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

Oh, To Be A Peacemaker

I can’t understand, as hard as I try.

I can’t understand the feelings and fears of the victims, victims of racism and ignorance.

I can’t know how it is to feel threatened and unsafe … almost every day.

I can’t guess at the pain, fear and anguish some people live with.

All I can know for sure is how much I despise racism and bigotry, hatred, arrogance and ignorance.

It almost makes me ashamed to be human.

I want to do something, I want to help. But I don’t know how. After all, I too suffer from my own human flaws.

I think all I can do for now is listen, and learn, and feel. And keep my heart and mind open.

But what more can I do? I want to know.

So I asked. And Jesus answered.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus calls me—He calls all of us—to be peacemakers.

I may not yet know the best way to be a peacemaker, but I’ll try, and pray, and hope, and love, as best I can.

For now, I think that’s all I can do. Until He shows me more.

I can’t trust humanity to fix this.

So I’ll trust Jesus.


Leave a comment

Are You Content With Too Little?

Is there an ever-present, gnawing hunger in your soul? Hunger for a sense of peace, and maybe something more, that you believe is achievable, but never within your grasp? I’m referring to the peace that Jesus promised us, the peace that is so deep and all consuming that its power is beyond our ability to understand. But, it’s not beyond our ability to possess.

Yet, based on my own experience, I think we can fall into a trap of being content with too little. And I sense that Satan baits the trap.

I urge you … don’t take the bait. BELIEVE that the peace Jesus promises is for you too. And then go look for it. The best part is that you don’t have to look far, because the peace and fulfillment you seek are right inside you. That is, the peace comes from your own intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus, where as He prayed, you are in Him, and He is in you.

So where are you on your journey to find the Spirit of Jesus within you? Are you where I lingered for more years than I want to admit? Are you teetering on the edge of belief? If you don’t yet have the faith that has crossed over into a deep feeling of certainty, maybe what you need is to get to know Jesus better. After all, it’s hard to believe someone if you don’t know them very well.

If this is you, then you are one of the many people for whom I wrote We Called Him Yeshua. Please check it out, for in the personal stories told by some of the people who walked with Jesus, you can come to know Him as intimately at they did.

Available on Amazon, currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.

 

Now then, for those of you who are past your struggles with unbelief, I’d like to refer you to other books that have helped me find the Spirit of Jesus within my soul (book recommendations). And I’ll continue adding to this list of books as I write more reviews.

Finally, here’s a quote from a book I’m reading for the 7th time, where I’ll be posting a review sometime soon.

“He (God) often calls men blind, complaining that we are content with too little. God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith, He pours His grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”

The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.


Leave a comment

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).


Leave a comment

The Son of Man—a Thought on the Nature of Jesus Christ

Jesus frequently called himself the son of Man. He followers were well aware of his divinity, as the Son of God. All the miracles, along with the depth of the wisdom in his words, constantly reminded them that Jesus was much more than a man. But I’ve been thinking, maybe Jesus called himself the son of Man to help remind them, and us, that he was indeed still a man. I can imagine that if I had been one of Jesus’ followers while he walked the roads of ancient Israel, it would have been easy for me to lose sight of Jesus’ humanity. I could have quickly come to see him purely as the Son of God, which is the sole way a lot of us see him these days.

Yet Jesus seemed to feel it was important to remind us of his human heritage. Why? Well, this morning another thought came to mind. As the son of Man, Jesus inherited everything we inherit, that is, human nature. The doom we all inherit is our natural human pride, which is the root of all sin. As the son of Man, Jesus shared all aspects of our human nature, even the temptation to be pulled into the pit of pride. The difference between Jesus and us is that his divinity was stronger than his humanity.

But the Bible promises that as children of God, we are also heirs, with an inheritance of our own. Where Jesus inherited our humanity, along with all the challenges that come with that, we can inherit his divinity, along with all the healing, peace, and love that come with that.

