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)


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Where There are no Denominations

Holy Spirit inside

In Jesus’ church, there are no denominations. Jesus’ church is simpler than the complex collection of differing manmade Christian organizations. Jesus’ church is the family of Spirit-filled believers.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)


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Love Evangelizes

Love power

We were having a brief blog-chat about evangelism. My fellow Christian blogger was afraid that her efforts to introduce her friends to truthful information about Jesus would come across as preachy, and be a turn-off. I’ve experienced similar fears. Instead of pulling people toward Jesus, a preachy approach will often push them away.

Yet God doesn’t want us to be preachy to others. Jesus tells us that people should know we are His disciples by our love for each other, not by our preaching. As He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Long ago, when I told my sister about my realization that I had finally become Christian, she said, “You’re not one of those Jesus freaks, are you?” Well, I didn’t answer her, but inside I answered myself with, YES!

Yet, I think it has surprised my sister that after all these years, I’ve never preached to her. But what I have done is love her more. And it has been in my ever-growing relationship with God where I have learned to truly love.

Where preachiness pushes, love pulls. Love evangelizes far better than preachiness.


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What I’m Thankful for

relationships

I’ve noticed while reading my Jesus Calling devotional lately, that over the past few days the topic has been thankfulness. No coincidence by Sarah Young, with the US Thanksgiving holiday during the end of November. So this morning, while chatting/praying with Jesus, I said thanks for the many things I’m grateful for.

My wife, my sons, my daughter in law, my youngest son’s terrific girlfriend of many years (someday they’ll get married), my sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, mom and stepfather, all my family, and all my friends. I’m so grateful for all these relationships.

As I gave Jesus thanks for each of these people in my life, I was almost ashamed that the last relationship to come to mind is my relationship with Him. Without Jesus in my life, all my other relationships would be flawed and frail.

Jesus adds sugar to my relationships. He gives me energy, compassion, and sincere love for the people in my life. It just occurred to me… if you have relationships that are suffering; maybe first nurture your relationship with Jesus. He will then help you heal and strengthen your other relationships.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, no matter where on this earthly home you live.


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Did God cry last night?

God crying

Ferguson Missouri. There is pain on all sides. There is suffering on all sides. There is anger scattered throughout. It mixed and boiled over last night.

It makes me sad, to see all the anger. I think it makes God sad too, looking at His children behave this way. But it’s part of who we are; broken, self-centered, childish children of God. Yes, I think God cried last night. Pain may have filled God’s heart, seeing the pain of His children.

What’s the answer? What can our society do as a group to fix what caused the pain and anger in Ferguson? I don’t know. But I know what each of us can do as individuals. Seek a close, intimate relationship with our Father God. In that relationship, we will find peace. And this peace from God can overflow us, and spill onto those around us.

The solution to the Ferguson syndrome comes from God, not man.


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A Faith Stronger than Mine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(warning: what follows is the attempt of a non-poet to be poetic… proceed with caution)

Pushed up through the virgin crust by tectonic forces. Millennia go by. Seeds appear from nothing. Or was it the tree that came first? Chicken or egg? Oh well. Life spread. Trees covering the lower slopes. Snow came and went. The river carved it’s way along the valley floor. Then fish. Then animals crawled out of the river and lakes and made home with the dry ground. And then early man arrived… from nothing?

And finally modern man is here. My vacation. Hiking. Marveling at the mountains. Rafting down the aged river. Enjoying visits by the moose and elk. And all this happened by chance? All this happened without any special guidance or planning or boost from above? All this happened without a God? I just can’t believe that. I don’t have faith that strong.


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For Wounded Christians – a Place for Healing

Wound Group cover photo

In the years I’ve spent on this blog site, surfing other peoples blog sites, and in my life outside the cyber-world, I’ve met many wounded Christians. The wounds come from churches. The wounds may come from other Christians. Or the wounds may come from inside themselves, from false ideas they believe to be true. There is no blame or guilt in all this – it’s just a result of people being normal, broken, sinful & prideful human beings.

