His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)


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Chasing Peace – Day 9

“Having fun with Jesus.” That was my focus yesterday, Day 9 of my journey to escape stress and find peace. As often as my feeble mind would think of it, I’d look inside myself and ask Jesus what we could do next that would be fun. Yes, I even found fun at work, and it always involved interactions with other people.

But then in the afternoon, I crashed, and fell headfirst into the stress-pit. I found myself staring at my work to-do list; the list where new things are added faster than old things are crossed off. That list seemed to grab hold of my chest and squeeze. The tension I’d been running from had caught up with me, and tackled me. It sucked.

I’d been telling myself while on this journey that all the stuff on my to-do list is meaningless. My idea was to try and take away the power the list has over me. But it wasn’t working. For something so meaningless, it sure killed any peace I had been feeling. The fun was gone.

Oh Jesus, please help me. Pull me out of this pit I’ve dug and fill me with your peace; the peace that goes far beyond my ability to understand. I’m helpless. I know I can’t do this without you. But this knowledge isn’t helping me right now. I need something more. Please.

 

Day 8

 


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Escaping Stress… Chasing Peace – Day 8

I’ve tried this kind of thing before – I’m always looking for another method to feel closer to Jesus and fill my life with peace. Whatever new trick I try, it usually soon fades from my mind and I fall back to my robotic and habitual ways of slogging my way through life.

But this time is different. I’ve never written a daily blog post about my experience. It’s helping me stay focused and on track, keeping me from losing sight of my goal. And I have a hope that this journal of my journey will help some of you who read about it.

Anyway, yesterday – day 8 of my journey in search of lasting peace – was a very good day. If you read Day 7’s entry, you’ll see that I started off in a goofy mood – always a good way to start any day. Since I often take things in life too seriously, it helps to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum.

But the best part about yesterday, as always, was the feeling of the presence of Jesus. As I went about the day, I frequently looked inside to His Spirit within, and I thanked Him for being with me. I realize now that a big part of yesterday was my feeling of gratitude.

And I frequently chatted with Jesus about what was going on at work. We talked mostly about my co-workers. And since I wanted to hold onto my sense of goofiness, we plotted little jokes and funny things to say. We had fun helping others lighten up yesterday. For those with a sense of humor, it was easy. But for the more serious people, like the managers, many of them were not in the mood for silliness. Yet my hope is that the peace they saw in me somehow gave them a taste of peace for themselves.

One unexpected outcome of me focusing more on Jesus than the stress-machines at work is that I’ve been more productive at work. I think I’ve known this all along, but stress reduces my productivity.

Please consider joining me on this journey. Or rather, step off on your own personal journey in search of lasting peace. Have you done this already? How’s it going? What’s working for you? Please share with others… it helps us all. Thanks.

 

←Day 7                    Day 9 →

 


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Escaping Stress… Chasing Peace – Day 7

Yesterday – day 7 of my journey to escape stress – was good. Better than day 6. Ironically, I think part of the reason was that I was more tired than usual… kind of groggy all day. When I’m like that, I’m in my whatever state. Meh, whatever, I don’t care. I love my whatever mind… so peaceful.

But it wasn’t my dull mind that brought me peace. My mind was dull to the stress-machines at work, which somehow made it easier for me to focus on the real presence of Jesus. Seeing and feeling Jesus within me is what brought me peace. More often than usual, I found myself frequently closing my eyes and visiting with Jesus. One time I barely opened my eyes in time to see my boss walk in… “Sleeping on the job CJ?” That would have been slick.

And then last night… something new smacked my mind. There’s some psychological thing that says that focusing on what you want to avoid will just bring you closer to what you want to avoid. Some law of negative reinforcement thing? I don’t know. But if my goal is to escape stress, I wonder if even using that word is hindering me. Well, I believe it could. So from now on, instead of escaping stress, I’m chasing peace. Hence the title change.

And for me, the formula for chasing peace is simple – focus on Jesus, from where all peace flows. Yet the execution of this formula is the hard part. Because it requires me to change my mind. And just ask my wife; it’s hard for me to change my mind sometimes.

But bring on day 8. Peace, I know you’re out there. You can’t escape me (too cocky… chill). The caffeine has kicked in, but I’m still feeling kind of groggy… and goofy. I like it.

 

←Day 6                    Day 8 →

 


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Escaping Stress – Day 6

Since I blew it on day 5, Sunday, I spent more time than usual yesterday morning quietly praying with Jesus. And I was surprised when I felt myself looking forward to going to work. I was excited about the interactions I would have with other people, even in the midst of the chaos that Monday promised. Now that’s not how I usually start off a Monday.

Well, day 6 of my journey to escape stress was just okay. Nothing special. I miss those first days of my journey, where the progress seemed large and the experience was fun. Yesterday I felt I was falling back to my old ways… at least a bit. I realize now that I was putting too much importance into the things of work, the tasks and projects and schedules and deadlines and all those problems. I let it all take hold and control my feelings. And I now see that when I let all that stuff take hold of me, it blinds me to the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within me. I can’t see Jesus because of the wall of work-stuff that holds me prisoner in my self-dug stress-pit. Oh, I tried looking for Jesus a lot yesterday, but the wall kept blocking my view. I can’t see Jesus when my mind is focused on the stuff.

