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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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)

 

 


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Peace so Close

Emergency lockdowns, stay home, stay away!

Christmas plans cancelled.

Overflowing hospital ICUs.

Numbers climbing … fast,

Cases, deaths, unemployed, overstressed.

So much pain, so much suffering.

I fear for the hospital workers.

I fear for everyone.

What to do? Want to do something.

I know the answer, but how to convey it, that’s the hard part.

Peace is right there, freedom from stress is so close.

But we too often look the wrong way.

It’s not out there somewhere, not waiting around a corner.

It’s inside, or rather, the Spirit of Jesus is inside, if we believe.

As Paul said, “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Oh dear Jesus, if only more people could feel Your presence within them.

To feel You inside is to feel the magnitude of your love, a love that brings tears.

Not an imagined thing, but real, as real as the tears.

If only they could quiet their worries enough to calm their thoughts and look inside, to You.

Dear Jesus please, so many hungry and hurting souls out there, looking, not finding.

Please dear Spirit, take them in your arms and pull them to you.

If only they will believe.


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Shelter From Attack

Do you sometimes feel under attack? It can come from anywhere—the spiritual or the worldly realm. Are your emotions under attack? Your feelings? Your sense of peace and well-being? Covid 19, elections, racism, divisiveness, family, your job (or lack of a job), enemies of all kinds—there’s plenty out there to make us feel under attack.

But there is a way to shield yourself from such attacks, no matter where they come from. Jesus said:

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:4, 7)

Though it took me a while, I didn’t have much trouble visualizing Jesus in me. Even now, I feel His Holy Spirit living within me, sharing this body with me. And I’m so grateful for His presence. But it took me much longer to get a sense of what it means for me to be in Jesus. Yet now, Jesus’ Spirit is within me, and my soul rests within Him.

When I feel my presence within Jesus, I’m free, and safe. Also, being in Jesus I feel protected from sinning. Living within Jesus, I’m shielded from things outside, things that want to attack me. Being in Jesus, I’m untouchable.

Of course, as my day ventures on, I often fall away from Jesus, into the muck and mire of the world. Yet even those times, when I don’t feel my presence in Jesus, I still feel the presence of His Spirit within me. But I don’t feel shielded from attack until I return to Jesus, and again enter into Him.

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)

I feel a voice inside telling me not to tell you how I visualize myself being in Jesus. I guess you need to figure out what works for you. But Jesus will help you. All you have to do is knock and He will let you in. It’s in the quiet moments of your prayers where you will find Jesus showing you the way and welcoming you into Him. Just knock, ask, and seek.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)


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A Message of Gratitude

My relationship with Jesus Christ has changed, and I’m grateful. For me, our friendship is more real, more intimate. Why?

I published my first novel earlier this year, a story about Jesus told from the perspective of people who followed Him as He traveled the roads of ancient Israel. In this story, I saw Jesus through the eyes of the healed leper, the blind man who now sees, or the prostitute who feels truly accepted and loved.

Now, I don’t know how that story has affected those who have read it. Oh, I’ve seen their review comments, and gotten some feedback from family and friends. But I think those all reflect surface reactions. What I can’t know is how that story affected them more deeply. I hope the story affected them as much as it did me.

But my experience was much different than reading it. During the four years that I worked on writing that story, each day I tried to leave our world behind and go back in time. I envisioned Jesus healing the sick. I felt Him loving the unlovable. I heard Him speak words of profound compassion. By the end of my writing journey, I believe I may have grown as truly close to Jesus as those people who I was writing about. I felt the love and gratitude of the leper who was healed, or the blind man who was given his sight, or even the prostitute who was shown profound compassion.

I wrote this story (yes, We Called Him Yeshua) for other people, but I suspect I’ve benefited far more than anyone who’s read it. Interesting, how God sometimes works that way. He asks us to do something for others, yet we benefit too. Thinking back over my life as a Christian, I believe it always works that way. And I’m so grateful.

