Visits From A Man Named Nobody 22

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 22

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 //

The car rumbled to life, and Paul put it in reverse. He set to work backing up carefully. Then he turned around. All the while his mother gave soft words of encouragement. Occasionally, Paul would stall out or cause the car to jerk around again, and his mother would offer an occasional giggle with a gentle word of correction. 

After a while, Paul realized he had a smile plastered on his face. I think this is the happiest I’ve ever been.  

“Did you want to stop?” she asked.

Paul realized he’d stopped the car, thinking about what a great day it had been. The sun was quickly approaching the horizon, but there was still a few minutes of daylight.

“I suppose we can keep going a little while,” Paul said. A part of him felt weird, but he didn’t want to reveal how much he wanted this day to last longer. Can I make every day feel like this?

She’d taken to playing video games with him from time to time, and that was fun. She’d glance at his homework, but she’d never really understood half of it. She mostly just looked at it to offer praise for doing it. Those were good times, but driving around, just the two of them, he realized it was so much better somehow.

“Oh.” She chuckled again, as if she knew he was only pretending to be frustrated. “Well I guess if you can put up with me for another few minutes, I’ll try not to be too annoying.”

Yeah, she definitely knew he was having a great time. He still refused to admit it for some reason. He was afraid that admitting he was happy would cause something terrible to happen. 

That’s the way it always went before Paul’s father was arrested. Things would seem good, and he’d explode over the dumbest thing. Even after he went to jail, Paul himself would find some way to cause drama. 

This day was different. They drove until the sun finally fell behind the horizon. Paul pulled over and switched spots with his mother. 

“I think you’re just about ready to drive on some quiet streets. You got the basics down, so now it’s just practice.” His mother smiled and ran a few nimble fingers through his hair.

“Can we play some video games when we get home?” Paul asked. 

She shook her head. “I’m actually planning to meet Bill tonight.”

Paul frowned. Bill. Paul hadn’t gotten to do much more than meet the guy, but his mother had been spending quite a few nights with Bill, and it annoyed Paul.

“How late are you going to be?” Paul asked.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t think it’s your job to ask me when I get home.”

Well, it wasn’t, but he still wanted to know. “I just want to know if you’re going to be all night.”

Her cheeks flushed, and Paul realized he’d implied a very different question than the one he meant to ask.

“Gross! No! I don’t want to know if you’re doing that,” Paul said. “I’m just wondering if you’ll be there in the morning.”

Paul realized it was, in a way, the same question. Why else would a woman stay with a man through the night.

“I won’t be out past eleven,” she said. “I trust you to have some food and get to bed on time, but I’m not leaving my sixteen-year-old son home alone overnight.”

“I can take care of myself.” Paul hardly made the comment before he realized he didn’t exactly want his mother thinking he wouldn’t care if she stayed overnight with Bill. Because…Bill. 

“You can take care of yourself, but I have no intention of staying out that late,” his mother said. 

To Paul, it sounded more like she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not sleeping with him.” 

Paul thought about it. Should he care? Didn’t he want her to be happy? Did what made her happy have to be Bill? Why was he so annoyed by his name? His name was just about the only thing Paul knew about him. 

“Does it bother you that I’m dating?” The question came from his mother as little more than a whisper, and Paul realized her concern. Would she really stop seeing Bill if he said, “Yes”? 

Paul took a breath. He opened his mouth to say he liked Bill. 

“Don’t lie to me!” She added a finger point to the shout just to give it a bit more sting. How did she know?

He let out a breath of air. “I like it how it is now,” Paul said. “We spend time together. We talk.”

She gently cupped his face with her hands. “No matter what I do, you will always be my son, and I will always love you.”

“I know.” Paul pulled away as if she made him uncomfortable. “Look, I want you to be happy, and that’s the truth. I’m not sure about Bill.”

“Why’d you say his name like that?” she asked.

“Like what?” Paul asked back.

“You just said his name like it was an insult.” Her tone wasn’t angry, but she did make it clear to Paul that he needed a good explanation.

