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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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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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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The End, of Sin

It was nearly dawn when they dragged him out and took him to the Roman fortress. A growing crowd was now following, so I no longer needed to hide. I just became one of the many curious. The priests were talking to the Roman governor—very strange. I thought they hated that man. And then some Roman soldiers grabbed Jeshua and took him away.

Again I followed. They took him to the barracks, where I cringed when I saw the flogging post in the center of the courtyard. They chained his hands to the metal ring hanging from the top of the stone post. As they did this, other soldiers gathered around.

My eyes saw only broken glimpses of Jeshua, in between the shuffling frames of the leather-clad soldiers. But then I saw the whip, the whip of many tails, with the shards of bone and metal tied into the leather thongs.

And it began. And I watched. The whip struck, the bone dug into the flesh of his back, and then was ripped away, bringing flesh with it. The blood began to stream down his back. The whip struck again, and again. Every strike made my bowels quiver and seize. I felt sickness rising up in my throat. Yet I still watched. When his knees buckled, he hung from his arms, the blood now pooling at his splayed feet.

Finally they stopped. Professionals at torture, they whipped him near death, but not to death. The soldiers unchained him from the post and dragged him into the barracks. When they bought him back out, Jeshua had regained enough strength to walk, barely. The mob took him back to the waiting Roman Governor and the religious leaders. And then the final verdict was declared. Crucifixion.

By now it was approaching mid-morning. The entire city was awake and word had spread of Jeshua’s arrest. The crowd of curious was growing. I can’t tell you of the crowds’ mood—my concern was for Jeshua, and Anna, and all of us followers who were losing our source of hope and a man we dearly love. Those of us brave enough or gruesomely curious enough watched as he was agonizingly dragged to his death. The rest hid, I suppose. I’d hoped Anna was safe, and his mother.

Again, I was shocked out of my thoughts. The crowd began stirring as the soldiers pulled Jeshua to his feet and forced him to carry a heavy cross. The march to his death is not clear to me. My mind kept drifting in and out of my thoughts. Maybe I was trying to look at something other than Jeshua’s torment. I prayed almost the entire way through the city, out the northwest gate, and up the hill. I was guided along by the flow of the crowd, not really paying attention to where we were going.

Along the way someone else started carrying the cross, for when I approached the top of the hill, I noticed Jeshua lying on the ground, collapsed from weakness. Another man was still dragging the cross up the hill.

My mind cleared from the scattered thoughts and I stared at him, face to the ground, his blood-crusted back bare to the sky, and that crown of thorns jammed onto this skull. I found myself hoping he was already dead—he looked dead. I hoped he would be spared the ultimate torture of the cross. But he was still alive. I saw slight movement as he struggled to breathe.

When the man carrying the cross reached the top of the hill, two of the soldiers took the cross from him and dropped it on the ground next to Jeshua. As it crashed down, I saw him open his eyes, and look at his fate lying next to him. One of the soldiers kicked him in his side, but not very hard… curious.

That’s when my dry eyes started flowing. For looking like an obedient child, Jeshua crawled over to the cross, turned onto his back and lay on it, as if he were crawling into bed—his death bed, with his arms lying out on the cross beam. He was a picture of absolute surrender to his fate. I wept.

I didn’t watch them drive in the spikes; I couldn’t. But the strike of the mallet sent shudders through my guts. And the sound changed from soft to hard as the spike moved through his flesh and into wood. That sound I will never forget. And mixed in with the strikes of the mallet were Jeshua’s pain-racked groans. Finally it stopped.

I cleared the tears from my eyes and looked up as the guards strained to lift the cross and swing the base to the waiting hole in the ground. Then they rose the cross up vertically and its base slid into the hole. With a shudder and a groan from Jeshua, the cross slammed into place.

And then I heard him speak, for the first time since the torture began. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Oh my God! Even drowning in pain, nailed to a cross and on the edge of death, he forgives. Truly he is the Son of God!

I looked away and there, beside me, stood his mother.

