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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Governments Legislating Morals. And Other Twisted Stuff.

Governments creating laws dictating moral behavior—it’s happening in Texas with the newly passed anti-abortion law. Oh, I know there’s more than morals at stake. And part of the trouble with legislation like the Texas law is that it does nothing to address the real problem. Such laws try to halt the outcome of problems while ignoring the root cause. As with making prostitution illegal, these laws are doomed to failure.

But to my main reason for writing this post, the other twisted stuff the title refers to. This is neither an anti-abortion nor pro-abortion post. If anything, it’s an anti-the-way-some-Christians-behave-these-days kind of post. Confused? Sorry—I’ll clarify.

First consider this: Jesus didn’t force His morals, His Christianity, upon anyone. He just showed the truth and let each person decide. Yet it seems like some of today’s Christians get things twisted around, ignoring truth and forcing their morals upon others. But Jesus didn’t model that behavior; it’s not very Christ-like.

Now consider this: if Jesus was a leader in a Texas church, I suspect He’d do what He always did. He’d preach the truth and let the people decide. And I think the truth He’d preach, the truth not often heard in today’s churches, would be the truth of the presence of His Spirit in the lives of those who believe and accept Him. It’s Jesus’ Holy Spirit who will show us how He wants us to behave—He will show us His morals. And only His Spirit can fill us with His power that will propel us to live by those morals. It’s the Spirit of God and Jesus who will bring about morality, not manmade laws.

With respect to Christians who support things like anti-abortion laws, this is another case of Christians relying more on their elected leaders and their governments than on Jesus and God. It seems like Jesus is confronted here with the same problems He had to face when He walked the roads of ancient Israel. Back then, He was dealing with religious leaders who put their manmade rules above God’s laws, and far above having a personal relationship with God. It’s happening still—manmade laws appear more important to some Christians than a personal relationship with Jesus. And again, moral behavior doesn’t come from following a law; it comes from following Jesus.

If Christians want to reduce the occurrence of abortions, instead of lobbying for laws, perhaps they should do a better job of spreading the truth of Jesus’ Christianity (emphasis on truth). This reminds me of something Paul said: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (truth) of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Do you want to save the lives of unborn babies? Rather than enforcing laws, try promoting the truth of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.

The formula’s simple. 1) Don’t rely on manmade/church-made rules and laws; 2) spread the truthful word of Christ; 3) support people in the grow of their faith and their personal relationship with the Spirit of God; 4) step aside and let God do the rest. God can do a lot, if we get out of His way.

Gee, I wonder what He could do with the overall and overwhelming moral decay of our society, and I’m not just talking about abortion.


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Awakening

Everything appeared normal and in focus, the low cubicle walls, cluttered offices and desks, fluorescent lights overhead, worn-out carpet below. All that stuff was unchanged. But the people, what happened to the people? They were gone.

He jumped up and scanned the field of cramped cubicles. In the places where all his co-workers usually sat, spheres of light hovered over the desk chairs, all about the same size, beach ball size. Most were a bit dim, a few were shades of gray, and one or two were brilliantly white. On some of the spheres, the light flickered and changed. But they all seemed to hum, as if filled with a pulsating energy. Yet the magnitude of that energy also varied from one sphere to the next. Were they alive; if alive is even the right word? They almost seemed alive. The brightest ones seemed the most alive, as if they were throbbing with excitement and anticipation. Well, that’s how it seemed to him.

But then he noticed his feelings for these possibly living spheres of light. They didn’t frighten nor mystify him, though he believed they should have. He felt close to them, related to them, as if he and they were somehow connected. Then he noticed the other emotions, the mix of compassion, sorrow, joy, and love that he felt. Compassion and sorrow for the dimmest spheres of light, joy for the brightest ones, and love for all of them. Oh, this just kept getting weirder. Why’d he feel that way? After all, they were just spheres of light, not people. Right?

Life below the surface - sphere of light 2Okay, this had to be a dream, like something he remembered from an old Star Trek episode. But, it didn’t feel like a dream, it felt like more than a dream, and somehow more than imagination. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate, tried to figure this out. But when he opened his eyes again, they were back, not the spheres but all the people, the people he knew so well, along with the office racket. That’s when he realized it had been peacefully quiet in his dream, or whatever it was.

