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)


Leave a comment

To be an Image of God … Again

It’s safe to say that Jesus was a true image of God, as any child is something of an image of their parents. But I suspect that Jesus, when he walked those roads of ancient Israel, was more of an image of God.

I also suspect that when God first created humans—Adam and Eve—that they were almost as much of an image of God as Jesus. But of course, sin entered in and tarnished that image, nearly obliterating it in some people.

I don’t know about you, but I want that image back. I want to be an image of God … again. How? Well, Jesus told us. Deny my Self and let the Spirit of Jesus fill me with Himself.

In referring to Jesus, John the Baptist once said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) That’s my constant prayer, for the Spirit of Jesus to become greater in me, and for my natural, flawed, human nature Self—you know, the selfish, self-centered, prideful, greedy, blah, blah, blah part of me that has often dominated what people see—to become less. Jesus must become greater, my Self must become less. Actually, my hope is that the Spirit of Jesus becomes everything in me, and my Self becomes nothing.

And the more there is of the Holy Spirit within me, the more I will be an image of God, as Jesus is an image of God.


Leave a comment

WWJD 2.0

What Would Jesus Do? Somewhere around here I think I still have a colorful wristband with WWJD on it, and even a necktie. I don’t know if it’s still a popular slogan, but I remember using it many years ago when I helped lead a church youth group. The problem was, WWJD became so widespread and so popular that I think it sometimes lost its meaning, which is, if Jesus found himself in my situation, what would He do.

I reminded myself of the WWJD thing this morning, as I was reading something in my Bible. Lots of messages in there that basically encourage us to do as Jesus would do. Good advice. But with us, it’s doomed to failure.

For me to do as Jesus would do is simply impossible. I know. I’ve tried. Whenever Jesus told us to do as He would do, He knew exactly how futile our efforts would be. He knew it would be impossible for us to always do as he would do. Yet as he also told us, what’s impossible for us is possible for God (Luke 18:27).

So, why did Jesus tell us to do the impossible? Because he wants to bring us to a state of despair over our own weak and failing efforts so that we will finally surrender to him and let His Spirit live through us. By His Spirit, Jesus can do what only He can do, what’s impossible for me to do.

WWJD is still a good slogan, but it needs a redefinition, a reboot. Instead of What Would Jesus Do, how about What Will Jesus Do? Instead of being a statement of reflection and struggling for impossibilities, it could be a statement of anticipation of certainties. Instead of being a question of what I might do under my own power, it becomes a question of what Jesus will do within me by His power.

How you choose to ask this WWJD question may indicate how you choose to consider Jesus. Do you see Him as a passive influence in your life? Or, do you see Him as alive, God’s Son actively involved? If you believe, you can live looking forward to what the Spirit of Jesus might do next in your life.


Leave a comment

Discovering the Spirit of Jesus Within You

It seems the Spirit of Jesus is often ignored in many Christian churches and individual lives. Because of that, I’ve become passionate about spreading the truth of the reality of the Spirit. I’ve frequently let that passion spill into my blog posts.

But I now wonder if I leave people with an annoying question. They may come to accept the reality of the Holy Spirit, but how do they experience the Spirit in their own life? How do they come to actually feel His presence?

I think we sometimes believe there’s a mystery behind such things, some puzzle to solve where the clues are scattered throughout the Bible. Only when we uncover the hidden clues and solve that puzzle, will the secret door be opened and through it will walk the Spirit of Jesus.

Well, over the years I’ve come to realize that the puzzle is only in our imagination (if we choose to imagine such things, that is). As I’ve discovered with many other aspects of Christianity, the answer is clear and simple, and right out front for all to see. God didn’t create puzzles for us to solve, Jesus didn’t create a mysterious and complicated Christianity. It’s humans that have made Christianity complicated.

Okay, enough of my whining—I’m getting off track. I want to answer the question about how people can experience a very real presence of the Spirit of Jesus in their own lives. My explanation is clear and simple. Here goes …

First, get to know the human side of Jesus. Come to know the man. Don’t just look at his divinity. Get to know him by his human love, kindness, compassion, courage, strength, and humility. And begin to see in your mind’s eye how Jesus showed his love for other people when he walked the earth as a man. Like with all your experiences with people, the more you get to know him, the more certain your feelings for him will become. And you may find yourself falling in love with Jesus.

Next, now that you love the human Jesus, you will likely begin to crave to know more of the Spirit side of Jesus. And you’ll start looking for Him.

Finally, as God first promised, “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declared the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

And Jesus made it clear and simple—if we love him, He will show Himself to us: “Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21)

There is a door, though not a secret one. It stands between you and the Spirit of Jesus. But as Jesus also said, “Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

So as I see it, and as I’ve experienced, finding and knowing the Spirit of Jesus in your life begins with getting to know the human Jesus. And that’s the only part I can help you with. The next stage, the love for Jesus stage, will have to come from you. And the final step on this short journey will be taken by Jesus, as His Spirit steps through that door and into your life.

