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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Why Doesn’t God Give Up?

Sometimes I try to look at this world from a detached perspective. Like, how would this mashed up mixture of humanity look to an alien from another planet?

So much strife, and evil, and violence, and arrogance, and judgment, and hypocrisy, and selfishness, and hate, and on the list goes. What a mess we are!

And then I wonder… why doesn’t God give up on this failed experiment of humanity? If I were Him, I would have walked away a long time ago. But He didn’t give up. He hasn’t walked away. In fact, He sacrificed His Son in order to save this experiment.

WOW! God must love us a lot.


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Pulled Back From the Cliff, Again

The stress of work…

it grabbed a hold of my mind;

it dragged me to the edge of the cliff.

Such agony, teetering there on the edge,

looking down into the black pit,

the stale air rising up from below,

making it hard to breathe.

Every morning as I got out of bed,

my mind would run to work,

and drag me back to the edge of that pit.

My chest would tighten,

my blood pressure rising,

all day long.

And then God took my hand,

and He pulled me back

and into His arms, again.

And God reminded me of what He’d taught me before:

don’t try to control my day;

don’t be a victim of the day;

just Experience each day, with God,

and Trust God with control of my day.

Now I stand with the Spirit of Jesus,

holding His hand,

watching the day go by.

And that cliff is no longer in sight.

And I’m so grateful.


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Do you want to see God?

Friends say my oldest son looks like me. I don’t see it. Both of my sons look unique to me. And that person I see in the mirror looks unique to – he doesn’t look like me, but rather some older guy.

Anyway, this morning I was thinking about how those of us who believe in Jesus, in certain ways we look like our Father God. Of course it’s not our physical features that make us look like God, but rather how we interact with other people. It’s our love and compassion, our patience and understanding, our humility and peacefulness – these are the gifted traits we inherit from God that help us look like Him.

The part that rattles my mind is that other people can actually see God in me, when I let His gifted traits shine out. I’m still trying to get a grasp on that one.

Do you want to see God? Try looking in the mirror.


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How Would You Feel If…?

What if you knew for certain that tomorrow you were going to be tortured and killed? How would you feel today, knowing what waits for you tomorrow?

A weird and disturbing question, I know. But your answer may help you feel some of what Jesus felt, as he waited for His fate.

I don’t ask this to stir up feelings of guilt. Instead I hope you will feel overwhelming love and gratitude. What Jesus did for all of us was not easy. He suffered so we won’t have to. So how do you feel?


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Wreckage?

I’m floating in a sea,

surrounded by debris and wreckage.

The wreckage of this broken world;

the wreckage of my life.

Surrounded,

unable to clearly see the horizon

for all the wreckage.

I search the horizon for Jesus.

I look for Father God.

I know they are here;

something inside me feels their presence.

But the wreckage crowds my view.

Without God, there is only wreckage.

And finally, the wreckage breaks up.

And God opens a way, from Him to me.

And now He’s here;

His Spirit is within me, floating here with me.

And the wreckage pulls away from God,

unable to touch Him.

With the Spirit of God and Jesus within me,

the wreckage of my life floats off,

and I feel peace.

———————-

This is a typical morning for me, quietly sitting with coffee mug in hand, surrounded by the wreckage that fills my mind. And then God appears. Oh Lord! Dear Jesus! I love you as much as I am able. And I live because you live within me.


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Feeling Surrounded by God

Redwood trees

I went for a hike in a redwood forest yesterday. I admire redwood trees; so tall, so old, so strong. My mind drifted away from my life and wondered at the lives of the trees. Most of them are hundreds of years old, and some are over a thousand.

And then I felt it – the majesty of God. Surrounded by trees that had witnessed hundreds of years of God’s creation, I also felt surrounded by God. Oh, I feel the presence of God’s Spirit within me almost every day. But most days, God and I are surrounded by the chaos of the world, and I don’t often see God in the midst of that chaos.

But yesterday, in the midst of that majestic redwood forest, there was no chaos – only God. And it felt great.

Thank you Lord.


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Satan is Terrified

Jesus confronted Satan many times during His life on earth. This morning I was reading about one of those times in the gospel of Mark. Jesus came across a demon-possessed man causing trouble among some tombs. In referring to the man, Mark writes:

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’” (Mark 5:6-7)

The demons of Satan were absolutely terrified of Jesus. Satan fell on his knees at Jesus’ feet and begged Jesus for mercy. I stopped reading and just focused on that fact. What does it mean to me, that Satan is terrified of Jesus? Think about it – what does it mean to you?


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My letter of Thanks

Dear God,

Thank you for saving my father. Yesterday my dad had open heart surgery, where with your help the doctors performed a double bypass and replaced the faulty heart valve. And my dad is 88 years old! And he survived! And the surgery was without any complications!

