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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An Unexpected Power of Prayer

Be prepared for what answered prayer might do to you.

The text came in with bad news that caught us unprepared and threw my wife and me into shock. Later, more texts—the details that dribbled in just made us feel worse. Someone we know. Yet, there did seem to be room for hope. So I prayed. And what felt like a constricting snake in my stomach spent the day slowly rolling. That night, I fell asleep praying.

Next morning, on my knees, pouring my heart out to Jesus, begging, I mean intensely BEGGING him to step into the situation and do something that only He can do. Anything! All morning my heart was trembling. The snake rolled.

Noon, another text. NO! The outcome was certain, no more room for hope. The door had been slammed shut. The wave of shock returned and crashed over us.

We talked. “Just accept it. Stop hoping. It will be a bit easier that way.” Okay. So I let go of hope and started to try to accept the new reality. But no acceptance came. Just despair, and the feeling of the ever-present snake squirming in my stomach.

Later that evening, I puttered in the kitchen, struggling to get my mind to attach itself to something else … and trying to prepare dinner without cutting anything off an unwitting finger. And then another text. Oh crap. What now?

What!? The door was again open? There WAS still room for hope, much hope! The roller coaster started heading back up. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

The tremors began in my stomach as I rushed to my wife and we hugged. I quickly went back to turn off the stove so I wouldn’t burn dinner, for I sensed what was coming.

The tremors flowed up my esophagus, through my throat, and into my quivering chin. And then this internal volcanic wave of pure emotion exploded into a stream of tears and blubbering. I had no control. My nose sent a stream into my mustache. My eyes steamed hot with tears. Every muscle within seemed to tremble, every nerve seemed to fire. I felt wrapped in a soft blanket of joy. I clasped my hands over my face and leaned against the wall. I felt like a quivering mass of jelly.

And then the second wave hit—God DID answer the prayers! Jesus loves the people involved so much, that He stepped into the middle of the situation, wrap his arms around them, and did what only He can do! And the tears flowed stronger, and the blubbering grew louder. And my sense of being out of control of my emotions grew more intense. Good, I wanted to give control to God anyway.

To the heavens and any being that was listening, my heart screamed my love and praises for God and Jesus. Yet there was a layer of frustration on top of my joy, for the words of praise just didn’t feel like enough, not coming close to expressing my gratitude.

Since that day, the news has gotten better and the hope has grown more certain. But for someone who’s trying to put my faith into action with words, well, adequate words still won’t come to me. I don’t think there are words to express the magnitude of my gratitude and love for God and Jesus. Oh, how I wish I could.

By the way, I know God doesn’t answer all prayers as we hope He will. That’s not for me to understand right now. And I don’t want to think about unanswered prayers right now. I just want to tell you of one small example of how God’s love for us came alive, and showed itself in action.

I still want to shout out praises to God and Jesus … to the heavens and anyone who will hear me. That’s why I’m writing this now, in my feeble attempt to use written words to try to convey to you the magnitude of my gratitude and love for Jesus, and His love for us. As Paul said:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Jesus’ love is so big, we can’t comprehend it. But we can feel it. I have.

 

Oh, and if you like, please check out my other website, my book website, where you can see something about my soon-to-be-published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. Yes, this novel is mainly about the love of Jesus, as expressed through his humanity while he walked the roads of first century Israel. Now there’s a great example of His love in action.


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Death to the Little Devil Within Me

Often, I feel like my personality is split in two—the good me, and the bad me. I’m like a character in a Saturday morning cartoon, with a little angel on one shoulder encouraging me to do the right thing, and a little devil on the opposite shoulder tempting me to do the wrong thing. Sometimes my little devil screams so loudly I can’t hear anything else.

But this morning I realized something. The little devil part of me is actually dead, having died when all sins died, with Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, he took with him the sins of the world—those sins died with him. Those sins were the collection of the sinful side of everyone who chooses to believe, the collective of our little devils.

So, the devil that seems to exert power over my words and actions is not actually real, but a phantom, or maybe more like a lingering shadow of the sinful me that once thrived. And that shadow fades the more I let the light of the Spirit of Jesus shine within me.

This morning, for the first time, I see and believe in the image of my little devil as dead, sent to the abyss where Jesus took all our sins. It feels so freeing to say that. I’ve prayed for the death of my sinful self for a long time.

I suspect I’ll backslide, and the phantom shadow will con me into believing it has real power over me. But now I feel armed with the reminder that the little sh*t-disturber is powerless and dead.

Here’s what Jesus and the apostle Paul had to say:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:6, 11)

What do you think about all this?

Oh, and if you’re interested, please check out my soon-to-be-published book, We Called Him Yeshua.


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Seeing Jesus as More Real

Several of my family and friends are reading a pre-edited draft of my soon-to-be-published novel. As I do every weekend, last Saturday I visited my 90+ year old mother. I hadn’t heard much of what mom thought about the book, and I was anxious to know.

So, as one topic died down, I asked, “How’s it going, reading the book?”

