Tag Archives: John 14:6

The gates of life


Dan Stone uses the analogy of passing through various ‘gates’ as we walk the path of a Christian life. First, is the gate of salvation. We don’t even make it that far until we admit that we have a sin problem that we can’t solve. We try to pass through by our own strength, our good deeds, our ‘religious’ behavior, our generosity, or by being a ‘good’ person. But none of this works. We only pass through the gate of salvation by surrendering all that we are and trusting in Jesus.


As we continue our journey through life, we begin to explore the meaning of life. Beyond the forgiveness of our sins (which we might forget is such a very huge deal!), we try to live a ‘good’ Christian life still in our power. We read the bible, we pray, we attend church and give money for good causes. We exhaust ourselves trying to ‘be good.’ And then we come across a second gate where we really experience “God with us.” We pass through this gate, realizing that Jesus really does want to help us through the battles of life. It’s a weight off our shoulders to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. So we continue our journey of trying to live the Christian life…with God.


Now there is a third gate that remains undiscovered by many. It only appears when we realize that we can’t live the Christian life. We pass through this gate when we acknowledge that Jesus doesn’t merely help us live our life, Jesus IS our life. “Christ is in you and HE will live the life.” Instead of viewing life from our perspective, we are able to experience life and its purpose through the viewpoint of Jesus living in us. As we pass through this third gate we realize what the inscription means:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)


Many of us understand why we have to pass through the first gate. We realize there is no other way to escape our sin problem, no forgiveness of sin at all, without the saving grace of Jesus. And as we devote ourselves to knowing our Heavenly Father we eagerly pass through the second gate, inviting God to help us on our journey. But we hesitate at the third gate, if in fact we think about it at all. Because this part of the journey requires total surrender into God’s hands of all we hold dear: our belongings, our career, our family, in fact our very identity. It requires dying to self, letting self be “crucified with Christ”. We think maybe we could just try harder to live the Christian life in our own power. But it’s both futile and exhausting to attempt it.


We don’t walk the Christian life. Jesus-in-us IS the life. Living with Him is not enough. The abundant life is only found by letting HIM live our life – in us. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)


“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6



The freedom road


image At the Richmond Civil War Battlefield in Kentucky you can take a free tour of the historic Roger’s house that witnessed the fierce fighting of that time. Caretaker Phillip Seyfrit is eager to share historical perspective on the happenings of that era. One of the items that caught my eye was a quilt pattern from the underground railroad.


It wasn’t uncommon in those days for quilts to be aired out on a fence or window ledge. The underground railroad used specially ‘coded’ quilts in this inauspicious way to send alerts to slaves planning to escape. Each quilt pattern signaled a specific action to take when the quilt was aired. A wagon wheel indicated they should pack things in a wagon but a ‘drunkard’s path’ pattern warned they should move in a staggering manner and avoid straight lines to keep from being detected by slave hunters. A bow tie indicated they should wear formal clothes as if going to a wedding or other special function. The pattern of a log cabin indicated the slaves were on the right route. There were a dozen or so of these special quilt patterns that held no significance to the casual eye. But to the watchful eye, they spoke the code of freedom and outlined the path to escape from captivity.


Today we revel in our freedom. We think of it as our inalienable right. Yet you might not feel free. You may feel imprisoned in trouble that never ends. You keep looking for an escape path but there seems to be no way out. And it’s not just our troubles that bind us. So do our pursuits.


The bible says we all remain slaves – that whatever we obey becomes our master. We don’t like to think of ourselves as being addicted, but we are drawn like moths to the fire by our appetites and ambitions. We imprison ourselves in unforgiveness and let ourselves be chained to harmful opinions and beliefs that separate us from others and separate us from God. We willingly handcuff our minds to the pursuit of indulgent lifestyles that confines us to an island isolated from the rest of our brothers and sisters around the world. We think we are free but our minds and hearts remain captive to what we pursue. Our spirits yearn for the freedom road but our fleshly appetites and desires long to remain in Egyptian captivity. How do we find a way out? Is there a secret code we can follow?


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6) The message is in plain sight, not hidden in some secret pattern, though most will not see it still. Is His message quilted into the fabric of your daily life and freely aired as a constant reminder to you and others to stay on the freedom road? It seems intolerable in today’s pantheistic society, but it is The Way of freedom, not just for salvation, but for today!



The Christmas gift of guidance



Wonderful Counselor

“For unto us a child is born. To us a son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  – Isaiah 9:6


It’s what we all need throughout life: guidance. We may think we have everything planned out and under control. But life has a way of revealing unexpected turns in our path and circumstances that confound us. Where do you turn when you find yourself in a circumstance you’ve never been before? How do you find your way out of problems that confound you?


Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6. And He promises, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” John 14:16 other versions say helper, advocate, comforter. This is not only someone you can trust but someone you need to guide your life in the path it was intended.


The wise men followed a star to find Jesus. We follow the one who created the stars and everything else. God’s gift to us is this child Jesus who grew up and became a man, and who gave us His very Spirit to be our wonderful counselor. Whatever you face this Christmas, you are not alone. You have a wonderful counselor who cares for you and who will speak to you all about God’s most wonderful gift. Receive the gift of the Christmas Counselor, the Spirit of Jesus.




When you’ve reached a dead end




There are dead-end roads, dead-end relationships, dead-end jobs, dead-end ambitions and dreams.


Have you ever reached a ‘dead-end’ in the road to life? Maybe the sign was knocked down and you didn’t see it. Or maybe you suspected (and others warned) that it was a dead-end but you thought you’d take your chances anyway. Still, it’s frustrating, especially if you’ve gone down a long and difficult path only to discover there is no way out. You might think, “What a waste of time and energy! What am I going to do now? I’m lost!”


For sure there are dead ends we should try to avoid. They’re painful, dangerous, frightening, and costly. It’s said we recognize our mistakes when we make them again. Better that we learn from them the first time.


But not all dead ends can be avoided.  Sometimes it was easy to see my cancer journey as a dead-end. It could have been…literally. But even retracing my steps out of the situation seemed like a dead-end: all the money lost on medical bills, all the pain, the heartache others felt, the lost productivity, the lost strength, the delayed dreams and ambitions. If you’ve been down a dead-end road, you know the list goes on.


I heard someone say recently, “It’s not a dead-end if it takes you somewhere you need to go.” In other words, sometimes dead ends provide experience and insight we wouldn’t have obtained any other way.  Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, we can look at what we’ve learned on the journey. Yes, we reached the end of a path and had to retrace our steps, but what did we find that we didn’t have before?  Often it’s learning a lesson we learned a long time ago:

  • Life’s really about love and being faithful.
  • There are some things no one can take away from you: your choice to believe, your choice to trust, your choice to love, your choice to be hope.
  • Your circumstances don’t define who you are; your choices do that.
  • It’s better to be better than bitter.
  • Your heart can see what your eyes don’t.
  • Faith makes things possible, not easy, but possible.
  • Be thankful for the moment you have…it is all you have right now.
  • We often hear better when we’re quiet for a while.
  • Cherish the ones you love today. You don’t know how long you have.
  • Encouraging others usually encourages you.
  • It is always the right time to do the right thing.
  • What you see IS what you get. Choose the right lenses for your life.
  • YOU are not God. HE is.
  • God’s Word is really true. Believe it. Act like you believe it.
  • Focus on faith, hope, and love.


There is a way out of dead-end roads. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6  Let Him help you get on with your worthwhile journey!



Where is your confidence?


Confidence is not based on having everything you need to take care of yourself. Confidence is based on the truth that our great God is faithful!


Would you best be described as confident or shy? Perhaps we all carry some of both characteristics depending on the setting. Sometimes we might take confidence in our natural abilities. In other times we might rely on what we have learned from teachers, books, or experiences. We might try to take confidence in our finances, our families, or our friends. But which of these give us confidence to approach Almighty God? By what means do we have the right to enter His presence?


Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). He is the living way God opened for us to come directly to Him. He is the way for hearts to be cleansed and to be filled with the confidence and assurance that faith brings.


Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)


How do we respond to such a profound and gracious gift? With a half-hearted, luke-warm heart that occasionally offers perfunctory sacrifices when it is convenient? No. Recognizing the supreme value of such a gift would reduce the most ardent of believers to fall face down in worship and to devote their lives humbly and completely to their God, holding ever so firmly to the faith that draws them closer to Him.


“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)


What hope do you profess? Is it a hope that you can hold to unswervingly? Hope in our own efforts and smarts and hope in everything of this world disappoints. But there is a hope that we can hold unswervingly to. It is hope offered by the one who promised and is faithful, the one who never ever abandons you. It is the hope that brings a ‘new and living way’ to live beyond yourself, to encourage others and spur them also on toward love and good deeds.


In the depths of your despair, in the darkness of your pain and sorrow, in the confusion of your anxiety, cling unswervingly to the hope that God your Father offers to His children. Accept the way Jesus offers into the presence of God right now.  And hold on to the confidence that is based on the truth that God is faithful.



