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

Are You Content With Too Little?

Is there an ever-present, gnawing hunger in your soul? Hunger for a sense of peace, and maybe something more, that you believe is achievable, but never within your grasp? I’m referring to the peace that Jesus promised us, the peace that is so deep and all consuming that its power is beyond our ability to understand. But, it’s not beyond our ability to possess.

Yet, based on my own experience, I think we can fall into a trap of being content with too little. And I sense that Satan baits the trap.

I urge you … don’t take the bait. BELIEVE that the peace Jesus promises is for you too. And then go look for it. The best part is that you don’t have to look far, because the peace and fulfillment you seek are right inside you. That is, the peace comes from your own intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, where as He prayed, you are in Him, and He is in you.

So where are you on your journey to find the Spirit of Jesus within you? Are you where I lingered for more years than I want to admit? Are you teetering on the edge of belief? If you don’t yet have the faith that has crossed over into a deep feeling of certainty, maybe what you need is to get to know Jesus better. After all, it’s hard to believe someone if you don’t know them very well.

If this is you, then you are one of the many people for whom I wrote We Called Him Yeshua. Please check it out, for in the personal stories told by some of the people who walked with Jesus, you can come to know Him as intimately at they did.

Available on Amazon, currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.

 

Now then, for those of you who are past your struggles with unbelief, I’d like to refer you to other books that have helped me find the Spirit of Jesus within my soul (book recommendations). And I’ll continue adding to this list of books as I write more reviews.

Finally, here’s a quote from a book I’m reading for the 7th time, where I’ll be posting a review sometime soon.

“He (God) often calls men blind, complaining that we are content with too little. God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith, He pours His grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”

The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.


Leave a comment

My Remedy for Social Distance Induced Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leave a comment

Joy Can be Just a Prayer Away

Even when life pulls your mind in random directions and sometimes piles worry on top of worry; even when it seems like all the news is bad; even when the world is held hostage by a global pandemic … joy can be just a prayer away.

Jesus promised his Holy Spirit would be with us always, “to the very end of the age.” He also promised us a peace beyond our understanding. So, all we need to do to find the joy and peace we crave is look for Jesus’ Spirit. And thankfully, we don’t have to look far, for another promise is that Jesus will be IN us, as his Father is in him.

With the Spirit of Jesus abiding within you, always present, even if life pulls your attention away for a day, a week, or whatever … all you have to do is take some quiet time, push back on the distractions of life (that can be the hardest part), and look inside. And when all those thoughts and cares and worries in your mind quiet down enough so you can look past them, you will see the Spirit of Jesus waiting for you. And the moment you feel Him and forget the noise of life, you’ll feel the peace and joy that he promised. It’s just a prayer away.

But, what if you don’t know who you’re looking for? The Spirit of Jesus can feel like an alien to many people, more like an unfathomable heavenly being, than a person. But Jesus was more than the Son of God. He was also the son of man. Jesus was fully human, a person, in some ways like you and me. So, when you go looking for the Spirit of Jesus, it can really help to know the complete Jesus, the man as well as the God.

As a way to get to know Jesus the man, I’d like to recommend my recently published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. It’s the story of Jesus as told from the perspective of some people who followed him as he walked the roads of ancient Israel. You can see Jesus through their eyes, as a person. Then, when you look for the joy and peace waiting within you, you’ll know who you’re looking for.

They called him Yeshua. Maybe you can call him friend.

 

If you’re interested in checking out We Called Him Yeshua, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And for just a few more days, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


Leave a comment

United We Stand

What an unprecedented moment in human history we live in, where most of us on this planet are experiencing similar restrictions, similar concerns, and many of the same feelings.

Our past is littered with fighting, fighting against each other. We’re still fighting, but now aligned together against a common enemy, a worldwide pandemic. I think it’s possible that this has never happened before in the history of humanity—I mean, how we so quickly formed a worldwide alliance.

Consider that the last pandemic, in the early 1900’s, infected the earth before there was rapid transportation from one continent to the next, and before there was instantly shared communication throughout the world. I haven’t seen any data, but I suspect this new pandemic has spread faster than any in history. The fear and panic have spread just as quickly.

