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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My Prayer for Today

Dear God. Dear Jesus. There is so much pain in our world, so much suffering. I try to pray for it all. It’s too much for me. Too overwhelming. I start to pray, I try to bring it all within my mind to then offer to You, and I soon find myself drowning deep in the depths of all that pain. Crushed. I can’t do this. I can’t handle it. I can’t wrap my mind around the world’s pain and suffering.

CJ, don’t try. Let go. Don’t focus on the pain. Look only to Me.

Oh Lord. My dear Jesus. You know the pains. You can handle it. Since all that pain is too much for me to begin to pray for, I offer you my self. I give you me. Please, as always, I pray that your Spirit dear Jesus will live through me, love through me, heal through me. In whatever way You will, help ease the pains of the world, through me. Your will be done, in me.

Your will be done in me. Oh Lord, that thought makes me smile. A moment of true peace, and even joy, in the midst of the world’s misery. Wow. I love you.


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Feeling Crushed? Seeking Escape? Craving Peace?

I spent some time this weekend with a close friend whose life is in the midst of extremes. There’s cause for extreme joy. There’s cause for extreme worry. And, there’s all the other crap going on in our world of 2020. My friend’s day is a roller coaster, to the peak of joy, then falling down to the pit of depression. He wakes each day with no energy or desire to do anything but make it through the day.

There have been times this year when I’ve been on a similar roller coaster. But I had help getting off. And this morning I felt the desire to share that help. It’s simple, really.

Now, if you’re like my friend, you may be something of a fringe Christian. You wouldn’t call yourself an atheist. Maybe more agnostic, not sure what you believe. Yet, you feel you may be open to learning more about Jesus.

Or, maybe you believe Jesus is who he said he was, but that belief doesn’t really mean much to you. Or, maybe you’re more like me, where you believe in and love Jesus, but you still sometimes find yourself on that emotional roller coaster with the unavoidable belly-drops into depression.

Well, here’s a way that might help you climb out of that roller coaster. First, get a Bible. If you don’t have a hold-in-your-hands-paper Bible, there are plenty of online versions available, and there are even Bible apps for your mobile device.

Then, in the New Testament, read the Gospel of John. While reading it, look for the relationship that Jesus wants to have with you. Also, get to know Jesus as the human he was. Try to feel his humanity; try to feel what the two of you have in common. And maybe most importantly, get to know something about the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, and the promise of His Spirit.

Then, still in the New Testament, read Romans, especially chapters 7 and 8. The end of chapter 7 may have you screaming, “That’s me!” But chapter 8 can set you free. Read chapter 8 more than once—let the truth of it sink in. Don’t just read it. Feel it. Pray it. Listen to the Spirit of Jesus inside your head read it to you. Oh, and when you get to chapter 12, that’s pretty good too.

If you aren’t yet free of your own emotional roller coaster, start all over again, with the Gospel of John. And hold on tight to what you will read in chapter 8 of that Gospel:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

And what is the foundational truth that will set you free? Surrender. Surrender your cares to the Spirit of Jesus within you. Surrender your worries. Surrender your Self. And really think about what it means to surrender your Self. Let Jesus take over, let Him lead you, follow Him. And repeat your surrender each morning—the best way to start your day.

One more thing: if you find yourself wanting to know more about the humanity of Jesus, or maybe this thing I call surrender, please leave a comment here or send me an email (seejay@cjpenn.com ). I have plenty of other books I’d be happy to recommend.

Here’s hoping you have a really good day.

CJ


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Character vs. Hypocrisy

How can a “Christian” call themselves a “Christian” if they support character and values that are non-Christian? Is this just another form of Christian hypocrisy, the hypocrisy we’re well-known for? The hypocrisy that’s just a part of our natural human nature that everyone suffers from in a variety of forms? But character matters.


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Looking For A Distraction From You-Know-What/Who?

For many of us in the USA, this election season is the most stress-filled ever. And I think many of us could use a distraction. I know I could. As a way to promote a peaceful distraction from the chaos all around us, I’ve decided to make my novel, “We Called Him Yeshua,” FREE on Amazon for this weekend.

