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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Checking the Pulse on Your New Years Resolution

Pulse check

Yes, my resolution is still alive, strong, and growing within me. How is your resolution (if you’re into that kind of thing)?

My resolution is to let the Spirit of Jesus become a greater part of my life, and have my self-centered self become a lesser part. As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

Am I doing any better at letting Jesus become a greater part of my life? Well, I’m not sure. My selfish ego is pretty stubborn, wanting all my attention, all the time. And lifelong habits are hard to change. But I take comfort in God’s promises, which are scattered generously throughout the bible. One of my favorites is…

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

God will work my resolution within me. Can you trust God with your resolution?


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Your Inner Voice of God

Inner voice

I vividly remember reluctantly meeting them over ten years ago. I was walking back to work after my lunchtime visit to the nearby hardware store. She was sitting on the lawn by the entrance to the parking lot. He was standing by the road, holding out his handmade cardboard sign, hoping for a handout.

My feet wanted to take the long way around them. But my inner voice (yes, my voice of God), said, “Go talk with them.”

“No, please. Not today. I should be getting back to work.”

“CJ, you know what’s right. Do it, for me.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll go talk with them. But only for a minute.”

We hung out together for over 20 minutes. They told me their story. And when I went to leave, we hugged.

My inner voice of God is always right. I just need to listen more often.


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Alone… but Not Alone

jumbo jet

I was on my way to the Philippines for work. Eleven hours trapped in this middle seat in coach – at least I’m in an exit row. But this guy next to me smells – different bathing practices than me. Strolling the aisle – plane full of faces, but no one familiar.

Finally arriving in Tokyo – three-hour layover, and gratefully able to stretch my achy legs. Wandering through the airport full of other travelers. Sure would be fun to see someone I know, but no luck.

Next plane and five more hours to Manila. Plane packed full, but at least I have an aisle seat. Still no familiar faces.

Manila airport; I’m all alone in a sea of people.

But I’m never truly alone. Sitting next to my stinky neighbor, the Holy Spirit is with me. Walking through Tokyo airport, the Holy Spirit is with me. The entire trip, the Holy Spirit is within me. Whenever I feel alone, I look to the Spirit of Jesus within me. And He’s always here. I’m never alone. And I’m so grateful.


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Oh, Save me from Boredom

Bored

Currently at work, trapped in an all-day meeting on export compliance regulations. Why am I here? Other than I’m required by the company I work for, I have no idea why I’m here.

I’m bored!!! Thankfully, this boring meeting gives me the time to frequently drift away and see in my mind’s eye the Holy Spirit of God within me. And even some time to now write this post.

Oh dear Jesus, thank you so much for being here with me. Thank you for lowering yourself from the glories of heaven to share my life in this messy, painful, and sometimes boring world. You left behind the peace, joy, freedom, and love of heaven, to have your Spirit live with us here in our broken world. Yet, you brought with you the treasures of heaven, the peace, the joy, and the love. All I need do is look inside, to you, and I too can share in heaven. Heaven on earth, within me. Thank you so much dear Jesus. Love, CJ

As Jesus said, “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)


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Promise of Heaven

heaven 2

People are hungry for heaven. I’ve seen it in the popularity of certain books, like Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo. That, and other heavenly books, commonly become best sellers.

Most of us wonder about the reality of heaven. I think the topic is so popular because people hope that heaven is for real – death without heaven is scary. People have a craving within their heart for a guarantee of heaven. Yet for many, they just aren’t certain. So they go on reading, and hoping.

Would you like to be certain that heaven is from real? Would you like to know in your heart that you are guaranteed an eternal life in heaven after your mortal death? If so, you don’t need books.

What you need is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. The only book you need is the bible, for that’s where you will begin to learn about the Holy Spirit. But to really know the Spirit, you need to let Him into your heart and soul. And the truth of His presence will set you free from the fear of death. For with the Spirit, heaven is indeed for real, within you.

Certainty comes from the Holy Spirit – heaven on earth.


