Do you feel the two aspects of yourself? The image of God is in you, even if you don’t sense Him.
Many people these days are prisoners, held captive by false information and lies. But if we turn to Jesus and listen to Him, as He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
During the chaotic days surrounding the last US presidential election, I just couldn’t understand why so many Christians supported a candidate who seems to be so un-Christian. It didn’t make sense to me. Yes, I’m referring to the candidate who considers truth as whatever comes out of his mouth—if he can imagine it, it must be true. And many Christians believed, and continue to believe, his self-defined versions of “truth.”
Oh sure, I’ve heard that some Christians voted for Trump because he’s supposedly anti-abortion and promises to protect Christianity from left-wing anti-Christians and the cancel culture. First, I don’t think God and Jesus need help protecting Christianity—They’ve done just fine on their own the past 2000 years. And, as I’ve written before, I don’t think legislation is the right way to address abortion and morality.
I’m sure there are other reasons Christians voted for Trump. But for me, a candidate’s character is more important than whatever those reasons could be. I wish I’d heard God’s voice telling me who to vote for in that last election—I didn’t, I think. But since the character of that particular candidate is the antithesis of everything the Bible tells me about how we should live, well, you know how I voted.
Here’s another thought: Some Christians will believe someone like Trump when he spouts made-up stuff about election results, but they won’t believe God when He gives them the promise that His Spirit wants to live within them and guide them through this turbulent world. They’ll believe every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth, but won’t believe the Words of God in the Bible. Well, that’s how it looks from my perspective. I hope I’m wrong.
Also, I believe Christians should look only to God for the truth, look only to God for protection, look only to God for guidance in how to best deal with issues like abortion and the decay of morality in our society. And, to roughly paraphrase something Peter and John said in reply to challenges from the leaders of their day: Judge whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to a very un-Christian, un-truthful, dishonorable, self-centered politician, rather than God.
I know what I’ve said will upset some people. I’m sorry, sincerely. But, I’m more concerned with how God feels about what I’m saying. And, I’m concerned about the image of Christianity others see in Christians.
Finally, I’m curious. Am I alone in my sense of confusion regarding all the Christians who supported, and continue to support, that particular politician? Am I alone on my side of the chasm that separates Christian Trump supporters from confused Christians like me?
As the dominant religion in many countries, has Christianity become prideful and arrogant, like a cocky big kid on the block? For some reason, this idea seeped into my mind this morning as I waited for the coffee to sweep away the nightly fog. Though this idea of arrogant Christianity may sound odd, for me it explains a lot.
It explains why many Christian churches are shrinking, and why there are more de-churched Christians every year. It explains why many Christians and churches behave in ways that appear very un-Christian. It explains why many churches try to exercise their imagined power by pushing their opinions upon others, opinions, such as political preferences, that are completely worldly. It explains why, as some surveys indicate, many de-churched Christians as well as current churchgoers never felt the presence of God in church. Maybe there was so much pride, there was no room for God.
You see, arrogance and pride are exclusively human characteristics, not from God but from Satan. Because of what I see on the surface, yes, I believe modern Christianity has become infected and sometimes dominated by pride and arrogance. And many Christians and their churches are suffering because of it.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of relying on self and worldly things such as organizational structure, politicians, traditions, how nice your church building is, or other such pride-driven things, we just need to rely on God, Jesus, and their Spirit—yes, the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus, the Spirit who’s often missing from sermons. It’s the Spirit of Jesus living and breathing within the bodies of believers who will set Christianity free from pride and the damage pride causes.
Many churches are prisoners of pride. I pray it’s time for the Spirit of God to set them free.
“Hey, how ya doin? Haven’t seen you for a while?”
“Me? I’m good. All’s good. How about you?”
“Oh, fine. You know how it is. So, haven’t seen you at church for a long time. Heard you checked out for good.”
“Ah, yep. Just felt like the right thing for me to do. I’d rather not get into it … please.”
“Oh sure. So, where do you go to church now? Where do you worship?”
“Me?” Where do I worship? Well, will he understand? Lord, if this conversation starts to get sticky, I rely on You to give me the words that’ll help him. “To be truthful, I worship everywhere.”
“Everywhere? Really? How do you do that? And when do you do this everywhere worship?”
“For me, worship is when I turn my mind away from the world and focus on God and Jesus in heaven and their Spirit within me. Whenever I can wrestle my mind away from this noisy world and look to Jesus within me, that’s when I worship, no matter where I am.”
“So, for you worship isn’t singing praise songs and the others things we do in church?”
“Well, maybe that is what I’m doing? But I’m singing praises to God and Jesus within my mind, and heart, rather than in a building.”
“Hmm, interesting. Tell me more.”