To help with my small contribution to this journey, I wrote the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. The stories will introduce you to a human side of Jesus you may never have seen before. These stories are also told from a perspective you may not have seen before—through the eyes of people who knew the man Jesus in their own very personal ways.

Would you like to know more of the human side of Jesus? If so, please check out We Called Him Yeshua. It’s priced as low as Amazon will allow because I want it to be affordable to as many people as possible (especially during these tough times).

(Link to Amazon book page)

 

 


Leave a comment

A Prayer for Today, Friday the 13th

Please try praying this prayer for yourself, from your heart. First, get an image of Jesus in your mind’s eye, maybe from a movie you’ve seen or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter. Then, with that image, picture the Spirit of Jesus within you, inside your body, there with your soul and personality. Like the two of you are sharing the same body. Now …

 

Dear Spirit of Jesus, here within me,

Help me feel the fruits of your presence.

Help me feel your love, your joy, your peace, your patience,

Help me feel your kindness, your goodness, your faithfulness,

And help me feel your gentleness and self-control.

With you within me dear Jesus, I can feel protected from the chaos of the world around me.

I can feel isolated, separated from the world.

Yes, I feel safe, and calm.

I feel your peace, and freedom.

The world is still there, always there, noisy, painful, angry.

But at least for this moment, I’m free of it all, here with you.

I know the world will suck me back out as soon as I look away from you.

But whenever I look back inside, to you, I will find you there, always waiting for me.

With you, I’m never alone.

Dear Jesus, when I leave this time of prayer and return to the world, as I must, please help me bring the fruits of your presence with me.

Please help me bring a bit of you with me.

Come with me back into the world.

It’s hard for me alone.

But with you, I can glorify you and our Father with what I do and how I live.

Dear Jesus, dear Lord God, your Spirit here within me,

I love you.


Leave a comment

The Mind Controlled by the Spirit

I recall seeing mention of it only once in the entire Bible. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) And, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (verse 9) *

Maybe when Paul wrote this, he didn’t mean what I hope he meant. Maybe he just means the mind “influenced” by the Spirit. Well, I feel the presence of the Spirit of God in my life, and I feel His influence. But often I desire so much more. And since David once wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” (Psalm 37:4), I still hope that God will give me what I desire.

Oh how I wish the Spirit of Jesus would take control over my scattered, out of control mind. So often—too often—my mind goes places I really don’t want it to go. And that’s when the feeling of His presence leaves me, though I believe His Spirit never leaves—just my awareness of Him fades away.

Well, anyway, I’ll keep hoping and desiring and trusting and doing all I can to glorify God and Jesus. For without them, life would be hell.

I hope you have a great, Spirit-filled day.

 

* If you know of other places in the Bible that speak of this kind of control, please point me to them.


Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1 Comment

The One True Christian Church

(Special thoughts on Pentecost)

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.


Leave a comment

The Self Deception

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.


1 Comment

Which Tree Will You Eat From?

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)


Leave a comment

The Parasite

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)


Leave a comment

To Have the Son of God Living Within You

What was it like for pregnant Mary to know the Son of God lived in her womb, drawing nourishment from her body, growing stronger and bigger every day? We know a little from “Mary’s Song,” in Luke 1:46-56. Drawing from that, and a fair amount of imagination, maybe Mary’s story looked something like this.

********************

She woke from a fitful night’s sleep. It had been five months since the angel told her she would be with child, God’s child. She rose from her straw bed, her back sore and her feet swollen. Suddenly she felt a flutter somewhere just below her stomach, sending a chill running up her spine.

She’d never doubted the angel, and she’d known she was indeed with child, by the days of stomach sickness, thankfully now passed. And she so easily grew tired. But until that morning, those were the only signs. And then the baby moved within her.

A thrill of nervousness filled her stomach and chest. There was an actual child growing within her, but not wholly her child. It felt somehow foreign. As the days continued striding forward, she felt moments of fear, wonder, and bewilderment. She even wondered if the child would be partly her, as a normal child is part of its mother and father. Or was her body purely a vessel.

The weeks passed. The child was growing bigger and stronger, and oh so active. It woke her in the middle of the night, pushing a foot against a rib, or leaning on her bladder, forcing her out of bed and to the privy, yet again.

Later that day, as she sat in the shade of the house and rubbed her lower back, she was suddenly filled with profound faith, peace, and comfort, excited for every new day being so close to God, so honored by His presence. For how else should she feel, with the true Son of God living within her very body?