But still, we are all now united in the fight against the Coronavirus. Has the entire world ever been this united before? I don’t really know. What might our unity lead to? I can’t even imagine. But, I have a growing hope that something amazing will emerge. I believe all this presents the possibility for a turning point in the human race, in the midst of the chaos. And I strongly feel that, though the pandemic will bring death and severe pain, our unity can only bring good.

What form will that good take? How long will it last? Of course, I don’t know and I can’t even guess. But as a Christian, I really believe that Jesus will make something good out of all this bad. And with Jesus involved, I’m excited. I hope you can be excited too.

I think the best thing we can do is pray, hope, and trust. And excitedly wait to see what God does with our trust and unity.


Leave a comment

Feel the Joy of Easter

The characters in this story follow Jesus all the way to the end. They sensed what was coming, and dreaded it. But then, Jesus surprised them. And the events that we now call Easter left them filled with joy. You too can see the impact Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection had on those closest to him. And maybe through their experience, you will find new meaning in Easter … and a joy and peace that will not be shaken by the problems of the world.

In honor of Palm Sunday, the ebook of “We Called Him Yeshua” is free all this weekend, ending midnight Sunday (Pacific standard time, USA). The paperback remains priced as low as Amazon will allow ($6.99, cost). So if you’d like a copy, now’s a great time to get one. And maybe one for a friend too.

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


Leave a comment

The Person on the Other Side of the Wall

Damn! Did it again. You’d think I’d learn by now, but everyday … the same old thing. I keep smacking my bruised and scared head into the wall. Some habits never change. Oh, but that wall changes. Almost every time I bang into it, it looks higher, and feels thicker, with fresh stones added daily.

Coronavirus, tanked stock market, extended shelter-in-place orders, rising infection rates, growing death tolls, dwindling supply of toilet paper—these and more are the stones in my wall. It’s the wall between Jesus and me—the wall of worldly worries and distractions.

Oh, I know Jesus is there, patiently waiting for me on the other side. And given time and quiet breathing, my mind clears, the wall disappears, and there’s Jesus smiling at me.

Yet it helps so much to know who I’m looking for while I struggle to clear my mind of other thoughts. It was harder before … before I’d gotten to know him. But now, I know more than Jesus the Son of God. I know Jesus the son of man. Now, when I clear my mind and the wall melts away, I know who I will see waiting for me each morning on the other side.

Would you like to more easily look beyond your own wall, clear your mind of the “world,” and see the Spirit of Jesus within you? Would you like to have a clearer image of who you’re looking for? Would you like to see Jesus as his closest followers saw him, as a fellow human … the son of man? You can, and you’ll find him in the pages of this novel.

 

For a limited time, the paperback will remain priced as low as Amazon will allow. Plus, the ebook price was just reduced from $2.99 to $0.99. Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


Leave a comment

If the Virus Doesn’t Get You, the News Reports Will

“I can’t watch the news on TV anymore,” he moaned. “Not after last night. The scenes in the hospitals, the death tallies. I couldn’t sleep after all that crap.”

“I understand,” I murmured, wishing I could say something helpful.

“And the newspaper,” he continued. “I’ve read the local paper for years. Used to read almost every article. This morning I got through the whole thing in about five minutes. Skipped all the headlines, all the ‘news.’ Just more of the same stress-pit crap anyway. I think the media is trying to send us all into a panic. Yet, this morning, the best part about the newspaper was the comics.”

The frustration is his voice was thick, almost toxic. “Listen, I don’t want to come across as preachy and pushy—you know me.” I hesitated. In my mind I saw his eyebrows furrow, as I’d seen many times before. “But maybe you could find some peace by getting to know Jesus.”

“Oh, stop it. Come on. You know how I feel.” His exasperation came across clearly over the phone. Our weekly meet-ups at the coffee shop, like everything else, had gone remote. “Besides, even if there is this “Holy Spirit” of Jesus you’ve mentioned—well, all that God stuff is just too high and mighty for me.”

“I agree. I mean, how can we, as humans, possibly understand things that are so far above us? But—”

“So why are you pushing, I mean suggesting, I get to know Jesus, since as you admit, how could I know a being so much higher than me?”

“What if you could get to know the man Jesus?” I had an idea, maybe a way to help my friend find some peace in the midst of the panic.

