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)

What we need…

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God gives the Spirit without limit.

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Looking for God?

We look in nature, we look in churches, we look in sermons and songs and books. We may think we see God there, but it’s really just a faded image.

As Brother Lawrence once said, “God alone is capable of making Himself known as He really is. God Himself paints Himself in the depths of our souls.” *

Do you want to see God as He really is? Then look inside yourself to His Spirit who lives with your soul. And believe that God will reveal Himself to you.

As Brother Lawrence also said, “Because God’s perfection is infinite, He is consequently indescribable; no words of man are eloquent enough to give a complete description of His grandeur. It is only faith that makes me know Him as He is. By means of it, I learn more about Him in a short time than I would learn in many years in the schools.”

 

* The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence.

 


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Just do it

So much violence… so much hatred… too much. Seems like the world is falling apart. Lots of people, like me, are trying to help by recommending we all look to God and Jesus for comfort and answers, and peace. What can I add that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. So with regard to what all compassionate folk are recommending, enough writing. I’m just gonna go do it. “Dear Jesus, I’m hurting and I need your help…”


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The Wild Child and the Unusual Parent

One day God bought himself a huge ranch, with a massive house, several barns, and lots of rich, fertile land. It was like a garden. And then God invited his adopted children to move into the ranch house with him.

One of the adopted sons eventually got bored with ranch life. He craved something more exciting. Now being an adopted child of God, this son knew that when God died, he would inherit his portion of God’s wealth (okay, God can’t really die, but this is a made-up story, so please stick with me). Anyway, this son went into God’s study where he found God looking at the newspaper, frowning at what he was reading. The son then demanded his share of the inheritance.

Okay, at this point it helps to understand something about the country where God’s ranch was. The people there had strong beliefs about family. Families were powered by mutual respect and love. And to ask a parent for your inheritance, before the parent was actually dead, was the same as telling the parent you wished they were dead. The society there even had laws intended to punish people who showed such intense disrespect. This greedy son now faced the death penalty. All God had to do was call the police, and the son would be hauled away. But God didn’t do that. Instead, God gave the son what he asked for (yep, I don’t get it either).

So with a backpack full of money, the son took off for the big city – Las Vegas. Many parties, prostitutes, and wild nights later, the son was broke. Unable to pay his bill, he was kicked out of his lavish hotel room. Now he was on the streets, learning what it was like to be homeless… in Vegas.

Eventually, he overcame his resistance to admit his mistakes, and decided to go home, back to the ranch. He figured he wasn’t worthy to be treated like a son (got that right), and decided to ask God if he could just be one of the ranch workers. At least he’d have a place to sleep and regular meals.

He begged enough money to get a bus ticket to a town near the ranch, but not enough for an Uber ride from the bus stop to the ranch. So he had to walk the final 15 miles. Now that was a long, humiliating hike. He really dreaded seeing God again. But his empty stomach pushed him on.

He came up over a rise and entered the long, shallow, grass-covered valley where the ranch house was, still about three miles away. Within a minute or two, he noticed someone coming toward him – it looked like they were running. He was scared. Was this person sent to chase him off God’s land? He was so hungry, and tired, and as he imagined being turned away, he started to cry. He almost fell to the ground, but the little pride remaining kept him on his feet.

He started walking again, rehearsing his apology speech. He really didn’t need more rehearsal – he’d been working on it for over a week. But he felt he needed to keep his mind busy, or he’d start crying again.

He’d practiced all kinds of excuses, but now decided to give them up. It had to be easier to just admit how wrong he was and ask for forgiveness, and a job.

Within a few minutes it became clear that the approaching runner was actually God. Wow, he runs pretty fast for such an old man. But at the sight of God, the sons dread turned to absolute despair. How could he face God again, after telling him he wished God was dead? This was too much. The son collapsed to the ground and began sobbing – any remaining pride left him, running down his cheeks, mixed with tears. In an instant, God was upon him.