Maybe it had been a hallucination. Or … hmm. He’s not sure why the thought slid into his mind, but maybe the dream was God showing him a side of people he’d never seen before, the inside. Maybe what he’d seen in those spheres of light was a vision of the life force, the entire life and essence of each person. Maybe what he’d seen in those spheres, the ones bright and thriving, and those dim, struggling, and barely alive, was … their souls.

Then he remembered the almost profound love he’d felt for all of those spheres. But, if they were really the souls of his co-workers, how could he feel such love for them, especially for the souls that hovered over the chairs of people he despised?

Then another memory slid in, something Philo of Alexandria—whoever he was—once said, something like, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” He now believed he’d seen it. The dim and weak spheres of light were souls struggling in their own great battle.

Suddenly he remembered something else, something Jesus had said, about loving others as Jesus loved him. Now why’d his mind go there? He’d always struggled with that one. Some people were so despicable, so unlovable, with their bigotry, selfishness, insensitiveness, and downright arrogance. He’d always figured it was impossible for him to love such people, even if they are fellow Christians.

He knew in his gut that he just couldn’t love others as Jesus loves him—impossible. But, as Jesus also said, what’s impossible for him is possible for God. He long believed the only way he could truly love others, especially the despicable ones, was for Jesus to love those people through him—the whole surrender to God and let the Holy Spirit live within and through him thing he’d often prayed about.

He sat back in his chair and smiled. He really liked the idea of loving the souls below the surface. That felt somehow more doable, even if his love for them would initially be his normal flawed love he gave to everyone else. The perfect stuff would just have to come from Jesus. But at least maybe he’d found a way to no longer despise the despicable. After all, in his vision he’d noticed that it was the most despicable people who had the dimmest spheres of light, the souls that struggled the most and looked the least alive.

For the rest of the day, these thoughts simmered in his mind. It’s not about loving the people you see on the surface, the sometimes ugly, mean, angry, arrogant surface. It’s about loving what’s below the surface, the soul below the all-to-human exterior. Also, it’s easier to love what he can see with his mind, than what he could see with his eyes.

One more thought slipped in. During the vision, that love he’d felt for all those spheres of light—was it from him, or from Jesus? Whichever, it sure felt good.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” FREE ebook promo ending soon

What was it like to know Jesus as those who followed Him on the roads of ancient Israel? Read this story and you may find out. Get it now while the ebook is free. This free promotion ends midnight, Thursday, September 9th.

Amazon 9-7-21Click here to go to the Amazon book page to check it out. And please recommend this to friends, while it’s still free.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Now FREE on Amazon

Is reality getting you down … again? Try escaping for a time to another reality. Within the pages of We Called Him Yeshua, you can join those who walked with Jesus on the roads of ancient Israel. Follow them as they follow Him. Experience what they experienced, feel what they felt. It can be almost as if you were there.

3D cover 1 croppedStarting today, the ebook is FREE on Amazon for a limited time. Click here to go to the Amazon book page to check it out. And please recommend this to friends, while the ebook is still free.


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If it’s God’s Will. Really?

RIP - If its Gods will - reallyThey’re devoted to Christianity and their church, and for those who’ve decided to not get vaccinated against COVID 19, some may have a familiar response when asked if they’re concerned about the risks of getting sick and possibly dying. “If it’s God’s will,” they reply. I’ve heard that response before, with respect to an impending threat or otherwise avoidable problem.

Could it really be God’s will for good people to suffer a lonely and painful suffocating death? Is God really that mean; if mean is even the right word? Is it God’s will for all the COVID collateral damage surrounding the sick and dying, like the other people who may get infected, the grieving loved ones left behind, and the overworked and exhausted hospital staff dealing with suffering and death almost every day until they burn out from it? Is all that really God’s will?

Just so I don’t unfairly focus on one topic, look at all the other suffering consuming our world, the other diseases, and the evil, murder, death, hate, anger, abuse, anxiety, and depression. Is all that God’s will too?

