ImpressingYourselfWhen I encountered this graphic, posted on Facebook by a cousin, the rusty cogs in my mind started to creak.

Will people judge me (and you?) Absolutely. Like it or not, ALL of us judge — each other, what we watch on TV or the Internet, what we hear on the radio, what we read in tweets, Facebook posts or text messages.

We judge (often without realizing it) words, appearances, clothing, hairstyles, actions, possessions — you name it. There pretty much isn’t anything we don’t judge (or assess, if you prefer that term).

There’s something I found in the Bible (believe it or not) that addresses this tendency and provides wise words that can serve anyone well, be they Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, agnostic, atheist and everyone else who doesn’t fit in these groups.

“Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.” (From a section called ‘Matthew’).

Most of us have heard the first part (another Bible translation phrases it like this: judge not, lest you be judged), but the second part is just as important. Since all us judge, the key is HOW do we judge? Is is it with wisdom, maturity and compassion?

As a Christian, I know that’s how I want God to judge me when this life is finished. So I should be asking His help to make me the right kind of judge.

What about the rest of the graphic? Does it really make sense to live your life to impress yourself? What does that really mean?

For some people, it might mean impressing yourself with a big house, vehicles that make your neighbours drool with envy and at least one ridiculously large flat-screen TV.

Other people might look in the mirror and be impressed with what they see if they have a trophy wife (or husband) glued their arm like eye candy.

What about careers and professional achievement? Does the title “chief executive officer”, “chairman of the board” or “PhD” on a business card impress you?

One of the reasons I’m a Christian is because I know that the Creator of time, space and the universe is so NOT impressed by the things that our culture considers impressive.

Another section of the Bible, called ‘Samuel’ points out this life-changing truth: “People judge others by what they look like, but I [God] judge people by what is in their hearts.”

What’s in my heart? Like most other people, I can be petty, jealous, resentful, lazy and self-centred. That’s why I believe in, and follow, Jesus Christ (who serious Christians believe is God’s Son).

By following Jesus, I give Him permission to come into my life and begin a transformation — making me more like Him and less like the world. So I’m slowly becoming LESS petty, jealous, resentful, lazy and self-centred.

And because I follow Jesus, when my life on this earth is done and I go to meet God, He won’t see my faults. He’ll only see His son’s perfection. And I’ll be welcome into Heaven to spend eternity with Jesus.

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


Saying YES Jesus prayWell, how’s THAT for a challenging graphic?

And, as if the words aren’t tough enough, the person who posted the graphic in an Internet atheism community added this note: “Remember: God LOVES them, just not enough to help. It’s really OUR fault…”

Stay with me while I unpack all this and, if I do a decent job, point you in an entirely different direction.

1.  Jesus didn’t say “no”. He turned to his followers (people like me who believe He is God’s son) and told us He wants to work through US to say YES.

That’s why there are Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion, International Justice Mission, Food For The Hungry, Christian Medical & Dental Associations and many more.

These organizations provide emergency food, water and shelter after disasters; medical/dental care in desperately poor developing nations; agriculture training for impoverished farmers; basic literacy and vocational education for women.

Some Christian organizations rescue people from slavery and sex trafficking, others put their staff at risk fighting life-threatening diseases like Ebola.

The work of Christian aid organizations is ongoing and never-ending. In other words, it’s Jesus saying YES, again and again and again.

2.  After reading #1, does it really sound like “God loves them, just not enough to help”? Really?

3.  The atheist commenter is right: In many, many ways, it’s really OUR fault.

  • WE organize economic systems that keep rich nations and and poor nations poor.
  • In developed nations like Canada, where I live, WE come up with justifications for greed like “let’s help our poor before we help the poor elsewhere”. Then we DON’T help because “I pay taxes for government social programs to help them.”
    Not only is that ridiculous and stone-hearted, it also ignores the FACT that being poor in countries like Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Sweden, Australia, etc. is NOTHING like being poor in Haiti, Senegal, Somalia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, etc. There’s simply no comparison and no explanation should be necessary.
  • It’s really OUR fault (I’m referring to humanity in general, as opposed to God’s fault) because so many of the politicians, business leaders, bureaucrats and army leaders in struggling countries are horribly corrupt. They simply don’t care if their people are starving.

4.  So after reading all this, maybe you’re thinking “why doesn’t God just fix all this?” Sometimes, I think that too. Then I remember the precious gift of freewill. God gave it to us and human history has proven that He rarely interferes with that gift. No matter how badly we misuse it. Part of the reason for that gift is God wants to have a relationship, through His Son, with free-thinking people like me, you and every other human.

I decided to say YES to that relationship because it’s made my life better now and, when this life is finished, it’ll give me eternity with Him in Heaven.

What do YOU say to that relationship offer? Accept or reject, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

religiousWhat if I told you that I’m a serious Christian who thoroughly, enthusiastically AGREES with this graphic?

Posted on an Internet atheism community, the message is probably a shot at followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God).

