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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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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Driven by Passion

Someone recently asked me what passions fuel my writing. What drives me to get up around 4:00am each morning to write before I leave for work? Well, there are two primary passions underlying everything I write, and these passions are fueled by my relationship with God and Jesus.

First, I’m passionate about truth, as I sometimes don’t see the truth in messages coming from some of today’s churches. Also, I’m passionate about a personal, intimate relationship with God and Jesus, through their Holy Spirit. I believe what Jesus said and promised, about the Spirit living within us. I believe He said this as more than something symbolic, but as a vivid reality, something available to all who chose to believe. Yet, I see so little mention of the truth of the Holy Spirit in today’s churches.

Because of these passions, my current book, We Called Him Yeshua, is at its core, about having a very personal, one-on-one relationship with the Spirit of Jesus who lives inside each of us who believe. My hope is that by coming to see the human side of Jesus, which is a major theme of the book, people will more easily relate to Him, and feel closer to Him. And in feeling this way, my hope is they will then look for Jesus inside themselves, and find His Spirit waiting for them there.


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Another Day, Another … ah Hell

I don’t want to write about it … but I am, compelled by something, maybe someone. Another day, another mass shooting(s). I could probably post this on any random day and it would apply. But today, it feels like the fabric of humanity is ripping apart, or that’s how it feels to me, whatever the fabric of humanity is. In El Paso. And Dayton.

What do I want? Answers? Escape. Escape from the tragedy, the torment, the pain of it all. Today I feel helpless to help—I can’t even help myself. I can’t free myself from that ripping feeling in my gut.

So, quiet place, close eyes, breathe, slowly. Go inside, and look. There’s Jesus—his Spirit within me, always here, always waiting. He smiles—a sad, compassionate smile. He holds out his arms, I fall in, and my soul weeps, his arms wrapping around me, comforting me. And we mourn together. And I feel it—His love that heals wounds, and his peace.

Oh Lord, please help. So many people, so much pain, so many out there, in Texas, in Ohio, hurting, wailing, shattered.

If you’re reading this and you too are hurting, maybe look inside yourself, to your soul, living just below the surface. And more than your soul, you may see His Spirit there, waiting, smiling, maybe even crying, for this hurts him too. And maybe the two of you can hold each other, and cry together, just below the surface, His Spirit and your soul.

And no matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, in your little world you can have some peace, and love. And if enough of us surround ourselves with the love that comes from Jesus living inside us, it may spread to others. I think that would help.

Will the mass shootings stop? I doubt it. Humanity is too broken. But maybe we aren’t helpless to help, for the help just might already live inside of each of us, waiting for us to look His way.

 

The ways of the world aren’t helping, so maybe it’s time to look beyond the world.


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The Last Prayer

I’ve been reading the gospel of John, again. It’s my favorite of the four gospels. This morning I read chapter 17. And a reality that I’ve seen before hit me in a fresh way – I love it when Jesus does that to me.

In the last section, Jesus is praying for all “those who will believe in me (Jesus) through their (Apostles) message.” (verse 20) He’s praying for all Christians, including me. Well, that reality began to stir my emotions. And then the last verse in chapter 17 knocked me over…

“Righteous Father, … I have made you know 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.” (verse 26)

My first though was that this was Jesus’ final prayer before He was arrested, chained, tortured, and dragged to His death. But then I remembered that He prayed again in the olive grove just before His arrest, and then again while hanging on the cross.

Though verse 26 isn’t Jesus’ final prayer, it still amazes me that even so close to the torture that awaited Him, Jesus could care so much about all Christians who would come after Him. And His prayer was that He Himself would be in us… His Holy Spirit living in all who believe!

So close to death and Jesus thinks of those who would follow 2000 years later. I’m humbly grateful and I want to honor Jesus and His prayer by opening myself to His Spirit.

Dear Jesus, come on in.


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More Than a Thought

“The presence of God” – what does it mean? Is it keeping God in our thoughts, thinking of Him as often as we are able? Focusing my mind on God and Jesus throughout my day – is that my goal?

NO… that’s not good enough for me. And it’s not what Jesus promised.

Jesus prayed for and promised that we would remain “in” Him and He would remain “in” us (e.g., John 15:4). And Jesus made it clear throughout His teachings that He’s talking about His actual Spirit being in us; His Holy Spirit.

“The presence of God” is more than a thought. It’s the Holy Spirit living within you, sharing space with your soul. And I’m so grateful.


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It’s Love…

… His love for you, and your love for Him.

That’s what connects you to the Spirit of Jesus, living within you.

