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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To Leave Everything … and Follow Him

They left everything, and followed Jesus. I was reading in the gospel of Luke about when Jesus started calling the first disciples. When He called Peter and again when He called Matthew, Luke writes that they “left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:11, 28) They left their former way of life – fishing for Peter and tax collecting for Matthew – and physically followed Jesus.

That’s fine for them, but what does it mean to me to leave everything? One thing I’m certain about, Jesus isn’t calling me to leave work, home, and family to physically follow Him on some mission trip. Since His Spirit lives within me, I don’t have to physically go anywhere in order to follow Him. I feel He wants me to follow Him right where I am; at work, home, and in my family.

But what is He calling me to leave behind? For me, I feel Jesus calling me to leave my old self behind. Myself, who reacts stressfully to chaotic stuff at work; myself, who is sometimes selfish and not thinking enough of the needs of others; and myself, who sometimes goes for long stretches of time without thinking of Jesus.

For me, I think it boils down to the call to be in the world, but not of the world; for example, to be at work, but not let work control my reactions to things. For me, to leave work and follow Jesus is to let Him control my reactions to the chaos of work.

I believe Jesus calls each of us in a very personal way; His call to you may be different from His call to me. Do you feel Jesus calling you to leave everything and follow Him? And what is He calling you to leave? What does this mean to you?


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I Can’t Trust Myself

trust myself - cant

Yesterday I wrote a post where I used a story a friend had told me. But I made a mistake in that in citing the story, I got the facts wrong. And I got them wrong in a way that hurt my close friend. I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about this since yesterday. It all reminds me that I can’t always trust myself. I can’t trust my thoughts, my ideas, my mind. Left to myself, too often I’ll get something wrong.

This morning, while praying about this and asking Jesus to help me, He gently reminded me to just trust Him. As Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1) It occurred to me that He didn’t say, “Trust yourself; trust also in God and me.” Jesus is telling me to put all my trust in Him and our Father. He’s telling me to put no trust in myself. I like this – it makes me feel better.

As I can’t trust myself and my own mind, my hearts desire is to surrender my mind to the Spirit of Jesus within me, and let Him control my thoughts, my ideas, and my mind. It’s definitely not easy, especially for me. But there’s a promise along the path of this journey of surrendering my mind to Jesus. As Paul said, “… the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

And I’m so grateful.


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Christian Decline in US

PEW Chart

The PEW Research Center recently released the results of its 2014 Religious Landscape Survey. Since its first such survey in 2007, the number of Christian adults in the US has shrunk by an estimated 5 million people. Yet over that same time, the US adult population has increased by 18 million. Why is the Christian church shrinking in the US?

Jesus knew the answer: “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

I believe that some churches have moved from a solid foundation of the truth of Jesus Christ, to a foundation of sand. Resting on manmade traditions and rules, and preaching popular opinion rather than the true essence of Christianity – this is the foundation of many of today’s churches. And they are crumbling. The PEW research shows the result.

Yet turning those survey results around is easy.


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Gift Exchange

Today, Good Friday, we recognize the sacrifice Jesus took upon Himself for all of us. He gave His life for us. Because I’m so grateful, I’d like to give Jesus something in return. As He did for me, I’d like to do for Him – I’d like to give Jesus my life.

To surrender my life to Jesus – how can I do that today? What does this look like? How about this: I’ll give Jesus my thoughts today, as often as I am able.

Are you grateful for what Jesus did for you? Give Him your thoughts today. Focus your mind on Jesus as often as you are able.


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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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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.