(My story ended up being longer than I’d hoped. So stop reading when it gets boring. Is it boring yet?)
Well, I was all over the place during the first 35+ years of my life. Agnostic, atheist… mainly I didn’t care about anything religious. Until Star Wars came out. Ah, the Force! Now that was a religion I could get excited about.
But as I got older, I guess I became more interested in reality than fantasy. And I grew curious about this thing called Christianity. Was it real? My initial curiosity didn’t get me very far; just read a bit of the Bible, and wondered.
And then babies came along, and the babies grew into little boys, and my wife and I liked the idea of raising our boys with the influence of a church. So, for our sons we joined the Presbyterian Church. This seemed like the right choice, as my wife was raised in a Presby church, and I seemed to recall my mom had gone to a Presby church as a child. So I figured that made me a Presby-by-association (or something like that). Anyway, I really didn’t care what church we went to. After all, I was only doing it for my sons. (Giggle if you know what comes next)
Well, I ended up volunteering for various church things, and over time, my mild interest in Jesus became a hunger. And my relationship with Him grew.
Yet after my sons went away to college, church started feeling uncomfortable to me (there’s a long story in there). I visited and tried on lots of other local churches, but nothing seemed to fit. I haven’t attended a Christian church for over five years now.
Yet, thanks to my continued hunger for closeness with God, the amount of personal one-on-one time God and I spend together, and His love and grace, I feel closer to God and Jesus 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, and God did the rest.
I created my first blog in May of 2008. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a passion. My passions have grown and varied over the years, yet these are the ones that power my writing:
- My passion that launched that first blog is for the truth of Christianity. You don’t always see the truth in the Christian community. The truths of Jesus can sometimes be overshadowed by manmade traditions, rules, and agendas. Yet the truth is there for all to see, right in the Bible.
- I have a passion for the Holy Spirit, one truth so often ignored. The solution to all of life’s problems is a personal relationship with the Spirit of Jesus.
- I have a passion to help restore the One True Church. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) The mind controlled by the Spirit IS the One True Church of Jesus Christ… the dwelling in which His Holy Spirit lives.
- I have a passion for humility, though I sometimes show very little myself. I believe pride is a plague that infects humanity. Pride is the source of all human suffering. The only cure is humility and love (closely related). Yet because pride is part of our human nature, the cure will not come from within us. The cure must come from outside. The cure of humility comes from the Holy Spirit, living within us and letting His humility flow through us.
- Finally, I have a passion for Christians who no longer go to church. For some reason, they dropped out, as I did. Since dropping out sometimes weighs heavily on me, I have this passion for others who may be carrying similar burdens. I want to help them, if I can. So some of my writing is directed to my fellow “Dones” or “Dechurched,” as we are called.
Here are some other things you might like to know about me:
CJ Penn is not my real name. I use a pen name because my writing is not about me. I write for Jesus, and God, and you. That’s why some of my writing won’t be popular with some people. But as Paul said, so I say too… “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) I write for God, and His truth.
I strive not to be negatively influenced by the Christian establishment, with some of their “non-Christian,” rules and traditions. Another favorite Bible verse comes from Peter, who I believe was also a bit rebellious. Speaking to the religious establishment of his day, he boldly said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19?). Like Peter, I choose God.
And also like Peter, I have no formal theological education. So how am I qualified to write about God and Jesus as I do? Isn’t my lack of such an education a weakness? Well, for me it’s a strength. For instead of relying on book knowledge, the only thing I can rely on is my relationship with Jesus. It’s not intellectual expertise that pens my writing; its spiritual intimacy and reliance upon God and Jesus – trust moves my pen.
And if you really like what I write, please know this: to the best of my ability, I didn’t write it. My desired roll is to simply be God’s pen, to have Him take me in hand and type His words into my computer. Other than the quoted Bible verses, are the words I write really the words of God? I don’t know. All I know is these words came into my mind as I prayed while writing.
So what do you think? Am I a crazy loon, or could you and I be friends?