Monday, November 17, 2008

He was a good man.

I wished people could think that about me after I’m gone. And, knowing what I know about how funerals go, a couple people might actually make such a comment about me.

It seems that those who don’t know me very well think quite highly of me :-)

The thing is, saying that I was a good man wouldn’t be true. Oh sure, I’m better than some. Aren’t we all? Trouble is, my corrupt thoughts, my twisted motives, my seemingly uncrushable selfish nature all too often rules my decisions.

That is just not true of Jesus.

. The life of Jesus was a working definition of unselfishness. Yet there is no evidence of self-pity. I say that because I’ve met many “giving” people, but underlying bitterness at being taken advantage of belied the real motives for their altruism.

. Jesus demonstrated humility, but there was no indication of weakness. In fact, Jesus was the epitome of strength and inner power.

. Jesus exuded kindness, mercy and grace.

Jesus was such a good man that even His enemies couldn’t find any wrong in Him. It would take my enemies about half a second to come up with one of my multitude of flaws.

I want to be like Jesus, because my kids want to be like me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Marriage?

When I ask Christian couples, “Why do you think God instituted the concept of marriage?” I get many different answers, but they seem to fall into the following categories.
“To combat loneliness.”
“So that we have support.”
“To help us achieve our goals.” and
“To give a stable place for children to grow.”

Any or all of those may be true, but as I work with couples one thing stands out for me. Marriage is perhaps the best tool AND the best opportunity that any of us will ever have for learning what it means to love another individual. Many people get married with the expectation that now they will BE loved. Precious few go into a marriage with the expectation that now they will learn to bless someone else with loving behaviours. While we think we’re getting married because we’re “In Love,” it is in fact living within a long-term ie. Committed Marriage that teaches us how to love.

God seems to take our intimate relationships very, very seriously. When He says, “I hate divorce,” and “The only reason that I allow divorce is because of your hard and evil hearts,” what other conclusion can there be.

Agape love, which is the willed, volitional, desired, choice to love another human being is the ingredient that is most missing in our world today. Back in the day a rock group sang a song called, “All You Need Is Love.” That’s a theme that’s been sung to death in countless versions by the lost and lonely among us. Yet it’s true. All we do need is love, but I suspect that agape love is not the kind of love that musicians have in mind. In fact, the word “love” as it’s used in popular music is simply a euphemism for sex because that's the only type of love they'll ever experience. The kind of love that most musicians sing about is the kind of love that we “get,” NOT the kind that we give. Hence, the majority of our relationship breakdowns come from the attitude, “If you don’t love me, if you don’t give me what I want or what I think that I need, I’m out of here.” That is why traditional wedding vows did not ask “DO you love this person . . . ?” but “WILL you love this person for better or for worse . . .?” Love, real love, the love that counts is a love that's a decision.

The kind of love that God is trying to grow in us is the kind of love with which He loves us.
. God chooses to love us, but not because we’re lovable.
. God chooses to love us, but not because we have something of worth to offer Him in return.
. God doesn’t need our love nor does He have some desperate need to love us.

Yet His love is the greatest entity in the universe. And because He loves us, and because experiencing His love is the greatest good that we will ever have, God wants to not only share His love with us, He wants us to know what it’s like to share that kind of love with others. Agape love is the currency of heaven. Those who have no interest in agape love will not reside in heaven.

So how does marriage promote or develop agape love? Sooner or later in any marriage couples reach a point where each partner can see nothing lovable about h/her spouse. It is at that point that we have a choice. Will we give up or will we press on? Will we walk away or will we enter more fully into the relationship?

Soon or later in any marriage, the spouse seemingly does everything wrong and nothing right. Over time our bodies become less physically attractive and sometimes our personalities go the same route. We become disengaged. We quit trying to impress and we become impervious to being impressed. Life becomes routine and as the saying goes, we begin to take each other for granted.
. If our main attraction to the other person was based on looks, in the absence of the desire to love and appreciate, that kind of attraction is not going to last.
. If our main attraction to the other person was excitement or money, in the absence of the desire to love and appreciate, sooner or later those things will fail to impress.

However, for those who have experienced God’s love and forgiveness and mercy and grace, for those who have been infused with the very character of God, giving love and forgiveness and mercy and grace to those who do not deserve it becomes an amazing experience that brings a peace and joy that simply cannot be snuffed out. Nor can it be matched by anything else in this temporal life. To have one’s character built in the midst of difficult relationships, to have one’s personality become one whereby getting love is not required for one’s well-being or security becomes such an otherworldly experience that eventually the other partner almost always responds in a positive manner.

What’s the purpose of marriage?
. To teach us to love.
. To develop our character.
. To change our personality from one that demands love to one that is able to give love and mercy and grace.

In other words, the purpose of marriage is to make us more like Jesus.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

God and Rape

An atheist said a while ago something like, “The rape of just one child shoots your religion all to hell.” He of course was referring to the idea that a loving God would never allow something like that to happen and if something like that does happen, then obviously no God exists.

People who work as counsellors know beyond doubt that for there to be any improvement in a bad situation, the bottom must be reached. The situation must either get worse or the person must somehow become aware of how bad the situation really is. The situation must be clearly untenable and indefensible to the individual before a decision to improve will be made. Some people of course must hit a lower bottom than others. Some people die before that bottom is reached.

That seems to be the case with the human race in general. All of us are on a downward slide into depravity. Whether it’s our own sinfulness or the rot that we observe in the larger community, all of us have a bottom; a place where we become so disgusted that we say, “Enough! No more. I’m turning this life around.” For Christians we reach a point where we repent of our corrupt nature. We agree with God that our moral situation is hopeless and we beg for forgiveness and for help to change. And as is shown by empirical evidence, we then go out into the world and attempt to right the wrongs that we see. Be it homeless shelters, hospitals, schools, food distribution centres, etc. etc. where ever Christianity goes, help for the helpless closely follows.

Atheists of course are still at the stage where they believe that "Ya, there are problems but it's not me. It's someone else's fault." In fact, atheists are forced by their own creed that says, “I don’t need God in order to be good,” to deny the evil that is present in their hearts. Oh sure atheists notice when the religious screw up but beyond that they really can’t see anything wrong. In fact, so great is their bigotry and their commitment to what they erroneously think are acts of self-preservation that atheists actually believe that it’s religion and not the human heart that is the root of most of our problems. Again, it can be empirically shown that atheists, by and large, do nothing to improve the condition of their own lives or those of the people around them. When atheists do come together to raise a large amount of money, do they use it to feed the hungry children? Nope. They use the money to put signs on buses to promote atheism. Ya, right. You don’t need God to be good.

For a long time it’s been believed that the presence of evil was the greatest refutation for the reality of God. Well, it’s no logical refutation of the existence of God but it certainly causes a disconnect in our ideas of how we think God should be and act.

But isn’t the presence of manmade suffering also the greatest refutation against the idea that “I don’t need God in order to be a good person?” After all, if there really is no God, then the rape of a child, the murder of thousands of people in crimes of passion or robbery, the starvation and death of thousands of children on a daily basis, sexual slavery of untold thousands of children, genocide and on and on and on is OUR fault. We tolerate it. We encourage it. We benefit financially from it. If there really is no God and this is the condition of our “soul” we truly are in a pitiful and hopeless state.

All evidence to the contrary, atheists would have you believe that we are born good and we’re getting better. In reality, in the absence of God’s love we humans are a horror show of wickedness and evil which is exactly the diagnosis that God gives of us in the Bible. Our vile and brutal nature is the exact reason that Jesus came to earth so that we could be rescued from ourselves.

Anyone who is able to process information and make logical conclusions can see that the presence of evil proves nothing regarding the reality of Creator God. Anyone who can observe and draw conclusions from those observation can also see that enormous good can and does come from sorrow and tragedy. This seems especially true for those who are in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus. It is those who have been brought to an awareness of their hard and evil hearts and those who are being changed by Jesus, who understand clearly that:

Because God is all good, He WILL one day remove evil from the universe

Because God is all powerful, He CAN one day remove evil from the universe

Yes, there is still evil in the world - but it’s OUR evil - not God’s.

Based on the reality of and the promises of Jesus, we can be sure that one day God CAN and WILL remove from the universe the presence of evil as well as all those who are against God and who in this life tolerate, promote and benefit from evil.

So why do atheists do it?

This is the ninth and final post in a series dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, exaggerated, or flat out lies.

Yet, run-of-the-mill atheists continue to propose the most ludicrous ideas of why Jesus’ resurrection didn’t happen the way it is described in the ancient accounts of Jesus’ life. Some, who obviously reside in the lunatic fringe will say that Jesus never even existed. I’m not worried about those people. But why in the world would the more rational members of that group attack the resurrection story from such improbable points of view? Well, when you think about it, what else can they do?

The claustrophobic atheist world operates from within a narrow band of allowable evidence. This stricture forces them to exclude any evidence that doesn't fit their preconceived notion of how things work. This forces them to defend some very untenable suppositions.