By the way, if you’d like to see more of what Jesus’ nature might actually have been like, please check out this novel. It will show Jesus from the perspective of those who felt the miracles, listened to his words of wisdom and love, and followed him along those dusty roads. On Amazon, this book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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

The Parasite

On some days, the parasite seems to slumber, not stirring up trouble. But other days, it squirms in his stomach, making him nervous and tense. When awake, the damn thing is always hungry, eating at him from the inside. Oh, it’s not killing him, but it’s not good for his health, that’s for sure. And people often see the impact of the parasite’s presence, though they don’t realize where the negative behavior is coming from. They just think it’s part of his personality. Besides, he doesn’t appear much different than other folk. Actually, he’s not.

But lately, he’s very aware of the parasite. Though he now knows it’s always been there, for much of his life, he didn’t recognize it. But the past several years, he’s spent a lot of time dwelling on his constant companion, studying it, learning about it, even reading books about it. After all, it’s good to know your enemies.

He’s learned how the parasite affects his life too, always in negative ways. Mostly, it affects his mood and feelings and how he reacts to other people. Today, he’s pondering how the presence of the parasite affects his ability to love. Maybe a strange thing to think about, but it was just an idea that popped into his head. And he hadn’t thought before of how the ever-hungry parasite might also have a taste for devouring love.

Speaking of love, this latest round of musings began when he started thinking about his ability to generate and express love for others. He sees and feels something of a love speed limit, like there’s only so much love he can give. If he’s able to stir up more love, the parasite is there to consume it and keep any extra from wrestling free and escaping out to others in his life.

He’s able to give love to his wife and children, and most of his family (except for the strange cousin and the wacko nephew), and a few select friends. Yet he realizes that the amount of love he gives each person varies, depending upon his relationship to them. And after all, he has only so much love to give—the parasite sees to that.

Yet even his more powerful love, which he reserves for his wife and two children, feels weakened upon reflection. Oh, there are times he feels if he loved them any more, his heart would burst. But that’s always triggered by some event, like when they do something that makes him proud, or touch his heart with a tender expression of their own love for him. But that white-hot feeling of love he infrequently feels is momentary, and soon cools back down. And he wonders why. Why does it sometimes feel like he’s holding back love from the ones he loves the most?

Days go by and he forgets about all this love stuff, slipping back to his usual, seemingly carefree life. But his thoughts on love return to haunt him, bringing a deep feeling of failure, failure to give total love to those he loves, especially his wife and children.

Then one day, early in the morning with a cup of coffee in his hand and a good book in his lap, he closes his eyes and meditates on this uneasy feeling about love, that feeling that he’s not loving as much as he could. And in a flash of recognition, he sees it, and knows it.

He sees himself. He has sometimes felt the dual forms of his personality, like the little angel on one shoulder, and the devil on his other shoulder, each trying to influence him. And what he sees, sucking up his limited supply of love, is his little devil, his Self … the parasite. Yes, the parasite has a name, and that name is Self. The selfish, prideful, self-centered, self-seeking side of him that is a fundamental part of the person he is.

The Self is always hungry for attention. And the delight that is its favorite dessert is love. For the more love it can suck up from its host, as well as those around him, the stronger grows its self-worth. And the sweetness of love provides it the most nourishment. Damn parasite.

He wrests his mind free from the parasite, looks down, and reads further in the book sitting in his lap. “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 records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Love never fails. But he doesn’t feel it, for his love fails often, and his efforts to give a greater love always fail. He flips several pages in the book, glances down and reads some more. “God is love.”

And then it hits him. God’s love never fails. It’s God’s love that always perseveres. And believing that God is infinite, he now sees that God’s love must also be infinite. So unlike his own limited love. And since God doesn’t suffer from the presence of His own self-seeking little devil always sitting on His shoulder, sucking up gulps of love for itself, there is no limit to the love God pours out upon His children.

Though he feels the familiar gratitude for God’s love, this new insight doesn’t make him feel any better. In a way, it just makes him feel more wretched, as he sees in a brighter light how pitiful his own capacity to love really is.

So he prays, asking God to show him how to love more. And in a flash, the answer comes to him, feeling like the answer was always there, like the book sitting in his lap, just waiting for him to open his eyes and look.

