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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Knowledge Puffs Up, But Love Builds Up

Last week I wrote a post that presented a choice for how to grow closer to God and Jesus—either through acquiring knowledge, or surrendering to a personal relationship of love.

This morning, while reading out of 1 Corinthians, I received a lesson from Paul on eloquence and brevity, where he said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The person who thinks they know something does not yet know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) I had written a page that Paul captured in three short sentences.

What I wrote about last week, and what I want to scream from the rooftops again today, is this: Biblical and theological knowledge is okay, but only if the purpose is to help us find our own intimate, personal, and loving relationship with the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus living within us.

So today, as you open your Bible or other inspiring Christian book, or login to your online Sunday church service, or maybe you’re fortunate enough to be able to attend a live church service (with safe social distancing, etc.): as you read or listen, look for the Spirit of Jesus in what you see or hear.

Don’t try to learn. Instead, try to be. Try to feel. Try to believe. Be open to the Spirit; let His love and presence fill your very body, mind, and soul. And know with certainty that the Spirit of Jesus loves you as the Father loves Him, and that He is IN you, as the Father is IN Him.


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You Can be the Holy of Holies

In the days of the ancient Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, the part of the temple called the Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain, or maybe some kind of wall. This was to keep sinful men, in the front part of the temple, away from the Spirit of God, who resided in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest, once a year, could go back into the Holy of Holies to offer a special sacrifice.

Times have changed, all thanks to Jesus. The holy of holies still exists, but not in the back room of a temple. It’s within the temple of your body, as Jesus himself declared. If you believe, the Spirit of God can live within you, within the temple of your body. And you’re not limited to once a year visits. Jesus invites us to commune with His Spirit every day.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he sent his Spirit to live with us. And maybe you’ve already let him in. But if not, if you feel you don’t really know the Holy Spirit, know this: He’s knocking on the door of your heart, and He’d like to be invited in. I know it can be difficult and may take a long time, (it was for me), but you too can come to believe in the truth of the Holy Spirit. Let Him into the temple of your body, not for a brief visit, but to live. And surely, he will be with you always, to the very end of the age.

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If this idea of letting the Spirit of Jesus into the temple of your body feels strange, or even frightening, it could be because you feel you don’t know Jesus well enough. Or maybe you feel too sinful, as I used to feel. But for Jesus, I don’t think anyone is “too sinful.”

Think of it like welcoming a new friend into your life. Before you can welcome them and let them get close, you first need to get to know them. You first need to be able to call them “friend.” I’d like to offer you a way to do that, to get to know Jesus in an intimate and friendship kind of way.

The novel We Called Him Yeshua is the story of Jesus as told by such people, those who could truly call Jesus friend. Maybe by reading their story and seeing the nature of their friendships, you too can more easily call Jesus your friend.

If you’re curious, please click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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A “Good” Book for These Times

Yesterday I posted something encouraging people stressed about the COVID-19 virus to check out the novel I will be publishing soon. I truly feel the story in the novel can help people not only escape reality for a bit, but also find some “tools” to help them cope with world-inducing stress. But I was hesitant, because I’m concerned that some might think I’m taking advantage of a worldwide scare to promote my novel.

Look, at times like these, I’m convinced that the absolute best book to help people cope is the Bible. The Bible points us to what we all need to deal with the toughest times of our lives. Yet for some, especially those where Christianity feels foreign, the Bible is more confusing than help. The authors of the Bible often wrote from a spiritual perspective, and the language can be difficult to understand.

The novel I mentioned is all about Jesus Christ, and is based heavily on events recorded in the Gospels. Yet it looks at him from a purely human perspective, a perspective we all can understand. The story focuses mainly on Jesus’ humanity, in addition to his divinity. For this reason, I think the story can help people more easily relate to Jesus, understand him, feel closer to him, and maybe even discover an intimate relationship with him. Also, I believe the story can help motivate those who have never opened a Bible, to take a look for themselves.

Strong Christians already have what they need to cope with stressful times: a solid knowledge of God’s word and an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. But what about “weak” Christians, and those who have no idea of who Jesus really is? I care about all of them.

If some want to accuse me of trying to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to promote my book … well, that’s the price I’m willingly pay for trying to help people find peace and freedom in their own relationship with Jesus Christ.