She’d believed she felt God’s presence the entire time she was pregnant. She’d often pondered it ever since the angel spoke to her. But for some reason, this day it struck her as much more that belief, but as a certain reality. Her soul wanted to shout out her joy to God, and her excitement and gratitude were beyond her ability to put into words. She felt so truly blessed by God, honored above other people. And that honor filled her with a sweet humility. God had chosen her, a lowly young woman. Why? What love God must have for her to give her such an honor.

As the days continued to go by, some slowly, some quickly, she would find herself suddenly feeling a moment of extreme thrill. Yet most of the time she was simply filled with limitless peace. And she felt that the peace came from the pure, unblemished holiness growing within her.

Then one day, when she knew the time of birth was getting near, she suddenly saw herself torn in how she felt. For as much as she anxiously desired to see the baby with her eyes and hold him in her arms, she dreaded the separation birth would bring. While pregnant, she had always felt as close to God as she thought anyone could possibly feel. She now feared losing that intimacy. But also, because of a premonition that had been lurking in the depths of her mind, she felt a growing dread for what would happen to the child as he grew into a man.

She hid those dark thoughts, for now was not their time. Now was the time to relish in the presence of the Son of God within her, filling her with peace, and love, and grace. She closed her eyes and smiled, looking again to the light of God within her that overpowered all other thoughts.

********************

We can share in Mary’s experience, in a way. If we believe Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we too can have the Son of God living within us, not as a fetus, but as Spirit.


Leave a comment

To Know the Spirit, First Know the Man

Does God feel distant, and maybe intimidating? How about Jesus? When you think of Jesus, does he feel close or far away, familiar or foreign? And what about the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send to us?

To get the know and feel close to the Spirit of Jesus, I think you first need to get to know and feel close to the man Jesus.

If you would like to feel closer to Jesus, or are interested in seeing more of his human side, please check out the book, “We Called Him Yeshua.”

 

Today (Sunday, April 26) is the last day the price will be as low as Amazon will allow. So if you’re interested, now’s a good time to get the book.

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7/


Leave a comment

Jesus Is Now

My thoughts and feelings often fluctuate like shifting breezes. And I can’t seem to control where they will go next, especially my feelings.

But there is one thing I can control—where my thoughts are right now. Maybe “now” is a very brief period of time, but I still have control there. And I suspect you do too. The moment after this one should not be our concern, for we often have little influence over it. We should try not to worry about what comes next. But, we can still control our now.

With all the distractions going on in the world around us these days, all the attention-grabbers, all the stress-inducers, all the anxiety-amplifiers, I’d like to invite you to wrest your thoughts away from those for a moment. And if you believe in Jesus Christ and his promises, I invite you to say to yourself right now:

“The Holy Spirit of Jesus is within me now.”

“I rest in Jesus’ presence now.”

“Jesus forgives me now.”

“Jesus saves me now.”

“Jesus is my life now.”

“Jesus is my strength now.”

“Jesus is my protection now.”

“Jesus is my peace now.”

“I am surrendered to Jesus now.”

“I abide in Jesus now.”

Oh sure, shortly after you finish reading this your thoughts may be pulled off in another direction. But, for that moment, as you read the affirmations above, you and Jesus were one, as he and his Father are one—He in you, and you in him. And whenever you want, you can go back there.

Yes, being mindful of Jesus’ presence within you for long stretches of time can be really hard (for me, it sure is). But it’s easy to be with him now.

And think about this: each moment, each now, may influence the next.


Leave a comment

The Power of Easter

There is so much power in the events surrounding Easter, with Jesus’ death and resurrection. And Jesus didn’t take it all with him when he ascended to heaven. He left his power, in the form of his Spirit, here, with us.

As Jesus said to his disciples, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

I’d been searching for the Holy Spirit of Jesus for years, craving a strong sense of His presence in my life. I eventually found him, but only after I finally knew who I was looking for.

In my search, I felt I knew Jesus the Son of God, having read the Gospels several times, listened to lots of sermons and read many books. But the sense of knowing the person Jesus was still missing. And for whatever reason, as hard as I prayed and looked, I still couldn’t find and feel the Spirit of Jesus within me. But he kept telling me that he and I would be one, as he and his Father are one—he in me, and me in Him.

Then, I decided to write a novel about Jesus, showing him from the perspective of people he had healed in some way. I was just trying to capture how those people felt, having been so close to Jesus, witnessing his power and love. But then, as the book evolved, I saw that it was more than about those people’s experiences of Jesus. It became about the whole person of Jesus—his humanity as well as his divinity. As Jesus called himself, he was the son of man, not just the Son of God.

Anyway, it was on that writing journey of having Jesus the man open up before me that I finally felt his presence in my life, in my very body. Now, more than ever, Jesus and I feel as one. And whenever I pause from the distractions of life and look inside, he’s right there, waiting for me.