He quickly flips back many pages in the book, looking for the words he remembers and has long craved. And there it is, as John the Baptist speaks of his cousin Jesus by saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

And the answer he’s long known becomes sharp and clear in his mind. The more his Self becomes less, the more Jesus’ Spirit within him will become greater. And the more Jesus takes over, the more the love of God and Jesus will push out his Self, his devilish parasite, and fill him with love. All that love pouring into him will then be available for him to pour out to others. And maybe someday he too will be able to love his wife and children, his family and friends with the unlimited love of God, a love that will never fail.

He sees also the answer to being rid of the parasite of pride. He’d often wondered about a cure, or some kind of spiritual surgery to cut it out. Now he sees his freedom comes from letting the Spirit of Jesus in, and Jesus will then push out his parasite of pride.

 

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)


Leave a comment

To Have the Son of God Living Within You

What was it like for pregnant Mary to know the Son of God lived in her womb, drawing nourishment from her body, growing stronger and bigger every day? We know a little from “Mary’s Song,” in Luke 1:46-56. Drawing from that, and a fair amount of imagination, maybe Mary’s story looked something like this.

********************

She woke from a fitful night’s sleep. It had been five months since the angel told her she would be with child, God’s child. She rose from her straw bed, her back sore and her feet swollen. Suddenly she felt a flutter somewhere just below her stomach, sending a chill running up her spine.

She’d never doubted the angel, and she’d known she was indeed with child, by the days of stomach sickness, thankfully now passed. And she so easily grew tired. But until that morning, those were the only signs. And then the baby moved within her.

A thrill of nervousness filled her stomach and chest. There was an actual child growing within her, but not wholly her child. It felt somehow foreign. As the days continued striding forward, she felt moments of fear, wonder, and bewilderment. She even wondered if the child would be partly her, as a normal child is part of its mother and father. Or was her body purely a vessel.

The weeks passed. The child was growing bigger and stronger, and oh so active. It woke her in the middle of the night, pushing a foot against a rib, or leaning on her bladder, forcing her out of bed and to the privy, yet again.

Later that day, as she sat in the shade of the house and rubbed her lower back, she was suddenly filled with profound faith, peace, and comfort, excited for every new day being so close to God, so honored by His presence. For how else should she feel, with the true Son of God living within her very body?

She’d believed she felt God’s presence the entire time she was pregnant. She’d often pondered it ever since the angel spoke to her. But for some reason, this day it struck her as much more that belief, but as a certain reality. Her soul wanted to shout out her joy to God, and her excitement and gratitude were beyond her ability to put into words. She felt so truly blessed by God, honored above other people. And that honor filled her with a sweet humility. God had chosen her, a lowly young woman. Why? What love God must have for her to give her such an honor.

As the days continued to go by, some slowly, some quickly, she would find herself suddenly feeling a moment of extreme thrill. Yet most of the time she was simply filled with limitless peace. And she felt that the peace came from the pure, unblemished holiness growing within her.

Then one day, when she knew the time of birth was getting near, she suddenly saw herself torn in how she felt. For as much as she anxiously desired to see the baby with her eyes and hold him in her arms, she dreaded the separation birth would bring. While pregnant, she had always felt as close to God as she thought anyone could possibly feel. She now feared losing that intimacy. But also, because of a premonition that had been lurking in the depths of her mind, she felt a growing dread for what would happen to the child as he grew into a man.

She hid those dark thoughts, for now was not their time. Now was the time to relish in the presence of the Son of God within her, filling her with peace, and love, and grace. She closed her eyes and smiled, looking again to the light of God within her that overpowered all other thoughts.

********************

We can share in Mary’s experience, in a way. If we believe Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we too can have the Son of God living within us, not as a fetus, but as Spirit.


Leave a comment

My Remedy for Social Distance Induced Stress

I just survived another trek to the grocery store. The experience usually leaves me tense, breathing rapidly, heart pounding, chest tightening.

You see, I take the social distancing thing seriously. I take all the warnings and all the data seriously. But not everyone else does. Clearly, many of my fellow shoppers didn’t give a damn about social distancing. Or they’re just not thinking, as in the case of the person talking on their cell phone while shopping and not paying attention to anyone else around them.

So I come home after taking advantage of the early morning senior hour, barely past 9:00am, and I’m ready to pour myself a stiff whisky. But after unpacking the groceries and putting things away, I have a better idea. And it’s an idea I’d like to share, as it might help you find relief from those stress-filled moments.

