Feeds:
Posts
Comments

LOVE, NOT HURT

who's getting hurt? 8.14Sadly, there was a time when the message of this graphic (found on an atheism Internet community) was very true.

Arrogance ruled the roost. Christians, often in positions of power, sought to increase their power over people who, because they refused to believe the same thing, were obviously defective and could be treated like enemies.

Indeed, 500 years ago, ISIS (the murderous radical Islamic terrorist group) could just as easily have been Christian.

So this meme was correct. Was.

Things are very different today and pretty much everyone (except the creator of this graphic, perhaps) knows it. Maybe it’s because Christians are not in positions of power. And that’s a good thing.

We all know power corrupts. The history of Christianity is certainly powerful evidence. Now, serious Christians understand that God is primarily about love and love does NOT threaten or coerce. Love offers a gift.

In Christian terms, that gift is Jesus Christ, who the Bible teaches is God’s son. Jesus – His teachings, His sacrificial death on a Roman cross and His resurrection – is offered to a world that I think we can all agree isn’t doing very well.

For much of my life, I thought I was was doing just fine without this gift. In fact, I believed what North American media, and most of my friends and colleagues, said about Jesus: nice guy (if he lived at all), but long gone and what does he have to do with anything?

He has everything to do with making people like me – and you, if you say yes to Him – more thoughtful, less greedy, more compassionate and less judgemental.

He has everything to do with seeing the things that our culture values in a new and discerning light – and discovering most of those things are trivial and ultimately irrelevant. Just think new cars, lighter smartphones, cooler sunglasses, yet another pair of shoes.

He has everything to do with feeling less lonely, less worried about the opinions of others and less concerned about what our culture defines as “success”.

He has everything to do with answering the most important questions of life: Why am I here? (To have a relationship with God through Jesus.) What happens when I die? (If Jesus is my saviour, then I’ll spend eternity in Heaven with Him because His death wiped away all my wrongs.)

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

14+-+1-2Have you watched someone give their “testimony” on a TV show and describe being at their lowest point when they became a Christian?

Did you shake you head and have the same reaction as the words at the bottom of the graphic? Once, I would have been in your camp. After all, that is the easiest, fastest response, right?

So here’s a challenge: skip the path of least resistance, the path that our culture pushes us onto, and really think about this.

Perhaps someone said “I found God at the most vulnerable point of my life” because they suddenly realized that all the ‘stuff’ that’s supposed to be so, SO important is really trivial.

Maybe they realized that in the midst of their vulnerability, nothing that our culture offers us really changes anything. Oprah can’t help. Friends sending out ‘positive vibes’ makes no difference. And drugs or alcohol will eventually leave them even worse off than before.

Perhaps they figured out that our culture’s focus on being self-reliant in everything just doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s not realistic.

Maybe their vulnerability has made them realize that dismissing/ignoring God and Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His son) is, in fact, brainwashing. And for the first time, they’re seeing life — and what could happen when this life ends — outside of our culture’s narrow and shallow confines.

I was in my 40s when I stepped off the path of least resistance and really thought about the how and whys of people deciding to follow Jesus. I wasn’t at the most vulnerable point of my life. In fact, I was doing just fine, by the standards of our culture. I had a decent career, parents who didn’t abuse me or abandon me, several meaningful romantic relationships, no serious diseases and a good future.

But I knew there had to be more to life than all this. I knew there had to be something deeper and something that would look beyond 80-odd years on planet earth. After much reading, a lot of thought and many debates with brave Christians, I decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

That decision had — and continues to have — a profound impact on my life. It greatly affected who I decided to marry and where I now work. It gave me hope — not in things or in people (the first is meaningless and the second will disappoint and hurt and abandon)  — but in a creator who offered me the gift of His Son.

I accepted that gift. Have you ever thought about doing the same? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

WAITING ON GOD

WAITING ON GODHave you met anyone sitting around, drinking margaritas and watching awful TV shows because they have nothing better to do than wait for God to fix stuff?

Me neither. I suspect this graphic, found in an atheist Internet community, is making an offhand reference to prayer. If I’ve learned anything from my interactions with atheist people, it’s that almost all of them believe prayer is an idiotic waste of time.

I’m not going to delve into prayer in this essay; you can read some thoughts on the subject here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-9a

What I will write, however, is perhaps the reason this world is struggling is because people DON’T stop and wait for God to do something. Consider:

  • If we had stopped and waited for God to fix the problem, would organized crime have come to North America? I’m referring to prohibition in the United States during the 1920s. Human actions to reduce alcoholism not only failed, they created negative consequences that are still being felt almost 100 years later.
  • People brought rabbits to Australia and New Zealand for food. What followed was an explosive growth in the rabbit population to the point where they are now major pests in these countries.
  • Still in Australia, people introduced cane toads to control canefield pests. Bad idea. Canefield pests are still there and cane toads are now a major problem in their own right.
  • How often have people, through their governments, introduced rent controls to prevent sky-high rent increases? How often has that resulted in major shortages of rental units – making it nearly impossible for low-income people to find a place to live?

