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

A Thought on Jesus and Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (love is humble). It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs (love is forgiving). Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (love is truthful). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Patient, kind, humble, forgiving, truthful, protective, trustful, faithful, never ending. All of these are captured in one word—Love. Now consider what John said about love: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)

And as Jesus is God, we can then sincerely say, Jesus is patience and kindness. He is humility and forgiveness. He is truth, protection, and trust. Jesus is faith. Jesus is love, and Jesus never fails.


Leave a comment

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/


Leave a comment

The human side of Jesus – a snippet from “We Called Him Yeshua”

“I’ve never felt this way before. I mean, the way Ruth makes me feel. When I look at her, like now, my heart pounds and … oh, camel dung.”

“I understand,” Yeshua said.

“You do?”

“Neri, I may be the Son of God, but I’m also the son of man … fully human.”

“God and human, all at the same time? I thought it was some kind of metaphor.”

“It’s no metaphor. Just try to accept it as truth.”

“Okay. I guess. But, do you ever feel more like one, than the other?”

“Oh sure. Like tonight. I love moments like this, when to all of them,” he waived his arm out to the dancing crowd, “I can be just another person. When people treat me as God, they distance themselves from me—out of fear or awe. But tonight, I’m just another man celebrating a wedding, having fun, dancing, playing … being human.”

He took a bite of bread and glanced around.

“Listen Neri, being human provides an intimacy that’s hard to find when people only see my divinity. And it’s intimacy I long for. My strongest desire is not to be above anyone, but to be with everyone, in close communion. Like most people, I have a strong desire to be loved.”

He took a slow sip of wine. “Neri, it’s hard for people to fall in love with a God. But it’s easy for them to fall in love with a person.”

(Click on image to go to Amazon book page)


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?


1 Comment

Opening Our Eyes for Easter

He was accused a sinner, then judged guilty of sin, and not just any sin… ALL sin. He was then sentenced to death—the ultimate penalty for all the crimes of humanity. Then, He was executed.

But who accused, and judged, and sentenced, and executed? It was humanity who executed the Son of God for the crimes of all humanity. Some of those who committed the crimes were the ones who did the accusing, judging, sentencing, and executing.

And Jesus humbly took the place of those who carried out His punishment. He took our place too.

Oh I know it was His fate. I know the justice of God had to be carried out somehow. And I understand why the penalty had to be laid on Jesus. But in thinking of the irony that Jesus suffered at the hands of people He was sacrificing Himself to save—well, it magnifies my gratitude.

Easter approaches, and maybe that’s why my mind is questioning the circumstances of Jesus’ death. I think my prayer for this Easter is that God opens our hearts and minds a little more to see how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Jesus. I hope you have an eye-opening Easter.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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)


Leave a comment

Looking at Love Through a Cardboard Tube

Under weird circumstances I stumbled across these verses in Ephesians: “I pray that you may grasp the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19, abbreviated)

I found myself wondering about the magnitude of Jesus’ love for us. Why does His love “surpass knowledge?” Why is it hard to comprehend the truth and scope of Jesus’ love? This is what I believe:

First, Jesus loves like no other human. For example, my love (being solely human), is marred by my natural human flaws. My love is polluted by my pride and selfishness. Why do I love someone? Well, there is always a reason, such as they are funny, friendly, attractive in some other way, etc. I need a reason… it’s just how my emotions and mind work. It seems harsh to me, but my love is motivated by “what’s in it for me?”

Yet for Jesus, He needs no reason to love. He has no flaws to mar His love for others. He loves because He is the Son of God, and He can do no less than the same as His Father.

Also, Jesus’ love comes from a mixture of his humanity and his divinity. As God, He unconditionally loves. But as human, He loves us other humans with a human intimacy. He’s one of us, without the natural flaws that is. But He knows what it’s like to face our temptations, weaknesses, flaws and problems. He loves with a sympathy that comes from intimacy.