Grab a hot cup of tea, or maybe a one-pound chunk of dark chocolate, and relax with a novel that will take you far away, to another time and place. And as some of you know by now, I have a particular book in mind.

We Called Him Yeshua is a story that can take you all the way to the villages and roads of ancient Israel, where you will become another one of the healed and hopeful, following Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem. You will see Jesus not through the lens of ancient biblical manuscripts, but through the eyes of your fellow travelers. These people felt Jesus’ love reach down to the depths of their souls. They saw his love in action, every day, in all kinds of ways. They called him Yeshua. Read this book, and maybe you will come to call him friend.

Would you like to see more of what this story is about? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then, use the Amazon “look inside” feature and get a taste for yourself.


Leave a comment

Joy Can be Just a Prayer Away

Even when life pulls your mind in random directions and sometimes piles worry on top of worry; even when it seems like all the news is bad; even when the world is held hostage by a global pandemic … joy can be just a prayer away.

Jesus promised his Holy Spirit would be with us always, “to the very end of the age.” He also promised us a peace beyond our understanding. So, all we need to do to find the joy and peace we crave is look for Jesus’ Spirit. And thankfully, we don’t have to look far, for another promise is that Jesus will be IN us, as his Father is in him.

With the Spirit of Jesus abiding within you, always present, even if life pulls your attention away for a day, a week, or whatever … all you have to do is take some quiet time, push back on the distractions of life (that can be the hardest part), and look inside. And when all those thoughts and cares and worries in your mind quiet down enough so you can look past them, you will see the Spirit of Jesus waiting for you. And the moment you feel Him and forget the noise of life, you’ll feel the peace and joy that he promised. It’s just a prayer away.

But, what if you don’t know who you’re looking for? The Spirit of Jesus can feel like an alien to many people, more like an unfathomable heavenly being, than a person. But Jesus was more than the Son of God. He was also the son of man. Jesus was fully human, a person, in some ways like you and me. So, when you go looking for the Spirit of Jesus, it can really help to know the complete Jesus, the man as well as the God.

As a way to get to know Jesus the man, I’d like to recommend my recently published novel, We Called Him Yeshua. It’s the story of Jesus as told from the perspective of some people who followed him as he walked the roads of ancient Israel. You can see Jesus through their eyes, as a person. Then, when you look for the joy and peace waiting within you, you’ll know who you’re looking for.

They called him Yeshua. Maybe you can call him friend.

 

If you’re interested in checking out We Called Him Yeshua, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And for just a few more days, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.


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

Jesus Is Now

My thoughts and feelings often fluctuate like shifting breezes. And I can’t seem to control where they will go next, especially my feelings.

But there is one thing I can control—where my thoughts are right now. Maybe “now” is a very brief period of time, but I still have control there. And I suspect you do too. The moment after this one should not be our concern, for we often have little influence over it. We should try not to worry about what comes next. But, we can still control our now.

With all the distractions going on in the world around us these days, all the attention-grabbers, all the stress-inducers, all the anxiety-amplifiers, I’d like to invite you to wrest your thoughts away from those for a moment. And if you believe in Jesus Christ and his promises, I invite you to say to yourself right now:

“The Holy Spirit of Jesus is within me now.”

“I rest in Jesus’ presence now.”

“Jesus forgives me now.”

“Jesus saves me now.”

“Jesus is my life now.”

“Jesus is my strength now.”

“Jesus is my protection now.”

“Jesus is my peace now.”

“I am surrendered to Jesus now.”

“I abide in Jesus now.”

Oh sure, shortly after you finish reading this your thoughts may be pulled off in another direction. But, for that moment, as you read the affirmations above, you and Jesus were one, as he and his Father are one—He in you, and you in him. And whenever you want, you can go back there.

Yes, being mindful of Jesus’ presence within you for long stretches of time can be really hard (for me, it sure is). But it’s easy to be with him now.

And think about this: each moment, each now, may influence the next.


Leave a comment

United We Stand

What an unprecedented moment in human history we live in, where most of us on this planet are experiencing similar restrictions, similar concerns, and many of the same feelings.