“I don’t know him.” Avoiding the name might be best. “And that’s the problem, and no, I’m not asking to hang out with him. You’re dating, and that means you’ll have less time.”

Paul let a few moments pass before finally admitting, “I was just getting used to how much time we were spending together.”

His mother nodded. “I don’t honestly know what will happen with Bill. I won’t lie, I want to spend more time with him, and I want him to start spending time with us. But I promise to try and make sure we always have time for just us. It might not be as much as you want, but we’ll make time to hang out. Who knows. Maybe after a while you’ll start wanting to spend more time with him.”

The hope practically dripped from her tone, but Paul doubted he’d ever want to spend any time with Bill. 

… to be continued …

Book Review: Finding The Right Hills To Die On by Gavin Ortlund

Book Review: Finding The Right Hills To Die On by Gavin Ortlund
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Finding The Right Hills To Die On by Gavin Ortlund is a book that makes a case for Theological Triage, a concept in which Christians should establish a hierarchy of issues ranging from those which can not be disputed, to those that are less important and, therefore, should never lead to separation or doubt of salvation.

A Note: This book came up because I’d listened to Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund, who turns out to be Gavin’s brother. I was a tad confused for a moment, and wanted to be up front with this information.

This book is for Christians who are either searching or a church home or find themselves at a potential crossroads with a brother or sister in Christ. This is actually a very important issue to me. When I was younger, I was quite frustrated by the division I saw in the Church. I’d heard some churches say others “aren’t true churches,” and the argument simply still hurts my heart. I’m not ignorant to the possibility that some institutions that claim Christianity may not be. False teachers can be in a lot of places. But the struggle for me was truly identifying the line. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis was a source of help.

Gavin (using his first name to distinguish from my previous review of his brother’s work) doesn’t so much as try and affirm which doctrines are truly worth fighting for (1st rank) and doctrines that remain important, but should’t divide a the body of Christ.

While I won’t go too far into Gavin’s book, I will say that the thing I appreciated most is the standard on which Theological Triage should be based: The Gospel. The more directly and critical something is to The Gospel, the more one should defend it. I feel this is an indisputable point on which I can agree.

This image of Gavin was taken from his WordPress Blog for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I will say I don’t necessarily agree with his arrangement or even some of his stances with regard to certain doctrines, but what I can say with joy is that I agree, these different perspectives do not conflict with Gospel Essential Doctrines, nor should the be a point of division. That is the value the idea of this book brings. I’m also happy that Gavin did a fantastic job of explaining his views on various doctrine without being confrontational or overly emphatic. They were simple examples of his views as a point from which to evaluate issues.

I appreciated the reasoned approach. I also appreciate the manner the author provides to establish one doctrine above, alongside, or below another.

This is a book I’d recommend for churches not necessarily to use as a doctrinal stance, but as a way to study how such a doctrinal stance might be established without making some things (as important as they might be) more important than they should be.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 18

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 18

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 //
PT 17 //

“I didn’t mean to bring that up,” Jordan said.

“I know,” Paul said. “Maybe that’s why I am how I am. Maybe I’m just destined to be like my dad.”

Jordan shook his head. “It’s definitely a choice. I’m not saying our dads didn’t have an impact on us. It would be hard for either of us to avoid being like our dads, but we have the choice.”

“You realize you only believe that because your father taught you that.” Paul meant it to prove his point. 

He turned and started walking again, and Jordan followed. “He taught, and I choose to accept it. And if you were cursed to be like your dad, you would have fought those boys no matter what I said.”

Paul gave it some thought. “But it’s harder every time.”

“I’m proud of you every time,” Jordan said. 

Paul smiled. No one had ever said that before. Sure, his teachers were glad his grades were good, and his mother told him she loved him about a million times a day, but no one had ever shown pride in him.

That one word took all the anger out of him. It felt like someone had seem him for the first time. 

“Thanks.” Paul thought that was a pretty stupid word for how he felt, but it was the only one he could think of.

