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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.

is it really about fear?When I saw this graphic in an Internet atheism community, my first thought was this: is it really about fear?

First of all, the reality is almost all of us have been taught to fear death. It’s certainly an effective way for parents to do all they can to make sure their children don’t consider suicide, no matter how troubled they might be.

Secondly, most of us fear death because we can’t be certain what, if anything, lies beyond it. Will we vanish into nothingness? Return as an aardvark? Become a ghost and haunt annoying relatives?

Because of these two points, many people, especially angry agnostics or atheists, make declarations like Ann Druyan (an agnostic author and TV documentary producer).

From my faith perspective (I follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son), there is no need to fear death. Serious Christians read passages like these in the Bible and come away with an entirely different view of death:

We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. (from a section called ‘Philippians’)

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. (From a section called ‘John’, one of the four accounts of Jesus’ life)

Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed … When this happens, the Scriptures will be made true:“Death is swallowed in victory. O death, where is your victory? Where is your power to hurt?” (from a section called ‘Corinthians’)

So I return to my original question: is this this graphic really about fear? I suggest it’s about something else: obeying what our culture decrees about faith and ignoring everything else.

  • Our culture says whoever has the most toys when he/she dies wins.
  • Our culture says don’t think about anything spiritual – go shopping.
  • Our culture says regard anyone who has a real faith in God with suspicion.
  • Our culture says get a face lift, get botox treatments, dye your hair, wear tons of makeup – whatever it take to look young and immortal.

Meanwhile, people who truly follow Jesus say:

  1. He died on a cross to make up for all the bad things I’ve done and the good things I’ve failed to do.
  2. He rose from the dead after three days, thereby wiping out the permanence of death.
  3. These gifts are offered to every person on this planet, no matter who they are, where they live or what they’ve done. All we need to to is accept the gifts.

Does this make sense to you? Do you see what Jesus did as a gift that takes away the fear of death? Yes or no, type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Irony 6.14This graphic, which I found — where else? — on an atheist Internet community, instantly grabbed my attention because the inference is crystal clear: if you don’t use your brain, then you’ll become a person of faith.

Indeed, I’ve discovered many atheist people enjoy pointing to studies that suggest the smarter you are, the less belief you have in God.

One such study, reported at charismanews.com, examined the findings of other studies going back to the 1920s and reported that a majority of those studies concluded more intelligent people were less likely to have religious beliefs.

But hold on here. The dude who examined all those studies, psychologist Miron Zuckerman, noted that his report does not mean only dumb people believe in God. Rather, he said, it shows only that more intelligent people may have less need for religion.

“It is truly the wrong message to take from here that if I believe in God I must be stupid,” he said in the charismanews.com article. “I would not want to bet any money on that because I would have a very good chance of losing a lot of money.”

Interesting, isn’t it? I’m a person of faith — I follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God — but I certainly have no need for “religion”. (Here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-cP.)

Besides all that I’ve written so far, here’s what else inspired this essay: They told me to use the brain God gave me. I did. Now I’m a follower of Jesus. Ironic, isn’t it?

Now, before anyone brings up arguments about age or indoctrination, let me tell you that everyone in my biological family abandoned even the social pretense of Christianity at least 30 years ago. I was with them until the age of — get this — 42.

I still have my brain. In fact, I do what many, many non-”religious” people don’t do:

  • I always vote
  • I read fiction and non-fiction books
  • I listen to radio documentaries
  • I read newspapers
  • I reduce/reuse/recycle (in that order; recycling is the worst of the three ‘Rs’)
  • I engage in political discussions — and, like more serious Christians than our media would ever admit, I am certainly NOT a hardline right-winger.

So, does any of this help you to rethink your notions about Christianity? Does it make you more open to considering what following Jesus is all about? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

13+-+1-5I love this challenging quote. At the same time, I’m mystified as to why atheists consider it so credible, given that it was spoken by a man (definitely a brilliant man) who died in 1931. It’s hardly a stretch to write that there’s been a whole lot of research done since then.

