Are you looking for a deeper relationship with Jesus? Are you looking for the fulfillment and peace that comes with such a relationship, the peace Jesus promised us, the peace that’s bigger than we can imagine?
Where the accounts in the Gospels tell the history of Jesus, the novel “We Called Him Yeshua” will bring Jesus’ story more to life, making Him more real to you, and bringing you closer to Him. The closer you come to Jesus, the more you will love Him, and the more you will feel His love for you.
Click on the book image to go to the Amazon page.
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.)
I can’t understand, as hard as I try.
I can’t understand the feelings and fears of the victims, victims of racism and ignorance.
I can’t know how it is to feel threatened and unsafe … almost every day.
I can’t guess at the pain, fear and anguish some people live with.
All I can know for sure is how much I despise racism and bigotry, hatred, arrogance and ignorance.
It almost makes me ashamed to be human.
I want to do something, I want to help. But I don’t know how. After all, I too suffer from my own human flaws.
I think all I can do for now is listen, and learn, and feel. And keep my heart and mind open.
But what more can I do? I want to know.
So I asked. And Jesus answered.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Jesus calls me—He calls all of us—to be peacemakers.
I may not yet know the best way to be a peacemaker, but I’ll try, and pray, and hope, and love, as best I can.
For now, I think that’s all I can do. Until He shows me more.
I can’t trust humanity to fix this.
So I’ll trust Jesus.
Is there an ever-present, gnawing hunger in your soul? Hunger for a sense of peace, and maybe something more, that you believe is achievable, but never within your grasp? I’m referring to the peace that Jesus promised us, the peace that is so deep and all consuming that its power is beyond our ability to understand. But, it’s not beyond our ability to possess.
Yet, based on my own experience, I think we can fall into a trap of being content with too little. And I sense that Satan baits the trap.
I urge you … don’t take the bait. BELIEVE that the peace Jesus promises is for you too. And then go look for it. The best part is that you don’t have to look far, because the peace and fulfillment you seek are right inside you. That is, the peace comes from your own intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, where as He prayed, you are in Him, and He is in you.
So where are you on your journey to find the Spirit of Jesus within you? Are you where I lingered for more years than I want to admit? Are you teetering on the edge of belief? If you don’t yet have the faith that has crossed over into a deep feeling of certainty, maybe what you need is to get to know Jesus better. After all, it’s hard to believe someone if you don’t know them very well.
If this is you, then you are one of the many people for whom I wrote We Called Him Yeshua. Please check it out, for in the personal stories told by some of the people who walked with Jesus, you can come to know Him as intimately at they did.
Available on Amazon, currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.
Now then, for those of you who are past your struggles with unbelief, I’d like to refer you to other books that have helped me find the Spirit of Jesus within my soul (book recommendations). And I’ll continue adding to this list of books as I write more reviews.
Finally, here’s a quote from a book I’m reading for the 7th time, where I’ll be posting a review sometime soon.
“He (God) often calls men blind, complaining that we are content with too little. God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith, He pours His grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.
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!?
Yesterday I posted something about how I believe that we can be the “one true Christian church.” (see it here). I shared it on Facebook and received a comment that showed me I wasn’t all that clear in spelling out my beliefs. Now I think that a lot of you who follow my blog already have a good handle on my beliefs, so you were able to see past the red flags that got in the way of letting others see my true meaning.
Anyway, here’s the comment that the person left, which I’m grateful for:
Per the article – “As He was God-as-human, you can be Jesus-as-human. You too can be fully human and fully God.” – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) So, are we fully God or His temple … fully God means to possess and utilizes at will His total abilities and characteristics; do you /have you, ever been fully omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent? You may be a written epistle, even erroneously considered “a god” , BUT FULLY GOD???? If that is not what was meant, it was poorly communicated. YOU WILL NEVER BE FULLY GOD …even thinking about approaching that kind of bogus mentality had satan driven/cast OUT of heaven… rethink the “Ye are gods” teaching and movements…
And here’s my reply:
I think I wasn’t clear in what I believe. For example, to be “fully God” to me means that I don’t possess anything. It means that God possesses me, completely. I have none of God’s abilities. Without God, I’m just a wretched mess.