In addition to the ebook being FREE, I’ve dropped the price of the paperback by 20%. The paperback price drop has already taken effect. The ebook being free will take effect midnight tonight (Friday, Oct. 9th). My hope is that people will find the story in “We Called Him Yeshua” a nice distraction from all the stuff we’re currently living through.

So stay tuned. I’ll post a reminder of the free ebook tomorrow morning, once I’ve confirmed Amazon has changed its status to free. And no matter what, I hope you have a great weekend that’s free from all the things that bring you stress.

Cheerio, CJ


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Trump Saved Christianity … Really?

Eric Trump claims his father Donald saved Christianity. So says an article I just read at Huffpost. And there was the answer to a question I posted yesterday. So THAT’s why so many Christians support Donald Trump, because he single handedly saved their religion. Really?

Look, ignoring Trump for a minute (which is really hard to do), I have a few thoughts on this idea of someone “saving” Christianity. For decades, it’s been a very political issue with many Christians. They vote for whoever better supports their Christian values … sometimes. It’s as if they believe a President can help, and maybe even save, their religion and promote their values throughout the country.

Hey, do you really think God and Jesus need help?

The leaders of Jesus’ day, while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, well, they tried to kill Christianity. No go. They killed the man, but couldn’t kill the faith.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose to heaven, the leaders still conspired to kill the spreading faith. At least one of them was wise enough to see the futility in such an effort. In referring to Christians, the wise one said, “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

And we know the Romans tried, and failed, to kill early Christianity.

Worrying about a person doing harm to Christianity is just showing how weak our faith in God is. Some Christians put too much faith in other people, and not enough faith in God.

Look, Christians don’t need to worry about the safety of our faith or our values, unless we put more trust in men than in God. But if we just ignore politics and focus only on God and Jesus, then anti-Christian politicians will only find themselves fighting against God. Who do you think will win?

If Christians would spend less time worrying about the positions of politicians and more quiet time with God and Jesus, I think we all would be better off. What was it Jesus said? Ask and you shall receive. Time to put more faith in what Jesus said rather than what politicians say.


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Baffled

I don’t get it. And maybe someone out there can help me understand. I just finished reading the New Testament in a week. Yes, I have plenty of time on my hands. I’ve read the NT many times, but this time I read it from the perspective of wanting to glean what it means to be a Christian. That is, according to the Bible, what is the true character of a Christian?

I didn’t learn anything new—there were no surprises. But the experience lit a fire under a question that’s been nagging me for a long time.

How? How can someone who’s a Christian, someone who accepts Jesus and the words in the New Testament, someone who at least tries to live up to the character description of a Christian—well, how can someone like that support a person whose character is the polar opposite of the Christian character? How can someone who calls themselves Christian support a person like Donald Trump?

I’d love to hear a better answer than the one I came up with. For I believe such a person is not really a Christian. You’ve heard of RINO’s, Republicans In Name Only? Well, it appears to me that this country has a bunch of CINO’s, Christians in name only.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of all this. And I’d really like to hear what you think.


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Oh, To Be A Peacemaker

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.


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A Lever for Change

Peaceful protests are a good lever for change. Unfortunately, as we have seen, criminals and anarchists who don’t care about change are hijacking peaceful protests. The criminals just see an easy opportunity to get away with looting. I don’t pretend to guess what motivates the anarchists—it looks to me like they just enjoy stirring up trouble.

But there is one lever for change that is not so easily hijacked—your vote. I don’t know if there’s much our federal elected officials can do to fix problems such as the one that’s shattering our nation right now. But I do know there is something state and local officials can do. So, along with our peaceful (hopefully) protests, we should tell our local elected officials that unless they implement tangible and effective change by this November, we’re going to vote them out of office. I bet that will help get something done.

