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)


He Must Become Greater – a Resolution

happy new year

Being New Years Eve morning, I found myself thinking about resolutions for 2015. I’ve been big on creating long lists of resolutions in the past. This year, just one item is on my list…

As John the Baptist said, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30)

My resolution, my hope and trust for 2015 is that the Holy Spirit of Jesus will become greater within me, and my “self” will become less. As Jesus continues to fill me with His Spirit, my selfish and self-centered self will become less of who CJ Penn is. And I’m so grateful.

I wish you all a great New Year, and hope that you too will find yourself filled with the Holy Spirit of our savior, Jesus.


Where they cannot, He can

Gods love

Some churches have rules about who qualifies to be a member. Ever been divorced? You can’t get in. Gay? You can’t get in either. Some churches just are not able to accept certain people. Yet who these churches cannot accept, Jesus can. Just believe it – that’s faith.

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Christmas didn’t feel special, but that was okay

I love all the gifts, the receiving, and the giving. I love the time with family, even though it’s often too brief. I love all the food and the drinks. But ever since I became Christian, I looked for something more in my Christmas. I looked for some special sense of Jesus’ presence. Sometimes I would find it during Christmas Eve service at church. Sometimes I would find the sense of closeness in the middle of a conversation, or a quiet time late at night. Sometimes I wouldn’t find it, but I always looked for that feeling of something different.

This year, I didn’t find a new or different sense of Jesus’ presence in my life. But that’s because I feel His presence all the time. Oh yes, I’m often not thinking about Jesus’ Spirit within me. But the sense of His close presence is just a thought away, and He’s always there, waiting for me to turn to Him. I turned to Him a lot this Christmas, and it felt the same as every other day. But that’s okay.

It’s a cliché, but for me, maybe every day is like Christmas day. And I’m so grateful.


Christmas Day – Happy Birthday

happy birthday

Christmas day – I believe there’s more to celebrate than the 2000-plus year anniversary of Jesus’ birth. For Jesus is born again, every time someone opens their heart with faith, and lets the Holy Spirit of Jesus in their life. If you look to God and ask Him to live with you, within your body and with your soul, Jesus is re-born as human, as you.

And when you open the door of your heart to let the Spirit of Jesus into your life, you are re-born as a new person. No longer just you, but you and Jesus, in one.

Christmas day – there’s a lot to celebrate. Happy Birthday all.


Jim – Loving the Hard to Love

I was 500 miles away when my phone rang at 4:00am. My brothers girlfriend, weeping and hysterical, was telling me something, though I couldn’t understand a word she said between the gasps. Yet I knew. No more pain for my brother.

He had called me seven months earlier. We hadn’t seen each other for over 25 years, mainly because we didn’t hang out in the same places. He spent most of his time in prison.

He called to tell me he had lung cancer, and he needed me. I didn’t want to go, but he had no one else, and something inside me said… go.

During the next seven months, I spent a lot of time with my brother. Right after the first surgery, when they removed the tumors, the nurse called me into the recovery room to help calm my brother. He was sitting up in the bed, tubes and wires hanging off his tattoo-covered body, and loudly complaining about pain. I was amazed to see him actually sitting, just minutes after waking up from lung surgery. I went to the side of the bed, he looked up at me, leaned his head on my chest, and he fell asleep. I put my arm around his shoulder and just stood there, holding him steady. The nurse was grateful. I was uncomfortable.

I never wanted to get involved. Every time I went to see him, it was with reluctance. I’m not a natural at the nurturing and compassion thing. As the chemo cocktail dripped into his veins, I’d sit there, stealing glances at my watch, looking for a chance to excuse myself and leave. My hugs were not always sincere.

But this is what I learned: how I felt didn’t matter. It wasn’t about me. I may have been reluctant with each visit and phone call, but it was all for my brother. Even though my love was not true, my brother still felt loved. And it was good for him. He never hesitated to say “I love you.” Maybe he felt compassion from me that he hadn’t felt for a long time – you don’t get much in prison.

Here’s another thought that just hit me: maybe the love my brother felt wasn’t really from me, but was from Jesus within me. When I can’t bring myself to sincerely love, Jesus can love through me. And I’m so grateful.


The Epidemic


Pride, self-centeredness, arrogance, selfishness;

different names for the same thing.

These are the root of all evil.

All a part of our human nature.

Or is this human nature?

Pride is more a disease infecting all humanity,

some suffering this disease more than others.

Human history is the story of the epidemic of pride.

Look upon your pride-filled enemy

as a victim of the epidemic,

and they will be your enemy no more.

When we see pride as an illness,

we give ourselves permission to feel compassion,

instead of anger.

And we can love our ailing enemies.


Jesus came to heal the sick.

He can free our souls of the cancer of pride,

and fill us with the love of His Spirit.

And I’m so grateful.

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Faith and Love… from Hope

faith hope love

Typical morning. Groggy. Coffee mug warming my cold hands. Trying to waken my reluctant mind and focus my every thought onto the Holy Spirit within me. In my quiet time before going off to work, my writing time, I again ask the Spirit of my dearly loved Jesus what He would like to do through me this morning. It seems to take a long time – maybe the coffee just needed to kick in a bit. Finally an answer: read my bible. I haven’t done that for a while. The pages opened to Colossians.

Paul said, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope…” (Colossians 1:5) I stopped there.

Faith and love, from hope; these words grabbed my mind and made their meaning clear, for me anyway.

Many years ago, at the end of my agnostic phase, I started reading the bible for the first time. Curiosity may have been one reason. But I now believe the main reason I turned to God was hope. Something inside me HOPED that the stories of the bible were true, especially the stories about Jesus. It was hope that turned me to Jesus. And Jesus took my hope and nourished it, until it blossomed into true faith and love. And I’m so grateful.

Hope is such a powerful beginning.