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 Cure for Cabin Fever

Are you suffering from winter COVID cabin fever? Locked down. Shut in. Alone. Or, nearly alone. Zoom calls don’t help much anymore. Tired of watching TV. Definitely tired of surfing news websites. Tired of it all. All I can offer is this—it may not seem like much, but I believe it has the potential to help in unexpected ways:

A good story, a good book that will take you away to another time and place—maybe that would help. Oh, you’ve tried that already? Yes I now, there are lots of great books out there. But the problem is, once you close the book, especially for the last time, you’re still stuck in today. Well, I’d like to recommend a book that along with taking you to another time and place, might also help you bring some of it back when you return to here and now.

We Called Him Yeshua introduces you to someone who can come back with you once you close the book and return to today. This someone can help you cope with today, and even thrive.

How is that possible? Well, the story introduces you to Jesus Christ in a way more intimate than maybe you’ve ever felt. And by the time you finish the story, close the book for the last time, and return to the here and now, you’ll be able to bring Jesus with you. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I’m talking about the actual and real presence of the Spirit of Jesus. You need never be alone again.

So what exactly is this piece of historical fiction about?

The story shows you the human side of Jesus as seen through the eyes of people who lived with him during his final weeks on earth. They’ll tell you what they saw and felt, and how they grew closer to Jesus. They’ll tell you of his love, courage, compassion, strength, and humility.

Listen to Anna and others tell you about their experiences with Jesus as they all follow him down that dusty road to Jerusalem. Hear Neri describe what it was like when Jesus healed him of leprosy, or Timaeus tell you about being able to see for the first time in his life, and then Anna, as she falls deeper in love with Jesus. She doesn’t care about his divinity—all she cares for is his humanity.

We call him by his Greek name, Jesus. They called him by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. They knew him not just as a prophet, not just as the Son of God, but they knew him as a friend. As you read their stories, maybe you too will come to know Jesus as your friend.

And if you ask Him, He will come back with you when you close the book and return to today. Get to know Jesus the man—that’s where this book will help—and then let Jesus the Holy Spirit come and live with you in the here and now.

By the way, I’m keeping the price as low as Amazon will allow. Why? Because I want to make the book available to as many people as possible. And these days, money is scarce for many of us.

(Link to Amazon book page)


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WWJD 2.0

What Would Jesus Do? Somewhere around here I think I still have a colorful wristband with WWJD on it, and even a necktie. I don’t know if it’s still a popular slogan, but I remember using it many years ago when I helped lead a church youth group. The problem was, WWJD became so widespread and so popular that I think it sometimes lost its meaning, which is, if Jesus found himself in my situation, what would He do.

I reminded myself of the WWJD thing this morning, as I was reading something in my Bible. Lots of messages in there that basically encourage us to do as Jesus would do. Good advice. But with us, it’s doomed to failure.

For me to do as Jesus would do is simply impossible. I know. I’ve tried. Whenever Jesus told us to do as He would do, He knew exactly how futile our efforts would be. He knew it would be impossible for us to always do as he would do. Yet as he also told us, what’s impossible for us is possible for God (Luke 18:27).

So, why did Jesus tell us to do the impossible? Because he wants to bring us to a state of despair over our own weak and failing efforts so that we will finally surrender to him and let His Spirit live through us. By His Spirit, Jesus can do what only He can do, what’s impossible for me to do.

WWJD is still a good slogan, but it needs a redefinition, a reboot. Instead of What Would Jesus Do, how about What Will Jesus Do? Instead of being a statement of reflection and struggling for impossibilities, it could be a statement of anticipation of certainties. Instead of being a question of what I might do under my own power, it becomes a question of what Jesus will do within me by His power.

How you choose to ask this WWJD question may indicate how you choose to consider Jesus. Do you see Him as a passive influence in your life? Or, do you see Him as alive, God’s Son actively involved? If you believe, you can live looking forward to what the Spirit of Jesus might do next in your life.


