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)


4 Comments

Imagination – It’s Feeding Me – It’s Killing Me

Oh, my imagination helps me in my job, and it often feeds my writing. It’s my minds eye, conjuring up images within my thoughts. Yet it also leads me down paths of worry, and pulls me back into the stress pit.

My imagination hungers for my attention. It often devours hours of time. Precious time which can never be regained, wasted thinking about things that will never happen, or have already happened. What my imagination gives in return is stress.

And my imagination distracts me from Jesus and God. Yet when steered in the right direction, my imagination sees Jesus’ Spirit within me, sharing my life with me.

My imagination – I love it and I hate it. Dear Jesus, please help me keep my minds eye focused on You.


6 Comments

The Last Prayer

I’ve been reading the gospel of John, again. It’s my favorite of the four gospels. This morning I read chapter 17. And a reality that I’ve seen before hit me in a fresh way – I love it when Jesus does that to me.

In the last section, Jesus is praying for all “those who will believe in me (Jesus) through their (Apostles) message.” (verse 20) He’s praying for all Christians, including me. Well, that reality began to stir my emotions. And then the last verse in chapter 17 knocked me over…

“Righteous Father, … I have made you know to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (verse 26)

My first though was that this was Jesus’ final prayer before He was arrested, chained, tortured, and dragged to His death. But then I remembered that He prayed again in the olive grove just before His arrest, and then again while hanging on the cross.

Though verse 26 isn’t Jesus’ final prayer, it still amazes me that even so close to the torture that awaited Him, Jesus could care so much about all Christians who would come after Him. And His prayer was that He Himself would be in us… His Holy Spirit living in all who believe!

So close to death and Jesus thinks of those who would follow 2000 years later. I’m humbly grateful and I want to honor Jesus and His prayer by opening myself to His Spirit.

Dear Jesus, come on in.


4 Comments

Thinking God into Existence?

I think I had fallen into another trap; a trap baited by my own natural pride.

I’ve been feeling and believing that I need to be thinking of Jesus and consciously aware of His presence in order for Him to influence my actions and the words that come out of my mouth. And to a lesser degree, I’ve been feeling that Jesus’ Spirit is within me only when I’m thinking of Him.

On the surface, this may seem fine and make some sense. But while driving home from work the other day, it hit me – the truth of what I believed punched me in my shoulder, like a tough-loving friend. And I woke up to the truth of what I was doing.

The truth is, Jesus is within me whether I consciously think of Him or not (same goes for you). This is more than a belief or a hope. How could I possibly control the presence of God by my own thought? How could I possibly dictate when God will act or speak through me, just by thinking of Him?

My pride was trying to take control again, thinking It could control God.

But my hearts desire is to absolutely surrender to the Spirit of Jesus within me. And I now realize my pride was getting in the way. And my prideful self is clever, seeking all kinds of ways to gain a sense of control. Yet as Paul said, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Surrender; leaving control of my mind and self to Jesus’ Spirit within me. I choose to give control to Jesus, rather than my prideful self. Oh, my pride will fight back – I don’t think it will ever give up. After all, I’m just a normal human. But I believe Jesus is stronger than my pride. Wow… that’s for sure. And I’m so grateful.


Leave a comment

Want Truth?

Are you looking for truth? Does your life feel full of confusion, delusion, and deception? Does truth seem hard to find? You will find truth in a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit… the Spirit of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)

And… “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)


Leave a comment

One Way

One way

We all like choices, though too many choices drives me nuts. How can I pick one shampoo from the 100 flavors on the store shelves!? Keep it simple – that’s what I crave these days.

Anyway, this morning while reading in John’s gospel, I came upon a message from Jesus that a lot of people stumble on: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is the way, the one and only way to heaven. I have friends and family who aren’t able to accept this message. They don’t like the idea of only one way to heaven. Well, keeping it simple – that’s what Jesus is doing for us. Yet why is this so hard for many of us to accept?

Thanks to my ever-present ego, I think I know the answer. Our natural human ego wants choices. With choices, our ego can make the selection and be in control. Having no choice takes all control away from our ego.

Yes, it takes humility to accept the truth of Jesus. Noble humility. It saves us from ourselves, and our pride-filled ego. The way to heaven is through Jesus; the way to Jesus is through humility.


1 Comment

There is no Death

Death

Another groggy morning. But the coffee’s working… slowly. Bible open, though my eyes keep closing. Come on coffee – work harder.

