butterfly-mcqueen-10-16When I read the quote on this graphic, kindly supplied by a Facebook humanist group, part of me thought “oh, if only this were true.”

It’s not, of course. And anyone who thinks it is…well, they’re living in some sort or dream world with fairies and frogs that really do turn into princes.

Be honest with me: do you really think that without “mythology and Jesus Christ”, humanity would ever rise up and deal with hunger, homelessness or any of the many other problems that we create for ourselves? Really?

Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, the actress who portrayed Prissy (Scarlett O’Hara’s maid) in Gone With the Wind, apparently did.

I wonder, did Butterfly consider the greed, self-centredness, prejudices, dishonesty and self-delusion that plagues our race? Was she somehow immune to these horrible weaknesses? I’m certainly not immune.

In fact, my weaknesses are one of the main reasons I decided to follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is is the divine Son of God.

Despite what Butterfly and other critics say, most theologians agree that Jesus really did exist–and he really did come back to life after being crucified on a Roman cross. In fact, there’s powerful evidence right in the Bible.

Paul, a missionary who did so much to spread Christianity in its earliest days, wrote a letter (that’s now in the Bible) where he tells people that after dying on that cross, “he [Jesus] appeared to Peter and then to the twelve apostles. After that, Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

Some critics of Christianity may think Paul was lying. I don’t see any reason why he would do so, especially since he was hardly getting rich telling people about Jesus. In fact, Paul spent much of his time in prison.

But enough on that. Consider why people like me turn to Jesus to help us deal with our weaknesses:

  • By following Jesus, Christians have the benefit of having a clear set of timeless, unchanging rights and wrongs by which to live our lives. Shifting tastes and trendy opinions have no effect on what Jesus says is good or bad.
  • By following Jesus, I have access to a spiritual source of strength to deal with the many challenges of this life. Again, this source is absolutely unchanging and unwavering; how many things can you or I say that about?
  • By following Jesus, I can tap into a worldwide community of fellow believers. We support each other physically and through prayers. Yes, lots of people have communities, but this one is far more meaningful than wine-tasking or extreme sports groups.
  • By following Jesus, I have the same confidence that Paul the missionary had: eternal life in Heaven with Jesus. His sacrificial death pays for all the wrong things I’ve done and all the right things I’ve failed to do.

This is powerful stuff, folks. This is life-changing stuff. In fact, there is NOTHING more important than what I’m writing about here.

So, are you interested in Jesus? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

bludgeoning-9-16Maybe you read this graphic (supplied by an Internet atheism community) and thought “Ya, whoever this Lovecraft dude was, he has a point.”

Okay, then. I have no problem writing that sadly, some parents do try to “bludgeon” their young into artificial conformity. And it saddens me because those children will likely abandon faith rather than embrace it (you can read a few examples here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-Y).

But consider this FACT: as children from a family of faith venture out into our culture, their worldview will be severely tested by a tsunami of ideas and trends that are absolutely opposed to everything they believe.

That tsunami of non-faith philosophies and lifestyles inevitably serves the exact purpose of H.P. Lovecraft — an American horror fiction writer who wavered between atheism and agnosticism — and others who are opposed to faith (especially Christianity, which is my faith).

That tsunami serves to bludgeon people into conformity with a world that acts as if there is no creator and no absolute truth.

Resisting the tsunami is challenging at the best of times. Followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) believe in what the Bible teaches:

  • God is the real, eternal creator of the universe, this planet and everyone on it.
  • God created the gift of freewill and stands by it, no matter how often we humans spit on it.
  • God is a personal god who is involved in the lives of everyone who permits Him to live in them through his Holy Spirit.
  • God is perfect and that’s his standard for every human being.
  • God knows humanity can’t even agree on a definition of perfection, much less adhere to  it.
  • God offers Jesus Christ as a gift to everyone who is willing to accept Him — His life, His words, His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to to) and His glorious resurrection.

At least some of these basic tenets are rejected by most of humanity. Perhaps you’re one of them. But are you at least open-minded enough to realize that what H.P. Lovecraft considered an “unbending quest for truth” is usually quite subjective?

A remarkably telling three-word sentence in one of the three Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth speaks volumes: “What is truth?” asked the political leader of Jesus, who had been arrested on the authority of religious leaders who opposed Him.

Jesus didn’t answer the question. Can you, with absolute objectivity? Without my Christian faith, I know I couldn’t.