For example, physicist Victor Stenger states, “So where did the laws of physics come from? They came from NOTHING.” That is the logic and reason of atheism. Smithsonian paleobiologist, Douglas Erwin, “One of the RULES of science is, no miracles allowed. That’s a FUNDAMENTAL PRESUMPTION of what we do.” Biologist Barry Palevitz, “The supernatural is AUTOMATICALLY off-limits as an explanation of the natural world.” Astronomer and physicist Lee Smolin, "If the universe started at a point in time, this leaves the door open for a return of religion. It seems to me that the only possible name for such a cause is God, and that the theory is to be criticized as being unlikely on these grounds.

Atheism a priori rejects anything that can’t be detected with our five senses. This leaves them with no other option than to say that “it never happened” or that “it can’t happen” when confronted with things they don’t understand, even if those things are standing right in front of them staring them directly in the eye. Atheists have taken a philosophical stance that prevents them from experiencing all of life, a life where 95% of the people in the world intuitively understand that there is more going on that what meets the eye.

We know that whatever Caused the coming into being of the universe existed beyond and outside of time, space, matter and the laws of physics.

This is the working definition of a miracle.

And if God can bring the universe into being, if God can in fact create life itself and if God can create the exquisitely finely tuned conditions for the sustaining of that life, then raising Jesus from the dead is absolutely possible.

In fact, given the historical evidence surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, it’s the BEST explanation of what took place in time and in space roughly 2,000 years ago. Something totally “other” happened with the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth. All that is required in order to understand or put into perspective what is recorded as historically accurate information is to allow in your mind the possibility of the existence of God. And as long as the existence of God is even remotely possible, it’s the most likely explanation of what happened during the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors or a potential Nobel Laureate in literature who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They did not band together to form some type of conspiracy. They did not exchange ideas so as to come up with the best way to fool the public and take over the world. The writers of the documents that have now been compiled into what we know as the New Testament had no idea that their letters and accounts of Jesus’ life would become part of the biggest and more influential movement that the world has ever known. They would have never thought to include in their accounts some of the things that I’ve described in this series of nine posts if those events hadn’t taken place.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weren’t the Gospel writers biassed?

This is the eighth in a series of posts dealing with death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, exaggerated, or flat out lies.

When it comes to comments about the Gospel writers having an agenda or that they were biassed in favour of Christianity, my first thought is, “So what?” It can’t be legitimately claimed that the writers were liars just because they wanted to promote the facts of Jesus’ life. Does that mean the Richard Dawkins is lying in his promotion of atheism? Well, ok, bad example.

Unlike Richard Dawkins, there are many, many examples that point to the integrity of character that was present in the Gospel writers. And there are many, many items in their writing that point to the truth contained in their biographies of Jesus. I’ve already pointed to the inclusion in the accounts of the guards and Joseph of Arimathea. These are two items that someone simply wouldn’t have put into an account when concocting a series of lies to promote an agenda in that time and locale in history .

Another example is the inclusion of women being the first witnesses to the resurrection. Yes the women had a close relationship with Jesus. Yes they supported His ministry. Yes they loved Him. But the value of women at that time in Palestine was on par with dogs. Old rabbinical sayings of the time go: “Let the words of the Law be burned rather than delivered to women” and “Blessed is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female.” Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of Law.

It is a testament to the huge impact that Jesus had upon His male followers regarding the status of women that they put into history the fact that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection event. It is certain that if the accounts of Jesus’ life were legendary or lies, it would have been written that men discovered the empty tomb. Biassed or not the writers of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were honest in their depiction of the historicity of what took place.

Sceptics act as though the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors or by a potential Nobel Laureate in literature who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t actually taken place.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Was J.F. Kennedy shot or wasn’t he?

This is the seventh in a series of posts dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, made-up, or flat out lies.

Another mistake that critics make is missing the forest for the trees. As an example, let me refer to all the different theories regarding the assassination of J.F.K. He was shot from this direction. He was shot from that direction. He was shot from both directions. The gunman acted alone. There were two gunmen. There were three gunman. There was a conspiracy. It was the Mob. It was the government. All of these thoughts may be interesting to some but they're missing the most important point. What is important and incontrovertible is the fact that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

Critics of Jesus resurrection point to: There was one angel. There were two or more angels. There was one woman at the tomb. There were several women at the tomb. They ran and told the disciples immediately. They remained quiet for awhile. All of these thoughts may be interesting to some but they bypass the most important point.

What is important and incontrovertible is the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was hung on a cross. He died. He was buried. And on the third day He rose from the dead. His tomb was empty and over the next month this same Jesus was seen alive. He ate with, and taught many hundreds of people. The fact of this event caused the beginning of the Christian Church. The reality of the Church today is just one of many proofs that Jesus rose from the dead then.

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors or a potential Nobel Laureate in literature who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Guards?

This is the sixth in a series of posts dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, made-up, or flat out lies.

In an earlier post I used the example of Joseph of Arimathea. No way would that character have entered the story if it hadn’t really happened. Another example is the evidence of the Guard that was placed at the tomb. The best way for us to know that the story of the Guard is factual is to look at the conversation that took place.
. About a month after the crucifixion, Jesus’ followers proclaimed to “the world” that the tomb was empty because Christ had risen from the dead.

. The Jewish Council responded by saying, “He didn’t rise from the dead. The disciples stole the body.” That of course is confirmation that:
a) The tomb was empty and
b) It was the correct tomb that was being spoken of that was empty.

. Jesus’ followers said, “How could we have stolen His body when there were guards placed at the tomb to specifically prevent such a thing?

. The Jewish Council said, “Ah, but the guards had fallen asleep.”

. Jesus’ followers said, “Na, ah. You guys bribed the guards to say that.” And as the account ends, “And that is the story that is being spread to this very day.”

That whole exchange proves that,
a) The guards were in fact at the tomb and
b) There is no way that the disciples would have gone against armed guards and stolen the body
c) The tomb was in fact empty.

Now, if there hadn’t been a Guard placed to secure the tomb the conversation would have been something like:
. Jesus’ followers proclaimed that the tomb was empty because Christ had risen from the dead.

. The Jewish Council responded by saying, “He didn’t rise from the dead. The disciples stole the body.” That of course is confirmation that
a) The tomb was empty and
b) It was the correct tomb that was being spoken of that was empty.

. Jesus’ followers said, “How could we have stolen His body when there were guards placed at the tomb to specifically prevent such a thing?

. To which the Jewish Council would have replied, “What guards? What are you talking about?”

The Jewish Council wouldn’t have proposed that the Guard had fallen asleep if there weren’t any guards on duty.

Reality is, to fake a resurrection by stealing Jesus’ body never occurred to Jesus’ followers. They were scared. They were hiding. And they didn’t come out of hiding until some women came and told them that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb.

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Was the resurrection story legend?

This is the fifth in a series of posts dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, made-up, or flat out lies.

If you can find anywhere in history where a legend has developed in only one month, in the presence of witnesses who were still living in the exact location of the event itself, then maybe an atheist could do something with their attempt to discredit this account of Jesus’ life. I would state categorically that not only hasn’t it EVER happened anywhere in the world but it did not happen in the case of Jesus either.

Something that critics seem to forget is that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as well as Acts of the Apostles and the other letters that are included in the New Testament weren’t written FOR inclusion into the Bible. What are now part of the Bible were once independent documents circulating throughout the Christian and non Christian community. These guys weren’t journalists working for something like, “Bible Magazine.” The documents that were compiled into what we know today as the New Testament were separate ancient documents, written by people who were interested in the life of Jesus. Some had been followers of or students of Jesus. Others, like Dr. Luke were historians. These people had no idea that what they’d written would one day become part of the biggest and most important movement in history. They were not interested in creating a legend. What's the proof?

First of all, the early Church was spreading a Creed that proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection within a month of Jesus’ death.

Second - Everyone one concerned knew where Jesus was buried. If the tomb was not empty it would have been pointed out to everyone pronto and the Christian movement would have ended right then and there.

Third - Mark’s account was probably written within two years of Jesus’ death and there is good evidence that he got much of his information from someone else which would have put that information even earlier. Remember from an earlier post, when it comes to accuracy, early is good. These accounts were written within months when a decent legend takes decades or several decades to develop.

Fourth - There is nothing extra in Mark’s account. It contains just the facts - no embellishments of any kind.

Fifth - The use of women as witness testimony would have never made it into a legend. The use of Joseph of Arimathea would have never made it into a legend. The story of the guards falling asleep would have never made it into a legend.

Sixth - Nobody, not even enemies of the Church past or present claim that the tomb wasn’t empty.

Finally, here is what legend sounds like. It’s from the Gospel of Peter which was written hundreds of years after the resurrection of Jesus. In this Gospel Jesus is described as triumphantly emerging from the tomb as a gigantic figure whose head reached up into the clouds. He was supported by giant angels and followed by a “talking cross.” This emergence was sounded by a voice from heaven and witnessed by the Roman guard, the Jewish leaders and a multitude of spectators.

That is the look of a legend!

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who is this Joseph guy?

This is the fourth in a series of posts dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In their desire to cast doubt on eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, one of the things that anti-theists run up against are details in the account that simply wouldn’t be there if the accounts were invented, exaggerated, or flat out lies.