They came to the turn that led to the the cul-de-sac where his house was. It was also close to the choke point where Dorny lived. He’d leap out a window if he saw Paul walking by. Paul didn’t feel like being told he was going to Hell for another hour. 

“Let’s try something,” Jordan said. He started walking toward the next cul-de-sac. 

Paul followed him despite being unsure what the plan was. 

Jordan took the next turn and stopped at the first house. The houses were little more than a series of cookie cutter like designs that butted up against one another. One back yard’s brick wall was mere inches from the next. 

“I think if you take this wall down the side of this house, your house is the one behind it.” Jordan pointed as if trying to remember a map he’d looked at. “It might make your neighbor mad if he sees you, but it’s worth a shot.”

The wall wasn’t much taller than Paul was. He could reach the top by stretching out his arms and hopping. 

“Worth a try.” Paul said. 

He managed to get a grip on the top of the wall, and Jordan gave him a bit of a boost until he reached the top and stood up. A dog roughly the size of a bus rushed up and snapped at Paul. It was a miracle he didn’t fall over. The fall was just barely as frightening as the dog. Luckily, the dog’s attack ended at Paul’s sneakers. On its hind legs, it was too short to reach, but it was so big it couldn’t jump up to get at him.

“Are you ok?” Jordan’s question was a strange combination of a whisper and a shout. 

The dog let out a bark that seemed loud enough to blow Paul’s ear drums. Paul decided to scramble back down the wall before the giant animal found a way to get at him. The barking continued even after Paul got down and headed away with Jordan. 

“It was a good idea,” Paul said. 

“We’ll try the next house,” Jordan said. “You’ll have to walk down one side wall and along the back wall, but it should still work.”

They moved to the next house and manage to get Paul up to the top of the wall. This time, there wasn’t a dog in the yard. Paul worried the plan wouldn’t work every time, but he had a shot to avoid Dorny this time. 

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Paul told Jordan.

“Sure.” Jordan turned and started heading to his own house, which was perhaps two miles in the opposite direction.
Paul stood. The two walls between one house and another were each thick enough for Paul’s foot, and they were close enough together that Paul’s foot couldn’t fit between them. So it wasn’t like he had to tight-rope his way home. It was just a little intimidating being twice as high as we was tall, but once he found his footing, it was a brisk walk along the wall. Paul was actually more worried what he’d do if the people who lived on either side of the walls he was on looked out and saw him, so he rushed down the wall and saw his backyard. 

He made it to his back yard and scrambled down. If anybody saw him, they didn’t say anything. 

Musings on Christianity 36

Musings on Christianity 36

Should We Seek Vengeance?

As the landscape of our country continues to recoil in the aftermath of protests and police brutality, I’ve noticed several people crying out. Some of the things I’ve heard frighten me. I’m not going to pretend to know what police should do. I’m not going to pretend to know how to move forward. Do I understand that people are persecuted and angry? Of course I do. Do I understand the desire for justice? Of course I do. But there are a few things that I contemplate as people discuss things.

We shouldn’t put our faith in man (Psalm 146:3). After all, it was man who led us to this point. It was Adam’s sin that brought the curse on mankind. It was men who formed our nation. It was men who formed the laws. It was mankind who passed on ignorance and racism to their children. It was men who killed all those for whom we currently cry out for justice. Man destroys and kills. Jesus, and only Jesus, saves.

I made it a point for the first chapter of this book to be plain about the nature of man, and it isn’t good. That’s not to say each person is himself or herself as evil as possible, but we are mortals of flesh with motivations borne of that flesh. People will pursue their desires, especially in such a time as this, where people are taught things like, “find what makes you happy,” or “live your truth,” or “you have a right to be happy.”

But what is the cost of happiness? How can truth, which is defined as that which is in accordance with fact or reality, be different for each person? If truth is only in accordance with reality and fact, than an individual can’t have a different truth unless he or she is in a different reality from another. We want truth to bend to our own perspective, but it is to truth we should submit our perspectives to. We should withhold our opinions until we have the truth.  I’ve mentioned this a few times in previous works, depending on how you measure happiness, everyone can’t be happy.