The best legacy for George Floyd and all victims of such crimes should not be violence, looting, and division. I think the best legacy that we could honor them with is to have all of us, regardless of race, come together around effective and long lasting change that will ensure that crimes like this never happen again. And in keeping with what I normally post about, more powerful even than our vote would be all of us praying together.

And yes, this is not the typical type of thing I post. But like many of you, because of what’s happened, and the violence that has come on the heels of violence, well, it’s stirred up too much anguish for me to keep bottled up. So I’ve added my small voice to the cries of all those who are also saddened, along with the groans of our country and society that seems to be trembling on the knife edge of survival (maybe that’s what the anarchists want—to push us all over the edge).


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Record Unemployment – My Feeble Effort to Help Out

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/


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A “Groundhog Day” Moment

The early evening sun dropped behind the tree in the front yard, casting the lawn in speckled shadows. My wife sat in her usual spot for that time of day, on the couch, facing the large window looking out to the street, her latest favorite book in hand. I was in my usual spot, on the family room couch, scanning the articles in our local online newspaper (yes, it was all the same stuff—all coronavirus, all the time).

Suddenly my wife let out a chuckle.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I just had a ‘Groundhog Day’ moment,” she said, still chuckling.

“A what?”

“Well, I’m sitting here looking out the window, and I’m seeing the same people, walking past at the same time of day, in the same direction, and yet all keeping plenty of ‘social distance’ between them. But it’s just like yesterday—the same thing each day.”

And then we were both chuckling, feeling as if we too were stuck in the cycle Bill Murray fell into in the movie “Groundhog Day,” living the same day over and over again.

This sheltering in place has many of us falling into a routine as we try to make the best out of a difficult situation. Some, like the people my wife chuckled at, get outside when they can for a nice social-distanced walk in the fresh air. My wife and I do, usually at the same time of day, each and every day. Yet, we do sometimes change our route, being the thrill-seekers we are.

Are you living your own Groundhog Day? If it feels that way, you can always keep repeating what you enjoy, and change up what you don’t. And if possible, try to find some humor in our new reality.

By the way, I tried to figure out how to tie this into some kind of Christian message, since that’s what I usually write about. But I couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to share it just for the fun. During this era of tension and stress that so many of us feel, it’s important to have some fun, as often as we can.

Here’s hoping you have a great day today, even if it’s a lot like yesterday.


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United We Stand

What an unprecedented moment in human history we live in, where most of us on this planet are experiencing similar restrictions, similar concerns, and many of the same feelings.

Our past is littered with fighting, fighting against each other. We’re still fighting, but now aligned together against a common enemy, a worldwide pandemic. I think it’s possible that this has never happened before in the history of humanity—I mean, how we so quickly formed a worldwide alliance.

Consider that the last pandemic, in the early 1900’s, infected the earth before there was rapid transportation from one continent to the next, and before there was instantly shared communication throughout the world. I haven’t seen any data, but I suspect this new pandemic has spread faster than any in history. The fear and panic have spread just as quickly.

But still, we are all now united in the fight against the Coronavirus. Has the entire world ever been this united before? I don’t really know. What might our unity lead to? I can’t even imagine. But, I have a growing hope that something amazing will emerge. I believe all this presents the possibility for a turning point in the human race, in the midst of the chaos. And I strongly feel that, though the pandemic will bring death and severe pain, our unity can only bring good.

What form will that good take? How long will it last? Of course, I don’t know and I can’t even guess. But as a Christian, I really believe that Jesus will make something good out of all this bad. And with Jesus involved, I’m excited. I hope you can be excited too.

I think the best thing we can do is pray, hope, and trust. And excitedly wait to see what God does with our trust and unity.


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United by a Common Enemy

Walking through the near-empty streets, he waives at people he never waived at before. He even pauses and chats with strangers who no longer feel like strangers. Somewhere in the shadowed corners of his mind, he feels that none of us are strangers. Not now. Not anymore. The Enemy is bringing us together (with a safe social distance, that is).

He smiles at the irony.

