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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Trust? I Guess So

Trust is being able to predict and count on another persons response to things that happen. It’s knowing they will be there to hold your hand when a crisis consumes you. It’s knowing they will satisfy their promises and commitments to you. Trust is knowing they will do what you expect and need them to do.

So, whom can I rely on with absolute, pure, undiluted trust? Well, please don’t take this as cynical, but I don’t feel I can trust anyone, not with absolute trust.

Look, as humans we all have weaknesses and flaws. It’s nothing to fret about, it’s just a reality to accept. Our weaknesses and flaws are like pits along the road of our personal journey—sometimes we fall in and can’t get out in time to be there for someone who needs us. Sometimes the pit that holds us back is not a flaw or weakness, but our own personal crisis.

I certainly trust other people. I just accept their human nature and the fact that my trust will not always be supported by their actions. And that’s all okay with me. I try to remember, if someone in my life doesn’t respond as I need them to, as I trust they will, it’s just because they are a flawed human, like me.

Anyway, I then thought about my relationship with God. No flaws. No weaknesses. And His responses to me are predictable as far as my feeble mind can imagine He might respond. I can trust God completely, without any hesitation, and always. And I’m really grateful for that.

How do you feel about trust? What does it mean to you? How does it feel when you can’t trust someone?


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Chasing Surrender

Am I here? Have I found it? This feels like it could be right. This feels like it could be the absolute surrender I’ve been chasing for such a long time. Just sitting here in front of my computer, my copy of The Practice of the Presence of God sitting in my lap, eyes closed and mind open to the Spirit of Jesus living within me. And I believe I’ve sincerely offered to Him my life. And by that I mean, I’ve freely and without my own agenda, offered Him my time. What would He like me to do right now? What would He like me to write about?

And I’ve made a mind shift this morning. I have so many writing projects I’d like to work on; books, website changes, blog posts, and more books… lots of planned books to work on. But I’m no longer calling them “planned” books. Instead they are just “ideas” for books. And I’ve offered those ideas to Jesus. If He sees value in any of them, then I believe I have sincerely chosen to trust Him to do something about it, hopefully through me.

Is this true surrender? I think so. I hope so. I’ve been chasing surrender for such a long time, off and on. I hope I’ve finally caught up with it.


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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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What is Christianity?

Being good, loving others, going to church, having faith in Jesus. These are all good pieces of the Christianity puzzle. And then, being hypocritical and judgmental … oops, I wandered off into people’s perceptions rather than the truth.

But what is the core truth of what it means to be a Christian? The Apostle Paul might summarize it as having faith, hope and love. I like this answer. But for me, the core answer goes even deeper … to trust.

It’s my trust in Jesus that allows me to have faith, hope and love. Christianity is trusting what Jesus said and promised as recorded in the Bible. It’s trusting that Jesus alone will save us, rather than our own efforts. And it’s trusting in the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus, here within each of us who believe. And to believe requires trust.

Christianity is trust.


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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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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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Diving into His arms

cliff diving

Here I am again, at the edge of the cliff.

Not a high cliff – it’s a short drop into His arms.

Jesus is waiting for me, with His arms open wide.

Just a brief fall away.

I come here every day, to the edge of this cliff,

this cliff of absolute trust and surrender.

I remember the first few times I came here.

Something would bring me to the very edge,

a prayer, a flood of emotion, the gentle hand of God on my shoulder.

Yet for reasons I’m unsure of, I would back away.

Falling into Jesus scared me back then.

But no more, for His love is more powerful than my fear.

So this morning, filled with the passion He’s given me,

I leap off the cliff.

I so love you dear Jesus.

Let me back up and get a running start.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeee

Floating into His arms of love and compassion,

those arms again spread out for me,

those arms first spread out on the cross, for me,

and you.

Today I’m diving into Jesus’ arms, with absolute trust and surrender.

Dive on in… the Holy water is great.


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Breaking Into My Anxious Thoughts

coffee with Jesus

A typical morning: coffee mug warming my hands, Jesus Calling devotional opened to yesterday (I’m usually a day behind), and my mind ping-ponging between the book on my lap and the Spirit of Jesus within my mind. And of course, my mind often takes a side trip and finds something to be anxious about.

This morning it was the idea of eventually publishing the book I’m writing. The marketing piece of this project isn’t very appealing, though it’s something I feel comfortable with. But like most would-be authors (I suspect), I would rather spend my time writing than marketing. The accelerated blogging, more time on Facebook, and whatever other opportunities make sense at the time – all this was feeling more like a dark cloud on the horizon than something to get excited about.

Then Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts. He immediately reminded me that it’s not up to me whether the book gets published, or up to anyone else. It’s God’s decision. And that’s just the way I want it. Having God in charge of this book project removes all of my self-induced stress. Jesus broke into my anxious thoughts, and the anxiety melted away. And I’m so grateful.


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Trust… can be difficult when I get in the way

trust

The idea for a new writing project has been growing in my mind over the weekend. Though I feel pulled toward this project, taking hold of it right now would take time away from other things. So I’ve been asking God for advice.