Self Control

If you are like most people, admit it or not, you want to have control over your life circumstances, maybe even control over others. But the truth is we don’t have real control over our life circumstances and control over others is highly illusionary, and maybe abusive. We certainly can make personal choices that influence both our own lives and others. But these will not guarantee a ‘free pass’ on life trials.

SELF control is the only control we will ever really have in our lives. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning) It is both possible and healthy for you, for those you love, and for our world to pursue self control. What motivates you to success in self control? Marcia and I are trying to honor our commitment to:

  • “Live simply so others may simply live.” Disengaging from society’s marketing campaign to gobble up more goodies, energy resources, and time killers, frees us to enjoy and grow our relationship with each other and others. It also frees up resources for shining light into some very dark places in the world. It’s all a growing process, but making a commitment to simplified living makes certain self control choices easier.
  • Deciding to enjoy life and enjoy God. These might seem contradictory to some, but they go hand in hand, and both involve self control to make choices that bring us greater and lasting joy rather than choices that bring merely passing pleasure or worse, pain. It is not overly complicated to ask, “Will this choice honor God and His plan in my life or diminish it?”
  • Ultimately realizing that our best self control efforts are achieved by surrendering control to the one who knows us most and loves us best, our Lord Jesus. Jesus said if we want to be His followers, we must demonstrate self control: “Deny yourself, pick your cross, and follow Me.”

Self control may seem negative at best or worse, impossible, but it is key to enjoying a truly great life.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Crucified with Christ Day T-2

Yesterday we wrote that wanting to bear the mark of Jesus’ love, joy and peace requires inviting Him to live IN us as Lord and Master. It is more an act of believing that what He said is true and living accordingly. This is how we, ever so imperfectly, try to live out this walk with cancer. People remark about our positive attitude or strong spirit. We remind them it is our great God, our Lord Jesus who does this work everyday. It is not within our own power.

But belief always drives action and so there are things we do to bear the mark of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. Jesus spoke to His closest disciples in Matthew 16:24-26, instructs his closest followers saying, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

In this sense, there is something that we must do. In the progressive unfolding of our lives we must bring our thoughts, speech, and actions in alignment with Christ. Denying self means we put God and others first. This theme is spoken consistently throughout the bible and most notably when Jesus summarizes the two great commandments, “Love God…love others as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Denying self demands that our self interests are ALL servant to our love of God and others. Picking up our cross entails, amongst other things, keeping our focus daily on Jesus and carrying the burdens that He has for our holiness, and His love for others. This should provide great motivation to transform what we think, say, and do and even our personal ambitions and goals, to make these obedient to Him. And finally, following Jesus means staying in the path,and when you wander, confessing it and getting back on the path right away. You will be told there are many paths. The entertaining movie The Life of Pi seems to propose this message. But Jesus says there is only one path that leads to heaven. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Peace and patience are God’s gifts to us when we surrender our control to Him. Know Jesus….know love, joy, peace, patience, and so much more. I appreciate prayers for my donor as they collect his stem cells today, that he will be well, that they will be able to harvest a sufficient number of cells, and send them by courier to Iowa City for my use on Thursday. May his joy be full in making this sacrificial gift.

Which Path?

imageSpeaking of choosing new paths for a healthier life (see yesterday’s post), my sister Jane sent this photo from her hike in the Franklin Mountains. The sign gives a choice between taking the “more difficult” path to the right, or the “most difficult” path to the left. Jane observes, “I am reminded that the ‘easy’ path is not always an option, but our choice (our response) determines just how difficult the road ahead will be.”

What are the paths you’ve chosen to renew your mind daily? This is key to having victory over circumstances. We all know that the path of denial doesn’t work, and that the power of positive thinking, while helpful, doesn’t take us the whole distance.

Our personal experience is that meditating on the Word of God and talking with Him frequently is the only way that has brought us true renewal. New ways of thinking and responding to our circumstances have to become habitual. Even then, there will be struggles. This last week has been increasingly challenging for me, even at home. More tired, I push hard to walk 1/4 of what I did in the hospital and 60 days of gastrointestinal distress is taking its toll.

But when we take our eyes off our problems and focus instead on Jesus, our problems don’t take control.

I can’t imagine going through this cancer experience without enjoying a personal relationship with a loving God and the power He gives for victorious living throughout the storms life brings.

Even if you don’t know God or aren’t sure He exists, He welcomes your fellowship. Tell Him exactly how you feel. (Guess what…He already knows!) Whatever your position right now, the path to a renewing relationship is right before you. Whether it is “more difficult” or “most difficult,” walking with God is the best path you could choose. Even if you have walked a thousand steps away from God, it is just one step back to His loving arms.

Make good choices today!

“I am the way, the turth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” – Jesus, John 14:6

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3