I recently stepped out of my boat and ventured into Facebook land. It’s an interesting place. I discovered Facebook groups. I have since been inspired to start a group for wounded Christians. I just hope the inspiration came from God and not me.

This group is for sharing personal stories of suffering and confusion. Sharing stories may help others; by showing them they are not alone. Most importantly, this group is for sharing stories of healing. And this group is about sharing the truth of Jesus Christ. For it is His truth that will answer questions. It is His truth that will heal wounds. It is His truth that will set you free from pain, suffering, confusion, guilt, and many other manmade maladies.

A friend of mine described this Facebook group as “A wonderful group for those of you who love God but have been wounded by His people.”

The name of the group is “For Wounded Christians – a Place for Healing.”


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The Spirit Gives Life

holy spiirt espresso

I sometimes feel lifeless… no energy, worn out from the chaos of this world, just wanting to hide under the covers. I get tired of life. At times like these, I often pick up my bible, along with a cup of strong coffee, and go in search of inspiration, and energy. But I don’t completely find what I’m looking for in the coffee-stained pages of my bible (I sometimes spill).

As Paul said, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

What’s important is NOT bible literacy, but a relationship with the Holy Spirit. It’s in that relationship where I find the inspiration I’m looking for.

For me, the bible is critically important because it led me to the truth of the Holy Spirit. But that’s where the bible stops. From there, the Holy Spirit has taken over and has breathed new energy into my life, new purpose into my life. And I’m so grateful.


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“Hey, I’m Right Here”

Spirit with you

As my sister gets in her car for the commute home from work, she calls my mom and has their daily chat while my sister drives – my mom in her nice comfy living room, and my sister in her tiny car on the highway parking lot. More than once, the doorbell will ring while in the middle of their chat. My mom will answer it to find my sister right there on their front porch. She wasn’t so far away after all.

I used to pray while picturing God in heaven, with Jesus standing next to Him. I now wonder if during those chats, the Spirit of God and Jesus was knocking on my door, saying, “Hey, I’m right here!” I may picture God far away, when He’s actually on my front porch. Or more truthfully, He’s within me, knocking on my inner door. I just need to quiet my mind enough to hear Him.


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God is Closer than you Think

God in you

On our family cross-country vacations, when I was a child, my mother would often get the urge to take a detour, to check out some sight she had heard about. However, set on sticking to his planned route, my stepfather would say, “We can’t get there from here.” Many people believe that is where God lives; you can’t get to Him from here.

According to a PEW survey on religious beliefs, 72% of Protestants and 60% of Catholics believe in a personal God with whom we can have a relationship. Yet 19% of Protestants and 29% of Catholics see God as an impersonal force.

A dear friend once told me that, though she believes in God, she has no sense of His presence in her life. To her, God is the unapproachable king, remote and inaccessible. You can’t get there from here. What is the truth?

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalms 145:18)

Yet, how near is God? “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or, ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.’” (Luke 7:20-21, emphasis added)

God is closer than you think. If you believe, He is within you – His Holy Spirit will share your life with you. And there’s no favoritism in this promise; God comes near to “all” who call on him. All we need do is believe…“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” (1 John 4:15)


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Parenting Class

parenting class

MANY years ago, when my first son was a toddler, my wife and I went to a parenting class at our church. Actually, we took turns each week, with one of us staying home with our son. Yet even with just attending sporadically, I learned things that became part of my foundation for how to be a good parent.

I’d now like to teach a parenting class, where we would look at God as our roll model of a truly good parent. Here are some aspects of God’s parenting style that would be helpful for all parents…

  • Always forgiving
  • Unconditional love for all His children
  • No favorites
  • Gives His all for His children – He even sacrificed His only natural Son for His adopted children.
  • Always there, willing to listen
  • He lets His children learn by their own mistakes.
  • No spoiled brats in God’s family. There are be consequences for bad behavior.
  • He’s always there to help us with our homework.
  • He looks out for His children’s future, even if they don’t.

What else can you think of?


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My Apology to Catholics

About five years ago I wrote a post about my dad’s experience when he decided to join the Catholic Church of my stepmother. He first had to sign some Catholic documents resulting in the annulment of his marriage to my mom. From what I heard, the church had to erase the sin of his divorce before they would accept him into the church.