I hear a lot of people talk about money. Everyone should be happy, so everyone should have money. Money is a limited resource. There’s only so much of it in the world. I don’t know that anyone has actually sat down and determined the amount of available money in America and then tried to divide that amount by the number of people 18 or older. Even if that number was more than what some currently make, it might be less than you currently have. I chuckle sometimes at people who say things like, “The super rich should give their money to the less fortunate.”

That would be a very kind and generous thing to do. Those who did so would pile treasure for themselves in Heaven, if they are among the redeemed (Matthew 6:19-20). But for those of us in the middle, who are scraping by and starting to see themselves growing prosperous, how willing are they to give? Do you give to every homeless person you pass? Do you give to everyone who asks? If you do, then I applaud your generosity. However, if you’re not giving everything you don’t need, and remember, we’ve already discussed what need is in the previous chapter, why do you expect others to give? 

This might seem an accusatory chapter, but that only depends on your own conscience. If you’re of the opinion that you’re generous and helpful, then who am I to contradict you? But if you feel convicted, look at yourself and judge, because it is our own actions we should judge first.

Which leads me to the point of this chapter. I’m seeing a number of people crying out for justice, and you have that right, but I urge everyone to remember who justice belongs to.

“Vengeance is mine, and recompense for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly (Deuteronomy 32:35).”

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).’”

I’m not innocent of this. But I honestly see it so differently now than I did even a few years ago. I meant what I said in the last chapter. I’ve given Heaven and Hell a great deal of thought, and I don’t want anyone to go to Hell. That doesn’t mean I want to hang out with them or that I agree with everything they say, but I certainly don’t want them to go to eternal damnation.

Now a days, I pray far more for salvation of those who truly wrong me than I do vengeance or even justice. I do this for a few reasons. First, if everyone deserves justice, we’re all screwed. Justice would be all of us going to Hell for our sins. Justice would be everyone being punished.

Again, people may buck at this idea, but just please ask yourself, “Am I perfect? Have I never sinned? At all?”

The price of sin is death (Romans 6:23). It’s that simple. A just response to sin would be our execution. But God in his mercy and grace showed his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8). 

If I want justice against my enemies, why do I deserve mercy? I posed that question to myself; I leave it to you to consider posing that same question to yourself.

But what do I know of true suffering? I’ve never faced racism or persecution. I’ve never been beaten by police or had my motives questioned just because of the color of my skin. I can’t have any clue what that’s like, and I certainly don’t know what it would be to endure that in some  way for more than 200 years. But I can’t make mankind love one another. All I can do is love the people around me the way I want to be loved.

I can also pray for justice in those circumstances.

However, it is in these times where we most desire vengeance that we must cling most strongly to the Word that tells us it is not ours to pay. I can pray that God brings justice, and I do. I pray even more firmly that people turn from their ways to Christ. I pray they honor the triune God who created man in Their own likeness, after their own image (Genesis 1:27). People who hold onto that truth can’t hate another man based on anything as fickle as skin color or nationality.

We should report crimes we see. We should watch out for our fellow man. We should spend time together and support one another.

Vengeance of wrongdoing can make one feel justified, but better that they wouldn’t be wronged in the first place.

I struggle with pride and frustration. I battle these temptations so much I understand Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If I’ve made any progress in this, it was that I’ve learned how love can change a person. In a world where we seek justice and brotherly love, we can only attain such through Christ. Man has failed us time and time again.

I saw a few memes through the weeks where people talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. They say something to the effect that he protested peacefully, and people still murdered him. That saint suffered the same fate of our savior, who did nothing but preach love and fear of the Lord, and even after being declared innocent, the people cried out for his crucifixion. If mankind would kill the Son of God, what man, no matter how wonderful, stands a chance?

The fault lies in the heart of humanity. But like all evil, God used even that crucifixion for good, for it is by that crucifixion that Christ paid the price for our sins. As for justice? God showed Christ as the one perfect man by raising Him from the dead and placing Him at his right hand. And there, Christ intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).

