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ChristeningI find it hard to believe that anyone still thinks like this. But sadly, there continues to be parents who believe that dipping their baby in water at a church will keep the little beaner out of hell.

That’s why, when I saw this graphic in an atheist community, I saved it for Frank’s Cottage. This is a good opportunity to tell you the truth about christenings, baptisms and many other traditions associated with the Christian faith.

Let me make it absolutely clear (and I’m supported by the Bible): christenings and baptisms don’t save you from ANYTHING. They save you from ZERO. Nothing.

In fact, they are as essential to Christianity as a screen door is to a submarine.

So what’s the point?

If christenings are done with the right motivation and understanding, then they serve to make a public statement on behalf of parents: they tell a church congregation that the parents are committed to raising their child with Christian values and with a full understanding of who Jesus is and what He continues to accomplish in this world.

In other words, it’s a commitment that, in Bible-believing churches, will hold the parents accountable for how their raise their child. From this perspective, a christening is absolutely a good thing.

Baptisms? This is also public statement, making it clear to everyone who witnesses the ritual of immersing your entire body in water that you have washed away the “old” you to make way for the “new” you.

This new you believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do.

This might seem just symbolic, but consider this: Jesus Christ Himself insisted on getting baptized. At first, the man who baptized Jesus insisted he wasn’t worthy. Here is Jesus’s response, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’: But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”

And so it was done. But please note, this still doesn’t mean getting baptized is the key to Heaven. Baptism happens as a result of a change of heart and mind. It’s evidence of what has already happened. And that certainly applies to the baptism of Jesus.

In fact, while Jesus was on a Roman cross, dying for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do, a section of the Bible called ‘Luke’ records a robber being crucified on a cross next to him.

As they died together, the robber said “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” [Jesus] said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Notice what didn’t happen? There was no baptism. The man on the cross recognized his failures, recognized who Jesus is and what Jesus’s death could do for him and did the only thing he could do: speak his hopes to Jesus. The result? Jesus gave that robber a place in Heaven.

So, set aside any strange Christian traditions you might have heard about. Concentrate on the good news for YOU. Jesus is God’s gift to YOU. Will you accept that gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

are babies atheists?, Babies are atheistsMaybe you’ve heard the claim in this meme, helpfully supplied by an atheist community. Maybe, without giving it much thought, you find yourself nodding in agreement. And why not? It’s just one more reason to live any way you please and not worry about what comes after this life.

Welcome to “Burst Your Bubble” 101.

Atheism is believing there is no creator behind all we see and experience. Atheism is believing you have no soul and when you die, all that you are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food.

My wording may be crude, but I believe it’s necessary for you to stop living your life without thought and to truly ponder the big questions.

Do you really agree with the notion that a toddler believes there is no God? I have a year-old grandson and after all our interactions, I feel quite confident that he has absolutely no beliefs of any kind about God. Does that make him an atheist? Not a chance.

That doesn’t even make him an agnostic (people who claim to simply not know if there is or isn’t a God). That makes him a baby with a baby’s brain. Period.

What about these “lies” that are apparently told to babies and young children? My very brief answers will come from a Christian perspective, because I believe in and follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son).

1.  Most credible theologians and historians – including those with no connection to Christianity –  believe Jesus Christ was a real person who lived and died in ancient Israel when it was part of the Roman empire.

2.  Was Jesus the Son of God? Several places in the Bible say yes, and not just from the mouth of Jesus. If you’d like to look up those statements, check out Matthew 3:11, John 11:4, Luke 1:35 and many other places.

3.  Did Jesus die to make up for all the sins of people who follow Him? The Bible says yes. A few examples can be found at John 10:11, Romans 5:10 and 1 Peter 2:24.

4.  The single most important fact in Christianity is that after three days in a tomb, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to as many as 500 people. This is explained in the Bible. If it wasn’t true, why would anyone at that time claim it is, then have it shot down when someone produced the body of Jesus? That has never happened.

I have just barely touched the surface of all the material available that testifies to the truth of the Christian faith. For more, I encourage you to visit https://www.carm.org/ or http://rzim.org/.

Please spend time in these websites. This is important stuff and I want you to be well informed before making any kind of decision about what atheists claim are “lies”. (Especially as you’ve probably heard at least some of the claims against Christianity.) Your eternal destiny is at stake.

faith-badIf, through some twist of fate, I happened to meet American science blogger Bruce Peeples, I would be sure to gratefully shake his hand. Because when I found this graphic quoting him, I knew I’d been handed a gold-plated opportunity to explain what a life of faith is really about.