Many Christians no longer attend a church, though they still believe in God and Jesus. I’ve seen the survey results.* Those surveys also found than many of the de-churched, as well as some who still attend a church, feel that God was missing from their experience of church. Maybe that’s why so many people leave—they go to church looking for God, but don’t find Him there.
Have you gone to a church looking for God? I think you needed to look somewhere else, for as Jesus said:
“On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20, emphasis added)
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, emphasis added)
You’ll find God by looking within yourself. Want more assurance? How about this:
“And I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, … declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:14, emphasis added)
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” (1 John 4:15, emphasis added)
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Convinced? So how do you find God and get a sense of His presence? How can you feel God within you? Here’s the path that worked for me:
First, you need to believe you can feel God’s presence within you. You need to believe in the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ promises about He being in you, and you being in Him. As Jesus and God are one, so can you and Jesus be one. And like all things, to experience it you must first believe it.
Faith will automatically lead to an ever-growing hunger for God’s presence. And, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Hunger will lead you to prayer. I’m talking about an unceasing and silent prayer, not an asking-for-favors prayer, but a prayer where you’re listening and looking for the Spirit of God and Jesus within you. The more you pray and look, the sooner you’ll find God. And,“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)
So keep praying, and waiting. This part, the waiting part, requires patience, the hardest part for me—I hope your wait is shorter than mine was. But while you wait, read the Bible and look for where God and Jesus promise their presence. Let their promises encourage you and strengthen your belief. For me, waiting was where I grew the most. So I think waiting is as critical a step on this path to God as the others. “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
* You can see the survey results for yourself in two very interesting books, both by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group. “Churchless; Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them,” and “unChristian; What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity.”
Governments creating laws dictating moral behavior—it’s happening in Texas with the newly passed anti-abortion law. Oh, I know there’s more than morals at stake. And part of the trouble with legislation like the Texas law is that it does nothing to address the real problem. Such laws try to halt the outcome of problems while ignoring the root cause. As with making prostitution illegal, these laws are doomed to failure.
But to my main reason for writing this post, the other twisted stuff the title refers to. This is neither an anti-abortion nor pro-abortion post. If anything, it’s an anti-the-way-some-Christians-behave-these-days kind of post. Confused? Sorry—I’ll clarify.
First consider this: Jesus didn’t force His morals, His Christianity, upon anyone. He just showed the truth and let each person decide. Yet it seems like some of today’s Christians get things twisted around, ignoring truth and forcing their morals upon others. But Jesus didn’t model that behavior; it’s not very Christ-like.
Now consider this: if Jesus was a leader in a Texas church, I suspect He’d do what He always did. He’d preach the truth and let the people decide. And I think the truth He’d preach, the truth not often heard in today’s churches, would be the truth of the presence of His Spirit in the lives of those who believe and accept Him. It’s Jesus’ Holy Spirit who will show us how He wants us to behave—He will show us His morals. And only His Spirit can fill us with His power that will propel us to live by those morals. It’s the Spirit of God and Jesus who will bring about morality, not manmade laws.
With respect to Christians who support things like anti-abortion laws, this is another case of Christians relying more on their elected leaders and their governments than on Jesus and God. It seems like Jesus is confronted here with the same problems He had to face when He walked the roads of ancient Israel. Back then, He was dealing with religious leaders who put their manmade rules above God’s laws, and far above having a personal relationship with God. It’s happening still—manmade laws appear more important to some Christians than a personal relationship with Jesus. And again, moral behavior doesn’t come from following a law; it comes from following Jesus.
If Christians want to reduce the occurrence of abortions, instead of lobbying for laws, perhaps they should do a better job of spreading the truth of Jesus’ Christianity (emphasis on truth). This reminds me of something Paul said: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (truth) of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Do you want to save the lives of unborn babies? Rather than enforcing laws, try promoting the truth of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
The formula’s simple. 1) Don’t rely on manmade/church-made rules and laws; 2) spread the truthful word of Christ; 3) support people in the grow of their faith and their personal relationship with the Spirit of God; 4) step aside and let God do the rest. God can do a lot, if we get out of His way.
Gee, I wonder what He could do with the overall and overwhelming moral decay of our society, and I’m not just talking about abortion.
Everything appeared normal and in focus, the low cubicle walls, cluttered offices and desks, fluorescent lights overhead, worn-out carpet below. All that stuff was unchanged. But the people, what happened to the people? They were gone.
He jumped up and scanned the field of cramped cubicles. In the places where all his co-workers usually sat, spheres of light hovered over the desk chairs, all about the same size, beach ball size. Most were a bit dim, a few were shades of gray, and one or two were brilliantly white. On some of the spheres, the light flickered and changed. But they all seemed to hum, as if filled with a pulsating energy. Yet the magnitude of that energy also varied from one sphere to the next. Were they alive; if alive is even the right word? They almost seemed alive. The brightest ones seemed the most alive, as if they were throbbing with excitement and anticipation. Well, that’s how it seemed to him.
