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Posts Tagged ‘who is Jesus?’

If you don’t follow hockey, then let me drop a surprise on you: goaltenders can get penalized.

The guy in the photo above, Ron Hextall, picked up a whopping 569 penalty minutes during his 13 National Hockey League seasons. That translates into almost 9.5 hours!!

But here’s the thing about hockey goalies: they don’t spend a single minute in the penalty box. Almost every league insists another player take the place of goalies in the ‘sin bin’. And it must be a player who was on the ice (rather than sitting on the bench) when the penalty occurred. The only exception in the NHL is game misconducts, which are *extremely* rare.

So the goalie is penalized, but someone else serves the time.

If you’re open to spirituality — and I assume you are, since you’re reading this blog — then consider this: the exact same scenario plays out every minute of every day in the spiritual world.

Let me explain. Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the perfect Son of God, is *always* the other player on the ice who serves the penalty for ALL the wrong things His followers (like me) have done and ALL the right things they’ve failed to do. Every time, without exception.

Jesus does that through His death on a Roman empire cross. He was put there by false charges from frightened, power-hungry religious leaders who didn’t like what He was doing (healing the sick, forgiving people, hanging out with “sinners”) and what He was saying (God loves *everyone* and following Him can transform their lives for all eternity).

Those religous leaders thought they were getting rid of a nuisance, but all four original-source biographies of Jesus make it clear Jesus came back to life, appeared to many people, and set up His followers to change the world through their new way of living.

Did they – and, by extension, ME – sometimes get it wrong? Absolutely. But those ‘sins’ do NOT negate what Jesus is all about. And they don’t negate how He serves the penalty time for ALL His followers.

Why is this important? Because Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” That’s right; in order to go to Heaven after this life ends, you must be without a single blemish or stain or imperfection.

Given that impossible standard, God took the extraordinary step of sending Jesus into our hurting world to show us how to live, how to treat others and how to follow Jesus to Heaven. Then, He had Jesus serve ALL our time in the penalty box.

The result of all that is when His followers finish with this life, God doesn’t see the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. All He sees is His Son’s perfection. So the bouncer at the gate to Heaven welcomes us in to spend eternity with our creator.

From my perspective, that’s a *great* deal for Ron Hextall and every other person in this world. Sound interesting? Yes or no, post your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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I think most of us can agree on the ideas advanced in this meme. The question in my mind focuses around hope.

It’s natural to “hope for the best” in all things. To hope our children will do well. To hope our parents live a few more years. To hope our finances survive the latest economic challenge. To hope that rap/hip-hop goes away (sorry, that’s just my hope ;-)).

But what about something bigger? Something beyond the 70 or 80 years we spent on this planet?

We live in a culture that constantly, subtly discourages us from pondering the BIG questions. Go shopping, get a tatoo, pursue another promotion, buy the newest smartphone. THAT, our culture insists, is what we should focus on.

Maybe you’ve done that for awhile. And maybe you’ve come to realize your soul is hungry for something more. Something deeper. (Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this blog).

I wanted something more, and that led me to Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. I follow Him because He offers a precious HOPE to everyone – including YOU – regardless of who they are or what they’ve done (or not done).

  • Hope to be the person you were created to be
  • Hope for this world, which even the most optimist of us must admit isn’t doing very well
  • Hope for something beyond this life

How can one guy do all this? Consider these quotes from ancient writers:

  • He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.
  • The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.
  • The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

And these words, from one of Jesus’s earliest and most influential followers:

  • The Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one.
  • I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you will have more and more hope.

There it is. HOPE.

So how can you get in on this? Simple. God offers Jesus as a gift to anyone willing to accept Him. All you need to do is say yes to Jesus. Declare, with honest sincerity, that He is your Lord, Saviour and best friend. Ask Him to forgive you for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do. Ask Him to give you the HOPE only He can provide.

When that happens, Jesus comes into your life and starts to make you who you were created to be. It’s a long process that won’t end until this life ends. When that happens, trusting in Jesus means that God will see you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And you’ll be welcomed into Heaven to spend eternity with Him.

Sound good? Yes or no, post your comment below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

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If you believe there’s a Heaven (or “magic castle in the sky” as this atheist meme calls it), then maybe you think getting there requires prayer, Bible reading and giving money to churches.

Or, more likely, you’re very leery of Christianity precisely because you believe that’s what this religion requires.

I fully understand. So let’s start by dispensing of “religion”, a nasty, negative term I want nothing to do with (and here’s why: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-q1).

Now let’s move past Christianity to what — or more specifically, who — is really worth your time and consideration: Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the son of God.

