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Posts Tagged ‘why did Jesus die’

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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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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This meme, showing the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed by radical Islamic terrorists, answers the question plainly and succinctly, doesn’t it?

You might be surprised to know that lots of people like me, who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many folks believe is the Son of God) agree with the meme. The world would be a better place without the tribalism, intolerance and judgmentalism of “religion”.

Then I watched a short video from Solas (a Scottish non-profit promoting faith in Jesus) that popped up in my Facebook feed. And it paints a startling view of a world supposedly rid of “religion”.

Host Andy Bannister notes there are officially secular countries that have aggressively tried to wipe out religion — or as I much, MUCH prefer to call it, “faith”. Those countries include the Soviet Union (when it existed) and North Korea.

Just consider the horrifying track record of government oppression and persecution in these undemocratic countries and one other Andy missed – China. Suddenly, secularism doesn’t look so attractive.

Ah, but what about the mostly secular Scandinavian nations admired by so many critics of faith? Those countries rank high on the happiness, tolerance and quality-of-life scales.

Andy points out “the things they hold most dear are very religious – the idea that human beings have rights and value and dignity and significance is actually a deeply Christian idea.”

Furthermore, the Man who I follow is all about two things:

  1. The rights, value and dignity of all human beings. During His physical time on Earth, Jesus didn’t hesitate to break many social taboos in His culture to show women and social outcasts that they are NOT second-class citizens in God’s kingdom.
  2. The uselessness of “religion”. Jesus often criticized people who used religion to gain power, oppress others and look good in public.

Jesus even went so far as to say this to anyone willing to listen: “Are you tired? Burned out on religion? Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Wow. Bet you didn’t know that about Jesus, did you? For many years, I certainly didn’t. It wasn’t until I looked hard into Jesus’s life, teachings, death and resurrection that I realized this guy is the real deal.

In fact, by committing my life to following Him, God no longer sees all the wrong things I’ve done and the right things I’ve failed to do. He only sees the perfection of His Son. And when this life ends, that perfection will get me into Heaven to hang out with Jesus for eternity. Sweet!  🙂

Does this sound interesting? 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’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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Maybe you’ve wondered about the very pointed question in this meme. Certainly atheists and others have long argued that a loving creator would never devise anything as horrifying as hell.

So stick with me while we examine the facts around hell and a loving God.

1. Hell was absolutely NOT created for human beings. Says who? Says Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s perfect Son.

In one of the primary source documents about His physical life on earth, Jesus referred to hell as “the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels.” That’s right. NOT for people.

2. God’s love is absolutely unconditional. How do I know that? Because there are people in Heaven right now who have lived lives much more wretched and evil than you and me. I wrote a blog about one of those people: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-ko.

Maybe that fact disgusts you. I understand. But every person on this planet, including you and me, has committed moral crimes – either through the bad things we’ve done or through the good things we’ve failed to do. Every. Single. Person. So who are we to tell God where people should go after their lives end?

3. Hell continues to exist because many, many people – past, present and future – want it to exist. No, I’m not losing my sanity. Hear me out.

Getting into Heaven is simple. Just be absolutely perfect. It’s the price of admission because Jesus said, “you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

How can anyone achieve this impossible standard? On our own, we can’t. But it’s a different story when we decide, with sober thoughtfulness, to follow Jesus. He sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for the moral crimes of every person who declares Him Lord and Saviour. For those followers, God doesn’t see our crimes; all He sees is His Son’s perfection.

So what happens to people who reject Jesus? They’re sending God a clear, unmistakable message: “I don’t want to go to Heaven when this life finishes. I want to go to hell.” And so the God of unconditional love grants them their wish, even though He desperately doesn’t want to.

I know God wants everyone – including YOU – in Heaven because one of the people Jesus personally trained to follow after him wrote “The Lord does not want any person to be punished forever. He wants all people to be sorry for their sins and turn from them.”

So consider Jesus to be a gift. All you need to do is accept it, then He’ll come into you life and start to make you more like the person He knows you can be. And when this life ends, you’ll meet Him face-to-face in Heaven. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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I was having on online conversation with someone who has a very unorthodox view of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) when he asked some fascinating questions:

What is there in God which makes God perfect? And what (by extension) is in Jesus that makes him better than all of us?

I’ve never wondered about these things, but I imagine many people have, given the overwhelming imperfection of this world. If you’re one of those people, I hope my research and thoughts will be helpful.

Is God perfect (i.e. without fault)? Many people say yes, based on the words of Jesus. In one of the original source documents about His life on Earth, Jesus establishes this astonishing standard for anyone who follows Him: “you must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Two points that need to be made here:

  1. Since God’s existence can’t be proven or disproven, the same can be very credibly written about Him being perfect.
  2. Who defines perfection? Ask 10 people this question and I’m pretty sure you’ll get at least five dramatically different responses.

So what is there in God that makes Him perfect? For me, it’s establishing free will for all human beings and then sticking with free will no matter what. Some might see this as bad, given wars, human trafficking, terrorism, hip-hop and most of Steven Seagal’s movies (hey, gotta keep it from getting too serious).

But I see free will as being the characteristic of perfection because it’s the characteristic of absolutely perfect love. And by perfect, I also mean the word’s less-known second definition: “complete, not deficient” (according to the Oxford dictionary).

