 30 years) said many profound and witty things during his 92 years on this planet. The quote in this meme, helpfully supplied by an Atheist internet community, is definitely among his most compelling thoughts.

First off, as a Christian, I’m 100 percent with Andy. We have centuries of history, much of it downright horrifying, to absolutely prove his point. More often than not, religious people are simply awful.

Here’s a brief list of what religion does:

  • It makes people judgemental
  • It creates a dangerous ‘us versus them’ mentality
  • It causes people to think that since they’re right, then everyone else is wrong and that leads to intolerance and persecution
  • It sparks vicious tribalism and if you want examples of how bad that is, think of the endless bombings in the Middle East or the 1990s genocidal ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and in Rwanda.

So who else opposes religion? How about Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son? Some of His harshest words in the Bible were saved for arrogant, judgemental, rule-obsessed religious leaders.

Furthermore, a case can be credibly advanced that part of Jesus’ mission was to get rid of religion altogether. In his book The End of Religion, pastor Bruxey Cavey says “I’m not suggesting that Jesus opposes all forms of organization, but that he opposes dependence on any one organization for our connection with God.”

In fact, Bruxey quotes Jesus from a section of the Bible called “Matthew” (Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.) to make the point that “Jesus is not pointing toward a different and better religion, but instead he invites us to himself as an alternative to the weary way of religion.”

Now this is an invitation that should be attractive to anyone interested in spirituality (and I assume that’s YOU, since you’re reading this blog). Skip religion and connect with Jesus!

So what happens when you do this? Consider Jesus to be God’s gift to every person on this planet, regardless of what they’ve done or not done, regardless of their social status, gender, or age.

Anyone who accepts that gift invites Jesus into their heart and mind to begin a life-long process of making them the kind of people that God wants them to be. And when this life is over, all the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do will be irrelevant. All God will see is His Son’s perfection.

Call me crazy, but this sounds like a GREAT deal. Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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As soon as I saw this meme, found in a Facebook atheist group, my “spidey-sense” started tingling because it presents a golden opportunity to tell you the truth about “belief systems”.

First of all, every person on this planet has a belief system, including atheists. I’ve had hundreds of online interactions with atheist people. In almost every encounter, I’ve found:

  1. They believe there is nothing behind all we see and experience
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  2. They believe humans have no soul, so when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s necessary).
  3. They believe all people of faith are deluded, lacking in intelligence and even dangerous.

So, what kind of belief system do YOU have? This is an important question because if you’re open to spirituality, then you have beliefs about existence and the universe. You might even have beliefs about what comes after this life is finished.

So…do you honestly think (as the meme suggests) that your belief system has submerged you in mediocrity and distracted you from the real dangers of our existence?

Let me toss something else your way. Think about the often horrifying history of humanity. Think about our culture as it is today—the obsession with social media and celebrities, the belief that being “politically correct” will somehow make life better for everyone, the fixation on getting more money, more “toys” and more power.

Does all this make you even slightly confident that humanity can somehow save the world without any help?

You might be feeling a little down now, so let me reveal a belief system that’s shot through with hope for you and for humanity.

This belief system starts with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. He loves every person on this planet, including YOU, He knows you better than you know yourself and He wants to be involved in your life.

What do I base this on? Consider these excerpts from the Bible:

All who love me [Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son] will obey my teaching. My Father will love them. My Father and I will come to them and live with them. (From a section called ‘John’)

You [God] know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts from far away. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. (From ‘Psalms’)

So how can you let God get involved in your life? Accept the gift of His Son. When you do that, 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 then Jesus comes into your life and starts to make you more like Him. It’s a process that won’t end until you’re in Heaven with Jesus.

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

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Well, this seems confusing.

Canada’s National Post newspaper has published a new survey that might leave you scratching your head. Or maybe not.

The survey suggests millennials (people born between 1982 and 2002) are:

  • Vastly more likely to believe in an afterlife than older generations. Seventy percent of millennials have this belief, compared to 66 percent of generation Xers and less than 60 percent of people 70 and older.
  • Less likely than older folks to belief in God or a higher power. The percentage stands at 66 for millennials, compared to 80 for pre-baby boomers.

Perhaps this makes sense to you. If that’s the case, let me ask two questions: On what do you base your afterlife belief – the prevailing culture or a favourite TV show or Oprah Winfrey’s philosophies? And If you believe there is no creator, then how is it possible for an afterlife to exist?

This challenge is worth tackling because as the years go by, you’re probably going to place more and more of your trust in your afterlife beliefs. It make sense to base that trust on something solid and unchanging.