Without getting into boring details of studies and terminologies (anyone who needs that stuff can certainly find it online), I’ll toss out a few interesting tidbits.

On life after death: In 1991, Pam Reynolds had a near-death experience while undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm.
Reynolds was kept literally brain-dead by the surgical team for 45 minutes. Despite being clinically dead, when Reynolds was resuscitated, she described some amazing things — like interacting with deceased relatives.

According to Time magazine, as many as 18 percent of people brought back from death after a heart attack said they’d had a near-death experience.

On the existence of Heaven: In 2008, neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, suffered an E coli meningitis infection which attacked his brain and plunged him deep into a week-long coma. Brain scans showed that his entire cortex was not functioning.
Against all odds, Mr. Alexander woke up a week later. And he claimed to have experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.
In his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, he asserts that there is an eternity of perfect splendor awaiting us beyond the grave, complete with angels, clouds, and departed relatives.

On a personal God: The Internet is overflowing with blogs and articles from people who have experienced God in an intimate, personal way. So I’ll contribute two quotes from the Bible:

  • “God even knows how many hairs you have on your head” (from a section called ‘Luke’ – even my wife can’t make that claim).
  • “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you” (from a section called ‘Jeremiah’).

Granted, none of this is the scientific proof that many people demand. But let’s be honest here: the creator and master of time, space and universe, who’s responsible for the air you are breathing right now, will ALWAYS be beyond proving or disproving.

God will ALWAYS be past our ability to fully comprehend. Looking for a metaphor? It would be like asking a porcupine to understand the theory of relativity.

So let’s look beyond this to what we CAN understand:
1. God created YOU.
2. God wants to have a personal, eternal relationship with YOU, but there’s a barrier in the way: the wrong things you’ve done (including living your life as if He doesn’t exist) and the right things you haven’t done.
3. You can never do enough to make up for the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you haven’t done.
4. You don’t have to. Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians (and many others) consider to be God’s son, did the heavy lifting for you when he died to make up for the sins of everyone who accepts Him and believes in Him.
5. All you need to do is accept the gift of Jesus; make Him your lord and saviour, so you can see your life transformed NOW and have eternal life with Him.

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

Solution that isn't 6.14Our culture loves to toss the word “karma” around. I see it referenced in newspaper columns, online blogs and conversations at coffee shops.

But is it really the solution to anything, as this Internet graphic suggests?

Yes, there is a certain logic to karma, which Wikipedia defines as “the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, good and bad, come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from life’s lessons and become better people.”

From a Christian perspective (that’s my faith), there’s even some Biblical evidence to support it. A section called “Galations” says: What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

But is that karma? No. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website explains the difference: “The law of karma, which makes morality like a law of nature, does not allow for the possibility of forgiveness.  Its consequences are inevitable and inescapable. Because God is personal, and because persons can forgive, God can forgive us of our sins.  Moreover, He has done so through Jesus Christ.”

So, will karma solve anything? Not for me. I don’t want to be locked in a prison of cause and effect. And I don’t want karma to take the place of revenge.

Serious Christians (and I count myself among them) know and try their best to follow this Bible directive, found in a section called ‘Leviticus’: Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do we fall short of that directive? Without a doubt. But now you know the ideal we strive for. And you know more about God — the only being truly worthy of judging us for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

If you’re like me, you’ll admit that the ledger of wrong things done and right things not done is pretty long.

But there’s a way out — a way that karma will never offer you. That way is a guy named Jesus. Serious Christians (and many others) believe He is God’s son and God’s gift of love to anyone who is willing to accept that gift.

When you accept that gift and declare yourself a follower of Jesus, then you also believe that when he was put to death on a Roman cross, He took on the sins of everyone who calls him saviour.

As a result of that, when God looks at a follower of Jesus, all He sees is the perfection Jesus bought for us. We are as pure as Jesus.

That’s not a free pass to do whatever you like and cynically rely on Jesus to clean up the resulting mess. If you take that gift of love seriously, you’ll want to be with other Jesus followers, building each other up, holding each other accountable and allowing God to do amazing things in your life.

Does this sound interesting? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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