As you know from my prayers yesterday, and as I’m sorry to say, I had my doubts at times. I doubted my dad would survive. But I hope my doubts were not because of my sometimes weak faith, but because I trust you. I trusted you to do your will, and I accept that your will may have been to bring my dad to be home with you, in heaven. But by your love for all who love my dad, you gave him back to us, to be with us a bit longer. Thank you.

I believe we witnessed your miracle yesterday. I believe when we looked into my dad’s eyes as he began to wake up again, that we saw the miracle of your love and presence and hand in the surgery. For in addition to whatever part you had in the surgery itself, you gave my dad the will to live. And you helped him see your love and the love of his family.

This is beginning to feel like a rambling letter. But I just wanted to publically thank you for your love in our lives, and the new life you’ve given my dad.

And dear Jesus, thank you for being there with all of us, in that waiting room. Some of us felt the presence of your Spirit. Waiting with you sure made the waiting easier.


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Book Challenge Day #55 – Typing, finally

ghost writer

My hand-written first draft notes are all safely in my notebook, all except for the last chapter. But tonight is big not because of that, but because I started typing the first draft, beginning to make edits on the way. There is something special for me when I finally start typing a new book project. It feels more real, not like my barely legible hand-writing. I just finished typing chapter one and I’ll get started on chapter two as soon as I post this brief message.

This book project, driven along by my challenge to write and publish this book in three months, has really picked up momentum the past week. And I’d like to use this particular post to thank my co-writer… the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who lives within me, and probably within you too. He’s the real drive behind this project. His presence fills me with energy, excitement, and words. And I’m so grateful. Thanks

 

(September 9, 2015: day 55 down, 38 more to go, of The Challenge… to write a book, from concept to self-publish, in 3 months.)


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Done with Church

Here’s a brief and interesting post I just came across…

JLP Pastor

Over at Scot McKnight’s blog, the first of a planned series of excerpts from Church Refugees, a book about “dechurched” people. Not marginal attenders or cynics, they were the kind of high-involvement people every church wants to have. But along the way the church converted them, and they went from from enthusiastic church folks to “done with religion.”

We call these people the dechurched or the Dones: They’re done with church. They’re tired and fed up with church. They’re dissatisfied with the structure, social message, and politics of the institutional church, and they’ve decided they and their spiritual lives are better off lived outside of organized religion.

Here’s an example from one such “Done” called Ethan:

when we finally left the church, we’ve just done house church where we create and do things with, others rather than for them. I’m done with the top-down, institutional church. I thought…

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The Church’s Hidden Back Door

Holy Soup

Beef up outreach. Emphasize evangelism. Plant more churches. Polish the marketing.

None of this is reversing the overall trend of church decline. Even when a church attracts new members it doesn’t grow. Why?

It can’t add people fast enough to make up for the legions slipping out the back door.

They are the Dones–those who are done with organized church. New research reveals the enormity of the back-door effect. Sociologist Josh Packard, as a follow-up to his book Church Refugees, conducted a new national study through the Social Research Lab to determine the size, make-up and motivations of the formerly churched population in the United States.

The survey results are stunning. Some 31 percent of the entire U.S. adult population was once churched and now has dropped out and disconnected from any organized church. That’s a population of 65 million adults.

With that kind of exodus, it’s difficult for any…

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Book Challenge – Day #1

ghost writer

Challenge to self: write and self-publish a book within three months. This isn’t a new idea for me, but while checking out many of the presentations at the on-going Self-Publishing Success Summit, I finally felt energy growing within me… let’s do it.

So this morning, right after getting out of bed, I started talking with God, asking Him for ideas. What would He like me to write about that could be contained in a short, maybe 20,000-word book? I so love writing with God, because He’s always there for me. I think He loves writing too, for it’s another way He can communicate with His children. Even before I started making coffee, an idea started coming into focus. And half-way through that first cup of coffee, I started drawing a mind-map with the ideas that were coming into my still-dreamy head. And now, the whole story is laid out before me.

I think God has a sense of humor, because the idea he gave me is a fiction story. Yet all my experience is writing non-fiction. To pull this off, I’ll have to dig deep into my past, when I was a young kid who loved to make up stories. I’m excited.

Anyway, if you’re interested in following my progress with this challenge, check back once in awhile. I’ll try to share the experience. October 17th, 2015 … wish me luck.


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Wading Through the Rubble of my Mind

cluttered mind

Each morning, with coffee in hand, I take my precious quiet time and seek God, within me. I sit in my rustic garage corner-office/storage-room, sometimes reading the daily devotional in Jesus Calling, sometimes reading my bible, but always trying to focus my mind on Jesus and God.

Yet, every morning before I can find my way to God, I need to wade my way through the trash and rubble that clogs my mind. I need to clear a path to God, through thoughts about work, home projects, personal challenges, and often-meaningless distractions. Some mornings, my minds rubble piles up high and deep, and it can be rough going, bouncing from one distraction to the next. But if I patiently keep digging, I eventually break through the rubble and … there’s God, always waiting for me.

And I’m so grateful.


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I Need More Than Coffee

coffee cup

Morning coffee,

as strong as I can make it without the grounds spilling out of the basket.