So why am I writing about this? I just want to thank Jesus for His love, compassion, and friendship. And I want to express my love for Him, though right now I can’t think of words that are adequate to convey the depth of my love.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Bringing the Bible to Life

“I really enjoyed reading this book as it brought the characters of the Bible to life. It seemed like I was reading personal diaries of some of the people that Jesus lived with and miraculously changed. It really brought the Bible into a real life story of many of the people we read about, and how Jesus dealt with each of them as both man and Son of God.” (Amazon “verified” customer review)

We Called Him Yeshua is a story seen through the eyes of everyday people who followed Jesus as He traveled the roads of ancient Israel. Please consider checking it out. And right now, both the paperback and Kindle versions are priced as low as Amazon will allow.

Click here to go to Amazon book page.


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Hope—Just What We Need Right Now

There is hope, always hope.

We need hope, some more than others.

Many feel the grip, the fear, the anxiety.

We feel under attack.

Who’s the enemy? The answer may surprise you.

It’s Pride. The plague of Pride.

In the USA, where I live, Pride grips the nation right now.

Pride is tearing our country apart.

Pride—caring more for Self, and maybe not at all for others.

Pride—no concern for how our words and actions affect others.

Pride—ears and minds closed, mouth open.

Pride—angry, vengeful.

Pride possesses, Pride consumes, Pride takes but never gives.

Pride never gives up, Pride never surrenders.

Self … only Self.

But, we live with others.

God spoke out against Pride in the Bible.

Jesus spoke against Pride … a lot.

We can’t save ourselves from the attack of Pride.

We all suffer from our own prideful nature, so we can’t fight Pride, we can’t fight against our Self.

Our hope, our only hope needs to come from outside.

Our only hope is in God.

The Holy Spirit of God and Jesus, living on this infected planted with us, living within us.

He can save us from the enemy.

If we ask.

There is hope.


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Freedom from the Prison of Pride

This morning, while praying for a very well-known political person who exhibits extreme pride, arrogance, and apparent narcissism, the title for this post popped into my head. Realizing that a lot of people suffer from being trapped in our own prison of pride—actually, all of us, to some degree or another—I’m motivated to write about it. Also, I remain concerned for that well-known person who’s bound with more chains than most.

To me it’s sad, the pain pride inflicts upon people. It can bind us up with chains of anger, hatred, lies, bigotry, intolerance, self-righteousness, paranoia, and other such things that make people miserable. Most of us aren’t even aware of the chains that bind us. Therefore, we don’t realize we can be free of those chains.

Yesterday I posted about the fruits of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus in our lives. It’s interesting to compare the rotten fruits of pride listed above with the fruits of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (aka, humility), and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Which fruits would you rather live with?

It’s the Spirit of Jesus, present in our lives, who will set us free from the chains that bind us. It’s a truth promised by Jesus: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

The question we all answer, whether we know it or not, is this: do we want to live with the chains of pride, or the fruits of the Spirit?


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US Election Day #4 — What We Need Now

Day #4 and tensions are high. We don’t need more tension this year. We don’t need more anger. What we need is the Spirit of Jesus to fill us with His Presence.

If you are inclined, please pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus to be poured out into the over-stressed hearts of the people of the United States.

And why stop there? It’s a good time to pray for the entire world.


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An Island of Peace … and Love

A third Covid 19 wave is surging in the United States (where I live), and elsewhere. The world is crying … still. And in the US, on top of the surge, some of us are drowning in presidential election anxiety. I’ve voted in over eleven such elections. None of the others came close to the stress level of this one.

This morning while praying, I had a hard time wresting my mind off the election and focusing on God and Jesus. I then found myself thinking about the novel I published earlier this year—We Called Him Yeshuajust as the pandemic was sinking its teeth into the world. Great time for publishing a book, right? Well, this morning I wanted to see if the experiences of the characters in the story might give me clues for how to better respond to the convulsing world around me. It didn’t take long to find an answer.

In my mind, I slid back into that world, with the characters I had grown so close to as I’d recorded their stories. Again, I followed them as they followed Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem. And again, I could see Jesus through their eyes, the eyes of those whom He healed and showed unconditional compassion. I felt their feelings, I relived their experiences, and like them, I briefly felt my eyes, mind, and heart drawn to Jesus. At times, all they saw was Jesus, all they knew was Jesus, and they where oblivious to the chaos going on around them.