“The man Jesus?” His skepticism oozed out of my phone.

“Yes. The man.” I took a deep breath, then dove in. “Jesus once walked the earth as a man, fully human, like you and me. Well, not exactly like us. But still, he was a person who experienced and felt a lot of the same things you and I do. What if you could know that person?”

“Right.” Again, I pictured him rolling his eyes with that goofy smirk of his. “So how could I do that?

“Well, read his story. No, I don’t mean the Bible. I know how hard it can be to understand it. But what if you could read a novel, about a man and the people who followed him?”

“Sure. As long as it’s a novel that’s NOT about the Coronavirus. But I still don’t get what you’re suggesting.”

“Listen. I know of a novel about Jesus as told from the perspective of people who followed him while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, people whom Jesus touched most deeply with his love and compassion.” I took another breath, so hoping he wouldn’t reject the idea. “I’ll give you my copy.”

“And how is this novel supposed to help?”

“Well, again, please don’t take this as preaching.” I had to talk fast, and get it out before my aversion to overly zealous evangelism grabbed hold and clamped my mouth shut. “But for me, what has helped me the most in coping with this pandemic is my relationship with God and Jesus. Look, I realize how hard it is to feel comfortable with them. Heck, it took me almost fifty years to get to where I am right now. But I think I followed a difficult path, at least for me. I think an easier path is to first get to know Jesus the man. This novel can do that for you. Once you know Jesus the man, either you can give up and turn your back on him, or go forward and more easily get to know Jesus, the Son of God.”

“So … where’s this novel of yours?”

 

Would you like a copy of this book? Well, since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:

Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7

And please consider sharing this with those who may have nowhere else to turn for help.


Leave a comment

Do You Suffer From Pandemic Anxiety?

Do you or someone you know suffer from pandemic anxiety?

For some of us, we turn to our relationship with Jesus Christ at times like this. We find freedom and comfort in the feeling of his presence in our lives. But not everyone has that kind of relationship with him. Many people don’t know who Jesus really is, or don’t believe in him, or don’t care.

But with growing pandemic anxiety, maybe some are starting to think that Jesus could help them too. For them, and actually for anyone who wants to know Jesus more closely, there’s a new book. This novel, “We Called Him Yeshua,” can help people get to know Jesus, the man, on a personal level. It can help people feel Jesus as real, relatable, and close.

Since the paperback and ebook are not yet linked on Amazon:

Go here for the paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578664070?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Go here for the ebook: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7

Please consider sharing this with those who may have nowhere else to turn for help.


Leave a comment

Last Day of FREE ebook Promotion

Today, Tuesday March 24th, is the last day to get the ebook version of We Called Him Yeshua for FREE.

The free promotion expires at midnight, Pacific Standard Time (USA), according to Amazon. So please take advantage of this and get your copy now. Clicking on the image below will take you to the Amazon book page. And for those of you who will look inside this book, thank you very much. My sincere hope is that in addition to entertaining you, that it helps you in some way.


Leave a comment

Stuck at Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best,

CJ Penn

Author and book web page: www.cjpenn.com


Leave a comment

An Unexpected Power of Prayer

Be prepared for what answered prayer might do to you.

The text came in with bad news that caught us unprepared and threw my wife and me into shock. Later, more texts—the details that dribbled in just made us feel worse. Someone we know. Yet, there did seem to be room for hope. So I prayed. And what felt like a constricting snake in my stomach spent the day slowly rolling. That night, I fell asleep praying.

Next morning, on my knees, pouring my heart out to Jesus, begging, I mean intensely BEGGING him to step into the situation and do something that only He can do. Anything! All morning my heart was trembling. The snake rolled.

Noon, another text. NO! The outcome was certain, no more room for hope. The door had been slammed shut. The wave of shock returned and crashed over us.

We talked. “Just accept it. Stop hoping. It will be a bit easier that way.” Okay. So I let go of hope and started to try to accept the new reality. But no acceptance came. Just despair, and the feeling of the ever-present snake squirming in my stomach.

Later that evening, I puttered in the kitchen, struggling to get my mind to attach itself to something else … and trying to prepare dinner without cutting anything off an unwitting finger. And then another text. Oh crap. What now?

