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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What Jesus Wants to See

What do people see when they look at Christians? For most of those on the outside of the Christian establishment in the US, they see such things as:

  • Hypocrisy and judgment, fear and bigotry
  • A movement intent on forcing themselves and their values on others
  • A group more interested in politics than following the call of their leader, a group where policies are more important than faith, hope, and love
  • A religion that embraces a man who is the antithesis of the values that Jesus promoted (yes, I’m referring to Trump)

Of course, not all Christians display these characteristics. But the most visible ones do. Like the insurrections storming the US capital waving Jesus flags, shouting His name, or even kneeling in prayer before they attacked (though I’m not sure who they were praying to).

As another example, yesterday I shared an article about the reaction of many white evangelicals to Barack Obama as compared to their reaction to Donald Trump (you can read it here). You may not agree with Obama’s policies and political position on things, but he really did appear to be a decent person. Oh sure, he has character flaws, like all of us. But nothing like Trump. You may agree with Trump’s policies, but his character is toxic, his morals are despicable—all very visible for all to see.

In trying to understand why so many white evangelicals and other Christians seem to ignore character and support Trump, here are a few things I’ve discovered:

  • He’s apparently against abortion
  • Some Christians fear attack of their religious freedoms from the left, the supposed war on Christmas and all that—a very valid concern. And they see Trump as a defender of their right to practice their chosen religion. Look, Christianity’s been under attack from the beginning. The Pharisees who pushed for Jesus’ crucifixion tried to kill it, Roman emperors tried, and I suspect many others over the centuries have tried. But God and Jesus defended their Christianity just fine on their own—no need for the support of an elected official.
  • And of course, money money money. The value of Christian 401k’s was often cited as an excuse for supporting Trump. VERY often cited.

Regarding the fear of attacks from the left, Jesus might say, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

Or, He might say, “I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. … Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-29, 31)

And regarding money, most people know what the Bible says about having too much interest in money, like obsessing about our 401k. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) And as Paul warned Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Wow, isn’t that the truth!

All of these reasons for Christians supporting Trump, and likely others I haven’t mentioned, boil down to an exhibition of profound hypocrisy, all because these people are more concerned about their wants than what Jesus wants. To this, Jesus might say: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33)

 

So, what does Jesus want to see when He looks at followers of His Christianity? He gave us the answer quite clearly:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Imagine how outsiders might react if, when they looked at Christians, all they saw was love—no hypocrisy, judgment or other ugly stuff. Imagine the influence that visible love would have on those outsiders. Might some of them even be motivated to turn to Jesus for help? Might they want to experience the same love themselves? Imagine the Island of Love Christianity could become, being a paradise and refuge in these days of turmoil, anger, violence, and of course, COVID-19. Please, try to imagine it.

And if you can conjure up an image in your mind, now consider that that is what Jesus wants to see too.


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What we see, verses Jesus’ Christianity

I invite you to read the attached article with caution. Though some of you may read it and absolutely agree, others will vehemently disagree. The words are harsh, but unfortunately, I see them as accurate. Too many people have drifted away from Jesus’ Christianity.
Note, this article was written a few years ago, but the message is maybe more relevant today that back when it was written.

John Pavlovitz: An Open Letter to White Evangelicals


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Kindness to the Victims

Coffee in hand, looking out the window at the early morning sky grey and cloudy, I try to quiet my thoughts and look down at the devotional sitting in my lap. But I fail. My mind just can’t pry itself away from the world. New Covid-19 variant exploding. Case and death counts rising fast. And then just to distract us from all that, what looks like an attempted coup in the US capitol. An insurrection they call it.

As my coffee was brewing this morning, I read an account by one of the people who stormed into the capitol building. And I began to see their point of view, and the view of some of the people that person was with. I started to see them as victims.

Lots of people in the US are frustrated with the federal government. That’s a big reason why Trump won in 2016. And I suspect it’s a reason why so many people still support him. As long as the feds remain as they are, I also suspect such chaos may continue.

