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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God Touches My Heart in My Prayers

Finger of God

Eyes closed, heart open, I try to quiet my mind.

My mind – it’s sometimes not my friend.

My mind – racing in circles, from one thought to the next.

Then God helps me pull in the reins and bring my mind to a trot, and finally a stop.

Eyes closed, heart open, and my mind quiet and focused on God.

That’s when He touches my heart.

That’s when God reaches into my soul and stirs up my emotions.

And I swell and melt with love and gratitude – for God and Jesus and their presence within me.

And there’s a tear, or two – physical evidence of my emotion.

Dear God. Dear Jesus. I’m so grateful for your love and presence within me.

Let’s do this day, together.


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Church for the Un-churched

churchless 2

Did you know that most of the people who don’t go to a Christian church had earlier in their life attended church? This is most apparent with the young adult generation, like from 18 to 30 years old. They attended as a kid, probably because their parents dragged them there, but they followed a different path when they gained their adult freedom.

I’m reading “Churchless,” by George Barna and David Kinnaman. It’s a book based on survey results of those who don’t go to a Christian church.

I just finished reading a chapter that describes the reasons young adults no longer go to church. And then this idea slipped into my mind: instead of the traditional brick-and-mortar church, what if there were an on-line church? Maybe it could be a Facebook group, where people go to talk about Jesus. Would this be more appealing than a traditional church? Might this type of church be able to avoid the turn-offs of a traditional church?

Please let me know if there is such an on-line church. What do you think of the idea? Thanks.


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What Does it Mean to be Christian?

unChristian

I didn’t expect to start my Friday with a sad discovery. But that’s what I found as I again picked up the book I just started reading, “unChristian; What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… and Why it Matters,” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. This book is based on extensive research by the Barna Group, where they conducted studies to find out what “outsiders” feel about Christians and Christianity.

I’m struggling to find the words to convey what I’m thinking, without coming across as judgmental. By the way, 87% of young adults see Christians as judgmental.

Anyway, the results of one particular survey question left me feeling sad… sad for Christians and Christian churches. The surveyors asked born-again Christians to describe what the most important priorities are for being a Christian. The top of the list was being good and not sinning, followed by discipleship, evangelism, worship, relationships with others, service and stewardship. What made me sad is that I don’t see the most important thing about being a Christian.

Yet who am I to say? I’m no expert. I’m just a flawed human like everyone else. How do I give my answer to this question about being Christian without sounding snotty and arrogant? I don’t know, so I’ll just go for it.

I believe the most important priority for being a Christian is a personal and intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. I believe the most important good deed or form of worship is to give your life, to surrender your “self” to the Holy Spirit, to give control to the Spirit. As Paul said in his letter to those in Rome…

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

The entire Bible is about a personal relationship with God, especially the New Testament. But it looks like Christian churches have not made that clear. And Christians suffer because of that. This too makes me sad.


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Me, The Worst of Sinners

I can relate to the Apostle Paul. Though I’ve never persecuted Christians as Paul did before Jesus burst into his life, I used to see Christians as weird and I’d sometimes criticize them. Then I became one. But before Jesus burst into my life, I was a pretty sinful person – mainly the fun type of sins. Fortunately, I avoided the violent stuff.

Anyway, I was reading Paul’s first letter to Timothy this morning, and came across another verse that’s easy for me to see myself in: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

I believe I know how Paul felt, for Jesus has shown mercy and unlimited patience to me. And His mercy and patience are for you too.


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Breaking Into My Anxious Thoughts

coffee with Jesus

A typical morning: coffee mug warming my hands, Jesus Calling devotional opened to yesterday (I’m usually a day behind), and my mind ping-ponging between the book on my lap and the Spirit of Jesus within my mind. And of course, my mind often takes a side trip and finds something to be anxious about.

This morning it was the idea of eventually publishing the book I’m writing. The marketing piece of this project isn’t very appealing, though it’s something I feel comfortable with. But like most would-be authors (I suspect), I would rather spend my time writing than marketing. The accelerated blogging, more time on Facebook, and whatever other opportunities make sense at the time – all this was feeling more like a dark cloud on the horizon than something to get excited about.

Then Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts. He immediately reminded me that it’s not up to me whether the book gets published, or up to anyone else. It’s God’s decision. And that’s just the way I want it. Having God in charge of this book project removes all of my self-induced stress. Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts, and the anxiety melted away. And I’m so grateful.


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My Never-Ending Painting Project

GG Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge – an icon of engineering risk-taking. To protect the bridge from the constant onslaught of corrosive salty air, high-climbing painters sandblast off the old paint and replace it with fresh paint. This continues until the painters finish the entire bridge, and then they start all over again, going back to the beginning. It’s a never-ending painting project.

This is how it feels with the book I’m writing. As soon as I finish one revision, I go back to the beginning and start working on the next revision. I recently started working on revision 11 – by now I should just be making fine adjustments. But I’ve been taking the heavy-duty sandblaster to this revision, removing large chunks of old “paint” and replacing them with fresh paint. It’s my never-ending “painting” project. And I love the work.


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Wounded Christian

wounded heart

“Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity. This translates into the realization that people are leaving the church. From our research, we have found that they are leaving as hurting and wounded victims—of some kind of abuse, disillusionment, or just plain neglect! From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).” *

Are you one of these wounded Christians? Some wounds go unnoticed, for a while anyway. For the past four years, I haven’t gone to church – I have no desire. I had stopped attending church because I was disillusioned by the messages coming from the pulpit. As I step back and look at myself as an outsider might, it now clearly looks to me like I’m a wounded Christian.

Are you wounded? If so, consider checking out the Facebook group, “For Wounded Christians – a Place for Healing.”

 

* From an editorial in the July 2012 issue of Christian Computing Magazine, “Why the church is dying in America,” by Steve Hewitt

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