An example of this is someone we read about called Joseph who was from Arimathea. If you know the account, you’ll remember that this was the guy who apparently went and asked to take the body of Jesus from the cross. He then, with the help of others, prepared the body for burial and placed the body in his very own tomb. This tomb by the way wasn’t just an old cave. That was common practice in that area at that time in history. Instead, this was a tomb that had been carved out of rock. Joseph of Arimathea was rich. However, that is not what makes his mention in the ancient texts confirming or authenticating.

The inclusion of this man in the text goes to proving the truth of the story is because Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin; the very group that was responsible for arranging the murder of Jesus. Other details about this story include facts like:
- All of the members of the Sanhedrin that were present on the night in question voted unanimously to kill Jesus, and
- Joseph of Arimathea was not present for the vote.
Those two points are a little interesting, but the biggest authenticating factor is, the early Christians were furious at the injustice of Jesus’ crucifixion and they didn’t hesitate to lay it out for the public when the opportunity arose. There is no way that they would have invented a good or friendly or helpful member of the Sanhedrin unless it was true. Think about it, as the account goes, all of Jesus’ disciples run and hide while a member of the very party that put the hit on Jesus went to His, albeit late aide. As well, this was a member of a specific well known group. Whether or not he was involved in the way the writer mentioned could have been checked out with ease.

Joseph of Arimathea is a historical figure as are the accounts that include him as part of the story.

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So, Does being early count for anything?

This is the third in a series of post dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Not all historical scholars believe the sightings of Jesus after He’s been killed actually happened. However, all credible scholars acknowledge that the creed that Paul writes about in 1st Corinthians 15:3-8 comes from within 5 years of Jesus’ resurrection and is part of an oral tradition that was formed literally days after the apostles began to proclaim the risen Christ. And that took place roughly one month after Jesus has been crucified.

If being early counts for anything, and it does, Paul’s statement,
. “For what I received (probably from James and maybe Peter and John) I passed on to you as of first importance;
. That Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
. That He was buried,
. That He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and
. That He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and
. Last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (Insertion mine).

This is what was being preached by eyewitnesses to the life, death and post resurrection appearances of Jesus just a month or so after He was killed and buried. It’s early. It conforms to the other facts that are known. It accounts for the reality of the Church today.

What are you going to do with it?

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Case of the Missing Body

This is the second post in a series on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The grave is empty. The body is gone. Who took it? What did they do with it and Why?

No, this isn’t a lousy beginning to a paperback novel. Rather, it’s a lousy beginning to what I want to say about the empty tomb in which Jesus was buried. I’m too lazy to think of a better way to segway into the fact that the problem in 1st century Jerusalem wasn’t a missing body. Rather, the problem was that Jesus body WASN’T missing. He was out in the open, eating, drinking, teaching, and leaving final instructions for the transfer of power. This was a HUGE problem then and it still is a problem for you, and here’s why.

For roughly thirty-three years, Jesus was seen alive.

For roughly three days He was known to be dead.

For roughly fifty days Jesus was again seen alive.

This isn’t a case of the missing Jesus. This is a case of Jesus being killed and now supernaturally being alive to this very day. Because there is no natural or material way for a dead person to come to life again, the fact that Jesus is alive means that God is real. And if God is real then there are certain obligations and issues of accountability involved.

I have yet to find anyone who is able to explain away (in a manner that isn’t part of the lunatic fringe of holocaust and Jesus deniers), the appearances of Jesus after He was dead and buried. The reason that I keep bringing it up is because according to Jesus, what we do with His resurrection will determine our future; both temporal and eternal. That, to me, seems like a rather important thing to think about. As the current financial crash in the United States clearly indicates, human beings aren’t very good at planning for even tomorrow let alone eternity. Nevertheless, this is one topic that shouldn’t be put on the shelf.

Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Friday, November 7, 2008

“Jesus Survived the Cross.” Mm-Hmm

Because of some recent interest in Jesus and His resurrection, I think I’ll do a bit of a series on the topic, highlighting a few of the most persistent attempts to refute the historicity of Jesus’ death and resurrection. To that end, I want to comment on post that appeared just a bit ago. I think it was written by the same goof who wrote a post saying that Jesus never claimed to be God. Anyhow, this guy said that Jesus never died on the cross. In fact according to the writer of this blog, Jesus survived the cross and went to live in China. That’s right - not India but China.

The evidence for the death of Jesus on the cross is so strong that it seems impossible that anyone would dare to say otherwise. Yet, it happens, and it happens because if it’s said some people will believe it. So, once again, I’m drawn to post a refutation of this statement, even though to say that Jesus survived the crucifixion requires as much ignorance of the historical events or as purposeful and deliberate a lie as when he said that Jesus never claimed to be God in human form.

To be fair:
. While some people died, many people were known to survive a Roman flogging, and
. There is a record of three individuals who survived a Roman crucifixion. (These were people who had been mistakenly sentenced to death and who were taken from the cross early when the error was discovered) - However

*** There are no records of anyone surviving a flogging AND a crucifixion.***

So how can we be sure that Jesus died on the cross? How do we know that He didn’t just faint or pretend to be dead?

First of all, there is no evidence, as is sometimes suggested that Jesus was drugged by friends or anyone else. He turned down the only painkiller that was offered. Nor was this a swoon which trained killers (Roman soldiers) somehow failed to notice. Remember, as the soldiers were breaking the legs of the men being executed that day, these executioners did not break the legs of Jesus because it was clear to them that He was already dead.

Anyone who makes the claim that Jesus survived the cross is also implying that He pretended to not be breathing after hanging on a cross for six hours and after being thrust through with a spear. These people are saying the Jesus spent three nights in a cold tomb and then He unwrapped (from the inside) about a hundred yards are burial wrapping, which enclosed 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. He then rolled back, singlehanded mind you, a 1 to 1.5 ton stone. He overcame the guards who themselves were under pain of death if they allowed a prisoner to escape, and He fled from the scene only to appear like a victorious Saviour who had just overcome death. According to the people who propose the cross survival theory, Jesus’ appearance was so convincing that His disciples went to the end of their own lives believing and proclaiming that they had witnessed something miraculous.

Save for the lunatic fringe, as is evidenced by the blog in question, even modern enemies of Christianity admit to the historical factuality of Jesus’ death on the cross. A question that needs to be asked, If Jesus didn’t die on the cross Why would Cicero, Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians? If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Why would they simply invent these stories? There was / is absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained by concocting this as a lie.

The facts that we have, and again these are facts that even learned historical scholars who are also sceptics agree to, point to the factual death of Jesus on the cross are as follows:

. The flogging by Roman soldiers would have almost but not quite killed Jesus. Flogging was a torture that historical records indicate laid bare the bowels, tendons and bones and created an enormous loss of blood. Couple that with six hours on the cross and there is no way that Jesus could have survived.

. Crucifixion was so painful, that in order to describe what it was like, a new word, “excruciating” or “off the cross” was invented. Much of this pain came about because the median nerve in both arms, the largest nerve running to the hands would have been crushed by the spikes. The same would have happened as His feet were nailed to the cross. The intensity of this pain has been described as that which would happen if someone took a pair of pliers and squeezed and twisted, for hours on end, the nerve that is housed in your elbow - “funny bone.”

. Both of Jesus shoulders and probably his elbows would be been pulled out of their sockets. It was not uncommon for arms to be stretched several inches so that the person was hanging by only tendons and muscles.

. Because of the injuries to the feet, Jesus would not have been able to push up to relieve the suffocation that He was experiencing by the position of the upraised arms. Death would have come by asphyxiation and / or cardiac arrest brought on by respiratory acidosis.

. It appears from available forensic evidence that hypovolemic shock from severe loss of blood prior to the crucifixion brought on heart failure, which resulted in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion.

. Jesus was pierced clear through the chest cavity by a spear. From the evidence we can know that this thrust pierced Jesus’ lung as well as the protective sack surrounding the heart. This created a huge wound out of which pleural fluids (which the medically uneducated writer, John, described as water) and blood poured. This evidence alone shows beyond any doubt that Jesus was dead at the time of the spear thrusting into His chest. However, had Jesus not already been dead, this wound would in and of itself have been fatal.

. After all this, Jesus spent between 60 - 70 hours in an ice-cold cave, plus He was embalmed in 75 pounds of spices, plus He was wrapped in many yards of burial cloth. And this brings me to what for me is the most interesting part of the discovery of the empty tomb. When Peter and John went to the tomb, and when they looked in, what they saw was described this way “He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up on itself, separate from the linen.” Jn.20: 3-7.

Did you get that? Jesus hadn’t regained consciousness and then fought his way out of a hundred yards of linen wrapping that was stuck together with 75 pounds of gooey myrrh and aloes. This extensive wrapping wasn’t strewn about the tomb as would be the case if he had unwrapped himself (which is ludicrous to even suggest). Nor was it strewn about as it would have happened during a rushed tomb robbery. The burial wrapping which was given shape and form from the myrrh and aloes was collapsed in on itself. The head was always wrapped separately from the body and that is exactly how is was still lying sans the head and body of Jesus. Jesus simply left the wrapping, “like an empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon” when the butterfly has emerged. No wonder, “John saw and believed.” Jn. 20:8.