It’s not your mind… too many distractions in this life God gave you.

But where there’s love, true love… when you mind turns away from distractions and looks inside to Jesus, He’s always there, waiting for you, holding fast to your love.

And you will truly feel Him – no more doubts.

It’s love, true love, unconditional and humble love that surrenders you heart and life to Him.

Do you crave His presence?

Then look to your love.

With a dedicated and humble heart, love grows, and true love will blossom.

And you will never feel alone again.


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Escaping Stress

As a person who loves Jesus and thrives on His love for me, I really want to help show His love to other people. And I think the best way for me to do that is to be a light in this sometimes dark world. As Jesus said, “You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16)

Well, I can’t do that when I’m all stressed out at work. When I let the stress of work pour into me, it fills me with darkness, and buries the light of Jesus under its quivering mass of dread (feeling poetic here). Anyway, when I let the stress take over, my co-workers know it. All light disappears and my mood gets dark.

But it gets better. For Jesus is gradually changing me. He’s showing me how the problems of work and life are meaningless, and that fulfillment comes from being His light, and shinning His love on other people. And He’s showing me how to let go of the things that stress me out.

It all starts with my quiet time with Him each morning. He fills me with His Spirit, pushing out all darkness. I may wake up and crawl out of bed dreading another day at work, but Jesus soon reminds me of what’s really important. It’s not success at work. It’s not accomplishments. It’s love; His love, shinning from His Spirit within me and pouring onto the people around me.

Do you dread today? Is the stress of life darkening your mood? Well, if so, then please join me on this journey to escape stress, even while living in the midst of it.

Day 1 


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I’m Hungry for God’s Presence

[Look, something brought you to this blog post. If it was a mistake—sorry. But if you’d like to see something that is probably more worth your time, please check out the blurb about my soon-to-be-published novel on my new website. It’s basically about seeing a different perspective of Jesus, through the eyes of some background characters in the Bible. New website: cjpenn.com]

My gut is speaking to me. Or call it my inner voice. You know what I mean. It’s been talking to me for several weeks now, always with the same message, which goes something like this:

“CJ, even though you believe in the presence of the Spirit of God and Jesus within you, you’re not feeling the reality of who they are. Look, I’m talking about GOD here – the creator of all that exists – living WITHIN you! The ONE who gives you the reason for living, and loving. How do you think you would feel if you truly felt the reality of the presence of God within your very being, living with your soul?”

It’s that last question that’s been nagging at me. I believe that if I truly felt the reality of the Spirit of God and Jesus within me, I would be so overwhelmed with awe that I might spend most of my time weeping with gratitude. And it occurs to me; maybe God is protecting me from feeling the whole truth, for He knows how His reality could be so overwhelming for this tired soul called CJ.

But that sense of God’s protection doesn’t diminish my hunger for more of Him. Oh, I have random moments of awe, with a rush of love and gratitude. But I want more. I want as much of the reality of God that I can handle, and still be able to function without constantly breaking into tears of joy and gratitude. I hunger and thirst for the reality of God within me.

Dear Lord, that’s my prayer. Please open my eyes, my heart, and my mind to the reality of You… as much as you know I can handle. Amen


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Can You Hear My Voice?

I am the Holy Spirit – the voice of God here within you. I speak to you from the depths of your soul. I know that believing in me can be difficult. But even if you believe, it’s not always easy to listen.

You may look inside and see me here with your minds eye. Yet your mind doesn’t stop there. Your mind has so much to say. Try listening to yourself when you come to me while you pray. What do you hear? Does you mind ever stop talking?

Also, there are so many other voices within your mind, all clamoring for your attention – work, school, relationships – you know the voices that nag you and consume your mind.

I know it’s hard, but when you are able to gently silence those other voices, and when you are able to quiet the voice of your own mind; then please listen for my voice. And you will discover that even if I have nothing to say to you in that moment, your voiceless presence with me will give you complete peace. And it also gives me joy. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your love.


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I am With You Always

Do you feel close to me, the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within you? Do you feel my presence? Have you grown to rely on me to be with you, always there when you need me? Do you feel the peace of our shared life together, our shared love together? Do you hunger and thirst for my presence, and do you feel a sting of panic if you don’t immediately sense me when you look my way?

One more question, a request really: imagine how you would feel if you looked for me and I was no longer there. Imagine what your life would be like without me.

If you feel a sense of utter, overpowering despair, then you have a small taste of how I felt when I died for you on that cross. For when I took the burden of the sins of humanity, my Father God and I were separated, no longer together, no longer one. His presence was gone. And I fell off that cross and into the black, empty void of despair… into hell.

