Tag Archives: Jesus

One Way

Saturday mornings have been busy for us since October. We enrolled both my 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in the Jr. NBA program. So, every Saturday we get up early and trek off so my children can learn the skills and fundamentals of basketball. It is a full morning, with one playing at 9 and the other at 10:30. The program is run at different schools across the city, with each group meeting the same place each week.

The parking lot for the school my daughter plays at is on a side street, with “No Exit” signs posted at the entrance. Dead-end streets are fairly common in our town because every neighbourhood seems to curl into itself – using space well and offering plenty of quiet streets. What is different, and perplexing, about this particular street is that it is also a one-way street. Think about that for a moment; you can only travel in one direction, and there is no exit onto another street. The signs would indicate that the school parking lot is the final resting place for every car that started down that road.

In Romans 6:23 the Bible tells us that sin is a one-way street to a dead end. We all sin (Romans 3:23), so none of us are able to avoid starting down the road. Once we start down it, we can’t do anything ourselves to avoid being stuck forever. Some enjoy the road with no concern for what happens when they reach the end. Others convince themselves that if they follow the rules and obey the laws and are “good enough” that some way they will be able to avoid the dead end.

The truth is very simple. We cannot, on our own, avoid the penalty of our sin.

Obviously, I have not been stuck in my car in a school parking lot for the past 4 months. While city planners don’t always make the most logical decisions, they did design a way for you to exit the parking lot and get back to the main road. Sure, you can’t go out the way you came in, but the parking lot is connected to another parking lot and you simply exit that one and join the flow of traffic.

Jesus, who didn’t always do the most logical thing, did plan a way for us to avoid the penalty of sin. He subjected Himself first to a human body and then the humiliation and torture of death – and not just any death, one of the most gruesome imaginable. Through His death, He created a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to join with God in eternal life.

Some people will hear about Jesus and decide that He is not the only way. Others will deny that He has a way at all. And still others will see His example and figure that if they are “close enough” to emulating it, they will be able to sneak past the dead-end. None of these approaches will allow you to avoid the consequences of sin. Jesus provides the way. All He asks of us is to confess that we are sinners deserving of death and accept that He is the only way to Heaven.

The truth is very simple. We can, through Jesus, avoid the penalty of our sin.

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What Christmas Means to Me

One of my favourite Christmas tunes is “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder. I say “tune” because the lyrics are not much to write home about, but the music is catchy.

Over the last couple weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what Christmas means to me. While the pure excitement and anticipation of the holiday is very real, and I am sure that I will make many joyful memories, the events of the next week are our response to the meaning of Christmas – not the actual meaning itself.

I will enjoy the food and probably eat too much. I’ll watch with anticipation as my children, nieces and nephews open their gifts (and my own inner child can’t wait to find out what is under the tree for me). I am looking forward to spending time with my family. Again, not the reason we celebrate, but the way we do.

So, what does Christmas really mean to me? I have struggled this week as try to put it into words. “Jesus is the reason for the season” just seems too flippant to really grasp the meaning of Christmas. I agree with the statemen; I just feel that a quick little rhyme doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of the event. Maybe the best way for me to articulate what Christmas means to me is to explain it from a perspective I will never truly comprehend.

I read a few years ago, around the time of Prince William’s wedding, that his late mother, Princess Diana, had wanted nothing more than to tell her young son that he could grow up to be whatever he wanted. It is the same thing that every mother wants to tell her child. But Diana knew that William could not grow up to be whatever he wanted. He would grow up to be heir to the throne, with all the responsibility and duty that came with the position.

I imagine that Mary had a similar struggle when raising Jesus. I wonder how much she knew about how his life would play out. Did she understand the prophecy as we do now – that they would be fulfilled in such a gruesome manner? Did she raise Jesus differently than her other children knowing that no matter what she taught Him or what advice she passed along He would never deter from His mission? As she held Him, wrapped in cloths and treasured the events of the first Christmas, did she know her baby couldn’t grow up to be whatever He wanted; He had come to be the Sacrificial Lamb?

You see, Jesus came not to live His life for Himself but to live it for me. He came so that He could experience the ups and downs of being the created, to grow-up feeling the emotions of being human, both the joy and the pain. He faced temptation, mobs and the cross. And He did it for me!

At Christmas, we celebrate our Lord and Saviour coming to redeem us. As I eat the meal, it will be a reminder that God provides for me out of His love. As gifts are exchanged, I know that it is done in honour of God’s ultimate gift for me. As I spend time with loved ones, it reflects God’s desire to be with me.