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A Good Distraction for These Times

Are you looking for a distraction from all the chaos surrounding you? Would you like to tear your mind away from what’s going on outside and take it for a walk someplace else? To my friends in the US, could you use a distraction from the craziness and stress of the presidential election? And of course, there’s the pandemic.

Please consider checking out We Called Him Yeshua, a historical fiction story about Jesus, told through the eyes of some of the people who were drawn to him as he walked the roads of ancient Israel. That might be a nice place for you to visit and get away from the present-day chaos for a bit. And as one of the Amazon reviewers has said,

“I could read this book again and again. It made the people of that time so real. Really made me realize the difficulty of just surviving. The hardships of day to day living that we don’t have in today’s world. But the hardships of today’s society makes me think which would I choose? Great talent this writer has to put you in the story. I could almost feel the heat, taste the dust and feel the hardships these people lived. As well as the joy of being in the presence of our Lord. Oh how well he wrote of the personal closeness He had with each person. Highly recommend this book. It’s a keeper. One I will read again and again.” (Peggy Amend, Amazon review)

Click here to go to Amazon book page.


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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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Never Alone, or The Best Christmas Ever

On my way to the Philippines for work. Eleven hours, middle seat in coach. At least an exit row. But there’s a pungent odor seeping out of the apparently un-bathed guy next to me. Time for a breather. Strolling the aisle, a sea of faces, none familiar.

Finally, Tokyo. Three-hour layover, and grateful to give achy legs a good stretch. Wandering the airport corridors, travelers everywhere. Sure would be fun to see someone I know. But nope.

Next plane. Five more hours to Manila. Plane packed, but at least I have an aisle seat. Still no familiar faces. Manila airport, I’m drowning in another sea of people. And the midnight humidity—clinging my tired clothes to tired skin. Dark outside, fluorescent gloom inside. I feel like an alien, all alone.

But not truly alone. Cramped in a middle seat next to my stinky neighbor, the Holy Spirit was with me. Walking through Tokyo airport, the Holy Spirit was with me. The entire trip, the Holy Spirit was within me. Whenever I felt alone, I looked to the Spirit of Jesus. And He’s always there. I’m never alone.

As Christmas approaches, especially this 2020 Christmas, I find myself spending more and more time thinking of those who may end up being more alone this Christmas than ever before. Christmas is traditionally a hard time for a lot of people. And with all the suffering of 2020, and all the loss of family and friends, I suspect that this Christmas will be harder than most. But maybe people can turn their loneliness and despair into an opportunity to form or revitalize a new relationship … with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

My trip to Manila took place about seven years ago. During those seven years, my relationship with the Spirit of Jesus within me has grown stronger. Even when I drift away for days or weeks, He’s still right there when I look back at Him. Looking hasn’t always been easy, with my often-scattered mind and spiritual attention deficit disorder. But for what it’s worth, here’s what has worked for me, and maybe it will work for you:

As often as you can, go to a quiet place, away from the noise and distractions of your world. Close your eyes. Quiet your thoughts. Leave the cares and concerns of your life outside. Focus just on your breathing, each breath in, each breath out. Once you’ve quieted your mind enough, try to visualize the Spirit of Jesus within you. Not up in heaven, not sitting beside you, but inside you, sharing your body with your soul. And just be with Him.

This may be hard at first—it certainly was for me. You may feel you failed, at first. But don’t give up. As often as you can throughout your day, practice the presence of the Spirit of Jesus. Start each day this way. At some point, you will feel His presence. Then you will know that from that day on, you will never be alone.

And by sharing your life with Jesus, maybe this Christmas could be your best Christmas ever.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16-17)


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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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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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The Mind Controlled by the Spirit

I recall seeing mention of it only once in the entire Bible. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) And, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (verse 9) *

Maybe when Paul wrote this, he didn’t mean what I hope he meant. Maybe he just means the mind “influenced” by the Spirit. Well, I feel the presence of the Spirit of God in my life, and I feel His influence. But often I desire so much more. And since David once wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” (Psalm 37:4), I still hope that God will give me what I desire.