Just enough milk to smooth out the bitter, but not dilute the strong flavor.

My mind slowly wakes and comes into focus.

But it’s not enough.

Today, everyday, I need more than coffee.

The coffee clears my mind.

But my soul, my feelings, still feel fuzzy and confused.

I feel a bit dark, though not like my coffee – that’s a good dark.

I feel a bit bleak, a little depressed, slightly purposeless.

Coffee alone doesn’t help.

I need God.

It’s hard to sweep away the clouds and distractions of life.

It’s hard to sometimes see God through the clutter in my mind.

But He’s there, just beyond the clutter, always waiting for me.

It takes time, it takes emptiness, it takes some sweeping of my mind to see God.

Yet when I wade my way though my messy thoughts,

and put the stuff of life behind me,

God greets me with a warm bear hug.

He hugs my soul. And the clouds lift.

There is no better way to start the day.

And I’m so grateful.


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Welcomed Home… Every Time

prodigal son

Here I sit in my man-cave office – actually, mixture of storage room, cluttered desk, and dust. But it’s my quiet space, isolated from distractions, where I have some of my best one-on-one time with God. This morning is like every morning… coffee in hand and God on my mind, and in my heart. Today I look back over my shoulder at yesterday.

Reflection… looking back I see that yesterday was like most days. More than once, I turned my back on God and abandoned Him. It may seem like nothing, just a typical reaction to life. Like getting consumed by a project at work and venting a bit of frustration at a co-worker. But in that moment, I can’t see God, for my back is to Him.

Yet every time I turn around, there He is. And like the father of the prodigal son, God does more than patiently wait for me to come back to Him. As soon as He sees me turn around, He runs to me, wraps His arms around me, and welcomes me home. Every time. Such is His love for all of us. And I’m so grateful.


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His Hands With Mine

ghost writer

Haven’t been blogging lately. Been too busy working on the book I’m writing with God. I know that might sound weird to you, but that’s the way it feels to me. And for me, there’s no other way to write, as I’m not by nature a writer. So I pray as I write, often spending more time with my eyes closed than with my fingers on the keyboard. Okay, so progress seems slow – just a good test for my natural impatience.

Anyway, I just felt like checking in with my blog today. And I want express my gratitude to God for having His hands on the keyboard along with mine.


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The Approaching Stress Cloud

storm cloud

5:30am – an hour to go before the call. No big deal. Just an early morning work conference call, where I’ll be giving a presentation. But for my co-workers and me, this is a big presentation. I want it to go well. And so my tendency would be to get stressed out. But I don’t want stress. Stress would hog the next hour and keep me from doing what I want to be doing – writing.

So I pray to the Holy Spirit of Jesus within me, and this is what came into my mind: “The presentation doesn’t matter. It’s purely worldly and has no value. What matters is relationships, and love.”

As the reality of this truth settled into my mind, the approaching stress-cloud melted away. And I’m so grateful.


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Working for God

My hearts desire is to write, but I’m stuck in my engineering job, shoveling stress and trying to cope with corporate “junk.” Sometimes I fail and let the stress consume me – I just can’t shovel as fast as they pile it on.

Many times I’ve asked God, “Why am I here? I look for meaning in my job, but can’t find anything that matters. I feel like I’m wasting so much time of my brief life. Why am I at this meaningless job when my hearts desire is to surrender to You and devote all my time doing whatever you want me to do? Well, I guess you want me in this job.”

Today I was thinking, what can I do for God while in my “meaningless” job. Well, I could try to find joy in every moment, knowing and trusting that in that moment, I’m where God wants me to be. I could strive to be like Brother Lawrence, who found joy and peace in everything he did, because he was always in the presence of God.

Then it hit me: maybe the reason I’m in my meaningless job is because my feelings about the job make me crave more closeness with God and Jesus. If I didn’t have a stress-pit of a job, I would not be so hungry for the presence of Jesus in my life. The more stressful the job, the more I look for Jesus to help me. I think I’m now sincerely grateful for my job, and for more than just the financial security, which I’m always grateful for.

I know I’m weak and this joyful feeling may be fleeting, but I sure am grateful for my time with the Spirit of God and Jesus, no matter what I’m doing.


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The Power of “And”

AND

I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to those in Rome. This morning I was in chapter 3, where I read this: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24)

I sin AND I’m justified, that is, I’m declared righteous by God, by my faith in Jesus. I’ve read Romans many times over the years, and at first I didn’t see the “and”; I didn’t recognize it’s power. I sin and I’m righteous, in God’s eyes. My sin does not affect God’s opinion of me. Where sin will not harm me, it’s faith that saves me. Instead of worrying about sin, I should focus on faith.

By the way, it’s my faith in God and Jesus that feeds my love for them. And it’s my ever-growing love for them that feeds my desire to not sin. Avoiding sin is therefore motivated by love, rather than fear.

AND, God loves you no matter your sins.