In April 2011, soul artist Anthony David put out the above music video for his song "God Said." Watch a few minutes of it and you'll start to get the idea behind the lyrics. On his own blog, David outlined his reasons for writing this song and making the video. Here's an excerpt:

"I wrote a song called GOD SAID after watching Pat Robertson declare that the earthquake in Haiti was because of a curse from God. After hearing a man named Rev. Wiley say that he was praying for President Obama's death during the election (the prayer didn't work BTW). After hearing people fiddle around with the idea of a curse on Japan after their recent disaster. After hearing about Koran burnings and battles that seem to have peoples' interpretations of religious texts at the foundation of them all. 

I'm not one of those who claims that religion is the ONLY thing that causes all of the wars and bloodshed, but it has caused many. But not necessarily even the religion but the interpretation of a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence.  I figured it was time to have a conversation with extremists like this, and put that kind of thinking in its proper perspective.

It's just my opinion, but I suspect peace-loving people from all walks of life will agree with me on SOME level." 

Let me first say that I have a huge amount of respect for David just for writing and releasing this song. He shows that he cares about this world, about his fellow man, and about truth. He cares about making a difference through his music, not just selling records. And he cares about people, not just winning an argument. For these reasons alone, he is automatically a better artist to me than the vast majority of them out there. 

He has a lot of good things to say too. He rightly criticizes Rev. Wiley Drake for praying for Obama's death and calling it God's will (should we really be giving people like that the title of Reverend?). He demonstrates his heart for the people of Haiti and Japan by speaking out against those who would call them cursed. And there is no question that he is right about the atrocities caused by "a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence."  

BUT there are some clarifications that need to be made...
THE END IS NEAR, at least according to the warnings of a Christian group called Family Radio. The group, led by their 89-year old founder Harold Camping, believes that the Bible mathematically predicts that May 21, 2011 (this Saturday) is Judgment Day, when a massive earthquake will shake the world and all 'real' Christians will be raptured to Heaven. This is to be followed five months later by the actual end of the world as we know it on Oct. 21, 2011.

The vast majority of us aren't taking them seriously for obvious reasons. Their mathematical formula supposedly taken from the Bible is just absolutely ridiculous for one thing. Jesus himself specifically says that nobody will know in advance when he is coming back for another. This also isn't exactly Harold Camping's first kick at the can. He predicted the world would end in 1994, but when it didn't happen, he was forced to recalculate. And then some of us subscribe to some other belief system altogether or don't believe in God at all. 

Regardless of what you believe though, it is incredibly interesting to see how those who believe their world is about to end are behaving during the limited time they have left. 

Take a look. Take a good, hard look at the screenshot above. Does anybody else see something wrong with this picture?

You're looking at the current leaderboard for Pepsi's "Refresh Project" where ideas "that will have a positive impact on communities" can be submitted to receive up to $100,000 in funding from Pepsi. The winning ideas are selected by us, the people, who can vote for our favourite ideas once per day. 

Here's what stands out to me. Out of the top four most voted-for ideas in each of the four funding categories above, nine out of twelve of them are for animals. Nine out of twelve. And those are just the ones that fit in the screenshot. The World Parrot Refuge and Wascally West Coast Wabbits are just a little lower in the standings.
Today is "Good Friday," the day when the world remembers Jesus' horrible crucifixion and death two thousand years ago. He was betrayed by one of his closest friends, arrested by his own people who he came to save, scourged mercilessly, stripped in humiliation, mocked with a crown of thorns pushed into his head, spat upon, beaten, forced to carry his own cross, nailed by his wrists and ankles to that same cross, hauled upright, and left hanging there to die. So what's so "good" about Good Friday? It certainly doesn't seem like a very happy event on the surface, does it? 

I think much of the answer to that question lies in some of Jesus' last words while hanging on that cross, before finally giving up his life. "It is finished." 
Note: If you are not familiar with Westboro Baptist Church prior to reading this open letter, watch a bit of ABC's 20/20 report here. You'll get the idea.

Dear Pastor Fred Phelps and members of Westboro Baptist Church;

I forgive you.

That's probably not what you were expecting. You probably don't think you need my forgiveness. Most other people reading this probably don't think you deserve it. Nevertheless, I forgive you.
His goal was to conquer all non-Greek peoples, to "the ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea." He built his life around world domination. To this end, he conquered the entire Persian Empire and parts of India before finally being turned back by a revolt of his men. Yet he was never once defeated in battle. Nothing would prevent him from achieving greatness. Any sign of misbehaviour or disloyalty from one of his men and that man was immediately executed. He was unstoppable. He even went so far as to allude to his divinity. And yet Alexander the Great died at the age of 32, still craving more power.

The story is as old as the human race itself.
Ah, Christmas...A time when families come together to enjoy one another's company. A time to express love for those who are closest to you through the giving of your gifts and time. A time to celebrate all the goodness of life...right?

Ok, let's be honest with each other. You realize it too. Christmas in our society today is essentially a giant commercial for consumerism and warm fuzzy feelings. We spend, spend, spend our money on gifts and then spend a little bit of time with our families...or we just spend time with our gifts...but often it's just more stressful than anything else. Now, I'm all for family time, but having shopping as Necessary Christmas Component Number One is getting a little wearisome if you ask me. And neither of these things are the point. Whose birthday is it again? From all the money flying from person to person, it's hard to tell that we're really celebrating the birth of God in the person of Jesus Christ. 
Have you ever thought about how ironic it is that the statement "Truth is relative" must either be absolutely true or absolutely false?

I have. And yet it's a very popular and seemingly prevailing philosophy in our time. More and more, it seems as though people across the Western world in particular are becoming convinced that truth, especially as it relates to morality and spiritual belief, is the new beauty: it's simply in the eyes of the beholder. There are no absolutes. Truth is dependent upon a culture or a worldview or a single individual's perception of what is right or wrong for them personally...

Yeah, I'm not buying it.
I often hear that Christians are "intolerant" and "impose" their beliefs upon others. 

And it's understandable, really. There have been many tragic incidents, both today (see Terry Jones) and in the past (see the Crusades) where intolerant and imposing people identified themselves with Jesus. Why this applies only to Christians and not to all of society, however, baffles me. Joseph Stalin's administration was pretty intolerant too (atheist regime). So is Osama Bin Laden, at least from what I hear (Muslim). So are Canadians (...pretty much everything you can think of). 

We all have cravings. 

I crave assurance. Assurance that at the end of all this financial partnership-building I'm doing, I'll actually reach my financial support goal and be able to do the work I've stepped out in faith to do. I crave assurance that that will take place before coming to the point of giving up a year from now (although it's likely I wouldn't). I crave assurance, basically, that I won't fail. That God really is in control of this whole thing. Honest, isn't it?

That's not the only thing I crave. At times in my life, I have craved companionship. I've craved purpose. I've craved activity, food, rest, entertainment, root beer, love, and even just to be liked.