What!? The door was again open? There WAS still room for hope, much hope! The roller coaster started heading back up. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

The tremors began in my stomach as I rushed to my wife and we hugged. I quickly went back to turn off the stove so I wouldn’t burn dinner, for I sensed what was coming.

The tremors flowed up my esophagus, through my throat, and into my quivering chin. And then this internal volcanic wave of pure emotion exploded into a stream of tears and blubbering. I had no control. My nose sent a stream into my mustache. My eyes steamed hot with tears. Every muscle within seemed to tremble, every nerve seemed to fire. I felt wrapped in a soft blanket of joy. I clasped my hands over my face and leaned against the wall. I felt like a quivering mass of jelly.

And then the second wave hit—God DID answer the prayers! Jesus loves the people involved so much, that He stepped into the middle of the situation, wrap his arms around them, and did what only He can do! And the tears flowed stronger, and the blubbering grew louder. And my sense of being out of control of my emotions grew more intense. Good, I wanted to give control to God anyway.

To the heavens and any being that was listening, my heart screamed my love and praises for God and Jesus. Yet there was a layer of frustration on top of my joy, for the words of praise just didn’t feel like enough, not coming close to expressing my gratitude.

Since that day, the news has gotten better and the hope has grown more certain. But for someone who’s trying to put my faith into action with words, well, adequate words still won’t come to me. I don’t think there are words to express the magnitude of my gratitude and love for God and Jesus. Oh, how I wish I could.

By the way, I know God doesn’t answer all prayers as we hope He will. That’s not for me to understand right now. And I don’t want to think about unanswered prayers right now. I just want to tell you of one small example of how God’s love for us came alive, and showed itself in action.

I still want to shout out praises to God and Jesus … to the heavens and anyone who will hear me. That’s why I’m writing this now, in my feeble attempt to use written words to try to convey to you the magnitude of my gratitude and love for Jesus, and His love for us. As Paul said:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Jesus’ love is so big, we can’t comprehend it. But we can feel it. I have.

 

Oh, and if you like, please check out my other website, my book website, where you can see something about my soon-to-be-published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. Yes, this novel is mainly about the love of Jesus, as expressed through his humanity while he walked the roads of first century Israel. Now there’s a great example of His love in action.


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.


Leave a comment

More Human than Others

I believe Jesus Christ was more human than many people are. I’m thinking of those religious zealots who self-righteously try to be more divine than human. These people deny their flawed humanity, and believe they are divinely perfect, or at least closer to perfection than the rest of us slobs slogging it out in the trenches of this fractured, sin-filled life.

However, Jesus embraced his humanity, and seemed to deny his divinity, at least at certain times during his journey on earth. Just look at the most common way He referred to himself: son of man. He wanted us to remember his humanity, not just his divinity.

For me, knowing something about Jesus’ humanity helps me feel closer to him, for He knows what I go through. After all, he was one of us.


Leave a comment

Mom, Dad, 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]

Are you a parent? Tricky business, that. Not for the faint of heart, they say—that’s a classic understatement.

I’m a father of two sons, who thankfully have survived to be respectable, honorable adults, despite all the mistakes I made in trying to help get them there. But looking back on that journey, though sometimes painful, can also be really interesting.

With only a few minutes of thought, here are some of the traits I think are important to being a parent:

  • Knowing when to let them fall down and skin their knee.
  • Knowing when to let the child lose. Falsely giving a child the impression they can always be a winner by making sure everyone gets a soccer trophy is just setting them up for major problems later, when the truth of life smacks them in the face.
  • Knowing when to hold back and let the child make a mistake. Cliché warning: we learn from our mistakes, hopefully.
  • Knowing when to let the child get a bad grade in a class by not doing their homework for them. That is, knowing when to let the child learn about the consequences of their action, or inaction.
  • Knowing when to keep your mouth shut.
  • And the list goes on.

Few of us parents have all these skills, and the others I can’t think of. But there is one, the only one, who is the perfect parent.

Well, yah, sure … I mean God. But I now ask you to take a look at God with these questions in mind:

  • Is life sometimes really hard for you?
  • Do you wonder why some of your prayers go unanswered?
  • Do you wonder why good people, even God-loving people, die young?
  • Do you wonder, if there is a God, how can he allow all the evil and mayhem that’s consuming the world?