Look, I think at least some of the “insurrectionists” see themselves as victims of our failed, dysfunctional federal government, as we all are. We’ve all watched the fractured, broken, uncompromising, self-serving, arrogant government representatives for years, as they effectively fail to serve those who voted them into office. I guess some people just couldn’t take it any longer, and decided to make a statement by breaking into the capitol building, encouraged as they were by you-know-who. Well, statement clearly made—I hope. (By the way, I don’t support their methods for statement-making).

But, those statement-makers are also victims of lies, conspiracy theories, and fake news. And maybe that’s partly because those lies support their already-strong sense of a broken system.

Looking beyond what happened in Washington DC this week, I now see that we are all victims. It’s not just the federal government that’s broken. The entire world is broken, and we’re all victims of it. Victims of bad relationships, miserable jobs, no jobs at all, illness, depression, anxiety, fear, unfulfilled dreams, heartbreak, abuse. No point in me continuing with the list—you can do that on your own.

But thankfully, a new thought drifted into my mind while my coffee cup warmed my hands. You see, as the events of this week kept yanking at my thoughts, another part of my mind kept trying to get back to the devotional in my lap. And right there on that page was something Jesus had said that was influencing how I was looking at the insurrectionists: “A new command I give you: Love one another.” (John 13:34)

I think it’s easier to love one another when we realize that those other people, no matter how much they might irritate us or how much we disagree with them, are also victims of something. As Philo of Alexandria once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up with another thought that popped into my mind. Yes, our world is full of victims. We all suffer from something. But, there are NO victims in heaven. Think about that one for a bit.


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Peace so Close

Emergency lockdowns, stay home, stay away!

Christmas plans cancelled.

Overflowing hospital ICUs.

Numbers climbing … fast,

Cases, deaths, unemployed, overstressed.

So much pain, so much suffering.

I fear for the hospital workers.

I fear for everyone.

What to do? Want to do something.

I know the answer, but how to convey it, that’s the hard part.

Peace is right there, freedom from stress is so close.

But we too often look the wrong way.

It’s not out there somewhere, not waiting around a corner.

It’s inside, or rather, the Spirit of Jesus is inside, if we believe.

As Paul said, “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Oh dear Jesus, if only more people could feel Your presence within them.

To feel You inside is to feel the magnitude of your love, a love that brings tears.

Not an imagined thing, but real, as real as the tears.

If only they could quiet their worries enough to calm their thoughts and look inside, to You.

Dear Jesus please, so many hungry and hurting souls out there, looking, not finding.

Please dear Spirit, take them in your arms and pull them to you.

If only they will believe.


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Freedom from the Prison of Pride

This morning, while praying for a very well-known political person who exhibits extreme pride, arrogance, and apparent narcissism, the title for this post popped into my head. Realizing that a lot of people suffer from being trapped in our own prison of pride—actually, all of us, to some degree or another—I’m motivated to write about it. Also, I remain concerned for that well-known person who’s bound with more chains than most.

To me it’s sad, the pain pride inflicts upon people. It can bind us up with chains of anger, hatred, lies, bigotry, intolerance, self-righteousness, paranoia, and other such things that make people miserable. Most of us aren’t even aware of the chains that bind us. Therefore, we don’t realize we can be free of those chains.

Yesterday I posted about the fruits of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus in our lives. It’s interesting to compare the rotten fruits of pride listed above with the fruits of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (aka, humility), and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Which fruits would you rather live with?

It’s the Spirit of Jesus, present in our lives, who will set us free from the chains that bind us. It’s a truth promised by Jesus: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

The question we all answer, whether we know it or not, is this: do we want to live with the chains of pride, or the fruits of the Spirit?


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US Election Day #4 — What We Need Now

Day #4 and tensions are high. We don’t need more tension this year. We don’t need more anger. What we need is the Spirit of Jesus to fill us with His Presence.