I admit I was a bit upset by the episode and I wasn’t very kind to the Catholic Church in the words I posted. Over the years, many people have commented on that post, and it’s clear that I caused them pain. Another such comment showed up today. And I’ve finally come to realize that it’s time I apologize.

So to all Catholics, I sincerely apologize for my harsh words of five years ago.

All I was trying to do was testify to the truth of Jesus. And the truth is, Jesus forgave my father’s sin of divorce. More than forgive, Jesus and God have effectively forgotten my father’s divorce.

As God said, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

And as Paul said in his definition of love, “Love … keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) As God is love, God keeps no record of wrongs.

Forgive and forget. What a great way to live, for all of us. It’s just not easy.


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The Relationship that Nurtures

Band kids

My wife and I shared in a wedding celebration last night. The young man and woman who got married are best friends with my youngest son. They are all part of a “gang” of ex-band “kids” who have known each other since being thrown together in 7th grade band, and many have known each other since kindergarten.

Since graduating from high school over six years ago, the members of the band gang have all gone in different directions. So last night was a reunion. And what stood out for me was the strength of their relationships. As the mother of the groom said to me this morning, love filled that banquet room last night.

This morning, while enjoying the memory of last nights fun, my mind kept going back to the band gang and the power of their lasting friendships. It then occurred to me – life is all about relationships. It’s not about things, or accomplishments. Without meaningful relationships of love, life is meaningless.

And our most important relationship is with God… our relationship that nurtures all the rest.


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Mind of Christ

mind of christ

I’m in the middle of reading “The Power of the Spirit,” by William Law (which you already know if you’ve read my recent posts). I REALLY like and recommend this book. But I’ll warn you… it’s not a light read. It’s not mothers milk, but rather deep red meat; a thick, juicy steak (if you’re a carnivore like me).

Anyway, I came across the following verse: “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)

I’ve read this verse many times, but for some reason it struck me more profoundly this morning. We have the mind of Christ. THE MIND OF CHRIST!!! Holy cow! I can’t truly comprehend the magnitude of what that means. But here’s a thought: having the promised mind of Jesus Christ will make the meaning clear to me.

Do you seek better understanding of Gods words? Do you desire a more intimate relationship with Jesus? Then please, look no further than the Holy Spirit. Let Him into your heart and soul. And He will share with you His thoughts… the mind of Christ.

And I’m so grateful.


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The Power of the Spirit

Holy Spirit

Where the words within the bible speak to your mind, the Holy Spirit within you speaks to your heart and soul. Where the words in the bible will point you to God, and help you know about God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit within you will help you know God and Jesus. The words have no power, only direction. The power to make the words real in your life comes from the Holy Spirit, within you.

I’m re-reading a book by William Law, “The Power of the Spirit.” Law is reminding me that true Christianity is not about memorizing bible verses or following religious practices and tradition. True Christianity is all about an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, within you.

Please, look beyond the words, to the Holy Spirit within you.


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Power of Love

power of love

 

True Story…

The doctors had tried to re-start her heart for almost half an hour. They gave up, declared her dead, removed the crash cart from her hospital room, and left her husband to have some final moments with the withered body of his wife. But he wasn’t alone – hospital rules required a nurse remain present.

She stood quietly at the door, watching him as he held his wife’s cooling hand. He didn’t say a word, audibly anyway. He just sat there, looking into his wife’s dead face. I wonder what he was thinking in those moments. Was he angry with the God of his Christian wife, the God he didn’t quite believe in? Or was it love that filled his thoughts; the love that strengthened both of them through the many years together, yet was now drained from her cancer-filled body?

The nurse had others things she should be doing right now, but for some reason she felt like this was the place she needed to be most. The husband sometimes let out a sigh, or sniffed back some tears – but no other sounds were heard. Twenty minutes had passed since the team of doctors gave up and left the room.

Then it happened. The dead wife opened her eyes, looked into her husband’s face, and said, “I love you.” The nurse had a moment of dumb shock. When she gained a bit of control, she headed for the emergency call button.

