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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Writing With His Voice

writing voice

Knowing with certainty that the Holy Spirit of Jesus lives within me, my goal while writing is to have my self quietly stay in the background, so that the voice that makes it to the paper will be His voice, Jesus’ voice. I often fail, for my self won’t shut up. Being the selfish self that I am, my own voice wants to be heard. But sometimes I’m quiet enough to hear Jesus within me, and let His voice make it to the paper. Those are the best writing times.


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Living for Eternity

God quiet

I thought I had found it. I thought I had discovered the underlying reason for our often-damaging natural human pride. But the flaws in my theory soon made themselves seen. Yet there are still parts of the theory that make sense to me.

They say that ego and arrogance come from insecurity – I believe this. I also believe that our mortality can feed our core sense of insecurity. Our life is short; we have little time to experience life – this can feed insecurity. Our mortal future may not be clear; we are uncertain of what waits for us on the other side of death – this gives more food to our insecurity. For those who are certain of heaven, they may feel uncertain of how God will judge them; and the insecurity gets bigger and stronger.

I don’t believe that pride and ego originated as a result of the insecurity that is fed by our mortality. But I do believe that our mortal insecurity feeds the pride that is already part of our natural humanity.

I constantly struggle with my own pride, striving to make it go away. Well, though I can’t make it go away entirely, maybe I can starve it and weaken it a bit… by living past my mortality and instead living for eternity. By faith, I want to accept my immortality that waits for me on the other side of death, and also accept the love and forgiveness already given to me by Jesus Christ. My eternal future is certain and bright.

I believe that accepting our bright immortal future will starve our insecurity, weaken our prideful human nature, and strengthen our humility. What do you think?


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I Surrender

surrender 2

Life can be wretched sometimes. Work can be a place of misery, feeling more like a prison; we don’t want to be there, but we must be there, we have no choice, for we need the money in order to pay the bills and make a living. “Living”… that’s almost a cruel joke, for it sometimes doesn’t feel like much of a life.

And then there’s our life outside of work, sometimes filled with relationships in turmoil. And don’t forget the mundane things, like the car that breaks down, the leaky faucet, the broken light fixture, the computer virus, with new problems always ready to replace those that get fixed.

And the worry list gets longer as sleep gets shorter. Is this how life was meant to be?

As most of us see it, we have two choices. Some choose the path of total escape… suicide. Most of us choose to not give up, but rather trudge our way through life, trying to make the best of what we have. Yet there’s a third choice. We can surrender.

Surrender your life to Jesus. Let Him have your life. Let Him deal with your problems. Let Him go to work for you. Let Him take on your worry list. Let Him have your mind, body, heart, and soul. Let Jesus live your life, through you.

The great irony is, once you surrender to Jesus, that’s when you will truly live. That’s when you will find true joy. Surrender isn’t easy, but it’s easier and better than the other two choices.


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Where to go to Church?

church

It’s Sunday morning – time to get ready to go to church. Do you have a church to go to? Do you have a way to get there? If not, maybe do as I’m doing on this Sunday. Instead of looking to others for “church,” look within yourself.

Find a quiet place to be alone, but not truly alone. As Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The one true Church, the Church that Jesus built, is not a building or a manmade organization. The true Church is the body in which the Holy Spirit of Jesus lives… my body, your body, the collective bodies of all who choose to believe and accept the gift of Jesus’ salvation and presence.

Manmade church can be great – I’ve grown a lot by going to such a church. But it’s not the true Church that Jesus built.

Do you want to go to Church today? Then quiet your mind, close your eyes, and look inside yourself … to the Spirit of Jesus within you. That’s where you can truly worship and praise Him. And maybe even sing a song for Him. I bet He’d enjoy such a one-person choir.

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)


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Coffee With Jesus

coffee with Jesus

One of my favorite times of the day is early morning, when it’s still dark outside, with my cold hands warming around a hot cup of coffee. My mind starts out wandering, never stopping long in one spot. My thoughts are looking for Jesus, within me, yet my spiritual attention deficit disorder (SADD), keeps scattering my thoughts, hindering my efforts to find Jesus.

But soon the coffee gives my wandering mind the strength to wrest control of my thoughts and focus on my search for Jesus. And He’s always there waiting for me, in the midst of my thoughts.

We sit there together, while I sip my coffee. Closing my eyes to block out the distractions of the world, I look inside, to Jesus. And we just hang out together. Sometimes I talk. Often I try to just quiet my mind and listen. This quiet time with Jesus is my favorite time of the day. And I’m so grateful.


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Finding Jesus in My Writing

ghost writer

I recently got some great advice from an editor friend of mine, and now I’m totally re-writing the first chapter of the book I’m working on. As for the rest of the book – I don’t know yet. Revision 11 is looking meaty. What revision will be the final one, 22?

