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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Oregon College Massacre – Ignoring the True Root Cause

oregon college shooting

I opened the paper this morning to the tragic news. You’ve probably seen it yourself. Ten people dead, shot by a lone gunman on a small college campus in Oregon. And the politicians are already blaming gun laws, lead by Obama.

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Oh how I wish gun availability were the root cause of the problem. If it truly were, that would be easy to fix. But people like Obama are ignoring the more difficult truth. The true root cause of these shootings is not gun availability, but the deterioration of our society.

Morals, compassion for others, integrity, humility, … Love. These things and more are fading away. Yet it’s these things that are the glue that holds humanity together. When the glue disintegrates, humanity falls apart. It is falling apart, as seen in these shooting tragedies.

Yet tackling our crumbling social glue is a lot more difficult than blaming gun laws. Ignoring the true cause of the problem will definitely not fix the problem. And the shootings will continue.


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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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A Hug for Halloween

hugs

I came across a blog post that asks; if my blog site could hand out treats, what would it be? I’d like to hand out hugs; nice, warm, sincere, compassionate, and gentle hugs. There is power in a gentle touch.

In the gospel of Luke, there is a story about a man suffering from leprosy. “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’” (Luke 5:12)

Who knows how long he had the disease, but we know those stricken with leprosy were outcasts. Everyone avoided them. So this man, covered with the soars of the nerve-killing illness, had not touched or been touched by another human being for possibly many years. No one had hugged him, no hand had touched his, and no arm had gone around his shoulders in a moment of comfort – until Jesus came along.

“Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean,” he said to Jesus. The man had the faith, yet his sense of kindness in others had been lost in the years of isolation. He doubted not Jesus’ ability, only His willingness to be kind. It had been that long since this man had felt compassion from another. What did Jesus do next? We know from other stories that He could have healed him right off. Yet Jesus did something better. He first gave the man what he needed most. Out of love and compassion, “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” (verse 13) For the first time in perhaps years, another person reached out and touched this lonely, leprous human being.

In the midst of the emotion that may have begun to swell within the man, Jesus then said, “I am willing. Be clean.” And the leprosy left him.

 

So now I’d like to give you a virtual hug … nope, just doesn’t cute it. Oh well. I hope you have a great Halloween Friday.


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Truth and Peace

truth and peace

 

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: … love truth and peace.” (Zechariah 8:19)

Truth and peace – I have to admit that I sometimes find it hard to include peace with my blog posts about truth. I indeed love the truth. When I write about truth in a way that confronts some false message within Christianity, I tend to get passionate. Yet I am sometimes a bit harsh in my response to deception. I have a hard time including peace while I lash out at some religious doctrine that is contrary to the truth of Gods word. The truth is so important to me – I lose sight of the need for compassion. My prideful human nature often closes my eyes to the peaceful approach.

The peace I wish to bring doesn’t come from me – it comes from the Holy Spirit within me. So if you read a blog post of mine that includes just the right mix of truth and peace, then you will know that I stepped out of the way and let the Holy Spirit of God speak through me. And if the peace is missing from my message, I sincerely apologize to you, and God.


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Ferguson, Mo. – in need of compassion

Ferguson Mo

Yesterday coffee with the usual Wednesday morning guys. Rick brought up the stuff happening in Ferguson, Mo.: The agitators from outside the community, and even outside the state, stirring up trouble. The celebrities, like Al Sharpton, also feeding the anger. And the store owners, staying up all night guarding their shops, trying to protect their livelihood from looters. Then Rick asked a question that was hard to consider, especially since I had barely started drinking my coffee: “As Christians, what should be our response to all this?”

It would be so easy to get sucked into the anger, and lash out at one side or the other. But I really don’t think that’s what Jesus wants me to do. Look, everyone involved is just a normal, broken human being. We are all messed up, full of sin and selfishness. Things like compassion don’t seem to come naturally. It’s the ugly responses, the judgment and harsh words, that seem to naturally ooze out of us. What should be my Christian response? I choose compassion and love. For how could I judge those who are no different from me – a typical screwed up person?


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Healing the Pain of Sexual Abuse

healing the pain of sexual abuse

My first stepfather sexually abused me when I was 7 years old. A typical situation, I suppose – he threatened harm if I told anyone. Fortunately, there were other problems with the marriage, and my mom divorced him after only a year together. But we all had scars from that experience.

My scars fed my strong desire for revenge. As I grew older and came to understand what he had done to me, I grew angrier. In my late teens, I fantasized about running into him someday. I planned each move, the first being a fully energized kick square in the source of my suffering, sending him to his knees. There were times when I even dreamed of killing him. The hate was strong and painful.

About 20 years later, I met Jesus Christ and He started teaching me about love and forgiveness. It’s taken me a long time to learn the lesson, but I finally let go of the hate. I wholeheartedly forgive my stepfather. I feel sorry for him, for he was a very troubled person. And I’m now free of my own troubles – free from the pain of hate and memories, freed by forgiveness. Thanks to the love and forgiveness of Jesus.


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My Father God

To me, God is my perfect parent. God, my Father, loves me unconditionally. He may not always like some of the things I do, and He may even get angry at me sometimes. But like all really good parents, there is nothing I can do that will affect the love He has for me. And like all loving parents, what He may desire most is a close, intimate relationship with His children. “Yet to all who did receive him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

I am so grateful to be a child of God.