Jesus Is AliveGeorge Carlin (1937-2008) was an extraordinary comedian and social critic who never made a secret of his contempt for spirituality and organized religion.

So while I don’t know if he actually said the crude and confrontational words in this graphic, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

Either way, let’s take a few minutes to examine the quote:

1. No, Christians DON’T worship a “dead Jew” – certainly not Christians who are serious about their faith. They (and I’m one of them) worship a living person who transcends any kind of “organized religion” — even Christianity.

How do I know Jesus lives? First of all, I know He rose from the dead after his crucifixion by Roman authorities. In a letter to early Christians, Paul, a missionary who spread Christianity throughout the Mediterranean, wrote. “After [His resurrection], Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

In other words, Paul is telling his readers that if they don’t believe him about Jesus coming back from the dead, there are hundreds of people who can back him up. That strikes me as very, very credible.

Increasing the credibility of this fact is that Jesus predicted all this. In one of the four Bible accounts of his life, Jesus told his followers that,“I, the Messiah, am going to be betrayed and killed and three days later I will return to life again.”

2. Now you might be saying “So what? That was 2,000 years ago. Where is he now?” Great question. Now, Jesus is where He told His followers He would be – in Heaven, (a) advocating for people who follow Him, (b) living in their hearts and (c) changing their lives.

A section of the Bible, called ‘Hebrews’, addresses this: “So Christ can save those who come to God through him. Christ can do this forever, because he always lives and is ready to help people when they come before God.”

Blogger Steve Simms writes about this on his website (http://stevesimms.wordpress.com/), noting “I have personally known hundreds of people who have been transformed and set free through an encounter with Jesus, including dozens of drug addicts and alcoholics.”

3. By now, I’m sure you have an idea about what I’m gonna write about the “on a stick” part of the Carlin quote. Yes, churches almost always have a cross prominently displayed. Yes, many Christians have a cross somewhere on their bodies (mine is a Celtic cross, connecting to my Irish heritage, that I wear around my neck).

But I certainly don’t worship the cross and neither do any Christians I know. We need and want to see it often because we want and need to be reminded that we, like every other human being (including you) have missed the mark of who God wants us to be. We’ve fallen short, ignored the love of our creator, gone our own way and messed up — often in ways we can’t see.

The cross reminds us of what Jesus did for us — His sacrificial death wipes our slate clean with God. When we believe in and follow Jesus, God sees us as He sees His son — perfect, without a single blemish.

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

PerpetualStateOfFear 4.14First of all, let me make this clear: Star Trek ROCKS. Even the no-so-great movies — Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Nemesis (2002) — were still at least mildly entertaining.

What grabbed my attention about this graphic, posted in an atheism Internet community, is two things:

1. The Spock character never said these words;
2. That said, I absolutely agree with them.

What kind of a god would ever demand constant fear from his creations? Certainly not the God I believe in, or His son (Jesus Christ).

The Bible (if you give it any credibility) addresses this topic in a very reasonable way: Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is his punishment that makes a person fear. (1 John 4:18).

That makes a great deal of sense to me. While I don’t fear God the way this graphic suggests, what I do fear is this:

  •  Disappointing Him by failing to constantly strive to be the person He knows I can be.
  •  Saddening Him by ignoring the opportunities He gives me to tell others about how He changed my life through Jesus and how their lives can be made better the same way.
  •  Insulting Him by living my life as if He doesn’t exist.
  •  Belittling Him by not fully acknowledging everything He did for me (and for you, too) by offering the gift of Jesus, who died to make up for the sins of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

I like how the United Church of God website puts it:
“God does not want us to be in continual terror of Him, though that may be where we start in our relationship with Him. Proper, mature fear of God means having a healthy reverence and respect for the most powerful Being in the universe and the laws He has set in place for our own benefit.

I also appreciate the words of Christian Post columnist Dan Delzell:
“Think about a family. Parents who dearly love their children also discipline their children appropriately for their good. In those families, children know they are loved. They also have the ‘fear’ of discipline should they choose to push the limits and disobey. That is not a bad fear. It actually is a very necessary part of family life.”

I see logic in wanting to worship a deity like this. Do you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

House of hypocritsIf you’ve spent much time on this planet, then I’m pretty you’ve had the misfortune of encountering the kind of people described in this graphic.

I certainly have. In fact, a close friend has just experienced that: her husband left her and, as a result, there are people at her church who are just as flawed as my friend, but were still self-righteous enough to turn their backs on her.

This is the kind of rude, arrogant judgmentalism, especially on things that simply aren’t important, that drives many people away from Christianity. And Jesus is dead-set against it. He told the religious leaders of his day that “You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.” (That’s in one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ life, a section called ‘John’.)

Now, before we go any further, it’s time I came clean and declared I’m a hypocrite. There have been times when I’ve said one thing and done something entirely different (just check with my very patient and forgiving wife).