But then he noticed his feelings for these possibly living spheres of light. They didn’t frighten nor mystify him, though he believed they should have. He felt close to them, related to them, as if he and they were somehow connected. Then he noticed the other emotions, the mix of compassion, sorrow, joy, and love that he felt. Compassion and sorrow for the dimmest spheres of light, joy for the brightest ones, and love for all of them. Oh, this just kept getting weirder. Why’d he feel that way? After all, they were just spheres of light, not people. Right?
Okay, this had to be a dream, like something he remembered from an old Star Trek episode. But, it didn’t feel like a dream, it felt like more than a dream, and somehow more than imagination. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate, tried to figure this out. But when he opened his eyes again, they were back, not the spheres but all the people, the people he knew so well, along with the office racket. That’s when he realized it had been peacefully quiet in his dream, or whatever it was.
Maybe it had been a hallucination. Or … hmm. He’s not sure why the thought slid into his mind, but maybe the dream was God showing him a side of people he’d never seen before, the inside. Maybe what he’d seen in those spheres of light was a vision of the life force, the entire life and essence of each person. Maybe what he’d seen in those spheres, the ones bright and thriving, and those dim, struggling, and barely alive, was … their souls.
Then he remembered the almost profound love he’d felt for all of those spheres. But, if they were really the souls of his co-workers, how could he feel such love for them, especially for the souls that hovered over the chairs of people he despised?
Then another memory slid in, something Philo of Alexandria—whoever he was—once said, something like, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” He now believed he’d seen it. The dim and weak spheres of light were souls struggling in their own great battle.
Suddenly he remembered something else, something Jesus had said, about loving others as Jesus loved him. Now why’d his mind go there? He’d always struggled with that one. Some people were so despicable, so unlovable, with their bigotry, selfishness, insensitiveness, and downright arrogance. He’d always figured it was impossible for him to love such people, even if they are fellow Christians.
He knew in his gut that he just couldn’t love others as Jesus loves him—impossible. But, as Jesus also said, what’s impossible for him is possible for God. He long believed the only way he could truly love others, especially the despicable ones, was for Jesus to love those people through him—the whole surrender to God and let the Holy Spirit live within and through him thing he’d often prayed about.
He sat back in his chair and smiled. He really liked the idea of loving the souls below the surface. That felt somehow more doable, even if his love for them would initially be his normal flawed love he gave to everyone else. The perfect stuff would just have to come from Jesus. But at least maybe he’d found a way to no longer despise the despicable. After all, in his vision he’d noticed that it was the most despicable people who had the dimmest spheres of light, the souls that struggled the most and looked the least alive.
For the rest of the day, these thoughts simmered in his mind. It’s not about loving the people you see on the surface, the sometimes ugly, mean, angry, arrogant surface. It’s about loving what’s below the surface, the soul below the all-to-human exterior. Also, it’s easier to love what he can see with his mind, than what he could see with his eyes.
One more thought slipped in. During the vision, that love he’d felt for all those spheres of light—was it from him, or from Jesus? Whichever, it sure felt good.
What was it like to know Jesus as those who followed Him on the roads of ancient Israel? Read this story and you may find out. Get it now while the ebook is free. This free promotion ends midnight, Thursday, September 9th.
Click here to go to the Amazon book page to check it out. And please recommend this to friends, while it’s still free.
Is reality getting you down … again? Try escaping for a time to another reality. Within the pages of We Called Him Yeshua, you can join those who walked with Jesus on the roads of ancient Israel. Follow them as they follow Him. Experience what they experienced, feel what they felt. It can be almost as if you were there.
Starting today, the ebook is FREE on Amazon for a limited time. Click here to go to the Amazon book page to check it out. And please recommend this to friends, while the ebook is still free.
They’re devoted to Christianity and their church, and for those who’ve decided to not get vaccinated against COVID 19, some may have a familiar response when asked if they’re concerned about the risks of getting sick and possibly dying. “If it’s God’s will,” they reply. I’ve heard that response before, with respect to an impending threat or otherwise avoidable problem.
Could it really be God’s will for good people to suffer a lonely and painful suffocating death? Is God really that mean; if mean is even the right word? Is it God’s will for all the COVID collateral damage surrounding the sick and dying, like the other people who may get infected, the grieving loved ones left behind, and the overworked and exhausted hospital staff dealing with suffering and death almost every day until they burn out from it? Is all that really God’s will?
Just so I don’t unfairly focus on one topic, look at all the other suffering consuming our world, the other diseases, and the evil, murder, death, hate, anger, abuse, anxiety, and depression. Is all that God’s will too?