I believe we can be fully God, as I believe Jesus has promised. But it requires that we deny “self” and absolutely surrender to God so that His Holy Spirit can enter into us and live through us, as God lived through the Son of Man. But as is the case with our inherently prideful human nature, denying “self” is really hard, and it often feels impossible. Yet as with all things, what’s impossible for me is possible for God. And I trust in God and Jesus to make my desire for complete denial of self to become a reality.
Again, I have none of God’s abilities, and I never will. But that’s doesn’t mean that God can’t exercise His abilities through me. In the words of John the Baptist, He must become greater and I must become less. I think true holiness and joy comes when the Spirit of Jesus becomes ALL within me, and I (i.e., my prideful “self”) become nothing. And that’s what I believe.
I just hope I was more clear in my response than in the original post. But my problem is, it’s all really clear in my head, and my heart. It’s just sometimes hard to type that up into accurate words. Oh well.
I’ve heard the Roman Catholic Church referred to as the one true church. And some protestant denominations may consider themselves more Christian than others. But, what makes one church more Christian than another? What is “church,” after all?
Ask an average Christian churchgoer what church is and you may get answers like: fellowship, singing together, praising and worshipping God together, praying together, evangelism, discipleship, giving, serving. One person once told me that church is a business. And I’ve seen some churches act as if their job is to erect a wall around them to protect themselves from the influences of the outside world.
But how do God and Jesus define church? What would they say is the one true church?
First, a warning. I freely accept that the answer I’ll offer may not be popular with some people. But, as it comes from the Bible, it’s the only answer I can faithfully give.
Okay, so let’s see what Jesus says. Once, having been asked when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied:
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
This may not seem like an obvious answer to my question, but it’s a clue. What else did Jesus say on the topic? Well, in his final hours before his death, while praying to his Father, Jesus said:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me.” (John 17:22-23) and …
“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known, in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them.” (v. 26)
Finally, Paul knew what the one true church was:
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Jesus prayed for you to be so filled with His Spirit that you and He will be one and the same person. His Spirit can so fill you that you are Him. And Jesus blazed the trail for us, setting the example and opening the door for us so that we can follow Him and have the same relationship with Him as He had with God. As He was God-as-human, you can be Jesus-as-human. You too can be fully human and fully God.
On this Pentecost, we remember that day some 2000 years ago when the Holy Spirit entered into each member of the small group of early believers, establishing His church. Jesus’ Spirit wants to share his presence with you too, so you can be God’s temple on earth. THAT, is the One True Church.
The church is not a building, nor is it an organization of similarly minded people. The church is you. If I’ve done an effective job of conveying the reality of this truth to you, then pick up your Bible and read the New Testament with the image of Jesus within you, reading along with you. And you will clearly see how the four Gospels and all the letters that follow are absolutely filled with this picture of the one true Christian church.
Self-reliant, self-control, self-sufficient. Society, our upbringing, and maybe even our DNA, programs us to be able to take care of ourselves and not rely on others. And I’m grateful. If it were opposite, society and humanity would fade away, for there would be no one with enough self-ability for the rest of us to rely on. (Maybe we acquired these self “gifts” when our ancestors Adam and Eve chose to no longer rely on God).
Though self-abilities are a key ingredient in society and humanity, it damages deeper elements of our existence. Our self-sufficient nature is the final hindrance to us having the best of relationships with God and Jesus.
I’ve read many books on how to find and feel the most joyful of relationships we could imagine, the relationship that Jesus offered us with His Holy Spirit. I vividly remember the first time I read many of these books, balking at the declarations that we must surrender our entire lives to God and subject ourselves to His will, and none other. “Nope. That’s not for me,” is the thought that would fill my mind and devour any hope of freedom.