Now back to COVID. I’ve also heard some Christians say that putting all their trust in God, rather than a vaccine, will glorify God. As Paul said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And yes, history’s full of people glorifying God by their death, most notably Jesus. But, I wonder if the only other people who truly glorified God this way did so when, by their death, others were saved, just as Jesus did. Well, death by COVID doesn’t save anyone.

Also, if someone contracts COVID 19, ends up in the hospital and dies, all along saying, “If it’s God’s will,” how does that glorify God? As I see it, dying that way and saying its God’s will just feeds the misconception that God is mean. No glory for God there, that’s for sure. Plus, how does causing severe grief for the loved ones left behind, and the additional strain on already overworked hospital staff who’ve battled this war for over a year and a half—how does any of that glorify God? I don’t see it. I think we can glorify God more in how we live, than in how we die.

Okay, so here’s what I believe God’s will is, as shown throughout the Bible, beginning in the first pages. God’s original intention was that humanity live with Him in paradise, no toil, no pain, no suffering. Just love, peace, and companionship with God. That was, is, and will always be God’s will. Yet we live under the will of people, because by their own willful decision to listen to Satan rather than God, humanity got kicked out of paradise.

I believe that if an unvaccinated person catches COVID 19 and dies, that is not God’s will. If anything, it’s Satan’s will. We live under the influence of the will of our selves, Satan, other prideful people, and the world—that too is not God’s will.

God’s will is for us to live as originally intended, with Him in paradise, in peace, love, and companionship as His dearly loved children. Just like it was in the beginning. That’s why Jesus died for us and then sent His Spirit to live in us, taking our hand, and guiding us back to paradise.

Like in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son, God just wants us to return home to Him. Oh sure, we can return home by dying. But I believe God would rather have us first live for Him, than die for Him, by letting His Spirit live in us and through us, just as Jesus promised:

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. … Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-21, 25-26)

That’s how to live in accordance with God’s will and glorify Him.


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Young Frankenstein and Jesus

In the movie “Young Frankenstein,” Doctor Frankenstein strapped his deranged monster and himself to medieval-looking laboratory tables. Igor then threw a series of switches, electricity crackled, sparks flew, and the agitated machinery transferred a portion of the doctors’ goodness into his delinquent creation.

We are God’s delinquent creation. Jesus—God as the perfect, sinless, all-righteous human—nailed himself to the cross for the great exchange. Jesus took our sin, and gave us His righteousness, making us as acceptable in God’s eyes as he is Himself. Our righteousness had to come from God, for there is no one other than God who is righteous.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22)


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One With Jesus, or One With the World

Jesus once prayed, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us.” (John 17:20-21)

Jesus also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20) “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:4-5, 7)

And finally, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As I see it, we each have a choice—to be one with Jesus, or one with the world. I can be driven by my relationship with Jesus, by my love for Him, or driven by my love for the world. Well, I know what my preference is.

What do you think?


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The Dominion of … Take Your Pick

In addition to being the dominion of God, heaven is the dominion of love, forgiveness, grace, and humility. The world, on the other hand, though there is still love and the rest, is mainly the dominion of pride, selfishness, and other such aspects of our fallen human nature.

So this morning, while holding that image in my mind of the world as the dominion of pride, I read these words of Jesus:

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:16)

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19)

“In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

“—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him no knows him.” (John 14:17)

We can be in the world, but not off the world—a common phrase I’ve often heard. We physically live in the dominion of pride, but our heart and soul can reside in the dominion of love, forgiveness, and especially humility. For it’s humility that opens the door for love and forgiveness.

And that brings me to the last verse I quoted above. The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit because Pride will not allow it, pride cannot see the Spirit of Jesus, nor know Him. So, if we want to come to know the Spirit of Jesus, I think we first need to let humility be dominant over pride in our lives. I wish we could be free of pride and the harm it brings. But we can at least nurture our humility so that it becomes stronger than pride. And then, we will be able to see, and know, the Spirit of Jesus within us.


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“We Called Him Yeshua” FREE on Amazon

Hello there everyone,

It’s been almost a year since I published my first novel, We Called Him Yeshua. To celebrate that, I’m having a promotion where the Kindle version is FREE on Amazon from today until midnight Wednesday, March 10th.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to follow Jesus as he traveled the roads of ancient Israel, this might be a great story for you. In it, you will see Jesus through the eyes of people who followed him on his final journey to Jerusalem.