Our past is littered with fighting, fighting against each other. We’re still fighting, but now aligned together against a common enemy, a worldwide pandemic. I think it’s possible that this has never happened before in the history of humanity—I mean, how we so quickly formed a worldwide alliance.

Consider that the last pandemic, in the early 1900’s, infected the earth before there was rapid transportation from one continent to the next, and before there was instantly shared communication throughout the world. I haven’t seen any data, but I suspect this new pandemic has spread faster than any in history. The fear and panic have spread just as quickly.

But still, we are all now united in the fight against the Coronavirus. Has the entire world ever been this united before? I don’t really know. What might our unity lead to? I can’t even imagine. But, I have a growing hope that something amazing will emerge. I believe all this presents the possibility for a turning point in the human race, in the midst of the chaos. And I strongly feel that, though the pandemic will bring death and severe pain, our unity can only bring good.

What form will that good take? How long will it last? Of course, I don’t know and I can’t even guess. But as a Christian, I really believe that Jesus will make something good out of all this bad. And with Jesus involved, I’m excited. I hope you can be excited too.

I think the best thing we can do is pray, hope, and trust. And excitedly wait to see what God does with our trust and unity.


Leave a comment

United by a Common Enemy

Walking through the near-empty streets, he waives at people he never waived at before. He even pauses and chats with strangers who no longer feel like strangers. Somewhere in the shadowed corners of his mind, he feels that none of us are strangers. Not now. Not anymore. The Enemy is bringing us together (with a safe social distance, that is).

He smiles at the irony.

He’s beginning to feel that at some level, we all know each other. Maybe it’s because of our common enemy. The common fight. The fight against fear, anxiety, and the Enemy itself. The Enemy has a name. COVID-19. Coronavirus we call it. It fights us. We fight back.

He sees the thing all such enemies have in common. Whether a pandemic-spreading virus, or a man, a notorious dictator, a tyrant—they bring all their victims together in the common cause. But this time is different. For all humanity is united like never before.

Today he feels that humanity is one. Humanity is whole.

He feels a shiver of excitement race through his chest, tickling its way up his neck and into his mind. Could it be that because of how humanity has been brought together, could it be that when we emerge from this battle, something will have changed in the human relationship? He can’t imagine what form the change might take, but he feels a thrill at the idea of it. And his hope swells.


Leave a comment

Father, Your Will be Done

What might it have been like to be with Jesus in the final hours before his arrest? What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. In it, you will see one persons experience during those hours. What she saw was this: the more someone loved Yeshua, the more those final hours hurt.

They called him Yeshua; we call him Jesus.


– Anna –

“Anna, let’s go.” Neri took up my limp hands and lifted me to my feet. The late afternoon sun had fallen behind the Temple, casting Solomon’s Porch in shadow. How long had we been sitting there listening to Yeshua preach? The priests had stayed away, which gave Yeshua a chance to talk of other things. But I hadn’t heard a word he said. Worries had sucked my thoughts too deep inside to even notice what my eyes had seen.

Neri guided me out of the Temple and through a maze of streets. Everything around me felt wrapped in a fog. The world felt distant and fuzzy. We walked through a doorway and into a courtyard. Above was a covered terrace, where people were placing cushions around a table.

I looked about the courtyard, pushed Neri away, and rushed over to Yeshua, where he stood at the base of the stairs. I gazed numbly up into his face.

“Master,” someone called from above, “the Passover meal is almost ready.”

Yeshua ignored him, and looked sweetly into my face. “Anna …” He reached over and pushed the hair out of my eyes. “As I promised, I will return soon. Don’t fear. Be strong.”

“But … how will I find you?”

“You’ll find me when you seek me with all of your heart. Just look inside yourself. It won’t be easy—too many distractions battle for your mind. The world wants control, but you must resist. Quiet your mind, look inside, and give your thoughts to me.”

“I … I don’t know if I can.”

“I understand. But I’ll be there to help you. At first, you’ll remain in the world and merely look below the surface—you may get glimpses of me from there. But slip deeper, under the surface, and leave the clamor of the world behind. Yes, your mind may still try to control your thoughts and keep you from seeing me. But,” he took my hand, “remember. I’ll be there to help you.”