Oh how I wish the Spirit of Jesus would take control over my scattered, out of control mind. So often—too often—my mind goes places I really don’t want it to go. And that’s when the feeling of His presence leaves me, though I believe His Spirit never leaves—just my awareness of Him fades away.

Well, anyway, I’ll keep hoping and desiring and trusting and doing all I can to glorify God and Jesus. For without them, life would be hell.

I hope you have a great, Spirit-filled day.

 

* If you know of other places in the Bible that speak of this kind of control, please point me to them.


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Split Between Two Worlds

Whether we realize it or not, we divide our lives between two different worlds. We live in both the earthly, material world, and the spiritual world. Yet many people don’t realize there is a spiritual world. For them, the material world consumes and completely controls their lives, and there is no escape from it.

The material world consists of such things as daily work, stress from outside pressure and strained relationships, worldwide pandemics, divisive and stomach-acid-churning presidential elections, aches, pains, anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, lies, injustice, bigotry … well, I’m sure you can think of more descriptions of the world you live in.

Yet, the spiritual world is the absolute opposite of the material world. The spiritual world is peace beyond our ability to comprehend. It’s love that’s bigger than we can imagine. It’s intimate companionship with God. No pain, no fear, no anxiety. No need for antacid pills, calming cocktails, or anxiety numbing drugs. The spiritual world is freedom.

But how do we cross over to this world of freedom? Well, as Jesus said, “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 truth that takes our hand and leads us into the freedom and peace of the spiritual world is the presence in our lives of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. We can’t cross over to the spiritual world without help. Yet the Spirit of Jesus can enter into our very bodies, the two in one flesh, and lead us into His world where we will find the freedom we seek. The truth of this is clearly spelled out in Jesus’ own words in the Gospels.

Yet, as long as we occupy our human bodies, our life is bound to the two different worlds. The material world is unavoidable. Sometimes it demands our full attention. But not always.

I’d like to offer you a suggestion. The next time you find yourself being drawn to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the television, or whatever other worldly distraction that tends to fill up your discretionary time, try this: put down that phone, tablet, or remote control. Step away from the keyboard and step toward the Spirit of Jesus. Look for the Spirit in the words of the Bible, and get to know Him. Ask the Spirit of Jesus to guide you into His world, and experience that break you so desperately need from the material world.

The more time you spend in the spiritual world of Jesus, the easier it will be to cope with the strain of the material world. And the more you practice the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within you, the easier you will find it to enter His world at almost any time, no matter what’s going on around you in the material world.

Also, the more time you spend with Jesus in the spiritual world, the more you will be able to bring His peace with you when you have to be fully involved in the material world. With the presence of Jesus’ Spirit, you will greatly lighten your material world experiences. I encourage you to not settle for dividing your life between the two opposite worlds. Rather, bring the spiritual world with you as you live in the material world.

Could it be that while Jesus walked the roads of ancient Israel, He lived fully in the spiritual and fully in the material at the same time? Can you imagine if you could do the same thing, and how that would affect your experience of life?

You have a choice. Which world do you want to spend more time in, the world of anxiety and anger, or the world of peace and love?

One final thought. Books about heaven, about the reality of heaven and some peoples personal early glimpses of heaven (like via near-death experiences), these books appear to be widely popular. The popularity of such books tells me that a lot of people are very interested in heaven. But do they know that they can experience heaven right now, heaven on earth. That’s what it is to live in the spiritual world with Jesus?


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Ignoring Fear, Stepping Out For God

Why was I feeling dull, almost empty, spiritually numb? It wasn’t because of this pandemic—that affects me in different ways. I’d started writing a new book, a book I believe can do great things to spread the truth of God and Jesus. But I still felt I wasn’t being useful for God. I had the sense He wanted me doing more.

Then it started to feel like God was sending me clear messages, in the varied way He sometimes does. In three different books I was reading, including the Bible, I was being told to not be afraid. One book that a friend had given me, “Jesus Called, He Wants His Church Back,” by Ray Johnston, hit me in the gut with the directness of the challenge to just ignore my fears, step out and do new things for Jesus.

