RUN! It's Jesus Calling!
Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling
Sample Chapter -- CHAPTER 13
HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE
THE PRESENCE OF JESUS?
I first experienced the Presence of God in a setting of exquisite
I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable
and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing
to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became
aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper,
'Sweet Jesus.' - Jesus Calling introduction, pages VI &
VII, 2004 unrevised edition.
When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant
light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced
God's presence in this powerful way. - Jesus Calling introduction,
pages X & XI, 2004 unrevised edition.
What is the overall theme of the Jesus Calling book? Its full
title is, Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace In His Presence.
Based on the title I assume there is a focus on experiencing the presence
of Jesus (God). And that is what we see when we read this book. Just
in the introduction Jesus Calling speaks about the presence of
God 19 times.
When we read the Jesus Calling devotions we find the same focus
on being in the presence of Jesus. I randomly picked a date, which turned
out to be October 13th, and I counted the number of times being in the
presence of Jesus is mentioned in the next ten devotions. It was 18
times. In addition, phrases that imply the presence of Jesus, such as
aware of my companionship, are commonly used.
Experiencing the presence of Jesus is a huge part of this book. So let's
find out what Jesus Calling means when it talks about being in
the presence of Jesus. We'll also look at the true Biblical meaning
of being in the presence of Jesus.
According to Jesus Calling, what does it mean to be in the
presence of Jesus?
In Jesus Calling the presence of Jesus seems to be a feeling
you experience. In the 2004 introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young
describes being in the presence of Jesus as feeling like there is a
warm mist around her. In another part of the same introduction she says
it is like having a bright light around her.
In addition, according to Jesus Calling there are numerous benefits
that result from being in the presence of Jesus. For example, the presence
- helps you receive the peace of Jesus (October 13th)
- is a promise and a protection (October 15th)
- is a powerful protection and your best protection (October 15th)
- is the source of help (help flows from it) (October 16th)
- comforts you (October 16th)
- allows you to be a channel through whom others are comforted (October
- outshines any fantasy you can imagine (October 17th)
- enables you to face each day with confidence (October 18th)
My general impression is that, according to Jesus Calling, the
presence of Jesus helps you relax, have peace, and to get through the
What do we need to do to experience the presence of Jesus?
Jesus Calling says that we are constantly in the presence of
Jesus (Jan 28), and it seems to indicate that we can experience awareness
of the presence of Jesus to greater and lesser degrees. How do we do
this? The following are some of the instructions I found that seem to
be related to becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. These are
from the 10th Anniversary Edition:
- Your weakness is the door to Jesus presence (Jan 8)
- Ask Jesus to show you the path forward moment by moment (Jan 9)
- Make Jesus presence the focal point of your thoughts (Jan
- Whisper the name of Jesus (April 8)
- Thanksgiving and praise open the door to his presence (May 29)
- Attune yourself to Jesus voice (September 26)
Jesus Calling gives many other ways to experience the presence of Jesus,
but none of them are in accordance with scripture. So once again we
have a complete disconnect with scripture.
Let me see if I can summarize the impressions Im getting as I
try to understand how to experience the presence of Jesus and its benefits
according to Jesus Calling:
Jesus is a soft, fluffy, comfortable Jesus who is your best friend.
He is always there to share the burden of your troubles, wipe away your
tears, give you peace, and keep you feeling warm and comfortable inside.
To experience the presence of Jesus you need to do things such as remember
him, whisper his name, trust him, and turn to him when you are in need.
BUT... the problem is that this is not scriptural concerning coming
into and being in the presence of Jesus, and this is not the Jesus of
the Bible. This Jesus is not the Jesus who loves you, who truly cares
about you, and who died for you.
What does scripture teach?
The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient
Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God's presence stamped
deep on his soul, who trembles at God's word, who lets it dwell in
him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms
his life daily in response to it. J.I. Packer (http://tiny.cc/zqin5x)
What does it mean Biblically to be in the presence of God, and how
do you Biblically come into the presence of God?
For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose
name is holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with
the contrite and lowly of spirit Isaiah 57:15
Consider this: Jesus is God and God is omnipresent. This means God
is present everywhere at all times. That means everyone is always in
the presence of God. It is impossible for us to move out of the presence
But, this is not the type of presence we are referring to when we talk
about Biblically being in the presence of Jesus. What it means is to
be saved and thus be in a relationship with God. It is not a feeling
or experience, as described in Jesus Calling. It is the reality
of being seated with Christ in heaven the moment you are saved (Ephesians
2:6) It is the reality of having Christ dwell within you the moment
you are saved (John 14:23 and 15:4).
It is true that at times we will feel distant from God. All Christians
have experienced this. For example, after losing his wife to cancer
C.S. Lewis wrote:
Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and
so very absent a help in time of trouble? C.S. Lewis, A
Grief Observed, Chapter One, 1961
Peter explains what is happening:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness
of your faithmore precious than gold that perishes though it
is tested by firemay be found to result in praise and glory
and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7
But, lets start at the beginning. How do we come into the presence
of Jesus in the first place? What keeps us from the presence of God?
