When We Reject Jesus, What Are We Really Rejecting?

“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not cross-918459_640withhold your shirt from him either.”

“I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn and you will not be condemned, pardon and you will be pardoned.”

“For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The more I speak with non-believers or God haters I’m astounded by how little they know about what Jesus taught or how far they will go to forget what he said.  Their argument that religion “poisons everything” is thin when you read the words above from Jesus.  What part of “love your neighbor as yourself” is toxic to the world? How could, pray for your enemies, don’t condemn others and give freely, be considered venomous?  I suggest that if more people practiced these teachings we would have less of the problems in the world for which the haters blame God.  And yet by hating God and denying his blueprint for life they inevitably create the world around them in which they don’t want to live and blame God for it rather than themselves.  An alcoholic can’t blame his sponsor for the DUI he received.

When the instructions above are spoken and taught by Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa you would not hear people saying, “I hate MLK!” or “Mother Teresa’s teachings are responsible for evil in the world.”  No, they are honored or at the least respected and no one hated them for what they taught.

If we agree that love, forgiveness and selflessness are good attributes then why the rancor for Jesus?  I can’t answer this.  I hear “Crusades” mentioned every now and then.  “Pain” and “suffering” are thrown around a bit but I don’t recall Jesus dishing out too much of that while he was on the earth.  On the contrary he healed people of blindness, paralyses and even brought his buddy Lazarus back to life.  Some say religion causes all the wars but Jesus instructed his disciples not to resist the guards arresting him because as he told Peter, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

Regardless of whether Jesus is the son of God or whether his miracles are truly historic, still why are his teachings rejected?  G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and find wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”  I submit this is why so many reject Christ’s divinity, his teachings and even his historical existence, because they can’t endure the shame of stumbling on the path on which Jesus wanted Christians to travel.

Alice Cooper once said, “Trashing a hotel room is easy, getting drunk is easy, being a Christian, that’s true rebellion.”  Resisting the lusts of this world whether they be sex, alcohol, money, lies, slander, whatever it is that so easily holds you in bondage, is more difficult than Jesus’ way.  As many struggle each day with their addictions and shortcomings they learn that stumbling short of Jesus’ expectations for them is one more fall they can’t handle.  Dismissing God’s rules or even God himself and declaring oneself a “good person” is far easier than bending a knee and asking God’s forgiveness for falling in the traps we incorrectly accuse God of setting.

Jesus loves you.  He knew long before your grandparents were born that you would fall short of the sinless life he lead.  This is why he submitted to dying on the cross for you which I suggest was much harder for him than asking for his forgiveness is for us.  God’s path is more difficult but don’t think no reward is waiting for you at the finish line.

The next time you are tempted to reject Jesus and therefore his teachings of love, compassion, selflessness and peace, ask yourself this question:

Does no evidence truly exist for the existence of Jesus, the empty tomb and his resurrection? Does no evidence really exist for a creator?  Before blurting out “no” I encourage you to watch one or two of these videos with an open mind and an open heart.  The speakers in all three of these videos were once staunch atheists until they were challenged to examine the evidence.  God bless!

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels

The Bible is True! The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict

Atheist Journalist Turns To Christ After Investigating Evidence

Christian Apologetics: Why Do Believers Need It?

As Christians we take the Bible and all the accounts within as fact.  We do not dispute that God Ravi2
created the heavens and the earth, all the life forms on it and that he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for us.  As Christians the Bible represents a source of hope and inspiration.  It is a means by which we can share Jesus’ good news with others.  To lift them up, brush them off and through the Bible’s teachings show others the love God has for us.  The Bible is a handbook for how we should live and treat others but possesses also the assurances that Jesus will not abandon us in this broken world.

Inevitably as more people leave Christianity and turn to disbelief or at the least agnosticism, how will you bring people back into the flock? The Bible is a great start of course but how do you respond when the non-believer says, “I don’t believe in the Bible?”  For many individuals, young adults especially, no God is more convenient than one to whom their actions are accountable and so they latch on to theories and scientific discoveries thrown at them by their atheist professors and friends.  This might be why some suggest that as much as 40-50% of Christian youths abandon their faith during their college years.

The problem us church going Christians have is that the Bible cannot prove itself.  In other words the Bible won’t be accepted as true just because the Bible says it is true.  Without the Bible to prove our case we may find ourselves like defense attorneys at a murder trial who have discovered their key defense witness has just been ruled inadmissible.