I often go to God, asking Him to make decisions for me. I trust His decisions far more than my own. Yet most times, I already have a preference. And with that preference burning in my mind, I feel I can’t fully trust that the answer that comes to me is solely from God. Maybe it’s my preference, making too much noise for me to hear God’s answer.

Though my heart hungers to trust completely in God, my mind often gets in the way. Yet God is patient with me, and I’m so grateful.


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Checking the Pulse on Your New Years Resolution

Pulse check

Yes, my resolution is still alive, strong, and growing within me. How is your resolution (if you’re into that kind of thing)?

My resolution is to let the Spirit of Jesus become a greater part of my life, and have my self-centered self become a lesser part. As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

Am I doing any better at letting Jesus become a greater part of my life? Well, I’m not sure. My selfish ego is pretty stubborn, wanting all my attention, all the time. And lifelong habits are hard to change. But I take comfort in God’s promises, which are scattered generously throughout the bible. One of my favorites is…

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

God will work my resolution within me. Can you trust God with your resolution?


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Don’t You Trust Me?

potter and clay

Very gradually, over many years, God has been forming me into the person He wants me to be. He’s been going very slowly – I think because He knows I couldn’t handle a faster pace.

Yet sometimes I resist, pushing back on His efforts to shape me. Other times, like today, I wish He would work faster. Even though God has made some great changes in my life, I rarely seem to be satisfied with where I am in my journey to be less like me and more like Jesus.

So this morning, while spending my favorite time with God, I asked Him to speed things up. What came into my mind was this: “Don’t you trust me?” Well, of course I trust God. But I think He was reminding me that His pace is the best pace. I just need to relax and trust Him to mold me in a way that I can handle.

God works in each of us in a very unique way, each at the pace that is best for us. And I’m grateful.


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Who’s Sharing Your Bicycle for Two?

bicycle for two

How do I write about something where I can’t find the words to describe it? How do I describe this shared existence, this life with the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus sharing this body with this soul named CJ? And I’m not talking about a typical human shared existence, like I have with my wife. I’m talking about sharing this body with the creator of all that exists, and with the human part of Him who sacrificed His life for me, and you. How do I describe something beyond the range of human words?

The best I can do is compare this shared existence with human things we do understand. How about this: consider your life as a bicycle for two. For much of your life, you sit on this bicycle alone, with the back seat empty. When you invite the Holy Spirit of Jesus into your life, there He is, now sitting on the back seat.

Yet life will still be tough, even with Jesus peddling behind you. You still have to steer your way around the sharp twists and turns of life, and stay in your seat on those rocky roads. But what if you gave the front seat to Jesus? Picture life with Him steering the way, dodging the obstacles of your life. That’s surrender. That’s really living.


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Joy of Surrender

surrender 2

I filled the first part of my life with self-directed efforts to get control and improve myself. I continuously listened to self-help tape programs by such people as Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, and Tony Robbins. I wasn’t satisfied with the type of person I was, so I looked to these people to help me get control of my life.

I’m now at a weird place, a place I never thought I’d be. Now, I don’t want control. Control is too stressful… things don’t always go my way. Control is a burden… too much responsibility. So now, I daily pray for God to take full control of my life. I just want to sit back, relax, and follow God’s lead.

Some days are relaxing in this way, no matter what chaos is going on around me, but not all. I’m still a work in progress, daily striving to give up control… to God. And I’m so grateful that He’s patient with me.


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I Forgot to Trust

Forgot to trust

 

I’ve been feeling really funky the past few days. Our recent long weekend away gave me a break from writing. But it also felt like I had taken a break from God. Not a total break, but with all the activity going on during our brief trip, it was hard for me to focus on God. It felt like the distance between us grew.

So after getting back home, back to work, and back to my writing, I set my sights on God… the Holy Spirit within me. Yet, though I got my focus back on God, I still felt funky. Work was stressful. The writing was hard. My best writing comes when I relax and let the Holy Spirit take my hands and write through me. Though I felt His presence, I didn’t feel His hands on mine. I didn’t feel Him directing my words and actions. It sucked.

Then last night it hit me. I had forgotten to truly trust God. It only took the few days of our long weekend trip for me to forget what it feels like to really trust God, to trust Him with not only my writing, but with my entire day.

Trusting God is so peaceful. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to say or do. God will take care of that. I just sit back and let Him direct my life, and my hands as I type.

Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me to trust you. And thank you for being here within me, having the patience to wait for me to come around to you. I learn so slowly, and I seem to need the same lessons repeated – thanks for not giving up on me, always waiting for me to turn back to you.


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Trusting God with the Future

trust God

I want to live more in the present, with my focus on the Holy Spirit of God within me, sharing my present with me. The other day I wrote about my tendency to live in the future (see it here). Right after posting that, it occurred to me that living in the present, and not trying to pre-plan my future, is a way of trusting God with my future.

Trusting God has been frequently on my mind lately. Now I’ve found another way to show my trust – leave the future to Him. Live in the present, with Him. And He continues to open my mind to the simple truths that make such a difference to my life. I’m so grateful. Thank you Lord.