I got there by writing this book. It was in the writing that I think I came to know the whole Jesus—God and man. My hope is that many other people can get there by reading the book. Maybe this book could help you too.

If you’re curious, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


Leave a comment

You Can be the Holy of Holies

In the days of the ancient Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, the part of the temple called the Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain, or maybe some kind of wall. This was to keep sinful men, in the front part of the temple, away from the Spirit of God, who resided in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest, once a year, could go back into the Holy of Holies to offer a special sacrifice.

Times have changed, all thanks to Jesus. The holy of holies still exists, but not in the back room of a temple. It’s within the temple of your body, as Jesus himself declared. If you believe, the Spirit of God can live within you, within the temple of your body. And you’re not limited to once a year visits. Jesus invites us to commune with His Spirit every day.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he sent his Spirit to live with us. And maybe you’ve already let him in. But if not, if you feel you don’t really know the Holy Spirit, know this: He’s knocking on the door of your heart, and He’d like to be invited in. I know it can be difficult and may take a long time, (it was for me), but you too can come to believe in the truth of the Holy Spirit. Let Him into the temple of your body, not for a brief visit, but to live. And surely, he will be with you always, to the very end of the age.

*********************

If this idea of letting the Spirit of Jesus into the temple of your body feels strange, or even frightening, it could be because you feel you don’t know Jesus well enough. Or maybe you feel too sinful, as I used to feel. But for Jesus, I don’t think anyone is “too sinful.”

Think of it like welcoming a new friend into your life. Before you can welcome them and let them get close, you first need to get to know them. You first need to be able to call them “friend.” I’d like to offer you a way to do that, to get to know Jesus in an intimate and friendship kind of way.

The novel We Called Him Yeshua is the story of Jesus as told by such people, those who could truly call Jesus friend. Maybe by reading their story and seeing the nature of their friendships, you too can more easily call Jesus your friend.

If you’re curious, please click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


Leave a comment

FREE Book, but time is running out

The ebook version of my new novel is still FREE on Amazon, but only about 8 hours more.

The free promotion ends at midnight tonight (Pacific Standard Time, USA).

Please get your free copy, while you can. And I hope you really enjoy it. Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.

By the way, if you’ve been reading the sample chapters I’ve posted, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. More reviews might help draw more people to the book, and therefore, more people might get their free copy. My goal is for as many people as possible to get the book for free. Thank you.


Leave a comment

By the Power the Holy Spirit

“Every minister of the gospel is called to rest content with nothing less than the indwelling life and power of the Holy Spirit. This is to be his only preparation for preaching the gospel in power. Nothing less than having Christ speaking through us in the power of His omnipotence will make us able ministers of the New Testament, bringing salvation to all who hear us.”     Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray, an 18th century minister in South Africa, is one of my favorite authors of Christian nonfiction. Over the years, I’ve read lots of his books, along with other similar books by equally great authors, such as A.W. Tozer, William Law, Brother Lawrence, and many more. For some reason, most of my favorite Christian authors are long dead—something they share with the authors of my ultimate favorite book, the Bible.

Anyway, if I were to pursue a theology education with the goal of becoming an ordained minister, I would be sure to include my favorite authors in my studies. But all that reading and effort, though valuable and helpful for me, would not adequately equip me to help others, for I would lack the most important trait for being an effective minister. I think Andrew Murray expressed it far better than I ever could.


Leave a comment

Death to the Little Devil Within Me

Often, I feel like my personality is split in two—the good me, and the bad me. I’m like a character in a Saturday morning cartoon, with a little angel on one shoulder encouraging me to do the right thing, and a little devil on the opposite shoulder tempting me to do the wrong thing. Sometimes my little devil screams so loudly I can’t hear anything else.

But this morning I realized something. The little devil part of me is actually dead, having died when all sins died, with Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, he took with him the sins of the world—those sins died with him. Those sins were the collection of the sinful side of everyone who chooses to believe, the collective of our little devils.

So, the devil that seems to exert power over my words and actions is not actually real, but a phantom, or maybe more like a lingering shadow of the sinful me that once thrived. And that shadow fades the more I let the light of the Spirit of Jesus shine within me.

This morning, for the first time, I see and believe in the image of my little devil as dead, sent to the abyss where Jesus took all our sins. It feels so freeing to say that. I’ve prayed for the death of my sinful self for a long time.

I suspect I’ll backslide, and the phantom shadow will con me into believing it has real power over me. But now I feel armed with the reminder that the little sh*t-disturber is powerless and dead.

Here’s what Jesus and the apostle Paul had to say:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:6, 11)

What do you think about all this?

Oh, and if you’re interested, please check out my soon-to-be-published book, We Called Him Yeshua.