Again, the question needs to be asked. If the accounts of what the disciples taught about Jesus’ resurrection weren’t true, Why would Origen write, “Jesus, who has both risen AND led His disciples to believe in His resurrection and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth that they showed to all men by their suffering how they were able to laugh at life’s troubles beholding to life eternal and a resurrection clearly demonstrated to them in word and deed by this one Jesus.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that Origen would write that.

So what we have from those who propose that Jesus simply fainted or pretended to be dead is:
. After a severe beating that alone killed many of its victims
. After hanging on a cross for six hours,
. After being pierced almost through by a Roman soldier’s spear
. After recovering from a faint caused by sever blood loss OR after simply faking death by holding his breath to fool His professional executioners who themselves, under Roman law would have been executed for allowing a prisoner to escape,
. And after spending three nights in a cold tomb,
Jesus came hobbling into town on feet pierced through by nails, beaten and bloodied, literally from head to toe and barely alive, and it was this Jesus who inspired hundreds of people to go to their deaths proclaiming Jesus’ victory over death and proclaiming that someday we too would possess a superlative resurrection body just like the one Jesus showed His followers after His rise from the dead.


Sceptics would have you believe that the Gospel accounts were written by New York Times best selling authors who wrote a fiction so refined and so diabolical that billions of people have been duped.

Reality is, the writers were not refined or gifted authors. They would have never thought of some of the things that I’m describing in this series of posts if they hadn’t taken place.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will you wake up in the morning?

I’ve worked with so many people who were terrified of death. It wasn’t the process of death that they feared. It was death itself - the end of existence.

Jesus says, “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even through he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”

Now that’s quite a statement. What kind of individual would feel comfortable saying that about Himself? Certainly no leader or founder of any other religion has made a claim such as that. Of course anyone can say anything they want. Time will tell if the person is lying or not. But this, well, without further proof each of us would have to wait until after we’d died to find out if what Jesus was saying was as preposterous as it sounds. If there are in fact eternal consequences to our beliefs, after death is a little late to find out the truth. Fortunately Jesus did away with the wait. In fact, by this action, Jesus proved two things.

1) There is life after death, and

2) He has the power to raise not only Himself but us as well from the dead.

By His own resurrection, three days after being crucified Jesus proved the truth of His claims about Himself, about life, death and the life hereafter. It is simply not true that we can’t know what happens after death. Nor do we have to rely on NDE stories from less than reliable sources.

If you wonder about what comes after this life, you don’t need to pretend to be unconcerned by making unproven statements like, “This life is all there is.” More and more atheists are accepting the fact that we intuitively know that we were made for more than just this life on earth. The fear of their impending decay into nothing compels many atheists to make what seems almost unbelievable comments, at least for atheists. That there is a spiritual, or a supernatural or metaphysical world used to be out of the question for anyone claiming to be an atheist. Comprehending the ramifications of traditional atheist views has created an evolution of sorts in the way atheists now confront their eternity. Yet, if that’s true, that there is a supernatural aspect to life, why in the world would they stop just short of what the Bible teaches? Because accepting that a supreme spiritual Being exists would include a dimension of accountability and that of course is the one thing that atheists avoid like the plague.

Jesus came to give us immeasurable value and worth and purpose. He said that “life” doesn’t end here.

If you’re not so sure about all this, my suggestion is that you seriously work through the issue of Jesus’ resurrection. If it makes you more comfortable, you can do it with the goal of proving that the resurrection didn’t happen. And if you are honest in your search, and if you are diligent in your investigation, I guarantee that you will find the cure to your dread of ceasing to exist. While fearing death is a poor reason to become a follower of Jesus, it’s certainly better than spending eternity in the complete and total absence of love.

Ain’t that America?

For how many decades have Americans been electing leader after leader, each one dumber than the one before? While we all have tendencies to be this way, Americans, seemingly more than anyone else have always been prone to being led by the nose into following anyone who can dazzle their senses, tantalize their greed and titillate their delusions of grandeur. The cult of personality was happening again in this election with Barak Obama charming everyone in his midst. However, instead of electing another dullard Americans seem to have stumbled upon a President with intelligence.

Ain’t that America? A horseshoe stuck all the way up its butt. They had the opportunity to have a President with intelligence with Al Gore. Unfortunately he had the personality of an accountant. Obama, though, man that guy just threw America a perfect change-up. He played the old bait and switch. Offer them charm and give them smarts instead.

Congratulations America! Even if it was by accident, you’ve done something good for the first time in a long time. It’s actually pretty impressive. The trick now will be to keep Obama alive because electing him will have ignited the most base fears and hatreds that 400 years of racist evolution could bring into being.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can we trust anything in the Bible?

As a Christian, anything that confirms the reliability of the Bible gives me a twinge of satisfaction. I’m not sure why, since by belief in it’s reliability is solid. I guess it’s just a kind of “Told you so,” or something childish like that. For example, the following archaeological finds show the historical relevance of some Biblical entries.

John 4:5,6 - Jacob’s well in Nablus
Matthew 8:14 - Peter’s house in Capernaum
Luke 23:33 - Skeletal remains of crucified men in Jerusalem
Acts 21:27-29 - Inscription: Gentile entrance of temple sanctuary
Luke 3:1 - Pilate inscription in Caesarea
John 5:2 - Pool Bethesda in Jerusalem
John 9:7 - Pool of Silam in Jerusalem
Mark 1:21 - Early synagogue in Capernaum
Luke 21:20 - Masada in Southwest Dead Sea
Matthew 2:19 - The Herodium near Bethlehem
Matthew 2:4 - Herod’s winter palace in Jericho
Luke 1:9 - Herod’s temple in Jerusalem
Acts 17:6 - Politarch inscription in Thessalonica
Acts 16:11,12; 17:1 - Egnatian Way in Neapolis, Philippi, Apollonia, and Thessalonica
Acts 18:12 - Gallio inscription in Delphi
1 Corinthians 9:24/26 - Starting gate for races in Isthmia
Acts 16:19 - Marketplace in Philippi
Acts 18:12 - Court in Corinth
1 Corinthians 8:10 - Cult dining rooms in Demeter temples in Corinth
1 Corinthians 10:25 - Meat market inscription in Corinth
Acts 18:4 - Synagogue inscription in Corinth
Romans 16:23 - Erastus inscription in Corinth
Luke 19:43-44; 21:6,20 - Arch of Titus in Rome
1 Peter 2:13 - Golden House of Nero in Rome
Acts 25:10 - Appian Way at Puteoli to Rome
2 Timothy 1:16-17; 2:9; 4:6-8 - Mamertime Prison in Rome
Luke 2:1 - Tomb of Augustus in Rome
Acts 19:35 - Artemis statues in Ephesus
Acts 19:24 - Silversmith shops in Ephesus
Acts 19:29 - Ephesian theatre in Ephesus
Acts 19:27,28 - Artemis temple and altar in Ephesus
Acts 20:13,14 - Fourth-century B.C. walls in Assos
Revelation 2:13 - Zeus altar in Pergamum
Acts 13:6,7 - Sergius Paulus inscription in Antioch in Pisidia
Acts 14:20 - Derbe inscription in Kerti Huyuk
Most recently the reign of Solomon was reconfirmed by archaeology
The existence of Sargon and the Hittites were confirmed by archaeology
The sevenfold lamp-stands use in the temple was confirmed by archaeology
The extent of the Davidic empire was confirmed by archaeology
That Belshazzar existed and ruled over Babylon was confirmed by archaeology.

The existence of Tyre, Nineveh, and dozens of other ancient cities mentioned in the Bible have been confirmed by archaeology.
This is only a bit what was archaeology has confirmed in the New Testament, and while the extent of ancient finds in the Old Testament would take all day for me to document. The fact is, no, repeat NO archaeological discovery has EVER controverted a SINGLE Biblical statement. Of course archaeology does not prove the Bible to be the Word of God (prophecy does that). Nevertheless, archaeology does establish the historicity of innumerable passages and statements of the Old and New Testaments.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How do you explain Jesus?

. Some people recognise that they’re hungry for love. They’ve never seen it, never known it - Being used and abused is all they’ve experienced. Yet going to Jesus for love never occurs to them.

. Others can identify that they’re longing for security. But seeing Jesus as a protector is not even on the list.

. Others understand that significance and belonging are the things that are most absent in their lives. Yet the “world” has no shortage of promises to fulfil those dreams.

. And while many struggle with depression, disillusionment and despair, they don’t know any way out of that mess. They search and search and search but they never look to Jesus as a possible solution.

It’s one thing to know Jesus. It’s one thing be in a relationship with Jesus and to bask in the warmth of His love and mercy and forgiveness. But how do you describe or relay the nuances of that relationship to others who have yet to know Him? I mean, we’re all looking for Him. It’s just that some don’t know He’s what they’re after. So how can that be communicated to them?