That said, I certainly don’t take any offence. Being “religious” no more makes a person “good” than going into MacDonald’s makes one a Big Mac.

In fact, I’ll go further and write that being “religious” is far more likely to make a person arrogant, petty, self-righteous and overwhelmingly judgmental.

Such characteristics should not be found in a devoted follower of Jesus. Indeed, a section of the Bible called ‘Galatians’ says this:

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.

“We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

Compassion? A conviction that all of God’s creations (no matter how warped or broken they might be) are special? There’s precious little room for that in a person who’s busy being self-righteous and judgmental.

Let me be clear: Christians are a long, long way from anything approaching “perfect”. There are still moments when I find myself spending more time opposing people and positions than supporting their right to free speech.

But that’s okay. Like it or not, all Jesus followers are a work in progress. If we’re serious about this journey with the Son of God, we strive to:

  • Regularly attend church (a hospital for sinners, NOT a museum of saints)
  • Read the Bible (which gives us insights on who God is, why He sent His Son to earth and how we can live our lives like Jesus)
  • Give to charity, because as Jesus tells His followers in a section of the Bible called ‘Luke’, “Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold … The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”
  • Practise humility and humbleness, because Jesus tells His followers (also in ‘Luke’), “For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
  • Tell others about how following Jesus has changed our lives for the better and can do the same for them. Why? Because He clearly instructs his followers (in a section of the Bible called ‘Mark’) to “go everywhere in the world. Tell the Good News (about God and eternal life in Heaven) to everyone.”

That’s why I’m writing this essay for YOU to read. I want you to experience the same positive life change as me. I want you to know, like I know, that God loves YOU passionately and offers YOU the gift of His Son.

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

Christianity asking questionsWhen I found this graphic (kindly supplied by an Internet atheist community), my first thought was “All the answers? Wouldn’t that be nice!”

I can’t write about other faiths, but I can write about mine. As a follower of Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son — I have all kinds of questions for which I’ve never found the answers. And likely never will.

Questions about the Bible. Questions about why Jesus did — and did not — do certain things. Questions about why this world is the way it is and why things never seem to really change.

I suspect most other Jesus followers have questions similar to mine. So right from the get-go, Christianity is not among the faiths — I have no interest in ‘religion’ and here’s why: http://bit.ly/ReligionSlavery — that are targeted in this graphic.

In fact, there are examples of people asking challenging, emotional questions right in the Bible:

From a section called ‘Psalms’ – My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

While He hung on a Roman cross, convicted of trumped-up charges, Jesus cried out a similar question – My God, my God, why have You left me alone? (from a section called ‘Matthew’.)

Also from Psalms – Lord, how long until You heal me? Lord, why do You stay so far away? Why do You hide from people in times of trouble? How long will You forget me, Lord? Will You forget me forever?

These are just a few examples of people in the Bible who felt no restrictions on asking tough questions. In fact, if the Son of God could ask such a difficult question, why can’t the rest of humanity?

This freedom is just one reason why, in my 40s, I decided to follow Jesus Christ. Now maybe you’re thinking “Ya, but you didn’t get your questions answered. So where’s the upside to your argument?”

The upside is my unanswered questions are a powerful, and very necessary, reminder that God is God. And I am NOT. A section of the Bible called ‘Isaiah’ says it very clearly: The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

Another upside? A wise pastor friend told me that, when this life is done, all my questions likely won’t matter anymore. I’ll be in Heaven for all eternity with Jesus Christ. Questions? What questions?

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

Aug. 2015I guess there are some atheists out there who believe that people of faith are just gritting their teeth and tolerating this nauseating existence before going on to unending glory in the life to come.

But from my perspective as a follower of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son), atheists and Christians have “life before death” as a common belief.

Let me make this as clear as possible: while life after death is of supreme importance, life BEFORE death is just as significant.

How can I write that? Consider these words of Jesus, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘John’: “I came to give life—life that is full and good.”

He’s not talking about life after death; He’s talking about life RIGHT NOW.

So what does that mean?

1.  Life becomes full and good because you’ve join a worldwide movement of believers. So you don’t have to make a go of it solo. You can attend a church, read the Bible, regularly pray with (and for) others and support each other through good times and bad.

2.  Life becomes full and good because you have a new power that helps you set aside the meaningless, superficial priorities of our culture and focus on what’s truly important.

So you are put on a path to stop worrying about whether you have a new car, the latest smartphone and the biggest flat-screen TV. You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness because you realize that happiness comes through following Jesus.

3.  Life becomes full and good because you have a pathway to becoming truly generous. It’s no longer about getting a charitable tax break or seeking something in return when you give. It’s about being Christ’s ambassador in a world most of us are willing to admit isn’t doing very well.

4.  Life become full and good when you realize that the 70-odd years most of us spend on this planet is merely a blip in time compared to the eternity Christ followers have in Heaven with Jesus.

The blessing of that perspective means we no longer have to put so much stake in every good or bad thing that happens to us in this life. We see the bigger picture and it changes everything.