Also, if you know anyone who might enjoy this book, now would be a great time to refer them to it. Maybe you could share this post on your social-media-of-choice, or even email this to a friend (see buttons below).

Finally, if you would like to leave a review or just a star rating on Amazon, that would be terrific. I’m especially grateful to hear what readers think of the book. Feedback can help me make my next book better.

(Click here to go to Amazon page)

Thank you and I hope you have a great weekend.

All the best,

CJ


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A Cure for Cabin Fever

Are you suffering from winter COVID cabin fever? Locked down. Shut in. Alone. Or, nearly alone. Zoom calls don’t help much anymore. Tired of watching TV. Definitely tired of surfing news websites. Tired of it all. All I can offer is this—it may not seem like much, but I believe it has the potential to help in unexpected ways:

A good story, a good book that will take you away to another time and place—maybe that would help. Oh, you’ve tried that already? Yes I now, there are lots of great books out there. But the problem is, once you close the book, especially for the last time, you’re still stuck in today. Well, I’d like to recommend a book that along with taking you to another time and place, might also help you bring some of it back when you return to here and now.

We Called Him Yeshua introduces you to someone who can come back with you once you close the book and return to today. This someone can help you cope with today, and even thrive.

How is that possible? Well, the story introduces you to Jesus Christ in a way more intimate than maybe you’ve ever felt. And by the time you finish the story, close the book for the last time, and return to the here and now, you’ll be able to bring Jesus with you. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I’m talking about the actual and real presence of the Spirit of Jesus. You need never be alone again.

So what exactly is this piece of historical fiction about?

The story shows you the human side of Jesus as seen through the eyes of people who lived with him during his final weeks on earth. They’ll tell you what they saw and felt, and how they grew closer to Jesus. They’ll tell you of his love, courage, compassion, strength, and humility.

Listen to Anna and others tell you about their experiences with Jesus as they all follow him down that dusty road to Jerusalem. Hear Neri describe what it was like when Jesus healed him of leprosy, or Timaeus tell you about being able to see for the first time in his life, and then Anna, as she falls deeper in love with Jesus. She doesn’t care about his divinity—all she cares for is his humanity.

We call him by his Greek name, Jesus. They called him by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. They knew him not just as a prophet, not just as the Son of God, but they knew him as a friend. As you read their stories, maybe you too will come to know Jesus as your friend.

And if you ask Him, He will come back with you when you close the book and return to today. Get to know Jesus the man—that’s where this book will help—and then let Jesus the Holy Spirit come and live with you in the here and now.

By the way, I’m keeping the price as low as Amazon will allow. Why? Because I want to make the book available to as many people as possible. And these days, money is scarce for many of us.

(Link to Amazon book page)


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WWJD 2.0

What Would Jesus Do? Somewhere around here I think I still have a colorful wristband with WWJD on it, and even a necktie. I don’t know if it’s still a popular slogan, but I remember using it many years ago when I helped lead a church youth group. The problem was, WWJD became so widespread and so popular that I think it sometimes lost its meaning, which is, if Jesus found himself in my situation, what would He do.

I reminded myself of the WWJD thing this morning, as I was reading something in my Bible. Lots of messages in there that basically encourage us to do as Jesus would do. Good advice. But with us, it’s doomed to failure.

For me to do as Jesus would do is simply impossible. I know. I’ve tried. Whenever Jesus told us to do as He would do, He knew exactly how futile our efforts would be. He knew it would be impossible for us to always do as he would do. Yet as he also told us, what’s impossible for us is possible for God (Luke 18:27).

So, why did Jesus tell us to do the impossible? Because he wants to bring us to a state of despair over our own weak and failing efforts so that we will finally surrender to him and let His Spirit live through us. By His Spirit, Jesus can do what only He can do, what’s impossible for me to do.

WWJD is still a good slogan, but it needs a redefinition, a reboot. Instead of What Would Jesus Do, how about What Will Jesus Do? Instead of being a statement of reflection and struggling for impossibilities, it could be a statement of anticipation of certainties. Instead of being a question of what I might do under my own power, it becomes a question of what Jesus will do within me by His power.