He let go my hand and turned to the stairs. With a foot on the bottom step, he paused. “Anna, don’t worry. You have what you need.”

Then he started up the stairs. To his back, I silently whispered, I love you.

I snuck out of the courtyard and into the dark streets of Jerusalem.

 

Sitting in the shadow of my olive tree, I looked up at the half-full moon as it dimly lit the grove. Dying campfires dotted the hillside. All was quiet. Though wrapped in my heavy cloak, an ominous chill slithered up my spine.

Our camp was empty and, even though the hillside was crowded with other pilgrims, I felt so alone. Then, I heard murmurings and looked up to see gray shapes of people coming up the hill toward the camp. Yeshua and most of the others silently walked into the grove. When they spotted me, Neri and Ruth rush over.

“Why did you leave the house?” Neri whispered.

“Where’s Ben?”

“I told him to stay at the house with Abigail. Jonathan and Abi’s son are there too.” Neri put his hand on my shoulder. “She’ll keep them safe.”

Yeshua and The Twelve walked to one side of the clearing and sat huddled in a tight circle. Yeshua began speaking to them in hushed whispers. Everyone else who had followed from the city went to their tents, though none crawled inside. Neri and Ruth stayed with me. And we all quietly waited.

I watched the moon slide toward the hills on the far side of the city. The sounds of sleep gradually grew. I looked over—Ruth lay curled up next to Neri, his hand resting on her shoulder. He was wide-awake, frequently peering into the shadows, like he was looking for something, or someone. His hammer sat in his lap.

Suddenly, Yeshua left The Twelve and walked toward me. “Anna,” he knelt down and softly took my hand. “Whatever happens, don’t follow, don’t watch. Promise me. After I’m gone, don’t go looking for me. Instead, wait, be patient. Then three days from now, look for me.” He squeezed my hand and stood. “You know where you’ll find me.”

“But—”

He put his fingers to my lips, “Just believe.” He wandered off by himself, the sound of his footsteps stopping somewhere up the hill.

Within the black shadows of the trees, I crept after him, slipping so close I heard his labored breathing. He was kneeling, his face in his hands. Pale moonlight painted him a dull gray. “Father, everything is possible for you,” he whispered. “Please, take this burden from me. Yet not what I will, but your will be done.”

He lifted his face from his hands and raised his arms to the sky. In the dim moonlight, he looked almost like a little boy, reaching for his father to pick him up and hold him.


Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


Leave a comment

A Favor

To those of you who have read all or a portion of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, please, if you feel the book is worthy of a comment, any comment, please go to Amazon and leave a review (click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page).

During these trying times, I think a book like this can be helpful for some people. I’ve always hoped this book would help people find a closer relationship with Jesus. If you agree, then you can help make that happen with your review. And on Amazon, things like number of reviews will help the book show up more frequently in searches, which will help more people stumble upon it.

Actually, no matter what you think of this book, please consider leaving a review. I would be very grateful to hear your opinion, as your opinion can teach me and help me with the next book I write.

Also, if you would like to spread the word about this book to your friends, well, thank you so much. That would be terrific. One way you could do that is to go to my Facebook page and share something I’ve posted about the book.

Thank you very much for considering this. And I hope you’re feeling the love and presence of the Spirit of Jesus more than ever right now, when intimacy with Jesus is even more important than social distance.

All the best to you,

CJ


2 Comments

Setting the Stage for Good Friday

What was it like during that final week leading to the first Good Friday, the first Easter? What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. Though they called him Yeshua, most of us call him Jesus. Go back and see how Jesus stirred the pot that led to Good Friday.


Yeshua had been healing people in the Temple courts most of the afternoon, but as the sun slid closer to the horizon, he climbed the steps of Solomon’s Porch, quieted us all down, and began speaking.

A gang of Pharisees suddenly plowed their way through the crowd. Draped in their colorful robes, they looked more like a flock of angry peacocks. They stopped and stood at the base of the steps, glaring up at Yeshua as he continued speaking.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and who—“

“Teacher,” a peacock squawked, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.” Ouch, spiky sarcasm. “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Without thinking, my hand slipped into my tool bag and gripped my hammer.

Yeshua frowned. “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.”

