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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Book Review: “The Power of the Spirit, Extracts From The Writings of W. Law,” selected by Andrew Murray

Available on Amazon. Yet you can likely find it other places as well.

First of all, this review is not for the other book called The Power of the Spirit, by William Law, the one that was edited for modern readers. This review is for a book that Andrew Murray pulled together in the late 1800’s as a collection of Law’s writings that Murray found particularly powerful in conveying the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Second: it appears to me that all of Law’s observations of the state of the Christian church are as relevant today as they were back in the early 1700’s, when he wrote them.

It may feel like a harsh reality, but I think one of the most effective ways to help someone who’s seeking the fruits of Christianity is to show them the flaws of the church. The flaws show a Christianity that isn’t truthful. The flaws cause deception. The flaws paint an image of Christianity that just isn’t real. William Law helps clean away the smudges and deceptions of the church in a way that will help the reader see the power in the one true church of Jesus Christ. For when you see the flaws and compare them to the truth, the power of the truth stands out bright and vivid.

Law himself said he wasn’t necessarily out to demean any particular church. He was just driven to advance the truth, and he very effectively shows how the truth of Christianity is not always found in a human-managed church. The reason is simple—humans, all humans, are flawed. We are plagued by our natural human pride, that same pride that is at the root of all sins. And it’s that human pride that distorts the truth and defaces Jesus’ church.

What Law clearly shows, even in his 18th century language and writing style*, is that the one true church of Jesus Christ is centered on a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The church is not an external thing, like a build with human-managed committees. The church is internal. The church is the relationship of the Holy Spirit with your soul.

This book will alienate some, and piss off others. They may call Law a hieratic. They may call me the same thing for endorsing the book. But that’s the hard reality of the Bible—some people just don’t want to believe some of the Bible’s seemingly harder truths. Those hard truths are the ones that challenge our natural prideful and selfish personalities.

So as I’ve done in other book reviews, I offer you a word of caution. Don’t read this book unless you feel you’re ready for some hard teaching. But if you’re ready, you’ll be so grateful you read it. The truth of Christianity looks so much better than the image painted by many modern churches.

 

*(Note: this book might be written in the style of the late 1800’s, when Andrew Murray compiled it. Maybe Murray edited the writing to match the style of his day.)


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Book Review, “Mystery of the Holy Spirit,” A.W. Tozer

Available on Amazon. Yet you can likely find it other places as well.

This book is a collection of transcribed sermons of A.W. Tozer. Sometimes his off-the-cuff spoken words translate into reading that appears a bit awkward. However, in my opinion this book contains some pure Christian gold.

First, I’ll caution you: I think this book may not be helpful for “young” Christians. I remember what it was like when I first believed in Jesus, and at that time, this book would have been way beyond my ability to get any good from it.

BUT, if you’ve been a believer for a while and you’re getting real tired of the ways of the world, and maybe even gone so far in worldly despair that you start to look forward to death, then you have reason to get excited, because this book has just what you need.

Some of what Tozer talks about can be a bit hard to swallow for our earthbound minds and prideful human nature. But if you want to grow closer to the Holy Spirit of Jesus, then this book remains near the top of my list of recommendations.

Instead of me trying to describe the book, I think it will give you a better idea by reading some tasty, and sometime meaty morsels.

  • “I believe Pentecost did not come and go, but Pentecost came and stayed.”
  • “When we give the Holy Spirit His place, there will be joy that is not worked up. It will be joy that springs like a fountain.”

Those were just a couple of appetizers. Now for some hearty meat:

  • “I ask you; are you sure you want to be possessed by the blessed Spirit of the Father and the Son? Now, do you want your personality to be taken over by someone who is like this?”
  • “If there is anything bigger in your life than your desire to be a Spirit-filled Christian, then you will never be a Spirit-filled Christian until that is cured.”
  • “It is loneliness for God; you are lonely for God and you want God so bad you are miserable. You are getting close then. You are near to the kingdom, and if you will only keep on you will meet God. God will take you in and fill you.”

Okay, you’ve been warned. Are you hungry and brave enough to crave surrender to the Holy Spirit? If so, read this book. And your life might never be the same. Now, wouldn’t that be great!?


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Read “Personal Diaries” of People of Lived With Jesus

Please check out the most recent book review comment that my novel, “We Called Him Yeshua,” received on Amazon.

I’m always grateful when people are touched by this story in the way I had hoped while writing it. For in addition to providing an entertaining distraction from life, my strongest desire is that this story will help people come to more intimately know Jesus as both man and God. Please, if you’re curious, check it out on Amazon, where the “Look Inside” feature will allow you to read the first couple of chapters. And thank you.

Oh, and it’s currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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Book Review – “Abide in Christ,” Andrew Murray

Available on Amazon. Yet you can likely find it other places as well.

I’ve had this book since 2004 and I’ve now read it four times. And I’ll read it again. It’s just one of those kinds of books, kind of like the Bible.

Since Andrew Murray’s South Africa ministry covered some remote areas, and most of his congregation couldn’t come to his church each Sunday because they simply lived too far away, he often went to them in the form of his writing. He wrote several 31-chapter books, with a different chapter for each day of the month. Abide in Christ is one of those 31-day books. But perhaps as evidenced by my inability to leave this book on the shelf, this one has some intense power written into those 31 days.

Andrew Murray draws from Jesus’ illustration of the vine and the branches, where Jesus is the vine and we are the branches (John, chapter 15). As long as we stay connected to Jesus, as long as we “abide” in Him, He will feed us as the sap of the vine feeds the branches. And we will bear much fruit.