God dropped to his knees in front of the son. With one hand, he reached out and gently squeezed the sons shoulder. With the other hand, God lifted the sons quivering chin and looked into his tear-filled eyes. There was no anger in God’s gaze – only love. God then pulled the son to him and hugged him. With tears in his own voice, God said, “My son, you’re alive! I had given you up for dead.”

There were no questions. There was not condemnation, no blame, no guilt-trip. Only love, and forgiveness, and joy. And then, God threw a big party for his lost child who had come back home.

 

(Blatantly lifted from a story Jesus once told. Yep, the Prodigal Son.)

 


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I Confess

What’s religious confession all about? I’m remotely familiar with Catholic confession – I grew up on the fringe of the Catholic Church. And this morning I spent ten minutes researching via Google. I should be an expert by now. By what I read on a CatholicsComeHome website, confession looks like a pretty cool thing.

You ask for forgiveness of your sins and express your regret. I’m not sure if this is the way it is today, but years ago Catholic confession also included accepting a small penalty, like reciting certain prayers.

There’s something about confession that I like. It’s a safe and confidential way to unload burdens. I think it can be emotionally healthy to confess our mistakes. It’s a good exercise in humility. Whether you confess mistakes to a priest or a friend, it can be a good thing to do.

So why do I feel uncomfortable with it?

I see a dark side to such things as Catholic confession. Asking forgiveness and paying a token penalty seems harmless. BUT, I think it dishonors Jesus, it disrespects Jesus, and maybe it disgraces Jesus. I see such forms of confession as completely ignoring the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Look, we are already forgiven. God forgave us when His Son died on the cross. To ask for forgiveness is to ignore the fact that we’re already forgiven! Also, Jesus already paid the penalty for all sins. Taking on penalties of our own ignores His sacrifice!

I see confession as a distraction from Jesus. Its focus is on the church and on the person who’s confessing. It insulates people from the love and grace of God.

As I said in the beginning, I think confession is good and everyone who loves Jesus should confess their sins, but not to a priest. We should go directly to Jesus and God. Jesus said as much in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. But when we go to him with such prayers, maybe instead of asking for forgiveness, we should tell Him how grateful we are. And we should remember the penalty He paid for our sins. And the gratitude that swells within us will feed our love for Jesus. And as our love for Jesus grows, so do we grow.

I think this should be the nature and outcome of confession. It’s all about gratitude, love, and Jesus. What do you think?


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From Out of the Gutter

“Evangelism” – another one of those big religious words I’m not fond of. But I really like what I think it means.

I like the idea of introducing people to God and Jesus. Just show them the truth and step back, letting them decide what they will do with the truth. Showing the truth through my writing and blog posts is easy for me. It doesn’t feel pushy (I don’t want to push anyone), and the reader can easily walk away at any time. But I’m not comfortable with the face-to-face approach.

And then I recently read the story of the Prodigal Son in chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel. I love that story. It so clearly paints a picture of the unconditional forgiveness and love of God.

Imagine this: you go up to God, tell him you wish he was dead, steal a bunch of his wealth, and leave town. You then go to Vegas and party, hard and dirty. Oh, but then you get into trouble. You loose all the money you took from God and end up sleeping in the gutter. You eventually get tired of the homeless life and decide to go ask God for help. That takes a lot on humility, doesn’t it?

Anyway, before you get within a mile of his house, you see God running towards you – pretty fast for an old guy. He runs up to you, wraps his arms around you, and kisses you, with tears of joy streaming down his cheeks. He’s overjoyed to see you. He’s so happy that he throws a welcome home party for you.

This is how Jesus described God in the story of the Prodigal Son. This is the truth of the nature of God and His love for us. And this is the story I think I’ll tell if anyone asks me what I think about God. You can call it evangelism. Maybe I’ll call it helping people out of the gutter of life… helping them see the possibilities of a new life, with God and Jesus.