Anyway, been reading John’s gospel again. I think John’s is my favorite gospel. In chapter 11, John records that Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:26) Really? As Jesus then said, “Do you believe this?”

You know, when a flower dies, it turns to dust and ceases to exist. By saying that we who believe will never die, Jesus is saying that we will always exist. When our body stops working, though it turns to dust, our person lives on. We just change form. There is no death for those who believe.

What do you think about this?


1 Comment

Looking for God?

We look in nature, we look in churches, we look in sermons and songs and books. We may think we see God there, but it’s really just a faded image.

As Brother Lawrence once said, “God alone is capable of making Himself known as He really is. God Himself paints Himself in the depths of our souls.” *

Do you want to see God as He really is? Then look inside yourself to His Spirit who lives with your soul. And believe that God will reveal Himself to you.

As Brother Lawrence also said, “Because God’s perfection is infinite, He is consequently indescribable; no words of man are eloquent enough to give a complete description of His grandeur. It is only faith that makes me know Him as He is. By means of it, I learn more about Him in a short time than I would learn in many years in the schools.”

 

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

 


2 Comments

I Confess

What’s religious confession all about? I’m remotely familiar with Catholic confession – I grew up on the fringe of the Catholic Church. And this morning I spent ten minutes researching via Google. I should be an expert by now. By what I read on a CatholicsComeHome website, confession looks like a pretty cool thing.

You ask for forgiveness of your sins and express your regret. I’m not sure if this is the way it is today, but years ago Catholic confession also included accepting a small penalty, like reciting certain prayers.

There’s something about confession that I like. It’s a safe and confidential way to unload burdens. I think it can be emotionally healthy to confess our mistakes. It’s a good exercise in humility. Whether you confess mistakes to a priest or a friend, it can be a good thing to do.

So why do I feel uncomfortable with it?

I see a dark side to such things as Catholic confession. Asking forgiveness and paying a token penalty seems harmless. BUT, I think it dishonors Jesus, it disrespects Jesus, and maybe it disgraces Jesus. I see such forms of confession as completely ignoring the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Look, we are already forgiven. God forgave us when His Son died on the cross. To ask for forgiveness is to ignore the fact that we’re already forgiven! Also, Jesus already paid the penalty for all sins. Taking on penalties of our own ignores His sacrifice!

I see confession as a distraction from Jesus. Its focus is on the church and on the person who’s confessing. It insulates people from the love and grace of God.

As I said in the beginning, I think confession is good and everyone who loves Jesus should confess their sins, but not to a priest. We should go directly to Jesus and God. Jesus said as much in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. But when we go to him with such prayers, maybe instead of asking for forgiveness, we should tell Him how grateful we are. And we should remember the penalty He paid for our sins. And the gratitude that swells within us will feed our love for Jesus. And as our love for Jesus grows, so do we grow.

I think this should be the nature and outcome of confession. It’s all about gratitude, love, and Jesus. What do you think?


Leave a comment

From Out of the Gutter

“Evangelism” – another one of those big religious words I’m not fond of. But I really like what I think it means.

I like the idea of introducing people to God and Jesus. Just show them the truth and step back, letting them decide what they will do with the truth. Showing the truth through my writing and blog posts is easy for me. It doesn’t feel pushy (I don’t want to push anyone), and the reader can easily walk away at any time. But I’m not comfortable with the face-to-face approach.

And then I recently read the story of the Prodigal Son in chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel. I love that story. It so clearly paints a picture of the unconditional forgiveness and love of God.

Imagine this: you go up to God, tell him you wish he was dead, steal a bunch of his wealth, and leave town. You then go to Vegas and party, hard and dirty. Oh, but then you get into trouble. You loose all the money you took from God and end up sleeping in the gutter. You eventually get tired of the homeless life and decide to go ask God for help. That takes a lot on humility, doesn’t it?

Anyway, before you get within a mile of his house, you see God running towards you – pretty fast for an old guy. He runs up to you, wraps his arms around you, and kisses you, with tears of joy streaming down his cheeks. He’s overjoyed to see you. He’s so happy that he throws a welcome home party for you.

This is how Jesus described God in the story of the Prodigal Son. This is the truth of the nature of God and His love for us. And this is the story I think I’ll tell if anyone asks me what I think about God. You can call it evangelism. Maybe I’ll call it helping people out of the gutter of life… helping them see the possibilities of a new life, with God and Jesus.