Now back to COVID. I’ve also heard some Christians say that putting all their trust in God, rather than a vaccine, will glorify God. As Paul said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And yes, history’s full of people glorifying God by their death, most notably Jesus. But, I wonder if the only other people who truly glorified God this way did so when, by their death, others were saved, just as Jesus did. Well, death by COVID doesn’t save anyone.
Also, if someone contracts COVID 19, ends up in the hospital and dies, all along saying, “If it’s God’s will,” how does that glorify God? As I see it, dying that way and saying its God’s will just feeds the misconception that God is mean. No glory for God there, that’s for sure. Plus, how does causing severe grief for the loved ones left behind, and the additional strain on already overworked hospital staff who’ve battled this war for over a year and a half—how does any of that glorify God? I don’t see it. I think we can glorify God more in how we live, than in how we die.
Okay, so here’s what I believe God’s will is, as shown throughout the Bible, beginning in the first pages. God’s original intention was that humanity live with Him in paradise, no toil, no pain, no suffering. Just love, peace, and companionship with God. That was, is, and will always be God’s will. Yet we live under the will of people, because by their own willful decision to listen to Satan rather than God, humanity got kicked out of paradise.
I believe that if an unvaccinated person catches COVID 19 and dies, that is not God’s will. If anything, it’s Satan’s will. We live under the influence of the will of our selves, Satan, other prideful people, and the world—that too is not God’s will.
God’s will is for us to live as originally intended, with Him in paradise, in peace, love, and companionship as His dearly loved children. Just like it was in the beginning. That’s why Jesus died for us and then sent His Spirit to live in us, taking our hand, and guiding us back to paradise.
Like in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son, God just wants us to return home to Him. Oh sure, we can return home by dying. But I believe God would rather have us first live for Him, than die for Him, by letting His Spirit live in us and through us, just as Jesus promised:
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. … Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known 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.” (John 17:20-21, 25-26)
That’s how to live in accordance with God’s will and glorify Him.
In the movie “Young Frankenstein,” Doctor Frankenstein strapped his deranged monster and himself to medieval-looking laboratory tables. Igor then threw a series of switches, electricity crackled, sparks flew, and the agitated machinery transferred a portion of the doctors’ goodness into his delinquent creation.
We are God’s delinquent creation. Jesus—God as the perfect, sinless, all-righteous human—nailed himself to the cross for the great exchange. Jesus took our sin, and gave us His righteousness, making us as acceptable in God’s eyes as he is Himself. Our righteousness had to come from God, for there is no one other than God who is righteous.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22)
Jesus once prayed, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us.” (John 17:20-21)
Jesus also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20) “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:4-5, 7)
And finally, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
As I see it, we each have a choice—to be one with Jesus, or one with the world. I can be driven by my relationship with Jesus, by my love for Him, or driven by my love for the world. Well, I know what my preference is.
What do you think?
In addition to being the dominion of God, heaven is the dominion of love, forgiveness, grace, and humility. The world, on the other hand, though there is still love and the rest, is mainly the dominion of pride, selfishness, and other such aspects of our fallen human nature.
So this morning, while holding that image in my mind of the world as the dominion of pride, I read these words of Jesus:
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:16)
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19)
“In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
“—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him no knows him.” (John 14:17)
We can be in the world, but not off the world—a common phrase I’ve often heard. We physically live in the dominion of pride, but our heart and soul can reside in the dominion of love, forgiveness, and especially humility. For it’s humility that opens the door for love and forgiveness.
And that brings me to the last verse I quoted above. The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit because Pride will not allow it, pride cannot see the Spirit of Jesus, nor know Him. So, if we want to come to know the Spirit of Jesus, I think we first need to let humility be dominant over pride in our lives. I wish we could be free of pride and the harm it brings. But we can at least nurture our humility so that it becomes stronger than pride. And then, we will be able to see, and know, the Spirit of Jesus within us.
You too can experience what it was like to follow Jesus as he traveled the roads of Israel.
It’s been almost a year since I published my first novel, We Called Him Yeshua. To celebrate that, I’m having a promotion where the Kindle version is FREE on Amazon from today until midnight Wednesday, March 10th.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to follow Jesus as he traveled the roads of ancient Israel, this might be a great story for you. In it, you will see Jesus through the eyes of people who followed him on his final journey to Jerusalem.
Also, if you know anyone who might enjoy this book, now would be a great time to refer them to it. Maybe you could share this post on your social-media-of-choice, or even email this to a friend (see buttons below).
Finally, if you would like to leave a review or just a star rating on Amazon, that would be terrific. I’m especially grateful to hear what readers think of the book. Feedback can help me make my next book better.
Thank you and I hope you have a great weekend.
All the best,
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.