I didn’t have to look far to see the new things I felt God calling me to. The book I’m writing is on the right track, but I now felt God calling me to do more, to start spreading the word now and not wait to see if I actually finish writing the book. I have my blog, I’m on Facebook—I can use those to spread the word.

But I needed to be assertive. People don’t need more baby food. Many Christians have gotten nothing but baby food from the churches they attend. What they need, what some openly want, is spiritual meat, the deeper truths of Christianity that lay below the surface.

What we see from a lot of Christians and Christian churches is surface Christianity, that is, the Christianity many people put on and wear each Sunday. But real Christianity, true Christianity, goes much deeper. True Christianity is not just believing that Jesus is the Son of God, going to church regularly, trying to be “good,” and calling yourself Christian. True Christianity is even deeper than a relationship with God and Jesus. And get this: true Christianity is not some hidden, mysterious thing, for it’s clearly defined in the Bible.

True Christianity is a life-changing commitment. True Christianity is surrender to God—surrender of our self, our self-centered human nature. It’s the emptying of our selves so God can then fill us with His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God and Jesus, and us, living in the same body, the two will become one flesh. THAT’s true Christianity. The more I re-read the Bible, and not just the New Testament, the more vivid that truth becomes.

But for many of us, it’s a hard truth to embrace—the commitment feels too great. Yet I’d come to a point on my journey where I was worn out by life. Sometimes I sense I understand the feelings of those who commit suicide—life had become such a burden. But instead of giving myself to death, I want to give myself to God. I crave surrender. I no longer want to be in control—too stressful.

I feel the desire (and I hope a true calling from God, not just imagination) to preach to fellow Christians the deeper truths of surrender to the Holy Spirit. But in doing so, I’m not crazy about some direction I’ve received from the Bible, especially from Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus, as well as Jesus. He calls us to rebuke our fellow Christians who drift away from the truth. I’m not confrontational by nature, I don’t like the idea of rebuking anyone. Conflict makes my stomach churn. But that’s the fear that I now believe God is calling me to ignore. Jesus said we’d be persecuted for standing up for His truth. I hoped I was ready.

As some of you reading this may have noticed, I have become more vocal with respect to the truths of Christianity and how they apply to the upcoming presidential election. The things I’ve posted are things that came into my mind while praying—I sure hope that means they’re God’s ideas, not mine. I’m always afraid my “self” will step in and pollute the words I write, corrupting the message of God I’m trying to convey. Oh, and yes, I am being persecuted for what I’ve posted so far.

I posted something on a Facebook Christian group I’m a member of, and now I’m being personally attacked. But I’m grateful for the caustic comments. They’re giving me insight into the minds of fellow humans, though I’m not sure if I’d call them fellow Christians, as they call themselves. Whether they are true Christians or not is between them and God. But I feel sorry for them, for many of them seem filled with anger.

So why am I writing about this today? Well, I’m not sure. But I hope it’s because the idea for today’s post also came to me while praying, and I hope that means it’s God’s idea, not mine. And I’d like to say I don’t need to know His purpose to do His will.

Hey, maybe here’s why I’m writing this: do you have a sense that God is calling you to do something, but the idea scares you? Or, do you feel you have only a surface knowledge of Christianity? I hope God wanted me to write today’s post for you, to help you in whatever way He desires.


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Looking For Freedom? Look Inside Yourself

The truth will set you free. That’s what Jesus said.

What truth Lord, I need to know?

The truth of love, the truth of faith, the truth of My presence in your life.

Yet free from what? Will you tell me that?

Yes my child. Everything.

What? I don’t understand.

Tell Me child, what burdens you?

Well, I guess, especially this year, almost everything.

Exactly.

But how Lord? Where does freedom come from?

The truth laid out for all to see, the truth hidden in plain sight is this: Me in you and you in Me. My Spirit living with your spirit, with your soul, within your body. The two will become one flesh.