If you are inclined, please pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus to be poured out into the over-stressed hearts of the people of the United States.

And why stop there? It’s a good time to pray for the entire world.


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Feeling Crushed? Seeking Escape? Craving Peace?

I spent some time this weekend with a close friend whose life is in the midst of extremes. There’s cause for extreme joy. There’s cause for extreme worry. And, there’s all the other crap going on in our world of 2020. My friend’s day is a roller coaster, to the peak of joy, then falling down to the pit of depression. He wakes each day with no energy or desire to do anything but make it through the day.

There have been times this year when I’ve been on a similar roller coaster. But I had help getting off. And this morning I felt the desire to share that help. It’s simple, really.

Now, if you’re like my friend, you may be something of a fringe Christian. You wouldn’t call yourself an atheist. Maybe more agnostic, not sure what you believe. Yet, you feel you may be open to learning more about Jesus.

Or, maybe you believe Jesus is who he said he was, but that belief doesn’t really mean much to you. Or, maybe you’re more like me, where you believe in and love Jesus, but you still sometimes find yourself on that emotional roller coaster with the unavoidable belly-drops into depression.

Well, here’s a way that might help you climb out of that roller coaster. First, get a Bible. If you don’t have a hold-in-your-hands-paper Bible, there are plenty of online versions available, and there are even Bible apps for your mobile device.

Then, in the New Testament, read the Gospel of John. While reading it, look for the relationship that Jesus wants to have with you. Also, get to know Jesus as the human he was. Try to feel his humanity; try to feel what the two of you have in common. And maybe most importantly, get to know something about the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, and the promise of His Spirit.

Then, still in the New Testament, read Romans, especially chapters 7 and 8. The end of chapter 7 may have you screaming, “That’s me!” But chapter 8 can set you free. Read chapter 8 more than once—let the truth of it sink in. Don’t just read it. Feel it. Pray it. Listen to the Spirit of Jesus inside your head read it to you. Oh, and when you get to chapter 12, that’s pretty good too.

If you aren’t yet free of your own emotional roller coaster, start all over again, with the Gospel of John. And hold on tight to what you will read in chapter 8 of that Gospel:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

And what is the foundational truth that will set you free? Surrender. Surrender your cares to the Spirit of Jesus within you. Surrender your worries. Surrender your Self. And really think about what it means to surrender your Self. Let Jesus take over, let Him lead you, follow Him. And repeat your surrender each morning—the best way to start your day.

One more thing: if you find yourself wanting to know more about the humanity of Jesus, or maybe this thing I call surrender, please leave a comment here or send me an email (seejay@cjpenn.com ). I have plenty of other books I’d be happy to recommend.

Here’s hoping you have a really good day.

CJ


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A DeChurched Christian Searching for Christianity

I hung in there for as long as I could. Eventually, the hypocrisy was too much for me. The behavior felt so un-Christian. Just normal, natural human behavior, as ugly as that can sometimes be.

I prayed … a lot. I asked God if He wanted me to stay. Maybe I could do something that might help the deteriorating situation. I wrote a letter to the board of elders, the Session, as they called it. I’m not sure if the idea was God’s or mine, but I took a lot of time with that letter, praying my way through it, even including some Bible quotes from Jesus. No response. No visible result. I prayed some more. But no clear direction.

So I left that church behind. As I walked away, I carried with me questions, the most all-encompassing question being: if what I saw at that church isn’t true Christianity, what is? I may have given up on church, but I wasn’t about to give up on Jesus.

Have you had a similar experience? Do you have similar questions?


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A Question for De-Churched Christians

Are you a de-churched Christian? You know, you used to go to church, you don’t any longer, but you still believe in Jesus and care about your relationship with Him, even a little.

Look, I’m a de-churched Christian. I left a church that started behaving in a way that I believed was way off target. I test-drove several other churches, but never landed in one that felt right to me. Something always felt off, and maybe slightly un-Christian. I know there are some great Christian churches out there—I just haven’t found one near where I live, though I’ve long given up looking. Besides, Church has come to mean something different for me (but that’s not why I’m writing today).