While I’m at it, I think it’s safe to write that every church on this planet can be called “The House of Hypocrites” because they’re all filled with people like me. Sometimes, without even realizing it until later, we grab our gavels, pound our desks and pompously declare others guilty of the very wrongs we’ve committed.

Does that make church an ludicrious time-waster? Not at all. The key thing is to understand this: “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” Those are the words of longtime newspaper advice columnist Abigail Van Buren (better known as ‘Dear Abby’) and they make absolute sense.

I go to church because there, I can learn from other, more mature Christians how to identify and turn away from hypocritical behaviour and be the person God knows I can be.

Because I’m judgmental, I go to church so I can learn the truth of my faith: the only person who can truly be judgmental is Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God).

Serious Christians believe what the Bible says, that Christ never committed a single sin. That makes Him alone worthy of holding the gavel of judgement.

But there’s good news here: One of those Bible accounts of Jesus life tells us “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.”

Once I decided to believe that Jesus is God’s gift to me and I should accept that gift, God started the process of making me “right again”. He can do the same for you, too. Just accept His gift and see what happens next.

Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Lacking facts? 3:14It has long been a criticism that hardened atheists have leveled at Christianity: faith is put on a pedestal and facts are harder to find than a government surplus.

Well, there’s no doubt about it: faith IS important to Christianity. In fact, the Bible itself (in a section called ‘Hebrews’) says so: “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find him.”

But does that mean that serious Christians are just floating on a cloud of faith? Not a chance. Consider just these few facts:

1. Beyond the four sections of the Bible detailing His life, death and resurrection, the website EveryStudent.com details how two ancient historians, Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120) and Flavius Josephus (A.D. 38-100+) wrote about Jesus and how He was put to death by Roman authorities.

2. Powerful evidence for Jesus’ resurrection (a central element of the Christian faith) comes from a man named Paul, who spent years persecuting Christians, then became a Christ follower and spread Christianity throughout the Mediterranean.

The Bible has one of Paul’s letters to early Christians, where he wrote “(After His death) Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

Consider the enormity of that statement: Paul was telling these people that if they didn’t believe him about the resurrection of Jesus, there were all kinds of living witnesses who could back him up.

3. There is also convincing evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. Some critics say Jesus himself never made that claim — it was overzealous followers who “put the words in His mouth” when they wrote the four sections of the Bible about His life.

And yet, Christian writer Steven Hemler makes this point, which I consider quite valid: “If Jesus was not crucified for blasphemy (claiming to be God’s son), then why did Jewish leaders want him killed? It is difficult to explain Jesus’ crucifixion, which is a well-attested historical fact, if he did not actually claim to be God’s son.”

There is lots of other hard evidence that I could explain, but you get the point. And if you don’t, then I challenge you to investigate for yourself because this is important stuff. In fact, from my viewpoint, your eternal fate rests on it because serious Christians believe the Bible when it says that Christ is God’s gift to anyone who will accept Him

What does accepting Him mean? It means believing that His sacrificial death makes up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. So God no longer sees any of that. He sees us like He sees His son – perfect in every way. And through that, we are welcomed to spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

Does this make sense to you? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Bible hates women? 3.14Maybe you’ve heard someone talk along these lines. Maybe you’ve thought it yourself. But it is true?

I could blather on about how Christianity upholds women in a way that its critics simply don’t want to acknowledge. But why listen to me when you can read it from women who publicly acknowledge their faith in Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God)?

I emailed this graphic, originally published on an atheist Internet community, to several Christian women. Here is a sample of their responses:

Jerri Menges:
God chose a woman to bring the Savior of man into the world. In the Bible, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, not only because He loved Lazarus, but because He loved Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus). He saw their hurt and He was compassionate for them, too.

In the Bible, I find my true worth: God knows who I am, He loves me just as I am, He even has plans for me, good plans.

Consider this: when God made Adam, He saw that Adam needed a helper, so he made woman (Eve). Man, His crown creation wasn’t complete. He needed a helper.

Margie Stevenson:
Google women of the Bible and read on!  God gave many women important gifts, talents and abilities to work for His good.

In my opinion, a women’s value to Christ is no different than a man’s value, at least not in how much we are valued. God made each of us, loves each of us and created two sexes for a very specific reason.

A woman’s value to Christ is that she complements a man….and therefore, completes the picture of God’s people on earth.  She is a child of God….this fact is the same for men and women, as different as we are.

Amber Anderson Skrabek:
The Bible advises men to appreciate and value their wives:

Proverbs 31:26: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:31: Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise.

Given the time the Bible was written, it is not surprising that there are comparatively few women mentioned. However, there are several examples of strong, Godly women who are highlighted and their inclusion is not accidental.

One needs only to look at the story of Mary Magdalene to see how Jesus valued women.

In Jesus’ time … Jews and Romans saw women as “lesser” beings, but Jesus did not. Mary Magdalene was an early and devoted follower of Christ. She is mentioned several times as a prominent disciple, and she remained faithful to Jesus even as he was crucified.