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Don’t You Trust Me?

potter and clay

Very gradually, over many years, God has been forming me into the person He wants me to be. He’s been going very slowly – I think because He knows I couldn’t handle a faster pace.

Yet sometimes I resist, pushing back on His efforts to shape me. Other times, like today, I wish He would work faster. Even though God has made some great changes in my life, I rarely seem to be satisfied with where I am in my journey to be less like me and more like Jesus.

So this morning, while spending my favorite time with God, I asked Him to speed things up. What came into my mind was this: “Don’t you trust me?” Well, of course I trust God. But I think He was reminding me that His pace is the best pace. I just need to relax and trust Him to mold me in a way that I can handle.

God works in each of us in a very unique way, each at the pace that is best for us. And I’m grateful.


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What if…?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a family friend who recently died. What if I died and went to heaven? What if I saw, felt, and lived the mysterious truth of heaven? The joy, the peace, the warmth, the freedom, the love, with God and Jesus. Then, what if God decided to send me back to earth and re-awaken my dead body? With my new, heavenly perspective, how might I now live my earthly life? What might I do differently?

What if?


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Sorrow and Joy

heaven

A dear friend of our family went home to heaven last weekend.

Sorrow remains; sorrow fills the gap left by her absence.

Yet, I believe there is joy in Heaven.

For another dearly loved child of God has come home.

As mortals, our lot is a life tainted with sorrow.

It’s unavoidable.

Yet, I also believe that sorrow can be softened.

Sorrow can be lessoned, and the load lightened.

By our relationship with the Son of God, dear Jesus.

For Jesus will show our heart the truth,

of our momentary mortality,

and the supreme joy awaiting our eternity.

With Him in heaven.

Our family friend leaves behind mortal sorrow,

And she now has eternal joy in heaven.


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Who’s Sharing Your Bicycle for Two?

bicycle for two

How do I write about something where I can’t find the words to describe it? How do I describe this shared existence, this life with the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus sharing this body with this soul named CJ? And I’m not talking about a typical human shared existence, like I have with my wife. I’m talking about sharing this body with the creator of all that exists, and with the human part of Him who sacrificed His life for me, and you. How do I describe something beyond the range of human words?

The best I can do is compare this shared existence with human things we do understand. How about this: consider your life as a bicycle for two. For much of your life, you sit on this bicycle alone, with the back seat empty. When you invite the Holy Spirit of Jesus into your life, there He is, now sitting on the back seat.

Yet life will still be tough, even with Jesus peddling behind you. You still have to steer your way around the sharp twists and turns of life, and stay in your seat on those rocky roads. But what if you gave the front seat to Jesus? Picture life with Him steering the way, dodging the obstacles of your life. That’s surrender. That’s really living.


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Joy of Surrender

surrender 2

I filled the first part of my life with self-directed efforts to get control and improve myself. I continuously listened to self-help tape programs by such people as Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, and Tony Robbins. I wasn’t satisfied with the type of person I was, so I looked to these people to help me get control of my life.

I’m now at a weird place, a place I never thought I’d be. Now, I don’t want control. Control is too stressful… things don’t always go my way. Control is a burden… too much responsibility. So now, I daily pray for God to take full control of my life. I just want to sit back, relax, and follow God’s lead.

Some days are relaxing in this way, no matter what chaos is going on around me, but not all. I’m still a work in progress, daily striving to give up control… to God. And I’m so grateful that He’s patient with me.


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Back to the Pen

writer

The book I’m writing has been incubating for almost 3 months – that’s how long it’s been since I finished revision 10. While praying yesterday, it came to me that the Holy Spirit within me is now ready to start working on rev 11. At least, this is what I believe, and hope. When I think the Spirit of Jesus is speaking to me, sometimes I’m not sure. Sometimes I think these ideas come into my mind just because that’s what I desire.

I have hopes for this book; hopes that over time the truths within the book will touch and heal the hearts of many people. But I also hope that whatever path the book takes is the path defined by Jesus. His will be done, not mine.