My mind then rushed ahead over 2000 years (my thoughts tend to jump around a lot while waiting for the morning coffee to take hold). I was back in that restaurant kitchen, getting ready for the Sunday brunch rush. It was the morning after my second date with the young woman who later agreed to marry me. Only two dates and I was already crazy in love. And that Sunday morning, as I did the last-minute food prep, I couldn’t get my mind off her, nor the grin off my face.

All through the Sunday morning brunch storm, my co-workers wondered why I looked so happy. I didn’t get sucked into the brunch chaos, like they did. In the midst of that storm, I was a little island of peace, immersed in love for my new girlfriend.

So, how can that memory help me today? And what does it have to do with my detour back into the world of my novel? Though I crave that kind of love for Jesus, where I have to make an effort to pull my thoughts away from Him in order to focus on worldly stuff—well, I’ve rarely experienced it. But I believe in it. And even just that belief and memories of past experiences help me cope.

In the midst of the storms raging around me—the pandemic, the election—I want to be a little island of peace, held steady by my love for Jesus. And kept safe by His love for me. What makes that possible and real (not just wishful thinking), is His Holy Spirit who lives inside me, sharing this body with me.

Look, it’s easier to ride out a storm when we’re not alone. And when you accept the reality and presence of Jesus’ Spirit within you, you’re never alone. I’m doing it. You can too.

I wish for you today a day where you stay safe on your own island of peace and love, holding tight to the rock of Jesus.


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Feeling Crushed? Seeking Escape? Craving Peace?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s hoping you have a really good day.

CJ


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Split Between Two Worlds

Whether we realize it or not, we divide our lives between two different worlds. We live in both the earthly, material world, and the spiritual world. Yet many people don’t realize there is a spiritual world. For them, the material world consumes and completely controls their lives, and there is no escape from it.

The material world consists of such things as daily work, stress from outside pressure and strained relationships, worldwide pandemics, divisive and stomach-acid-churning presidential elections, aches, pains, anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, lies, injustice, bigotry … well, I’m sure you can think of more descriptions of the world you live in.

Yet, the spiritual world is the absolute opposite of the material world. The spiritual world is peace beyond our ability to comprehend. It’s love that’s bigger than we can imagine. It’s intimate companionship with God. No pain, no fear, no anxiety. No need for antacid pills, calming cocktails, or anxiety numbing drugs. The spiritual world is freedom.

But how do we cross over to this world of freedom? Well, as Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

The truth that takes our hand and leads us into the freedom and peace of the spiritual world is the presence in our lives of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. We can’t cross over to the spiritual world without help. Yet the Spirit of Jesus can enter into our very bodies, the two in one flesh, and lead us into His world where we will find the freedom we seek. The truth of this is clearly spelled out in Jesus’ own words in the Gospels.

Yet, as long as we occupy our human bodies, our life is bound to the two different worlds. The material world is unavoidable. Sometimes it demands our full attention. But not always.

I’d like to offer you a suggestion. The next time you find yourself being drawn to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the television, or whatever other worldly distraction that tends to fill up your discretionary time, try this: put down that phone, tablet, or remote control. Step away from the keyboard and step toward the Spirit of Jesus. Look for the Spirit in the words of the Bible, and get to know Him. Ask the Spirit of Jesus to guide you into His world, and experience that break you so desperately need from the material world.

The more time you spend in the spiritual world of Jesus, the easier it will be to cope with the strain of the material world. And the more you practice the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within you, the easier you will find it to enter His world at almost any time, no matter what’s going on around you in the material world.

Also, the more time you spend with Jesus in the spiritual world, the more you will be able to bring His peace with you when you have to be fully involved in the material world. With the presence of Jesus’ Spirit, you will greatly lighten your material world experiences. I encourage you to not settle for dividing your life between the two opposite worlds. Rather, bring the spiritual world with you as you live in the material world.

Could it be that while Jesus walked the roads of ancient Israel, He lived fully in the spiritual and fully in the material at the same time? Can you imagine if you could do the same thing, and how that would affect your experience of life?

You have a choice. Which world do you want to spend more time in, the world of anxiety and anger, or the world of peace and love?

One final thought. Books about heaven, about the reality of heaven and some peoples personal early glimpses of heaven (like via near-death experiences), these books appear to be widely popular. The popularity of such books tells me that a lot of people are very interested in heaven. But do they know that they can experience heaven right now, heaven on earth. That’s what it is to live in the spiritual world with Jesus?