———————————————————

Searing, constant pain. I feel like I’m on an ocean, with waves of pain crashing over me. I lift up on my legs to breathe, but the waves crash into my feet and up my legs and into my core. And then, when my legs give out and my full weight again falls on my arms, the waves crash into my chest and back and my dislocated shoulders and my arms and hands. And my skinless back rubs against the harsh wood. There is no escape.

My friends, my family and my children all call me Jeshua—you know me as Jesus, the Christ.

Oh my poor children, so afraid as they still look to me for hope. My heart breaks to see them in such pain, such agony. Their pain is my pain. I feel the agony of all my Father’s children. I feel their suffering. I feel their sins. Their pain has been nailed with me to this cross. Yet the only way I can bare this mounting agony is knowing it’s for them, for all my Father’s children. Oh how I hope they believe.

I see them out there, scattered around my cross—my children, my friends. Some are trying not to be noticed, trying to act indifferent to my death. They are so afraid. I see below the surface to their weeping hearts. There’s Mary, with her heart so full of love, and misery. There’s Lazarus, alive again yet wondering about my fate. There’s John, the young one. Oh, there’s my mother, so strong yet so sad.

I see my accusers also, with those evil smirks on their faces. They seem delighted as they ridicule me and mock me. Yet in them too I see fear. Their souls know their error. But its God’s will.

I’m glad they are all here, for it reminds me why I’m here. If it were not for my love for all of them, I would not be on this cross. It’s not these spikes that hold me here; it’s my love for all my Father’s children, my love for all my friends.

But this pain is devouring me. Yet what feels worse than the pain is this feeling of being alone. Surrounded by this growing crowd, yet I don’t feel His presence. My Father is gone. I’ve never known this before, this emptiness, this parched, vast void of emptiness. It’s crushing me. The pain of the whip and the cross becomes numb next to this feeling of being so alone. Yes, I still feel the pain. It’s still there, sharp and mean. But it’s being overpowered by the agony of aloneness, the agony of my Father no longer here with me.

Until last night, my humanness has been so sweet. Yet it’s always contained a touch of pain—the pain of fear, the pain of temptation, and the pain of love. But now I feel more human than ever before. I feel fully human, and full of the sins of humanity. Oh, my humanness is being shattered by the pain of the torture they whipped and pounded into me. But my spirit is now collapsing under the weight of this emptiness.

“Father, why have you forsaken me?”

I know; it’s the sin. The sin of the world is upon me. I feel its weight pulling me down.

The pain is fading now, it’s becoming softer. It’s starting to feel more like a dream than real. And the light is fading; the sky darkens. The end must be near.

As the light fades, the colors are turning grey. No more color. I still see those who are near. Beyond them, all is growing dark and fading into nothingness. Now those nearest are fading… oh, they are gone. All is black. I wish I could see my friends again, one more time. But the children are gone. My Father is gone. I’m all alone.

No, not alone, yet. I see him down there. I hear his evil laugh. I feel his dark breath drawing me closer. Lucifer, Satan, Devil. He knows what I see. He knows what I fear. His only hope is in my fear. He hopes my fear will call forth the waiting army of angels to save me and lift me free of this cross. That’s the only way he can keep the children in his prison.

But his laugh is filled with fear, for he also knows the truth, and he knows of my love. My love that holds me fast to this cross. He fears my love the most. For my love is more than the love of God. My love is also the love of a man, born of a woman.

It was a man, the man Adam, who took that first step on the path to hell, leading all humanity into the prison of sin. Generation after generation has followed. Enslavement became part of the human inheritance. Yet that slave master Satan knows well that only another man can break the pattern and shatter the chains that have held humanity in bondage. Only I, son of man and Son of God, can set the captives free. Not by war, but by death—my death, paying the penalty of the sentences for all humanity held in this worldly prison.

He laughs still. But his laugh is more fear than ever. He knows the end is near. Not my end, but the end of his reign. As I die, so does his power. Oh, he’s so close. His hot breath burns. Yet now… he too is gone.

