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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Just Want to See the Kids

To be Dad

I asked my wife what she wants for her birthday. “I just want to see my children,” was her reply. Closeness with her kids is more important than “things.” So, my eldest son and his wife, and my youngest son and his longtime girlfriend, will all come from out of town to be home this weekend.

Last night the small group I’m in finished reading “The Good and Beautiful Life,” by James Bryan Smith. The final chapter is all about having a relationship with God. And the message is clear: what’s most important to God is not “things,” like good deeds and following rules. What God wants most from us is a relationship. What our heavenly Parent wants most is to see His children, and to have time with His children.

I’ve long believed that if you want to see the nature of God, just look at any loving parent and how they feel toward their children. My wife and her love for her children is indeed an image of God. She just wants to have time with her kids, and so does God.

And to go “home” to see our Father God is not an out-of-town journey. Just look inside yourself, for He lives with your soul.



Prayer vs. Judgment

do not judge

I’ve been reading The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith, just finishing the chapter about judgment. I learned a seismic truth while reading this chapter and then talking about it in our small group last night.

Smith gives a quote by Philo of Alexandria, who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Being judgmental can come so naturally for me. It’s often irresistible. But when I look at my target, and realize that the behavior I wish to judge may be battle scars – my judgment melts into compassion. And given time, compassion feels a lot better than judgment.

Where judgment can lead to criticism, compassion leads me to prayer. And from my experience, prayer is far more helpful than judgment. Where feelings of judgment eat at my soul, compassion and prayer feed my soul. And my hope is that prayers will lead to healing of battle scars.


Playing with God

Watch a group of young children at play sometime. Made-up games, with few rules. One game may morph into another game. Full of fun and giggles. Spontaneous, out of control and unpredictable.

I just started reading the book, “The Good and Beautiful Life,” by James Bryan Smith. Just a little ways into it, he introduced the idea of play and how it relates to our life with God.

I think I’ve had times of playing with God, without realizing it. Spontaneous, out of control and unpredictable. Like the mornings where He and I get together in thought, and I just relax my mind and ask Him what He wants to do. In a way, maybe I’m letting God choose the game. And it’s in these moments of giving control to God where some of my best writing has sprouted. It’s a blast!

Playing with God: what does this mean to me? Just relax, trust Him as a child would trust, and have fun. Humbly let go of the desire to control and happily follow the Leader, wherever He may lead. And I believe that when you’ve found the fun, the joy, of playing with God – then you have found the true presence of God within you.


Dear God

[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]

dear God


I just started reading “The Good and Beautiful Life,” by James Bryan Smith. Chapter One invited me to write a letter to God, describing the kind of life I want to live. Here is my letter.

Dear God,

The life I want most for myself is a life of You living through me. I desire with all my heart that when others look at me, they see You. I desire never to do or say something that you wouldn’t do or say. I desire to live with honor, integrity, compassion, humility, forgiveness, understanding, and true love toward all who come into my life. I desire to be a true image of You. Thank you dear Lord.