Even more problematic, many well-known atheists are brilliant professors with PHDs who continue preying on and corrupting young minds with their best-selling books.  How as Christians do we counter the arguments of such brilliant minds when popular voices such as Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson provide evidence that no God exists and that the Bible cannot be trusted?

This is the need for Christian apologists. For every best-selling doubter such as Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman or Dawkins, Christians also have an equally brilliant apologist such as Prof. John Lennox, Dr. William Lane Craig or Ravi Zacharias.  These gentlemen and others debate the atheists and answer the difficult questions that students around the country ask such as:

How do we know Jesus really existed or that the disciples didn’t make up his resurrection as a hoax? If the individual does not believe in the Bible then using the Bible as evidence for Jesus’ existence will not convince them.

How do we know that Jesus’ tomb was really empty?

How do we trust the Bible if it has been translated numerous times, has numerous errors and we do not have an original copy?

Stephen Hawking says in his book “The Grand Design” that the law of gravity explains how the universe created itself from nothing. Why then should we believe the Biblical account?

Why should I believe Genesis when Charles Darwin, all his present day acolytes and my textbooks claim that natural selection and random mutation explain the various species of animals on the earth and how we came to be?

How could the dinosaurs have lived hundreds of millions of years before man if God created man and dinosaur in the first week?

How do you argue the notion that you are a Christian only because you stayed within the faith in which you were raised?

How can you worship a God that promotes slavery and genocide?

1 Peter 3:15 says to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Read the Bible. Study the Bible. Give hope to those who have none.  If the believer however refuses to admit the Bible as evidence, then what data will you be able to give for the hope you have?

For answers to a few of the questions I have provided please check out the following links:

Did Science Kill God? John Lennox at UCLA

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? Yale 2014. William Lane Craig

Life’s toughest questions – Ravi Zacharias

Is God a Moral Monster? – Dr. Paul Copan

Why Can the Bible Be Trusted – Sean McDowell

Do We Still Want God’s Mansions?

In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2

After God’s final judgement when believers are received into the new Heaven to be with Jesus are vizcaya-891844_640we to receive an actual mansion as the verse above may imply.  Perhaps not but I’ll wager we will receive so much more.  I wonder though recently as I examine the wealth of the top 1% around the world if they truly value God’s rewards waiting for us.

I admit I wish I had less to worry about as far as my finances go and I do desire to keep up with my peers in a few areas of material possession where I continue to fall further behind.  For this reason I struggled with accepting the following verse.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Mark 10:25.  I am not rich but if my desires to be as such were fulfilled and I acquired the wealth I seek, do I damage my chances of entering Heaven? Only if I let the riches govern me rather than me governing my riches.

If my every request were satisfied, if I never struggled, would I need God?  Obstacles serve to bring us into a closer relationship with God as we call unto him for help.  I’m not suggesting the rich don’t suffer but why does a wealthy man/woman feel compelled to bend a knee to God when all their earthly desires are continuously met?

This article lists the top 15 most expensive homes for sale in the U.S.  Number fifteen starts at $75 million and number one is nearly double that at $140 million!  Breeze through the article and you will see what many of these houses boast.  You are either perched in a massive apartment hundreds of feet in the air overlooking New York or else your massive mansion adorns the ocean and comes complete with several guest houses, infinity pool and perhaps an indoor movie theater.

If I had the wealth to purchase a fraction of what these properties offer would I still feel a need for God’s comfort?  Might I not slip further and further from him? If I could solve the majority of my problems with cash I wouldn’t feel the pull to pray.

Pablo Escobar was one of the wealthiest drug lords in history.  At one point he was responsible for 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the U.S.  According to Escobar’s accountant, Escobar’s cartel was bringing in $420 million a week.  They had so much cash hidden in various places that Escobar would lose around $2.1 billion every year to water damage or mice.  Can you imagine having so much money that you could allow two billion dollar to rot away every year!  What if instead of hiding the cash in run down warehouses as the accountant claims, the money was given to the homeless or starving? A man’s mind not set on God would rather see his money destroyed than in the hands of someone he felt undeserving.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.  Matthew 10:42

According to this article the top 1% of the world’s earners will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth. So to clarify, at some point in 2016, the top 1% will have more wealth than the rest of the 99% combined!  Try cramming all of that through the pearly gates!

Wealth isn’t evil but if you allow it to fulfill all your flesh’s desires and you lose sight of God, you may end up somewhere for eternity where you truly wish a cold cup of water was offered to you.

Ugh, I’m Just Like Jonah!

