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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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)


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Buffet for my Ego

buffet

Life is a smorgasbord for my ever-ravenous ego.

So many choices, all feeding my ego’s need for attention.

At work, the buffet sometimes overflows.

At home, there are snacks on every table.

Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, my ego finds something to devour.

Yet my ego is not my friend.

It resists my desire to wrest my eyes from the buffet,

and look more to the Holy Spirit of Jesus within me.

My hearts desire is that Jesus become greater within me,

and my ego becomes less.

It feels like the never-ending on-again, off-again diet.

Yet my diet coach is the very Son of God.

My ego against Jesus – guess who’s winning.

My ego keeps fighting for attention,

but Jesus in my heart is stronger.

And I’m so grateful.

For life is limitless without my ego holding me prisoner.


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Don’t You Trust Me?

potter and clay

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

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

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

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


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Grateful for the Flaws

flawed

By reading my complaints about my flawed humanity in many of my blog posts, you might think I’m a miserable person. Well, I’m not.

It seems that most of the time, my life is dominated by my relationship with God, Jesus, and their Spirit who shares my life with me. By the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, I have found true meaning, peace, excitement, and love. Life has never been better.

Yet I’m grateful for the flaws of my human nature: my pride and selfishness, my anxiety and worry, my anger, my natural temptations. For whenever my flaws capture my present, they remind me of how much I need God. Yes, my flaws may make me miserable while in the midst of them. But God has taught me to use my flaws, to steer my mind back to Him. And I’m grateful.


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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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My Prison of Pride

prisoner of fallacy

Pride is my self-imposed prison. Pride ties me up with strict rules and expectations. Pride wraps me in a straightjacket of stress when things don’t go MY way. Pride pushes my heart, soul, and mind to me, rather than God.

Pride is misery.

Yet Jesus has set me free from my prison. He has opened the door and shown me the path to humility… and love… and others… and our Father. There are still traces of pride clinging to me, but it’s not the prison it once was.

And the Holy Spirit within holds onto me, stopping me from returning to my familiar prison cell. And I’m so grateful.


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My Apology to Catholics

About five years ago I wrote a post about my dad’s experience when he decided to join the Catholic Church of my stepmother. He first had to sign some Catholic documents resulting in the annulment of his marriage to my mom. From what I heard, the church had to erase the sin of his divorce before they would accept him into the church.

I admit I was a bit upset by the episode and I wasn’t very kind to the Catholic Church in the words I posted. Over the years, many people have commented on that post, and it’s clear that I caused them pain. Another such comment showed up today. And I’ve finally come to realize that it’s time I apologize.

So to all Catholics, I sincerely apologize for my harsh words of five years ago.

All I was trying to do was testify to the truth of Jesus. And the truth is, Jesus forgave my father’s sin of divorce. More than forgive, Jesus and God have effectively forgotten my father’s divorce.

As God said, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

And as Paul said in his definition of love, “Love … keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) As God is love, God keeps no record of wrongs.

Forgive and forget. What a great way to live, for all of us. It’s just not easy.