The final reason I can’t comprehend Jesus’ love is that I can only consider His love through the lens of my own humanity. I am only able to see love through my own pride and selfishness. It’s like I’m looking through a cardboard tube of gift wrapping paper at a broad panoramic scene. All I see is what comes through my pretend telescope. I miss everything else in the scene. I think it’s this way when I try to look at and comprehend Jesus’ love. I only see a small piece of a wide and long and high and deep vastness of love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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)

Maybe we can’t see the extensiveness of Jesus’ love for us, but I pray that we all can at least accept the truth of it.


2 Comments

A Love in His Image

Painfully obvious fact: being a parent isn’t always easy. A parent’s love for their children can be so huge, it almost hurts. And as I think about it, this parent-child relationship is really unique.

Yesterday was my younger son’s 26th birthday, and I thought about our relationship a lot during the day. I thought about the bond we have. I believe this bond is partly rooted in the mundane fact that he is biologically made up of parts of his mom and me – his DNA comes from us. I think it’s that biological bond that feeds my emotional bond… somehow.

Whether it’s the DNA thing or something else that creates this bond, the feeling is real and often intense. I sometimes don’t know how to express the love I feel for my sons, a love that I think gets a lot of its strength from this bond we have.

But why does this kind of love sometimes hurt – where’s the pain come from? Well, for me the pain comes from this bond that craves closeness. And as my sons have grown into men and launched off into lives out on their own, we’re never close enough. My love wants my little boy back, where I can cradle him in my arms, toss him in the air, and delight in his infectious giggle.

Being a parent can be difficult and painful and weird… and absolutely fantastic!

Okay, now what about God… our spiritual Parent? Since we were made in His image, our love is an image of His love – a blurry and weak reflection of God’s true love. Imagine the strength of the bond He feels with us. Imagine the love He feels for His children, and the pain of that love. Imagine the magnitude of His craving for closeness.

How does that make you feel?


Leave a comment

The Wild Child and the Unusual Parent

One day God bought himself a huge ranch, with a massive house, several barns, and lots of rich, fertile land. It was like a garden. And then God invited his adopted children to move into the ranch house with him.

One of the adopted sons eventually got bored with ranch life. He craved something more exciting. Now being an adopted child of God, this son knew that when God died, he would inherit his portion of God’s wealth (okay, God can’t really die, but this is a made-up story, so please stick with me). Anyway, this son went into God’s study where he found God looking at the newspaper, frowning at what he was reading. The son then demanded his share of the inheritance.

Okay, at this point it helps to understand something about the country where God’s ranch was. The people there had strong beliefs about family. Families were powered by mutual respect and love. And to ask a parent for your inheritance, before the parent was actually dead, was the same as telling the parent you wished they were dead. The society there even had laws intended to punish people who showed such intense disrespect. This greedy son now faced the death penalty. All God had to do was call the police, and the son would be hauled away. But God didn’t do that. Instead, God gave the son what he asked for (yep, I don’t get it either).

So with a backpack full of money, the son took off for the big city – Las Vegas. Many parties, prostitutes, and wild nights later, the son was broke. Unable to pay his bill, he was kicked out of his lavish hotel room. Now he was on the streets, learning what it was like to be homeless… in Vegas.

Eventually, he overcame his resistance to admit his mistakes, and decided to go home, back to the ranch. He figured he wasn’t worthy to be treated like a son (got that right), and decided to ask God if he could just be one of the ranch workers. At least he’d have a place to sleep and regular meals.

He begged enough money to get a bus ticket to a town near the ranch, but not enough for an Uber ride from the bus stop to the ranch. So he had to walk the final 15 miles. Now that was a long, humiliating hike. He really dreaded seeing God again. But his empty stomach pushed him on.

He came up over a rise and entered the long, shallow, grass-covered valley where the ranch house was, still about three miles away. Within a minute or two, he noticed someone coming toward him – it looked like they were running. He was scared. Was this person sent to chase him off God’s land? He was so hungry, and tired, and as he imagined being turned away, he started to cry. He almost fell to the ground, but the little pride remaining kept him on his feet.