Jesus says to all of us, “If you’re struggling with life, if you’re weighted down by worries and feelings of no worth and loneliness, and guilt, come to Me and I will give you rest for your weary souls.”

Could that be true?

I remember sitting at a party one night. There was lots of noise and laughter and music. Of course all of this “love” was fuelled by ecstasy and alcohol and a tonne of other drugs. At that time in my life I actually thought that we were having fun. And then the woman sitting next to me said, “Is life ever a bag of shit.” And I looked at her kind of like, What are you talking about? We’re having a good time here.

What a comment! At the time I thought she was nuts, but from then on I could never look at my friends or myself in the same light. I saw that we were some of the most pathetic people on the planet. Sure, we had all the drugs and sex and money that any hedonistic person could ask for. But we were lost. Worse, some of us were in fact experiencing an inkling of being lost. We were aware of a fear that something was terribly wrong in our world, but we were afraid to admit to such a “weakness.” Thankfully that woman voiced what I had yet to admit. We were starving for real life, yet we were “acting” like we had it all. It was still about five years after that night that I became a Christian but it was that night, with that comment when I began my journey to Jesus. For what it’s worth, that woman killed herself a couple years later.

All of us screw up from time to time. It’s a bit like we are stumbling around in a dark room and we’re bruising our shins and stubbing our toes on the furniture. None of us know where to find the switch, yet we’re too afraid to ask in case someone senses that we’re filled with doubt and fear.

Jesus sees our dilemma and says to us, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness again, but will have the light of life.”

In hindsight I can say, “Truer words were never spoken.” It’s as though Jesus flipped a switch and my life is no longer confusing. A wise person once said, “I believe in Jesus for the same reason I believe in the Sun - not because I can see the Sun but because of the Son, I can see everything else clearly.”

All I needed was to begin following His directions and the pattern of screwing up, that was so much a part of my life, is now itself shattered. In reality, there is no need to make major mistakes ever again. Only my negligence in following what Jesus wants holds me back from that. Still, Jesus has brought into my life peace, a deep abiding peace. I am no longer alone - ever. I know Truth and the freedom that brings into my life. My ubiquitous hunger and thirst for more is satiated. My, former disappointment with life, that required a constant infusion of stimulants, has turned to hope and a level of joy that I would have never dreamed possible.

How was that accomplished? Jesus, only Jesus. He’s waiting for you; patiently, lovingly waiting. And really, if your philosophy of life hasn’t proven itself by now, why give it even one more day. All you have to do is call out to Him and He’ll come and teach you, forgive your sins, free you from guilt and bring you safely home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pick Me! Pick Me!

I’m 15-years-old. I’m standing in the gym with the rest of my class and the teacher has told the two best athletes in my grade to pick players for basketball.

Crap! I hate this! I suck at basketball. No one in his right mind would want me on his team. I’d probably score on our own basket IF anyone was stupid enough to pass the ball to me. Well I may as well get it over wi . .



“Ya you. Get over here. You’re on my team.”

Is this a dream? Why in the world would He do that? There is absolutely nothing about me that He would find valuable or worthy or a benefit to His team.

“Why would you pick me? I’m a total screw-up.”

“Cause I like you.”

I look at Him in amazement. Jesus, the Best of the Best has picked me to be on His team. Well, I can’t help it if I’m lucky. I’m going to get on with enjoying the rest of the day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Atheists and Speeding Tickets

“I hate speeding tickets!”

“What do you mean?”

“Speeding tickets. They’re ruining my life. Look at them all! How am I supposed to buy food and stuff when I have all these speeding tickets to pay?”

“How many are there?”

“I don’t know. A couple dozen at least.”

“Dude! You’re going to lose your license.”

“That’s what I mean. They keep giving me tickets and pretty soon I won’t even be able to drive. How will I get to work?”

“Sooo, why not just obey the law? If you don’t go over the speed limit you won’t get any more speeding tickets.”

“I can’t do that. Changing how I drive would be admitted that I'm wrong.”

“Don’t be so stupid. It’s NOT changing that's ruining your life. Speeding tickets aren’t the problem. You’re pride is the problem.”

“I hate the idea of going to hell just because I don’t admit to Jesus that I'm a sinner in need of forgiveness. The whole idea of hell is ruining my life. I want to live free of fear and guilt.”

“So change. Come on side with Jesus.”

“I can’t. I believe what I believe, and changing what I believe would be admitting that what I've believed is wrong”

“Don’t be so stupid. You’re an atheist by choice and only by choice. There is more than enough evidence to prove that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. Come on side with Jesus and the whole issue of hell becomes a non issue. You can live free and easy. In fact, Jesus even commands us to stop worrying and enjoy life because He will take care of us.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

“Palin is too ambitious!”

I heard that comment this morning. More and more people are coming to believe that Sarah Palin has her sights set on 2012 vs. 2008. Maybe. Maybe not. But if you think that she’s alone in striving for more, think again.

No one runs for leader of the free world without an almost unimaginable level of ambition. I mean, think about it! What kind of person would say:

I want to the President of the United States.

I could be President of the United States.

I should President of the United States.

I’m the right person for President of the United States.

I could do that.

Humility is not even close to being part of this game. Sarah Palin may be too dim to hide her ambitious character but neither Obama or McCain nor anyone else is taking second place to Palin in the high self-esteem category.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christians and Money

A few days ago, some atheist was whining about Churches always asking for money. I suppose he did that because he mistakenly believed that:
.The power company donated electricity to the Church
.The gas company donated heat to the Church
.The furniture company donated the pews
.The publishing company donated the hymn books and teaching materials
.The carpet company donated the carpets
.The contractors donated their time and building materials
.The Pastor donates his time and
.All the charities that Churches support around the world run for free.

Well, atheist ignorance should, I suppose be allowed. How can it be any other way. But he raises an interesting point. Why should people “waste” their money by giving it to the Church. After all, Churches just spend their money on non essentials like
.homeless shelters,
.AID’s hospices,
.leprosy treatment centres,
.shelters for battered women,
.shelters for runaway teens,
.food distribution programs,
.schools and universities,
.and on and on that are staffed and constructed around the world and all supported by your local congregations.

While Christians certainly spent their share on some of the following, these are things that atheists think are more important than donating to a Church. Last year in North America we spent:
.22 billion dollars renting videos and DVD’s (this does not include attending movie theaters.
.95 billion making our lawns and gardens greener, including gnomes and bird baths
.389 billion on restaurant meals including 10 billion on fast food
.24 billion on salty snacks
.16 billion on chocolate
.5 billion on anti-aging creams
.10 billion on mother’s day flowers and gifts
.30 billion on pornography
.50 billion on lottery tickets
.50 billion on illegal gambling
.775 billion on recreation

So how does that compare to all the money that Churches are always asking for to run the above charities?

Giving to 690 Christian charities (stuff that Churches receive) came to 2.56 billion.

I’m not sure what percentage of the total that comes to but it’s clear that ending starving children, sexual slavery, taking care of the lost and lonely is no where near being important to anyone except Christians and their Churches.

In Canada the average household spends $66,858.00 on “needs.” Of that, on average, $307.00 goes to the Church. That's 307 dollars for each Canadian household of which perhaps 5-10% actual households that attend and donate to Church. Again, it's clear that staffing and running the above charities are not important at all, in comparison to those who have experienced the love of Jesus in their lives.

So what happens when atheists come together to raise money? What happens when they ask for donations and raise 80,000 pounds? They spend it on signs that say,

“God probably doesn’t exist so screw the world - Eat - Drink and be Merry,”

and then they put them on buses to promote the greatness of atheism.

25 yrs. ago today, Jesus died in China

It was 25 years ago today that the atheist government in China announced that Christianity was officially dead in China.

“The missionaries are gone. There are no more Christians, and no worship of Jesus anywhere is this country,” stated an official of the atheist run nation. He may have spoken too soon.

It is estimated that in two or three years, China will be the largest Christian nation on earth.

October is missions month in our congregation and this weekend, we had members of China’s underground Church speaking to us. Courageous hardly describes the believers in today’s China. While China has given up trying to stamp out believers, it is still a serious offence to evangelise. Despite this, people are coming to Jesus at an average of 18,000 a week. While there are many hundreds of Pastors and many thousands of believers in jail for talking about Jesus, one of the surprising things that these men and women requested of us is that we DO NOT pray for the end of persecution. “Persecution, beatings, loss of jobs and having property confiscated serve three important purposes.

First, persecution spreads the gospel faster than anything else we have experienced. This has been true, down through history from the killing of Stephen by the apostle Paul and his group to this very day. Danger causes us to move into new territory where believers tell more and more people about Jesus.

, hardship teaches us to depend on Jesus for our well-being, and under hardship the presence of His Spirit is so very real.

Third, persecution keeps the Church pure. There are no hangers-on in the China Church. Believers know that they will suffer for the faith so no one joins us out of curiosity.”