So it’s clear that ignoring God and doing things on our own often makes this world a WORSE place.

Sometimes, I’m guilty of this very mistake. Because I’m part of a culture that lives as if God and Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His divine son — don’t exist, I get sucked into that same thinking.

I forget to pray about things. I forget to wait on God — even though the Bible tells me “The Lord is good to those who wait for him. He is good to those who look for him” (that’s from a section called ‘Lamentations’). In case I didn’t get it the first time, another Bible section called ‘Psalms’ says “Be strong and brave and wait for the Lord’s help”.

Patience is a gift I’m continually learning as a follower of Jesus. There are other gifts, too: seeing beyond my ego to what’s truly important; understanding that this world is NOT how God wants it to be; and allowing Jesus to work in my life to make me more like the person He knows I can be.

Do these gifts sound appealing? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

lifeMaybe that’s your impression of Christians. Maybe you think they’re fixated on death.

Hey, there’s another one of their churches with a cross on it that they claim Jesus Christ died on.

Every time one of those people gets on TV or radio or the Internet, they’re talk about Jesus dying. Man, that’s getting old.

Yes, in the culture we all live in, the idea of a divine son of God (that’s who serious Christians believe Jesus is) being sacrificed for the “sins” of humanity is downright offensive.

We’re all doing just fine, right? We haven’t ran over anyone with our car or robbed a bank or given anyone AIDS, so what’s the problem?

This is where it gets controversial. And this is why serious Christians appear to “celebrate” death.

People who are genuine about following Jesus know that there’s a lot more to “doing fine” than avoiding prison or causing death. Those are just the big-ticket, headline-grabbing wrongs.

How about greed? How big a TV do we actually need?  Another IPad? Wasn’t the last one good enough? Hang on, a double garage and a big driveway just isn’t enough for your boat AND your trailer AND your three vehicles? Uh, didn’t you just go on a cruise last year?

How about a lack of generosity? Why don’t those people take care of themselves? I’m not giving to poverty in Haiti — there’s poverty right here in North America!! (Uh, there’s a GIGANTIC difference between poverty here and poverty there.)

How about living your life as if God doesn’t exist? Genuine Christians believe what the Bible says, that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life” (that’s from a section simply called ‘John’). Furthermore, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain” (from a section called ‘Revelation’).

So, if you give the Bible any credibility, then those quotes above indicate that God does, indeed, care about YOU and deeply wants to be part of YOUR life. So is it wrong to live like He doesn’t exist? I would say yes.

Now consider Christianity’s supposed “fixation” with death. What it’s really about — that this atheist graphic conveniently ignores — is that for those who believe in and truly follow Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death wipes all the bad things we’ve done and all the good things we’ve failed to do off the books. For those who follow Jesus seriously, God sees us like He sees His Son: pure, without the slightest imperfection.

So the “fixation” is really about the results of Jesus’ death. It’s about something else, too. Serious Christians believe the Bible when it says that Jesus came back to life just a few days later — and in doing so, wiped out the permanence of death for all who believe in Him.

So, in fact, what’s happening is opposite to the graphic. Genuine Christians are celebrating LIFE. And it’s a life that’s available to EVERYONE, no matter who they are, no matter what they’ve done (or not done).

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

Who's Really to blame?On first reflection, I imagine this graphic, found in an atheist Internet community, might strike a chord with some folks.

I mean, isn’t the world grossly unfair? Why do some people have so much while some have so little? And why does God just sit on His hands and do nothing about it?

These are valid, important questions. I asked them all before becoming a Christian at age 42. Once I decided to follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son), I thought long and hard about these questions from my new perspective, because I still needed them answered.

So, consider this:

Some people have a lot and some have very little because of where they live. It’s a lot easier to make a go of it when you’re not struggling to survive drought, typhoons and earthquakes.

Now before you blame God for natural “disasters”, ponder the notion that the world’s rich nations could take in far, far more immigrants. In addition, they could work through agencies like the United Nations to move people away from disaster-prone areas.

The fact that these things don’t happen isn’t an indictment of God. It’s an indictment of US in the developed world. And it’s an indictment of people who won’t move, no matter how bad life gets.

Who says God won’t give them food? Does God give rich people food? Do you really think that’s how the world works?

Furthermore, God DOES give hungry people food. That’s what organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion Canada, Feed The Children, Oxfam and many more do. They provide opportunities for you and me to be the hands and feet of God by using our riches to feed people AND help them feed themselves.

If you give the Bible any credibility, consider what Jesus tells His followers: “The truth is, anything you refused to do for any of my people here, you refused to do for me” (from a section simply called ‘Matthew’). And please know that Jesus considers ALL people to be worthy of being His.