He’s beginning to feel that at some level, we all know each other. Maybe it’s because of our common enemy. The common fight. The fight against fear, anxiety, and the Enemy itself. The Enemy has a name. COVID-19. Coronavirus we call it. It fights us. We fight back.

He sees the thing all such enemies have in common. Whether a pandemic-spreading virus, or a man, a notorious dictator, a tyrant—they bring all their victims together in the common cause. But this time is different. For all humanity is united like never before.

Today he feels that humanity is one. Humanity is whole.

He feels a shiver of excitement race through his chest, tickling its way up his neck and into his mind. Could it be that because of how humanity has been brought together, could it be that when we emerge from this battle, something will have changed in the human relationship? He can’t imagine what form the change might take, but he feels a thrill at the idea of it. And his hope swells.


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The Person on the Other Side of the Wall

Damn! Did it again. You’d think I’d learn by now, but everyday … the same old thing. I keep smacking my bruised and scared head into the wall. Some habits never change. Oh, but that wall changes. Almost every time I bang into it, it looks higher, and feels thicker, with fresh stones added daily.

Coronavirus, tanked stock market, extended shelter-in-place orders, rising infection rates, growing death tolls, dwindling supply of toilet paper—these and more are the stones in my wall. It’s the wall between Jesus and me—the wall of worldly worries and distractions.

Oh, I know Jesus is there, patiently waiting for me on the other side. And given time and quiet breathing, my mind clears, the wall disappears, and there’s Jesus smiling at me.

Yet it helps so much to know who I’m looking for while I struggle to clear my mind of other thoughts. It was harder before … before I’d gotten to know him. But now, I know more than Jesus the Son of God. I know Jesus the son of man. Now, when I clear my mind and the wall melts away, I know who I will see waiting for me each morning on the other side.

Would you like to more easily look beyond your own wall, clear your mind of the “world,” and see the Spirit of Jesus within you? Would you like to have a clearer image of who you’re looking for? Would you like to see Jesus as his closest followers saw him, as a fellow human … the son of man? You can, and you’ll find him in the pages of this novel.

 

For a limited time, the paperback will remain priced as low as Amazon will allow. Plus, the ebook price was just reduced from $2.99 to $0.99. Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” ebook now reduced to $0.99

As long as this Coronavirus has so many of us sheltering in place, and so many millions now have little or no income, I’m going to drop the ebook price from the already-discounted $2.99 down to the new price of $0.99. The paperback will remain at $6.99 (as low as Amazon will allow, i.e., cost).

Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


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Anxiety Surrounds, Fear Abounds

Everywhere I look, TV, emails, the Internet—it’s all COVID-19 all the time.

Where can I escape? Tension is everywhere. I’m surrounded.

“Look to Jesus,” they say, “put your faith in God.”

Bah! They always say that, the tired, old song.

Besides, Jesus feels too distant, too holy for someone like me.

Jesus, the Son of God—I can’t relate to that.

“Then, get to know the man.”

The man? What do you mean?

“Jesus was also human, like you and me. First, get to know the man, and then the rest will be easy.”

 

Get to know Jesus, the man. “We Called Him Yeshua” is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


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If the Virus Doesn’t Get You, the News Reports Will

“I can’t watch the news on TV anymore,” he moaned. “Not after last night. The scenes in the hospitals, the death tallies. I couldn’t sleep after all that crap.”

“I understand,” I murmured, wishing I could say something helpful.

“And the newspaper,” he continued. “I’ve read the local paper for years. Used to read almost every article. This morning I got through the whole thing in about five minutes. Skipped all the headlines, all the ‘news.’ Just more of the same stress-pit crap anyway. I think the media is trying to send us all into a panic. Yet, this morning, the best part about the newspaper was the comics.”

The frustration is his voice was thick, almost toxic. “Listen, I don’t want to come across as preachy and pushy—you know me.” I hesitated. In my mind I saw his eyebrows furrow, as I’d seen many times before. “But maybe you could find some peace by getting to know Jesus.”