Anyway, when I first left church many years, I stepped off on a journey to find true Christianity, the Christianity I felt I wasn’t seeing in churches I’d attended. Didn’t have to look far—it was right there on my bedside table, in my Bible. I’m now in the middle of writing a book about my journey to find the truth.

Anyway #2: if you’re a de-churched Christian, please consider letting me know why you left. Was there anything specific that turned you away? Did it feel like something was missing? Did you have a sense that you were seeing true Christianity?

Though your answers may be helpful for other de-churched Christians, if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment to this post, please consider sending me an email instead.

Thank you so much for considering this. All the best to you, and may you enjoy the presence of the Spirit of Jesus in your life.

CJ Penn

cjpenn@gmail.com


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Character vs. Hypocrisy

How can a “Christian” call themselves a “Christian” if they support character and values that are non-Christian? Is this just another form of Christian hypocrisy, the hypocrisy we’re well-known for? The hypocrisy that’s just a part of our natural human nature that everyone suffers from in a variety of forms? But character matters.


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Trump Saved Christianity … Really?

Eric Trump claims his father Donald saved Christianity. So says an article I just read at Huffpost. And there was the answer to a question I posted yesterday. So THAT’s why so many Christians support Donald Trump, because he single handedly saved their religion. Really?

Look, ignoring Trump for a minute (which is really hard to do), I have a few thoughts on this idea of someone “saving” Christianity. For decades, it’s been a very political issue with many Christians. They vote for whoever better supports their Christian values … sometimes. It’s as if they believe a President can help, and maybe even save, their religion and promote their values throughout the country.

Hey, do you really think God and Jesus need help?

The leaders of Jesus’ day, while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, well, they tried to kill Christianity. No go. They killed the man, but couldn’t kill the faith.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose to heaven, the leaders still conspired to kill the spreading faith. At least one of them was wise enough to see the futility in such an effort. In referring to Christians, the wise one said, “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

And we know the Romans tried, and failed, to kill early Christianity.

Worrying about a person doing harm to Christianity is just showing how weak our faith in God is. Some Christians put too much faith in other people, and not enough faith in God.

Look, Christians don’t need to worry about the safety of our faith or our values, unless we put more trust in men than in God. But if we just ignore politics and focus only on God and Jesus, then anti-Christian politicians will only find themselves fighting against God. Who do you think will win?

If Christians would spend less time worrying about the positions of politicians and more quiet time with God and Jesus, I think we all would be better off. What was it Jesus said? Ask and you shall receive. Time to put more faith in what Jesus said rather than what politicians say.


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Baffled

I don’t get it. And maybe someone out there can help me understand. I just finished reading the New Testament in a week. Yes, I have plenty of time on my hands. I’ve read the NT many times, but this time I read it from the perspective of wanting to glean what it means to be a Christian. That is, according to the Bible, what is the true character of a Christian?

I didn’t learn anything new—there were no surprises. But the experience lit a fire under a question that’s been nagging me for a long time.

How? How can someone who’s a Christian, someone who accepts Jesus and the words in the New Testament, someone who at least tries to live up to the character description of a Christian—well, how can someone like that support a person whose character is the polar opposite of the Christian character? How can someone who calls themselves Christian support a person like Donald Trump?

I’d love to hear a better answer than the one I came up with. For I believe such a person is not really a Christian. You’ve heard of RINO’s, Republicans In Name Only? Well, it appears to me that this country has a bunch of CINO’s, Christians in name only.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of all this. And I’d really like to hear what you think.


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Standing at the Crossroads

With all that’s going on in the world right now, it feels like humanity is standing at a crossroads. And it’s there, at the fork in the road, where a battle is raging. The battle is against some nasty forces—racism and bigotry, arrogance and oppression. And of course, a worldwide pandemic. Sometimes it feels like there’s a war against the wellbeing of humanity. The weapons of the enemy include the hate, ignorance, arrogance, and these days … that dreaded virus.