How you choose to ask this WWJD question may indicate how you choose to consider Jesus. Do you see Him as a passive influence in your life? Or, do you see Him as alive, God’s Son actively involved? If you believe, you can live looking forward to what the Spirit of Jesus might do next in your life.


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What Jesus Wants to See

What do people see when they look at Christians? For most of those on the outside of the Christian establishment in the US, they see such things as:

  • Hypocrisy and judgment, fear and bigotry
  • A movement intent on forcing themselves and their values on others
  • A group more interested in politics than following the call of their leader, a group where policies are more important than faith, hope, and love
  • A religion that embraces a man who is the antithesis of the values that Jesus promoted (yes, I’m referring to Trump)

Of course, not all Christians display these characteristics. But the most visible ones do. Like the insurrections storming the US capital waving Jesus flags, shouting His name, or even kneeling in prayer before they attacked (though I’m not sure who they were praying to).

As another example, yesterday I shared an article about the reaction of many white evangelicals to Barack Obama as compared to their reaction to Donald Trump (you can read it here). You may not agree with Obama’s policies and political position on things, but he really did appear to be a decent person. Oh sure, he has character flaws, like all of us. But nothing like Trump. You may agree with Trump’s policies, but his character is toxic, his morals are despicable—all very visible for all to see.

In trying to understand why so many white evangelicals and other Christians seem to ignore character and support Trump, here are a few things I’ve discovered:

  • He’s apparently against abortion
  • Some Christians fear attack of their religious freedoms from the left, the supposed war on Christmas and all that—a very valid concern. And they see Trump as a defender of their right to practice their chosen religion. Look, Christianity’s been under attack from the beginning. The Pharisees who pushed for Jesus’ crucifixion tried to kill it, Roman emperors tried, and I suspect many others over the centuries have tried. But God and Jesus defended their Christianity just fine on their own—no need for the support of an elected official.
  • And of course, money money money. The value of Christian 401k’s was often cited as an excuse for supporting Trump. VERY often cited.

Regarding the fear of attacks from the left, Jesus might say, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

Or, He might say, “I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. … Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-29, 31)

And regarding money, most people know what the Bible says about having too much interest in money, like obsessing about our 401k. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) And as Paul warned Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Wow, isn’t that the truth!

All of these reasons for Christians supporting Trump, and likely others I haven’t mentioned, boil down to an exhibition of profound hypocrisy, all because these people are more concerned about their wants than what Jesus wants. To this, Jesus might say: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33)

 

So, what does Jesus want to see when He looks at followers of His Christianity? He gave us the answer quite clearly:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Imagine how outsiders might react if, when they looked at Christians, all they saw was love—no hypocrisy, judgment or other ugly stuff. Imagine the influence that visible love would have on those outsiders. Might some of them even be motivated to turn to Jesus for help? Might they want to experience the same love themselves? Imagine the Island of Love Christianity could become, being a paradise and refuge in these days of turmoil, anger, violence, and of course, COVID-19. Please, try to imagine it.

And if you can conjure up an image in your mind, now consider that that is what Jesus wants to see too.


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What we see, verses Jesus’ Christianity

I invite you to read the attached article with caution. Though some of you may read it and absolutely agree, others will vehemently disagree. The words are harsh, but unfortunately, I see them as accurate. Too many people have drifted away from Jesus’ Christianity.
Note, this article was written a few years ago, but the message is maybe more relevant today that back when it was written.

John Pavlovitz: An Open Letter to White Evangelicals


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FREE Book, My Christmas Gift to You

In honor of Christmas, a Christmas in which we all need as much peace and joy as we can get, I’d like to give you a copy of my book. This weekend, December 12th and 13th, the ebook of my novel “We Called Him Yeshua” is FREE on Amazon.

So why should you get this book, other than the fact that it’s a free gift? Well, from Amazon customer reviews:

  • “It seemed like I was reading personal diaries of some of the people that Jesus lived with and miraculously changed.”
  • “I found myself really enjoying this because it was real. It wasn’t preaching at me, it was telling me story in a very real and human way.”
  • “C.J. Penn walks us through what it might be like to meet Jesus in our everyday lives.”
  • “I appreciate how the author shows you the compassion, humbleness and gentleness of Jesus as he interacted lovingly with messy people.”