My hope and desire is that people seek love, peace, truth, patience, and kindness. My hope is that people hold on to the truth that justice eventually comes to all. I’m not saying I don’t understand those who have had enough. I just urge people to stay above those who are wrong. Remain better than those who’ve harmed others. Keep yourself holy even if others are unholy around you or mistreat you. You do this to glorify God. You do this the remain innocent in a world of hate and selfishness. Where anger, pride, and hate have led men to murder, theft, and destruction, let love, peace, and mercy lead you to holiness, righteousness, and joy. 

For our panel: How can a people so long persecuted find any sort of peace? How can those same people maintain faith that justice will come? How do those who would see their black brothers and sisters receive justice and mercy help? How does a citizen support justice without taking it into his or her own hands? What ways can we demonstrate love and support for humanity?

Musings on Christianity 16

Musings on Christianity 16

How Do I Know I’m Bearing Fruit?

In previous chapters, I talked about how discouraging it can be to notice the sin in your life. But if we are still in sinful flesh, how can we know we’re saved?

“So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased true bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:17).

If we are bearing good fruit, this is a great indicator of our salvation. The Bible has several references to the work our redeemed lives produce. The parable of the sower goes into pretty great detail (Matthew 13:1-23). 

Galatians 6:7-10 also discusses this. But this brings the question, “What is good fruit?” “What should I see in my life?”

In searching for the things you should see, the first list that comes to mind is a pretty simple cross-reference. If Paul says to bear good fruit, what is the good fruit? In that same book of the Bible (Galatians 5:22-23), he’s kind enough to give us a list:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.”

Now, there is actually another list, a far more convicting list. There is the list of things a redeemed life should not have. That is the list of things that defile a person, which can be found in Matthew 15:19. Straight from the mouth of Jesus, he tell us what we should purge from our lives:

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

I’m not in the mood to argue what some of those terms mean. That’s the list from the mouth of Christ. I didn’t make it up, nor am I going to try to justify my savior’s own words. If a word on this list gives you pause, it’s not because the word is on the list; it’s because that word being on the list convicts you. If you feel defensive over any one of those terms, don’t defend yourself to me. I’m not going to condemn you. Instead, look in your own heart and ask yourself why the presence of that word on the list makes you feel defensive. 

When I train my students at DINFOS for informational videos (some might call them spots or commercials), I tell them that one thing that frustrates me is someone who shows a commercial of what not to do. What I mean is they show a Sailor in a bad uniform or pretending to do bad things. I don’t want to see bad examples, I want to see good examples. It’s not the same as saying, “don’t do this.” In the above reference to things that defile a person, Jesus simply states the things that defile a person. Again, he doesn’t portray the things they do, he just states them as wrong.

So what I want to do is focus my life and my efforts on the fruit of the Spirit? Why? Because if I bear good fruit, I have to be a good tree. A bad tree can not bear good fruit (Matthew 17:18-20).

Therefore, my hope is that if I focus on bearing good fruit, the rest will take care of itself. The Spirit’s work will be made manifest in me.

While thinking on this, I decided to actually delve deeper. Lists are fine and good, but  I don’t want to have love the way I think love works. I want to have love the way Paul (the author) meant it. Once more, Paul was very kind to offer us a description of what love is or, even more accurately, what love does.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Now I have something to work with. For me, that’s a very convicting list. I’m known for all the wrong things (irritable, resentful) and I am not known for very many of the right things.

To combine thoughts in previous chapters, does this mean I am not saved? No. Why? Because my spirit mourns these faults. I can repent and be loving. I want to work at this. I want the love of Christ to work through me to bear this fruit.

And that is the crux of sanctification. An unrepentant, unredeemed person looks at his life and does one of two things: He says, “I’m not worried that I’m not very loving, I donate to the church every week, and so I’m good.” He says that or something to that effect, justifying his sin by pointing out his works. The thing is, our works aren’t what save us. Instead, we should seek out the work God does in us. The other thing an unrepentant, unredeemed person may do is give in because it seems like too much. You can’t be perfect, but what you should do is strive to that effect.

