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DawkinsForegivness 2.16I’ll bet there are folks out there who see this graphic (helpfully supplied by an Internet atheist community) and think “ya, why not just our forgive sins?” Maybe you’re one of those people.

First of all, I can confidently write that God is NOT trying to impress anyone. When you’re the creator of time, space and the universe, trying to impress anyone (even Himself) is just silly.

Second, this quote (by one of the world’s best-known atheists) displays a blatant ignorance — or outright rejection — of who God is.

Is God merciful? Yes. Does God want to forgive us for all the wrong things we’ve done and right things we’ve failed to do? Absolutely.

But God is also something else: perfect. And that’s His baseline standard for everything, whether we like it or not.

So why doesn’t He just forgive us? Well, why do we have courts? Why can’t we just ignore the dude who killed that guy in a bar fight? Why don’t we just overlook how she faked having cancer in order to bilk people out of thousands of dollars?

If these examples offend your sense of justice, then imagine how our creator feels about  our greed, our self-centredness, our violence, our willful ignorance and our cultural belief that we “deserve” the good life.

Is God judge and jury? You bet He is. Execution victim? Yes, that too.

If that last point seems strange, then understand that this is how it goes with Christianity: Knowing that we could never do enough or be enough to earn our way into Heaven, God paved the way for us. That way is through believing in and following Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son (and also God in the flesh, but that’s a blog for another day).

A section of the Bible, called ‘1 Peter’, describes Jesus this way: “He never sinned, and he never told a lie”. This is important and you’ll soon read why.

Jesus spent three years traveling around the Middle East with a band of followers, telling people the Kingdom of God (represented by Him) was near. He proved it by healing diseases, raising people from the dead and preaching revolutionary ideas like loving your enemies, refusing to retaliate when a wrong has been done to you and praying for those who hate you.

Then Jesus allowed conniving religious authorities to arrest him on trumped-up charges and convince political leaders to hand Him the ultimate punishment: death on a cross.

What they didn’t realize is that this death would pave the way to Heaven for anyone who believes in and follows Jesus. He paid the price that we should be paying.

Now, when God sees any Jesus follower, He doesn’t see the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. He only sees perfection. It’s like Jesus transferred His perfection onto anyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

There. I’ve done my best to explain why God doesn’t just forgive our sins. As you can see, He goes even further than that — sacrificing His son for everyone who believes in Jesus.

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

Dance of dogma 1.16When I saw this graphic on an Internet atheism community, I wasn’t sure why I saved it for Frank’s Cottage. Then I looked up the definition of “dogma”.

According to Wikipedia, dogma is “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.”

Hmm. Where does this apply? The more I thought about it, the more I realized: where DOESN’T it apply?

Every person on this planet follows some kind of “principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.”

Evidence?

  • Business tycoons like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are died-in-the-wool capitalists. They believe in and follow capitalist dogma and won’t have anything to do with any other economic system.
  • Remember communism? Some of its most famous practitioners — China’s Mao Tse Tung and Russia’s Vladimir Lenin — believed in and followed communist dogma their entire lives. They refused to have anything to do with democracy.

What about atheists? Based on my many, many interactions with them, most appear to follow dogma laid down by atheist authors Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) and Richard Dawkins.

These three routinely advance the position that there is absolutely nothing good about “religion” (I agree, and here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-i9) and that believing in a supreme creator is primitive superstition and harmful to humanity.

In the atheist Internet communities I often visit, these viewpoints are treated as dogma. In these communities, I never see posts that contradict these positions.

So, dogma applies to all of us. That leaves the question: which dogma do YOU follow? In your heart of hearts, do you believe that it’s all about having a comfortable, happy life now and never mind what comes after? Do you believe that when you die, all that you are will become nothing more than rancid worm food?

Do the dogmas I just mentioned leave you feeling cold and, perhaps, even a bit hopeless? Are you ready to re-examine them, despite the pressures of your friends, loved ones and our culture as a whole?

Then consider the claims of Christianity. The hope it presents for all of us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (who serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son).

Talk to knowledgeable people about it. If you don’t know any, then email me at fdking@hotmail.com and I’ll do my best to help. No matter what our culture insists, figuring out what dogma YOU follow is important stuff.

Judgement:anger 1.16So, are there “religious” people out there who cast their anger and judgement on those who don’t believe in their “religion”? Absolutely.

The easiest example I can think of are radical Islamic terrorists. These religious people appear to be overflowing with judgement and anger.

But what about people of faith, like me, who deeply dislike “religion” (read here to find out why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-i9), but want you to fully understand what we believe in and why?

I’m a Christian, which means I follow Jesus Christ. Serious Christians believe Jesus is God’s divine and perfect Son, and an extraordinary gift to every human being. The only thing needed is to accept that gift.

In examining myself, I can’t find any judgement or anger at people who reject that gift. And that includes every member of my biological family.

Instead, what I experience is immense sadness. Why? Because basic Christianity says every person who ever was, is and will be is hugely imperfect. We’ve missed the mark on being the kind of people God designed us to be. Indeed, we miss that mark daily and  in ways we can’t even see.