But thanks to yesterday, my path to escaping stress is becoming clearer… I think. Maybe trying to explain it will bring it more into focus. Let’s see… well, I think I need to do three things at the same time:

  • I need to consider all the work-stuff as meaningless so it cannot take hold of my reactions and consume my attention;
  • I need to focus on the Spirit of Jesus within me, and let Him control my emotions and reactions. And He will help keep the wall from rising again.
  • And I need to totally trust Jesus to take control. I need to give myself to Him.

And then there’s the fourth thing that helps me. With my life’s meaning all about Jesus rather than work-stuff, I want to give more meaning to my other relationships, and my interactions with my co-workers. This fourth thing helps distract me from the stress-inducing stuff.

Day 7 here I come; though a little weary as I go. This takes effort. But I’m so tired of living in that dreary stress-pit – I don’t want to give up. Please pray for me, as I pray for you. Thanks.

 

Day 5                    Day 7 →

 


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Escaping Stress – Day 5

Yesterday, day 5 on my journey to escape stress. Sunday. The day before Monday. Typically my most stressful day of the week. You see, I suffer from chronic The Day Before Monday Blues Syndrome. Have for years. It may be Sunday, but my mind tends to live in Monday and the stress-pit that is work. The only reason Sunday is more stressful than Monday, is that it feels like I’m wasting a day off of work. I’m tired of this crap. I want my Sunday to be filled with peace, not stress. That’s partly why I’m on this journey.

Well, I made a mistake yesterday. I rushed into day 5 without Jesus. I skipped my morning quiet time with God. And if you’ve been following my journey, you know that my secret to escaping stress is to start the day quietly with God and Jesus.

Oh I know… skipping quiet time with God on Sunday, of all days!? Well, I don’t attend church, as you may know. I haven’t for, oh, five years I think. But that’s no excuse, just a fact. As I’ve learned every other day of the week, I don’t need church on Sunday to help me get connected with God and Jesus.

Anyway, from the reading on my Stress-O-Meter, yesterday was okay. No worse than a typical Sunday. But I think it was a good reminder – and I need constant reminding – that I can’t escape stress alone. I need constant intimate contact with the Spirit of Jesus, here within me.

Are you on your own journey to escape stress? How’s it going? What’s working for you?

 

← Day 4                    Day 6 →

 


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Escaping Stress – Day 4

One of my secrets to avoiding stress is to focus on relationships and interactions with people, rather than stress-inducing stuff. But what will I do when a relationship is the source of my stress? Oh well, I’ll have to wait and see when it happens, for it certainly will.

Yesterday, day 4 of my journey to escape stress: I started out a bit nervous about the weekend. Oh, I understand my stress at work. But I have a talent for making weekends stressful too. I think it comes from my desire to make the most of my “free” time. There’s irony there, for I end up becoming a prisoner of my weekend free time. I’m driven to fill every minute with checking off items on my to-do list, and that drive breeds stress.

But thanks to my focused effort to escape stress, yesterday was different. The most stressful part of my day was when I read the final chapter in the book The Martian, by Andy Weir – you know, the Matt Damon movie. Except for those tense moments a few miles above Mars, yesterday was pretty stress-free.

And that’s because I followed the same path I was on at work last week. I tried to ignore my to-do list and just focus on each moment. Oh, I still did chores, but they’d lost their power over me. And, I focused on putting all I could into each interaction with other people – for people have more meaning than chores.

But most importantly, my mind kept drifting back to the Spirit of Jesus within me. I found myself thinking about Jesus more frequently than on a typical Saturday. And I think this is because the tingling of approaching stress has become a trigger for me, automatically sending my mind inward, to Jesus. And when I’m with Jesus, there is no stress… only peace.

I just hope I don’t lose hold of this. As I type this, it’s Sunday morning – sometimes my most stressful day of the week. Stay tuned.

 

Day 3                    Day 5 →


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Time for Some Changes…

I’ve been re-thinking my purpose for writing, whether blog posts or the books I’m working on. I’ve been thinking about this in terms of peoples needs I hope to fill. This is what I’ve come up with so far…

  • Help people escape the stress in their life. Show them how to replace the stress with the peace they are looking for.
  • Help people feel the same freedom and joy we felt as children. Do you remember that, the days of fun and play?
  • Help people find a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and find this in their relationship with God.
  • Help people feel loved. I hope to help people find and feel the Fatherly love of God.
  • Help people find freedom from the influence of false ideas about Christianity. Show them the freedom that comes from the truth.
  • Help people know and accept that true Christianity is all about a relationship, not rules.
  • Dechurched Christians, like me, may be looking for a sense of belonging, like me. Show them how to find that.
  • Help dechurched Christians find freedom from any guilt they may feel because they no longer attend church.
  • Show people how to find and have an intimate and personal relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Help them know the Holy Spirit of God as a person, rather than an idea. And help them feel His presence in their lives.

What do you think about this? Please let me know. Does this look like too much to you? Does it leave you with the sense that I have an over-inflated idea of my talent for helping people? After all, this is a lot. But truth is, I’m just a searching human like you, with all the same needs I’ve listed above. I’m no expert in any of this – all I can do is share what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, in my own search.

Another change I’m planning to make is that I will soon start sending out periodic emails with stuff targeted to help fill the needs I’ve listed above. I’ll send these email messages to everyone who would like to subscribe to receive them. I will probably send an email once a week, or maybe every other week. I’m curious, what do you think of this email idea?

By the way, I really appreciate the ideas and comments you might share with me. These changes I’m planning to make are a bit scary, and the support I get from those who visit and follow this blog is like comfort food.

Thank you. From my heart, CJ

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