But what’s the deal with this crossroads? What choices do the two paths present? And which way will help us most to win the battle?

One path is the way of the world, using the same tools we use in all of humanities endeavors to fight for what we want. Against certain nasty forces, things like peaceful protests can win the day. As a race, humanity typically tries to get what it wants by its own power, following this first path. But is that enough? Maybe it’s time to give up, and look somewhere else for the power that’s needed to overcome the forces fighting against the survival of humanity.

I think it’s time to turn to God and Jesus. I’m not talking about religion, with all its man-inflicted warts and blemishes. I’m not talking church-ianity, with a focus on tradition and prescribed worship, etc. I’m not talking about a faith that still relies on human effort to get what we desire. I’m talking true Christianity, not following the dictates of some manmade church, but following the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus. This is not only a radical thought for the secular world, but also for many who call themselves Christian. For Christianity is polluted with the ways of humanity. It has been for centuries.

Oops, I’ve wandered away from the crossroads. Let’s get back to it.

Will humanity still rely on its own strength to overcome forces of evil? Or, will we rely on God? The crossroads I’m envisioning does not represent two different courses of action. Rather, I think it’s a crossroads of reliance. One way is the same path of relying on ourselves, on human effort. Standing at the entrance to the other path is the Spirit of Jesus, holding out his hand, inviting us to rely on him.

If we give up on our self-efforts, if we embrace the reality of the Spirit of Jesus as a person and not a thing, and if we stir up enough love for the Spirit of Jesus to crave his presence within our very selves, then …

Well, imagine what might result if more and more people relied on the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus, rather than ourselves.


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Book Review: “The Power of the Spirit, Extracts From The Writings of W. Law,” selected by Andrew Murray

Available on Amazon. Yet you can likely find it other places as well.

First of all, this review is not for the other book called The Power of the Spirit, by William Law, the one that was edited for modern readers. This review is for a book that Andrew Murray pulled together in the late 1800’s as a collection of Law’s writings that Murray found particularly powerful in conveying the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Second: it appears to me that all of Law’s observations of the state of the Christian church are as relevant today as they were back in the early 1700’s, when he wrote them.

It may feel like a harsh reality, but I think one of the most effective ways to help someone who’s seeking the fruits of Christianity is to show them the flaws of the church. The flaws show a Christianity that isn’t truthful. The flaws cause deception. The flaws paint an image of Christianity that just isn’t real. William Law helps clean away the smudges and deceptions of the church in a way that will help the reader see the power in the one true church of Jesus Christ. For when you see the flaws and compare them to the truth, the power of the truth stands out bright and vivid.

Law himself said he wasn’t necessarily out to demean any particular church. He was just driven to advance the truth, and he very effectively shows how the truth of Christianity is not always found in a human-managed church. The reason is simple—humans, all humans, are flawed. We are plagued by our natural human pride, that same pride that is at the root of all sins. And it’s that human pride that distorts the truth and defaces Jesus’ church.

What Law clearly shows, even in his 18th century language and writing style*, is that the one true church of Jesus Christ is centered on a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The church is not an external thing, like a build with human-managed committees. The church is internal. The church is the relationship of the Holy Spirit with your soul.

This book will alienate some, and piss off others. They may call Law a hieratic. They may call me the same thing for endorsing the book. But that’s the hard reality of the Bible—some people just don’t want to believe some of the Bible’s seemingly harder truths. Those hard truths are the ones that challenge our natural prideful and selfish personalities.

So as I’ve done in other book reviews, I offer you a word of caution. Don’t read this book unless you feel you’re ready for some hard teaching. But if you’re ready, you’ll be so grateful you read it. The truth of Christianity looks so much better than the image painted by many modern churches.

 

*(Note: this book might be written in the style of the late 1800’s, when Andrew Murray compiled it. Maybe Murray edited the writing to match the style of his day.)