When will this book be finished? I’m three months away from the seven year anniversary of the day I started working on this book. Whether I ever publish it or not, I sure would like to finish it someday. I’m getting impatient. I want to be done with it. Here I am, still getting up each morning way before sunrise, just so I can have an hour or two to write before going to work. Seven years now of the same routine, and the end still looks far off and blurry.

This morning I was praying about all this, again. And thank you Jesus for reminding me what’s important.

It’s not finishing the book that’s important, at least right now. The focus may shift to finishing at some time, but right now it’s all about writing. What gets me out of bed each morning is the joy of finding Jesus in my writing. When my words are His words – this is what I chase after each morning. And when I’m able to empty myself enough to let Him write through me, those are the best moments of my day. Well worth getting out of bed before the crows. And I’ll keep at it until Jesus says it’s done.


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That’s My Book of Order!

book of order

Each of the church elders had already put in a full days work, with another workday less than ten hours away. Yet they were now in the third hour of a one-hour meeting, a little after 10:00 pm, and the pastor was again lecturing on the supremacy of the Presbyterian Book of Order. The elders had heard this message many times before, how important it is to make sure all their decisions are in accordance with the Presbyterian rulebook. Finally, my friend Chris couldn’t take any more. At a pause in the lecture, Chris slowly stood up, slammed his bible on the table, and declared, “THAT’s my Book of Order!”

Beware of those who put their rules above Gods rules. As Jesus warned, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:9)


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Trust… can be difficult when I get in the way

trust

The idea for a new writing project has been growing in my mind over the weekend. Though I feel pulled toward this project, taking hold of it right now would take time away from other things. So I’ve been asking God for advice.

I often go to God, asking Him to make decisions for me. I trust His decisions far more than my own. Yet most times, I already have a preference. And with that preference burning in my mind, I feel I can’t fully trust that the answer that comes to me is solely from God. Maybe it’s my preference, making too much noise for me to hear God’s answer.

Though my heart hungers to trust completely in God, my mind often gets in the way. Yet God is patient with me, and I’m so grateful.


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Good Morning Dear Friend

close to God

Good morning dear Jesus. I’m so grateful to be your friend. You said that there is no greater love than that of a friend who sacrifices his life for another friend and, that we are your friends, if we do as you command. And later you said that your command is to love each other. You then sacrificed yourself, for us. Yet you didn’t wait for our love. Your love came first, without conditions.

I admit that I don’t truly understand the magnitude of your love. Maybe your love goes beyond human love, like a dimension of love that we cannot see. Yet you’ve spilled your love (and your blood), into our human lives. I’m so grateful you didn’t wait for my love to come first. Thank you dear Jesus.


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Falling Into My Stress-Pit

Out-of-the-Slimy-Pit

As a kid, when I would run out the backdoor to wander the hills behind our house, my mom liked to shout, “Don’t fall in a hole.” Even now, as a much older kid, if I tell mom that my wife and I are going on a hike, she’ll end the phone call with, “Don’t fall in a hole.”

Well, I recently fell again in that same old hole of my own digging. While on the journey of writing a book, I started over-planning my next steps. The revision I’m now working on will be followed with a good cleaning up by an editor friend of mine. I need to finalize the proposal. I will then follow the path of trying to convince a traditional Christian publisher, by submitting the proposal to the Christian Manuscript Submission website. And if that doesn’t get anyone’s attention, I’d turn to the path of self-publishing, likely with the help of Westbow Press. And I could ask my artistic niece to create a cover design – I really like that idea. These, and more tasks, started crowding my thoughts. And of course, I started dreaming up a schedule for all of this.

I was deep in the hole now, over my head in the stress-pit of my over-planning. The fun was dying from my book project.

But thankfully, Jesus reminded me of my folly. He reminded me that it’s His plans and schedules that are important. He’ll take care of the timing. All I need to do is make myself available to Him, to write when He wants me to write, and to do all that other stuff only when the time is right. The stress is now gone… at least until I start digging my hole again.


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Dear Jesus…

child in lap

Dear Jesus, I give you this day, I give you my life today, one day at a time, as it’s the best I seem able to do. But this offer sounds silly to me, as I feel that my life, this day, is not even mine to give away. I believe it’s already yours; always has been. So what should be my prayer today?

Maybe this: Dear Jesus, thank you for this day that you will share with me, this day that is yours already, my life that is yours already, sharing these precious things with me. Thank you for being greater in my life, and for my self-centered self being less.

What will we do today, together? The joy of following your lead – this is truly living.


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Connected by Prayer

vine and branches

Instead of judging my friend and their annoying behavior, I decided to pray for them. Often, when I pray for someone who makes me annoyed or angry, I’m actually praying for myself. I ask for patience and understanding.

As I went through my day, frequently praying for my annoying friend, I realized I was truly praying FOR them, instead of me. I kept thinking that they are annoying for a reason – some pain in their life, perhaps. My prayers became filled with a compassion for my friend, rather than annoyance. And then the surprise opened up before me.