So from your perspective, do you know there’s nothing behind all we see and experience? Do you know that morality is entire subjective? Do you know that when you die, ALL that you are will become NOTHING more than rancid worm food?

If you don’t know all this for sure, then perhaps you’re open minded enough to consider that maybe there is a creator. And maybe He does have a divine Son who died to make up for all the wrongs YOU’VE done and all the rights YOU’VE failed to do. And hey, if you’ve come this far, perhaps you’ll even consider that by trusting in this Son and following Him, you’ll have a permanent place with Him in Heaven.

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

northkoreaquestion-9-16Our culture discourages thinking about what happens when this life ends, but maybe you’re one of those people with the courage to ponder the notion.

If there is a Heaven, is it like the numbing, monotonous ordeal described by militant atheist Christopher Hitchens? Is it, as Christianity Today postulated: “an uninspiring place, a subject of clichés and the butt of jokes”?

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of stuff on the Internet about Heaven, and it’s not just the Heaven of my faith (Christianity). Here are just two descriptions:

Heaven is often described as a “higher place”, the holiest place, a paradise, in contrast to Hell or the underworld or the “low places”, and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God.

Heaven is a real place where the people of God will live one day. In fact, Heaven is where God and the angels live. In Heaven, those saved by God will have new bodies without the curse of sin.

Perhaps some people — maybe even YOU — believe Heaven resembles Christopher Hitchens’ nightmare. But who made him an expert on the subject?

Let me make it quite clear: beyond the illuminating BibleInfo.com explanation, an exact description of Heaven is hard to find. Note the words of Christianity Today writer John Koessler: “If Heaven is only a distant gallery from which the departed observe affairs as they unfold on earth, then it is a dull place indeed.”

Koessler’s words appear to apply to Hitchens. So is there something better? YES.

1.  It’s a place of reunion for all people who pass God’s test for entry.

2.  It’s a place of reconciliation, where people who opposed each other on earth leave behind all that (no matter how serious or grievous) in exchange for peace — with themselves and everyone else.

3.  It’s a place of perfection — perfect minds, bodies and spirits. Whatever tortures us in this life will become utterly irrelevant in Heaven.

4.  It’s a place of surprises — those who go there will likely be shocked by who else is there and NOT there.

All this may still seem, well, inexact, but consider John Koessler’s conclusion: “If ‘our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’ (from a section of the Bible called ‘Romans’), then neither are our present joys or pleasures.”

In other words, when it come to Heaven, expect far, FAR more glory than anything our limited minds can imagine. (And anything that could ever exist in North Korea.)

So, what about this “test for entry” I mentioned? It’s quite simple: are you PERFECT? The Bible, trusted by most Christians, says that’s what you need to qualify. But since none of us are, how can anyone get in?

The answer is to that question easy, even if you don’t like it: trust in and follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s perfect Son.

For people who trust in and follow Him, Jesus Christ was crucified on a Roman cross to make up for ALL the wrong things they did and ALL the right things they failed to do. When Christ followers are finished with this life and stand before God, He sees NONE of our sins. He only sees His Son’s perfection.

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

Bullies 8.16Sinner.


Amazing human.

These words jumped out at me as I captured this graphic from an atheist Internet community.

“You are an amazing human” YES! Everyone who is, was and will be is absolutely amazing. Absolutely unique. And as a Christian, I can confidently add this: absolutely cherished by the creator and master of time, space and the universe.

To make the point as strong as possible, what I just wrote applies to me, to you, to Donald Trump, to Jean Vanier (the extraordinary founder of the international L’Arche homes for several disabled people), to the most sickening ISIS terrorist and the most committed community volunteer.

There are NO exceptions. How can I know this? As a Christian, I refer to a section of the Bible simply called ‘Romans’: “there is no difference between Jews and [non-Jews]; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him”.

“You are not a sinner”. OK, then besides being an amazing human being, what are you? Or to really make you think, what is an ISIS terrorist? I imagine you (like me) have no trouble calling him/her a sinner. What about Jean Vanier…has he ever done anything wrong (or failed to do something right)? I’ve heard him on detailed TV interviews; he would have no trouble calling himself a sinner.

So if someone as “saintly” as Jean Vanier knows he’s a sinner, what does that make me? Or you? Or ANYONE of ANY age? I’m referring to the little girl in the graphic; can anyone honestly show me a six or seven year-old who hasn’t uncaringly whacked their sibling or ripped a toy out of their hands? Really?