Interestingly, at least for me is how Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens have all taken their dream for America and the world directly from the play-book of both atheist China and Stalinist Russia. In China it is illegal to teach anyone under 18 years of age about Jesus or Christianity. That is what these atheists have repeatedly stated as the solution for bringing about a generation of free thinkers in North America. In fact it is the failure of education to clearly announce the death of God in each generation that infuriates Sam Harris. His proposal for raising free thinkers is to outlaw thinking / talking / teaching about Jesus for not just his children but for yours as well.

After hearing from these men and women from China this weekend, I hope that the current crop of atheists achieve their goals. Right now, Christianity in North America exists from coast to coast but it is only a centimetre deep. Hopefully we are forced to understand the old line, “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

“Thinking is anathema to religion.”

This of course is by now an old quote from Richard Dawkins, but I’d like to explore it just a bit.

The comparison that I want to make to Richard’s comment is to two rather interesting clients that I had a few years ago. The first man I’ll call Ron. I used to run Therapy Groups and Ron was a member of one such group. When Ron first joined the group, his schizophrenia was not being properly managed. As a result, or more correctly one of the results was that he was certain that there were secret service agents just outside the office window. Ron believed that the agents had been sent by the government and that they followed him everywhere. Ron could describe how they looked, what they were wearing and so on. Of course neither I nor any of the other people in the group could see that which was solely Ron’s hallucination. Until his medications kicked in properly, Ron could concentrate on what was being talked about in groups relatively well if the blinds were drawn and he sat with his back to the window so as not to notice their shadows. Because Ron was so convinced of his beliefs, he thought that the rest of us were nuts.

The second person that bears a striking similarity to Mr. Dawkins is someone I’ll call James. James believed, he truly believed that he was invisible. I met James while working at an inpatient treatment centre. Whenever I “saw” James in the lineup at the cafeteria, I’d say “Hello James. How are you today?” The look on his face was one of total surprise. The psychic disconnect he experienced when I could see the invisible rendered James speechless for a few seconds every time I greeted him. One day I was doing some teaching on our senses and I asked a group of which James was a part, "How do we know that we're here?" In a most earnest tone of voice James immediately said, "That's a REALLY good question!!" It was very frustrating for James to know that I didn't comprehend the true nature of his invisible status. In fact, he thought there was something wrong with me.

Richard Dawkins’ delusions of grandeur (something that to the outsider seems present in virtually all atheists) cause him to make such silly statements as, “thinking is anathema to religion.” The absurdities upon which Dawkins bases his whole life (eg. At this very moment there are literally billions of planets in our universe upon which life is evolving) are believed by Dawkins to such a depth that for someone to not completely agree with him causes, at least in his mind, the only possible conclusion. Anyone who disagrees with Richard Dawkins must not be capable of rational thought. In fact, that person must purposely avoid thinking.

I hope that someday Richard gets the kind of help he needs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

God Came To Visit

“The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Jn.1:14

The word “dwelling” is one of the things that makes this verse interesting. The root of this word means God purposely “pitched a tent” among us. God deliberately “spent time with us.” God desired to come and “fellowship” with us. For about 33 years, God came to His creation in order to point the way home.

Jesus taught that He, God, came to earth with the purpose of identifying with us, living what the most disadvantaged among us live, to know what it’s like to struggle with the very struggles that you encounter day in and day out. I especially find this verse interesting because as a counsellor, that is what we attempt to do with our clients. We try to get into the lives of our clients. We try to understand what it’s like to live their lives. It’s a necessary thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the empathetic thing to do. In coming to earth, in experiencing life as we experience life, in giving His life for ours, Jesus did the most loving thing that has ever been done.

If you want to know what God is like, look at the life of Jesus. And if you want a better understanding of the Old Testament, interpret it through your understanding of the person of Jesus who is the God of the Old Testament. Hebrews 1:2,3 - “But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being sustaining all things by His powerful word.” Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

That kid is going to Nebraska

There’s nothing quite like American ingenuity. Centrally located for easy access, the United States of America has provided for it’s citizens “Child-Be-Gone: The Nebraska Drop-off Depot for Unwanted Children.”

As of March / 08, any person who has an infant who is no longer providing that fulfilled feeling that new parents mistakenly believe will last forever, can now take the little darling(s) to Nebraska, open the chute provided on the drop boxes and simply say, “I’m outta here.” According to the brochure, this service is also available for older children. There is no charge for this service. No questions get asked. Simply cross the State line, open the car door and shoo the little munchkin off into the sunset. Paragraph three of the Press Release states that removing the duct tape from wrists and ankles of the child is optional. What’s surprising about this program is that it isn’t just for the really horrible kids. For example:

. If your 12 year old daughter doesn’t take out the garbage? Off to Nebraska with her.

. If your 16 year old son is 10 minutes late bringing the car home? Off to Nebraska with him.

Because no questions are asked, the only excuse you really need is the one that you tell yourself. “It’s really whatever you can live with,” said Connie Altmont, who is the Director of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce.

Apparently schools are even getting into the act. Mrs. Wheeler’s grade six class in Broken Arrow, Main is practically empty. This is because many parents have signed waivers allowing teachers to decide independently as to whether any given child, regardless of age should be allowed to remain in the community. “The two students that I have left are just the sweetest little helpers that I’ve ever had in my 60 years of teaching,” said Wheeler who keeps several rolls of duct tape on her desk, “Just as a reminder to pay attention.”

Despite complaints and concerns from those who have never been blessed by children, State Trooper Graham Pollick said "Child-Be-Gone" is not “that bad of an idea.” Graham stated that since Nebraska began accepting kids from “across North America” the incidents, reported from law enforcement agencies across the nation, of finding kids stuffed into suitcases and left in the ally “is way down.” Because the United States is a deeply Christian nation, Graham attributes this drop to the fact that “stuffing your kid into a rolled up carpet and dumping it in the woods really does a number on the conscience of a lot of people in this country. If there's a less violent means of changing the family dynamic, Christians will pick it every single time.”

Border guard Anthony (The Tone Man) Tilly stated, “The size of Canadian families that are coming into the States has grown remarkably [over the last few months].” “It used to be that we’d see Canadian moms and dads with 1 or 2 children in the vehicle. Now they’re coming across with 5,6 and sometimes 8 or 9 kids, all of them stacked like cordwood in the back of vans. It’s a little suspicious but hey, this isn’t Russia. If they say they’re on the way to Sea World what am I supposed to do?” Reports of an underground railway made up of individuals willing to secretly remove your children from Canada, for a very steep price, could not be confirmed at the time of this writing.

Linda Cullen, from “Save the Children” asks, “Just where are all these children going? Go to any park in Omaha and you don’t see any increase in playground use. We know from volunteer spotters that there are at least 800 to a 1,000 kids getting dumped into Nebraska every week. Where are they?” We managed to find and interview one 15-year-old girl who said she used to live in California. When asked why her parents drove her all the way to the Nebraska border only to “burn rubber” going the other direction without her, Tanisha* said, “My mom and I were having this huge argument and when I said, “Well if you don’t want me why’d you have me?” mom looked at me with crazy eyes and said, “Who knew it would be you!!.” Tanisha* got tears in her eyes but turned away so we wouldn’t see.

We witnessed parents shoving their children out of the vehicle at the border, some of them not even bothering to come to a full stop. We attempted to speak with them but all but one were unwilling to comment. Mary Janzen, from Dayton Ohio, who requested that her name not be used explained, “It’s true that we’re living in a much more diverse society, but this Child-Be-Gone service may take awhile to be accepted by everyone. We don’t want to be hassled by fundamentalists who disagree with this. In the mean time, my husband and I are off to Aruba.”

So there you have it. Another first for the United States of America.
*(Tanisha is not her real name)

Britain's Bus Campaign? Priceless!!!

Atheists - Sometimes you just have to love em. In fact, if there was one in my house right now I do believe that I'd get up out of my chair and give him a great big hug.

They are such precious - well - I'll let Richard Dawkins show you. Here's his message to promote atheism via London's bus adverts.

"There's no God so Screw the World - Eat - Drink - and be Merry."

Richard Dawkins

I seriously encourage Christians from around the world to donate to this bus campaign. We must keep this one going for as long as possible. Richard is so dependable for providing an early morning giggle.

Thank you God for creating Richard Dawkins.

“I Have No One to Forgive Me!

One of the profoundly sad things about living under the weight of atheism is that when an atheist ponders the amazing life that is being lived, the beauty that surrounds us on every side, the love we encounter in this life, the joys of learning, the physical bounty that is thrust upon us, the atheist’s dilemma is that s/he has no One to thank. Oh sure atheists can and do say, “I’m thankful that I’m such a clever person,” or “I’m grateful that there have been so many positive coincidents this year.” But those thoughts are simply directed into the atmosphere.

Real thankfulness and real gratefulness means that a person has acknowledged RECEIVING something from an outside source; usually on an undeserved basis.

“I have no one to THANK” is a refrain with which all atheists must struggle. But it doesn’t stop there.

In a forlorn and pathetic tone, “I have no one to forgive me,” was a comment made a while ago by an atheist in an unguarded moment.