First of all, I’m struggling to understand how my faith — I trust in and follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God — is keeping me from believing in myself.

I showed this graphic to my wise friend Ross Carkner and right away, he noted “believing in yourself and having faith in God are not mutually exclusive.”

Do I somehow not “truly” believe that I can be a valuable, contributing member of this culture? Why on earth would I accept such a notion? Certainly no pastor or Christian I’ve met has ever suggested any such thing to me.

Secondly, I find that believing in God and following His Son makes me MORE powerful.

I have more power because I’m no longer struggling to fly solo through a world that I think most of us will agree is not doing well. I’m part of something larger — a movement of God, through all His followers, to make this hurting planet a better place.

This new power started when, after deciding to put my faith and my trust in Jesus at age 41, I came to understand that life is NOT all about me and my pleasures, my needs, my prejudices or my childhood grievances.

As a result of fully accepting this truth, I’ve learned to become more generous, more aware of suffering around me and more willing to invest in others. I can quite confidently write that without my faith in Christ, none of this would have happened.

Let me make it clear: this isn’t about self-confidence. It’s about what Ross calls “Christ confidence”. Consider this quote from a section of the Bible called ‘Philippians’: Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do.

That’s Christ confidence. And it happens in a way that scientists like Steven Hawking can’t possibly explain. It’s supernatural. And if you encounter someone fully caught up in Christ confidence, you’ll see it for yourself.

All that said, if you’ve ever met any serious Christians, I’m sure you’ll agree we’re a long way from perfect. And that’s OK. One of the Bible writers, a missionary named Paul, acknowledged it himself when he wrote this (also in ‘Philippians’):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.

Christ is reaching out to Bruce Peeples. And through this blog, I believe He’s reaching out to YOU. Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

divisionI do love all those times — and you’d be surprised how many there are — when I, a man of faith, want to high-five atheists.

When I discovered this atheist graphic (please, people, PROOFREAD the memes you generate before posting them), I certainly wanted to find the creator and tell him or her how much I appreciate this quote.

“Religion” divides people by ranking them, declaring some are better than others based on behaviour and adherence to group-think.

“Religion” controls people by declaring they must follow a long list of rules, most of which are gloriously petty and irrelevant to the big questions of life, death and eternity.

“Religion” deludes people by insisting they can earn their way into some sort of eternity with a creator if they only do enough good stuff, think enough ‘right’ thoughts and be enough of the kind of person that will win others’ approval.

I want nothing to do with “religion” because it has almost nothing to do with God.

“There is a difference, an important difference, between relating to God through doctrines, codes of conduct, inherited traditions, and relating to God directly, soul-to-soul, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart,” writes pastor Bruxy Cavey in The End of Religion.

“Jesus [Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Divine Son] taught this distinction, lived this message and was killed because of its implications.”

Does Jesus divide people? Absolutely. His message of love, acceptance and being a necessary intermediary between imperfect people and a perfect God split families and couples 2,000 years ago and it continues to do so today.

In fact, following Jesus and trusting that His sacrificial death makes up for all the wrong things I’ve done and all the right things I’ve failed to do has divided me from the rest of my biological family.

I’m not happy about this divide, but I’ve come to know that following Jesus is the most important thing I can do in this life and in the life to come.

Does Jesus control people? In a way, yes. When you trust in Him and commit yourself to seriously following Him, then he enters into your life and begins to change you. He’s working on me as you read this, making me more generous & less petty, more loving & less resentful, more charitable & less self-centred, more forgiving & less judgemental.

It’s a challenging, life-time project but I’m eternally grateful for what He’s doing because I’ve come to realize I can’t make me a better person on my own.

Does Jesus delude people? Just the opposite.

  • He reminds us of our complete and breathtakingly imperfect humanity.
  • He reminds us that God is perfect and that’s God’s standard for humanity.
  • He reminds us that even though we can never be perfect, we don’t have to be when we believe in Him and what’s He’s done for us through His life, death and resurrection.

In other words, when we accept the life-changing GIFT of Jesus Christ, we can be better people now and, when this life is finished, we can spend eternity with Him.

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

Religion is irrationalIs “religion” irrational, as this atheist graphic suggests?

First of all, I wouldn’t know because I’m not the least bit religious (and here’s why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-i9). In fact, the world would be a much better place without religion.

So what about faith, which is a very different thing? Is it irrational? By the standards of our world, absolutely.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to declare that North American culture worships at the altars of science (don’t get me wrong, I find science quite fascinating), shopping, celebrity scandal, getting and staying rich, the latest technological gadgets and our next vacation.