I started feeling a strong connection with my friend; some kind of spiritual connection, I believe. And I believe that connection was through Jesus. His vine and branch image came into my mind, where Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Our mutual connection with Jesus connects us to each other, spiritually. And I now believe that compassionate prayers FOR someone will strengthen those connections.


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Prayer vs. Judgment

do not judge

I’ve been reading The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith, just finishing the chapter about judgment. I learned a seismic truth while reading this chapter and then talking about it in our small group last night.

Smith gives a quote by Philo of Alexandria, who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Being judgmental can come so naturally for me. It’s often irresistible. But when I look at my target, and realize that the behavior I wish to judge may be battle scars – my judgment melts into compassion. And given time, compassion feels a lot better than judgment.

Where judgment can lead to criticism, compassion leads me to prayer. And from my experience, prayer is far more helpful than judgment. Where feelings of judgment eat at my soul, compassion and prayer feed my soul. And my hope is that prayers will lead to healing of battle scars.


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Living in the Wrong Time

clock

I often spend too much time in the past,

with my companion Regret.

Or, I hang out in the future,

where also lives Worry.

The best days are when I live in the present,

with my friend, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

With Him, there is no room for Regret or Worry.

Only Peace, Love, and Joy.


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My Quiet Time

Not alone in the trials

Quiet time.

I’m so grateful for the silence,

and the emptiness of activity.

Life is so loud sometimes.

I can’t hear even myself.

Definitely can’t hear God,

even though He’s right here within me.

But sometimes I squander the gift of quiet time.

Sometimes I fill it with my own noise.

Yet, once I empty myself of all the racket in my mind,

I can then see God, patiently waiting for me.

He’s always here, somewhere below my noise,

waiting for me to accept His gift of quiet time.

And I’m so grateful.

 


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My Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch

I’ve been working on refining the description of the book I’m writing. I think it’s about time – I’ve been working on this thing for almost seven years, and I tend to awkwardly stumble to an answer when people ask what the book is about. Lately I’ve been working on the elevator pitch; the briefest of descriptions. Here’s what I have so far, maybe for an elevator ride of about five floors.

Book title: His Truth Will Set You Free; knocking down the prison walls of manmade religion.

Pitch: The manmade false ideas that pollute Christianity are like large stones in a prison wall, mortared together by pride and greed, holding captive unwary believers and barricading those seeking answers. This book demolishes the prison walls of false messages with the mighty truth of Jesus Christ.

I’m curious; based on that brief description, would you read such a book?


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Hugging Jesus

forest trail

We were on vacation up in the mountains, having rented a cabin on the edge of a pine forest. Early each morning, before my wife and children awoke, I would sneak outside for a quiet walk in the woods. I prayed for most of my walk, sometimes stopping, standing still in the middle of the trail with my eyes closed, just so I could focus more on Jesus.

I was so hungry for Jesus. I was craving His presence in my life. I ached with the overpowering desire to see Him in human form. As I stood still on that trail, I hoped with all my heart to open my eyes to find Jesus standing in front of me. My love for Him ached to reach out and hug Him.

“If you want to hug me, hug someone else. For within them, you will be hugging me too.” At that moment of intense desire, these words came into my mind. Was Jesus speaking to me? Was He answering my prayers? I believe so.

Do you love Jesus? Then show Him your love, by loving others. Next time you hug someone, picture Jesus within them. And maybe give Jesus an extra squeeze to show Him how much you care.


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My Jar of Clay

jar of clay

While reading a devotional this morning, I saw a new image for the book I’m writing about the truth of Christianity. The book is like a flawed jar of clay. It cannot help but be flawed, for it comes out of me and contains my flaws. But this book of imperfect and sometimes cracked clay is filled with the power and glory of God, for the words within came from His inspiration.

Just as I myself am a flawed vessel, filled with the Spirit of God – I like this image of the book I’m writing. For I write with God, my inspiration.


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I’m Convinced

There were two separate times in my life, over 20 years ago, when I held my fresh-out-of-the-womb sons, moments after they were born. Even though I didn’t believe in Jesus at the time, I was convinced there is God. For I held miracles in my arms.

I fear that anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is going through life with their eyes, and heart, closed.


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Buffet for my Ego

buffet

Life is a smorgasbord for my ever-ravenous ego.

So many choices, all feeding my ego’s need for attention.

At work, the buffet sometimes overflows.

At home, there are snacks on every table.

Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, my ego finds something to devour.

Yet my ego is not my friend.

It resists my desire to wrest my eyes from the buffet,

and look more to the Holy Spirit of Jesus within me.

My hearts desire is that Jesus become greater within me,

and my ego becomes less.

It feels like the never-ending on-again, off-again diet.

Yet my diet coach is the very Son of God.

My ego against Jesus – guess who’s winning.

My ego keeps fighting for attention,

but Jesus in my heart is stronger.

And I’m so grateful.

For life is limitless without my ego holding me prisoner.