Leave a comment

The Question Is…

How do you feel about forgiveness? Is it hard for you too? Is it hard for you to forgive other people? What about yourself – is it hard to forgive your own mistakes? For me, my mistakes can ruin a good day.

Okay, now what about God? How do you feel about His forgiveness of your sins? Do you believe all your sins will be forgiven? Well, all the mistakes you’ve ever made have already been forgiven by God. God’s forgiveness is immediate and unconditional.

So the real question is not about what God’s reaction will be when we make mistakes (His reaction is a given), but what will our reaction be? Knowing about God’s forgiveness is one step; accepting it is a bigger step. That’s where faith comes in.

So let’s say you have the faith to accept God’s forgiveness of every mistake and sin that has infected your life – past and future. What will be your reaction to that vast amount of unconditional forgiveness? God hasn’t asked anything of you, except that you believe in and accept His unconditional gift. God accepts you just as you are. Will you accept Him, and His forgiveness? And by accepting, how will that make you feel? (Okay, I’m trying to lead you down a path to overwhelming gratitude. Please forgive my awkwardness.)

Oh, and when you accept God’s forgiveness, you’ll finally be able to forgive yourself, and others. Isn’t it a bit ironic that one of the biggest burdens in our life can be our lack of ability to forgive? God wants to free each of us of this burden.

Final thought: Our sins were forgiven a long time ago, by Jesus dying on that cross and paying the penalty for all sins. How do you feel about that? (Okay, looking for profound gratitude again.)

 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

 


3 Comments

More Than a Thought

“The presence of God” – what does it mean? Is it keeping God in our thoughts, thinking of Him as often as we are able? Focusing my mind on God and Jesus throughout my day – is that my goal?

NO… that’s not good enough for me. And it’s not what Jesus promised.

Jesus prayed for and promised that we would remain “in” Him and He would remain “in” us (e.g., John 15:4). And Jesus made it clear throughout His teachings that He’s talking about His actual Spirit being in us; His Holy Spirit.

“The presence of God” is more than a thought. It’s the Holy Spirit living within you, sharing space with your soul. And I’m so grateful.


Leave a comment

Surrender is Freedom

Dear Internet-browsing friend,

Surrender is a hard thing to do. It goes against our defensive and self-centered nature. But when you feel the reality of the actual Spirit of Jesus living within you; when you feel the certainty of His presence; when you feel the warmth of His love – then surrender will feel easy, and you’ll crave it.

Surrendering to an unseen God you may not be certain of – that’s hard. But when your feelings show you the certain presence of Jesus within you – surrender is easy. The more you know Jesus and His love for you, the more you will trust Him. And the more you trust Him, the more you will want to give your life to Him. After all, He’s better equipped to deal with life’s problems than any of us are.

And you will discover the absolute peace, freedom and joy that come with giving control of your life to Jesus. Surrendering to men is imprisonment. Surrendering to Jesus is freedom.

Though I don’t know your name, I pray for you. I pray that you will come to feel the undeniable presence of the Spirit of Jesus living within you.


5 Comments

I Surrender

I can’t handle the world – the world handles me.

It craves control of my mind,

It hungers to direct my actions.

I’m tired of being manipulated by the world.

But there is another way.

Time for a change.

I’m no longer a victim.

Surrender!

I wrest my life from the world and surrender it to God.

I pour out my self, and God fills me with Him.

What next?

That’s up to God.

What’s that I feel?

Excitement?

Anticipation?

Oh boy!!!


Leave a comment

A Constant Inner Joy

“His soul has been filled with a constant inner joy that is sometimes so overwhelming, he feels compelled to do what may seem to some as childish things, in order to prevent the feeling from becoming too intense.”

A constant inner joy – that’s what I crave. And I’m not alone in my hunger. There’s such an emptiness and need in this world for peace and joy. And it’s only found in an inner relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, living within us.

I’m re-reading The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence (for about the sixth time). That’s where the quote above comes from. Brother Lawrence knew the constant inner joy of the presence of God.

I’m on a journey to feel that same overwhelming, constant inner joy. I want to act goofy and dance for joy, simply because I can’t help myself. And I hope that somehow, I can help others find their own constant inner joy. Would you like to come along on this journey?