“I’m finished.” My mom may be slow on her feet, but she’s a quick reader.

“Oh, great. So, what do you think?”

With a serious look on her face, mom said, “Well, it’s odd. But the story made it all feel more real. Jesus’ story feels more real. He feels more real.”

My greatest desire for this novel is that, in addition to providing above average (hopefully) novel-reading entertainment, it will help people see the human side of Jesus, to see Jesus as more real. I believe that if we can see the truth of Jesus’ humanity, it will be easier for us to feel closer to Him, even when awed by his divinity.

How do you feel about the idea of seeing Jesus as more real, more human? If curious, you can see more about the book here. And please consider signing up to be notified when the ebook will be available for FREE on Amazon.


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The Christmas That Lingers

The house is brightly decorated: nutcrackers, wreaths, red ribbons, mistletoe, a goofy looking reindeer made from a sock, memories brought back to life by tree ornaments once made by child hands, and the glistening lights with the colorful ornaments bringing life to the tree. The gifts encircle it all. Cheery wrapping paper and gift bags brighten the floor around the Christmas tree.

And then, all that colorful wrapping ends up in the trash. And the decorations are all packed away, forgotten until next year. The gifts are soon absorbed into our everyday life and just become another possession. Or they are totally forgotten in the back of a drawer, or the top of a dusty shelf.

But there’s one piece of Christmas that lingers. There’s one bright and lively Christmas gift that remains, and is not forgotten.

When all else is packed away or is put on the curb in the trash can, the Spirit of Jesus can still fill the house, and your heart, with His life and love and joy.

Happy Christmas to you – all year long.


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Instead of Looking Forward, Look Inside

Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I’m thinking about what I’ll do once I get home. While putting away groceries, I’m thinking about that broken garbage disposal I need to replace – I hate plumbing jobs. And I’ve never installed a garbage disposal. I’ll put that off until tomorrow, though I’m sure I’ll think more about it today.

But my problem is not the garbage disposal, or other chores, or the book I wish I had time to read, or the writing I’d rather be doing. My problem is where my mind tends to live … in the future. Most of the time my mind is thinking about what comes next. My body is in the present, but my mind is somewhere else.

Then this morning it occurred to me: I’m missing out on life. By choosing to let my mind live in the future, it’s leaving behind the true life that is now. It’s like I’m stepping out of reality to live in another dimension of fantasy (sounds like I’m on drugs). This train of thought is quickly becoming a bit deep for me. But I like where it’s taking me.

“Now” is where real people live. Now is where the truth lives. Now is where reality lives. Now is where peace lives, for the future is often full of worry. And most importantly for me, now is where God lives. Now and here within me is where the Spirit of Jesus lives.

When my mind runs to the future, I usually leave Jesus behind. I think that’s a reason I often feel stressed – the future is full of stress, yet I leave the peace of Jesus back in my present.

But I now see more clearly the power of living in the present. When my mind begins to drift off to what comes next, I can remind myself to pull it back and instead focus on this present moment. The tick of the clock. The whistling bird outside. The gentle rain. This blog post I’m writing. The cozy feel of the turtleneck sweater on my neck. And the peaceful feel of the Spirit of Jesus within me.

Where does your mind tend to live? Do you leave behind good times so your mind can focus on uncertain times? If you’re like me, I encourage you to tackle that mind of yours and pull it back to now. And then, instead of looking forward, look inside. That’s where Jesus lives.


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Stress – It’s an Epidemic… But with a Cure

Stress Time cover

Check out this small sample of statistics from The American Institute of Stress:

  • 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago
  • 1 in 5 Americans experience “extreme stress”
  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;

Follow this link (http://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/) to even bleaker statistics on the effects of stress. Or maybe don’t – the data just might add to your stress.

I read somewhere that stress is considered an epidemic in the United States, and probably all over the world. After all, humanity has a talent for creating stress-inducing situations. I sure suffer from it, though not as often and not nearly as intensely as I used to. In fact, feelings of stress are getting rarer for me.

Several months ago I made a decision to escape the stress in my life, without actually escaping life. And I kept a journal of what I learned and felt as I eventually found a way out of the stress pit I had dug for myself. And I’ve turned that journal into a book which I’m giving away for free. (more on that here: Not for the Money).

Now to be perfectly candid, if you don’t think you could ever be open to believing Jesus Christ is who he said he is, then my book won’t help you – you’re on your own in dealing with your stress. But even if your thoughts on Jesus amount to only a mild curiosity, it’s possible this book could lead you to true peace, and freedom from the stress pit that may hold you prisoner.

Now I’m not quite finished with the book – it’s currently at my editor for final fixes. Just a few more weeks and then it will be ready to release. Would you like to check it out? Why not? After all, it’s free. So if you’re interested, sign-up to receive your free pdf copy by clicking on the link below. And then when the book is released, I’ll send you an email with a link to download the book.

And whether you try out this book or not, I wish you the best of luck in your own journey to escape stress.

(Sign up here)