That perfect love is also exhibited in Jesus. Read the ancient biographies of His life and you’ll find out He has unfathomable wisdom, unmatched understanding of the human condition, unshakeable trust in God and a willingness to sacrifice Himself for the good of everyone who’s willing to follow Him.

Why the sacrifice? Because the wrong things we do and the right things we fail to do build an impenetrable wall between us and God. When someone as remarkable as Mother Teresa knew she couldn’t be good enough to overcome that wall without Jesus, then what does that say about me? What does that say about YOU?

Only one person can—and has—penetrated that wall: Jesus. Nowhere is there even the slightest shred of evidence to suggest he had even one fault. So he was capable of taking the penalty—eternal separation from God—that we deserve onto His perfect shoulders when he was put to death.

God rewarded that sacrifice by raising Him from the dead, putting Him in charge of EVERYTHING and offering Him as a life-changing gift to everyone on this planet. Including YOU. Are you willing to consider accepting this astounding gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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The newspaper headline shouted, in capital letters, ‘I FORGIVE YOU’. The Calgary Sun article then detailed how a man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a 10-year-old homicide that could only be described as horrifying.

Sadly, during the trial the victim’s mother had to see photos of the badly injured, lifeless body and hear how her son was beaten to death.

Then it was her turn to speak and that’s when we understand the eye-popping headline. The mother, Linda Levesque, told the court she was still grieving over the brutal crime and all that her son suffered before dying.

Then Linda dropped this bomb: “Because of this powerful gift, I have come to forgive those who took our Daniel. I pray that this forgiveness will free your heart to know our Heavenly Father’s mercy, love and healing.”

What was the gift Linda spoke about? The Sun article only said it was her “faith”. I’m having no trouble reading between the lines and understanding it was her faith in Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the Son of God.

A Sun columnist, who covered the trial, pretty much confirmed it by referring to Linda’s “faith in God”. He went on to write “the fact she has been able to come to terms with such a devastating event and … forgive those responsible is truly remarkable.”

Yes, it’s remarkable. It’s also a sign of someone who understands what it means to follow Jesus. Linda knows that while she’s never taken a life, she (like you, me and the rest of humanity) is far from perfect.

According to the ancient prophets and writers, all the wrong things that people like you and me have done, and all the right things we’ve failed to do, will be exposed when this life ends and we stand before the perfect Creator of time, space and the universe.

We’ll have to somehow explain away all these sins; I can tell you right now that I would not do well in that situation. Would you?

The ancient prophets and Jesus followers wrote that God sought to maintain His perfect standards while still enabling people to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. The way He did that was to have His Son pay for all those wrong things by dying on a Roman Empire cross.

Three days later, God brought Jesus back to life to tell anyone who follows Jesus that their sins are gone, they’re as perfect as Jesus and we’ll see Him face-to-face when this life ends.

Linda Levesque must have understood this and recognized that since she’s been forgiven much, she needs to show the same level of forgiveness. And she did.

There are other instances of Jesus followers forgiving acts of sickening violence (Google “Amish-Pennsylvania shooting-forgiveness”; it’s an incredible story). Each example shows how following Jesus can free us from soul-destroying pain and bitterness, no matter how big or small the wrong that’s been done. Does this sound like something you want to get in on? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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In my country, there are not many things that bring everyone together. Sadly, a horrific traffic accident did just that.

Sixteen people died when a Humboldt Broncos bus, carrying players and others involved with the junior hockey team, collided with a tractor trailer in rural Saskatchewan in April 2018. The bus was on its way to a playoff game and those on board came from small towns and cities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.

Even as the investigation unfolded as to how this tragedy occurred, people across Canada paid tribute to the players, coaches, bus driver, trainer and radio announcer who lost their lives. It was incredibly moving to see how the grief of survivors and loved ones was shared among people who had never heard of the team before the accident.

Much of the grieving came from the fact that most of those who died were teenagers and people in their early 20s. Life in North America is not supposed to be like this. We’re supposed to outlive our parents.

The stunning shock of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash makes this fact blindingly clear: you and I cannot guarantee our next breath. We could be gone before the sun sets today.

With this reality so forcefully before us, I must ask: what do you think is going to happen when you die?

My spiritual path tells me when this life is over, all of us are going to face our maker and be asked to account for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do.

I can guarantee you, it’s not going to go well because God’s standard is perfection and that’s how He judges all his human creations. In the words of Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is God’s Son), “You must be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Since we’re all going to fall overwhemingly short of that requirement, how can we escape the judgement we all deserve? The answer is simple: accept the gift that God offers YOU. The gift of Jesus.

Beyond the extraordinary teachings and miracles attributed to Him in ancient biographical accounts, Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for everyone who follows him. This might seem cruel to you, but it illustrates two things:

  1. Our moral crimes are a big, BIG deal to God.
  2. Short of compromising His standards, God was willing to do whatever was necessary to make a way for us to spend eternity in His presence. Jesus is that way.

So, in light of the sobering facts about our lives that I’ve highlighted in this blog, is it time you considered accepting this incredible gift? If you you say yes, then you give God permission to move into your life NOW and begin to make you more like Jesus. What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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