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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Catholic Catechism vs. the Bible

Catechism vs Bible

This morning I looked up to see the Catechism of the Catholic Church sitting on my book shelf. It came from my parents house, after my father and stepmother had passed away. It had been my stepmothers. The thicknesses are almost the same. But I believe the contents are different.


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The Power of “And”

AND

I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to those in Rome. This morning I was in chapter 3, where I read this: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24)

I sin AND I’m justified, that is, I’m declared righteous by God, by my faith in Jesus. I’ve read Romans many times over the years, and at first I didn’t see the “and”; I didn’t recognize it’s power. I sin and I’m righteous, in God’s eyes. My sin does not affect God’s opinion of me. Where sin will not harm me, it’s faith that saves me. Instead of worrying about sin, I should focus on faith.

By the way, it’s my faith in God and Jesus that feeds my love for them. And it’s my ever-growing love for them that feeds my desire to not sin. Avoiding sin is therefore motivated by love, rather than fear.

AND, God loves you no matter your sins.


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Are You a De-Churched Christian?

I’m a de-churched Christian. I’ve been reading the book “Churchless,” which contains lots of research data the Barna Group has collected about the various aspects of Christianity. Did you know there are about 18 million born-again Christians who no longer attend a church? The Barna study calls these people “de-churched.” It felt weird when I realized I’m one of the 18 million.

I haven’t attended church for almost five years. And what adds to the weirdness is, I can’t clearly tell you why. Oh, I could come up with surface answers easily enough. But none of them feel to me like they are the real, deep down reason I don’t go to church. And I want to know why.

It occurred to me; maybe some of these 18 million de-churched born-again Christians hang out online somewhere. So please help me if you know of any such hang-outs. Are there any Facebook groups? What other sites might the de-churched like to visit? Are there blogs for the de-churched?

My hope is that maybe by connecting with other de-churched people, I might learn why I have no desire to attend church. And if you too are a de-churched Christian, please share some of your story. It may help me, and it may help others. Thank you.


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Jesus is my Rock

Jesus rock

Sometimes. No, make that several times a day… I feel stressed out, especially at work. Even now, in the peace of the early morning, I can feel the stress, usually from anticipation of work. This stress feels like a liquid poison, poured into this vessel named CJ Penn. Sometimes it’s just a bit of poison; other times it feels like I’m overflowing.

Until I remember Jesus. He is like my Rock, dropped into this vessel CJ, pushing the poison of stress out. I feel Him enter into my thoughts, and the poison flows away. When Jesus fills me, there is no room for the poison of stress.

Stress is indeed a poison, for it can make our life sick. But even when surrounded by a stressful day, with Jesus on the inside, the stress remains on the outside, unable to poison my heart and mind and soul.

Thank you so much dear Jesus… my Rock.


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Jesus on the Edge

I just got back from the grocery store. Got my leg ‘o lamb for our Easter dinner. And, check out this picture of the magazine rack in the check-out line…

 Jesus magazine

At first I didn’t know what to think about it. Jesus, next to a wine tasting mag, and right across the little isle was another magazine rack, next to the candy and gum, filled with glamour model’s cleavage and movie stars cellulite. At first, it all seemed odd to me… a bit edgy.

But what would Jesus think about hanging out with wine lovers, glamour models and movie stars? I think He’d consider that tame, especially compared with some of the crowd He used to hang out with. While He walked the roads of Israel, Jesus seemed to spend more time with lowlife’s, prostitutes, hated tax collectors and other sinners. Jesus lived on the edge of “acceptable” society. So I think Jesus would be okay with the placement of His manmade image on a magazine in the grocery check-out isle.

I hope you all have a great Easter. CJ


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Gift Exchange

Today, Good Friday, we recognize the sacrifice Jesus took upon Himself for all of us. He gave His life for us. Because I’m so grateful, I’d like to give Jesus something in return. As He did for me, I’d like to do for Him – I’d like to give Jesus my life.

To surrender my life to Jesus – how can I do that today? What does this look like? How about this: I’ll give Jesus my thoughts today, as often as I am able.

Are you grateful for what Jesus did for you? Give Him your thoughts today. Focus your mind on Jesus as often as you are able.


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Dear Jesus

surrender

Dear Jesus, you gave your life for me,

you suffered for me, you died for me.

And then your Spirit came back to earth,

and now you live within me, sharing my life with me.

I’m not alone.

You’re always here, within.

Yet I fear I may be too accustomed to your presence.

Do I take you for granted? Oh, I hope not.

Dear Jesus, please help me feel the true meaning,

the true power and peace of living with You within me.

I long for a tear.

Those moments when my heart gets a clear glimpse of you within me –

those moments when an un-looked-for tear swells within my eye.

When my heart sees you clearly, my eyes become blurred.

Dear Jesus, oh how I long to see you more clearly;

oh how I long to see the true meaning of You within me;

oh how I long to weep a bucket of tears, for you.

Tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of love.

Tears that soften my heart and open me up, to you.

Dear Jesus, I love you more than my dry eyes show.

I long for the moments when I see your true love,

and then my tears show you my true love.

Dear Jesus, thank you for this day, a good day, a Good Friday.

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