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Looking For Freedom? Look Inside Yourself

The truth will set you free. That’s what Jesus said.

What truth Lord, I need to know?

The truth of love, the truth of faith, the truth of My presence in your life.

Yet free from what? Will you tell me that?

Yes my child. Everything.

What? I don’t understand.

Tell Me child, what burdens you?

Well, I guess, especially this year, almost everything.

Exactly.

But how Lord? Where does freedom come from?

The truth laid out for all to see, the truth hidden in plain sight is this: Me in you and you in Me. My Spirit living with your spirit, with your soul, within your body. The two will become one flesh.

But how?

Just quiet your mind, open your heart, let go of your “self,” and let Me in. By My presence within you, and your surrender to Me, you will be free. I’m already there, just waiting for you to look at Me.


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Please Consider a Review

I’ve been thinking back to several weeks ago, when I sponsored a free ebook promotion of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua. I’m grateful for how many people took advantage of that promotion and got their own free copy. And lately I’ve been wondering how many of those people have finished reading the book. If you’ve read this book, I’d like to ask you a favor: please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Your review can help others who might be considering getting the book for themselves.

And if you or someone you know is interested in checking this book out, I just lowered the ebook price down to as low as Amazon will allow: $0.99. And the paperback version remains discounted at $9.95. Please check it out at the Amazon book page.


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Thank You

Another morning, at first indifferent.

And maybe a bit of reluctant dread.

Then quiet time alone, coffee cup warming my hands.

Silence my mind, look inside, and away from my “self.”

No, not alone. Never alone.

Thank You.

My attitude adjustment hour.

Perspective heightened. Life is good.

 

Time for a walk, before it’s too hot.

Mask in my pocket, always at the ready.

A crispness lingers in the air.

So refreshing. Another thing to be grateful for.

But the air is not only crispness.

Ash sprinkles down, like cursed snowflakes.

From overhead to the western horizon, the brown “fog bank” of smoke.

Sirens wail off in the distance. On the highway, heading north?

The wildfire season … again.

 

The “new normal.” “It is what it is.” So tired of those phrases.

Yet I admit their accuracy, and simple clarity.

I feel the struggle, trying not to let it all get me down.

A near-constant struggle … these days.

Some days I lose.

But today … today I’m winning.

Yet, not alone.

Thank You.


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A Deeper Relationship with Jesus

Are you looking for a deeper relationship with Jesus? Are you looking for the fulfillment and peace that comes with such a relationship, the peace Jesus promised us, the peace that’s bigger than we can imagine?

Where the accounts in the Gospels tell the history of Jesus, the novel “We Called Him Yeshua” will bring Jesus’ story more to life, making Him more real to you, and bringing you closer to Him. The closer you come to Jesus, the more you will love Him, and the more you will feel His love for you.

Please, if you’re looking for a closer relationship with Jesus, check out “We Called Him Yeshua,” while the price is as low as Amazon will allow.

 

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


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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)


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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.

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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.

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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.


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A Love Without End

Would you like to know Jesus more intimately? Would you like to meet the man who loves you without end, who is willing to suffer for you again, and again?

I’ve studied a bit of the physiology of the physical torture Jesus endured when he was flogged and then nailed to the cross. The idea that he would be willing to go through that again is too much for me to comprehend. How does this idea touch you? If it gives you a desire to show gratitude in some way, based on everything he said in the Bible, I think the best way for us to show our gratitude is with our love for Jesus.

To truly love Jesus, it can help to truly know Jesus. We know about him by what we read in the Bible, hear in sermons, and feel in prayer. We may know a lot about his divinity. It can help to know more about his humanity. For as Jesus is fully God, he was also fully human (and maybe still is—that’s a bit of theology I’m not sure about).

Anyway, I’d like to invite you to get to know more about the person who is willing to suffer for us yet again, whose love is without end. I’d like to invite you to see how Jesus’ love manifested itself when he walked the roads of ancient Israel. Read We Called Him Yeshua, where you will see Jesus through the eyes of those who felt first-hand the endless love, and saw with their own eyes how he suffered for them. And you too may then feel as close to Jesus as they did.