And hey, this book might make a good Christmas gift. To help, I’ll keep the price as low as Amazon will allow until the end of December. Plus, the ebook is FREE this weekend.

Please check it out. Click here to go to Amazon book page.


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More Than Just a “Christian” Novel

“I don’t often read books like this. Religious books. I found myself really enjoying this because it was real. It wasn’t preaching at me, it was telling me story in a very real and human way. I could relate to it. The writing style is easy to read and just descriptive enough for me. I learned and felt more than I expected.” (Sea Queen, Amazon “verified purchase” review)

Not religious? Turned off by preaching? Yet, a bit curious about that person at the center of Christianity? Or … maybe you’re Christian but you feel you’d like to know Jesus more intimately? Well, judging by the Amazon review quoted above, “We Called Him Yeshua” might be a good book for you. Or maybe for someone you know.

And hey, this book might make a good Christmas gift. To help, I’ll keep the price as low as Amazon will allow until the end of December. Please consider checking it out. Click here to go to Amazon book page.


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Shelter From Attack

Do you sometimes feel under attack? It can come from anywhere—the spiritual or the worldly realm. Are your emotions under attack? Your feelings? Your sense of peace and well-being? Covid 19, elections, racism, divisiveness, family, your job (or lack of a job), enemies of all kinds—there’s plenty out there to make us feel under attack.

But there is a way to shield yourself from such attacks, no matter where they come from. Jesus said:

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:4, 7)

Though it took me a while, I didn’t have much trouble visualizing Jesus in me. Even now, I feel His Holy Spirit living within me, sharing this body with me. And I’m so grateful for His presence. But it took me much longer to get a sense of what it means for me to be in Jesus. Yet now, Jesus’ Spirit is within me, and my soul rests within Him.

When I feel my presence within Jesus, I’m free, and safe. Also, being in Jesus I feel protected from sinning. Living within Jesus, I’m shielded from things outside, things that want to attack me. Being in Jesus, I’m untouchable.

Of course, as my day ventures on, I often fall away from Jesus, into the muck and mire of the world. Yet even those times, when I don’t feel my presence in Jesus, I still feel the presence of His Spirit within me. But I don’t feel shielded from attack until I return to Jesus, and again enter into Him.

Jesus also said, “Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

I feel a voice inside telling me not to tell you how I visualize myself being in Jesus. I guess you need to figure out what works for you. But Jesus will help you. All you have to do is knock and He will let you in. It’s in the quiet moments of your prayers where you will find Jesus showing you the way and welcoming you into Him. Just knock, ask, and seek.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)


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A Message of Gratitude

My relationship with Jesus Christ has changed, and I’m grateful. For me, our friendship is more real, more intimate. Why?

I published my first novel earlier this year, a story about Jesus told from the perspective of people who followed Him as He traveled the roads of ancient Israel. In this story, I saw Jesus through the eyes of the healed leper, the blind man who now sees, or the prostitute who feels truly accepted and loved.

Now, I don’t know how that story has affected those who have read it. Oh, I’ve seen their review comments, and gotten some feedback from family and friends. But I think those all reflect surface reactions. What I can’t know is how that story affected them more deeply. I hope the story affected them as much as it did me.

But my experience was much different than reading it. During the four years that I worked on writing that story, each day I tried to leave our world behind and go back in time. I envisioned Jesus healing the sick. I felt Him loving the unlovable. I heard Him speak words of profound compassion. By the end of my writing journey, I believe I may have grown as truly close to Jesus as those people who I was writing about. I felt the love and gratitude of the leper who was healed, or the blind man who was given his sight, or even the prostitute who was shown profound compassion.

I wrote this story (yes, We Called Him Yeshua) for other people, but I suspect I’ve benefited far more than anyone who’s read it. Interesting, how God sometimes works that way. He asks us to do something for others, yet we benefit too. Thinking back over my life as a Christian, I believe it always works that way. And I’m so grateful.

So why am I writing about this? I just want to thank Jesus for His love, compassion, and friendship. And I want to express my love for Him, though right now I can’t think of words that are adequate to convey the depth of my love.