Maybe the answer is partly because God is the perfect parent. He knows when to hold back and not step into our lives, allowing us to make our own mistakes. He knows not to butt in where He’s not invited.

And why would He do this, anyway? Maybe because He’s hoping we will finally realize we just can’t handle this mortal life on our own, and the only way we can cope is to give up trying and turn to Him to help us … turn to Him to love us.

What do you think?


Leave a comment

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.


3 Comments

Beware the Word

I had a weird experience this morning. I haven’t spent much time reading the Bible for the past several years. But during my typical predawn praying, with my cup of coffee—trying to wake up my soul and mind at the same time—the thought popped into my head to start reading the gospels again.

So, I grabbed my Bible and turned to Matthew. But just as I started, another thought popped in:

      Beware.

      “Beware of what?”

      Beware of the Bible.

      “What!?”

Beware of worshipping the written Word more than God and Jesus. Beware of spending more time in the written word than you spend with the Holy Spirit of Jesus within you.

Wow! Not what I’d expected as I thumbed through the well-worn pages to find the words Matthew had written. But was that God speaking to me, or just my inner thoughts?

I don’t know where those thoughts came from, but I know this: the words of God and Jesus recorded in the Bible are great and nothing will diminish their greatness. But for me, quiet time with the Spirit of Jesus is greater; surrendering my time, thoughts, and “self” to God is greater; feeling the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit is greater; feeling the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises within me is greater.

The Bible is great, but Jesus is greater.

What do you think?


Leave a comment

How Does God Feel About You?

How does God feel about you? How does Jesus feel about you?

In my quiet time this morning, while trying to empty my chaotic mind of the usual crap that steals my thoughts, I found myself thinking of someone I dearly love, and imploring God to help them as they go through a tough time right now. My friend really needs Gods help, because they don’t know God or Jesus, and they’re trying to deal with life alone. Then I felt something. And I think it was God, showing me how He feels about the person I was praying for. I’ll try to show you.

How does a parent feel about their newborn baby? For me, it was a long time ago, but the memories remain vivid. My arms ached to hold my son, to gently squeeze him to my chest, and pour all the love I could muster into him, somehow filling him with my love. The words escape me still. I can’t find a good way to express the love I felt for my newborn son, and the magnitude of love I wanted to give to him. I never wanted to let him go.

I still don’t. Both my sons are now several years on their own, both leading their own lives. And my arms still ache for them. My love hasn’t diminished—only been calmed a bit by the years. But I miss the days when they were small enough to lay on my chest and drool onto my ever-smiling face, as my arms squeezed them close.

Can God love less? I don’t think so.

Maybe what I felt this morning is true. Maybe more than anything God wants to wrap His arms around you, protect you, care for you, and pour His love into you, with a love that words cannot express. And like any true-loving parent, Gods love for you does not depend on how you feel about Him. Try picturing that in your mind. How does it make you feel?


Leave a comment

Feel Like Giving Up? Good

Based on a very unscientific poll—okay, I only talked with one person—I think I see one reason why some people end up leaving the Christian church. A very close friend of mine left the church many years ago because, “I just felt it didn’t have any impact on my life. It made no difference. Whether I went or not, I felt unchanged.”

I’ve pondered that response for many years, and it just triggered a new thought in my ever-wandering mind. Consider the general message that flows out of most Christian churches: sin no more, love your neighbor as God loves you, God gives grace to the humble, forgive as God forgives you, etc. It all sounds great, and most Christians aspire to live up to these ideals.

But, we fail. We try, we struggle, we pray for help, we may succeed a little at times, but then we fall back into our natural ways, and fail. Maybe we try some more, and again we fail. Finally, after continuous failure, many give up. And some leave Christianity, or just the church.

Think about it this way: The church tells me to live these ideals, and I embrace the idea. But the church didn’t help me achieve these ideals. So forget it. If the church can’t help me do what they’ve told me to do, then I’m outta there.

In this way, the church may seem no different than the diet “doctor” who promises I’ll lose this volley ball of belly fat simply by following his exercise plan for 8 minutes a day, plus an eating plan that would starve a hamster. Though the exercise is easy and practical, the eating plan is impossible, for me anyway. Much like me trying to be humble by my own strength.