He started walking again, rehearsing his apology speech. He really didn’t need more rehearsal – he’d been working on it for over a week. But he felt he needed to keep his mind busy, or he’d start crying again.

He’d practiced all kinds of excuses, but now decided to give them up. It had to be easier to just admit how wrong he was and ask for forgiveness, and a job.

Within a few minutes it became clear that the approaching runner was actually God. Wow, he runs pretty fast for such an old man. But at the sight of God, the sons dread turned to absolute despair. How could he face God again, after telling him he wished God was dead? This was too much. The son collapsed to the ground and began sobbing – any remaining pride left him, running down his cheeks, mixed with tears. In an instant, God was upon him.

God dropped to his knees in front of the son. With one hand, he reached out and gently squeezed the sons shoulder. With the other hand, God lifted the sons quivering chin and looked into his tear-filled eyes. There was no anger in God’s gaze – only love. God then pulled the son to him and hugged him. With tears in his own voice, God said, “My son, you’re alive! I had given you up for dead.”

There were no questions. There was not condemnation, no blame, no guilt-trip. Only love, and forgiveness, and joy. And then, God threw a big party for his lost child who had come back home.

 

(Blatantly lifted from a story Jesus once told. Yep, the Prodigal Son.)

 


4 Comments

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.


5 Comments

Time Travel… to the Very Beginning

What was the essence of humanity in the beginning? I mean way back, right after the creation, but before sin polluted our spirit.

Well, God created humanity in His image, and God is love. Therefore in the beginning, humanity was love. Love was the complete meaning of what it was to be human. The only emotion Adam and Eve felt was love… until selfishness took over, and the sin that spawns from it.

When you see two people truly in love – humble love – you are seeing back in time, to the beginning. In this way, love is a portal to the past, to the time before selfishness and sin, and to a time when humanity lived in the very presence of God. So maybe when you see true love, you are also seeing through that portal all the way to God. When you see love, you are seeing God.


1 Comment

How Would You Feel If…?

What if you knew for certain that tomorrow you were going to be tortured and killed? How would you feel today, knowing what waits for you tomorrow?

A weird and disturbing question, I know. But your answer may help you feel some of what Jesus felt, as he waited for His fate.

I don’t ask this to stir up feelings of guilt. Instead I hope you will feel overwhelming love and gratitude. What Jesus did for all of us was not easy. He suffered so we won’t have to. So how do you feel?


2 Comments

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)


6 Comments

My letter of Thanks

Dear God,

Thank you for saving my father. Yesterday my dad had open heart surgery, where with your help the doctors performed a double bypass and replaced the faulty heart valve. And my dad is 88 years old! And he survived! And the surgery was without any complications!

As you know from my prayers yesterday, and as I’m sorry to say, I had my doubts at times. I doubted my dad would survive. But I hope my doubts were not because of my sometimes weak faith, but because I trust you. I trusted you to do your will, and I accept that your will may have been to bring my dad to be home with you, in heaven. But by your love for all who love my dad, you gave him back to us, to be with us a bit longer. Thank you.

I believe we witnessed your miracle yesterday. I believe when we looked into my dad’s eyes as he began to wake up again, that we saw the miracle of your love and presence and hand in the surgery. For in addition to whatever part you had in the surgery itself, you gave my dad the will to live. And you helped him see your love and the love of his family.

This is beginning to feel like a rambling letter. But I just wanted to publically thank you for your love in our lives, and the new life you’ve given my dad.

And dear Jesus, thank you for being there with all of us, in that waiting room. Some of us felt the presence of your Spirit. Waiting with you sure made the waiting easier.


Leave a comment

The Spirit Speaks – of My Love for You

My love for you has brought me, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, all the way from heaven to earth, to live with you. I’ve always loved you. Long ago, my love for you held me fast to the cross – it’s wasn’t nails that kept me there. And now, my love holds me tightly to you.