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Oh, To Be A Peacemaker

I can’t understand, as hard as I try.

I can’t understand the feelings and fears of the victims, victims of racism and ignorance.

I can’t know how it is to feel threatened and unsafe … almost every day.

I can’t guess at the pain, fear and anguish some people live with.

All I can know for sure is how much I despise racism and bigotry, hatred, arrogance and ignorance.

It almost makes me ashamed to be human.

I want to do something, I want to help. But I don’t know how. After all, I too suffer from my own human flaws.

I think all I can do for now is listen, and learn, and feel. And keep my heart and mind open.

But what more can I do? I want to know.

So I asked. And Jesus answered.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus calls me—He calls all of us—to be peacemakers.

I may not yet know the best way to be a peacemaker, but I’ll try, and pray, and hope, and love, as best I can.

For now, I think that’s all I can do. Until He shows me more.

I can’t trust humanity to fix this.

So I’ll trust Jesus.


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A Lever for Change

Peaceful protests are a good lever for change. Unfortunately, as we have seen, criminals and anarchists who don’t care about change are hijacking peaceful protests. The criminals just see an easy opportunity to get away with looting. I don’t pretend to guess what motivates the anarchists—it looks to me like they just enjoy stirring up trouble.

But there is one lever for change that is not so easily hijacked—your vote. I don’t know if there’s much our federal elected officials can do to fix problems such as the one that’s shattering our nation right now. But I do know there is something state and local officials can do. So, along with our peaceful (hopefully) protests, we should tell our local elected officials that unless they implement tangible and effective change by this November, we’re going to vote them out of office. I bet that will help get something done.

The best legacy for George Floyd and all victims of such crimes should not be violence, looting, and division. I think the best legacy that we could honor them with is to have all of us, regardless of race, come together around effective and long lasting change that will ensure that crimes like this never happen again. And in keeping with what I normally post about, more powerful even than our vote would be all of us praying together.

And yes, this is not the typical type of thing I post. But like many of you, because of what’s happened, and the violence that has come on the heels of violence, well, it’s stirred up too much anguish for me to keep bottled up. So I’ve added my small voice to the cries of all those who are also saddened, along with the groans of our country and society that seems to be trembling on the knife edge of survival (maybe that’s what the anarchists want—to push us all over the edge).


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The One True Christian Church — Reply to a Comment

Hello,

Yesterday I posted something about how I believe that we can be the “one true Christian church.” (see it here). I shared it on Facebook and received a comment that showed me I wasn’t all that clear in spelling out my beliefs. Now I think that a lot of you who follow my blog already have a good handle on my beliefs, so you were able to see past the red flags that got in the way of letting others see my true meaning.

Anyway, here’s the comment that the person left, which I’m grateful for:

Per the article – “As He was God-as-human, you can be Jesus-as-human. You too can be fully human and fully God.” – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) So, are we fully God or His temple … fully God means to possess and utilizes at will His total abilities and characteristics; do you /have you, ever been fully omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent? You may be a written epistle, even erroneously considered “a god” , BUT FULLY GOD???? If that is not what was meant, it was poorly communicated. YOU WILL NEVER BE FULLY GOD …even thinking about approaching that kind of bogus mentality had satan driven/cast OUT of heaven… rethink the “Ye are gods” teaching and movements…

And here’s my reply:

I think I wasn’t clear in what I believe. For example, to be “fully God” to me means that I don’t possess anything. It means that God possesses me, completely. I have none of God’s abilities. Without God, I’m just a wretched mess.

I believe we can be fully God, as I believe Jesus has promised. But it requires that we deny “self” and absolutely surrender to God so that His Holy Spirit can enter into us and live through us, as God lived through the Son of Man. But as is the case with our inherently prideful human nature, denying “self” is really hard, and it often feels impossible. Yet as with all things, what’s impossible for me is possible for God. And I trust in God and Jesus to make my desire for complete denial of self to become a reality.