No matter where it goes from here, today I start working on rev 11, because I believe this is what God wants me to do. How will I know if I’m following God’s will and not just my own? I think the outcome will be my answer. Wherever this book ends up will tell me which path I followed.


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Does the Beauty of the Gospel Story Attest to Its Truth? (Einstein, C.S. Lewis, and Others Answer)

Check out this post I came across… really interesting.

The Bully Pulpit

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

Does the aesthetic splendor of the four Gospels, when considered like works of literature, emit the ineffable whiff of something genuine? Is there a patina of truth — truth endorsed by beauty — coating the Biblical account of the Nazarene? Cahill explained the concept; Einstein flirted with the idea; C.S. Lewis, through his buddy Tolkien, was converted by it; and Julian Barnes paid it some provocative thoughts. You can decide for yourself.

From the pen of Thomas Cahill, writing in his even-handed historical survey The Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus:

What especially makes the gospels — from a literary point of view — works like no others is that they are about a good human being. As every writer knows, such a creature is all but impossible to capture on the page, and there are exceedingly few figures in all literature who are both good and memorable…

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More than Words

writing love

Jesus said if we believe in Him, we could look forward to an eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). I once thought that all I had to do was say the words, “I believe in Jesus,” and eternal life was mine. Yet, why would my relationship with Jesus be different from any other relationship I have? A healthy and meaningful relationship takes more than words.


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Put Down the Book

books

Ever hungry for more knowledge of the truth and nature of my relationship with God, I read books. Brother Lawrence, Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, and William Law – these are the guides I’ve been following. And great guides they have been, bringing me a long way over rocky ground, guided themselves by their own relationship with God.

But a shattering truth blinded my mind this morning. As I again opened yet another book, looking forward to finding words that would help strengthen my relationship with the Holy Spirit within me, He burned these words into my mind: it’s not the words of man that will open my mind and heart to His love and nearness, but only Him.

If I really desire an ever-growing relationship with God, instead of engaging my mind in the words of man, I will silence and open my mind to His Spirit within.

I closed the book, closed my eyes, and opened my heart and mind to the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to do the same.


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Does God Love Only Good People?

Gods love

As usual, Tom sat quietly during the first part of our small group bible study, just listening and thinking. Eventually, Tom would start talking, and what he had to say was always well thought-out, inspiring, and intriguing. I looked forward to the moment when Tom decided to join the conversation. But on this night, he shocked me with, “I just know I’m not going to heaven. I’ve done too many bad things in my life. God can’t love me. I’m just not good enough.”

Tom is a victim of a scam of guilt promoted by some churches. Though Tom would accept that God doesn’t hate sinners, he and others like him have difficulty in believing that God can in fact love them; they just don’t feel good enough. Does God love only good people?

First, the “goodness” Tom believes he lacks does not come from behavior, but from faith: “This righteousness (goodness) 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.” (Romans 3:22-23) It’s not the amount of goodness or badness that matters – it’s what you believe.

God doesn’t care about our past; He cares about now. No matter how dark your past may be, where are you now? Do you feel distressed about past sins? Do you wish you could erase the sins of yesterday, and resist the sins of today? I know Tom does; he said so. To such a show of repentance Jesus would say, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)

(This is an excerpt from the book I’m writing)

Are you like my friend Tom? Have you been wounded by flawed messages? If so, maybe check out the Facebook group, For Wounded Christians – A Place for Healing.


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From Mild Atheist to Ravenous Christian

I was having an email chat with a friend, and they asked me my story. I decided to share my answer with anyone one else who might be curious. Very briefly, here it is…

I waffled between agnostic and atheist during the first half of my life. Periodically I felt an interest in learning more about this person called Jesus. I even read a bit of the bible while in college. But it didn’t go beyond a weak interest. Then, in my thirty-something years, my interest started to grow. I started going to church.

