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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Restless Baby, Restless Mind

Have you ever held a restless baby, like a child around 8 or 9 months old?

Let’s say you’re carrying him upstairs to change his diaper. While on the steps, the baby pushes back from you with hands and feet, he arches his back, he lunges right, lunges left, squirming in all directions at once. You fear you’ll lose hold, and you try to get the baby’s attention, trying to catch its eye, trying to calm it with soothing words. Nothing works.

And the whole time, the baby’s unaware that if he actually wrestled free, he’d fall down the stairs and get banged up. The baby doesn’t realize that the safest thing for it to do is be calm, relax, and just be still in your arms.

Sometimes while praying, I feel like that baby. My mind pushes away from God, it lunges in multiple directions at once. God tries to get my attention, tries to catch my eye. But my mind keeps squirming away.

Do I have a solution to offer? Nope. I guess I just felt like whining about how my prayer time went this morning. I hope yours was better.


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A Prayer for Today, Friday the 13th

Please try praying this prayer for yourself, from your heart. First, get an image of Jesus in your mind’s eye, maybe from a movie you’ve seen or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter. Then, with that image, picture the Spirit of Jesus within you, inside your body, there with your soul and personality. Like the two of you are sharing the same body. Now …

 

Dear Spirit of Jesus, here within me,

Help me feel the fruits of your presence.

Help me feel your love, your joy, your peace, your patience,

Help me feel your kindness, your goodness, your faithfulness,

And help me feel your gentleness and self-control.

With you within me dear Jesus, I can feel protected from the chaos of the world around me.

I can feel isolated, separated from the world.

Yes, I feel safe, and calm.

I feel your peace, and freedom.

The world is still there, always there, noisy, painful, angry.

But at least for this moment, I’m free of it all, here with you.

I know the world will suck me back out as soon as I look away from you.

But whenever I look back inside, to you, I will find you there, always waiting for me.

With you, I’m never alone.

Dear Jesus, when I leave this time of prayer and return to the world, as I must, please help me bring the fruits of your presence with me.

Please help me bring a bit of you with me.

Come with me back into the world.

It’s hard for me alone.

But with you, I can glorify you and our Father with what I do and how I live.

Dear Jesus, dear Lord God, your Spirit here within me,

I love you.


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My Prayer for Today

Dear God. Dear Jesus. There is so much pain in our world, so much suffering. I try to pray for it all. It’s too much for me. Too overwhelming. I start to pray, I try to bring it all within my mind to then offer to You, and I soon find myself drowning deep in the depths of all that pain. Crushed. I can’t do this. I can’t handle it. I can’t wrap my mind around the world’s pain and suffering.

CJ, don’t try. Let go. Don’t focus on the pain. Look only to Me.

Oh Lord. My dear Jesus. You know the pains. You can handle it. Since all that pain is too much for me to begin to pray for, I offer you my self. I give you me. Please, as always, I pray that your Spirit dear Jesus will live through me, love through me, heal through me. In whatever way You will, help ease the pains of the world, through me. Your will be done, in me.

Your will be done in me. Oh Lord, that thought makes me smile. A moment of true peace, and even joy, in the midst of the world’s misery. Wow. I love you.


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Seeing Prayer from God’s Point of View

Do you start your day with some quiet time and prayer? Do you sit in a comfortable chair, get that first cup of coffee warm in your hands, close your eyes, and look for God or Jesus in your thoughts? Well, no matter when or where you pray, the next time you do, consider trying to picture things from God’s point of view.

Like the father waiting for the prodigal son to return, our Father is always waiting for us to return to Him in prayer. Picture Him quietly waiting for you in heaven, as you bow your head down here on earth. He gazes at you and smiles. Then he reaches down and lifts you to him.

Maybe you picture God lifting you up and setting you on his lap, as a father filled with love for his little child. Or you picture Jesus lifting you up and setting you on a seat before him, so close your knees are touching his. He reaches across and takes your hands in his. And with or without words, the two of you share your feelings with each other. Then, see where your prayer time goes from there.

That’s where the best prayer time will be, with you and God together again.

And if you care to try something else that may be new, instead of filling your prayer time with telling God what you desire, quiet you mind and ask Him what He desires.


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A Lever for Change

Peaceful protests are a good lever for change. Unfortunately, as we have seen, criminals and anarchists who don’t care about change are hijacking peaceful protests. The criminals just see an easy opportunity to get away with looting. I don’t pretend to guess what motivates the anarchists—it looks to me like they just enjoy stirring up trouble.

But there is one lever for change that is not so easily hijacked—your vote. I don’t know if there’s much our federal elected officials can do to fix problems such as the one that’s shattering our nation right now. But I do know there is something state and local officials can do. So, along with our peaceful (hopefully) protests, we should tell our local elected officials that unless they implement tangible and effective change by this November, we’re going to vote them out of office. I bet that will help get something done.