When Jesus was taken down from the cross, it was Mary and other women, all devoted followers of Christ, who attended to his body. It was these women, and not a man, who were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

Again, none of this was accidental. Jesus chose these women to be his witnesses and rewarded their faithfulness.

So what do you think? Male or female, do these words persuade you to rethink your position on Christianity? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Popularity 2.14

What do you think? Does the atheist person who created this graphic have a good point?

I guess that depends on what you think the point is; for me, this graphic (which criticizes Christianity) doesn’t really speak about truth. It speaks about popularity.

Consider this: Nazism must be true, because it was very popular with a very large segment of Europe. For about a decade, people all over Germany, France, Austria and other countries were knocking on doors to get into the club.

And what about this: smoking cigarettes must be a good thing, since hundreds of millions of people have done it. In fact, there are still young people who knock on the door to get into the smokers club.

What I’m saying here is the truth of Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with its popularity. Zero. Zilch. Squat.

So let’s go further and explain why people are, for the most part, NOT knocking on the doors to get into the club.

1. Christianity starts with absolute reality and that reality is so unpopular, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I write that some people would rather cut off their ears than hear it: we do bad things and fail to do good things. All the time – so often, in fact, that we often don’t realize when it happens. (That’s certainly the case for me.)

It can be as small as failing to give to charity or getting unjustifiably angry with your spouse. And it can be as large as sabotaging a friend’s marriage, cheating on your taxes or defrauding your workplace. The size doesn’t matter. It’s still reality. It’s still bad. It’s still happening all the time.

2. Many people think truth is kinda relative. But there is an objective morality to Christianity – a morality that doesn’t change with time or culture or anything else.

Wrong is still wrong, even if everyone’s doing it. And right is still right, even if no one is doing it. And that definitely makes Christianity unpopular.

3. The solution is as simple as accepting a gift from God – Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians (and many others) believe is His son.

Christ came to serve anyone who believes in Him and follows Him – His death is a sacrifice that makes up for all the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do. And His resurrection provides a way for eternal life with Him, long after our lives on planet Earth are finished.

This is overwhelmingly unpopular because it forces us to examine our lives and admit we have blown it so often that we can never do enough to make up for it. Even someone as remarkable as Mother Teresa knew that.

4. One final reason for the unpopularity of Christianity? It takes a combination of reason and faith to become a follower of Jesus Christ. It will never, ever be possible to prove or disprove the existence of God. There is certainly evidence, but that evidence MUST be combined with a leap of faith (and I write about that here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-3i). That’s certainly enough to turn off many people.

And yet, in the end, Christianity is so simple. And what you need to do to get in on God’s offer of a changed life NOW and for ETERNITY is remarkably straightforward.

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

DiscoveryOfSelf 2.14Isn’t it funny how life works? Actor Brad Pitt claims leaving “religion” behind helped him discover who his is. And yet, for millions of people around the world, entering a life of faith accomplished the same thing.

What fascinates me about this graphic (found on an atheist Internet community) is Pitt’s words about the “comfort” of “religion” (a word I dislike – it carries a ton of negative baggage with me and with many others).

I’m a serious Christian. Is my faith in Jesus Christ — whom Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God — a comfort? Of course it is. Just as a fat bank account or a prestigious career is a comfort for many others.

I’m comforted knowing that because I believe in and follow Jesus, His sacrificial death on a cross wipes my slate clean with the creator of the universe. God no longer sees the bad things I’ve done and the good things I’ve failed to do. He sees me as He sees Jesus – “in Him there is no sin” says a section of the Bible called ‘1 John’ .

But there’s something very uncomfortable about that, too. If I take what Jesus did for me seriously, then I’ll want to live up to His remarkable gift. I’ll want to welcome Jesus into my life so He can guide me away from bad behaviour and towards doing good.

You might think that’s easy to do and why on earth would I need Jesus to pull it off? I’ll tell you why: because it’s NOT easy to do. I miss the mark, of being the kind of person God knows I can be, so often that I don’t even realize it. And so does every other person on this planet.

It’s like we live blindfolded, believing everything our culture tells us, thinking we look so cool and “together” when, in God’s eyes — and He knows you and me better than we ever could — we are stumbling around like drunken fools.

That’s one part of the “discovery of self” that Brad Pitt mentioned. The other part is this: as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that God loves me more than my wife, more than my parents, more than my stepkids. More than all of them put together. That’s pretty remarkable, especially as most of us (whether we acknowledge it or not) live with a harsh critic in our heads.

Think hard about this: how often do you put yourself down? Do you even recognize all those occasions? Then consider this: God knows all your shortcomings. All the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Yet He loves you. And loves you so much that He offers you the gift of His son. All you have to do is accept it.

If you do accept that gift with a sincere heart (not just as a way to avoid judgement when this life ends), then you’ll start on a journey of self-discovery that will leave Brad Pitt’s in the dust.

Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.


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