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

Record Unemployment – My Feeble Effort to Help Out

I just saw the headline, “April Unemployment Rate Rose to a Record 14.7%.” Unprecedented 20.5 million jobs lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The headline is huge, but what follows feels so little. Anyway, I don’t know if it will help anyone, but because of that headline, I’m dropping the price of “We Called Him Yeshua” down to as low as Amazon will allow. It feels like nothing. But if it helps one person get the book, who may not otherwise, and if it helps them find comfort and escape within the pages of the book, then to me it’s well worth it.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7/


Leave a comment

A “Groundhog Day” Moment

The early evening sun dropped behind the tree in the front yard, casting the lawn in speckled shadows. My wife sat in her usual spot for that time of day, on the couch, facing the large window looking out to the street, her latest favorite book in hand. I was in my usual spot, on the family room couch, scanning the articles in our local online newspaper (yes, it was all the same stuff—all coronavirus, all the time).

Suddenly my wife let out a chuckle.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I just had a ‘Groundhog Day’ moment,” she said, still chuckling.

“A what?”

“Well, I’m sitting here looking out the window, and I’m seeing the same people, walking past at the same time of day, in the same direction, and yet all keeping plenty of ‘social distance’ between them. But it’s just like yesterday—the same thing each day.”

And then we were both chuckling, feeling as if we too were stuck in the cycle Bill Murray fell into in the movie “Groundhog Day,” living the same day over and over again.

This sheltering in place has many of us falling into a routine as we try to make the best out of a difficult situation. Some, like the people my wife chuckled at, get outside when they can for a nice social-distanced walk in the fresh air. My wife and I do, usually at the same time of day, each and every day. Yet, we do sometimes change our route, being the thrill-seekers we are.

Are you living your own Groundhog Day? If it feels that way, you can always keep repeating what you enjoy, and change up what you don’t. And if possible, try to find some humor in our new reality.

By the way, I tried to figure out how to tie this into some kind of Christian message, since that’s what I usually write about. But I couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to share it just for the fun. During this era of tension and stress that so many of us feel, it’s important to have some fun, as often as we can.

Here’s hoping you have a great day today, even if it’s a lot like yesterday.


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

Escape

Fog oozed into the grove of trees, dripping off the leaves, filling the air with the pungent smell of eucalyptus. Dead skin-like bark littered the ground, making it hard to creep silently through the old cemetery. But creep I did, hiding behind a head stone, looking for my chance.

He lurked out in the open part of the hillside cluster of graves, looking behind each head stone, statue, and crypt, determined to find me, and the others. But, could any of us get away?

My only chance was with the granite statue in the middle of the cemetery, the tallest statue there. That’s where my freedom lay, waiting for me to grab it. I just had to get there without him seeing me. For if he spotted me, I was dead, just another resident of that fog shrouded cemetery.

He was getting closer. My heart raced. I tried not to breathe. Then, a noise, farther up the hill, one of the others most likely. A careless step, that’s all it took. Too bad for them, but it gave me the opening I needed.

He changed course and headed for the noise. I crept to another hiding spot, just a bit closer to the statue. He took a few more steps up the hill. Then, as he stepped behind a crypt, out of sight, I made my move. Running low, from one head stone to the next, I dashed for the statue, stealing glances toward the crypt. Closer. Closer. Then …

“Base!” I yelled, touching the statue and screaming out my freedom. Oh, I loved a good game of hide and seek.

I miss those days, so long ago. Though the Vietnam War was raging, we were oblivious. Our grammar school lives revolved around fun, and we had lots of it. I sometimes wish I could get that feeling back.

Many years later, maybe forty, I saw more meaning in our games of hide and seek. The cemetery was our favorite place, and that same statue was always the base. But then I remembered; it was a statue of Jesus Christ, holding out his hands in a very welcoming gesture. I now see Jesus as my “base,” my source of freedom—freedom from fear, from worry, from anxiety, from depression. And my source of escape from the world—whenever I need a break, he’s there, arms out, welcoming me.

 

And now a thought for anyone who feels they don’t know Jesus, but currently know too well feelings of anxiety, etc..

Look, there’s a lot of s#*t going on in the world right now. I don’t need to elaborate. But, without sounding like some Bible-thumping evangelist, I encourage you to look for help. And maybe the help you need can’t come from the world. After all, it’s the world and all the s#*t that’s the source of our worries. Please consider looking outside the world.

Maybe Jesus isn’t the kind of help you want. But if you think he might be, and you’d like to learn something about him, please check this out (link to cjpenn.com). Maybe it could be a good place to start.


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.


1 Comment

Paradise Aflame

Some of us have called it paradise. Why? Well…the weather, the small-feel towns scattered among the rolling hills, the wineries—lots of wineries. And just something you might label “environment.” It’s something that seems to be in the air (pardon the cliché).

Well, right now there’s smoke in the air. And many of the hills, wineries, and towns are now ash and black destruction. Homes that recently purred with lively families are now silent piles of dead ash.

But please believe me, it’s still paradise. Why? Because of the people. The hearts here are the biggest, the best. Firefighters, volunteers giving money, cloths, time, and hugs at evacuation shelters—it’s these people who breathe paradise back into our smoke-filled air.

Yet that’s part of what happens when things like this happen. The best sprouts out of the ash left by the worst, whether fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, whatever.

For those of us who have lived through, and died in, the wild fires of Sonoma County, California—may God bless us all.