Christ’s righteousness, his perfection, is credited to us if we are in him. This isn’t a direct quote of 1 Corinthians 1:30, but it is what I base this faith on.

However, that only applies to those who seek Christ’s sanctifying work in their lives. All people sin, but the believers in Christ have forgiveness through Christ. His Spirit works in our lives to sanctify us. But the unrepentant live in their sin, showing their love of sin is greater than any lip service or token demonstrations of faith in Christ.

So though I may be convicted by that verse, I am encouraged that I have been shown the way, and I can now focus my thoughts on things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).   

This is my current commitment, and I encourage all who seek Christ and to be more Christ like to do something similar. Don’t hide from the verses that make you feel guilt. Seek out the Lord’s discipline, for he disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6-11). 

If we accept it and grow, we’re bearing the very fruit our lives should bear. There are more ways to bear fruit, but this is an area I felt I could improve in tremendously. As I grow, I hope to embody more and more attributes of Christ. I want to grow in Him and reflect Him more each day. This is just the latest manner I’ve chosen to do it. 

For our panel: What are some other fruits we could pursue? What should one do, or how should one react if they realize they’re not bearing good fruit? How do people go about changing? What are some things people like myself can do to help themselves be more loving?

Book Review: The (NIV) Bible

Book Review: The (NIV) Bible

NIVGreetings all,

This review has been long in coming. It was easily my favorite book of 2018 (for a number of reasons)So a real in-depth review of this book is simply not possible. There are numerous versions with commentaries for each book. So I took some time to think about what I could offer that I haven’t already said.  So here’s what I came up with:

Why the Bible? As I’ve said, this book changed my life. I see and think differently.  My coworkers have noticed. People who hang out with my family notice. The more I try to read and understand how to live Biblically, the better I feel, and the more blessed I feel. Despite some low lows in 2018, I had a source of comfort, support, and wisdom.

Favorite Books:  My favorite book of the Bible is actually Job. Why? Because that guy suffered. That guy had everything, lost everything, and gained even more. His story gives me context to my life. His behavior during his trial gives me perspective on how I’m supposed to act during my trials. It’s not a “fun” book of the Bible or even very comforting. But it is edifying. It gives me perspective that I don’t think I would see the Bible, Christ, salvation, or suffering the same way without it. A close second is Romans.  I’m not sure which of my old blog posts I went into detail on that, but I did. I’m sure if you search Romans, M.L.S. Weech, you could see an in-depth perspective on why that book means so much to me. The short version is that I find that book to be the most comforting book in the Bible. That’s probably different for anyone (my wife seeks the Psalms for comfort for instance), but that’s my vote.

Leviticus
Image taken from the Covenant Community Church website. This image is not an endorsement or condemnation of CCC or its doctrine. I simply wanted an image for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Books I Struggled With the Most: I’m currently reading 1 Chronicles. I’m starting to put together what it’s doing. But I’m at a complete loss in this book. Yes, that makes it harder to enjoy. Also, it’s repetitive. Now, I’m certain there is a wisdom and there are many secrets to glean from this book and many others. One idea I’m playing with is a study of Christ through his genealogy. 1 Chronicles makes that sort of study possible. Some may argue Matthew or Luke, and they’re not wrong per say, but Matthew skipped a number of  generations to simplify memorization. 1 Chronicles lets me fill in the blanks. I also struggled with Leviticus. I understood what it was setting up a bit more, but it was a lot of direct information.

Bible StudySo I close this with another attempt to explain why I think reading the Bible is such a worthy endeavor. First it is my personal opinion (I’m unaware what my church thinks on the subject), that simply reading the Bible with an open mind is honestly one of the best things one can do if they are interested in salvation. Now, let’s assume you’re not saved and have no interest in being saved. Very well.