I suffered from “Self” Deception. Still do, sometimes.
There are two creatures that make up our personalities— non-self and Self. The part of you that is not consumed by Self, the non-self, is the true child of God. Self is the seed planted by Satan. So, I’ll call the two creatures Child and Self. You could also call them Good and Evil.
Self is the troubled one that causes all the problems of life. Self is overbearing in most people, in that it’s stronger than Child is, and it calls all the shots, leaving Child penned up in a corner. Where Child is the victim of Self, Self is the victim of Deception.
The Deception keeps us from seeing and accepting the truth. Though the truth applies to all of us—such is the nature of anything that’s an actual truth—that truth only has a chance of survival in those who believe in Jesus Christ and are willing to rely on Him, rather than Self.
And the truth is, the peace and joy we crave requires the denial of Self, a growing hunger for the complete death of Self, absolute reliance on and surrender to God and Jesus, and the filling of our Child-self with the Spirit of Jesus. He in us, we in Him. Only then can our Child be set free to truly live, and love.
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.
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.
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.
Jesus frequently called himself the son of Man. He followers were well aware of his divinity, as the Son of God. All the miracles, along with the depth of the wisdom in his words, constantly reminded them that Jesus was much more than a man. But I’ve been thinking, maybe Jesus called himself the son of Man to help remind them, and us, that he was indeed still a man. I can imagine that if I had been one of Jesus’ followers while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, it would have been easy for me to lose sight of Jesus’ humanity. I could have quickly come to see him purely as the Son of God, which is the sole way a lot of us see him these days.
Yet Jesus seemed to feel it was important to remind us of his human heritage. Why? Well, this morning another thought came to mind. As the son of Man, Jesus inherited everything we inherit, that is, human nature. The doom we all inherit is our natural human pride, which is the root of all sin. As the son of Man, Jesus shared all aspects of our human nature, even the temptation to be pulled into the pit of pride. The difference between Jesus and us is that his divinity was stronger than his humanity.
But the Bible promises that as children of God, we are also heirs, with an inheritance of our own. Where Jesus inherited our humanity, along with all the challenges that come with that, we can inherit his divinity, along with all the healing, peace, and love that come with that.
By the way, if you’d like to see more of what Jesus’ nature might actually have been like, please check out this novel. It will show Jesus from the perspective of those who felt the miracles, listened to his words of wisdom and love, and followed him along those dusty roads. On Amazon, this book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.
Last week I wrote a post that presented a choice for how to grow closer to God and Jesus—either through acquiring knowledge, or surrendering to a personal relationship of love.
This morning, while reading out of 1 Corinthians, I received a lesson from Paul on eloquence and brevity, where he said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The person who thinks they know something does not yet know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) I had written a page that Paul captured in three short sentences.
What I wrote about last week, and what I want to scream from the rooftops again today, is this: Biblical and theological knowledge is okay, but only if the purpose is to help us find our own intimate, personal, and loving relationship with the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus living within us.
So today, as you open your Bible or other inspiring Christian book, or login to your online Sunday church service, or maybe you’re fortunate enough to be able to attend a live church service (with safe social distancing, etc.): as you read or listen, look for the Spirit of Jesus in what you see or hear.
Don’t try to learn. Instead, try to be. Try to feel. Try to believe. Be open to the Spirit; let His love and presence fill your very body, mind, and soul. And know with certainty that the Spirit of Jesus loves you as the Father loves Him, and that He is IN you, as the Father is IN Him.
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.
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/
The decision that tempted Adam and Eve is the same decision we all must make. Which tree shall we eat from—the tree of Life or the tree of Knowledge? Of course, many of us make no decision at all between Life with Jesus verses Knowledge of Jesus. And maybe that’s because we don’t realize there’s a decision to make.
