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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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 6

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 5. Today I give you the sixth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Chapter 6: Ruth

-Ruth-

The morning fog had crept from the lake, slithered through the streets, poured into my hut, and seeped into my bones like poison. Dampness always made the pain worse. I groaned through clenched teeth as I pushed myself out of bed and stood shivering on frozen feet.

“Come on Ruth, unlock the door!” my sister called again, fear rising in her voice. By now, her imagination was probably painting her a picture of my withered corpse. A bittersweet smile crossed my lips. Me dead—if only.

“What?” I yelled, yanking the door open. The effort left me wheezing. I swayed on wobbly legs, nausea creeping up my chest, sweat chilling the back of my neck.

“Finally! Listen Ruth, you remember the man I told you about? The healer? Well he’s on his way to our town and I heard he healed a man of leprosy in the village up north and now he’s on his way here and I’m sure he can heal you so you can finally be healthy again and you won’t feel any more pain and you can leave your house when you want, isn’t that great!”

“Yes. Great.” I marveled less about her words, and more about how my squirrel of a sister could say so much in one breath. “Now. Let me go back to bed.” I tried to close the door.

“No!” She wedged her leg against the door jam, knowing I didn’t have the strength to resist. “You need to go to him, so he can heal you.”

“Okay, I will. After he gets here. Now leave me alone.”

 

(read the rest of Chapter 6 on my cjpenn.com website)

Copyright CJ Penn, 2020


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 4

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ve been posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 3. Today I give you the fourth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Neri

Neri

“Neri, you stink.”

“Oh, you like my perfume? I call it Essence of Pus. A subtle fragrance, yet I see you have a perceptive nose.”

Caleb and I sat at the mouth of the canyon, the walls behind us lined with caves, dug long ago in the limestone. The broad valley spread out below us. There, at the border of the leper colony, we stared at the outside world, off limits to us. Shepherds tended their sheep across the valley, on the other side of the stream weaving down its center.

“Hey Neri, where’s that sister of yours? Anna, right? I bet she smells good.”

I glared at Caleb, uglier than most with that hole in the middle of his face where his nose had once been. Well, at least leprosy had cured him of his nose-picking habit.

“Stay away from her Noseless,” I growled. “Hey, have you thought of an easy way for me to kill myself?”

(read the rest of Chapter 4 on my cjpenn.com website)


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By the Power the Holy Spirit

“Every minister of the gospel is called to rest content with nothing less than the indwelling life and power of the Holy Spirit. This is to be his only preparation for preaching the gospel in power. Nothing less than having Christ speaking through us in the power of His omnipotence will make us able ministers of the New Testament, bringing salvation to all who hear us.”     Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray, an 18th century minister in South Africa, is one of my favorite authors of Christian nonfiction. Over the years, I’ve read lots of his books, along with other similar books by equally great authors, such as A.W. Tozer, William Law, Brother Lawrence, and many more. For some reason, most of my favorite Christian authors are long dead—something they share with the authors of my ultimate favorite book, the Bible.

Anyway, if I were to pursue a theology education with the goal of becoming an ordained minister, I would be sure to include my favorite authors in my studies. But all that reading and effort, though valuable and helpful for me, would not adequately equip me to help others, for I would lack the most important trait for being an effective minister. I think Andrew Murray expressed it far better than I ever could.


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Death to the Little Devil Within Me

Often, I feel like my personality is split in two—the good me, and the bad me. I’m like a character in a Saturday morning cartoon, with a little angel on one shoulder encouraging me to do the right thing, and a little devil on the opposite shoulder tempting me to do the wrong thing. Sometimes my little devil screams so loudly I can’t hear anything else.

But this morning I realized something. The little devil part of me is actually dead, having died when all sins died, with Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, he took with him the sins of the world—those sins died with him. Those sins were the collection of the sinful side of everyone who chooses to believe, the collective of our little devils.

So, the devil that seems to exert power over my words and actions is not actually real, but a phantom, or maybe more like a lingering shadow of the sinful me that once thrived. And that shadow fades the more I let the light of the Spirit of Jesus shine within me.