“Bully” is an inflammatory word in North American culture, with school boards, teachers and parents on the lookout to stop this nauseating, soul-destroying behaviour. But does the word apply to people who are telling you and I the TRUTH about our condition?

Sure, they might be telling you in a judgmental, patronizing way (in other words, a sinful way), but that doesn’t change the truth of our condition. Acknowledging and acting on this condition is important because God knows us better than we know ourselves and so that’s inevitably how He sees us.

In fact,  that ‘Romans’ section of the Bible puts it like this: “All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness.”

So if you’re still with me, are you willing to admit you are (1) an amazing human being and (2) a sinner who doesn’t need anyone (least of all an obnoxious bully) to convince you of these two things?

If you’ve said yes, then consider that your creator doesn’t want you to live and die in your sinful condition. He wants to come into your life and make you more like the person He knows you can be. And he wants to do that through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you accept Jesus into your life — and understand that He died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do — then you welcome God into your life. And when this life ends, you’ll spend all of eternity in the glorious presence of Jesus.

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

Hitler freewillMaybe you’ve seen this quote in social media. And, like the atheist who created this graphic, maybe you also think it’s silly.

But before you instantly agree and move on, give this graphic some thought. In fact, give it more thought than the person who created it.

So what if God thought the world needed an Adolf Hitler or an Osama Bin Laden or a Josef Stalin or a Pol Pot?

Didn’t He also think the world needed a Mother Teresa, a Pope Francis, a Jean Vanier (creator of the L’Arche homes for severely disabled people) and a Nelson Mandela?

The point is not whether God created good and bad people. The point is He created people with absolute freewill. In other words, people like YOU and me.

Did God know how Hitler and Mandela would turn out? Quite possibly; serious Christians believe God exists outside of space and time (even as He created them) so we can speculate that he was aware of the choices Pol Pot and Jean Vanier would make.

So does that mean He suddenly changes His mind and stops Bin Laden from being born? I’m sure some folks would say yes.

If you’re one of them, this sudden denial of freewill is a slippery slope. If you believe God is perfect — a position held by serious Christians — and stands in rightful judgement of his creations’ choices, then where do the limits on freewill end?

Should God also stop YOU from driving because He knows that one day, you’re going to hurt someone in an accident?

Should God have forced eternal singlehood on singer Kenny Rogers, actress Joan Collins, director James Cameron and TV host Larry King? Each has been married at least five times; think of all the emotional pain and (possibly) financial hardship caused by all those divorces.

What about AK-47 machine gun inventer Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov? Wikipedia says Kalashnikov emphasized the weapon was for defensive purposes only and severely regretted the deaths it caused. But so what? Why not hold Kalashnikov and, by extension, God responsible for the actions of people Kalashnikov never even met?

Singer Amy Winehouse (1983-2011). There’s someone whose death we can certainly stick on God, right? After all, He should have denied her the right to ever touch a drop of alcohol, since it was a major factor in her death.

Casinos. Now there’s a good one. How dare God allow even one to be constructed, since gambling has contributed to freewill-loving people going bankrupt, to marriages and families breaking up, and to careers being destroyed.

Now let’s consider another element of freewill: The freedom to accept or reject the idea of a loving, perfect creator who has every right to judge you and me on all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

If you accept the idea, then how about the notion that this perfect creator wants His creations to spend eternity with Him — wants it so much that He sent His equally perfect Son to live among us and be put to death to pay for the sins of everyone who believes in His Son?

One of those believing people could be YOU, if you accept the gift of Jesus Christ. What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Hi and Lois HeavenSometimes, just reading the comics in newspapers — yes, I still read REAL newspapers — can provide great opportunities to tell folks the truth about the most important things in life.

In this case, that most important thing is Heaven.

If you believe there is something beyond this life, would you call it Heaven? And if you would, who do you think goes there?

In this Hi and Lois comic strip involving a conversation between twins Dot and Ditto Flagston, Ditto make a very strong point. Do you believe what he says to his sister?

As it’s understood by serious Christians, Heaven is where people can actually spend eternity in the presence of the creator of the universe and His Son, Jesus Christ. No one has to be a ‘goody-goody’ (which I assume means a smug or obtrusively virtuous person) to qualify.