Those who choose the tree of Knowledge includes people like me, who love reading books about Christianity, always chasing after new insight. It can also include people who go to seminary and get a divinity degree, with their heads now crammed full of Biblical and theological facts, histories, and commentaries.
But what about those who choose Life? This choice is always available to us, even to those who first choose the tree of Knowledge. I’m so grateful we can always change our minds. In choosing Life, we’ll find what we seek in only one place, the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus. The fruit of the tree of Life is the fruit of the Spirit, for the Spirit is life.
The way of the Spirit does not rely on knowledge, but rather on love and surrender to the leading of the Spirit. True Christianity is not about knowledge, but rather about an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus.
We find true life when we put down the book, quiet our minds, close our eyes and heart to the world, and look inside for Jesus who lives within us. And He will help us sweep away the clutter of life and knowledge so we can more clearly see Him.
Oh, books and sermons and such sources of knowledge are good, but only when they lead us to the Holy Spirit. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is meaningless, a mere chasing after the wind.
I don’t mean to demean reading the Bible or any other form of Christian study. But the value won’t come while trying to understand with our own human wisdom. The real value in learning comes when we read and listen through the Spirit within us. And only then will the Spirit open our eyes and minds to the true meaning and value in the printed and spoken words. The Spirit of Truth will guide us into the truth. Let me give you an example.
I just finished reading a chapter in the book “Abide in Christ,” by Andrew Murray. I’ve read this book three times before, and never saw the truth that I saw today. And the truth I’m referring to isn’t solely in this one book, for it’s also clearly spelled out in the Gospels. Jesus himself states this truth, in words that could not be any clearer. But I’d never see that truth, it never sunk into my thick head, until today (I’ll probably write a post about this particular truth sometime soon).
Anyway, I believe I finally saw that truth because the Spirit of Jesus opened my mind to it. And it left me wondering—what other clearly defined truths have I been blind to in the Bible?
Are you looking for something more than head-knowledge of Jesus? Just look inside yourself, and let the Spirit of Jesus open your mind and show you the way. As he said: “I praise you, Father, … because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned.” (Matthew 11:25) And, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (v. 29)
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (love is humble). It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs (love is forgiving). Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (love is truthful). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Patient, kind, humble, forgiving, truthful, protective, trustful, faithful, never ending. All of these are captured in one word—Love. Now consider what John said about love: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
And as Jesus is God, we can then sincerely say, Jesus is patience and kindness. He is humility and forgiveness. He is truth, protection, and trust. Jesus is faith. Jesus is love, and Jesus never fails.
I just saw the headline, “April Unemployment Rate Rose to a Record 14.7%.” Unprecedented 20.5 million jobs lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The headline is huge, but what follows feels so little. Anyway, I don’t know if it will help anyone, but because of that headline, I’m dropping the price of “We Called Him Yeshua” down to as low as Amazon will allow. It feels like nothing. But if it helps one person get the book, who may not otherwise, and if it helps them find comfort and escape within the pages of the book, then to me it’s well worth it.
You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7/
On some days, the parasite seems to slumber, not stirring up trouble. But other days, it squirms in his stomach, making him nervous and tense. When awake, the damn thing is always hungry, eating at him from the inside. Oh, it’s not killing him, but it’s not good for his health, that’s for sure. And people often see the impact of the parasite’s presence, though they don’t realize where the negative behavior is coming from. They just think it’s part of his personality. Besides, he doesn’t appear much different than other folk. Actually, he’s not.
But lately, he’s very aware of the parasite. Though he now knows it’s always been there, for much of his life, he didn’t recognize it. But the past several years, he’s spent a lot of time dwelling on his constant companion, studying it, learning about it, even reading books about it. After all, it’s good to know your enemies.
