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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Which Tree Will You Eat From?

The decision that tempted Adam and Eve is the same decision we all must make. Which tree shall we eat from—the tree of Life or the tree of Knowledge? Of course, many of us make no decision at all between Life with Jesus verses Knowledge of Jesus. And maybe that’s because we don’t realize there’s a decision to make.

Those who choose the tree of Knowledge includes people like me, who love reading books about Christianity, always chasing after new insight. It can also include people who go to seminary and get a divinity degree, with their heads now crammed full of Biblical and theological facts, histories, and commentaries.

But what about those who choose Life? This choice is always available to us, even to those who first choose the tree of Knowledge. I’m so grateful we can always change our minds. In choosing Life, we’ll find what we seek in only one place, the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus. The fruit of the tree of Life is the fruit of the Spirit, for the Spirit is life.

The way of the Spirit does not rely on knowledge, but rather on love and surrender to the leading of the Spirit. True Christianity is not about knowledge, but rather about an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus.

We find true life when we put down the book, quiet our minds, close our eyes and heart to the world, and look inside for Jesus who lives within us. And He will help us sweep away the clutter of life and knowledge so we can more clearly see Him.

Oh, books and sermons and such sources of knowledge are good, but only when they lead us to the Holy Spirit. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is meaningless, a mere chasing after the wind.

I don’t mean to demean reading the Bible or any other form of Christian study. But the value won’t come while trying to understand with our own human wisdom. The real value in learning comes when we read and listen through the Spirit within us. And only then will the Spirit open our eyes and minds to the true meaning and value in the printed and spoken words. The Spirit of Truth will guide us into the truth. Let me give you an example.

I just finished reading a chapter in the book “Abide in Christ,” by Andrew Murray. I’ve read this book three times before, and never saw the truth that I saw today. And the truth I’m referring to isn’t solely in this one book, for it’s also clearly spelled out in the Gospels. Jesus himself states this truth, in words that could not be any clearer. But I’d never see that truth, it never sunk into my thick head, until today (I’ll probably write a post about this particular truth sometime soon).

Anyway, I believe I finally saw that truth because the Spirit of Jesus opened my mind to it. And it left me wondering—what other clearly defined truths have I been blind to in the Bible?

Are you looking for something more than head-knowledge of Jesus? Just look inside yourself, and let the Spirit of Jesus open your mind and show you the way. As he said: “I praise you, Father, … because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned.” (Matthew 11:25) And, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (v. 29)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)


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The Human Side of Jesus

What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. In it, you will see a brief glimpse of the human side of Jesus from the perspective of a man whom Jesus cured of leprosy. We call him Jesus; they called him Yeshua.

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– Neri –

“I’ve never felt this way before,” I muttered. “I mean, the way Ruth makes me feel. When I look at her, like now, my heart pounds and … oh, camel dung.”

“I understand,” Yeshua said.

“You do?”

“Neri, I may be the Son of God, but I’m also the son of man … fully human.”

“God and human, all at the same time? I thought it was some kind of metaphor.”

“It’s no metaphor. Just try to accept it as truth.”

“Okay. I guess. But, do you ever feel more like one, than the other?”

“Oh sure. Like tonight. I love moments like this, when to all of them,” he waived his arm out to the dancing crowd, “I can be just another person. When people treat me as God, they distance themselves from me—out of fear or awe. But tonight, I’m just another man celebrating a wedding, having fun, dancing, playing … being human.”

He took a bite of bread and glanced around.

“Listen Neri, being human provides an intimacy that’s hard to find when people only see my divinity. And it’s intimacy I long for. My strongest desire is not to be above anyone, but to be with everyone, in close communion. Like most people, I have a strong desire to be loved.”

He took a slow sip of wine. “Neri, it’s hard for people to fall in love with a God. But it’s easy for them to fall in love with a person.”

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Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then look inside (with Amazon “Look inside” feature), and see what you think. And if you’d like, the book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow, but only for a limited time.


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Jesus Is Now

My thoughts and feelings often fluctuate like shifting breezes. And I can’t seem to control where they will go next, especially my feelings.