Fact #1 - Sin separates us from God.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your
God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not
hear. - Isaiah 59:2
Sin separates us from God. You are a sinner, and that means you are
separated from God. His face is hidden from you. What can you do to
change that? Nothing. Doing the things the Jesus in Jesus Calling commands
you to do will not bring you any closer to Jesus. Sin is a barrier that
cannot be breached by human effort.
We are born as sinners and that means we are natural enemies of God.
But, the same verse that reveals we are enemies of God, also gives the
For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through
the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, will we be
saved by His life. - Romans 5:10
Fact #2 We WERE enemies of God. But, we have been reconciled
to God through the death of Jesus.
To be reconciled to God means we are no longer Gods enemies,
instead we are in a relationship with God. This happens through faith,
which is a gift of God.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from
yourselves; it is Gods gift not from works, so that no
one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
Through the faith given to you by God, you trust in the work of Jesus
on the crossHis paying the penalty for your breaking Gods
lawsand you are saved from that penalty. Now, when God looks at
you, instead of your sin He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
And that is why you, as a believer in the cross of Jesus Christ, are
in a relationship with God.
If you have repented and are trusting that Christ has paid your penalty
for sin... trusting that He paid your penalty for breaking God's laws...
then you are free from the penalty for sin! Free from sin and united
with Christ. AND Jesus is actually living in you now! Not only are you
in the presence of Jesus, you have been united with Jesus Christ your
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up
for me. - Galatians 2:20
Jesus Calling constantly talks about being in the presence of
Jesus, but never mentions sin, nor the cross, nor the gospel. Jesus
Calling even tries to turn you away from being concerned about sin
(Sept 7). BUT... without the cross we all are eternally separated from
God. It is only through the cross that we enter the presence of God.
I'm hearing some of you saying something again: Jesus
Calling was written for Christians. Everyone who is reading it is already
saved and is in a relationship with Jesus.
Setting aside the question of whether or not everyone reading Jesus
Calling is actually saved or not, this brings us to fact number
Fact #3 All believers will experience the trial of feeling
separated from God.
You are a believer, but you don't feel very close to God. What's wrong?
John MacArthur explains:
A key passage in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:3-7) will help you appreciate
that times of distress are common and are for the good of God's children.
Amid the rich details of God's glorious grace, resides an affirmation
that those who rejoice in their salvation will also experience distress
due to various trials.
Take solace in knowing that sorrowful times--even periods of feeling
God has withdrawn His presence--are an integral part of your spiritual
experience. God hasn't utterly abandoned you, though you feel He has.
Other believers have successfully traveled the dark path you walk
and completed their journey. John McArthur, Why does God
seem so distant when I need Him most? (http://tiny.cc/6lan5x)
When we are going through a time when we feel distant from God we can
be encouraged that it is part of Gods working to build our faith
and growing us to know Him better. An article in the C.S. Lewis Reflections
Because C.S. Lewis did not give up, in time he was able to say,
I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer
shut and bolted. He came to see that Gods silence during
his grief was not a sign of indifference, cruelty, or abandonment.
Rather, God had been at work for good in his life in ways he could
not sense or imaginebringing him into a deeper experience of
the Lord than he had ever known before. Reflections, C.S.
Lewis Institute, July 2008
Based on 1 Peter 1:3-7 we can know that our time of darkness will be
temporary, and that it has a purpose. It is a test of your faith that
will strengthen your faith.
This sounds nothing at all like what Jesus Calling says. In Jesus Calling
it is up to us to do something so we feel closer to Jesus. But, the
reality is that God is in control. He does it all.
If I feel distant from Jesus, what should I do?
Be in prayer. Spend time talking with God. Davids prayer in Psalm
13 is a good example.
Be in Gods Word. Read your Bible every day and be in obedience
to what you are reading. That is called seeking His righteousness. And
remember, God is always present with you even when He feels far away
(1 Peter 2:9). God is never far from a believer.
Examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are you turning to sin for comfort
instead of God? Or are you pure in heart (see Chapter 23)? The fact
that sin separates you from God is foundational. You can't talk about
being close to God without talking about sin, repentance, and confessing
your sin to God. But, Jesus Calling says nothing about sin, repentance,
redemption, nor confession of sin. It seems that Jesus Calling is about
making you feel good, instead of being about the truth and leading you
to a right relationship with God... which is the only way to have a
close relationship with God.
And finally remember God is in control. These four points are not magic,
meaning that if you do them youll automatically feel closer to
God. This is not the God of Jesus Calling. This is the true God, creator
of you and the entire universe. God will draw nearer to you, when He
determines the time is right.
This is Chapter 13 from the book "RUN! It's Jesus Calling."
This book is available on Amazon.
Softbound, approx. 160 pages
on Amazon (click here)