But how?

Just quiet your mind, open your heart, let go of your “self,” and let Me in. By My presence within you, and your surrender to Me, you will be free. I’m already there, just waiting for you to look at Me.


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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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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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Thank You

Another morning, at first indifferent.

And maybe a bit of reluctant dread.

Then quiet time alone, coffee cup warming my hands.

Silence my mind, look inside, and away from my “self.”

No, not alone. Never alone.

Thank You.

My attitude adjustment hour.

Perspective heightened. Life is good.

 

Time for a walk, before it’s too hot.

Mask in my pocket, always at the ready.

A crispness lingers in the air.

So refreshing. Another thing to be grateful for.

But the air is not only crispness.

Ash sprinkles down, like cursed snowflakes.

From overhead to the western horizon, the brown “fog bank” of smoke.

Sirens wail off in the distance. On the highway, heading north?

The wildfire season … again.

 

The “new normal.” “It is what it is.” So tired of those phrases.

Yet I admit their accuracy, and simple clarity.

I feel the struggle, trying not to let it all get me down.

A near-constant struggle … these days.

Some days I lose.

But today … today I’m winning.

Yet, not alone.

Thank You.


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The Other Side of the Wall

Coronavirus, roller coaster stock market, rising infection rates, increasing death tolls, extended restrictions and growing fears, financial worries, angst over not being able to see and hug my adult children (other than on Zoom, which just doesn’t cut it). These and more are the stones in my wall, my wall of distraction. It’s the wall that blocks my view of Jesus, who’s always there, waiting for me on the other side. But, given quiet time and a chance to empty my mind, the stones of jumbled thoughts disappear, and there’s Jesus smiling at me.

Yet it helps so much to know who I’m looking for, to know whom I’ll find on the other side of that wall. It was harder before … before I’d gotten to know him. But now, I know him as more than Jesus the Son of God. I also know Jesus the son of man.

Would you like to more easily look beyond your own wall, clear your mind of the “world,” and see the Spirit of Jesus within you? Would you like to have a clearer image of who you’re looking for? Would you like to see Jesus as his closest followers saw him, as a fellow human … the son of man?

I wrote the novel We Called Him Yeshua to help people better know the human side of Jesus. Why? Well, because I think it’s easier to fall in love with another person than with a God. I believe the more someone knows the human side of Jesus, the easier it will be for them to love him and be devoted to him. Yet I believe that most people see Jesus as God, and therefore, out of intimidation or whatever, they hold him at arm’s length. So I wrote a story I hope will help them see Jesus the man, and instead of keeping him at arm’s length, pull him into a loving hug.

In an effort to make this book available to more people, I’ve arranged for the ebook to be free this weekend. So, from Friday (July 31) to Sunday (August 2) you can get We Called Him Yeshua for free on Amazon. I’ll be sure to post a reminder on Friday.

Finally, if you’ve already read the book and you’d like to leave a review on Amazon, now would be a good time as your comments might help others decide if they want to grab a free ebook or not. Plus, I’d be grateful to see what you think. Thanks.


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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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Are You Content With Too Little?

Is there an ever-present, gnawing hunger in your soul? Hunger for a sense of peace, and maybe something more, that you believe is achievable, but never within your grasp? I’m referring to the peace that Jesus promised us, the peace that is so deep and all consuming that its power is beyond our ability to understand. But, it’s not beyond our ability to possess.

Yet, based on my own experience, I think we can fall into a trap of being content with too little. And I sense that Satan baits the trap.

I urge you … don’t take the bait. BELIEVE that the peace Jesus promises is for you too. And then go look for it. The best part is that you don’t have to look far, because the peace and fulfillment you seek are right inside you. That is, the peace comes from your own intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, where as He prayed, you are in Him, and He is in you.

