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Posts Tagged ‘who is Jesus?’

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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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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While watching the Halloween episode of TV sitcom Young Sheldon (a spin-off of the uber-popular Big Bang Theory), I grabbed a pen and paper and took notes because it gift-wrapped an opportunity to tell you what a life of faith is all about. And why you might want to give that kind of life serious, thoughtful consideration.

The episode revolves around a church Halloween production that Sheldon’s ridiculously religious mother is directing. As she describes the production’s gruesome theme around the dinner table, Sheldon’s grandmother pipes up, “hang on; y’all are trying’ to scare people into going to church?”

Then it’s Sheldon’s turn.

“Actually, fear has been a recurring tactic used by organized religion for centuries. When you add guilt to keep people in line, it’s an extremely efficient form of crowd control.”

“Our religion is based on love, Sheldon,” responds his mother. “Not fear.”

But then the script goes in this direction: “So what happens when people don’t follow the rules?” asks Sheldon. “They burn in hell,” answers his mother.

As the camera pans around the silent dinner table, Sheldon’s mother tries to save the conversation by adding, “Because God loves them.”

Yikes. And yikes again.

First of all, the entire conversation smacks of “religion” and that’s a nasty term I want nothing to do with. As you can probably tell, religion is not about love. It’s about creating and enforcing rules in order to control and judge people. In other words, religion is exactly how Sheldon describes it.

Secondly, this conversation portrays God as a vicious ogre who can’t wait to toss us all into Dante’s Inferno. I can tell you right now, if this was anywhere near the truth, I would not have become a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son).

But I am a Jesus follower. I follow Jesus because He’s the living embodiment of God’s outrageous, break-open-the-champagne love for every person on this earth—no matter who they are or what they’ve done (or not done).

Jesus came to earth to show anyone willing to pay attention exactly who God is. In other words, look at Jesus and you’re looking at God. Now think about what Jesus has done:

  • He healed the sick
  • He hung out with the dregs of society
  • He lifted up the outcasts, favouring them over the privileged and powerful
  • He taught us radical ideas about loving our enemies
  • He criticized rule-loving, power-hungry religious leaders
  • He told us money and power aren’t where it’s at; a soul-restoring faith in God is the ultimate prize in this life and the life to come.

Finally, Jesus is God’s solution to the problem of our moral crimes. God’s standard is perfection and that’s how he sees everyone who follows His Son.

God offers Jesus as a gift to YOU. Interested in accepting that gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Dance of dogma 1.16When I saw this graphic on an Internet atheism community, I wasn’t sure why I saved it for Frank’s Cottage. Then I looked up the definition of “dogma”.

According to Wikipedia, dogma is “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.”

Hmm. Where does this apply? The more I thought about it, the more I realized: where DOESN’T it apply?

Every person on this planet follows some kind of “principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.”

Evidence?

  • Business tycoons like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are died-in-the-wool capitalists. They believe in and follow capitalist dogma and won’t have anything to do with any other economic system.
  • Remember communism? Some of its most famous practitioners — China’s Mao Tse Tung and Russia’s Vladimir Lenin — believed in and followed communist dogma their entire lives. They refused to have anything to do with democracy.

What about atheists? Based on my many, many interactions with them, most appear to follow dogma laid down by atheist authors Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) and Richard Dawkins.

These three routinely advance the position that there is absolutely nothing good about “religion” (I agree, and here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-i9) and that believing in a supreme creator is primitive superstition and harmful to humanity.

In the atheist Internet communities I often visit, these viewpoints are treated as dogma. In these communities, I never see posts that contradict these positions.

So, dogma applies to all of us. That leaves the question: which dogma do YOU follow? In your heart of hearts, do you believe that it’s all about having a comfortable, happy life now and never mind what comes after? Do you believe that when you die, all that you are will become nothing more than rancid worm food?

Do the dogmas I just mentioned leave you feeling cold and, perhaps, even a bit hopeless? Are you ready to re-examine them, despite the pressures of your friends, loved ones and our culture as a whole?