The peacock strutted up the steps and held out a coin. I wanted to grab that coin and shove it—

“Whose image is this?” Yeshua asked. “And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” the Pharisee replied.

“Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Yeshua kept his gaze on the Pharisee, who sheepishly slinked back down to the base of the steps.

Yeshua then scrutinized the hypocrites as they grumbled amongst themselves. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” he called out. “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

A murmur spread through the crowd. Anna reached over and grabbed my arm. The Pharisees stood rigid, faces turning red, hate burning in their eyes.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Yeshua’s stare never wavered. “You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

The Temple guards looked nervous. Who should they believe? Their Pharisee masters, or Yeshua?

Yeshua then looked out over the whole crowd. “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”

Anna dug her fingers into my arm. Yeshua wasn’t being careless with his words—he knew what he was doing, and so did Anna.


Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


Leave a comment

Seeing Easter Through New Eyes

This Easter, consider looking at the crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of those who followed Jesus as he walked that ancient road to Jerusalem, one last time. In “We Called Him Yeshua,” it’s not the Apostles who will tell you this story, but those whom Jesus healed with his power, compassion, and forgiveness.

And while there’s still time, you can get the ebook for FREE (until midnight tonight, Pacific standard time, USA). The paperback remains priced as low as Amazon will allow ($6.99, cost).

Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


Leave a comment

The First Palm Sunday

What would it have been like to be one of the crowd watching Jesus riding on a donkey, down the road from Bethany to the gate into the city of Jerusalem?


You’ve heard of this prophet from God, and maybe even caught a glimpse of him. You haven’t witnessed a miracle yourself, but you know someone who was there, not too many days ago, when he called a dead man out of a tomb. And the man came out … alive! After being dead three or four days!

With that kind of power from God, this prophet could certainly drive out the occupying Romans. And he may not even need an army. Just call on God to force them out. Easy. And then, finally, we’ll all be free. No more taxes to Caesar. No more soldiers forcing their way into our houses. No more death for speaking our minds. No more of the Roman’s favorite form of execution—no more crucifixions.

And then, with the Romans finally gone, how might our new king rule? That too was exciting to think about. For in addition to hearing about the miracles, you’ve heard about his love, compassion, forgiveness, and humility. To no longer be under the thumb of those Pharisees and other leaders, who pretend to be Godly men, but are ruled themselves more by their own selfishness and pride, than by God. Just imagine. To instead be ruled by a man who is finally and truly a man sent by God. That will be so sweet.

Your voice goes hoarse cheering for our new king, as he approaches the gate and slips off the donkey. The trail of palms branches scattered on the road behind him, marking forever in your mind his path to your freedom.

You feel so light. You want to go skipping across the hillside as our new king walks through the gate into the city. You’ve never felt this excited. You can’t hold still—your legs feel springy, and you want to jump around and scream out your joy. The prophesies are true! Our king, our savior from Roman oppression has finally arrived, and on the back of a donkey, just as scripture foretells!

Oh, you can’t wait to see what happens next. This will be the most exciting, the most joyous, the most life-changing Passover week ever.


So what do you think? Would you like to be one of the crowd witnessing history? You can. In We Called Him Yeshua, you can see all these things and more through the eyes of people who followed Jesus. They followed not because he called them. They followed because they couldn’t help it. Their love for Jesus and gratitude for what he’d done for them drove them to follow. Go with them, and see for yourself.

This Easter is already going to be different from any other, for obvious reasons. But, maybe we can counter negative differences with some positive ones. This story can help you do that. Experience Easter through the eyes of those who followed Jesus to the cross. And through their eyes, you may see things you’ve never seen before.

In honor of Palm Sunday, the ebook is free until midnight tonight (Pacific standard time, USA). The paperback remains priced as low as Amazon will allow ($6.99, cost). Get yours now. And maybe get another one for a friend.

Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.


Leave a comment

An Easter Gift for a Friend

As a way to celebrate Palm Sunday, consider giving “We Called Him Yeshua” to a friend. This weekend only, the ebook is FREE. The paperback remains priced as low as Amazon will allow ($6.99, cost). So what do you think? Would you like to introduce Jesus to a friend?

And what about you? Would you like to know Jesus more intimately? You can. And the story in this book just might help.

Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page.