So where are you on your journey to find the Spirit of Jesus within you? Are you where I lingered for more years than I want to admit? Are you teetering on the edge of belief? If you don’t yet have the faith that has crossed over into a deep feeling of certainty, maybe what you need is to get to know Jesus better. After all, it’s hard to believe someone if you don’t know them very well.

If this is you, then you are one of the many people for whom I wrote We Called Him Yeshua. Please check it out, for in the personal stories told by some of the people who walked with Jesus, you can come to know Him as intimately at they did.

Available on Amazon, currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.

 

Now then, for those of you who are past your struggles with unbelief, I’d like to refer you to other books that have helped me find the Spirit of Jesus within my soul (book recommendations). And I’ll continue adding to this list of books as I write more reviews.

Finally, here’s a quote from a book I’m reading for the 7th time, where I’ll be posting a review sometime soon.

“He (God) often calls men blind, complaining that we are content with too little. God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith, He pours His grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”

The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.


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My Remedy for Social Distance Induced Stress

I just survived another trek to the grocery store. The experience usually leaves me tense, breathing rapidly, heart pounding, chest tightening.

You see, I take the social distancing thing seriously. I take all the warnings and all the data seriously. But not everyone else does. Clearly, many of my fellow shoppers didn’t give a damn about social distancing. Or they’re just not thinking, as in the case of the person talking on their cell phone while shopping and not paying attention to anyone else around them.

So I come home after taking advantage of the early morning senior hour, barely past 9:00am, and I’m ready to pour myself a stiff whisky. But after unpacking the groceries and putting things away, I have a better idea. And it’s an idea I’d like to share, as it might help you find relief from those stress-filled moments.

Grab a hot cup of tea, or maybe a one-pound chunk of dark chocolate, and relax with a novel that will take you far away, to another time and place. And as some of you know by now, I have a particular book in mind.

We Called Him Yeshua is a story that can take you all the way to the villages and roads of ancient Israel, where you will become another one of the healed and hopeful, following Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem. You will see Jesus not through the lens of ancient biblical manuscripts, but through the eyes of your fellow travelers. These people felt Jesus’ love reach down to the depths of their souls. They saw his love in action, every day, in all kinds of ways. They called him Yeshua. Read this book, and maybe you will come to call him friend.

Would you like to see more of what this story is about? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then, use the Amazon “look inside” feature and get a taste for yourself.


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Joy Can be Just a Prayer Away

Even when life pulls your mind in random directions and sometimes piles worry on top of worry; even when it seems like all the news is bad; even when the world is held hostage by a global pandemic … joy can be just a prayer away.

Jesus promised his Holy Spirit would be with us always, “to the very end of the age.” He also promised us a peace beyond our understanding. So, all we need to do to find the joy and peace we crave is look for Jesus’ Spirit. And thankfully, we don’t have to look far, for another promise is that Jesus will be IN us, as his Father is in him.

With the Spirit of Jesus abiding within you, always present, even if life pulls your attention away for a day, a week, or whatever … all you have to do is take some quiet time, push back on the distractions of life (that can be the hardest part), and look inside. And when all those thoughts and cares and worries in your mind quiet down enough so you can look past them, you will see the Spirit of Jesus waiting for you. And the moment you feel Him and forget the noise of life, you’ll feel the peace and joy that he promised. It’s just a prayer away.

But, what if you don’t know who you’re looking for? The Spirit of Jesus can feel like an alien to many people, more like an unfathomable heavenly being, than a person. But Jesus was more than the Son of God. He was also the son of man. Jesus was fully human, a person, in some ways like you and me. So, when you go looking for the Spirit of Jesus, it can really help to know the complete Jesus, the man as well as the God.

As a way to get to know Jesus the man, I’d like to recommend my recently published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. It’s the story of Jesus as told from the perspective of some people who followed him as he walked the roads of ancient Israel. You can see Jesus through their eyes, as a person. Then, when you look for the joy and peace waiting within you, you’ll know who you’re looking for.

They called him Yeshua. Maybe you can call him friend.

 

If you’re interested in checking out We Called Him Yeshua, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And for just a few more days, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.