That is what Christmas means to me.

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Eternal Wealth

I am not often up late enough to catch Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, but the other night I was. When he announced his guest would be “The Future of the Mind” author Michio Kaku, I was intrigued enough to keep watching. Though the whole interview was interesting, one comment stuck out to me. Kaku said that to build a computer that is capable of working as our brains do, it would have to be as big as a city block, need a river to cool it and a nuclear reactor to supply it with power. Our brains use about 20 watts of power (less than a light bulb!)

My first reaction was “and you think that just developed randomly by chance?” Then, I was reminded of the story in Matthew 19 of the wealthy young man; you can read the whole story in Matt 19:16-24, but to summarise – a young man asks Jesus what he must do to get eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commands. When the man says he does, Jesus tells him if he wants to be perfect, sell his possessions and follow Him. The young man walks away sadly, as he was very wealthy. Jesus tells His disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.

While the passage in scripture refers to monetary wealth, the same principle can be applied to richness in any form: knowledge, prestige or comfort. If we are “rich”, we tend not to seek out help, we think we are self-sufficient and the need for Christ can get buried in the comfort we are afforded. Of course, many people who are well off seek Jesus. In the end, it is all in our attitude.

None of us are perfect, and none of us can live a good enough life to enter the Kingdom of God. We can be self-sufficient, well-educated and held in high esteem, but we are all sinners and have fallen short of the Glory of God. We are all in desperate need of a saviour. All we need to do is to admit it. Sure, most of us can probably check off the commands and say we pretty much keep them; we are, more or less, a good person, but we need to get on our knees (sometimes literally) and just confess that we, with all our “wealth”, are completely dependent on the One who came to save us.

So, like the wealthy young man, we are faced with a choice: give it all up to God, or walk away. For most of us, walking away may seem like the more attractive option, at least in the short term. We have our earthly wealth and comfort, we even have our knowledge and understanding, but to be made perfect, we need to admit that we are not self-sufficient – we need to admit we need Jesus.

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Live to Tell

What if, by just looking at someone, you could see the soul of that person? If you could tell if they were a Christian, would that change the way you interacted with them? Would you tell them about Jesus if you could see they had never met Him?

I wondered this as I was l leaving the mall this past weekend.  I had needed some help in one of the stores and as I was walking out I waved to thank the women who had helped me. I wondered to myself if she knew Jesus. She had been helpful and friendly, much like you would expect from someone with a customer service job. The question just popped into my head: did she have Jesus’ love in her?

Christians are commanded to share the love of Jesus with the world.  My guess is that very few of us tell random strangers about Jesus with reckless abandon. I have rested on being open with my beliefs, living out my faith. I am careful not to use inappropriate language and having never had an alcoholic drink makes for a great starting point when business meetings spill over into the bar, but I fall way short when it comes to evangelizing everywhere I go. Would that change if I had a visual reminder of the danger they are in? Or would I simply pray that someone they know would tell them about the Good News?

When you stop and think about how much Jesus did for us, you would think that sharing it with others would be something we do with enthusiasm. When you stop to think what it means if you die without giving your life to Christ, you would think that we would do everything we could to share the Truth.

Most of us wouldn’t believe just anything some stranger came up and told us. What people do respond to is something they like or something they are intrigued by. So what if we treated every person we came across in a way that would cause them to ask what makes us so joyful, or positive, or loving? What if we approached every interaction with the goal of showing them Jesus? If we live and interact in a way that causes people to ask us, and we are ready with an answer, then we will be able to share Jesus with anyone, even if we can’t see their soul with our own eyes.

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The Greatest Gift

In all honesty, I am pretty much just a big kid at Christmas. (Actually, I am pretty much a big kid all year ‘round, it is just easier to get away with at Christmas.) I am so filled with the excitement of everything it brings. I start to get excited as soon as the calendar turns to December. I love it all: the anticipation, the music, the food, the celebration and the reflection. To me, Christmas is the time of year where everything works together with beautiful pageantry.

Of course, there are the presents! I have a few guidelines I try to use when picking out gifts for people. I try to give something they want or need but wouldn’t buy for themselves. I like it to be a surprise, something they didn’t have on their list. I also want to give something that can be enjoyed over and over again. The best part about Christmas is that, even though it is Jesus’ birthday, He is the greatest gift.

When God gave us His Son, it was a gift we so desperately needed, but we could never buy ourselves. He foretold it for centuries but still managed to keep it a surprise; He even had to send angels and a star to get the message out. As for gifts that keep on giving, well, you can’t better than the gift of eternal life!