Most people have heard the Biblical story of Jonah or at least they know he was swallowed by a humpback-79854_1280whale a long, long time ago, spent some time inside and then somehow got out.  Generally people north of the Bible belt don’t know why that large mammal swallowed Jonah or where he headed after the whale regurgitated him onto the beach.  God sent that whale after Jonah because Jonah did not want to preach in the land of Nineveh about their impending doom.  Jonah wanted the wicked Ninevites to pay for their sins.  He wanted God to punish them but he knew that if he preached to them and they listened, not only listened but repented, that God would spare them.  So Jonah ran away from God.

Jonah, after three days inside the whale, decided to obey God and to his dismay, after preaching to Nineveh, the Ninevites repented and God spared them.  Jonah wasn’t too happy.  He wanted them destroyed.

I would like to roll my eyes at Jonah.  I would like to stand in judgment of him.  I can’t.  I can preach to a thief who has never stolen from me.  I can minister to a man who has not stained his hands with my relatives’ blood.  How many of us though want to save the man or woman who slept with our spouse?  How many of us would pray for the villain who molested our children?

I have encountered terrifically selfish and arrogant people that I not so secretly yearned to see get their comeuppance.  “I wish they would just get busted!” I exclaimed. “I wish they would get caught doing what they aren’t supposed to be doing?”

Earthly punishments expire but what awaits the lost is infinite.  Hell is agony and if we saw our enemies screaming in it for a mere ten seconds we might feel differently about delighting in their demise.  Do you recall the scene in Ghost when Patrick Swayze’s killer died?  For a moment Swayze’s character felt triumphant his death was avenged but upon hearing the groaning and wailing of the specters who emerged from nowhere and carried off the screaming murderer, Swayze’s countenance turned to dismay.

Jonah perhaps didn’t give hell enough consideration but I can’t fault him.  I’d rather not enter a land full of rapists and murderers (or even mild offenders in the land of Facebook), preach God’s judgement much to their resentment of me, and see them saved in the end.  But this is what God calls us to do isn’t it?  God asks us to wade through our own self-righteousness and hypocrisy and preach to those not only different than us but to those who seek to hurt us.  We are to minister to ones who put our children in the hospital, we are to shout God’s word to those seducing our loved ones, we are to embrace those who wag their heads and call us names.

I don’t want to do it any more than you but I also understand that God rewards everyone according to their good works and a good work is hugging the person you just can’t stand.

“I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

Yes, Of Course Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven, but Can They Still Be Intimate?

Homosexual marriage is a hot social topic these days and since Christians are perceived to be the smiley face pairindividuals who have the biggest problem with this issue, they are frequently invited to share their views on the subject.  So if you don’t know, homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible.  For the holier than thou heterosexuals, lying is also a sin as is adultery, pre-marital sex, drunkenness, murder, theft and so on.

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  We are all sinners!

I John 1:8 – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Have liars gone to heaven? Yes.

Have adulterers gone to heaven? Yes.

Have thieves gone to heaven? Yes.

Have rapists and murderers gone to heaven? Yes.

In short, if I repent of my sins and believe that Jesus died to pay my penalty then I can go to heaven.  Even if I were a murderer, rapist, arsonist, drunk, idolator or had sex with other men, if I repent I will receive my resurrected body.  Yes, homosexuals who believe in Christ will be looking down from Heaven on righteous men who don’t.

I think we’re not answering the correct question though and that question is, “How can homosexuals live a life for God and still be intimate with their loved one?”  If men and women really are born gay then why is it a sin for them to fall in love with one another, marry, and enjoy the same intimacy God intended for married heterosexual couples?  Let’s be clear, any sex, heterosexual or otherwise, outside of marriage, is a sin.  That’s something many throne sitting Christians forget when judging homosexuals.  Their premarital or extramarital sex is no more tasteful to God than homosexual sex.  Read my post, “7 Reasons Why God is Such a Buzzkill About Sex.”

But what of married homosexuals?  Certainly they should be allowed all the intimate fruits of marriage?  The Bible is fairly clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, not between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman.  If gays are born as such and they can’t get married or have sex outside of marriage then what are they to do?  Just go without sex? Here I contend is the crux of the problem.  If homosexuality is a choice then the answer isn’t a difficult one.  Stop having homosexual sex and engage in heterosexual sex with your spouse of a different gender.  Ah, but if homosexuality isn’t a choice has God cheated gays out of intimacy for reasons not obviously apparent to them?