But there is one thing I can control—where my thoughts are right now. Maybe “now” is a very brief period of time, but I still have control there. And I suspect you do too. The moment after this one should not be our concern, for we often have little influence over it. We should try not to worry about what comes next. But, we can still control our now.

With all the distractions going on in the world around us these days, all the attention-grabbers, all the stress-inducers, all the anxiety-amplifiers, I’d like to invite you to wrest your thoughts away from those for a moment. And if you believe in Jesus Christ and his promises, I invite you to say to yourself right now:

“The Holy Spirit of Jesus is within me now.”

“I rest in Jesus’ presence now.”

“Jesus forgives me now.”

“Jesus saves me now.”

“Jesus is my life now.”

“Jesus is my strength now.”

“Jesus is my protection now.”

“Jesus is my peace now.”

“I am surrendered to Jesus now.”

“I abide in Jesus now.”

Oh sure, shortly after you finish reading this your thoughts may be pulled off in another direction. But, for that moment, as you read the affirmations above, you and Jesus were one, as he and his Father are one—He in you, and you in him. And whenever you want, you can go back there.

Yes, being mindful of Jesus’ presence within you for long stretches of time can be really hard (for me, it sure is). But it’s easy to be with him now.

And think about this: each moment, each now, may influence the next.


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The Power of Easter

There is so much power in the events surrounding Easter, with Jesus’ death and resurrection. And Jesus didn’t take it all with him when he ascended to heaven. He left his power, in the form of his Spirit, here, with us.

As Jesus said to his disciples, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

I’d been searching for the Holy Spirit of Jesus for years, craving a strong sense of His presence in my life. I eventually found him, but only after I finally knew who I was looking for.

In my search, I felt I knew Jesus the Son of God, having read the Gospels several times, listened to lots of sermons and read many books. But the sense of knowing the person Jesus was still missing. And for whatever reason, as hard as I prayed and looked, I still couldn’t find and feel the Spirit of Jesus within me. But he kept telling me that he and I would be one, as he and his Father are one—he in me, and me in Him.

Then, I decided to write a novel about Jesus, showing him from the perspective of people he had healed in some way. I was just trying to capture how those people felt, having been so close to Jesus, witnessing his power and love. But then, as the book evolved, I saw that it was more than about those people’s experiences of Jesus. It became about the whole person of Jesus—his humanity as well as his divinity. As Jesus called himself, he was the son of man, not just the Son of God.

Anyway, it was on that writing journey of having Jesus the man open up before me that I finally felt his presence in my life, in my very body. Now, more than ever, Jesus and I feel as one. And whenever I pause from the distractions of life and look inside, he’s right there, waiting for me.

I got there by writing this book. It was in the writing that I think I came to know the whole Jesus—God and man. My hope is that many other people can get there by reading the book. Maybe this book could help you too.

If you’re curious, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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You Can be the Holy of Holies

In the days of the ancient Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, the part of the temple called the Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain, or maybe some kind of wall. This was to keep sinful men, in the front part of the temple, away from the Spirit of God, who resided in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest, once a year, could go back into the Holy of Holies to offer a special sacrifice.

Times have changed, all thanks to Jesus. The holy of holies still exists, but not in the back room of a temple. It’s within the temple of your body, as Jesus himself declared. If you believe, the Spirit of God can live within you, within the temple of your body. And you’re not limited to once a year visits. Jesus invites us to commune with His Spirit every day.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he sent his Spirit to live with us. And maybe you’ve already let him in. But if not, if you feel you don’t really know the Holy Spirit, know this: He’s knocking on the door of your heart, and He’d like to be invited in. I know it can be difficult and may take a long time, (it was for me), but you too can come to believe in the truth of the Holy Spirit. Let Him into the temple of your body, not for a brief visit, but to live. And surely, he will be with you always, to the very end of the age.

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If this idea of letting the Spirit of Jesus into the temple of your body feels strange, or even frightening, it could be because you feel you don’t know Jesus well enough. Or maybe you feel too sinful, as I used to feel. But for Jesus, I don’t think anyone is “too sinful.”