There, opening up before me is the dark, lightless, pit. Empty. Alone. Devouring emptiness is spewing from there… the very pit of hell. The presence of my Father is nowhere. His creation is nowhere. But this pit before me—there is nothing. No Father, no creation, just void. Hell; absolute emptiness, gaping wide, reaching for me. So dark, and hungry. It ravages me. It consumes me. It’s pulling on me, adding its dead weight to my dying arms. It’s rising up to grab me and pull me down, gripping me in its ravenous maw. With my death it will have me. It will swallow me. That inky, thick, black fog of dread and evil; it’s flowing over me. I’m drowning in the smothering dread of hell. I cannot breathe!

The pain is gone. The nails are gone. The cross is gone. I’m falling… into hell. All light and life are gone. Oh Father, you have done it. You have fulfilled your promise. Thank you. I love you.

“It is finished.”
The End


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The Spirit Speaks – Evil WILL LOSE!

Pray for Paris 2

I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, feel the sting of evil. Evil struck a blow last week. Evil attacked the children of Paris, and left a scar on our hearts. But we will recover; our hearts will heal. And evil will not. Evil will lose. Evil will fail.

For evil is not fighting against humanity. Evil is not fighting against the “infidels.” Evil is fighting against the armies of God. Oh, evil will win battles, for these battles are fought on the fields of broken humanity, on earth, where sin and evil flourish. But the war is won beyond the physical world. And evil doesn’t have a chance. Evil will be crushed under the heel of Almighty God.

So hold onto good, hold onto me. Never let go. And together we will watch evil die, forever.

As I once said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)


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The Spirit Speaks – Please Don’t Give Up

Never Give Up

I know it’s hard to see me, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, within you. I know it’s difficult to feel a connection with me. The distractions of the world rise up like a wall, between you and me, blocking your view.

But as you tear your mind away from each distraction, the stones in your wall will begin to fad. As each distraction disappears from your mind, so it disappears from the wall, until the wall is gone and you and I again stand face to face.

Yes, the distractions in your world are ever-hungry, craving your full attention. But I ask you today to not give up with your efforts to look away from the distractions and look to me, within you. No matter how long it takes you to find me here, I will never give up on you. I’m patient. I’ll wait for you. Please, be patient too. Please, don’t give up.


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Wading Through the Rubble of my Mind

cluttered mind

Each morning, with coffee in hand, I take my precious quiet time and seek God, within me. I sit in my rustic garage corner-office/storage-room, sometimes reading the daily devotional in Jesus Calling, sometimes reading my bible, but always trying to focus my mind on Jesus and God.

Yet, every morning before I can find my way to God, I need to wade my way through the trash and rubble that clogs my mind. I need to clear a path to God, through thoughts about work, home projects, personal challenges, and often-meaningless distractions. Some mornings, my minds rubble piles up high and deep, and it can be rough going, bouncing from one distraction to the next. But if I patiently keep digging, I eventually break through the rubble and … there’s God, always waiting for me.

And I’m so grateful.


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Feeling Disconnected from God

reaching out to God

I have a Facebook friend whom I’ve never met, who recently posted this question to my FB page: “I haven’t been to church in 2 months and feel very disconnected from God. I’ve talked to my Pastor who says this is normal and all Christians go through this at some point or another. Any suggestions?”

Wow! As I read this, I felt a surge of nervousness rise up within me. Though I enjoy posting my personal experiences and such on my blog, I don’t feel qualified to give individual and personal advice. But my FB friend was asking for help. And I felt I should do my best to honor their request. So, this is what I said…

“I went through the same thing. So many doubts. My only suggestion is to find as much quiet time as you can to pray and try to feel the very presence of God within your self. This is what I did, and try to do every day. And when I find and truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit within me – well, it’s the peace that goes beyond human understanding, that Jesus promised us. Yet for me, it seemed to take a long time to feel the Spirits presence; I tend to be a slow learner. But be persistent and never give up, as Jesus encouraged us to be.”

In looking back on this advice, which is not really advice from me but from Jesus, I believe it’s good everyday advice for all of us.

Do you feel disconnected from God? Follow Jesus’ advice, and seek Him with all your heart. And you will find Him there, within you.