The best legacy for George Floyd and all victims of such crimes should not be violence, looting, and division. I think the best legacy that we could honor them with is to have all of us, regardless of race, come together around effective and long lasting change that will ensure that crimes like this never happen again. And in keeping with what I normally post about, more powerful even than our vote would be all of us praying together.

And yes, this is not the typical type of thing I post. But like many of you, because of what’s happened, and the violence that has come on the heels of violence, well, it’s stirred up too much anguish for me to keep bottled up. So I’ve added my small voice to the cries of all those who are also saddened, along with the groans of our country and society that seems to be trembling on the knife edge of survival (maybe that’s what the anarchists want—to push us all over the edge).


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Praying in the Name of Jesus—an Amazing Experience

I was just reading about what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, in the book, Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray. And I finally saw a deeper, clearer meaning.

To pray to God in Jesus’ name is as if Jesus Himself is asking Father God on my behalf. Yet instead of Jesus asking for me, Jesus has said I can go directly to God and use His name. It’s almost like he says, “You have my approval to ask the Father.”

I’ve known this before, but today I think Jesus opened my mind to the deeper meaning, which is: Before Jesus will give me his approval to use his name, he needs to be willing. What I need to do is first go to Jesus and ask Him to bless my request. And I completely believe that Jesus will bless all prayers that glorify Father God.

And Jesus will show me how prayers can glorify God, and how to change errant prayers so they will then glorify God. Then, I can go to the Father with Jesus’ blessing and say something like, “Father God, in Jesus’ name and with His blessing, I humbly ask you for (insert request here).”

So today, I did just that. And what a GREAT time of prayer it was! I’ve never felt so certain that a prayer will be smiled upon by God and granted in some way. And now I’m excited to see the outcome.

Give it a try. It’s great!!! And if at first it feels awkward to go to Jesus and ask for his blessing, well, maybe the two of you just need to become closer friends. And the beauty of going to him with requests like that is the more you meet him in this way, the closer you will become.


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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.


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Does Jesus Christ Feel Like a Stranger?

Does Jesus Christ feel like a stranger to you? Or, is he a stranger to someone you care about?

For those who see Jesus this way, maybe it would help to look at him from a human perspective. What I mean is, maybe it would help to see Jesus’ human side, and not just his God side. And maybe this just-published novel, “We called Him Yeshua,” is a good way to do that—get to know the “man” first, and then know God.

The paperback was just released on Amazon and it, along with the ebook, are both on sale for 50% off.

Please consider sharing this with a friend. Or, you could even give them this book as a gift.

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

 


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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.


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Can You Hear My Voice?

I am the Holy Spirit – the voice of God here within you. I speak to you from the depths of your soul. I know that believing in me can be difficult. But even if you believe, it’s not always easy to listen.

You may look inside and see me here with your minds eye. Yet your mind doesn’t stop there. Your mind has so much to say. Try listening to yourself when you come to me while you pray. What do you hear? Does you mind ever stop talking?

Also, there are so many other voices within your mind, all clamoring for your attention – work, school, relationships – you know the voices that nag you and consume your mind.

I know it’s hard, but when you are able to gently silence those other voices, and when you are able to quiet the voice of your own mind; then please listen for my voice. And you will discover that even if I have nothing to say to you in that moment, your voiceless presence with me will give you complete peace. And it also gives me joy. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your love.


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Dear God … for Terrie

Dear God, dear Jesus… you know Terrie’s condition. You see the Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that is rapidly killing her. You see her now, in that hospital bed.

I don’t know Terrie as well as you do. In fact, I haven’t seen her for many years. But because of your love that fills me now, I too feel love for Terrie, like a brother for a sister. And I love her husband, as a brother. And I love her children, as a father. Unfortunately, I’m feeling this love more profoundly only now – now that I’ve heard about Terrie’s pain and suffering.

Lord, as you know, Terrie enters my mind a lot these days, ever since we heard of the relapse. Today I just felt like writing my prayers, and sharing my prayers with anyone who might like to join us in prayer.

Dear Jesus, as I feel your presence within me now, please pour your presence into Terrie, and throw out the evil disease that possesses her, and fill her with your love and peace. I know you love Terrie, and maybe you are ready to bring her home to heaven to live with you. But I also know you love her family. For her family, please heal Terrie so she can remain with them a while longer.

But no matter what dear God, your will be done. I give all my trust to you. Thank you dear Lord. Thank you dear Jesus, for sending your Spirit to be with Terrie now. She may not feel you there with her, but you’re there.

All my love for you dear Jesus.

CJ


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The Spirit Speaks – It’s a Noisy World, isn’t it?

Noise of the world

I, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, know how hard it is to empty your mind and focus on me. I know how loud the noise of the world is. And the fact that I don’t yell at you, that I remain peacefully quiet within you – this may not help.

When I walked the earth as a man, I too was surrounded by the noise of the world, the constant chatter and demands for attention. The noise was intense at times. So in order to have time with my Father, I had to first escape the noise around me. I had no home, no room I could go to, no door to shut to block out the noise. So I often escaped to an isolated place in the country, far away from the deafening noise of humanity.

