Isn’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.
Posted in In The News | Tagged Faith, Christianity, God, Jesus, religion, Bible, spirituality, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, theology, Brad Pitt, Jesus Christ, Brad Pitt religion, Brad Pitt Christianity | 3 Comments »
If anyone knows how to stimulate conversation, it’s militant atheist and U.S. talk show host Bill Maher. That said, I’m not sure Bill ever thought this quote would be used to explain a truth about the Christian faith.
Bill asks a great question here. It’s a question I asked before and after I decided to become a Christian more than 10 years ago.
After making that decision, I held up Bill’s question to the hard light of examination. And I pondered the nature of all us human beings. Then the answer came to me.
- What message am I sending when I selfishly refuse to talk to my wife if I don’t get my own way?
- What message am I sending when I use all my tax return for vacations or electronic toys instead of putting some aside for charity?
- What message am I sending when I’m driving to work and I give someone the one-finger salute because I don’t care for his or her driving?
- What message am I sending when I pay a contractor under the table and avoid the taxes I should be paying?
It’s the same message every time. And it’s this simple: “God, don’t even lay one finger on the devil”.
When I do wrong and/or fail to do right, I’m telling my creator that I’m siding with His opponent. In fact, let me go so far as to write that I’m informing God that I like the devil more than I like Him.
If you’re a little disturbed, good. I’m certainly disturbed when I find my actions broadcasting that message. And yet, I seem to do it almost as often as breathing. In fact, when I live my life without acknowledging God and His gift to everyone who will accept it (Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son), I’m goose-stepping to the beat of His opponent.
Now take my “sins” and multiply them by, oh, a trillion. Now you can see why God doesn’t just defeat the devil. Because the actions of all humanity tell Him, with numbing frequency and nauseating volume, that we don’t want Him to. And so He doesn’t.
There is a way out of this deeply vicious cycle. A way to ensure that my actions don’t help fill up the bottomless sea of ugly messages to God. And that way is to accept His gift.
Tell God you’re sorry for the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Tell him you accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and acknowledge His death wipes your past, present and future slate clean. And invite Jesus into your life.
If you’re serious about this, then watch things start to happen. Amazing, life-changing things. You’ll never be the same. And you won’t be siding with God’s opponent anymore.
Does this make sense? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Me & The World | Tagged atheism, Bible, Bill Maher, Christianity, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, hell, Jesus, Jesus Christ, religion, sin, spirituality, theology, Why doesn't God defeat the devil?, Why doesn't God kill the devil? | 4 Comments »
You know what? I agree with this graphic, which I found on an Internet atheism community.
Sadly, there are people of faith who try to be “good” because of the threat of “eternal damnation” (which, for serious Christians and many others, is Hell). I kinda feel sorry for them; they must feel pressured, hounded and even miserable.
That said, does this mean they are really “bad” people who are just trying to avoid being separated from God for eternity? Perhaps.
But let’s move on to the vast, vast majority of people who follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s divine son). For them, this graphic is as wrong as a snowstorm in July.
Indeed, for me and pretty much every Christian I know, the threat of “eternal damnation” has nothing to do with our desire to be a “good person” (and what qualifies as good? I address it in The Problem With ‘Good’: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-7j).
That desire comes because:
- God wants us to be good
- God has put his Holy Spirit inside us to help us be good
- God wants to work through us to make this broken world a better place – and He can’t do that when we’re only trying to be good to avoid Hell.
- God offers everyone the gift of Jesus Christ to guide us with His words, His sacrifice on a Roman cross (to make up for all the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do), and His resurrection. Serious Christians have accepted that gift, so we want to be worthy of all that we believe Jesus has done for us.
Here’s the thing: God offers everyone, including YOU, that gift of Jesus. All you have to do is accept it. Simply pray that you’re sorry for how you’ve fallen short of what God wants for you and, from now on, you want to accept Jesus as your lord and savior – the man whose sacrifice makes up for how you’ve fallen short. Welcome that gift into your life.
Then, if you’re serious about what you’ve done, get a Bible and start reading it. Find a church and start attending. If that church doesn’t work for you, find another.
This process may seem tiresome, but it’s crucially important because when you’re surrounded by others who are serious about following Jesus, God can and will work through them to help YOU on your journey. And, just as cool, God can and will work through you to help them on their journeys.
Trust me, as someone who has been used by God for His mysterious, amazing purposes, there’s no feeling like it!
Does this make sense? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Me & The World | Tagged Are Christians good just to avoid hell?, atheism, Avoiding Hell, Bible, Christianity, church, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, religion, spirituality, theology | 7 Comments »
Is God all-powerful?