I believe there’s far more to our existence than 70 or 80 years of eating, sleeping, working, vacationing and going to the bathroom. I base this on something many people think is radical and even ridiculous: a living, breathing, eternal relationship with God, established through faith in Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son.)

I didn’t get this belief from being raised by Christian parents or by trusting in a bestselling author or a pop culture star. This belief came from an open-minded investigation of Christianity’s claims. I debated people from a variety of perspectives, read many books and thought deeply about all the viewpoints out there.

After that, I decided at age 42 to trust Jesus Christ with this life and the life to come. I did that because, after my investigations, I believe that:

  1. God is perfect and that’s His standard for judging humanity.
  2. Through the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do, every person on this planet has fallen far short of God’s standard.
  3. Human history – and our own life stories – indicates we can’t achieve God’s standard on our own.
  4. Rather than condemn us all, God sent Jesus Christ to this earth to teach us how to live, then to pay the penalty for our “sins” through his sacrificial death and astounding resurrection three days later.

How do I know all this? A section of the Bible called ‘John’ says “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”

Could there be any better news than this? And for those who trust in Jesus, when this life is over, God won’t see any of your flaws. He’ll just see His Son’s perfection.

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

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Wow. There’s a lot of heavy stuff to digest here. So let me break it down as best as I can and hopefully help you see things very differently than the atheist who created and published this anti-Christian meme.

1.  As much as Christians may try, we can’t “save” anyone from spending eternity separated from the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Only God can do that, and thousands of years of history suggests that more often than not, He chooses to do that saving through very imperfect people like me.

2.  God has absolutely ZERO desire to “torture” anyone, even people that you and I may think deserve to be tortured. A section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’ describes God’s character like this: God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.

In fact, God wants every person on this planet to be in Heaven with Him and Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son. This can be infuriating to some people, because they want particularly nasty people to “burn in hell”.

I’m so thankful that God’s willingness to forgive everyone, for all the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do, is so much broader than any forgiveness even the best of us humans can ever offer. (Here’s just one astonishing example of God’s unfathomable forgiveness: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.)

3.  Who puts who into hell? Consider the person who created this meme. He or she seems to have pretty good basic knowledge of the Christian faith. Not only has this person rejected every part of that faith, he or she has gone out of their way to make that rejection public.

The only possible conclusion from this is they’ve decided they want to spend eternity separated from their creator. So God will grant that wish, even as He’s patiently hoping they’ll change their minds (see the Bible quote above.)

4.  After everything I’ve written, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I can’t love, respect, worship or believe in the kind of god this atheist created, then rejected. So we’re absolutely in agreement on this.

I can confidently write that the creator of the universe has a gift for YOU. That gift is Jesus Christ—his life and astonishing teachings, His horrible death on a Roman cross (to make up for the “sins” of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him) and his triumphant resurrection.

All you need to do is accept that gift, then watch as Jesus enters into your life and begins to change you for the better, all in preparation for spending eternity with Him. Interested? Yes or no, post 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 in Google+ or Facebook 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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When I first encountered this atheist graphic, I experienced a moment of heart sickness because there are Christians out there who actually think like this.

I see this kind of horrific mindset every time someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) almost gleefully tells gay people or atheist people that they’re going to burn in hell.

it’s almost as if they think God WANTS some people to burn. Not only is that a sickening thought, it’s also wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here’s the truth, according to the Bible:

  • 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. (That’s from a section called ‘John’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth.)
  • God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning (from a section called ‘2 Peter’).
  • God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth (From ‘1 Timothy’).

Does any of this sound like God is holding a lighter, just itching to turn you into a screaming torch?

These Bible quotes point to an important bottom line: every person on this planet has done wrong and failed to do right. No exceptions. And this is serious business because according to the Bible, God is perfect and that’s His standard for judging all of humanity (see ‘Matthew’, another biography of Jesus).

When this life is finished, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ says every one of us will appear before God and have to somehow explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

I guarantee you it’s not going to go well. But God offers a solution: Jesus Christ. When Jesus was found guilty of ridiculous, trumped-up charges and crucified on a Roman cross, that death paid the penalty you and I would have to pay for our sins. He took our punishment on His shoulders.

I call that an extraordinary, life-changing gift. And that gift is available to EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done (or not done). As author Philip Yancey put it so well in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “God gave up His own Son rather than give up on humanity”.

How can you get in on this gift? Just accept it. That’s all.

When you believe that Jesus took the penalty for your sins and decide you want to follow Him, He’ll come into your heart and start a life-long process of making you the person God created you to be. And when this life ends and you stand before God, the only thing God will see is His Son’s perfection.

Are you 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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