What then should homosexuals do about sex, just not have any???  Yes, that’s what I’m saying but trust me, I say this with great sympathy and personal understanding.  Our notion that sex is our right and that we should crave it all the time comes from the world, not of God.  We’ve grown so accustomed to filling the holes left by lust, stress and depression in our lives with sex rather than with God that we have no notion we can do without it.  Sex as God intended it, is between a married man and woman.  Not between two fifteen year old sweethearts who are in love.  Not between two romantic sixty year old divorcees who are in love.  Not even between two engaged Christian missionaries out in the field.  I say this not to condemn anyone but to make it clear that not only homosexuals are getting the short end of the stick.  I understand that the world is tough and sex is comforting.  I understand that for many of you, intimacy is an act of love.  At the end of all things though, God’s rewards for us will make sex look like a day at the dentist so take comfort in that and try to trust him.  Understand though that if you do stumble God will always forgive those that ask for it.

Jesus died for every one of us.  He loves every one of us.  Jesus’ second commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves and that includes everyone.

Let’s stop asking who doesn’t get to go to heaven and start celebrating who does.

Understanding Why Atheists Don’t Believe: 5 Reasons

Atheists, strictly speaking, are individuals who don’t believe in any God.  Many are content enough to say simply, “I don’t believe” and leave religion alone while others like Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and thousands of YouTube commenters, actively seek to ridicule, belittle

Prof. John Lennox

Prof. John Lennox

and even try to disprove an entity in which they don’t even believe!  A few go so far as even trying to disprove the historical existence of Jesus.  So why no love for our creator?  I’ve identified five reasons why atheists are so stirred to anger by our Father, our savior and our helper.

  1. Suffering: I won’t try to explain why God allows suffering because any words I could provide, especially to those who have recently experienced a great loss, would do little to satisfy their anguish nor could my words, through their pain, be read clearly enough to prove God’s existence.  I will say only that the existence of suffering whether it be instigated through man’s free will, natural disasters, or disease does not disprove God nor does it challenge that he is all loving.  Christian apologist, John Lennox, offers his much better insight on this through his presentation, “The Loud Absence: Where is God in Suffering?”   
  2. Religion causes all the wars: The 911 attacks provided material around which prominent atheists could rally and claim how throughout history and still today, like the 911 attacks, religion causes most conflicts.  I’m nearly certain that our American Revolution and our Civil War were not waged in Jesus’ name.  Additionally WWI and WWII could not be considered religious wars nor Korea or Vietnam.  One might argue that Hitler was a Christian and he waged war against the Jews in Christ’s name but those close to him knew he secretly despised Christianity and pretended to be a believer to gain the people’s support.  Regardless atheism is not blamed for Joseph Stalin’s slaughter of the Jewish people atheist though he was.  Likewise Charles Darwin was not ravaged because Hitler desired to create a master race through Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  We must also take care not to lump one religion in with others that may be more vocal about using violence to convert non-believers.
  3. God is cruel: God permits slavery. God commands genocide. God allows babies to be murdered.  As Christopher Hitchens one said, “God is a celestial North Korea.” Personally I find comparing God to an atheistic state to be ironic.  To understand God’s actions one must understand the context in which they occur and we must also understand God’s justice.  We expect the wicked to be punished. In fact most of us crave it.  How many of us shout in outrage over simple inconveniences inflicted upon us by our neighbors? So when God witnesses hundreds of years of theft, rape, murder, idolatry and child sacrifice among a people why do we disapprove of his judgment over them? Dr. Paul Copan does a good job of explaining God’s justice in his presentation, “Is God a Moral Monster.”
  4. Science: Science and evolution have, in atheist’s minds, disproved the existence of God.  Perhaps not too surprising, 93% of biologists in the National Academy of Sciences are either agnostic or atheist.  Many claim that evolution is fact and actually there are theistic evolutionists, meaning Christians who too believe in evolution.  With evolution the atheists claim we don’t need a God to explain from where all the complicated organisms, including ourselves, came and with various scientific laws physicists argue we don’t need a creator to explain the intelligent design of the universe.  Then how did our universe come into being? If it was void of time and space then no laws of physics existed. So then what or who kick started the whole process?  Additionally evolution can’t explain how life on earth first came into being.  Apologist Frank Turek gives a great lecture on this called, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”
  5. They just don’t want to: Even if you gave the most credible arguments to God’s existence, even if the arguments countered and overwhelmed every contrary argument, many atheists simply won’t concede.  I’m sure you’ve seen a questionable call made in a professional sporting event which could decide the outcome of the game.  The way you view the call depends on which team you want to win.  If the call helps your team win, then the call was right, if your team loses as a result, then the call was wrong.  To atheists like Richard Dawkins or comedian Bill Maher, religion is just too dangerous and frankly too stupid to believe in.  Atheism needs to win and therefore no evidence will dissuade them from their faith.

