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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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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My Remedy for Social Distance Induced Stress

I just survived another trek to the grocery store. The experience usually leaves me tense, breathing rapidly, heart pounding, chest tightening.

You see, I take the social distancing thing seriously. I take all the warnings and all the data seriously. But not everyone else does. Clearly, many of my fellow shoppers didn’t give a damn about social distancing. Or they’re just not thinking, as in the case of the person talking on their cell phone while shopping and not paying attention to anyone else around them.

So I come home after taking advantage of the early morning senior hour, barely past 9:00am, and I’m ready to pour myself a stiff whisky. But after unpacking the groceries and putting things away, I have a better idea. And it’s an idea I’d like to share, as it might help you find relief from those stress-filled moments.

Grab a hot cup of tea, or maybe a one-pound chunk of dark chocolate, and relax with a novel that will take you far away, to another time and place. And as some of you know by now, I have a particular book in mind.

We Called Him Yeshua is a story that can take you all the way to the villages and roads of ancient Israel, where you will become another one of the healed and hopeful, following Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem. You will see Jesus not through the lens of ancient biblical manuscripts, but through the eyes of your fellow travelers. These people felt Jesus’ love reach down to the depths of their souls. They saw his love in action, every day, in all kinds of ways. They called him Yeshua. Read this book, and maybe you will come to call him friend.

Would you like to see more of what this story is about? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then, use the Amazon “look inside” feature and get a taste for yourself.


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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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Introduce Jesus to a Friend

Would you like to introduce a friend to Jesus Christ? Especially now? With all the chaos going on around us?

If so, consider first showing them Jesus in a way they can easily understand. Show them Jesus the fellow person, as he interacted with other people. And maybe, once they know and feel a connection with Jesus the man, then it will be easier for them to know Jesus the Son of God.

Maybe as an Easter present, get your friend the book “We Called Him Yeshua.”

(click on image below to go to 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.


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Stuck at Home?

Are you stuck at home, like me? Are you bored and looking for something to distract you from what’s going on outside your door? Here’s a book that just might help combat that shelter-in-place, walled-in feeling.

We Called Him Yeshua has just gone live on Amazon, and the ebook is currently FREE, but only until midnight, Tuesday March 24th. In addition to being a good distraction from the world, this novel just might give you some “tools” to help you cope with the tough times.

Go here to check out the book description on the Amazon page.

The paperback is scheduled to be available later this week, initially priced at cost. I’ll post something when that happens.

If by chance you’ve been reading some of the sample chapters I’ve posted leading up to publication, please consider going onto Amazon and leaving a review. I will greatly appreciate your opinion.

And if you’d like to help get the word out about the free ebook, please share this post.

Finally, I sincerely hope you’re healthy and have enough toilet paper.

All the best,

CJ Penn

Author and book web page: www.cjpenn.com


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Escape

Fog oozed into the grove of trees, dripping off the leaves, filling the air with the pungent smell of eucalyptus. Dead skin-like bark littered the ground, making it hard to creep silently through the old cemetery. But creep I did, hiding behind a head stone, looking for my chance.

He lurked out in the open part of the hillside cluster of graves, looking behind each head stone, statue, and crypt, determined to find me, and the others. But, could any of us get away?

My only chance was with the granite statue in the middle of the cemetery, the tallest statue there. That’s where my freedom lay, waiting for me to grab it. I just had to get there without him seeing me. For if he spotted me, I was dead, just another resident of that fog shrouded cemetery.

He was getting closer. My heart raced. I tried not to breathe. Then, a noise, farther up the hill, one of the others most likely. A careless step, that’s all it took. Too bad for them, but it gave me the opening I needed.

He changed course and headed for the noise. I crept to another hiding spot, just a bit closer to the statue. He took a few more steps up the hill. Then, as he stepped behind a crypt, out of sight, I made my move. Running low, from one head stone to the next, I dashed for the statue, stealing glances toward the crypt. Closer. Closer. Then …

“Base!” I yelled, touching the statue and screaming out my freedom. Oh, I loved a good game of hide and seek.

I miss those days, so long ago. Though the Vietnam War was raging, we were oblivious. Our grammar school lives revolved around fun, and we had lots of it. I sometimes wish I could get that feeling back.

Many years later, maybe forty, I saw more meaning in our games of hide and seek. The cemetery was our favorite place, and that same statue was always the base. But then I remembered; it was a statue of Jesus Christ, holding out his hands in a very welcoming gesture. I now see Jesus as my “base,” my source of freedom—freedom from fear, from worry, from anxiety, from depression. And my source of escape from the world—whenever I need a break, he’s there, arms out, welcoming me.

 

And now a thought for anyone who feels they don’t know Jesus, but currently know too well feelings of anxiety, etc..

Look, there’s a lot of s#*t going on in the world right now. I don’t need to elaborate. But, without sounding like some Bible-thumping evangelist, I encourage you to look for help. And maybe the help you need can’t come from the world. After all, it’s the world and all the s#*t that’s the source of our worries. Please consider looking outside the world.

Maybe Jesus isn’t the kind of help you want. But if you think he might be, and you’d like to learn something about him, please check this out (link to cjpenn.com). Maybe it could be a good place to start.


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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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The Face of COVID-19

I got to the grocery store this morning a few minutes before they opened. A flock of people were already waiting outside the doors. Once inside, it seemed like a normal sized crowd of shoppers, for late afternoon that is, but not for 6 am. Yet what didn’t seem normal was the look on some people’s faces. I smiled and greeted everyone I passed in the aisles, but only a few responded. Most had that look that seems to be spreading, like the COVID-19 virus that’s spawning the look. People looked frightened as they passed by me, hugging their side of the aisle as if I had leprosy.

Back home, while unpacking groceries, I got to thinking about the novel I’ll be publishing within a week. I think for some people, a novel like this is just what they need. Not only will it distract them from the world around us and take them back to another place and time, but it will show them a side of Jesus Christ they may never have seen before. And that’s my biggest hope for this novel.

Do you feel a need for distraction? Are you interested in getting to know Jesus on a much more intimate level? If so, please follow this link and check out my book. And when it’s published, you’ll be able to get the ebook for FREE.