 

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


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The Power of Jesus’ Forgiveness

What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. In it, you will see a brief glimpse of the power of Jesus’ forgiveness, from the perspective of a woman who, after years of judgment and scorn, needed forgiveness more than she could have imagined. We call him Jesus; they called him Yeshua.

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– Lydia –

When we reached the square, vomit tried to push its way up my throat. I nearly collapsed as the men flung me against the mud-brick wall next to the synagogue. I hit hard and tried to stifle a yelp of pain. The mob spread out in front of me, some bouncing stones in their hands. They were waiting for something. Who would be the first to throw? How much would it hurt? How would it feel to die? How much longer did I have to live?

A ray of sunlight shot out through a gap in the clouds as a man strolled casually across the square. At first, I thought he was going to join the stone-throwers. But he walked past, never giving them notice, and stood against the synagogue wall next to me. Then I realized—it was the prophet who had brought Zach to life.

“Teacher,” the lead Pharisee said in obvious mock respect, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” Right, but that was two years ago. “The law commands us to stone such women. What do you say?”

So, this was what the mob had been waiting for. They weren’t out to punish me. But the prophet just stood there, looking at the mob, his gaze roving from one to the next. Each man shuffled his feet and looked away whenever the prophets’ eyes landed on him. The prophet then knelt down and began writing something in the dirt with his finger. The sun burst out full from behind the clouds.

“The law commands us to stone this woman!” the Pharisee shouted. “Now what do you say!?”

Still, the man didn’t respond. Didn’t even seem interested.

As I stared at his finger tracing in the dust, sweat dripped down my forehead and into my eyes. I whispered, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I really didn’t think God was listening, but … I was desperate.

Then, the prophet rose to his feet, again glanced from man to man, and declared, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He bent back down to the ground and continued writing.

If anyone were without sin? Well, that would be the Pharisees. They obsessed over God’s law and the hundreds of manmade rules. They wouldn’t dare sin.

Then, I heard it. A dull thud. I looked up to see a man from our village, his stone lying on the ground. Several heartbeats later, another thud, followed by another. Soon, the only men holding stones were the Pharisees. As I’d feared.

But they weren’t looking at me. They were staring at the man still writing in the dirt. Their faces blazed with an intense hatred, the kind of hatred that kills. But whether he realized his own danger or not, the prophet seemed focused only on his writing.

I don’t know what those zealots were waiting for. They weren’t going to back away now. What chance did—

I jumped at the sound. Slowly, I lifted my eyes from the writing to discover the youngest looking Pharisee had dropped his stone. His eyes were on the patch of ground before his feet. Time slowed. And then, another stone fell to the ground.

After what felt like several minutes, the last stone still remained tight in the hand of the head Pharisee, the one who’d done all the talking. My eyes locked on that hand, its veins bulging, its knuckles white. And then, as if in slow motion, the fingers relaxed and opened. The stone rolled free and slowly tumbled through the air, raising a tiny cloud of dust as it hit the ground. The early morning sun glistened off the dust as it drifted back down.

The mob silently broke up, with the village hypocrites’ guild leaving first. The Pharisees hesitated. Then, they too shuffled out of the square.

When the last one rounded the corner of the synagogue and disappeared, the man at my feet lifted his head, looked up to me, and smiled. I felt that smile, so warm and full of kindness.

He glanced around the square and brushed his hands together as he stood. “Woman, where are they? Is there no one who condemns you?”

“No one.” My voice trembled.

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I collapsed to the ground as tears poured down my dusty face. “Sir!” It came out as a hoarse whisper. “Why?”

Kneeling down, he cupped my chin in his hand and lifted until my eyes met his. “Please, call me Yeshua.”

He took my hands, lifted me to my feet, and folded his arms around me in a warm hug. I nearly collapsed again, but he held me steady. And then I realized something. He touched me! This man, more righteous than all those religious leaders, more godly than all the rest, had touched me. An adulterous woman like me and he didn’t seem afraid my sins might make him unclean.

“Sir. I mean, Yeshua,” my voice still trembling, “why do you forgive me? Why are you so kind?”

“Because of love. I live by a higher level of love, God’s love. By his love, God keeps no record of wrongs. Neither do I.”

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Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then look inside (with Amazon “Look inside” feature), and see what you think. And if you’d like, the book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow, but only until this Sunday, as the price will increase starting Monday, April 27.