In fact, Heaven is populated mostly by people who are anything BUT ‘goody-goody’. It’s occupied by those who often:

  • struggled to get their lives in any kind of order;
  • battled with drug, gambling or alcohol addictions;
  • missed the mark when it came to treating others well;
  • wrestled with temptations such as pornography, infidelity and crime.

Maybe this leaves you unimpressed. Maybe you feel like the late, great Groucho Marx, who once said “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member”.

If that’s the case, you’ll miss out on something so extraordinary that even the writers of the Bible struggled to describe the glories of Heaven with simple words.

So if you and I don’t need to be a ‘goody-goody’, then what DO we need to spend eternity with God and Jesus? It’s simple:

  1. accept that Jesus Christ died on a cross as a sacrifice for all the wrongs things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do;
  2. confess all those sins to God and express sincere regret and remorse for them (also called repenting);
  3. believe that Jesus rose from the dead after three days in the tomb, to crush the power of death for everyone who follows Him;
  4. ask Jesus to become your Lord and Saviour.

Looking for evidence that I’m not just blowing smoke? A section of the Bible, called ‘Romans’, puts it like this: “If you openly say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from death, you will be saved.”

When you do these four things with humble honesty, then Jesus comes into your heart and begins to transform your life.

He gives you wisdom to truly discern what is good and what is bad in the eyes of God (it’s often very different from what our culture suggests) and strength to obey God.

He gives you the ability to see that everyone on this planet has the same intrinsic value in God’s eyes. That means, in the words of author Philip Yancey, “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”

He gives you the understanding that no one can earn their way into Heaven; it’s a gift from God to everybody who freely decides to make His Son their Lord and Saviour.

So, you (hopefully) have a better understanding of Heaven. Interested in learning more? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Etch A SketchSubmitted for your consideration: The Etch A Sketch.

Those of you of a certain age (i.e. children in the 1960s) will probably remember this fascinating little toy. For everyone else, here is the Wikipedia explanation:

An Etch A Sketch has a thick, flat gray screen in a red plastic frame. There are two knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. Twisting the knobs moves a stylus that displaces aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. 
The knobs create lineographic images. The left control moves the stylus horizontally, and the right one moves it vertically.

Wikipedia goes on to note that Etch A Sketch is one of the best known toys of the 1960s and was later inducted into something called the National Toy Hall of Fame.

So what’s my point? I didn’t give Etch A Sketch much thought until I heard a chaplain use it to illustrate the reality of life and what is to come after this life.

Consider this premise: everyone’s life, including yours, is like an Etch-A-Sketch. Through our thoughts, our actions and our inactions, we twist the knobs to paint a picture of our lives.

Most of us would like to think that the picture we’ve been drawing is pretty attractive. Not perfect, of course, but still pleasing to the eye.

That’s hardly a surprise. North American culture strongly discourages any kind of meaningful examination of all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. We’re taught, by parents, friends, workmates, teachers and the media that we’re all OK. And that’s that.

But is it?

Do something unconventional. Really think about your life, about:

  • All the things you regret
  • Everyone who makes you angry
  • Those moments when you are accused of being petty or harbouring secrets
  • Every behaviour that causes you to react negatively
  • Occasions where you passed up ‘doing the right thing’ because it might inconvenience you or your loved ones
  • The times you quickly, subconsciously decided to avoid telling the exact truth because it might make you look bad.

If you’ve been honest and serious about pondering these things, does your Etch A Sketch picture still look good? Mine looks like a drunk cat went crazy on the control knobs until it passed out. Ya, my picture is that messy. That ugly.

Can you fix this picture on your own? Can I? In a word, NO. We don’t have enough stamina, enough honesty, enough wisdom, enough humility to do what must be done to transform the mess into an attractive picture.

So let me be radical and suggest who can. Prepare yourself, because this really is RADICAL. I’m talking about God, your creator.

He can, and does, fix ugly Etch A Sketch pictures every minute of every day. And here’s how: He offers the gift of Jesus, His Son, to everyone who’s willing to accept Him. No matter how ugly or  disgusting or sickening your picture really, honestly is, when you accept the gift of Jesus, then you hand over the Etch A Sketch controls to God.

The first thing he does is shake the Etch A Sketch to wipe out the old picture. Then he starts drawing a new one. And that picture is beautiful. It shows you as generous, humble, wise, loving and unconcerned about “looking good”.

This picture isn’t drawn overnight. In fact, God won’t finish the picture until you and I are finished with this life and in Heaven with Jesus. So it takes patience

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