So, are YOU part of what God is doing to help the hungry? Before I decided to follow Jesus, I was not. Now I am. That’s no credit to me; that’s credit to Jesus, who I invited into my life to make me more like Him.

There are more results from having Jesus in my life.

I’ve become more aware of my many shortcomings and know that through my wife and other Christians, God is working to change me for the better.

I’ve become aware that this world is NOT how God wants it to be. Since deciding to follow Jesus, my ugly ego has been reduced enough to realize that I’m part of that problem. I seek forgiveness from the One who I believe is the only valid judge of humanity. And because I follow Jesus, I know that His sacrificial death and resurrection makes up for my “sins”. I receive that forgiveness!

Does this sound attractive to you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

WHEN LOVE MAKES A DIFFERENCEIs loving God a waste of time? Certainly that’s the opinion of the atheist person who posted this graphic on the Internet. And there are occasions when that person is dead-on right.

If loving God makes no difference in your life, then it’s a waste of time.

If loving God doesn’t cause you to love your friends and family more, then it’s a waste of time.

If loving God doesn’t encourage you to love yourself, then it’s a waste of time.

If loving God doesn’t make you want to do more for a world that’s clearly sick and broken, then it’s a waste of time.

Serious Christians (and I’m one of them) know that despite this world’s horrible problems, God still loves it. In fact, God sent Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His son — to this world to help fix it.

I can hear some of you saying “How did sending Jesus making one bit of difference? This world is still a mess.” Yes, this world is still a mess. And sometimes, deeply misguided followers of Jesus have contributed to that mess.

That said, consider this: serious Christians believe what the Bible says about Jesus, that He died to wipe away ALL the wrongdoings of people who believe in Him. And by rising from the dead, as the Bible describes, Jesus also wiped away the permanence of death.

How does this make any difference? It’s already made a HUGE difference. Energized by what Jesus has done for them, serious Christians have gone on to build hospitals, start universities and do charity work in some of the world’s most hopeless places. That includes treating victims of the Ebola virus in Africa, helping typhoon survivors in the Philippines and building shelters for earthquake victims in Haiti.

All of this happens because people who follow Jesus Christ know that God loves them (and every other person on this planet) beyond all measure. Allowing your son to die on a Roman cross, then bringing Him back to life, is absolute proof of that.

  • Because I love God, I love my wife and stepchildren MORE.
  • Because I love God, I care about what’s happening in HIS world.
  • Because I love God, I turned away from my insecure greediness and make regular contributions to charities that do amazing work in the name of Jesus.
  • Because I love God, I maintain this website to tell YOU about how loving God and His Son can change your life just as it changed (and continues to change) my life.

Do you see value in loving God and accepting His gift of Jesus Christ? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

sheep-1I’m just dying to know: who is NOT a sheep? That’s the first thing I thought when I saw this graphic on an Internet atheism community.

The graphic refers to a number of passages in the Bible which describes followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son) as sheep. Here’s an example:

I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. (From a section simply called ‘John’.)

This hardly paints “sheep” in a negative light. But let’s leave that point and examine the motivation behind the graphic.

Like it or not — and obviously, the creater of this graphic would NOT — every single one of us are sheep. We ALL follow after something or someone. And often times, we are happy to put on blinders to make sure nothing distracts us from being sheep.

There are endless examples. Here is but a taste:

Some of us blindly run after power (the shepherd) and we’re such sheep that we’ll do anything to keep it. Just look at all the people who’ve achieved great political power — former U.S. president Richard Nixon and former Italian prime minister Enrico Berlusconi are two recent examples — they crashed and burned as their power (shepherd) corrupted them.

Fame is another shepherd and its sheep pursue it with unbelievable passion. They’ll sacrifice years of their life to achieve fame, then watch helplessly as our microscopic attention spans aimlessly drift to someone else. In just a few years from now, will anyone remember reality TV stars Kim Kardashian or Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi? Their ‘shepherd’ has already thrown them under the bus.

Then there’s money, an infectious shepherd that bids even the most unsuspecting person to follow. Consider businessman Bernie Madoff, a sheep who followed his shepherd so religiously that he defrauded thousands of investors out of about $65 billion. Madoff will almost certainly never see the outside of a prison again.

Perhaps the most tempting shepherd is sex. It whispers sweet nothings to pretty much everyone, turning all kinds of people into sheep who will do its bidding until it destroys them. Remember televangelist Jimmy Swaggart? He was twice caught having affairs with prostitutes. Where is his shepherd now?

So, can someone tell me why it’s so terrible to be a sheep to the shepherd of Jesus Christ? When I follow Him passionately, He enters my soul and helps me become a wiser, more generous and thoughtful person.

And as a sheep to Jesus the shepherd, I come to understand that through His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection, all the bad things I’ve done (and the good things I’ve failed to do) are wiped off the books. God sees me as He sees His son: perfect, without a blemish, and worthy of spending eternity in Heaven.

Does this make sense? If Jesus isn’t your shepherd, then who is? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 162 other followers