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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Almost There

The book cover for my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, is finished! And I’m very excited. If all goes as scheduled, the ebook will go live on Amazon starting tomorrow. As soon as Amazon will allow, I’m going to change the ebook price to FREE. The paperback will go live sometime within the next week, I hope. I’m currently waiting for Amazon to ship a proof copy to me.

If you’d like to have a peek before tomorrow, please go to my author website, and check it out. While there, you can also read some sample chapters I’ve posted.

And if you sign up, I’ll send you an email when I’ve confirmed the ebook is FREE on Amazon. I’ll do the same once the paperback is live.

Thanks,

CJ Penn


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A “Good” Book for These Times

Yesterday I posted something encouraging people stressed about the COVID-19 virus to check out the novel I will be publishing soon. I truly feel the story in the novel can help people not only escape reality for a bit, but also find some “tools” to help them cope with world-inducing stress. But I was hesitant, because I’m concerned that some might think I’m taking advantage of a worldwide scare to promote my novel.

Look, at times like these, I’m convinced that the absolute best book to help people cope is the Bible. The Bible points us to what we all need to deal with the toughest times of our lives. Yet for some, especially those where Christianity feels foreign, the Bible is more confusing than help. The authors of the Bible often wrote from a spiritual perspective, and the language can be difficult to understand.

The novel I mentioned is all about Jesus Christ, and is based heavily on events recorded in the Gospels. Yet it looks at him from a purely human perspective, a perspective we all can understand. The story focuses mainly on Jesus’ humanity, in addition to his divinity. For this reason, I think the story can help people more easily relate to Jesus, understand him, feel closer to him, and maybe even discover an intimate relationship with him. Also, I believe the story can help motivate those who have never opened a Bible, to take a look for themselves.

Strong Christians already have what they need to cope with stressful times: a solid knowledge of God’s word and an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. But what about “weak” Christians, and those who have no idea of who Jesus really is? I care about all of them.

If some want to accuse me of trying to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to promote my book … well, that’s the price I’m willingly pay for trying to help people find peace and freedom in their own relationship with Jesus Christ.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 8

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Today I give you chapter 8, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like. Chapter 8 will get you about a third of the way through the book, and it’s the final chapter I’ll be posting on my website, as the book will soon be released on Amazon.

Amos

– Neri –

“Down, down,” Ben said, tugging on my hair.

“Okay you little dust dervish, here you go.”

As I dropped Ben onto the sandy road, he scurried back to Ruth and Anna, a tiny dust cloud in his wake. He collided into Anna’s legs, wrapped his pudgy arms around them, and squeezed. Anna, nearly falling, grabbed Ruth’s arm and steadied herself. Ben let go and headed for Ruth. But she was too quick for him. She bent down, shot her hands under his arms, and began tickling. Ben fell squirming to the ground, giggling wildly and kicking up even more dust. Ruth dropped to her knees and kept tickling.

I lost my thoughts on the silver star necklace resting within the soft recess at the base of Ruth’s neck. Her neck looked soft as camel cheese and white as goats milk.

A light blue sky hung high above the valley. Trees, bushes, and flowers thrived along the river’s edge. As far downriver as I could see there were red poppies, little yellow flower I didn’t know, date palm trees, and tall grasses—all in radiant color. The lush banks gave way to low grass bordering the road that followed the river. And on the other side of the road, soft meadows gently sloped toward the hills to the west.

The road felt good—it felt like freedom and adventure. I’d missed the feel of the road under my bare feet. Since sandals were for impressing people, and my tough feet didn’t need protecting, I’d tucked my sandals in my tool sack. I took in a slow, deep breath as I scanned the valley around me, and smiled.

Farther down river, as it bent west, buildings slid into view. Clusters of houses huddled between the river and the hills, with a few on the eastern shore. This side of the wall-less village, vegetables and grains sprouted in the fields on both sides of the road. A vineyard nestled on the slopes of the hills, with buds freshly breaking.

I glanced again at Ruth and Anna. Behind them marched a growing band of followers. Some I recognized as those I’d helped in the meadow. I walked faster to catch up to Yeshua.

“You know, Yeshua,” I said as fell into pace beside him, “seeing you heal people is like eating a whole camel—milk, cheese, and all. It’s so filling, so overwhelming, so irresistible. But then I’m empty again, and hungry for more, like I can’t ever get enough.” I looked over my shoulder at the trailing newcomers, “I think they might feel the same way.” Yeshua just smiled, and gazed up into the sky. “How does it feel to have so many people following you?”

“Neri, I welcome everyone, no matter why they come to me. I will never turn them away. But I wish they would follow because of who I am, not because of what I can do for them.” He took in a slow breath. “You know. True friends are those that don’t expect anything from you, those that stay your friend no matter what. But for now, their love for me is conditional—they will love and they will follow as long as I have something to give them.”

Was that why I followed him? For the promise of something more? I felt shame seep into my gut. But I had always strived to be different. And I was determined not to be just another follower.

“Neri, for those following me—if they follow far enough—they will see with their eyes what true love really is.”

“True love?”

Yeshua put his hand on my shoulder and firmly squeezed. “No conditions.”

Looking up, the jackals were at the gate. Where the road entered the village, a pack of brightly colored Pharisees prowled, all staring our way, arms crossed as if trying to bar entry. Like jackals, I felt they were hungry for fresh meat. But there would be no meat for them, not while I was around.

(read the rest of Chapter 8 on my cjpenn.com website)


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 7

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 6. Today I give you the seventh chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Nathan

– Nathan –

Samuel burst through the door, “Nathan, get up!”