5.  Life become full and good because you realize that Jesus died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. So the burden of guilt and shame is lifted from you; God sees you as He sees His Son: perfect in every way.

(This essay highlights an amazing example of the power of God’s forgiveness: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.)

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat this and claim followers of Jesus float on a cloud of bliss. In another part of ‘John’, Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”

That means the world doesn’t automatically have the final say on your life. If you decide to follower Jesus, then HE has the final say. And that final say is glorious.

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

Open mindedAccording to Dictionary.com, to be open-minded is to have have or show a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments. It also means being unprejudiced, unbigoted and impartial.

As I pondered these definitions and looked at the message of the graphic above (posted in an Internet atheism community), I realized something: being fully, completely open-minded is absolutely impossible.

First of all, consider the person who created this graphic. The arbitrary words make it clear: he or she is close-minded when it comes to Christianity. It’s easy to make this statement because he or she didn’t write “Most open-minded Christians probably won’t (or might not) be a Christian for long”.

The wording in this graph sounds like a fact — which the author certainly cannot prove. And trust me, from my interactions with aggressive atheists, I can confidently write that most of them are all about proof. Ironically, most of these people are close-minded to anything else.

Secondly, the thing about Christianity is it can’t be proven. And I don’t regard that as a bad thing. In fact, I think the lack of conclusive, scientific proof about Christianity is no accident. If God is about anything, He is about free will. Make Christianity provable and at that moment, free will is gone.

A lack of free will means atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics and everyone else who doesn’t follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) can’t be who they are — since they’ve all been proven wrong.

God has shown again and again that He’s not interested in goose-stepping robots. He’s interested in an eternal relationship, through Jesus, with free-thinking, overwhelmingly imperfect people who realize they’ll never really get their lives together without Jesus. In other words, people like YOU and me.

I like how famed British writer and thinker G.K. Chesterton wrote about being open-minded: “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

That’s what I did when I decided, at age 41, to follow Jesus Christ. He’s as solid as I (and many millions of others around the world) need Him to be.

Making that decision didn’t mean I suddenly lost respect for non-Christians. In fact, I’m called to love non-Christians just as God loves them and offers His Son to them as a gift.

What happens when you accept that gift? If you’re serious about it, your life should begin to change almost immediately. In my case, I effortlessly stopped using offensive language. And that was just the start. With Jesus in my life, I became more generous. I changed jobs to one that is focused on telling people about Jesus. I married a woman who is also committed to Jesus (which almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t a Christian).

More changes are coming. In fact, those changes won’t end until I’m finished with this life and go to Heaven to spend eternity in God’s presence.

The same can happen to you. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

end of the worldI am just LOVING the photos used to illustrate the point in this graphic, found on an Internet atheism community.

Apparently as a Christian, I’m rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation of an epic nuclear war annihilating our world. And I have no use for gloriously sunny summer days. Yech. Where’s my wonderful atomic bomb? ;-)

OK, now that we’ve had a laugh, consider this: in all my 13 years of being a follower of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine son of God), I’ve never met a single person who’s counting the days ’til God puts an end to this planet.

Not even one.

Oh, I’m sure there are a few out there; maybe they’re holed up in some bizarre, remote compound with guns and emergency supplies (which wouldn’t make sense; what use would that stuff be if the world ended?). But they’re a rare and possibly damaged breed.

The rest of us are enjoying the same beautiful places that atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and agnostics appreciate. The only difference is most Christians are keenly aware of who is behind not just sunny days, but every kind of day: the Creator and master of time, space and the universe.

That means the most beautiful day for Christians is every day. Just like it is for the atheist person who created this graphic.

All that said, there is a grain of truth here: the end of the world is coming. Sadly, there is an industry out there amongst some Christians who damage the credibility of Christianity by trying to predict that time.

All they — and you — have to do is read this excerpt from ‘Mark’, one of the four Bible accounts of the life of Jesus: “No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when that day or time will be. Only the Father knows.”

These are the words of Jesus. So why waste time trying to figure it out? Instead, I keep in mind this Bible excerpt (found in a section called ‘2 Peter’) because I’m thinking about non-Christians like YOU: “God is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

That’s right. YOU, and millions of other people who don’t follow Jesus, are the reason this broken, sputtering world is still lurching forward.

If you believe there’s nothing beyond this life — and when you die, ALL that you are will become nothing more than worm food — then maybe these “holdouts” are a good thing to you.

But if you somehow know there MUST be more than 75 years of eating, sleeping, working, having children, getting sick and leaving behind all your precious possessions, then it’s worth seriously checking out Christianity.

It’s about a gift: Jesus Christ, offered to every single person on this planet, no matter how “good” or “bad” you are, how rich or poor you are, how joyous or miserable you are. That gift leads to eternal life in Heaven with Jesus. Look into it, ‘cause no matter what our culture insists, this is the most important investigation you can ever undertake.


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