God doesn’t miss the mark. Never has, never will. And that’s the standard He sets for us. And before you angrily declare that’s an impossible standard to meet, let me wholeheartedly agree with you. Absolutely impossible.

Still, when this life is over, we’ll be called to stand before our maker and try to explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. And we will fail. Spectacularly.

That’s where Jesus comes in. The most important part of the Christian faith is a belief that Jesus took on all the sins of those who believe in him and paid the price for those sins by dying on a Roman cross.

Jesus, who never did a single wrong thing, accepted the judgement and the penalty that every person who believes in Him (like me) deserved. In doing so, those of us who follow Jesus have nothing to account for. In God’s eyes we’re snow-white perfect.

See? The judgment doesn’t come from me or any other Christian. It comes from the God of the universe.

So why do I experience immense sadness? Because most people (including my brothers and their families, plus our parents) walk away from that gift. They’ve swallowed our culture’s propaganda, that we’re all pretty much OK and if there’s a God, He’ll let us into Heaven just ‘cause, you know, we’re all pretty much OK.

Everyone who believes what our culture says WON’T be snow-white perfect when they stand before their maker. And instead of spending eternity in Heaven, they will be judged as not worthy. And they’ll spend forever separated from God. And sadly, that includes my biological family.

There’s nothing oppressive in this. Our creator is a just God, not an inflatable Homer Simpson lawn decoration. And yet a section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’ notes “God is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End [of the world] because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

The best way to change is to follow Jesus and the best time is NOW. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Proving God 12.15I must be hanging out with the wrong people. I’ve been a Christian for more than a decade and I STILL haven’t met a single person who is trying to “prove” God. Not one.

Oh, I’m sure there are a few out there, wracking their brains on this absolutely unsolvable conundrum when they could be doing something useful.

If this graphic (kindly supplied by a Facebook atheism group) has any truth, then you’d think these few “theists” (people who believe in a creator) would realize the futility of their quest and simply move on.

It’s plain and simple: if God wanted us to “prove” His existence, it would have happened by now. He knows better than to allow such a thing. Because if it did happen, then atheists would be denied the freedom to declare there is no creator.

And if the endless horrors of human history absolutely PROVE anything, it’s that God is all about freewill. No matter how high the cost.

The result of that freewill is people can walk around saying God is fiction and laugh at people who do believe in Him — and in the case of Christianity, to believe that Jesus Christ is His divine son.

Is there evidence for God? Absolutely.

  • The universe is evidence.
  • The materials used to create the computer I’m using now are evidence.
  • Sunrises and sunsets are evidence.
  • Jean Vanier (the extraordinary Canadian Christian who created the worldwide “L’Arche” homes for severely challenged people) is evidence.
  • Poetry is evidence.
  • The continuing impact of Jesus Christ is evidence.

I chose to examine this evidence (and much more) and declare it’s enough to convince me there is a creator and He offers an amazing, gobsmacking gift to anyone who is willing to accept it: Jesus Christ.

Indeed, I’ve come to recognize that to know Jesus is to know God. Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, I can know that God:

  1. Loves this world and everyone in it: “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 the Bible, a section simply called ‘John’).
  2. Hates the wrong things we do and right things we fail to do: “It is your sins that separate you from your God. He turns away from you when he sees them” (from ‘Isaiah’).
  3. Offers His son to everyone: “God did not send Jesus to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him” (also from John).
  4. Is extraordinarily patient with us: “God is restraining Himself on account of you, holding back the End [of the world] because He doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change (from ‘2 Peter’).
  5. Is forgiving: In ‘Luke’, one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus life, Jesus asks “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” At that time, He was dying on a Roman cross.
  6. Is unchanging: “I am the Lord—I do not change” (from ‘Malachi’).

I could go on, but you surely get the point. Move past this tiresome, pointless ‘proving God’ thing and think about inviting him — through His Son — into your life.

Interested? Yes or no, comment below and let’s have a conversation.

The Right GodAh, Homer Simpson. Even a dolt like him occasionally raises questions that are worth answering. This is one of them.

In case you don’t know, 17th century mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal formulated his philosophy based on the Christian idea of God. Since that time, there have been many challenges to the wager, but let’s deal with the one put into Homer’s mouth by the writers of The Simpsons.

Let me ask you: did four or five “gods” create the universe? What about the air you’re breathing right now — did a committee of “gods” come up with that? Our brains, our opposable thumbs, our ability to recognize right and wrong — did “god” #3 do all that during a very busy day at the office? Or was it #1?

If what I’m writing here seems a bit ludicrous, that’s exactly the point.

So why the Christian god? I bounced the question off a wise pastor. Here’s a bit of Ross Carkner’s thoughts:

“To begin with, we are talking about The Almighty as recorded in the Bible who has no equal. Poor Homer is concerned about all the lesser gods who are duking it out for a share of last place in the god contest.

“These lesser gods have often been put in place, not by their own claims, but the claims we make for them. The Bible records God as making His own claims …. so I do not worship a god of my own making, I worship the God who makes everything!

Here’s another viewpoint, from John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research: “There is one infallible way to know [what is the right god]—one sure test, and no other. The one God who can defeat death is the only God who can give life!”