This book is still the richest single collection of narratives, poems, and historical information one can hope to find. Let’s get the tangental comment of historical out of the way. First, not even a scientific atheist would argue the existence of a historical Jesus. Debate the other aspects if you wish, but no one denies it. Even still, that’s not actually what I mean. I’m referring to the Epistles, which are actual letters written by actual, historical people to actual, historical readers in archeologically verified locations. Letters from Paul, James, Peter, and John are like finding an old World War I person’s journal or letters to home. This is my basis for the term historical information. Sure, one can read a thousand books on a thousand locations, but the Bible provides one book about dozens of locations.

So whether for spiritual purposes or educational, reading the Bible is a pursuit most worthy.

I hope you’ll choose to try it. If you have questions on where to read or why, I’d be happy to offer you my thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

 

 

 

 

Sonnets For My Savior 28

Sonnets For My Savior 28

You

When the world calls to me,

let me choose You.

When it asks me to turn from You or use You for money,

let me choose You.

When the world offers me power,

let me choose You.

If the world offers me all the food I could devour,

let me choose You.

You are the creator of all things;

let me worship you and not your creation.

Help my heart seek only the joy Your love brings;

Help me cast aside my desire for the material for the grace of salvation.

Should the world offer me glory or fortune or fame,

please, Lord, let me instead choose to honor Your holy Name.


 

Thirst, Come, Drink

The water of the earth can’t compare.

Any who drink of it, will be thirsty again.

To those who truly thirst, do not despair;

True living water exists for such men and women.

Come to Him, who can satisfy your thirst.

Seek Him, and you will find.

All who come to him, be they last or first,

will be provided for, for he is the Savior of mankind.

Drink deeply the water he gives.

Drink ,and you will be filled.

For he is the Savior who died and yet lives;

He is the Messiah, who did just as God willed.

Only believe in Him, who has come from the Father,

for those who believe, out of their hearts, will flow rivers of living water.


 

Forgiveness and Peace

Please rid my heart of this anger.

Forgive me for this sin.

Change my heart, oh Great Redeemer,

and purify me from within.

I feel slighted,

but vengeance is yours.

The fury in my heart has been ignited,

but judgement is all an angry heart procures.

Help me to turn my cheek.

Help me to give away my cloak.

Take my prideful heart and make it meek.

Grant me a heart that doesn’t provoke.

Help peace reign where anger lives.

O Heavenly Father, please great me a heart that forgives.


 

Whom He Chose

Let us prefer to be foolish

rather than regarded by this world as wise.

Let us think all earthly things rubbish

next to Heaven’s glorious prize.

Let us choose to be weak

rather then regarded as strong.

For it is written that Heaven belongs to the meek.

He who relies on his own strength will discover himself wrong.

Let us praise our God who raised up what is low

to make nothing things that are.

For those who worship God know,

His power is the greatest by far.

Let us not seek to meet any standards of this earth,

but instead let us seek to praise God, for what he gives is all that has worth.


 

What Must Change

This world is broken,

and I lack the power to fix it.

My pride demands I be outspoken;

It pulls me from Christ and won’t let me submit.

If I claim I know what should occur,

I place myself on the throne of perfection.

The world can’t run as I prefer,

if indeed I’ve given Christ all my affection.

If he is my ruler,

I can’t demand control.

If Christ is my ruler,

I must trust in him with all my soul.

It isn’t the world that should change to my whim;

rather it is I who much change, which is only possible through Him.


 

The Betrayer

Woe to he who would betray

Christ the Savior on that fateful day.

This deaf fool heard all Jesus had to say,

but could not bear to submit and obey.

Woe to he who accepted thirty pieces of silver

as a blood price for his terrible deed.

He thought he was a clever deceiver,

but Christ choose him that Jesus may do as God decreed.

Woe to he who tried to feign remorse,

for his actions showed his lie.

Rather than face the consequence of his chosen course,

he instead chose to die.

Woe to he who betrayed Jesus with scorn,

For it would be better for him if he had not been born.


 

Blind

They spoke the truth about what would happen.

They recognized what the sign would do.

Their hearts were hardened against what was done then,

for they refused to see what was plainly true.

Lazarus rose, and many believed.