Back to Christianity, I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the church to take my hand and walk me down the path that leads to love, humility, forgiveness, and holiness. I believe all the church can do is show me the path.

But how can I walk the path alone? I’ve tried, a lot. And of course, I always fail. I wonder off the path and fall into the pit that lines both sides—the pit of pride, envy, selfishness, greed, hate, worry, fear… the pit of human nature. I think it’s impossible for me to stay on the path to holiness, for my human nature keeps grabbing my legs and pulling me down into the pit. So what am I to do?

Well, as Jesus said, what’s impossible with man is possible with God.

The only way to follow the path is to walk it with the Holy Spirit. Yet what does that mean? I think the answer is clear, yet hard (very hard for me). We need to recognize our faults and weaknesses and HUMBLY accept we cannot do this on our own. We need to give up. Along with that, we need to feed our relationship with Jesus, getting to know Him more and more, growing ever closer to Him, until our love for Him, and our hate for our human nature, overflows and drives us to our knees. Then, and this is the best part, we need to surrender to Jesus.

But what’s surrender mean? Well, for me it means to deny my “self,” empty myself of me, and let the Holy Spirit of Jesus fill this person called CJ. Then the Spirit can propel me forward, down that path that leads to true life.

And it’s a daily effort. My typical day starts like this: “Jesus, I give up. I can’t do this on my own. My selfish Self keeps getting in the way. So forget it. I’m going to stop trying. Instead, I’m going to turn my back on my Self, and give me to you. I can’t do this stuff, so YOU do it. You take control. Fill me with Your Spirit and You walk the path, as me. You must become greater, I want to become nothing. But, I’d sure like to hang around and watch what you do through me. Thanks.”

Yet we all need to beware that our prideful nature will fight back. For me, there are two distinct personalities that make up this person called CJ: the me that loves God and Jesus with all my heart, and the “self” me who is concerned with only the desires of myself. I feel like the cartoon character with a little angle on one shoulder, and a little devil on the other, each trying their best to influence my actions. The little devil in me wins too often.

Look, I could go on for hours about this, but if you’re interested in this thing called surrender, I recommend you read a book called Absolute Surrender, by Andrew Murray. Other than the Bible, this has been the most impactful book in my life.

And I sincerely wish you success as you walk down that path that leads to true life.


1 Comment

Just as I am

Okay, full disclosure time. As you may know, I’m a devout Christian, a Jesus freak. I love Jesus and God intensely, and they are top on my list of priorities in life. My greatest desire is to surrender my entire self to God and let Jesus live through me. Deny myself, surrender to God—a phrase that used to scare me, yet now it’s my greatest craving.

BUT, I’m also just a typical person, whatever that is. My life is full of problems. I don’t like work. I wish I had more money. My relationships are plagued with typical flaws, most minor, others not so.

I like to drink, alcohol that is. I’m not picky—wine, beer, and I haven’t yet tasted a hard liquor I don’t like. Sometimes I drink too much, and later, I’m not too sorry for it. Oh, and yes, I sometimes have impure thoughts (I’ll leave the nature of those to your imagination). I don’t think I would trust someone who claims they never have impure thoughts. Hey, we’re all broken, even those who pretend to be more holy than human.

Oh, and my mind tends to wander far from God at times. Well, most of the time actually. Every day I try to keep my mind more on Jesus and less on the world around me, but I fail. Every day I try to “do as Jesus would do,” but I fail. Every day I try to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and body, but it feels like I fail there too. I guess I’m just a messy Christian.

After knowing the totally human me, and later learning how much I love Jesus, new friends often look at me funny, like I’m a science project gone wrong, or a schizophrenic odd couple. On the outside, I don’t look like what they would expect from a Jesus freak.

BUT #2, all of my faults don’t seem to get in the way of my relationship with God and Jesus. I’m so grateful that God is in the forgiving business. No matter what I do, or how far my mind drifts away, God is always there, waiting for me to look back at Him. Oh, I tend to sense His displeasure with my behavior sometimes. But I also sense He’s more pleased with the fact I return my attention to Him, than He is unhappy with my thoughts or actions.

It all boils down to this: God and Jesus accept me just as I am, no matter what. And I love them all the more because of it. God also loves you just the way you are.