Atheists have plenty more reasons why they don’t believe in God.  A few have merit while other opinions are birthed solely from an irrational hatred towards God.  Frank Turek summed up Christopher Hitchens’ book, God is Not Great in one sentence, “God is not real, and I hate him.”

I don’t hate atheists nor do I pity them.  I have friends who don’t believe. As I’ve heard John Lennox say, many of them put us Christians to shame in terms of morality.  If we are to be good Christians though let’s try our best to be good reflections of Christ and love even those who seek to ridicule us.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they (unbelievers) are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

If You See What God Sees, You Might Flood the World Too.

The flood wasn’t an event God just allowed to happen it was a cataclysmic event God made happen. How can we worship a being that would kill innocents? What about the children and infants? Did they too deserve to die?

John 3:16 tells us that God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us. Romans 8:39 explains that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love that God has for us.

So why flood the world? Why kill those that he supposedly loves? One reason is God’s omnipresence. We understand that God is all knowing and all powerful but have you considered the ramifications of being all seeing and ever present? God sees every act of good will, love and charity but he also sees every lie, theft, rape and murder. During Noah’s time the Bible tells us that every inclination of man’s heart was only evil all the time.

In modern times each and every year Satan’s machinations minimize the impact of the sins we Number of homicidescommit. Lying has become tolerable, lust natural, adultery promotable, homosexuality acceptable, promiscuity wonderful, rape non-prosecutable, drunkenness generational and abortion debatable. The impact of these sins is not watered down for God however. God feels the pain of these offenses to no lesser a degree than if each one plagued you personally. We are all God’s children and as much as you love your children so too does God love us. Therefore every lie, rape, murder, molestation, destruction, and fornication committed against any man, woman or child in this world is experienced by God as though his very children were being destroyed.

Look at these following statistics:

• 437,000 worldwide intentional homicides were committed in 2012 – UN Office on Drugs and Crime (That’s 49 deaths an hour!)
• Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted – RAINN
• 1,583 kidnappings took place in Mexico alone in 2013 which doesn’t include those unreported.
• By 2008 rates, one in four American women will have an abortion by age 30 – Guttmacher Institute
• Studies vary but in the U.S. alone an estimated 10-15% of women and 20-25% of men had sex outside their marriage.
• 20% of women and 5-10% of men reported being sexually abused as children – W.H.O.
• Estimates vary but the porn industry is suggested to produce $97 billion a year globally which doesn’t of course include all those who watch it online for free.

No part of the world is too remote or off limits to God. Right now as you read these words one of God’s children, a man who is both a son and a father is being murdered but you will never feel his last gasp or even hear of his death. God though feels this individual’s terror in real time and he will experience the anguish of his family members long after the person has departed. Do you hear that? One of God’s daughters is screaming. Through tears of panic and pain she claws and fights. Men are raping her. Do you feel her terror? No? God does. We’re not done yet. Two children have just locked themselves in their bathroom. They climb into the bathtub, pull the curtain shut and shiver in one another’s arms. Their drunken father pounds on the door looking for someone to beat on. To where do they escape? Do you want God to intervene or should he stay out of our lives? Miles away a young woman who hasn’t seen her family in years sleeps on a filthy carpet. Her bruised wrist is chained to a cinder block in the basement of two men who abducted her from a mall years earlier. Do you know what degradation she endures every night? Can you hear their boots coming down the steps? Does your heart pound through your chest as hers? Do you want to know what thoughts slither through these men’s minds? Do you not believe Jesus is weeping?

When you uncover your spouse’s lies and betrayal you fully experience despair and anger to a degree not before comprehensible. When your child is hooked on drugs your hatred for the dealer cannot be measured and the sorrow for your child knows no depths. When your child is snatched from the streets your wrath boils over and your heart is filled with murder. You cry out for justice!

Every second of every day, month, year, decade, century and millennium God sees all and feels all. We curse and shake our fists at trivial inconveniences yet we judge God’s wrath despite the evil he witnesses. We know so little about how our brothers and sisters across the world suffer at the hands of the wicked! Non-believers curse God for his justice but I say, “thank you, Lord for being so patient.”

Nahum 1:3