Think of it like welcoming a new friend into your life. Before you can welcome them and let them get close, you first need to get to know them. You first need to be able to call them “friend.” I’d like to offer you a way to do that, to get to know Jesus in an intimate and friendship kind of way.

The novel We Called Him Yeshua is the story of Jesus as told by such people, those who could truly call Jesus friend. Maybe by reading their story and seeing the nature of their friendships, you too can more easily call Jesus your friend.

If you’re curious, please click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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Resurrection

What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. In it, you can witness the emotions of the resurrection through the feelings of someone who loved Jesus very much. She called him Yeshua. We call him Jesus.

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– Anna –

The crowds had grown thinner. How long had it been? The passing time felt like a numb blur. He had said something to me, the night he was taken: After I’m gone, don’t go looking for me. Instead, wait, be patient. Then three days from now, look for me.

Had it been three days? I couldn’t be sure. I gazed up the hill at the rising sun. Tuning back to face the city—where should I look? Where might I find him? He hadn’t told me that. Or … had he? I couldn’t remember.

I started walking down the hill, heading for the tomb. At least I would be closer to him there. My problem was, I didn’t know where to find it. I had been at the tomb the day he died. I had helped wrap his body in a shroud and watched as they laid him inside. But it had all been in such a tearful haze. I decided to let my legs move and see where’d they’d take me—hopefully they remembered.

I followed the path down to the main road, turned right, away from the city, and walked up the hill until I came to another path that lead me around the outside of the cities northern wall. I eventually entered a natural garden, with trees starting to blossom in the early spring sunshine. It was so peaceful, and quiet. But from there, I didn’t know where to go next.

I heard voices coming from up ahead. I crouched behind a tree and peered down the path. It was the sister of Lazarus, the pretty one called Mary. With her was Miriam, the woman from Magdala. What were they doing there?

I stepped out from behind the tree.

They looked up, startled, and then relaxed when they recognized me. I walked forward. We stood silently looking at one another, trying to smile, but each failing. Miriam reached out, touched my hand, and nodded as she and Mary turned onto a faint path leading farther up into the rocky hill. Though nothing looked familiar, I knew they were going to the tomb.

Suddenly we stopped. The cave stood open before us, with the tombstone rolled to the side. Miriam crept forward and peered into the blackness. A moment later she looked back, her face white, her mouth gaping. I pushed passed Mary, ran to the tomb and looked inside. As my eyes adjusted, I saw a shallow cave, with a rumbled, blood stained shroud laying the floor. But … no body.

I jumped up, stared at the shocked faces of Miriam and Mary, then ran, feeling as if I’d run this path before. Where was he? Had someone stolen his body. Maybe those Pharisees. With his body gone, how could he come back to life, as he had promised?

Almost like the evening of his death, I found myself back in the grove, panicking and not certain how I had gotten there. I fell onto the well-worn spot under my tree and lost my thoughts on the only piece of him I had left.

“Anna!” I looked up from my bloodstained dress to see Neri running into the olive grove. “They saw him! He’s alive!”

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Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then look inside (with Amazon “Look inside” feature), see what you think.


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United by a Common Enemy

Walking through the near-empty streets, he waives at people he never waived at before. He even pauses and chats with strangers who no longer feel like strangers. Somewhere in the shadowed corners of his mind, he feels that none of us are strangers. Not now. Not anymore. The Enemy is bringing us together (with a safe social distance, that is).

He smiles at the irony.

He’s beginning to feel that at some level, we all know each other. Maybe it’s because of our common enemy. The common fight. The fight against fear, anxiety, and the Enemy itself. The Enemy has a name. COVID-19. Coronavirus we call it. It fights us. We fight back.

He sees the thing all such enemies have in common. Whether a pandemic-spreading virus, or a man, a notorious dictator, a tyrant—they bring all their victims together in the common cause. But this time is different. For all humanity is united like never before.

Today he feels that humanity is one. Humanity is whole.

He feels a shiver of excitement race through his chest, tickling its way up his neck and into his mind. Could it be that because of how humanity has been brought together, could it be that when we emerge from this battle, something will have changed in the human relationship? He can’t imagine what form the change might take, but he feels a thrill at the idea of it. And his hope swells.