And my Father was always there, waiting for me. But the noise still tried to crowd Him out, as it tries to crowd me out of your life. It took some time to first empty my mind of the noise. But once I did, I and my Father were one, without the noise getting in the way.

It’s not difficult, but it does take effort, and time. Once you are in your quiet place, you need to give yourself enough time to flush the noise of your world out of your mind. And once the noise has died down, it’s just you and me. And you will find that there is no better place in life than those moments when it’s just the two of us, alone together.


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The Spirit Speaks – of Fighting Against the Noise

Fight for time

Does it sometimes seem hard to find me, the Spirit of Jesus Christ? I’m always here, within your quiet prayers. Oh, but there’s the challenge; finding quiet with the noise of the world all around you.

Even in the midst of your quiet time, the noise of this world will invade and steal your thoughts away. So many distractions, the pressures, the tasks, the stress of this world all combine forces to wrestle for your every thought, battling to steal your time with Me. You need to fight back. Don’t surrender… to them.

Who would you rather have control your life … the random noise, or me? The noise doesn’t care about your wellbeing; I do. The noise doesn’t love you; I do. Fight back against the noise and win control of your quiet time. Surrender to Me, not the noise.

And with Me, maybe today will become the best day of your week.


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The Spirit Speaks – Seek & Find

seek and find

Do you wonder at my existence? Are you uncertain, yet curious? Am I really the Spirit of Jesus Christ? Do I really exist within your being, sharing your body with your very soul?

If such questions occupy your mind, maybe that’s because I occupy a space in your heart. Such questions come from me, within you. Your earth-bound rational mind will doubt, yet there is part of you that is able to escape the limits of your humanity and look beyond the things you can see, to me.

Look for my story within the pages of the Bible. Look for me within you. Seek, and you will find me in prayer. For prayer is where you and I come together. Prayer is where wonder and curiosity becomes reality… with me, within you.


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Feeling Disconnected from God

reaching out to God

I have a Facebook friend whom I’ve never met, who recently posted this question to my FB page: “I haven’t been to church in 2 months and feel very disconnected from God. I’ve talked to my Pastor who says this is normal and all Christians go through this at some point or another. Any suggestions?”

Wow! As I read this, I felt a surge of nervousness rise up within me. Though I enjoy posting my personal experiences and such on my blog, I don’t feel qualified to give individual and personal advice. But my FB friend was asking for help. And I felt I should do my best to honor their request. So, this is what I said…

“I went through the same thing. So many doubts. My only suggestion is to find as much quiet time as you can to pray and try to feel the very presence of God within your self. This is what I did, and try to do every day. And when I find and truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit within me – well, it’s the peace that goes beyond human understanding, that Jesus promised us. Yet for me, it seemed to take a long time to feel the Spirits presence; I tend to be a slow learner. But be persistent and never give up, as Jesus encouraged us to be.”

In looking back on this advice, which is not really advice from me but from Jesus, I believe it’s good everyday advice for all of us.

Do you feel disconnected from God? Follow Jesus’ advice, and seek Him with all your heart. And you will find Him there, within you.


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Another Day in the Parking Lot

parking lot

Another lunch hour when I’m able to free myself from the hungry grip of work and grap some time alone. But not really alone. I drove to the nearby office park with the half-empty parking lot. My usual tree-shaded parking space is open. It takes a few minutes to quiet my mind and flush out all the work noise. But soon, here comes the Holy Spirit into my thoughts, here to share my lunch with me, and my writing time. I enjoy taking these writing breaks in the middle of my workday, when I can.

Oh, here come those two women who like to walk the loop around this large parking lot. The dark-haired one is doing the talking, as usual. And she’s whining again about something. She’s always whining, at least every time I see her. I feel sorry for her. She seems to have so much to complain about.

Dear Jesus, please help the dark-haired woman find peace. Please help her find freedom from complaining. I suspect you won’t remove her problems, the things she likes to complain about. But she could find true joy in the freedom that comes from letting go of her problems.

Lord, you’ve opened my eyes to this freedom and joy. Oh, I still complain, but not as much as I used to, before I let you into my heart. Thank you for coming in and healing my self-inflicted wounds. I’m so grateful.


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Where to go to Church?

church

It’s Sunday morning – time to get ready to go to church. Do you have a church to go to? Do you have a way to get there? If not, maybe do as I’m doing on this Sunday. Instead of looking to others for “church,” look within yourself.

Find a quiet place to be alone, but not truly alone. As Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The one true Church, the Church that Jesus built, is not a building or a manmade organization. The true Church is the body in which the Holy Spirit of Jesus lives… my body, your body, the collective bodies of all who choose to believe and accept the gift of Jesus’ salvation and presence.

Manmade church can be great – I’ve grown a lot by going to such a church. But it’s not the true Church that Jesus built.

Do you want to go to Church today? Then quiet your mind, close your eyes, and look inside yourself … to the Spirit of Jesus within you. That’s where you can truly worship and praise Him. And maybe even sing a song for Him. I bet He’d enjoy such a one-person choir.

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)