When He was physically on earth, Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Notice what He didn’t mention? Not a word about praying hard, reading your Bible or giving money to a church.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these behaviours are positive and important and I do my very imperfect best to carry them out. But Jesus makes it clear: they have nothing to do with that happens to you and me after this life ends.

So we’re left with the uncomfortable, unattainable goal of being perfect. Should you give up on that, go your merry way and hope for the best? Some do. But let me propose a different way forward, a way that works for me and million of other very imperfect people.

Place your trust and your faith in Jesus. Declare Him your saviour and your best friend and endeavour to follow Him to the best of your ability.

When you do that — when you realize He’s a gift that only requires you to accept it (Him) — then God sees you like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And when this life ends, that means Heaven will be your new and permanent home.

Just as important, it means a new beginning for you RIGHT NOW. When you say yes, with complete sincerity, to Jesus, He comes into your life and starts to make you more like the person you were created to be.

One of Jesus’s earliest and most influential followers described what that means: “God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Are you interested? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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Sometimes, I wish God was like pop machine. I insert spiritual money (a heartfelt prayer), hit the button for whatever I really want at the moment, then it pops out. Wouldn’t that be cool?

I guess, judging by this atheist meme (featuring Emmy/Golden Globe-winning actor Steve Buscemi) some folks wish this so bad that when it doesn’t happen, they angrily decide there is no God.

Doesn’t that seem a little….shallow and self-centred?

From my faith perspective–I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son–the creator and master of time, space and the universe is absolutely NOT a spiritual Santa Claus.

Does He care about us? Absolutely. In fact, one of the four original-source biographies of Jesus 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.

Furthermore, one of Jesus’s earliest followers told people to pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. This same follower went on to write God will use his glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus.

Have you noticed the word he keeps using?

Needs. Not wants.

Most people living in well-off countries–and that definitely includes ME–often confuse the two words, especially as our culture insists that just about everything is a “need.” (Don’t believe me? Just watch a few TV commercials with a critical, questioning attitude.)

So if I earnestly ask God for a bigger-screen TV or the absolute newest iPhone, God may very well ignore me. If I close my eyes and wish the traffic would clear up so I can get to a movie theatre on time, God may very well pay no attention. If I pray for my favourite political party to win the next election, God may do nothing about it.

My wife and I have two cars. We don’t need two cars.

I have 700 CDs. I don’t need even one CD.

I have a fancy Apple desktop computer. I don’t need any kind of computer.

What do I really need in this life? Food. Water. Clothing. A basic income. Some kind of shelter that provides heat in the winter. Decent health. Love (but even that’s questionable).

See the difference?

One other thing I need is a sense of purpose. That’s where following Jesus comes into the picture. He gives me that purpose: to care for others, to have a strong confidence there’s something good beyond this life, and to tell others about Him and the gift of eternal life He offers to anyone willing to accept it.

Are you looking for a purpose beyond the superficial, meaningless wants of this culture? Then I suggest looking into Jesus with an open mind. He can change your life, just as He did mine.

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

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It’s been said that you can twist the Christian Bible to support almost any position. The paraphrases in this atheist meme certainly prove that.

The point is easy to see: the creator and master of time, space and the universe is an emotional abuser, constantly tearing down anyone who claims to love Him. Maybe you even feel that way.

There are too many paraphrases to discuss each one, but let me tell you right now: if I ever, for even a minute, thought God was an emotional abuser, I never would have decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is His Son. I would not have married a Jesus follower and I’d never even think of entering a church.

So why don’t I agree with this meme? Because the cherry-picked paraphrases (most are not word-for-word quotes) are diametrically opposed to the entire over-arching theme of the Christian Bible. That theme is: God created us, we rejected Him, the world is a mess as a result, and He is constantly inviting to return home to Him.

In fact, this theme is the point of one of Jesus’s most famous stories, about the prodigal son. In that “parable,” the son tells his rich father he wants to get his slice of the family inheritance and leave home. The father sadly agrees, then the son goes out and blows his inheritance through partying, drugs, alcohol, sex and any other way of rock star living that our culture offers us.

Now in poverty, the son is reduced to taking whatever degrading job he can find until he realizes that any kind of life back home is better than what he has now. So he returns home, fully intending to apologize, throw himself on the mercy of his father and hope he can at least get a job as a labourer.

But even before he arrives, the father sees him, runs to him, embraces him in a tearful bear hug and orders his staff to put on a big celebration. The son’s awful behaviour is forgiven because he’s home again. Home!