I ended up helping lead our church youth group, where I grew much stronger in my relationship with God, and my interest became a hunger. Eventually, church started feeling uncomfortable to me, yet I didn’t know why. Though it was a hard decision for me, preceded by lots of conversations with God, I left that church.

I tried several other churches, but I never felt “called” to stick with any of them. I’m still not sure why, but I haven’t attended a Christian church for over 4 years. All I want to do is God’s will, yet so far it appears His will does not include me attending a church. Yet, thanks to my continued hunger and thirst for God, the amount of personal one-on-one time I spend with God, and His love and grace, I feel closer to God, Jesus, and their Spirit than ever in my life. And it didn’t require any kind of manmade religious structure or personal effort. All it took was desire on my part (I consider desire as faith that’s ready for action), and God did the rest. And I’m so grateful.


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Virus of Evil

Charlie Hebdo

The evil that is terrorism is like a virus. It’s always infected parts of humanity. The root of this evil is pride.

Why does the Islamic extremist murder innocent people? Because they are not willing to allow others to be different from them – agree with them or die. Such is the pride and arrogance of the Islamic extremist.

We all suffer from the virus of pride, some more than others. There are those where pride consumes their existence – pride extremists.

The Islamic extremists exhibit their extreme pride violently. Others may exhibit their extreme pride with acts of greed, lording financial power over us lesser beings. Other pride extremists exercise other forms of power and control. Thankfully, not all pride extremists feed their hunger with violence.

The cure for this virus is humility. But true humility can only come from a close personal relationship with God, from letting the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ into your inner-being. Jesus is the cure.


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Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder

Runny nose

I want to post something today, but my mind is foggy with this cold and runny nose, and I can’t think of anything to say. Well, maybe if my mind isn’t able to come up with anything meaningful or helpful, I’ll offer this time solely to the Holy Spirit within me. What does He want to say to you, through me?

I give up. In addition to fogginess, I think I’m currently suffering from Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD). I can’t focus. Do you ever suffer from SADD? Wow, I am slow this morning; I just saw how “sad” that condition is.

Well, I don’t think suffering from SADD is anything to be ashamed of. Jesus knows how hard it is to be human in this world full of distractions. All He desires is for us to turn back to Him when our mind is finished wandering the worldly wilderness. And like the father in the story of the prodigal son, Jesus is always there, waiting for our attention to return to Him. And I’m so grateful.


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What Should I Believe?

confusion

A dear friend once said to me, “I see so many different Christian churches, which I’m okay with, but they all have different messages. What should I believe?”

What we see as Christianity today looks like a bicycle wheel. Jesus is the hub, the center. Each church is like a spoke, and by the time Jesus’ original message gets to the outside end of the spoke, it’s filled with manmade modifications. Traveling around the outside of this wheel called Christianity can be a bumpy ride, as my friend discovered.

I don’t want to criticize churches who customize Jesus’ message. I think it’s natural, given our pride-filled human nature. Pride drives people to put their personal mark on things. My purpose with this post is to point to the truth, which you will find only at the center of the wheel, at Jesus.

And Jesus is easy to find. You will find His truth in the bible, in your prayers, and in your heart – for that is where the Holy Spirit of God lives.


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Self-Inflicted Wounds

wounds healed

Wounded Christians – some churches have wounded many followers with false messages. These messages are like spears, piercing our hearts and minds, often leaving grave wounds. Yet not all wounds come from a church.

I’ve met many pastors who have a very intimate and personal relationship with Jesus. Yet other pastors have fallen into the pit of intellectual self-importance. Their theological knowledge is more important to them than their relationship with the Spirit of Jesus. This disconnection leaves them wounded and weak, and often subject to despair.

Yet not just pastors. Any of us can fall victim to our own ego, our own desire for self-importance. Self-inflected wounds come from accepting false messages into our hearts. Yet we all have a shield for deflecting the spears of false messages, the shield of truth, given to us by Jesus Christ.

If you too have wounds and would like to meet with other wounded Christians, please consider joining the Facebook group For Wounded Christians – A Place for Healing.”