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 Church, or Not to Church, That is the Question

“So, where do you go to church?” I use to hate that question. It’s been ten years since I attended the Presbyterian Church in town, and still, I run across people I sat next to in those pews, but haven’t seen since then. We bump into each other in the grocery store or coffee shop, and they always ask, “So CJ, where do you go to church now?”

I always felt awkward replying to the question, for I haven’t attended a regular church since leaving Presby. Oh, in my early days as a de-churched orphan, I test-drove other churches in town, but for reasons I don’t totally understand, I never felt like going back.

So my answer to the question usually starts with, “Well, um, you see. I don’t go to church. Haven’t since leaving Presby.”

My inquisitor usually gets that look, maybe you’ve seen it. Their face fills with concern and fear for my soul. They immediately believe I’ve left Christianity and jumped into the black pit of heathendom.

“However,” I truthfully add, “I feel closer to Jesus and God now than I ever have before.”

The look changes from concern and fear to confusion. How could that be, how could someone find closeness to God and Jesus without attending church? My fellow pew-sitter from the past and I usually part ways, with them still wondering about my soul (I suspect), and me felling I didn’t get my message across.

But now I have a better answer to the question.

Where do I go to church? Well, my Church doesn’t have a name, and there is no building. For me, Church is not a place—it’s a belief. When do I go to church? Whenever I want, and it’s not just Sunday. I go to church every day, any time of the day, whenever I can wrestle my thoughts away from the outside world and look inside, to Jesus within me.

Jesus tells us in the Bible that Church, the one true Church, is wherever His Spirit lives. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of God resided in the Temple, in the back room called the Holy of Holies. But Jesus changed all that.

As He said, His Spirit now lives within all who believe in Him and believe what He promised. He promised that His Spirit would be IN us, and we IN Him. You’ve heard the phrase, you body is a Temple. So true, if you believe.

Look inside, to the Spirit of Jesus within you, and you will find the one true Church.

 

Here are some of my favorite Bible verses on the subject:

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)

He also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? … for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

As Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)

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Life Without Jesus is a Heart Attack

Everyone deals with stress and anxiety in their own way. And as we all know, there’s plenty of stressful stuff polluting our lives these days. Some people are stronger than others and can deal with stress on their own. I once thought I was one of the strong people. Not anymore.

I now look at some of the crap going on in my life and think, “You know Jesus, if you weren’t here with me right now, I would probably take this stuff too seriously and give myself a heart attack.” One thing Jesus’ presence in my life does for me is, He helps keep my priorities focused on Him, rather than all that meaningless stressful stuff.

How do you handle stress? Alone, or with help?

I thought of this today while reading Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)


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Surrender is Freedom

Dear Internet-browsing friend,

Surrender is a hard thing to do. It goes against our defensive and self-centered nature. But when you feel the reality of the actual Spirit of Jesus living within you; when you feel the certainty of His presence; when you feel the warmth of His love – then surrender will feel easy, and you’ll crave it.

Surrendering to an unseen God you may not be certain of – that’s hard. But when your feelings show you the certain presence of Jesus within you – surrender is easy. The more you know Jesus and His love for you, the more you will trust Him. And the more you trust Him, the more you will want to give your life to Him. After all, He’s better equipped to deal with life’s problems than any of us are.

And you will discover the absolute peace, freedom and joy that come with giving control of your life to Jesus. Surrendering to men is imprisonment. Surrendering to Jesus is freedom.

Though I don’t know your name, I pray for you. I pray that you will come to feel the undeniable presence of the Spirit of Jesus living within you.


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Finding Peace in the Face of Terror

(Beware – Jesus Christ inside. If you are uncomfortable with Christianity… well, I’ve warned you.)

 

Does the terror in the world frighten you? Though others share your fears, do you feel alone in your fear? Does it feel like you are standing alone against the fear that darkens your mood? Does it feel like we are fighting the same enemy, but each of us is alone in our private battle?

I think these questions make sense, for since fear is an internal and individual emotion, we cannot band together to combat our private fear.

Look, I’m no preacher. I’m just a regular afraid person, maybe a lot like you. But I’m not alone in my battle against my fears. Yet, because of what’s going on in the world, I’m concerned for everyone who feels the knot in their stomach pull tighter with each terrorist attack. I wish I could help people deal with the terror. Yet, as I said above, you are alone in your battle. I can’t join you there.

But someone can. Yes, this is where Jesus enters in.

No matter what you see on the surface of Christianity, the truth is that Christianity is all about a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. He’s alive, as Spirit. His body died, but his soul lives. And he wants to live with you.

A relationship with Jesus gives you a real sense that you are never alone. Jesus can be with you, helping you battle your fears. And he can help you understand why the world seems to be falling apart. There are answers that make sense, once you see them.

Jesus can also show you how to escape your world, and enter his world, the inner-mind where his Spirit and your soul live. And that’s where you can find a peace that confounds the terror of the outer world.

Do you want to find a way to fight against the terrorists and their efforts to infect the world with an epidemic of fear? If so, look for Jesus in your inner-mind.

If Christianity is new to you, there are lots of great churches and Christians who can help you. But no matter what path you follow, what’s most important is your personal time with Jesus. Go to a quiet place, empty your mind of the distractions of the world, (this is the hardest part for me), and look inside your inner-mind. With practice, you may start to feel Jesus there. And together, the two of you can win the battle against your fear.

 

 

(Originally posted on Dec. 5, 2015)


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I am With You Always

Do you feel close to me, the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within you? Do you feel my presence? Have you grown to rely on me to be with you, always there when you need me? Do you feel the peace of our shared life together, our shared love together? Do you hunger and thirst for my presence, and do you feel a sting of panic if you don’t immediately sense me when you look my way?

One more question, a request really: imagine how you would feel if you looked for me and I was no longer there. Imagine what your life would be like without me.

If you feel a sense of utter, overpowering despair, then you have a small taste of how I felt when I died for you on that cross. For when I took the burden of the sins of humanity, my Father God and I were separated, no longer together, no longer one. His presence was gone. And I fell off that cross and into the black, empty void of despair… into hell.

But do not despair, for I will never leave you. I will always be with you.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)


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Freedom from Stress

The stress of work climbs onto your shoulders and tries to wrestle you to the ground.

Troubled relationships reach into your gut, mess with your nerves, and stir up an anxious soup of sickness.

The world around us is trembling with explosions and death.

Do you sometimes feel like a tortured prisoner of life?

You know what I’ll say next. Those of us who try to follow Jesus know where our freedom comes from, though it’s often hard to feel that freedom.

Close your eyes to the stress. Look away from your anxious feelings. And look to the Spirit of Jesus within you. He will calm your nerves and set you free.


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Beyond Church

Church is a great place to learn about God and Jesus, strengthen your faith, and establish long lasting relationships with new friends. But when it comes to your most important relationship, church can sometimes be a distraction. You’re relationship with Jesus is not established and strengthened in the midst of a crowd. You will find and feel your relationship with Jesus in your quiet time with Him.

In His instructions for how we should pray, Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6) That’s where we will find Jesus, in the quiet and solitude of our own private place.

Do you hunger for a stronger relationship with Jesus? Then look beyond church. Look to the quiet and solitude within your heart, for that is where the Spirit of Jesus lives.