This morning, for the first time, I see and believe in the image of my little devil as dead, sent to the abyss where Jesus took all our sins. It feels so freeing to say that. I’ve prayed for the death of my sinful self for a long time.

I suspect I’ll backslide, and the phantom shadow will con me into believing it has real power over me. But now I feel armed with the reminder that the little sh*t-disturber is powerless and dead.

Here’s what Jesus and the apostle Paul had to say:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:6, 11)

What do you think about all this?

Oh, and if you’re interested, please check out my soon-to-be-published book, We Called Him Yeshua.


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 3

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ll be posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 2. Today I give you the third chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

 

Jared

 

Jared

“Jared, something must be done about her,” Simon whispered to me as he glared down the table at Anna collapsed at the prophet’s feet.

“What? Who?” Oh, yes … Anna. Something should have been done, though not what Simon had in mind. Poor Anna—I wanted to help her, always had, partly because I knew more about Anna and her past than even her brother knew. But it wouldn’t do for a royal official to show sympathy for a prostitute—yes, I admit, a weak and cruel excuse.

Then there was the prophet, Yeshua. He intrigued me and confused me. As Anna wept at his feet, Yeshua didn’t treat her with lofty disdain, as most religious men would have. Instead, he showed nothing but gentle kindness, and a compassion that seemed to strengthen and empower her. The compassion Yeshua gave Anna made her look nobler to me than any priest.

Leaving Simon’s house before anyone else, I rushed home and to my son’s bed. His breathing had eased a bit, but he still looked as pale as bleached parchment, and the fever remained. My poor Jonathan, my little boy … was dying. I’d seen the symptoms before, in my wife, and I feared there was no way to stop it. Before going to Simon’s dinner, I’d sent my servant Jacob to summon the doctor. But he still hadn’t arrived. My chest tightened, my stomach quaked, and I almost forgot to breathe as I stared helplessly down at my son.

 

(read the rest of Chapter 3 on my cjpenn.com website)


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 2

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ll be posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 1. Today I give you the second chapter…

Before the Beginning

 

Anna—two months earlier

I imagined myself resting in the shade of my sandalwood tree, surrounded by soft waves of crocus flowers blanketing the rolling hills. Those flowers, gentle and free, distracted me from my ugly reality, distancing my thoughts when I didn’t want to be with my body. It was only temporary. Reality soon struck back.

The straw of my bed poked out from under the rumpled blanket, scratching my breasts. The stench of sweat, rotting teeth, and dead fish choked the air in my small hut. At least the man was quick about it, soon collapsing on top of me, gasping for breath. A moment later, he pushed himself off, grunted, and pulled down his tunic as he rose to his feet. I buried my face in the blanket, trying to fight off the tears.

I opened watery eyes as two small coins landed on the dirt floor—standard payment. Quietly, the fisherman peered around the blanket hanging in the doorway, again grunted, and crept away down the dark alley. He took less time than it takes me to shit, a typical visit for that customer. Easy money? Never.

 

(read the rest of Chapter 2 on my cjpenn.com website, and it gets more cheery from here)


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Seeing Jesus as More Real

Several of my family and friends are reading a pre-edited draft of my soon-to-be-published novel. As I do every weekend, last Saturday I visited my 90+ year old mother. I hadn’t heard much of what mom thought about the book, and I was anxious to know.

So, as one topic died down, I asked, “How’s it going, reading the book?”

“I’m finished.” My mom may be slow on her feet, but she’s a quick reader.

“Oh, great. So, what do you think?”

With a serious look on her face, mom said, “Well, it’s odd. But the story made it all feel more real. Jesus’ story feels more real. He feels more real.”

My greatest desire for this novel is that, in addition to providing above average (hopefully) novel-reading entertainment, it will help people see the human side of Jesus, to see Jesus as more real. I believe that if we can see the truth of Jesus’ humanity, it will be easier for us to feel closer to Him, even when awed by his divinity.

How do you feel about the idea of seeing Jesus as more real, more human? If curious, you can see more about the book here. And please consider signing up to be notified when the ebook will be available for FREE on Amazon.