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Beware the Word

I had a weird experience this morning. I haven’t spent much time reading the Bible for the past several years. But during my typical predawn praying, with my cup of coffee—trying to wake up my soul and mind at the same time—the thought popped into my head to start reading the gospels again.

So, I grabbed my Bible and turned to Matthew. But just as I started, another thought popped in:

      Beware.

      “Beware of what?”

      Beware of the Bible.

      “What!?”

Beware of worshipping the written Word more than God and Jesus. Beware of spending more time in the written word than you spend with the Holy Spirit of Jesus within you.

Wow! Not what I’d expected as I thumbed through the well-worn pages to find the words Matthew had written. But was that God speaking to me, or just my inner thoughts?

I don’t know where those thoughts came from, but I know this: the words of God and Jesus recorded in the Bible are great and nothing will diminish their greatness. But for me, quiet time with the Spirit of Jesus is greater; surrendering my time, thoughts, and “self” to God is greater; feeling the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit is greater; feeling the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises within me is greater.

The Bible is great, but Jesus is greater.

What do you think?


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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.


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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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Non-Christians in Heaven

I’ve been thinking about people who don’t believe in Jesus. What do they think of certain hot-button Bible verses, such as when Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)?

Well, there’s no way I can know what anyone else thinks. But I still remember some of my thoughts about such things, before I started believing in Jesus and when I thought I was an atheist.

First, if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus because they don’t trust the Bible, well… they won’t care about anything in the Bible. It’s all fiction to them. Oh, they might get annoyed by some verses – I did before I started believing. But something you don’t believe in isn’t going to have much power over you.

But I’m more interested in those people who get really upset by such verses as John 14:6. I’ve known many people, even Christians, who refuse to believe what Jesus says in that verse. And I’ve struggled with it myself. How will heaven possibly be joyful for me if people I love aren’t there with me? Though I don’t understand, I choose to just trust God. He’ll work things out somehow.

But back to non-Christians who get really upset at the Bible when it tells them they’re not going to heaven: what is it that gets their emotions stirred up? Well, maybe they hope everyone will go to heaven, no matter what they believe. Or at least “good” people will be let inside.

But wait… that would mean that they believe in heaven, even if they don’t believe in Jesus. That thought gets my mind churning a bit, and this is what has been spit out as what I believe…

I believe the Holy Spirit of Jesus speaks to our soul, deep down below the surface of our mind. It’s our soul that hears and believes the truth of Jesus, God, and heaven. And it’s our soul that feeds our heart and mind with the belief in and craving for heaven.

So I’m happy for those people who get really upset at certain Bible verses, for it tells me they are listening to their soul. And it also shows me that Jesus loves them, for He’s reaching out to their soul in His own special way.

What do you think?


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The Spirit Speaks – of the Wall of Lies, and the Truth That Will Bring it Down

wall of lies

Yesterday I spoke with you about the wall – the wall of false ideas that stands between you and me. I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, see this wall clearly. I can bring down this wall. But first you need to see it for yourself; you need to experience its reality. Then you will be able to feel the true magnitude of my love as I bring the wall to ruin.

How can you see a spiritual wall? Well, first you need to see each stone for what it truly is. Everything you’ve ever heard about me and the church I built, that is false – it’s these lies which are the stones in the wall, blocking your view of the truth. To see the stones of lies, you need to first know the truth.

You will find the truth in my written word… the Bible. And in prayer, for prayer is where you will find me. I will open your mind to the truth, for I am the Spirit of truth. And my truth will set you free from imprisonment behind the wall of lies.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)

“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)


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Catholic Catechism vs. the Bible

Catechism vs Bible

This morning I looked up to see the Catechism of the Catholic Church sitting on my book shelf. It came from my parents house, after my father and stepmother had passed away. It had been my stepmothers. The thicknesses are almost the same. But I believe the contents are different.


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Jesus on the Edge

I just got back from the grocery store. Got my leg ‘o lamb for our Easter dinner. And, check out this picture of the magazine rack in the check-out line…

 Jesus magazine

At first I didn’t know what to think about it. Jesus, next to a wine tasting mag, and right across the little isle was another magazine rack, next to the candy and gum, filled with glamour model’s cleavage and movie stars cellulite. At first, it all seemed odd to me… a bit edgy.

