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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Your Inner Voice of God

Inner voice

I vividly remember reluctantly meeting them over ten years ago. I was walking back to work after my lunchtime visit to the nearby hardware store. She was sitting on the lawn by the entrance to the parking lot. He was standing by the road, holding out his handmade cardboard sign, hoping for a handout.

My feet wanted to take the long way around them. But my inner voice (yes, my voice of God), said, “Go talk with them.”

“No, please. Not today. I should be getting back to work.”

“CJ, you know what’s right. Do it, for me.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll go talk with them. But only for a minute.”

We hung out together for over 20 minutes. They told me their story. And when I went to leave, we hugged.

My inner voice of God is always right. I just need to listen more often.

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What if…?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a family friend who recently died. What if I died and went to heaven? What if I saw, felt, and lived the mysterious truth of heaven? The joy, the peace, the warmth, the freedom, the love, with God and Jesus. Then, what if God decided to send me back to earth and re-awaken my dead body? With my new, heavenly perspective, how might I now live my earthly life? What might I do differently?

What if?


Joy of Surrender

surrender 2

I filled the first part of my life with self-directed efforts to get control and improve myself. I continuously listened to self-help tape programs by such people as Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, and Tony Robbins. I wasn’t satisfied with the type of person I was, so I looked to these people to help me get control of my life.

I’m now at a weird place, a place I never thought I’d be. Now, I don’t want control. Control is too stressful… things don’t always go my way. Control is a burden… too much responsibility. So now, I daily pray for God to take full control of my life. I just want to sit back, relax, and follow God’s lead.

Some days are relaxing in this way, no matter what chaos is going on around me, but not all. I’m still a work in progress, daily striving to give up control… to God. And I’m so grateful that He’s patient with me.


From Mild Atheist to Ravenous Christian

I was having an email chat with a friend, and they asked me my story. I decided to share my answer with anyone one else who might be curious. Very briefly, here it is…

I waffled between agnostic and atheist during the first half of my life. Periodically I felt an interest in learning more about this person called Jesus. I even read a bit of the bible while in college. But it didn’t go beyond a weak interest. Then, in my thirty-something years, my interest started to grow. I started going to church.

I ended up helping lead our church youth group, where I grew much stronger in my relationship with God, and my interest became a hunger. Eventually, church started feeling uncomfortable to me, yet I didn’t know why. Though it was a hard decision for me, preceded by lots of conversations with God, I left that church.

I tried several other churches, but I never felt “called” to stick with any of them. I’m still not sure why, but I haven’t attended a Christian church for over 4 years. All I want to do is God’s will, yet so far it appears His will does not include me attending a church. Yet, thanks to my continued hunger and thirst for God, the amount of personal one-on-one time I spend with God, and His love and grace, I feel closer to God, Jesus, and their Spirit than ever in my life. And it didn’t require any kind of manmade religious structure or personal effort. All it took was desire on my part (I consider desire as faith that’s ready for action), and God did the rest. And I’m so grateful.

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Practicing Trust

practice trust

I’ve been working a lot lately on trusting God, with my writing (book and blog), with work, with all my relationships. And I’ve seen that like everything in our lives, with practice, trusting God becomes easier.

It’s becoming easier for me to just relax and let Him guide my steps, guide my hand as I write, guide my words as I speak. And it’s a blast! This sense of real, sincere trust and what I see as He guides me – it’s really fun. This is joy, the joy of trust.

Oh, dear Jesus, thank you so much. As your peace and joy is beyond understanding, so is my gratitude beyond my ability to express. I am yours. Now let’s go have some fun and work on the book.


Dear God

[Look, something brought you to this blog post. If it was a mistake—sorry. But if you’d like to see something that is probably more worth your time, please check out the blurb about my soon-to-be-published novel on my new website. It’s basically about seeing a different perspective of Jesus, through the eyes of some background characters in the Bible. New website: cjpenn.com]

dear God


I just started reading “The Good and Beautiful Life,” by James Bryan Smith. Chapter One invited me to write a letter to God, describing the kind of life I want to live. Here is my letter.

Dear God,

The life I want most for myself is a life of You living through me. I desire with all my heart that when others look at me, they see You. I desire never to do or say something that you wouldn’t do or say. I desire to live with honor, integrity, compassion, humility, forgiveness, understanding, and true love toward all who come into my life. I desire to be a true image of You. Thank you dear Lord.


Scary Christians

scary Christians

I’ve commented on a couple of blogs recently, where the topic was Christians who scare others away from Christianity by their behavior – judgmental, hypocritical, arrogant, etc. I agree that the biggest hindrance to Christianity is Christians. And I relate to something Ghandi once said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.” Yet the truth is, none of us is like Christ. Some get close, but none lives the completely humble and love-filled life Jesus lived.

I can be quick to criticize ugly Christians. But that just brings me closer to their level. And the truth is, we are all broken humans, with a human nature that is so unlike Christ. For our nature is filled with pride and selfishness, some more full of themselves than others. But it’s who we are as humans. For me to criticize ugly Christians is hypocrisy.

Might an ugly Christian be a sign that the person doesn’t know Jesus very well? Could be. But who am I to judge?

By the way, most Christians I know are not very scary. Except maybe for my friend who is a Third Day* groupie, chasing their concerts all over the country. Happy Birthday dawg.

*Third Day = Christian rock band

(btw, my Third Day groupie friend isn’t scary in the context mentioned in this post. His friends just like to tease him because of his obsession.)