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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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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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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Death penalty or a pardon; it’s not up to you

The headline will proclaim that another wacko took a life in the name of God; their belief being that God came to them in a dream and told them to murder. Would it surprise you to hear that there is a Baptist church that believes the US government should be the executioner for God?

I have been on a letter-writing campaign, periodically submitting comments to the web site of the Westboro Baptist Church, the home of Pastor Fred Phelps, a person well-known as a preacher of hate. What follows is a comment I submitted about this topic of prescribing the death penalty in the name of God.

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Dear Mr. Phelps,

In your sermon of August 24th, which I recently listened to on the WBC wet site, you mentioned that God prescribed the death penalty to sodomites. Yes, indeed He did. And you mentioned something about the need for this country to carry out that death penalty, from Washington on down. You said…

“…this nation won’t even approach getting right with God, until they reinstitute the death penalty for sodomy, from Washington on down.”

There are two things about this statement that concern me. First of all, it seems to ignore the fact that for those who believe and repent, Jesus already took the death penalty upon Himself. Even if someone continues to sin (as we all do – there are none without sin), and yet also continues to repent, there is no death penalty awaiting them.

[As a side note, it occurs to me that we may continue to sin out of human nature and habit (not always out of a desire to sin), but we continue to repent out of love, for God and His Son. Another example of why love is the answer, not hate. But this is just my opinion, so take it or leave it.]

The second thing that concerns me about your death penalty statement is this: is it really the nation’s responsibility to enact the death penalty for those who do not believe and who unrepentantly sin against God’s laws? It would be wrong for humans to take on responsibilities that belong exclusively to God. In searching for an answer, I found the following:

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8) The Holy Spirit of God is to judge, not us.

“For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’” (Hebrews 10:30)

As God told Isaiah, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” (Isaiah 13:11)

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'” (Romans 12:17-20)

This last passage of scripture contains so many messages from God, where I hope and pray that you and all those at Westboro Baptist Church will have the eyes to see. Do not repay evil, for evil. Live peaceably with all men. Leave vengeance and the responsibility for punishment with God. And you will do more for God by feeding your enemy, than hating them.

Dear Mr. Phelps, please open your heart. No matter what your personal feelings are about those who sin, please be an example of the ultimate act of humility; please let go of your feelings and your desires, and embrace what God wants for you. Not your will, but His will be done in your life.

Sincerely,

E.D. Jones


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Would Jesus hate?

There are some who believe God hates you and me. I have been on a letter-writing campaign, periodically submitting comments to the web site of the Westboro Baptist Church, the home of Pastor Fred Phelps, a person well-known as a preacher of hate. Hoping that others may gain something by seeing the comments I’ve submitted, I have been periodically posting these comments on this blog. What follows is an oldie but a goodie.

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Dear Mr. Phelps,

Please understand that if I didn’t sincerely care for the collective souls of the Westboro Baptist Church, I would not keep writing to you. By the way, it is not in my nature to care for people who I consider so filled with hate. My natural tendency would be to hate you right back (see, I’m not immune to hypocrisy). So the only explanation I can give you for my compassion is this: as with all good things, it comes from God. God has somehow softened my heart and truly filled me with care and compassion for all of you. That is why I keep writing.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers daily. And it was while praying for you that the idea for this letter came to me. God put it on my heart, and in my mind, to write again to you today. As with all things, His words convey the message that is on my heart, far better than any words I could come up with.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Matthew 19:21

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11:4)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:49-50)

“The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Forgive others as God forgives us. In all things, do as Jesus did. Speak Gods words, not our own. Jesus being both God and human while He walked the earth, we will do well to speak as Jesus spoke while we still walk the earth. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This is how we should act, feel and speak, if we are to truly follow Jesus.

And this brings me to what has been on my heart. Where did Jesus ever tell anyone that He hated them? He chastised people, to be sure. But He never once told someone He hated them. Nor did He tell anyone that God hated them. And neither should we!

You are not following Jesus! Please heed His warning:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Please Mr. Phelps! Honor your savior. I beg you to open your heart and see the truth behind your actions. But don’t listen to me; listen to Jesus, and follow Jesus.

Sincerely,

E.D. Jones