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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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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The Face of COVID-19

I got to the grocery store this morning a few minutes before they opened. A flock of people were already waiting outside the doors. Once inside, it seemed like a normal sized crowd of shoppers, for late afternoon that is, but not for 6 am. Yet what didn’t seem normal was the look on some people’s faces. I smiled and greeted everyone I passed in the aisles, but only a few responded. Most had that look that seems to be spreading, like the COVID-19 virus that’s spawning the look. People looked frightened as they passed by me, hugging their side of the aisle as if I had leprosy.

Back home, while unpacking groceries, I got to thinking about the novel I’ll be publishing within a week. I think for some people, a novel like this is just what they need. Not only will it distract them from the world around us and take them back to another place and time, but it will show them a side of Jesus Christ they may never have seen before. And that’s my biggest hope for this novel.

Do you feel a need for distraction? Are you interested in getting to know Jesus on a much more intimate level? If so, please follow this link and check out my book. And when it’s published, you’ll be able to get the ebook for FREE.


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Finding Help in These Crisis Times

CoronaVirus spreading, stock market crashing—these are just a couple of the headline-grabbers that can make our life feel hellish.

Though most Christians believe that when they die they will go to heaven—none of us is there yet. We’re still inhabitants of earth, though sometimes we may feel more like prisoners. And at times like these, heaven can feel so very far away.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. What if we could escape to heaven while still stuck on earth? You can, you always could, and you don’t need to look far. Just look inside yourself, for Jesus promised that’s where we would find his Holy Spirit.

But this can be intimidating, and even scary, simply because you may not really know who you’re looking for. Or, even if you know Jesus, maybe you know him only by his divinity. You know him as the Son of God. That alone can be rather intimidating.

But what if you could know Jesus by his humanity, as the son of man, as he liked to call himself? What might happen to your relationship with Jesus if you really knew his human side? Maybe in seeing more of Jesus’ humanity, you’d be able to feel closer to him. For as someone has said, “It may be hard to feel close to God, but it’s easy to feel close to a person.”

Who said that? It was Anna, one of the characters in my soon-to-be-published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. I wrote this novel because I wanted to know Jesus more intimately. I wanted to feel closer to him. And I felt that a good way to do that would be to ask those who lived with him while he walked the dusty roads of ancient Israel.

We Called Him Yeshua is their story, and the story of their relationships with Jesus. Sure, it’s all just fiction, from my imagination and I hope a lot of inspiration. Yet it’s all based on stories from the Gospels. And maybe it would be worth a minute or two of your time to check it out.

Leading up to the launch of this novel on Amazon, I’ve been posting chapters on my author website. The first third of the book is now there for everyone to read. And it might not take too many of those chapters for you to start to feel Jesus more intimately than you ever have before.

While on my website, please consider signing up to get a FREE Kindle version when the book is published. I’ll also notify you when the paperback will be on sale at cost. I’m currently shooting to publish the Kindle version on March 25th. The paperback will follow about a week later.

And please remember: Jesus sent his Spirit to bring us heaven on earth. But more than that, to live with us, to share our lives, and guide us through the morass of what goes on in this world of crisis.

 

(Click here to access more information and the sample chapters.)


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Another Day, Another … ah Hell

I don’t want to write about it … but I am, compelled by something, maybe someone. Another day, another mass shooting(s). I could probably post this on any random day and it would apply. But today, it feels like the fabric of humanity is ripping apart, or that’s how it feels to me, whatever the fabric of humanity is. In El Paso. And Dayton.

What do I want? Answers? Escape. Escape from the tragedy, the torment, the pain of it all. Today I feel helpless to help—I can’t even help myself. I can’t free myself from that ripping feeling in my gut.

So, quiet place, close eyes, breathe, slowly. Go inside, and look. There’s Jesus—his Spirit within me, always here, always waiting. He smiles—a sad, compassionate smile. He holds out his arms, I fall in, and my soul weeps, his arms wrapping around me, comforting me. And we mourn together. And I feel it—His love that heals wounds, and his peace.

Oh Lord, please help. So many people, so much pain, so many out there, in Texas, in Ohio, hurting, wailing, shattered.

If you’re reading this and you too are hurting, maybe look inside yourself, to your soul, living just below the surface. And more than your soul, you may see His Spirit there, waiting, smiling, maybe even crying, for this hurts him too. And maybe the two of you can hold each other, and cry together, just below the surface, His Spirit and your soul.

And no matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, in your little world you can have some peace, and love. And if enough of us surround ourselves with the love that comes from Jesus living inside us, it may spread to others. I think that would help.

Will the mass shootings stop? I doubt it. Humanity is too broken. But maybe we aren’t helpless to help, for the help just might already live inside of each of us, waiting for us to look His way.

 

The ways of the world aren’t helping, so maybe it’s time to look beyond the world.


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Paradise Aflame

Some of us have called it paradise. Why? Well…the weather, the small-feel towns scattered among the rolling hills, the wineries—lots of wineries. And just something you might label “environment.” It’s something that seems to be in the air (pardon the cliché).

Well, right now there’s smoke in the air. And many of the hills, wineries, and towns are now ash and black destruction. Homes that recently purred with lively families are now silent piles of dead ash.

But please believe me, it’s still paradise. Why? Because of the people. The hearts here are the biggest, the best. Firefighters, volunteers giving money, cloths, time, and hugs at evacuation shelters—it’s these people who breathe paradise back into our smoke-filled air.

Yet that’s part of what happens when things like this happen. The best sprouts out of the ash left by the worst, whether fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, whatever.