That’s the overarching theme of the Bible. And the forgiveness the son receives is because of the sacrifice of Jesus. When Roman officials crucified Jesus on trumped up charges, His death wiped out all the wrong things His followers (like me) committed, and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Now, when this life ends, we are welcomed into Heaven because God sees us like He sees Jesus: perfect in every way.

Just one Bible quote makes this clear: 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 Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger. He came to help, to put the world right again.

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

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As I consider this meme, I’m going to assume you, the reader, are neither illiterate or seven years old. That means the creator of this meme is feeling condescendingly sorry for you and anyone else who is open to spirituality.

But I believe you’re reading this because you sense that everything this “age of information” claims is important just doesn’t cut it. Money, power, sex, giant screen TVs, cruise ship vacations and the latest iPhone leave something untouched in your soul.

How did this universe come to be? What is the purpose of life? What happens after we die? Why is there rap and hip-hop? (just kidding!) These questions, and more, are not addressed by science or this age of information.

There are lots of websites, gurus and spiritual paths that do attempt to answer these questions. So let me take you for a walk down my path. It’s a path that, in western culture, is often mocked and marginalized. But don’t let that close your mind.

I follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God. After much thought, prayer, reading and debating with brave Jesus followers, I decided to walk with Him at age 42. All these years later, I’ve never regretted it.

Original-source biographies of His physical life on earth show us that Jesus offers answers to the questions that continually stymie science and this age of information.

God is the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Who else can we look to? Justin Bieber? Alfred Einstein? Steven Hawking? Even the most brilliant thinkers can’t offer up anything more credible.

The purpose of life is to abide–that is, to to remain stable or fixed in a state–in God. Welcome Him into your heart and life. Recognize that, as Jesus makes clear, God sees you. He knows you. And He loves you. As this life makes very clear, God’s love doesn’t mean you’ll be free from challenges, pain and tragedy. It DOES mean that you’ll never go through it alone. And that can make all the difference.

What happens after we die is entirely up to you. Jesus believes in Heaven (His followers believe He’s there now) and that there’s a place for EVERYONE there. But here’s the thing: Jesus told anyone willing to listen that “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

On the surface, that means Heaven is empty. But in fact, it’s full of people who decided to follow Jesus. That’s because Jesus sacrificed His physical life on earth to make up for ALL the wrong things His followers have done and ALL the right things we’ve failed to do.

So when this life ends and we all stand before God, He doesn’t see the “sins” of Jesus followers. He sees us like He sees His Son: perfect in every way. And He welcomes us to spend eternity with Him.

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

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If you pay attention to the news and know anything about Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), then you might be familiar with what Rainn Wilson is talking about.

Furthermore, if you agree with the actor (best known for the TV sitcom The Office) then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want nothing to do with Jesus or the people who claim to follow Him.

But I can’t stress this enough: it’s absolutely VITAL that you separate Jesus from His followers (and that includes ME) because I strongly believe how you think about Him will effect your life now and for all eternity.

When He was physically on Earth, Jesus was never (NEVER!) about gun rights, prosperity theology (think of TV preachers like Joel Osteen, Paula White and the fabulously named Creflo Dollar), anti-science, limited government (that neglects the destitute) and fierce nationalism. And today, when Jesus followers like me believe He lives in the hearts and minds of anyone who claims Him as Lord and Savior, He still isn’t.

Conversely, Jesus isn’t just about what people at the opposite end of the political spectrum claim. He wasn’t just a woman’s rights advocate or a fanatical anti-poverty crusader. Nor was He a card-carrying socialist, as some might believe. And it’s a misrepresentation to claim Jesus was primarily a humble servant of the abject poor.

So what was (and is) He about? Thousands of books have tackled that question because it’s important, especially in a violent, pandemic-ridden world staggering like a drunk leaving the bar.

While we’ll never have a definitive answer that everyone can agree on, here are a few snapshots that convinced me to follow Jesus:

  • Telling religious leaders, who brought Him an adulteress woman for judgment, that anyone who had never sinned can cast the first stone at her. They all left and Jesus forgave the woman.
  • Healing a man’s diseased hand on the very day when religious authorities forbade people from doing any kind of work.
  • Revealing to His followers that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.
  • Informing people that it wasn’t good enough to tolerate their opponents. They must actually love them. (!!)
  • Announcing “I and my father are one” and allowing his followers to worship Him.
  • Letting a woman clean his feet with expensive perfume, then telling a critical follower, who thought the perfume could have been sold and the money given to poor people, that “You will always have the poor with you. But you will not always have me.”
  • Allowing religious authorities to arrest Him on trumped-up charges, then doing nothing to stop His execution because “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.