But what would Jesus think about hanging out with wine lovers, glamour models and movie stars? I think He’d consider that tame, especially compared with some of the crowd He used to hang out with. While He walked the roads of Israel, Jesus seemed to spend more time with lowlife’s, prostitutes, hated tax collectors and other sinners. Jesus lived on the edge of “acceptable” society. So I think Jesus would be okay with the placement of His manmade image on a magazine in the grocery check-out isle.

I hope you all have a great Easter. CJ


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What Should I Believe?

confusion

A dear friend once said to me, “I see so many different Christian churches, which I’m okay with, but they all have different messages. What should I believe?”

What we see as Christianity today looks like a bicycle wheel. Jesus is the hub, the center. Each church is like a spoke, and by the time Jesus’ original message gets to the outside end of the spoke, it’s filled with manmade modifications. Traveling around the outside of this wheel called Christianity can be a bumpy ride, as my friend discovered.

I don’t want to criticize churches who customize Jesus’ message. I think it’s natural, given our pride-filled human nature. Pride drives people to put their personal mark on things. My purpose with this post is to point to the truth, which you will find only at the center of the wheel, at Jesus.

And Jesus is easy to find. You will find His truth in the bible, in your prayers, and in your heart – for that is where the Holy Spirit of God lives.


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Lifting me out of this pit

Out-of-the-Slimy-Pit

This writing gig gets me all confused and stressed out. To self-publish my book, or chase after a traditional publisher? To try to lure an agent, or not? Should I even bother trying to publish? How to attract followers to this blog? How to increase page hits? Should I even bother trying to attract followers, or instead focus on a simpler motive for writing blog posts?

Today is a typical morning for me; my mind is a jumble of random thoughts and questions, all in search of a purpose and direction. And in the middle of this mess is my selfish beast, wanting it all MY way.

Some mornings I get bogged down in the muck of my own self-centeredness. But today I was lifted out of this muddy pit and set down on the higher ground of solid humility. Of course, the Holy Spirit within me did the lifting.

Now, the stress and confusion are gone. My only desire is to be hands and feet for God.

Dear Lord, dear Spirit who shares this body of mine, I am yours. These hands are yours, resting on this keyboard. This mind is yours. My heart and soul are yours. Why? Because of love. I love you so much dear Spirit of Jesus. You’ve given me life. You’ve given me purpose. You’ve given me love beyond understanding. Please help me to not waste your gift of love. You came for me… I’m here for you.

Amen


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Parenting Class

parenting class

MANY years ago, when my first son was a toddler, my wife and I went to a parenting class at our church. Actually, we took turns each week, with one of us staying home with our son. Yet even with just attending sporadically, I learned things that became part of my foundation for how to be a good parent.

I’d now like to teach a parenting class, where we would look at God as our roll model of a truly good parent. Here are some aspects of God’s parenting style that would be helpful for all parents…

  • Always forgiving
  • Unconditional love for all His children
  • No favorites
  • Gives His all for His children – He even sacrificed His only natural Son for His adopted children.
  • Always there, willing to listen
  • He lets His children learn by their own mistakes.
  • No spoiled brats in God’s family. There are be consequences for bad behavior.
  • He’s always there to help us with our homework.
  • He looks out for His children’s future, even if they don’t.

What else can you think of?


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Mind of Christ

mind of christ

I’m in the middle of reading “The Power of the Spirit,” by William Law (which you already know if you’ve read my recent posts). I REALLY like and recommend this book. But I’ll warn you… it’s not a light read. It’s not mothers milk, but rather deep red meat; a thick, juicy steak (if you’re a carnivore like me).

Anyway, I came across the following verse: “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)

I’ve read this verse many times, but for some reason it struck me more profoundly this morning. We have the mind of Christ. THE MIND OF CHRIST!!! Holy cow! I can’t truly comprehend the magnitude of what that means. But here’s a thought: having the promised mind of Jesus Christ will make the meaning clear to me.

Do you seek better understanding of Gods words? Do you desire a more intimate relationship with Jesus? Then please, look no further than the Holy Spirit. Let Him into your heart and soul. And He will share with you His thoughts… the mind of Christ.

And I’m so grateful.