All of these pursuits are pretty tactile; we can touch money and iPhones, suntan on a cruise ship, obsess over celebrities on our 60-inch flat-screen TVs, read all about the latest scientific discovery and stand in the middle of a crowded mall.

Can’t do any of that with faith. Can’t see or touch God, can’t make any money off Him (unless you’re one of those creepy televangelists) or obtain a vacation cottage or find out who’s wearing the black hat in the Brangelina divorce spectacle.

Now, let’s think about what else is irrational in our world:

  • Love: as the 1960s anti-war song said, “what is it good for?” What can love achieve that a solid contract with a willing business/life partner can’t?
  • Superstition: Beyond the obvious (fear of black cats and walking under ladders) there’s “Beginner’s luck”, 666, Friday the 13th and cross your fingers. Can anyone credibly tell me these are rational?
  • Fashion: The sports jacket I wore five years ago is now a joke? Seriously?
  • Fear of flying: so it’s okay to be in a speeding vehicle but so much more dangerous to go on an airplane? Have you read any statistics lately?
  • Facial hair: it grows naturally on both genders, so what on earth possesses so many of us to shave it off?

As you ponder this list, consider the fact that most people who want nothing to do with faith accept many of these irrationalities without second thought. And that includes the atheist person who created the graphic that inspired me to write this blog.

Why the double standard? Simple: faith is about something serious. Even more serious than love. It’s about how we view this world and how we think about what comes after this life ends.

Our culture tells us not to bother with such things, but if you’ve read this far, then I bet you’re willing to think for yourself.

So consider this: not only is there a Creator of everything we see and experience, this creator is vitally interested in YOU. So interested, in fact, that He offers YOU a gift: His perfect Son, who came to this earth to live, die and be resurrected for YOU and everyone else who’s willing to accept that gift.

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

false godsWhen I found this graphic on an atheist Internet community, it caused me to ponder the exact command.

(FYI, it’s in a part of the Bible called ‘Exodus’, and an easier-to-read version puts it like this: “You must not worship any other gods except me.”

So, is the God of Christianity and Judaism admitting He’s not the only god floating around the universe? That’s certainly an easy conclusion to make and it’s obviously the route taken by the creator of this graphic.

Let me be quite truthful: thousands of years ago, many people in the Middle East did, indeed, worship other “gods”. Or more accurately, they worshipped what they thought were gods.

Chief among those rival “gods”, mentioned in the Bible’s Old Testament, are Baal, Ashtoreth and Molech.

You’ve probably never heard these names before and the reason is simple: they turned out to be nothing but figments of people’s imagination — and often created to allow “followers” to do ghastly things, such as sacrifice children. Consider this: if Baal, Ashtoreth and Molech were “gods”, wouldn’t they still be around today?

All that said, the first of the Bible’s Ten Commandments certainly has application today because there are plenty of modern “gods” vying for our attention. Here’s a brief list:

Power: just watch what people will do to become prime ministers, presidents, premiers, governors, mayors and CEOs. How many lies are they willing to tell? How many promises will they make to financiers and lobby groups?

Wealth: I Googled “how to become rich” and found 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) pages of links. I think that’s enough to call wealth a “god”.

Sex: according to a 2013 Huffington Post article, pornography websites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Wikipedia lists 22 U.S. politicians who were forced to resign because of a sex scandal. And that’s just between 2000 and 2015. Yes, I can confidently write that sex is a “god” to many, many people.

Fame: Think about the endless number of TV reality shows in North America. Many of them, like The Bachelor, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Dating Naked, Hoarders and Duck Dynasty, don’t showcase anyone with talent for anything other than achieving fame on those TV shows. Yep, definitely a “god”.

Do any of these gods have a place in your life? Do they have a place in mine? Probably. I try to be aware of how I use my time, my brain and my emotions, but I’m brought up in the same culture as you. And like it or not, that culture insists that the meaning of life is found in power, wealth, sex and fame.

One way I’ve found to keep these false gods from dominating my life is to stay focused on just one god: the creator and master of time, space and the universe.

I’m a Christian and that means I believe that the creator and master of time, space and the universe:

  • knows who I am;
  • wants to have a living, breathing relationship with me (not just in this life; for all eternity) and;
  • sent His Son to this planet to make that happen.

I follow that Son (Jesus Christ) and it’s made a tremendous, positive difference in my life. He can make a tremendous, positive difference in your life, too.

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

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.