For those of us who have lived through, and died in, the wild fires of Sonoma County, California—may God bless us all.


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Hell Just Over the Hill

It lurks just over the hill. I don’t see it, but I feel it. We all do.

I look out the kitchen window to the hills less than a mile away. The Beast vomits destruction in the valley on the other side. It sucks in mountains of air to fill its hungry lungs, and blasts out pain, despair, and sometimes death. It has already swallowed much land, spawning shelters full of refugees. It’s hungry for more.

Those brave men and women are over there too, battling with the Beast. From all over they come and fight, often hand-to-hand, trying to save us. At night, while we lie in our beds thinking about everything but sleep, the battle goes on—the Beast never rests. Dear God, please protect the hero’s fighting against the Beast.

Oh, there’s not just one Beast. There are at least five of them out there. But they’re connected somehow—one evil mind, five separate bodies, five times the hunger.

I’m pinned to the ground, helpless, the Beast standing on my chest. Well, that’s how it feels sometimes. It’s heavy—this feeling, this knowing, this sense that at any time the Beast will storm over that hill and fly straight for us. Oh, we’re ready to flee. But to leave everything behind—we’ve been in this house for 32 years. Our sons grew up here. So many memories… gone, left behind. But don’t give up yet.

Maybe 3000 homes lost…so far. More victims, more refugees. It covers us in this blanket of sadness. My stomach feels like I’ve swallowed the pain and fear of the victims and the fighters on the front lines. I swallow my own fear too, almost with every breath—trying to wear a calm face, a helpful face. But I’m full. I feel I can’t swallow any more.

I go to the store, trying to find normal. But you hear it in our voices, as we wait for the Beast to make its next move. And the stench of its rancid breath pouring over the hills makes it hard to find normal.

These Beasts are not alone. There’s more, just over the next hill in Napa, and beyond. The Beast—the fires that devour Sonoma County.

Dear Jesus, please forgive my dread-filled words. The Beast distracts me. But I won’t give up—never will. Time again to ignore the Beast and turn my mind to You. You will guide me through this valley of the shadow of death (sorry to lift those words, but they feel so fitting right now). Jesus, You will give me the strength I need to pull myself out of bed each morning and find ways to make the most of the smoke-filled days. So what do You want me to do today? Where can I go to help others who may have lost their home to the Beast?

I heard that at times like this, it’s helpful to think about things you’re grateful for. Well, dear Jesus, I’m grateful for Your presence in my life. I’m grateful for those moments where you act through me. Enough mourning—let’s go act.


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Independence Day – Are We All Celebrating the Same Thing?

As I begin to celebrate the independence of the United States of American, I wonder… how many of us really know what we’re celebrating? What does this day mean to the different people I see in the store or on the street? For some of us who enjoy the rights and privileges of being US citizens, has this day morphed into just another excuse for a party?

Also, as a nation, how does our condition today compare with what was envisioned 241 years ago, and then codified in our Constitution several years later? What has sociatial evolution, along with the strife that currently chokes many aspects of our lives, done to our countries original values? How far have we drifted from some of the things we should probably be celebrating?

Here are a two things that are different today from what the founders fought for, and died for:

  • Free speech is under attack. 241 years ago, we fought for free speech, not against it.
  • The United States is far from being united—with division, conflicts, and even hate being the norm. Well, there was indeed division 241 years ago, but there were also common goals and ideals that helped keep us together. Maybe we’ve lost that common vision of “United States.”

The shackles on speech, along with our fractured unity has fed the plague of dysfunctional government, fear, mistrust, and more hate. And this all continues feeding upon itself.

So, what’s behind all this? Well, I’ll tell you my opinion. And if you disagree, please, please, please… speak out. Express your opinion, allow my opinion, and in that small way, allow free speech to have a small victory.

Anyway, here it is: at the heart of these problems is arrogance and selfishness. Arrogance is not willing to listen to an opinion different from its own. Arrogance demands that everyone agrees with it, and if you don’t agree, then arrogance will declare you a bigoted idiot. And such idiots should not be allowed to speak—so demands arrogance.

Selfishness is all about self (duh), at the expense of others. This is at the core of the division within the United States. Selfishness, being a sibling of arrogance, abhors the same things that arrogance does, but selfishness suffers in a different way. Selfishness is very weak and fragile. Selfishness cannot listen to opinions other than its own because selfishness is easily offended. Selfishness is the little toddler who has a tantrum when it doesn’t get its way. Selfishness demands safe zones on college campuses so it has a place to be insulated from different ideas that it does not want to hear.

To give strength to those who suffer from selfishness, soothe the angst of those who are arrogant, and re-unite our country, we need humility. Humility will heal the wounds, ease our fears, nourish trust, and give us the courage to let go of “me” and wrap our arms around “us”. And we will again be united.

Humility accepts the rights and opinions of others, whether it agrees with them or not. Humility is willing to listen to other opinions, without getting offended and throwing a tantrum.

Humility does not always require its way. Humility is willing to compromise. In fact, true humility desires compromise. For humility sees that with compromise, all sides win something—there are no losers with compromise, there are no losers with humility. Humility is kind and compassionate and desires that others do not feel the pain of losing. In this way, the only path to civility is walked in the shoes of humility.

Again, please, what do you think? Speech is free… use it. Let us at least be united in this—to willingly allow each other to express our opinions.

On this 241st anniversary of what may be the most amazing event in democratic history, I will humbly pray for humility.

 

“I (may) disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire (or maybe his biographer)