Then consider the claims of Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. Consider His astonishing, challenging wisdom. His miracles. His death – which wipes out ALL the wrongs committed by people who follow Him – and resurrection.

Talk to knowledgeable people about Him. If you don’t know any, then email me at fdking@hotmail.com and I’ll do my best to help. No matter what our culture insists, figuring out what dogma YOU follow is important stuff.

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Dead Man WalkingDead Man Walking is the name of a well-known 1995 film starting Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Until 2002, it was also the perfect description of my life.

The term comes from the United States prison system and generally refers to a death row inmate making his or her last walk to their place of execution.

So why did it once describe my life? In its more informal meaning, Dead Man Walking refers to any person in a doomed or untenable situation. And that’s where I was.

  • I lived how my family, friends, co-workers and neighbours wanted me to live:
  • Bigger was better.
  • Shopping was *never* a waste of time or resources.
  • I deserved luxurious, expensive vacations (even if I had to go into debt to pay for them).
  • I certainly didn’t waste much time thinking about the big, supposedly unanswerable questions of life.

If you’re still with me, then think about it for a moment: does my life before 2002 sound at all like your life today?

Living like that didn’t make me miserable, but it didn’t make me happy, either. I came to realize that playing the comparison game, which is what our culture relentlessly “suggests”, was a dead-end street. My life had as much meaning as an episode of Two and a Half Men; it was as shallow as a mud puddle. I was in a doomed or untenable situation.

So what changed? I always believed there had to be a creator for all that we see and, from time to time, I would ponder who or what that creator might be. And I pondered what might come after this life ends.

Finally, after much thought, reading and debates with people who value a relationship with God, I put my trust in God and in Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is His Son.

At age 42, I was no longer a Dead Man Walking. I knew – and still know – why I’m here: to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; to do my best to represent Christ to everyone I encounter; and spend eternity with Him.

This relationship is teaching me to think about:

  1. people in a more compassionate way (as being loved by God, whether I like them or not)
  2. our Earth in a better way (it’s God’s planet, not mine to do with as I please) and
  3. my life in a deeper way (what is truly of value?).

Are you at a place where you’re willing to consider that maybe you’re in a doomed or untenable situation? And is my solution worthy of consideration? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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SnowFranksCottageThere’s nothing like a blanket of fresh snow to get the nature photographer in me excited.

That snow creates endless picture opportunities because it covers up all manner of unappealing features (a majority of them man-made, I’ve found) that ruin otherwise good photo subjects.

Covered with snow, they disappear and landscapes are transformed into smooth, white wonders that dazzle even the most cynical, unartistic eye. I’ve come to realize this reality is also a metaphor for our lives.

My less appealing characteristics – pride, jealousy, selfishness, lack of communication (I’m sure you can name a few that apply to you) – are like ugly piles of smelly garbage on a pristine landscape.

So what is the ‘snow’ that covers them up? It’s nothing you or I can provide, no matter how long and hard we try. But consider this quote written by an ancient prophet: “Even if your sins are as dark as red dye, that stain can be removed and you will be as pure as wool that is as white as snow.”

That’s a pretty important statement because it tells me that God, my creator, can undo everything I’ve done to ruin the landscape of my life. He has a standing offer to transform the ugly parts of all our lives – the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do – through Jesus of Nazareth, an amazing guy who many people believe is His Son.

Jesus paid the price to have ugly parts of our lives removed from God’s sight through His death and resurrection. He’s the snow that transforms our landscapes and God offers Him to every person on this planet because God knows us better than we know ourselves. And He knows we can’t fix things on our own.

Want evidence? Then how about these words from one of Jesus’s earliest and most influential followers: “There is only one God, and there is only one way that people can reach God. That way is through Christ Jesus, who as a man gave himself to pay for everyone to be free.”

So, how is your landscape looking today? Like it or not, I’ll bet it needs some cleaning up and I’ll bet you haven’t been able to do that. So, is it time you checked out God’s offer to do it for you? Post your answer below and let’s have a conversation.

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