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The Power of the Spirit

Holy Spirit

Where the words within the bible speak to your mind, the Holy Spirit within you speaks to your heart and soul. Where the words in the bible will point you to God, and help you know about God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit within you will help you know God and Jesus. The words have no power, only direction. The power to make the words real in your life comes from the Holy Spirit, within you.

I’m re-reading a book by William Law, “The Power of the Spirit.” Law is reminding me that true Christianity is not about memorizing bible verses or following religious practices and tradition. True Christianity is all about an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, within you.

Please, look beyond the words, to the Holy Spirit within you.


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A new You

butterfly

I recently wrote a post where I used the movie “Young Frankenstein” to illustrate how Jesus exchanged His goodness for our sinfulness when He died on the cross (see it here). Jesus did more than exchange goodness for sinfulness on the cross. He transferred His Spirit into us.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus promises us the presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives. By His death, He made this promise real. And He made us new. When we open the door of our heart and let the Spirit in, we are changed… a new creation. As Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Paul was talking about the Holy Spirit, within you.

 

And as today is Veterans Day, I would like to send out my sincere thanks to all of the very giving people who have devoted part of their lives to serving in the military, and providing protection for our country. I am so grateful.


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Standing up for Jesus

stand for Jesus

I once wrote a blog post called “Weird Catholic Rules,” about an experience my father went through when he converted to the Catholic Church. That post has received more views and comments than any other on this site. I don’t think it was well written, but I do think it was the provocative title that brought readers in.

In looking through some of the comments, many people strongly defended the practices of the Catholic Church. This morning, while praying and waiting for the coffee to open my foggy mind, I thought about how some people passionately defend their church. Then I wondered: do they as strongly defend Jesus?

Oops… I was starting to feel that familiar judgmental self, striving to be heard. Who am I to judge, for I too pass up chances to defend the truth of Jesus?

My point today is this: many of us should carefully consider where we give our trust. Do we trust church rules and traditions, or the truth of Jesus Christ? For what you trust is what you will defend. Stand up for the truth of the love of Jesus.


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To be Dad

To be Dad

I have two adult sons, whom I love so much it almost hurts. What’s up with that? Look, it hurts because I miss them… always. My wife and I raised them to be honorable men, filled with love and integrity, with the strength and independence to take care of their own lives. And that’s just who they are.

One of the purposes of being a parent is to raise our kids to take care of themselves. And for some of us, it’s hard to let go as we gently usher them out the door. I’m so proud of my sons and how they are living their lives. Yet I just wish I could see them more often. I wish I could always be with them, sharing their lives with them.

You know what? Your Father God feels the same way about you. Our Father loves you so much I suspect it sometimes hurts. He wants to be with you, sharing your life with you. Yes, like me and how I feel about my sons, God wants us to have the honor, integrity, and strength to take care of ourselves. But He doesn’t want us to do it alone. Our heavenly Dad loves you as only a parent can.


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Ignore, Accept, or Seek … the Truth

truth

All of us have a choice for how to respond to Jesus Christ. We can ignore Him, accept Him, or seek Him. We can pretend that He is not who He claimed to be, the Son of God. Or, we can accept His claim as fact, and thereby claim for ourselves the title “Christian.” Or, we can go beyond accepting, and seek an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus.

The purpose for this blog, and the book I’m co-authoring, is to seek and proclaim the truth about Jesus and His church. I hope to help give people a chance to make their own decision about Jesus based on truth, rather than misconceptions.

Look, there are lots of wrong ideas about Jesus and Christianity floating around in this world. I just want to scrape away the dross of deceptions so people can clearly see the truth that lies just below the surface.


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Love is God

Where love there is God

My adopted brother turned his back on my parents, ran away from home, and spent most of his life in prison. Yet even with all their pain and suffering, my parents never stopped loving their lost son. But their love for my half-bother is only a faded image of Gods love for His children.

To know true love is to know the nature of God. The primary trait of Gods character is love, for as John said, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16).

Love is so much a part of God and God so loves, that He and love are the same. Love is not a description of God – God is a description of love.

Applying God to Paul’s picture of love in chapter 13 of his first letter to the Corinthians, we have a vivid portrait of the true character of God…

“God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, paraphrase)

Where there is love, there is God.