“What?” I rubbed my eyes and stretched as the other three shouldered their way in, tripping over each other and crashing in a jumbled heap onto the floor of my bedroom. “Ssshhh. You’ll wake em up,” I whispered, motioning toward my parents’ room. Outside, sunrise was still about an hour away. The rest of the town was sure to be sleeping. Perfect.

Throwing off my blanket, I looked to Jacob, “Got the ropes?”

“Don’t be foolish,” he shot back. “Let’s get going. We don’t have much time.”

Soon we were running up the road toward the center of town. Well, I wasn’t running. My twisted, crippled legs saw to that. I clung to my woven mat, with each of my friends holding a corner as they ran. Zachery and Josiah led the way. Samuel and Jacob, being taller, held the back corners high, allowing me to sit up.

Soft grey light began seeping into the sky. Two tall stone houses flanked the south road where it entered the square—we headed there. Off narrow alleys intersecting the road, outside stairs led to the upper floors and the rooftop terraces.

Samuel quietly climbed the stairs up one house, Jacob the other. Tying the rope to a pillar on the terrace, Samuel then threw it to Jacob, impatiently waiting on top of the other house. With both ends secure, the middle of the rope sagged down between the two houses.

The sky was growing a light blue as Samuel and Jacob came bounding down the stairs, no longer trying to be quiet. Zachery and Josiah sat me on the rope and made sure I held tight. Soon I was swinging as high as the middle of the second floor, my stomach lurching back and forth. As the sun flashed over the horizon, the townspeople woke to crowing. It wasn’t a rooster.

(read the rest of Chapter 7 on my cjpenn.com website)

Copyright CJ Penn, 2020


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 6

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 5. Today I give you the sixth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Chapter 6: Ruth

-Ruth-

The morning fog had crept from the lake, slithered through the streets, poured into my hut, and seeped into my bones like poison. Dampness always made the pain worse. I groaned through clenched teeth as I pushed myself out of bed and stood shivering on frozen feet.

“Come on Ruth, unlock the door!” my sister called again, fear rising in her voice. By now, her imagination was probably painting her a picture of my withered corpse. A bittersweet smile crossed my lips. Me dead—if only.

“What?” I yelled, yanking the door open. The effort left me wheezing. I swayed on wobbly legs, nausea creeping up my chest, sweat chilling the back of my neck.

“Finally! Listen Ruth, you remember the man I told you about? The healer? Well he’s on his way to our town and I heard he healed a man of leprosy in the village up north and now he’s on his way here and I’m sure he can heal you so you can finally be healthy again and you won’t feel any more pain and you can leave your house when you want, isn’t that great!”

“Yes. Great.” I marveled less about her words, and more about how my squirrel of a sister could say so much in one breath. “Now. Let me go back to bed.” I tried to close the door.

“No!” She wedged her leg against the door jam, knowing I didn’t have the strength to resist. “You need to go to him, so he can heal you.”

“Okay, I will. After he gets here. Now leave me alone.”

 

(read the rest of Chapter 6 on my cjpenn.com website)

Copyright CJ Penn, 2020


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 5

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 4. Today I give you the fifth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Jairus

-Anna-

“Neri, over here, I’m thirsty,” I tugged on his sleeve and pulled him toward an inn on the edge of the square. Several hours after leaving the village where I found Neri, we arrived at another town … a larger town.

“Good, I’m hungry,” Neri replied.

“Hungry? Again?”

We climbed a few steps to a collection of low tables scattered over a raised terrace. A canopy of different colored fabric provided shade, casting a faded rainbow shadow all around us. We selected a table near the edge of the terrace.

“Hungry Scamper?” Neri said, lifting Ben off his shoulders and dropping him on a cushion.

As I sat down, Ben crawled into my lap and fell asleep. I smiled as I caressed Ben’s soft brown hair, comforted by the idea I’d made the right decision bringing him with me. The town, on the south shore of the lake, was the farthest from home I’d ever been. The distance helped me feel safer.

The innkeeper walked over, knelt on a cushion, rested both hands on our table, and said, “Well?”

“Tea please,” I replied, as Neri gazed at the menu painted on the wall. He had the look of love in his eyes.

“Let’s see … I’ll have a large plate of fried locusts, the fish stew, goat milk cheese, some of the lentil with curry, barley bread, charoset, and Egyptian beer.”

“No charoset,” the innkeeper said, as he stood and left.

“A bit hungry Neri?”

“A little. But, no charoset!”

The crowd below us grew, all straining to see Yeshua as he worked his way toward the center of the square. There must have been hundreds of them. Yeshua was more popular than I’d thought. A strange feeling stirred my stomach and rose in my chest—I think I knew, but refused to admit what it was.

 

(read the rest of Chapter 5 on my cjpenn.com website–here)

Copyright CJ Penn, 2020


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 4

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 3. Today I give you the fourth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Neri

Neri

“Neri, you stink.”

“Oh, you like my perfume? I call it Essence of Pus. A subtle fragrance, yet I see you have a perceptive nose.”

Caleb and I sat at the mouth of the canyon, the walls behind us lined with caves, dug long ago in the limestone. The broad valley spread out below us. There, at the border of the leper colony, we stared at the outside world, off limits to us. Shepherds tended their sheep across the valley, on the other side of the stream weaving down its center.

“Hey Neri, where’s that sister of yours? Anna, right? I bet she smells good.”

I glared at Caleb, uglier than most with that hole in the middle of his face where his nose had once been. Well, at least leprosy had cured him of his nose-picking habit.

“Stay away from her Noseless,” I growled. “Hey, have you thought of an easy way for me to kill myself?”

(read the rest of Chapter 4 on my cjpenn.com website)