He’s learned how the parasite affects his life too, always in negative ways. Mostly, it affects his mood and feelings and how he reacts to other people. Today, he’s pondering how the presence of the parasite affects his ability to love. Maybe a strange thing to think about, but it was just an idea that popped into his head. And he hadn’t thought before of how the ever-hungry parasite might also have a taste for devouring love.
Speaking of love, this latest round of musings began when he started thinking about his ability to generate and express love for others. He sees and feels something of a love speed limit, like there’s only so much love he can give. If he’s able to stir up more love, the parasite is there to consume it and keep any extra from wrestling free and escaping out to others in his life.
He’s able to give love to his wife and children, and most of his family (except for the strange cousin and the wacko nephew), and a few select friends. Yet he realizes that the amount of love he gives each person varies, depending upon his relationship to them. And after all, he has only so much love to give—the parasite sees to that.
Yet even his more powerful love, which he reserves for his wife and two children, feels weakened upon reflection. Oh, there are times he feels if he loved them any more, his heart would burst. But that’s always triggered by some event, like when they do something that makes him proud, or touch his heart with a tender expression of their own love for him. But that white-hot feeling of love he infrequently feels is momentary, and soon cools back down. And he wonders why. Why does it sometimes feel like he’s holding back love from the ones he loves the most?
Days go by and he forgets about all this love stuff, slipping back to his usual, seemingly carefree life. But his thoughts on love return to haunt him, bringing a deep feeling of failure, failure to give total love to those he loves, especially his wife and children.
Then one day, early in the morning with a cup of coffee in his hand and a good book in his lap, he closes his eyes and meditates on this uneasy feeling about love, that feeling that he’s not loving as much as he could. And in a flash of recognition, he sees it, and knows it.
He sees himself. He has sometimes felt the dual forms of his personality, like the little angel on one shoulder, and the devil on his other shoulder, each trying to influence him. And what he sees, sucking up his limited supply of love, is his little devil, his Self … the parasite. Yes, the parasite has a name, and that name is Self. The selfish, prideful, self-centered, self-seeking side of him that is a fundamental part of the person he is.
The Self is always hungry for attention. And the delight that is its favorite dessert is love. For the more love it can suck up from its host, as well as those around him, the stronger grows its self-worth. And the sweetness of love provides it the most nourishment. Damn parasite.
He wrests his mind free from the parasite, looks down, and reads further in the book sitting in his lap. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Love never fails. But he doesn’t feel it, for his love fails often, and his efforts to give a greater love always fail. He flips several pages in the book, glances down and reads some more. “God is love.”
And then it hits him. God’s love never fails. It’s God’s love that always perseveres. And believing that God is infinite, he now sees that God’s love must also be infinite. So unlike his own limited love. And since God doesn’t suffer from the presence of His own self-seeking little devil always sitting on His shoulder, sucking up gulps of love for itself, there is no limit to the love God pours out upon His children.
Though he feels the familiar gratitude for God’s love, this new insight doesn’t make him feel any better. In a way, it just makes him feel more wretched, as he sees in a brighter light how pitiful his own capacity to love really is.
So he prays, asking God to show him how to love more. And in a flash, the answer comes to him, feeling like the answer was always there, like the book sitting in his lap, just waiting for him to open his eyes and look.
He quickly flips back many pages in the book, looking for the words he remembers and has long craved. And there it is, as John the Baptist speaks of his cousin Jesus by saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
And the answer he’s long known becomes sharp and clear in his mind. The more his Self becomes less, the more Jesus’ Spirit within him will become greater. And the more Jesus takes over, the more the love of God and Jesus will push out his Self, his devilish parasite, and fill him with love. All that love pouring into him will then be available for him to pour out to others. And maybe someday he too will be able to love his wife and children, his family and friends with the unlimited love of God, a love that will never fail.
He sees also the answer to being rid of the parasite of pride. He’d often wondered about a cure, or some kind of spiritual surgery to cut it out. Now he sees his freedom comes from letting the Spirit of Jesus in, and Jesus will then push out his parasite of pride.
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)