You’d think I would know better by now. And yet, I naively continue to be amazed at how some folks willfully delude themselves and work like there’s no tomorrow to stay ignorant.
This graphic is a case in point. It was posted on an atheism Internet community; in my experience, most of the people in these communities know their Bible pretty well. Then someone uploads a graphic like this…..
First of all God IS all-powerful. If you give the Bible any credibility, consider these excerpts:
- Look! I am the Eternal, the God of all living things. Is anything too difficult for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
- God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. (Isaiah 40:28)
- There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all that makes him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. (Romans 1:20)
Now consider the evidence of hundreds of thousands of years: all the bad things me, you and the rest of humanity have done (and the good things we’ve failed to do). Could there be a clearer measure of proof that God is serious about the gift of freewill?
Indeed, God could have stopped Roman authorities from putting Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His divine son) to death on trumped-up charges. But he allowed freewill to take its course.
In our day and age, God could have stopped Al Qaeda from carrying out the 9-11 terrorist attacks. But once again, He allowed Freewill to take its course. (You may not like that, but if He stopped that, then where would the limits on freewill end? I address that here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-38)
My point here is that God could easily force people to believe in Him. But what would be the point? To prove He’s powerful? Really? I don’t think the creator of time, space and the universe needs to prove a darn thing.
What He does want is for all of us to come to Him, through His son, because WE want to. Here’s how the Bible puts it, in a section called ’21 Timothy’: “God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth.”
The truth is this: “If you openly say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved.” That’s from a section of the Bible called ‘Romans’.
Saved from what? From being judged on all the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do. When I decided to follow Jesus, His sacrificial death on a Roman cross cleaned my account with God. God no longer sees my mistakes, my pettiness, my times of thinking I can do everything without Him. He sees me as perfect – just like Jesus.
Does this make sense? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Me & The World | Tagged 9-11, atheism, Bible, Christianity, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, Is God all powerful?, Jesus, religion, spirituality, theology | 5 Comments »
Dead Man Walking is the name of a well-known 1995 film starting Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Until 2002, it was also the perfect description of my life.
The term comes from the United States prison system and generally refers to a death row inmate making his or her last walk to their place of execution.
So why did it once describe my life? In its more informal meaning, Dead Man Walking refers to any person in a doomed or untenable situation. And that’s where I was.
- I lived how my family, friends, co-workers and neighbours wanted me to live:
- Bigger was better.
- Shopping was *never* a waste of time or resources.
- I deserved luxurious, expensive vacations (even if I had to go into debt to pay for them).
- I certainly didn’t waste much time thinking about the big, supposedly unanswerable questions of life.
If you’re still with me, then think about it for a moment: does my life before 2002 sound at all like your life today?
Living like that didn’t make me miserable, but it didn’t make me happy, either. I came to realize that playing the comparison game, which is what our culture relentlessly “suggests”, was a dead-end street. My life had as much meaning as an episode of Two and a Half Men; it was as shallow as a mud puddle. I was in a doomed or untenable situation.
So what changed? I always believed there had to be a creator for all that we see and, from time to time, I would ponder who or what that creator might be. And I pondered what might come after this life ends.
Finally, after much thought, reading and debates with people who value a relationship with God, I put my trust in God and in Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians (and many others) believe is His son.
At age 42, I was no longer a Dead Man Walking. I knew – and still know – why I’m here: to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; to do my best to represent Christ to everyone I encounter; and spend eternity with Him.
This relationship is teaching me to think about people in a more compassionate way (as being loved by God, whether I like them or not), our Earth in a better way (it’s God’s planet, not mine to do with as I please) and my life in a deeper way (what is truly of value?).
Are you at a place where you’re willing to consider that maybe you’re in a doomed or untenable situation? And is my solution worthy of consideration? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Movies & TV | Tagged Christianity, Dead Man Walking, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, religion, Sean Penn, spirituality, Susan Sarandon, theology, What is a dead man walking?, who is Jesus? | 2 Comments »
There’s a simple sentence in the Bible that is mysterious, possibly offensive to some, and yet has great hope for all humanity.
The sentence comes from Paul of Tarsus, one of the people most responsible for spreading Christianity throughout the Mediterranean.
In one of his letters to churches he helped create, Paul wrote “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Huh? Reactions to this can range from bewilderment to indignant rejection. When I first encountered this sentence, I had these responses. But something kept tugging at me, so I puzzled and pulled at it until these facts emerged:
1. Yes, we have all fallen short, somehow, of achieving the hopes and dreams God has for every single person on this planet. Even the people most idolized by North American society – Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, the late Steve Jobs, U2, Brad Pitt, the late Mother Teresa – could list regrets or occasions where they dropped the ball. If they can’t, then I’ll be bold and declare they are fooling themselves.