That god is the God who offers a gift to humanity: Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is His Son. Numerous Bible writers declared that three days after death, Jesus was brought back to life. That’s right, by “the only God who can give life!”

Now what about God getting “madder and madder” if we don’t worship Him? If the twists and turns of human history have proven anything, it’s that God is all about freewill — that includes us deciding who we want to declare as creator.

Ross Carkner weighs in again at this point:
“Is this God an ego maniac? Does the Almighty crave our attention? or is He more in tune with my redemption? My needs? My crisis? Since He is more concerned about my fulfillment — my fullness of life in Him, his reaction to my choosing lesser gods is not anger, but sadness.”

Exactly. So what do you think about Pascal’s Wager now? Does it make sense? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

orange-gift-box1If you’ve read any of the material on Frank’s Cottage, you’ll know that I often refer to Jesus Christ – whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God – as God’s gift to anyone who is willing to accept Him.

What I haven’t written about is some of the things that could very well happen to you if you accept that gift.

If you’ve spent the majority of your life as a non-Christian, you’ll be challenged to change the way you think about almost everything. Your worldview simply can’t stay the same.

You’ll also need to become comfortable with mystery, because as much as we can know God through the Bible and through Jesus, much of Him will remain a mystery until we’re done with this life.

If you live in the Middle East or many parts of Asia, telling anyone that you’re a Christian could set you up for job loss, torture, imprisonment or violent death.

According to the The Pew Research Center, in 2013, Christians were penalized or harassed in various ways in 102 countries, more than any other faith group (Muslims were second, Jews were third).

If you live in the “developed world” (North America, most of Europe, Australia/New Zealand, some parts of Asia), you’ll be constantly exposed to behaviours and attitudes that are distinctly non-Christian.

You’ll find these behaviours and attitudes dominate your workplace, the media and the lives of most of your friends and relatives. Indeed, you unconsciously supported and participated in those behaviours. Now, if you’re serious about following Jesus, you must change.

One of the most significant changes will be how you think about people who don’t follow Jesus. When you finish with your life, you’ll meet God and He won’t see any of the wrong things you’ve done and right things you’ve failed to do. He’ll only see His Son’s perfection. But that will NOT be the case for all the non-Christians around you. What are you going to do about that?

If you’re the first person in your family (biological and extended) to follow Jesus, don’t be surprised that it creates a significant barrier between yourself and them.

In a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’, Jesus tells His followers “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God.”

If you live in middle class comfort (like me), you’ll be constantly challenged by Christ to consider your lifestyle — how you spend your free time, the size of your house, the number of vehicles you own, how much time and money you allocate to charity.

Is all this serving to dissuade you from considering a life of faith in Jesus? Good. Because following Christ is not a hobby or a pleasant Sunday pastime. And He’s not interested in lukewarm “fans”.

Jesus wants to invade your life, make you the person God always meant for you to be, and have you serve as His ambassador to a world that desperately needs real hope — in this life and the life to come. And it’s a hope YOU will have if you accept the gift of Christ.

Are you ready?

religion God evidenceBefore I attempted to write about this graphic (found, as always, on an Internet atheism community), I went to Dictionary.com, to look up the meaning of “evidence”:
1. That which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2. Something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: “His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.”
3. Data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

Based on that, please consider these facts:

The Earth: How did it come to be that this planet we live in is so perfectly attuned to support life – and not just one species of life, but millions? Even the size of this planet and its distance from the sun are just right to make our existence possible. Who did this? Elvis? Justin Bieber?

The universe: our solar system and who knows how many thousands of others. Our galaxy and innumerable other galaxies. Black holes, stars, comets, etc., etc. Has even a genius like Stephen Hawking told us who created it all?

“Through my scientific work, I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact,” wrote former University of Adelaide theoretical physics professor Paul Davis in his book The Mind of God.

Our consciousness: In The Case for a Creator, former journalist Lee Strobel interviewed many scientific minds and noted “many scientists are concluding that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot explain our experience of consciousness”.

Indeed, Strobel quotes philosopher Michael Ruse who conceded “no one, certainly not [believers in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution] seems to have any answer” to the question of the origin of human consciousness. Hmm…it’s starting to look like God did it.

Beyond these questions, I showed the graphic that sparked this essay to a wise pastor. Here’s a little of what Ross Carkner had to say:

“The twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center were made of tons of concrete and miles of steel, the best that we are able to build. Thousands of people depended on those buildings every day. They trusted their lives in the strength of the towers; but it was insufficient.

“Even the tried, tested and true in the physical world — the very things that we live in, work in, travel in are all quite capable of letting us down. Can I then say I do not believe in buildings???”

Then there’s the question of personal experience. Ross writes:

“My experience [of God] may not be evidence enough for you, but then again it might. [In fact,] my experience is considered acceptable evidence in court — it forms my witness while on the stand.”

So an atheist like Dan Barker may not have any evidence for the existence of God, but Ross Carkner does in his own life story. That evidence is credible enough to be used in court trials.

If you wonder whether there’s a God, is that fact credible enough to make a difference to you? What about our Earth, the universe and YOUR consciousness? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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