I don’t know how I’d live if that were true for me. I have hurt so very many people. I’ve lied and stolen and deceived and betrayed and disappointed. I’ve taken and taken and taken. I lived for the first three decades of my life totally and completely in the service of self. Compared to who God has made me today, I find my former self disgusting. There is no way that I can undo the damage that I’ve caused over the years and if I had to carry the guilt of that with me for the rest of my life well, I just don’t know how I could do that.

Humans from around the world share common struggles on many levels. To name only three:
- The fear of living a meaningless life, is one struggle.

- The ending of one’s existence at the point of death is another fear.

- A huge fear, one that is the point of this post, is the fear of an inability to live with real guilt.

Of course most of us, at one time or another, have been exposed to false guilt. Usually it was inflicted upon us by well-meaning folks. Other times we were hit with false guilt by absolutely horrid people. Both groups have used guilt as a parenting tool to manipulate and control their children. Others have used guilt to extract favours from vulnerable people. That kind of guilt is a fairly effective tool, at least in the short term and it’s used by people from all walks of life; by the rich and the poor, city or country, by the religious as well as those of no religious faith. That’s not the guilt that I want to talk about.

. Real guilt is what we experience when we cheat someone who trusted us.

. Real guilt is what happens when we betray another’s genuine love.

. Real guilt is what we feel when we’ve harmed the defenceless.

. When we abuse ourselves and others it is common and GOOD that emotional discomfort is a fact of life.

The physical and emotional consequences of carrying around real guilt was a common theme for those I saw as a counsellor. Real guilt is something that cannot be “stuffed” if you expect to function as an emotionally healthy individual.

Now, Jesus teaches His followers how to meet the above fears and how to move beyond them. Because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and because He proved His claims about Himself by rising from the dead in such a manner as to defeat all attempts to explain away His resurrection, for the obedient Christian these “fears” become nothing more than a temporary nuisance. We can trust His directives and when we obey Him, Jesus leads us through life as “more than conquerors.” We can live with our eyes wide open, in honesty and integrity and not lose one iota of perceived worth or value.

It’s a much different story for the atheist. Because atheists claim that they “Don’t need God in order to be a good person,” atheists have to pretend they’re actually good people just as they are. In fact, atheists are so dependent on this philosophy that most of them find it quite offensive when they hear Christians admitting to the reality of their own flaws and weaknesses. Atheists can’t imagine how anyone can psychologically survive while holding such a dim view of humanity in general and of their selves in particular. Describing his decision to take an honest and fearless inventory of his inner self, a former atheist once said, “For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was Legion.”

All Christians can relate. One of the reasons that we can confront the reality of our inner self is that we are forgiven. We are accepted as we are. We are loved as we are. In fact, we are loved so much that upon the confession of who we really are, Jesus immediately begins the process of changing our corrupt character and that is something for which we are so very very grateful. In Jesus, and through His forgiveness, we are freed from the guilt of past actions. Jesus can do this because it is against Him and Him only that we have sinned.
It is our Creator’s laws that we have broken.
It is our Creator’s forgiveness that we need.
While the consequences of our wrong actions may follow us for the rest of our lives, Jesus has dealt with our guilt, forgiven our sins and He has set us free from the power and control of sin.

Guilt of course is an uncomfortable feeling, and a common complaint from atheists is that the teachings of “Christianity” is what made / makes them feel guilty. So what’s their response? Oddly enough, these people who conceive of themselves as brave and courageous souls actually run from reality. They pretend that:

a) there is no one to Judge them and

b) there is nothing to judge.

In an atheist’s world there is no objective Right or Wrong, only opinions, beliefs, likes, and dislikes. Living by this philosophy creates a world where one’s concept of Good and Bad is based totally upon whether the thing being judged coincides with one’s opinions, beliefs, likes and dislikes

- If it makes me feel good in the moment, then it’s good.

- If it makes me feel bad in the moment, then it’s bad.

- Guilt makes me feel bad, therefore a sense of guilt is bad.

At this point the atheist adjusts h/her opinion of said topic to mesh with the current pattern of conduct.

Why are Christians able to handle the situation differently? We know from our “pre Christian” lives that trying to adapt to “what works in the moment” is an extremely ineffective and self-defeating way to deal with guilt. Saying that what’s clearly wrong is actually right simply to avoid feelings of guilt is beyond the pale stupidity.

. If there is an objective standard of right and wrong, and everyone knows at some level that there is indeed such a standard, and
. If one is not meeting that standard, and
. If one is thereby experiencing emotional discomfort,
The solution is not to attempt to change the standard or one’s opinion and one’s culpability in light of the standard.

THE SOLUTION IS to change one’s character and / or behaviours so they conform to the standard.

There is no other way to maintain emotional health while at the same time dealing effectively with guilt.

Guilt, real guilt, is like physical pain. It’s essential to our well-being. Remove the ability to feel physical pain and the loss of limbs and digits is inevitable. Block out the emotional pain of real guilt and we are lost in an ocean of options with no way of knowing which course to set in order to find a safe harbour for our souls. Without listening to our conscience, and by resetting our inner compass to suit our circumstances, relational crashes and hurting those we love the most are outcomes that are absolutely guaranteed.

As part of God’s plan to defeat evil, Jesus died in our place in order to remove the guilt from our lives and to provide for us a means of forgiveness. The atheist who said, “I have no one to forgive me,” is just flat out wrong.

. There IS someone to guide you safely through life.

. There IS someone to forgive you.

. There IS a way to be set truly free from real guilt.

The offer of forgiveness will remain open until your dying breath. However, hardening one’s heart so as to not be affected by one’s behaviours can make it so you are no longer aware of the offer. And second, none of us knows when our dying breath will come.

If hearing that makes you feel uncomfortable or even angry, be grateful. That awareness comes courtesy of the One who provided you with feelings as a means of getting you to pay attention. The reality of strokes, heart attacks, accidents, sudden storms, falling or random violence means that we should heed the warning that says, “Now is the time that God is calling out to you. Now is the time to ask for forgiveness. Now is the opportunity to be freed from guilt. Now is the time to take hold of the salvation that is freely offered. Creator God who loves you longs to bring you safely home.

Good luck on your journey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who needs Jesus?

The answer to that all depends on the evidence. You see, if what Jesus taught about Himself, about life, death, sin, heaven, hell, etc. is wrong, then Christianity is perhaps worse than worthless. If Jesus did not rise from the dead and if He is not in fact God, as He claimed to be, then atheists are correct in stating that Christianity is a very dangerous idea.

However, if, as I believe the evidence shows, Jesus was and is exactly who He claimed to be, then there is not a book, an idea, a concept, a discovery, or any way of being that is, nor ever will be as important to you and to your life as is Christianity. If true, Jesus and what you do with Him marks the difference between incomparable good or disaster beyond imagination.

Unlike every other religion on earth, and unlike every "teacher" who has come and gone, Jesus is not “sort of important” or, “He might be important for you but not for me.” Jesus is either of utmost importance for every individual on this planet or Christianity is worse than garbage.

Discovering the truth about Jesus and His resurrection from the dead is not something that you want to leave up to what you’ve heard from someone else. You need to go to the source. You need to find the best evidence.

You need to make a decision.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Down with the Family! Long live Heartache!

It’s no surprise that those who have experienced multiple relationship failures, and who see serial adultery as simply “going where my heart leads” are primarily the ones who are also championing / supporting lifestyles that corrode the stable family model. People like Lindsay Lohan say things like, “No one needs marriage. It’s not wrong to have an abortion. It’s not wrong to get pregnant and not be married. It’s not wrong to live with someone without getting married.” Because they don't know where to find committed love, and because they've never learned how to give committed love, they pretend that love is not important. That is the message with which they relentlessly and tenaciously pound your children.

Society needs relationship and family planning advice from Ms. Lohan and her Hollywood peer group like my three-year-old needs to attend a day-care run by a paedophile. Likewise, having the Entertainment Industry hold an AID’s benefit is like having the Tobacco Industry put on a Cigarette Awareness Week at your local middle school. They're not interested in health. They want a pill that will allow them to continue the very lifestyle that does nothing but promote STD's including AID's.

Having a good life is not an accident. We can’t put on just any old behaviours and expect good results. Good outcomes require good input. If we’ve learned nothing else from history we should know by now that Marriage is the foundation for an emotionally healthy family, and the Family serves as the foundation for an emotionally healthy society.

The Christian marriage paradigm is built on this foundation:
. God is the CREATOR of the marriage relationship;
. Heterosexuality is God's PATTERN for marriage;
. Monogamy is God's BLUEPRINT for marriage;
. God's PLAN for marriage is for physical and spiritual UNITY, and
. Marriage was DESIGNED to be permanent

- Your children’s emotional health is dependent on this paradigm. Social experiments which set this design aside have consistently failed.

- Your community’s stability is dependent on this paradigm. The tragic repercussions of the anti-family experiment are as obvious as global warming or the depletion of the fish stocks or the demise of the world’s rain forests. There is something terribly wrong and if we don’t pay attention to the symptoms disaster looms large.