“No, she’s gone,” the husband said. The nurse checked, and indeed… no pulse.

Such is the power of love. The love of the wife, and the love of God. For God granted the wife one final wish, to go back to her husband and tell him she loves him, one more time. And then she was gone.

And the husband began thinking in new ways about God and Jesus.

(I stress again, this is a true story.)


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A new You

butterfly

I recently wrote a post where I used the movie “Young Frankenstein” to illustrate how Jesus exchanged His goodness for our sinfulness when He died on the cross (see it here). Jesus did more than exchange goodness for sinfulness on the cross. He transferred His Spirit into us.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus promises us the presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives. By His death, He made this promise real. And He made us new. When we open the door of our heart and let the Spirit in, we are changed… a new creation. As Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Paul was talking about the Holy Spirit, within you.

 

And as today is Veterans Day, I would like to send out my sincere thanks to all of the very giving people who have devoted part of their lives to serving in the military, and providing protection for our country. I am so grateful.


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Writing Limbo

writing limbo

After six years of sporadic writing, I finally finished revision 10 of the book I’m working on with God; working title, His Truth Will Set You Free. It seemed to me that rev 10 was final draft quality, so I decided to get copies printed and ask my family to read it. This has been a huge moment for me, since my main reason for writing this book has been to offer the truth of Christianity to people I love who currently do not know Jesus.

Anyway, I now find myself in a very weird place. I feel a bit meaningless. After six years of getting up long before the sun, just so I can get in some writing time before work, it now feels like I have nothing to do with my time. Maybe I’m feeling a bit of temporary post-partum depression, or something like that.

Well, this morning, while sitting in writing limbo, I started re-reading one of my favorite books, The Power of the Spirit, by William Law. Talk about power – Law doesn’t give you a chance to get warmed up. A powerful message of the truth of the Holy Spirit erupts from the very first pages. And he affirmed for me a truth that has kept me writing for six years; anything good that may appear in me, truly comes from the Spirit of God within me. For all good comes from God.

Anything good within the book I’m writing comes from God, not me. I’m just His pen. And I’m so grateful.


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Standing up for Jesus

stand for Jesus

I once wrote a blog post called “Weird Catholic Rules,” about an experience my father went through when he converted to the Catholic Church. That post has received more views and comments than any other on this site. I don’t think it was well written, but I do think it was the provocative title that brought readers in.

In looking through some of the comments, many people strongly defended the practices of the Catholic Church. This morning, while praying and waiting for the coffee to open my foggy mind, I thought about how some people passionately defend their church. Then I wondered: do they as strongly defend Jesus?

Oops… I was starting to feel that familiar judgmental self, striving to be heard. Who am I to judge, for I too pass up chances to defend the truth of Jesus?

My point today is this: many of us should carefully consider where we give our trust. Do we trust church rules and traditions, or the truth of Jesus Christ? For what you trust is what you will defend. Stand up for the truth of the love of Jesus.


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Today is still yesterday

Just a silly thought for some Friday fun…

My friend Josh just came up to me and said he didn’t get any sleep last night, again. He has a brand new baby daughter – now you see why he got no sleep. He then said, “So today is still yesterday.” I found that tickling and I wanted to share it. And Josh said I could. I hope you have a fun Friday, and weekend. CJ


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To be Dad

To be Dad

I have two adult sons, whom I love so much it almost hurts. What’s up with that? Look, it hurts because I miss them… always. My wife and I raised them to be honorable men, filled with love and integrity, with the strength and independence to take care of their own lives. And that’s just who they are.

One of the purposes of being a parent is to raise our kids to take care of themselves. And for some of us, it’s hard to let go as we gently usher them out the door. I’m so proud of my sons and how they are living their lives. Yet I just wish I could see them more often. I wish I could always be with them, sharing their lives with them.

You know what? Your Father God feels the same way about you. Our Father loves you so much I suspect it sometimes hurts. He wants to be with you, sharing your life with you. Yes, like me and how I feel about my sons, God wants us to have the honor, integrity, and strength to take care of ourselves. But He doesn’t want us to do it alone. Our heavenly Dad loves you as only a parent can.