But do not despair, for I will never leave you. I will always be with you.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)


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The Essence of God Within You

I am the Holy Spirit, the Voice of God.

As best you can, empty your mind of the noise of your world. Turn your back on the clutter of your life and let it fade away. And turn to me, here within you. Trust me to be here. Listen for my voice. Focus only on me. See me in your minds eye, and feel my presence. Feel me more with each breath you take, and I will renew your soul – the energy of life that is you.

Oh, I also hear the worldly racket pounding on the door of your mind, wanting to come back in. Ignore it, for now. Let you and me have our alone time together.

Do you feel me? How does it feel to have the essence of God here within you, speaking to you? That peace you feel is love, my true love. You might now be ready to open the door and step out into your day, where you can share my love.


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Love Is???

“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 record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Love is… HARD!

Think about it. It’s hard to truly love when our natural human tendency is to be impatient and self-centered. But that’s okay. For true love doesn’t come from you or me. It comes from God. If you truly feel the love of God, then His love will inspire you to love Him, and others. God’s love overpowers our natural impatience and pride. Gods love demolishes the walls we build with our natural flaws, and replaces those human traits with a love that never fails.

Get to know Jesus, and you will come to truly feel His love for you. Read about Him in the Bible, and pray… look for His Spirit within you. And when you find Him there, you will feel His undeniable love for you. And His love for you will feed your love for Him and others.

As the Apostle John said of Jesus, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

And in speaking of the Holy Spirit, John also said, “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:12-13)


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Do You Long to FEEL the Holy Spirit in Your Life?

I believe what many Christians hunger for is an undeniable sense of the reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives. You believe, but you may not feel… the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I really want to FEEL His presence in my life.

Look, life is hard and sometimes painful for all of us. We can’t handle it alone. Other people can only partially help us, as they have their own problems to deal with. So we look to the Spirit of Jesus, for somewhere deep inside we know that He is our only hope.

Do you feel this longing too? Even if you don’t consider yourself fully Christian (whatever that means), does your gut tell you that your true hope in dealing with this messed up world lies in some kind of relationship with God? Maybe you can’t name what you’re longing for, but you know something is missing, and you’re hungry to fill the void.

Could it be that the hunger you feel is coming from the Spirit of Jesus Himself? He may be within you now, living deep inside where your soul lives, feeding your hunger for life with Him. Do you feel it? That’s the presence of the Holy Spirit within you.


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Beyond Church

Church is a great place to learn about God and Jesus, strengthen your faith, and establish long lasting relationships with new friends. But when it comes to your most important relationship, church can sometimes be a distraction. You’re relationship with Jesus is not established and strengthened in the midst of a crowd. You will find and feel your relationship with Jesus in your quiet time with Him.

In His instructions for how we should pray, Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6) That’s where we will find Jesus, in the quiet and solitude of our own private place.

Do you hunger for a stronger relationship with Jesus? Then look beyond church. Look to the quiet and solitude within your heart, for that is where the Spirit of Jesus lives.


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Imagine… Jesus at Your Side

Imagine what your life would be like with Jesus at your side. He’s there by your bed when you get up in the morning. He offers His hand and helps you out of bed – if you’re like me, you’re grateful for the help. He’s softly talking to you as you make your coffee, eat your breakfast, and brush your teeth.

He’s sitting next to you in the car as you drive to work. And He mentions His sorrow over the person who just cut you off, because He knows of all the grief that person is suffering. Though your can see Jesus sitting next to you, others cannot. So sorry, you cannot drive in the carpool lane.

Jesus is with you at work, never leaving your side. You chat about whatever comes to mind. He answers your questions and He gives you advice. And He warns you when your thinking starts to head in the wrong direction. And when your mind does go to the dark side, and you get in an argument with a co-worker, imagine Jesus there to help you let go of those dark thoughts. He comforts you, and if you feel you need forgiveness, He forgives you… always. And when you get distracted by other things and lose sight of Jesus, when you turn back, He’s always there, right beside you. All day. Every day.

Imagine Jesus with you as you go home. He sits with you as you eat your dinner. He lounges with you as you watch TV. And when you go to sleep, He pulls up a chair and sits down right beside your bed. He’s holding your hand as you drift off to sleep.

Now believe that this is real. For this is the relationship Jesus hopes we have with His Holy Spirit. Yet closer than by your side, Jesus’ Spirit is here to live within you.

So today, imagine… Jesus at your side.

 

(And maybe come back here later and leave a comment about how your day went.)