- Your nation’s strength and the world’s attainment of peace is almost totally dependent on this paradigm. The past has repeatedly proven it. The present is showing what we should have learned from the past, and the future will be nothing short of disaster if we fail to learn from the past in this regard.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons why God brought about the concept of marriage as opposed to taking whoever and whatever we want, is that for humanity to continue, and for our children to grow into stable, emotionally and spiritually healthy individuals, people need to be committed to the well-being of at least one other person. Each of us needs to be totally sold-out to a determined effort to support at least one other person for the duration of our lives. Simply put, the human race will not survive without this type of commitment. This has nothing to do with “being loved.” It has everything to do with our willed, desired, volitional love that is directed toward at least one other individual, again, for the duration of our natural life.

That is how God loves us. He will literally die for you, in order to provide for you a safe and secure home - for eternity no less.

Sadly the way our society is headed, with it’s “I promise to love you as long as I'm getting what I want from you,” it simply will not cut it. Lines are being drawn in the sand. Beliefs are becoming entrenched. Even worse, the deliberate undermining of our society’s supports is being done almost completely out of ignorance. People like those described above don’t even know that a better way to live exists. They have been raised in an atmosphere of survival of the fittest. You meet my needs or I’m out of here. A tremendous self-serving bias that rules out any and all attempts to reign in lust and misdirected passion is literally leading to the downfall of all that we’ve come to appreciate. The current economic down-turn is just one example of what results when people adopt this type of thinking. Personal safety is literally being thrown out the window in an effort to appease the most dysfunctional members of society.

It’s tragic. Rather than stopping and changing course, a scapegoat will be found.

Monday, October 20, 2008

3 degrees of Christianity

I’m always amazed by the stories of people who are either angry at God, or are disappointed in God or have given up on God altogether because of a perceived failure on His part to “deliver the goods” as they imagined would happen if they became followers of Jesus.

In a very general way, the path these people follow is something like this:
A child gets sick, or
The layoff notice is handed out, or
Ones love-life is non existent, or
Depression or other chronic illness strips one of hope.

So a person prays that:
. The child would be healed
. New work is found soon
. Some one to love you comes along
. Freedom from the illness is provided

Nothing happens
The relationship with God is damaged, neglected or tossed aside. When someone has turned away from God, the above seems to be the Path the most people have travelled.

This doesn’t need to be the way life goes.
While the above may be the general Course that is travelled, the falling away from God comes for two main reasons:
. First, as I’ve just described is the erroneous perception that Jesus is not trust worthy, His promises are false, and the “good” life that Jesus promises is far, far different than the one imagined.
. The second reason for a damaged relationship with Jesus is a failure on the part of the individual to take into consideration ALL of God’s provisions. The person seems focused on and even obsessed with what s/he thinks are the negatives in life and ignores all the good that Jesus has brought into one’s life up to that point in time.

If this is the way a person does life, the result is practically guaranteed - the end of that person’s life as a Christian. This actually should not surprise. When Jesus was telling the parable of the seed and the sower, He indicated that roughly 75% of those who begin to follow Him will at some point fall away. Jesus said that the spiritual life of most would-be Christians will be strangled by life’s worries or enticed by life’s temporary attractions or simply crushed under the weight of trouble.

There is so very much more to the Christian life that these early quitters completely miss. They simply never pushed beyond their initial encounter with the harsh reality of life. Because they failed to be trained by Jesus, because they never exercised or practised with the tools that Jesus promised to give to them, they were unable to persevere, to endure and claim the victory that is ours if we don’t give up.

To move beyond this pitfall, to move on to the next stage of one’s Christian walk involves interpreting life in light of Jesus’ promises. Rather than looking at life and concluding, “God is not good,” we need to start with the truth that “God IS love” and interpret the events of life through that lens.

Jesus truthfully said, “I will never leave you or give up on you.” What does that mean when a child dies?

Jesus truthfully said, “I will meet all your needs.” What does that mean when your vehicle or even your house is repossessed?

The person who makes it to the second level of Christian growth is someone who has not made the error in logic that says - “If bad things happen to me, or if my prayers are not answered with a “yes” that means that God must not exist.”

The person who reaches this stage of h/her walk with Jesus is usually the person who stands in awe of all the good that Jesus has brought into that person’s life. In fact, that is why the tragedies that Christians experience can be somewhat confusing. How is it that God loves me, but allows / causes the loss of love or never experiencing love. How is it that a God who loves me also allows poor health to persist? What does it mean when God says, “I love you. Now deal with the death of your child”? My wife and I have walked through all this and much much more and I can say beyond a shadow of doubt, Jesus really is all one needs in circumstances like these. That is why people like Richard Dawkins find it so confounding when tragedy actually increases a Christian’s faith, when experiencing life’s horrors actually draws someone closer to God. Sadly, people like Dawkins can’t possibly know the richness and depth of the life that is lived with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. These people are left to stand on the sidewalk looking in and criticising something they know nothing about.

Having said that, the second stage is crucial to the development of faith, of trust, of acceptance, of patience. This step is mandatory if one is to develop the Fruit of the Spirit as per Galatians 5:22ff. For those who suck it up and work this stage of Christianity, one of the major things that is noticed is the presence of God’s love, mercy, grace, gentleness, kindness and protection not just in the midst of pain and suffering, but ESPECIALLY in the midst of the sorrows that life is sure to bring. While bewildering in the beginning and while causing the furrowing of the brow and meditation in the quiet moments, the realisation slowly dawns on us that Jesus really doesn’t leave us or give up on us. The realisation awakens in us that we are slowly but surely becoming emotionally indestructible. We begin to see that suffering, and lots of it is not something to be avoided at all costs. Rather, the presence of suffering in our lives takes on meaning. We come to realise that in a weird way, suffering has become essential to our greatest personal growth. And suddenly we understand why God’s suffering in the person of Jesus of Nazareth was so important to God’s plan of salvation. Suffering in our world is not an accident or mistake. It has purpose; deep and meaningful purpose.

This takes us to the third and final level of Christian living. As with Paul, we can now understand what once were incomprehensible verses.
. “When I am weak, then I am strong,”
. “I rejoice in my infirmities, in insults, in hardships, in difficulties.”
. “I have learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances.”
. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
. “We also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character and character produces hope.”
. “So then those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
. “Therefore humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you and at just the right time He will lift you up.”
. “Be thankful in all circumstances.”

This is a wonderful, wonderful stage of life. Rather than worrying, and planning and watching for all the possible eventualities that may befall a person, I can simply follow Jesus wherever and through whatever He leads me. I can do this because through experience I’ve discovered that even if I or my wife or my children should die, regardless of what life may bring, I know that all is well with my soul. I have been tested and tried again, and again and again over decades of sometimes brutal pounding and I know beyond any doubt that the presence of God delivers far beyond my hopes and dreams. I’m alive and well and living in the Lord.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Which culture do you want influencing your nation?

I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t heard the phrase, “Religion has no place in government.”

What that usually means is, “Members of Government should not allow their beliefs to influence how they govern.” And what that statement usually means is there should be no noticeable fallout or no observable consequences from a Christian being in office. Ya, well only an amazing degree of ignorance of human nature could allow someone to say that. To make my point, I’m going to say, ‘Under no circumstance should atheists allow their beliefs to influence how they make decisions.”

This will immediately raise the comment,"I don't have any beliefs regarding god. I lack a belief." Ok, Could you keep the consequences of your lack of belief in God out of your decision making process? And the atheist, in some cases truly believing this statement will say, "There aren't any consequences of not believing in god."

The fact is, We are what we believe and what we believe influences the decisions that we make.

Case in point. After we’d been married for 20 years, and after adopting the only two children that we had at that time, my wife became pregnant. The following is a true story.

OBGYN #1 (atheist) “I’ll arrange for you to have an abortion.”
My wife - “I don’t want an abortion.”
OBGYN #1 “Why not? You already have two children. They’re practically grown. You certainly don’t need another child at this time in your life.”
My wife - “What’s that got to do with anything? I’m pregnant. You’re a gynaecologist. Aren’t you supposed to help me with this?”
OBGYN #1 - “I’ll help terminate this pregnancy for you.”

My wife got out of the chair and said that she would arrange to see someone else. She asked around and found another gynaecologist who was known to be a Christian.

OBGYN #2 (“Christian) “Well, well. You’re about to have some big changes in your life.”
My wife - “This is not how we expected to spend our retirement, that’s for sure.”
OBGYNr #2 - You know that at your age, the likelihood of carrying this child to term is very small.
My wife - “Yes of course.
OBGYN #2 You know that the chance of birth defects are higher than normal at your age.
My wife - Yes, I know. But we’d like to leave this in God’s hands and whatever happens will happen.
OBGYN #2 - Certainly. Well let’s order an ultra sound and see where things are at.

What a difference between the atheist culture of death and the Christian culture of life. Whether we work in Government, in a doctor’s office or anywhere else, we cannot possibly keep the consequences of our beliefs out of our decisions.

The question is, Which culture do you want influencing your nation, your community, your children? We don’t need a “Christian” government. And we don’t need a government pushing Christianity onto other people. What we do need is members of our government who live lives of Christian integrity, who value life, who value families, who value those who are not valued by others.