But for me, Murray takes Jesus’ illustration and adds an understanding I’d never seen before, even though I’ve long lost count of how many times I’ve read chapter 15 of John’s gospel. For example, the chapter for day 23 was a life-shaker for me, but only during the fourth read which I recently completed. During that last read, it felt like my eyes were finally opened to a profound truth that has always been in plain view in the Gospels. But I’m not going to tell you about it—if you want to know, I encourage you to get the book yourself. You won’t be sorry.

Anyway, this book will feed your relationship with Jesus and His Holy Spirit. Hopefully you won’t have to read it four times to get what I’ve gotten out of it. But no matter how easily you digest the truths in this book, you will end up feeling much closer to Jesus.

Like most of the books I recommend, this one can be a life-changer.

Note: what I’ve linked to is but one version of this book, other versions being available from other publishers. I don’t know the differences. Just make sure it’s the “31-day devotional” one.


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Book Review – “Andrew Murray Devotional”

“Andrew Murray Devotional,”

Available on Amazon. Yet you can likely find it other places as well.

This book is a daily devotional, where some of the most insightful of Andrew Murray’s writings have been collected into 365 days of inspiration. In the words of the publisher, “For several generations, the writings of Andrew Murray have stirred the hearts, minds, and souls toward deeper devotion to God, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and to the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

As of the writing of this review, I actually haven’t finished reading this book. Also, I cheat and usually read more than one devotion per day. So as I write this around the end of May, I’m now on the devotion for August 29th. But I’ve read more than enough to highly recommend this book. Look, Andrew Murray’s writings have been a staple part of my reading diet for many years. Everything I read of his I put back in my stack of books to read again. This book is no different.

Like all of the books I recommended, this one will help you see and feel what true Christianity is all about. Also, it will lead you into a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that you never could have imagined. And like a lot of daily devotionals, there is no better way to start or end your day than reading from this book.

Do you want to know Jesus and His Spirit more intimately? This book might be a great way to start. But beware, for like most of the books I recommend, it will challenge your prideful human nature.

By the way, Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917) was a pastor and author, living in South Africa. Many of his books were written specifically for those he ministered to, to help nurture and guide them in their Christian life.

Note that the book I got from Amazon has a cover that looks different from what’s shown on the Amazon book page, and from what I show here.


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Books For the Next Step of Your Journey

A critical and sometime treacherous milestone on our journey to get closer to God and Jesus is when we come to the fork in the road where straight ahead is just a continuation of the road we’ve been on. But the path that splits off from this takes us away from the maps we’ve always relied on—the written word and spoken sermon—and leads us down the path of the Spirit of Jesus. If we choose the path of the Spirit, Jesus will take our hand and lead us the rest of the way.

But we need the maps to find this fork in the road. We need written or spoken words to lead us to an indwelling relationship with the Holy Spirit. Other than the Bible, the books I recommend are ones I found to help me the most in my journey, and that led me to my own relationship with the Spirit of Jesus within me.

At some point while on your own journey, you may find that there are no written words that can continue to satisfy the hunger that burns within you. You may find that the only food that fills you can come from the Spirit Himself, where it’s His presence that fills you. The presence of Jesus will satisfy you even more than the Bible.

You may discover the best moments in life are when you sit quietly, empty your mind of the world and your “self,” and let the Spirit fill your mind, heart, and your very soul. And that’s where you will find the peace that goes beyond human understanding.

Oh, we can always draw satisfaction from books and sermons, but those will only serve as appetizers. Our real spiritual meal can only come from the Holy Spirit.

As William Law said in one of the books* I will recommend:

“But as Christ’s teaching in the flesh was only preparatory to His future vital teaching by the Spirit, so the teaching of Scripture by words written with ink and paper is only preparatory, or introductory to all that inward essential teaching of God, which is by His Spirit and truth within us.”

* “The Power of the Spirit, Extracts From the Writings of W. Law,” selected by Andrew Murray.

So, if you’re interested in more, please follow this link to my new book recommendation page on my cjpenn.com website.


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How About Something New to Read?

Another weekend. A lot like last weekend. Same routine, different day. This might be a good weekend to check out a different book, something new to read. And this book might be like nothing you’ve read before.

Plus, this weekend it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow. Follow the link, “look inside,” and see what you think. https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7/

 

 


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What Does it Mean to be Christian?

unChristian

I didn’t expect to start my Friday with a sad discovery. But that’s what I found as I again picked up the book I just started reading, “unChristian; What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… and Why it Matters,” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. This book is based on extensive research by the Barna Group, where they conducted studies to find out what “outsiders” feel about Christians and Christianity.

I’m struggling to find the words to convey what I’m thinking, without coming across as judgmental. By the way, 87% of young adults see Christians as judgmental.

Anyway, the results of one particular survey question left me feeling sad… sad for Christians and Christian churches. The surveyors asked born-again Christians to describe what the most important priorities are for being a Christian. The top of the list was being good and not sinning, followed by discipleship, evangelism, worship, relationships with others, service and stewardship. What made me sad is that I don’t see the most important thing about being a Christian.

Yet who am I to say? I’m no expert. I’m just a flawed human like everyone else. How do I give my answer to this question about being Christian without sounding snotty and arrogant? I don’t know, so I’ll just go for it.

I believe the most important priority for being a Christian is a personal and intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. I believe the most important good deed or form of worship is to give your life, to surrender your “self” to the Holy Spirit, to give control to the Spirit. As Paul said in his letter to those in Rome…

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

The entire Bible is about a personal relationship with God, especially the New Testament. But it looks like Christian churches have not made that clear. And Christians suffer because of that. This too makes me sad.