Jesus really was the perfect gift, no matter what criteria you use.

As we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, who came to be our Lord and Saviour, I find it very fitting that Christmas is best enjoyed when you focus on others. Jesus, throughout His life, was always focused on others. Christmas is a time of parties and presents; it is a time to celebrate and enjoy the company of family, friends and anyone else who joins in on the festivities. And when it comes to gifts, Jesus made sure that He set the example of “it is better to give than receive”, for as great as those first Christmas gifts were, Jesus is the greatest gift we could ever want or need.

Merry Christmas!

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What do you do with Jesus?

The Christian faith splits from all other religions at Jesus. It is the belief in Him that defines it. Actually, it is accepting the gift of forgiveness, believing Him to be the Son of God, the redeemer of the human race, and saviour of the world that defines Christianity. So, what do you do with Jesus?

First, you can deny His existence. This would be a fairly easy thing to do if the Bible was the only record of Him. Simply discount the Bible as nothing more than legend and the question goes away. Even though the New Testament has been shown over and over again to be historically accurate, there are many books written today that place fictional characters in historical events. The issue with doing this is that Jesus is referred to in other documents from the time, thus making a strong case that Jesus, the man, did walk this planet around 2000 years ago.

So, if Jesus did walk the planet, that doesn’t mean He was God. There are currently around 7 billion people on the face of the Earth, and none of them are the Son of the Most High. So what makes Jesus so special? Couldn’t He have just been another good moral teacher? Simply stated, no.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, lays out the argument that Jesus could not have said the things He said and have been a good moral teacher. Very clearly Jesus proclaims Himself to be God. This leads Lewis to state “But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

So what do you do with Jesus? According to Lewis, you have three options.

First, you can write Jesus off as a lunatic. Claiming to be God is not something sane people do. If someone was to walk up to you on the street and say he or she was God, you would not offer to take them to lunch for the sole purpose of learning as much as you can from him or her.

Second, you can deny His claim and consider Him a liar. This is again possible, but a lie that great, and in fact so detrimental to the human race, would not come from a man who was a great moral teacher. The best reason I can think of is to direct people away from the True God; and that person would be working for, or in fact, Satan himself. Again, the title “great moral leader” would hardly be the right one.

The third option is that Jesus is Lord. He is what He claimed to be. His life an example for us all, His death our only hope and His resurrection our saving grace. He was a great moral teacher, and He is God.

So, we are back to the original question: What do you do with Jesus? This is the most personal question there is. It is a matter of faith – and not faith that He is a historical figure, but that He came to give you the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  So, what do YOU do with Jesus?

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It Only Matters if He Loves

Science will never prove there is not a God because it is the study of natural things, and God is supernatural. Religion shouldn’t be afraid of science because God set up the world with natural order and precision. Using one to argue against the other is a little like using history to argue math. The one fact we can all agree on is that we are here. No matter how we got here, there is an earth, a heavens and intelligent life.

The question shouldn’t be simply “Is there a God?” it should be “If there is a God, what is His nature?” Because if God is not a loving God, does it really matter if he made the universe? If a god simply wound up the clock of time and set the universe in motion, not caring for its creation, what difference does it make today that he exists. If the creator isn’t loving, and there is no eternal place for the soul, then for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter how we got here, or really, what we do while we are here.

If God is loving, if the God of the Bible is true, then it does matter. A loving God who cares about His creation and has an eternal plan for it is the opposite of not only atheistic views but theistic ones as well.

What would be the evidence of a loving God? There are miracles; events that happen outside of the natural order of things. Miracles do occur; I have been witness to more than one miraculous healing. You could also point to chance happenings that would suggest that there is someone looking over us and bringing into our lives the people we need, just when we need them. Of course, you could brush them away as just coincidences, but I have had them happen in my life more often than I can recall.

What better evidence would there be to the nature of God than to have Him tell us? For that, God gave us the Bible; throughout the scriptures, God reveals His love for His creation, especially humans.  The testimony is written down and has been kept safe throughout the ages. Every generation and culture can relate to it; its message is timeless.

We are again presented with a choice; we can look at the evidence and decide that there is a loving God who cares for us and longs to have a relationship with us, or we can reject it as fairy tale, folklore and coincidence. It takes faith to believe either way. To believe in a loving God is to take the scriptures as true and see the miracles that are around us as acts of love. For the atheist or theist, you must believe that the scriptures are not absolute truth and believe that miracles are nothing more than random luck. The key question is “what do you do with Jesus?”

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