I’m presenting a very, very incomplete picture of Jesus (that’s why so many books have been written about His life, death and resurrection). But I hope it’s enough for you to explore further. Some will tell you it’s a waste of time, but I believe your entire future is at stake. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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The headline – “Bob Saget’s Last Twitter Post Will Break Your Heart” – compelled me to read the online story. And as I did, it was clear a vital and eternal truth was being laid before me.

Just 12 hours before the 65-year-old actor (Full House and Fuller House), TV host (America’s Funniest Home Videos) and comedian was found dead Jan. 9 in his Florida hotel room, he went on Twitter and posted this:

“Loved tonight’s show in Jacksonville. Appreciative audience. I had no idea I did a 2-[hour] set. I’m happily addicted again to this s***. Check BobSaget.com for my dates in 2022.”

Clearly, Saget was looking ahead to his comedy tour and had no idea it would never happen for the most final of reasons: he would soon be gone from this earth.

It struck me that the same could be applied to anyone. In my case, I could have easily died before this blog appeared online. Pastor and author Rick Warren put it so well: “When I’m tempted to be prideful, I just remind myself that I cannot even guarantee my next breath.”

Did Bob Saget ever think about his demise and what might come after? We may never know. But this is a good motivation for us to set aside our culture’s trivial obsessions and give serious thought to the BIG question.

I did that a few years ago. After considerable reading, thinking and debating with people of faith, I decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

If you believe in the existence of Heaven, then consider what Jesus told anyone willing to listen: “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” So there it is; when this life ends, you’ll need to be perfect to get past the bouncer at the ‘pearly gates’.

Well, that’s a problem, isn’t it? Since no one can ever get close to perfection, how can even one of us get to Heaven?

The answer is Jesus. One of His earliest followers noted “When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned.”

So Jesus has what it takes. And when He allowed Himself to be arrested on false charges, convicted and put to death, Jesus paid the penalty for every wrong thing done by His followers, and every right thing we’ve failed to do.

After that, God saw — and continues to see — His Son’s followers just as He sees Jesus: perfect in every way. The result is when Jesus followers end this life, the bouncer ushers them into a joyous eternity with God.

Just as important, when people like YOU invite Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour, He comes into your heart IMMEDIATELY and begins making you more like the person God created you to be.

We’ll probably never know if Bob Saget did that. But you can make that decision TODAY. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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It wouldn’t surprise me if you are in absolute agreement with George Carlin. Sometimes, I am too. That’s why I downloaded this meme for a Frank’s Cottage blog.

The question hinted at by the late, great comedian (1937-2008) is pretty obvious: how can there be a loving, involved creator when this world seems so shot through with violence, disaster, pandemics, corruption and disease? If He exists, does He just not give a darn?

These questions bugged me incessantly. But something changed after I made a life-changing decision. Prepare yourself, because this was — and is — radical. I decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

Once that happened, I started to see the world differently. I read about Jesus — His life, death and resurrection — and came to understand the gift of free will.

I’ll admit this is often a difficult, troubling notion that many people–maybe even you–struggle to accept and appreciate. But then I wonder:

  • Is it God’s fault that most people are greedy?
  • Is it God’s fault that governments often prefer to spend money on guns than food, healthcare and safe water?
  • Is it God’s fault that so many of us claim to hate corruption unless that corruption benefits us?
  • Is it God’s fault that most of us (and I certainly include me) claim to dislike hypocrisy, but are often so good at it that we’re blind to our insincerity?

Maybe you’re reluctantly admitting that it’s not God’s fault. But hey, why isn’t He doing something about it? To which I answer: He IS doing something about it.

God is using horribly imperfect Jesus followers like me, and Jesus-following organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Lifewater, Compassion Canada, ShareWord Global, International Justice Mission and so many more, to show the world who He is and why Jesus is His solution to most of our problems.

When I chose to follow Jesus–to make Him (and not greed/selfishness/money/power/sex) the Lord of my life–I started to fully grasp the gift of free will. And fully realize the gobsmacking LOVE which motivates that gift.

Do you want to be a goose-stepping brainless robot? I know how you’ll answer, but this is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either we have free will, with all its pitfalls, or we don’t.

I used that free will to make Jesus my leader, my motivator, my strength, my ultimate source of life. And it’s made me a better person. Oh, I’m a long, LONG way from where I should be (just ask my wife), but that’s OK. Jesus is making me more of the person I was meant to be, and that work won’t end until this life ends and I meet Him face-to-face. And that will be glorious.

All this is available to you, too. And if you say yes, you also open the door to God working through you to make this broken world a better place. Interested? 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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