Again, I have none of God’s abilities, and I never will. But that’s doesn’t mean that God can’t exercise His abilities through me. In the words of John the Baptist, He must become greater and I must become less. I think true holiness and joy comes when the Spirit of Jesus becomes ALL within me, and I (i.e., my prideful “self”) become nothing. And that’s what I believe.

I just hope I was more clear in my response than in the original post. But my problem is, it’s all really clear in my head, and my heart. It’s just sometimes hard to type that up into accurate words. Oh well.


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The One True Christian Church

(Special thoughts on Pentecost)

I’ve heard the Roman Catholic Church referred to as the one true church. And some protestant denominations may consider themselves more Christian than others. But, what makes one church more Christian than another? What is “church,” after all?

Ask an average Christian churchgoer what church is and you may get answers like: fellowship, singing together, praising and worshipping God together, praying together, evangelism, discipleship, giving, serving. One person once told me that church is a business. And I’ve seen some churches act as if their job is to erect a wall around them to protect themselves from the influences of the outside world.

But how do God and Jesus define church? What would they say is the one true church?

First, a warning. I freely accept that the answer I’ll offer may not be popular with some people. But, as it comes from the Bible, it’s the only answer I can faithfully give.

Okay, so let’s see what Jesus says. Once, having been asked when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied:

“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

This may not seem like an obvious answer to my question, but it’s a clue. What else did Jesus say on the topic? Well, in his final hours before his death, while praying to his Father, Jesus said:

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me.” (John 17:22-23) and …

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known, in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them.” (v. 26)

Finally, Paul knew what the one true church was:

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Jesus prayed for you to be so filled with His Spirit that you and He will be one and the same person. His Spirit can so fill you that you are Him. And Jesus blazed the trail for us, setting the example and opening the door for us so that we can follow Him and have the same relationship with Him as He had with God. As He was God-as-human, you can be Jesus-as-human. You too can be fully human and fully God.

On this Pentecost, we remember that day some 2000 years ago when the Holy Spirit entered into each member of the small group of early believers, establishing His church. Jesus’ Spirit wants to share his presence with you too, so you can be God’s temple on earth. THAT, is the One True Church.

The church is not a building, nor is it an organization of similarly minded people. The church is you. If I’ve done an effective job of conveying the reality of this truth to you, then pick up your Bible and read the New Testament with the image of Jesus within you, reading along with you. And you will clearly see how the four Gospels and all the letters that follow are absolutely filled with this picture of the one true Christian church.


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The Son of Man—a Thought on the Nature of Jesus Christ

Jesus frequently called himself the son of Man. He followers were well aware of his divinity, as the Son of God. All the miracles, along with the depth of the wisdom in his words, constantly reminded them that Jesus was much more than a man. But I’ve been thinking, maybe Jesus called himself the son of Man to help remind them, and us, that he was indeed still a man. I can imagine that if I had been one of Jesus’ followers while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, it would have been easy for me to lose sight of Jesus’ humanity. I could have quickly come to see him purely as the Son of God, which is the sole way a lot of us see him these days.

Yet Jesus seemed to feel it was important to remind us of his human heritage. Why? Well, this morning another thought came to mind. As the son of Man, Jesus inherited everything we inherit, that is, human nature. The doom we all inherit is our natural human pride, which is the root of all sin. As the son of Man, Jesus shared all aspects of our human nature, even the temptation to be pulled into the pit of pride. The difference between Jesus and us is that his divinity was stronger than his humanity.

But the Bible promises that as children of God, we are also heirs, with an inheritance of our own. Where Jesus inherited our humanity, along with all the challenges that come with that, we can inherit his divinity, along with all the healing, peace, and love that come with that.

By the way, if you’d like to see more of what Jesus’ nature might actually have been like, please check out this novel. It will show Jesus from the perspective of those who felt the miracles, listened to his words of wisdom and love, and followed him along those dusty roads. On Amazon, this book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.