“Oh, stop it. Come on. You know how I feel.” His exasperation came across clearly over the phone. Our weekly meet-ups at the coffee shop, like everything else, had gone remote. “Besides, even if there is this “Holy Spirit” of Jesus you’ve mentioned—well, all that God stuff is just too high and mighty for me.”

“I agree. I mean, how can we, as humans, possibly understand things that are so far above us? But—”

“So why are you pushing, I mean suggesting, I get to know Jesus, since as you admit, how could I know a being so much higher than me?”

“What if you could get to know the man Jesus?” I had an idea, maybe a way to help my friend find some peace in the midst of the panic.

“The man Jesus?” His skepticism oozed out of my phone.

“Yes. The man.” I took a deep breath, then dove in. “Jesus once walked the earth as a man, fully human, like you and me. Well, not exactly like us. But still, he was a person who experienced and felt a lot of the same things you and I do. What if you could know that person?”

“Right.” Again, I pictured him rolling his eyes with that goofy smirk of his. “So how could I do that?

“Well, read his story. No, I don’t mean the Bible. I know how hard it can be to understand it. But what if you could read a novel, about a man and the people who followed him?”

“Sure. As long as it’s a novel that’s NOT about the Coronavirus. But I still don’t get what you’re suggesting.”

“Listen. I know of a novel about Jesus as told from the perspective of people who followed him while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, people whom Jesus touched most deeply with his love and compassion.” I took another breath, so hoping he wouldn’t reject the idea. “I’ll give you my copy.”

“And how is this novel supposed to help?”

“Well, again, please don’t take this as preaching.” I had to talk fast, and get it out before my aversion to overly zealous evangelism grabbed hold and clamped my mouth shut. “But for me, what has helped me the most in coping with this pandemic is my relationship with God and Jesus. Look, I realize how hard it is to feel comfortable with them. Heck, it took me almost fifty years to get to where I am right now. But I think I followed a difficult path, at least for me. I think an easier path is to first get to know Jesus the man. This novel can do that for you. Once you know Jesus the man, either you can give up and turn your back on him, or go forward and more easily get to know Jesus, the Son of God.”

“So … where’s this novel of yours?”

 

Would you like a copy of this book? Well, since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:

Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7

And please consider sharing this with those who may have nowhere else to turn for help.


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Do You Suffer From Pandemic Anxiety?

Do you or someone you know suffer from pandemic anxiety?

For some of us, we turn to our relationship with Jesus Christ at times like this. We find freedom and comfort in the feeling of his presence in our lives. But not everyone has that kind of relationship with him. Many people don’t know who Jesus really is, or don’t believe in him, or don’t care.

But with growing pandemic anxiety, maybe some are starting to think that Jesus could help them too. For them, and actually for anyone who wants to know Jesus more closely, there’s a new book. This novel, “We Called Him Yeshua,” can help people get to know Jesus, the man, on a personal level. It can help people feel Jesus as real, relatable, and close.

Since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:

Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7

Please consider sharing this with those who may have nowhere else to turn for help.


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Does Jesus Christ Feel Like a Stranger?

Does Jesus Christ feel like a stranger to you? Or, is he a stranger to someone you care about?

For those who see Jesus this way, maybe it would help to look at him from a human perspective. What I mean is, maybe it would help to see Jesus’ human side, and not just his God side. And maybe this just-published novel, “We called Him Yeshua,” is a good way to do that—get to know the “man” first, and then know God.

The paperback was just released on Amazon and it, along with the ebook, are both on sale for 50% off.

Please consider sharing this with a friend. Or, you could even give them this book as a gift.

Since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:

Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7

 


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Last Day of FREE ebook Promotion

Today, Tuesday March 24th, is the last day to get the ebook version of We Called Him Yeshua for FREE.

The free promotion expires at midnight, Pacific Standard Time (USA), according to Amazon. So please take advantage of this and get your copy now. Clicking on the image below will take you to the Amazon book page. And for those of you who will look inside this book, thank you very much. My sincere hope is that in addition to entertaining you, that it helps you in some way.