2. Paul is being universal. Notice how he doesn’t say “please see the end of this letter for a list of exceptions.” Or, “the following groups have sinned a little less (or more)…”. No, he simple makes the statement and gets out.
So, what does this mean for all humanity? One inescapable, controversial truth: the intrinsic value of every person that ever was, is and will be is identical. That’s right, folks: my intrinsic value is the same as Pope Francis. And Billy Graham’s value is the same as the late Osama Bin Laden.
Are you recoiling in horror? I wouldn’t be surprised. Our culture encourages us to judge others by their deeds and “status”. You see it all the time, such as when professional athletes are allowed to “jump the cue” and get flu shots before the rest of us.
But I don’t think deeds and status are the barometer for God. I believe He loves us not for who we are or what we’ve done, but because He is love. He invented it and another quote in the Bible tells us God so loved the world – and that means everyone on it – that he gave his only son (Jesus Christ) and whoever believes in and seriously follows the son will go on living even after his or her body dies.
That statement doesn’t say God loved some people more than others. Like Paul’s sentence, it simply says He loves and that’s it.
Is there a challenge for us here? You bet. Think about this:
- Would the 1994 genocide in Rwanda have occurred if we all took Paul’s words seriously?
- Would the Nazis have carried out the Holocaust if they agreed with Paul?
- Would there ever have been the horrific “honour killings” of women that still occur in Pakistan and India (and even in Canada!)?
- What about the Hindu caste system that condemns some people to a life of poverty? Would it exist if Paul’s words resonated in the Hindu faith?
I know I stand condemned for things thought and done (or not done) because I haven’t always lived up to the facts behind St. Paul’s simple sentence. But as long as that sentence exists, there is hope for me. For you. For this world. Do you agree? Post your response below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Me & The World | Tagged Are all people equal?, Bible, caste system, Christianity, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, Hindu caste system, holocaust, honor killings, honour killings, Jesus, People are all equal, religion, Rwandan massacre, spirituality, theology | 2 Comments »
Darn it, I guess I’m untrustworthy.
That was my reaction when I saw this graphic posted on the Internet.
Time and time again, I’ve “cleared my conscience” of my immoral acts by asking for forgiveness from my “imaginary friend”.
And it’s worked, too. I’ve been forgiven and had my conscience cleared. But then again, I’m a serious Christian, so I’m certainly not operating under the cynical world view of whoever created this graphic.
For example, I don’t treat the act of asking for forgiveness as a ticket to do whatever I like and then effortlessly get off the hook later on.
Because I follow Jesus Christ (whom Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God), I know that He gave up his life to make up for all the wrong things I’ve done and all the right things I’ve failed to do. That’s serious business. And that’s why I don’t take forgiveness lightly.
Every time I do something wrong or ignore opportunities to do something right, I’m showing contempt for Jesus’ enormous sacrifice. And every time I come to God with a humble and sad heart, asking for forgiveness, I’m saying what Jesus did matters. What Jesus did really does give me an opportunity to do things differently.
Compared to the cynicism of whoever created this graphic, that’s the key difference in how Christians view forgiveness. In our better moments, we don’t see it as ending there. In fact, asking for and receiving forgiveness is only the start of the process.
If we’re serious about it, then we open our hearts and minds to becoming the kind of person God knows we can be. We ask for His help in becoming that person and we read His guidebook (the Bible) to learn more about who a follower of Jesus should be and how we can get there.
We also go to church services to be surrounded by others who, for the most part, are on the same journey. In this way, we become the prime people God works through, in His mysterious way – to make each of us more like Jesus.
Being more like Jesus means:
Being kinder to everyone.
- Being honest about our shortcomings and honestly seeking forgiveness from God and from each other when we fall short.
- Seeing everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – as being loved equally by God.
- Understanding that our world is damaged and God wants to work through us to repair it.
- Standing up for the oppressed, for the weak, for the poor, just as Jesus did (and continues to do).
- Being trustworthy, to prove, over and over, that the creator of this graphic is simply wrong.
You can join me on this journey. You can open your heart to God, to His gift of Jesus Christ, and then watch in amazement as God begins to change your life.
What do you think? Post your reaction below and let’s have a conversation.
Posted in Me & The World | Tagged Are Christians trustworthy?, Bible, Christianity, church, Does God forgive?, Faith, Frank King, Frank's Cottage, God, is forgiveness a joke?, Is forgiveness real?, Jesus, Jesus Christ, religion, spirituality, theology, trusting Christians, trustworthy Christians | 6 Comments »