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 5

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 4. Today I give you the fifth chapter, and from there you can navigate to earlier chapters if you like.

Jairus

-Anna-

“Neri, over here, I’m thirsty,” I tugged on his sleeve and pulled him toward an inn on the edge of the square. Several hours after leaving the village where I found Neri, we arrived at another town … a larger town.

“Good, I’m hungry,” Neri replied.

“Hungry? Again?”

We climbed a few steps to a collection of low tables scattered over a raised terrace. A canopy of different colored fabric provided shade, casting a faded rainbow shadow all around us. We selected a table near the edge of the terrace.

“Hungry Scamper?” Neri said, lifting Ben off his shoulders and dropping him on a cushion.

As I sat down, Ben crawled into my lap and fell asleep. I smiled as I caressed Ben’s soft brown hair, comforted by the idea I’d made the right decision bringing him with me. The town, on the south shore of the lake, was the farthest from home I’d ever been. The distance helped me feel safer.

The innkeeper walked over, knelt on a cushion, rested both hands on our table, and said, “Well?”

“Tea please,” I replied, as Neri gazed at the menu painted on the wall. He had the look of love in his eyes.

“Let’s see … I’ll have a large plate of fried locusts, the fish stew, goat milk cheese, some of the lentil with curry, barley bread, charoset, and Egyptian beer.”

“No charoset,” the innkeeper said, as he stood and left.

“A bit hungry Neri?”

“A little. But, no charoset!”

The crowd below us grew, all straining to see Yeshua as he worked his way toward the center of the square. There must have been hundreds of them. Yeshua was more popular than I’d thought. A strange feeling stirred my stomach and rose in my chest—I think I knew, but refused to admit what it was.

 

(read the rest of Chapter 5 on my cjpenn.com website–here)

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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“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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Driven by Passion

Someone recently asked me what passions fuel my writing. What drives me to get up around 4:00am each morning to write before I leave for work? Well, there are two primary passions underlying everything I write, and these passions are fueled by my relationship with God and Jesus.

First, I’m passionate about truth, as I sometimes don’t see the truth in messages coming from some of today’s churches. Also, I’m passionate about a personal, intimate relationship with God and Jesus, through their Holy Spirit. I believe what Jesus said and promised, about the Spirit living within us. I believe He said this as more than something symbolic, but as a vivid reality, something available to all who chose to believe. Yet, I see so little mention of the truth of the Holy Spirit in today’s churches.

Because of these passions, my current book, We Called Him Yeshua, is at its core, about having a very personal, one-on-one relationship with the Spirit of Jesus who lives inside each of us who believe. My hope is that by coming to see the human side of Jesus, which is a major theme of the book, people will more easily relate to Him, and feel closer to Him. And in feeling this way, my hope is they will then look for Jesus inside themselves, and find His Spirit waiting for them there.


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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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We Called Him Yeshua – Final Lap

Last Sunday my editor gave me the first 80 edited pages of my novel We Called Him Yeshua, cheerily marked up with red and blue ink, with a few post-it notes where more explanation was needed. Well, it was a bit of a strange feeling realizing I was about to delve into the world of my novel for maybe the last time.

My hope has been that We Called Him Yeshua will not only prove to be a gripping story, but also show people a side of Jesus they may not have fully understood before—his human side. And in coming to know his humanity, I believe people will naturally feel closer to him. For it’s easier to feel close to the human, than to the divine.

Anyway, Monday morning, 5:00-ish am, work began on the FINAL draft. Wow, hard to believe I’m using that word “final” after working on this book for over four years. How’s it feel? Well, my innards are filled with a mixture of excitement, fear, and a bit of sadness.

To me, writing sometimes feels the way carving marble felt to Michelangelo—he said carving was just a process of removing the extraneous marble until the image that slept inside the block was revealed. And believe me, I’ve piled on lots of extra words and garbage that has been gradually chipped away. And now I’m down to the final polishing.

I can’t express how exciting it is to have the final draft of this book slowly reveal itself as I go through my editor’s mark-ups and do the polishing. And the more revising I do, the more excited I get, for my editor is a gem and she’s come up with improvements that, I think, are taking this book to a whole new level.

But yes, there’s fear. Maybe fear of all the work still to do, in finishing the book as well as all the marketing and self-publishing and navigating Amazon, and on and on and on. Lots of unknowns along the path ahead, this being my first novel. But I think there’s also fear of the day when I set the book free, and let it go out alone into the world. Almost feels like those painful days each time my wife and I drove off and left one of our sons to go forth alone into their first days of college. A weird feeling when applied to something like a book.

And I think that’s where the sadness comes in. I will soon say goodbye to the characters I’ve lived with these past four years. At least in my head, they’ve taken on their own unique personalities, and I’ve grown to really care about some of them, and also despise a few of them. Have you ever felt this way about characters you’ve written?

Anyway, my journalist niece continues to spin out gold as she edits her way through the rest of the book. And my artistic niece will soon produce some sketches of her cover design ideas. I love the family project feel of this. My hope is to have a final draft ready to launch a paperback and Kindle version on Amazon around the middle of March, 2020. In some ways, I’m not looking forward to that.

If you want to know more about the book, or sign up to be notified when I post sample chapters on my cjpenn.com site, please go here. And by signing up, you’ll receive a link to any chapters that have already been posted.


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New Novel, New Website

In support of publishing my first novel in a couple of months, I’m now launching my new author website, at cjpenn.com. The site went live late yesterday. This is a big step on my writing path, and I’m a bit nervous about it.

Working cover – final cover in design

Regarding my novel, I had previously posted a little something (link), and now I’d like to tell you a bit more.

We Called Him Yeshua

You know him by his Greek name, Jesus Christ. We see a lot in the Bible about Jesus’ story and his messages, as written by some of His closest disciples. But we rarely see the point of view of those outside the inner circle, whose lives Jesus changed with his acts of love and compassion. This soon-to-be-published novel tries to see Jesus and those times through the eyes of such people.

They knew Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. (read more on my new website)

In the weeks leading up to the book launch, I’ll be posting sample chapters on my cjpenn.com site. Once the book is live on Amazon, I’ll post a notice for a promo week, where the Kindle version will be free, and the paperback will be priced as low as Amazon will allow. If you’d like me to notify you about these upcoming events, please follow the link (cjpenn.com) and sign up to receive book launch email notices.