Please, think about what my love means to you. Look inside yourself. If you can’t feel my presence, then imagine me there, within you. See and accept my presence as fact. Now focus on the fact of my love; my love that loves you from the inside. See me in your minds eye; see my face, my eyes, my smile – all an overflowing expression of my love. Relax your mind and spirit and let my love flow through you, enveloping you in my warm caress of true love. How does the fact of my love make you feel?


1 Comment

The Spirit Speaks – of Love at Christmas

Does Christmas stir up feelings of excitement, anticipation, generosity, and love? Does Christmas give you a chance to show people in your life how much you care for them? And as you get closer to Christmas day, are you looking forward to being with friends and family, to eat good food, share gifts, and celebrate? Even with the usual family dynamics? Hey, maybe Christmas can be a chance to forgive unresolved grievances.

I hope so. I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, hope that my children come together this Christmas and share their love for each other. Maybe with a plate of cookies. Or a colorfully wrapped gift. Or a card with a sincere note inside. Or a hug. Or a “sorry.”

Of course I hope you include me in your time with friends and family. But my desire goes beyond me, to others. Please, make the most of this Christmas by looking beyond yourself, looking beyond me, and look to each other. And love each other. It’s love that makes a Merry Christmas.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19)


1 Comment

The Spirit Speaks – of Unconditional Friendship

Please, no matter what path you have followed in life, no matter what injuries you may have inflicted upon your soul, no matter what sins fill your past, know this truth: I want to be your friend. I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, want to give to you my unconditional friendship.

I know some people have a problem with this image of me being friends with the likes of sinners. Some people can’t visualize God hanging out with sinners. But that’s why I came to earth over 2000 years ago! And that’s why I come to you now… to hang out with you, to live with you, to be your best friend, to love you.

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” (Matthew 11:19)


1 Comment

The Spirit Speaks – of Love verses Money

Where money is the currency of the world, love is the currency of heaven. I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ desire love, not money. I’m not impressed by what you give; I just want you to know me, to love me.
But if you are blessed with those things that other people dearly need, such as money and your time, please, don’t give out of a feeling of obligation. For this is not true giving, this is not true generosity.
Again, what I want from you is for you to know me, for you to let me into your life. And my presence will fill your heart with my generosity. And your giving will come from a desire more powerful than obligation. Your giving will come from love. Love must come first; generosity is an outcome. And true love comes from knowing me.
“I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.” (Hosea 6:6, Living Bible)


Leave a comment

The Spirit Speaks – a Love Letter

writing love

I am the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My hearts desire is to live with you, within you, sharing your life. How does that make you feel? If you feel uncomfortable in any way, that’s okay. I understand. I was human once, like you. I know the fragility and vulnerability of humanness.

There are days when you feel like you’re under attack from all sides; so many things of this world fighting to win control of your mind. And then this guy comes along, claiming to be the very Spirit of God and Jesus, who now wants to take over, and take control of your life, changing everything you’ve ever known.

But wait! That’s not why I’m here. I’m not here for me; I’m here for you. I’m here because I love you and I want to be your friend. I’m not here to take control; I’m here to help. Friends don’t take control; friends listen, friends cry with you, laugh with you, and are always there for you to lean on when you’re feeling weak. Friends give you strength to continue standing against the battle of life.

But I understand your discomfort with this idea of me, the Holy Spirit. Yet I’m more than an idea – I’m real. And I won’t push you; I will only gently touch you. And I’ll patiently wait for you. Because I love you.


1 Comment

The Spirit Speaks – Come as You Are

come as you are

I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, love you with all of my being. My love for you is perfect, true love. Do you love me too? And does your love sometimes feel weak, half-hearted, and far from perfect? Please, don’t feel bad if this is your heart. I cherish your love, just as it is. I gratefully accept your love, weak or strong. I encourage you to accept it too.

Many of my Father’s children hesitate to come to Him because they feel they are not worthy. They feel their love is too weak or their sins are too strong. I come to you today to ask you to put aside your self-judgment, and come as you are. God accepts you as you are, God loves you as you are. And I, God’s Son Jesus, love you as you are. Please, look within yourself to me, and love me, as you are.