Rather than rejoice, the leaders feared they’d lose their place.

In truth, they weren’t deceived.

Rather they wanted to avoid disgrace.

But God found a use even for the blind Caiaphas,

For the high priests’ lips spoke prophetic words.

It is better that Jesus died for us.
Indeed, the death of the Lamb saved the herd.

God used their blind and hardened hearts for our gain.

For Jesus died and rose again, just as the Father did preordain.

Sonnets For My Savior 27

Sonnets For My Savior 27

Whose Meaning Matters

God is not a God of confusion;

His word isn’t a mystery.

There is no need to create allusion

to his word about Himself and our history.

Resist the urge to press in your own meaning;

Instead, consider only what the author meant.

What what right does a reader have to be intervening

upon the words that God himself had sent?

When you speak,

would you have someone find his own interpretation?

Why is it then that you seek,

to alter a writers’ assertion? 

If you would ask others to listen so that you could be heard,

What right do you have to reinterpret the scripture’s Holy Word?


 

With Earnestness

Let us seek Your word to learn,

not to appear as though we care.

For only in earnest hearts does Your Spirit burn,

and where two or three are gathered in Your name, You are there.

Keep us from meaningless demonstrations;

deliver us from hypocritical practices.

Provide an exit from distracting temptations;

Let us seek Your word rather than our own sinful vices.

If we pray, let it be with all our hearts.

If we study, let it be with all our minds.

Let pleasing You be where our every thought starts,

for he who truly seeks you always finds.


Let us give unto You everything,

for greater than all that is the peace that you bring.


 

Before He Comes

Many will come

to try and lead us astray.

Through them, great things will be done,

and the undiscerning will fall away.

Nation will fight nation;

kingdom will fight kingdom.

Watch for the abomination of desolation.

Beware false Christs; walk in wisdom.

If one says, “he is there!” do not go.

If one says, “he is here!” do not go.

When He will come, none but the father know,

but when He comes, all will know.

Like lightning streaking across the sky,

all will see and know Jesus has arrived.


 

Steward

Let me care for the lands You give me;

let me nurture them to a plentiful harvest.

Help me plant and water every seed;

Help my heart be driven; guard me from disinterest.

Let me add to the money with which You bless me.

If You give me five talents, help me return to You ten.

Whether You grant me a fortune or a single penny,

help me save now so I don’t suffer then.

Help me care for the home You’ve placed me in.

Help me keep the foundation strong.

For You are generous, God, as you have ever been,

and to mistreat what You give me would simply be wrong.

For I know that You bless a good and faithful steward,

For those who have will receive an even greater reward.


 

The Choice of Obedience

Peter, what were you thinking?

Did you expect to defeat the great crowd?

Didn’t you hear what Jesus had been saying?

They couldn’t have taken Him if He hadn’t have allowed.

Twelve legions of angels could have come.

But then how would the Scriptures have been fulfilled?

God’s will must be done,

so Jesus had to be taken and killed.

Behold the love and obedience of the Son,

who accepted a cup he never deserved.

With his choice the many were paid for by one.

This is how our Savior served.

Yes, he was delivered to endure the Father’s wrath,

but remember he choose to obey and walk that path.


 

The Gift

I thought I had to do something.

I felt like I had to earn His love.

The reality is we can do nothing.

His grace is simply a gift from above.

A million good deeds could not erase my guilt.

No amount of earthly pleasures could fill the void.

The realization led my heart to wilt.

I feared my hope was destroyed.

The Word is what helped me see;

All my transgressions had already been paid for.

Christ had died to set me free,

and there is no need for anything more.

It was easy for me to understand my desperation,

the challenge was accepting His gift to receive salvation.


 

This Burden

The more I learned of right and wrong,

the more I felt this weight grow.

I laugh at the thought that I was strong.

How to carry this burden, I didn’t know.

The Word led me to freedom.

The Word showed me the way.

So I set off to find the Kingdom,

but I had to let all I knew fall away.

I had to become a fool to find wisdom.

I had to forsake my strength to fight might.

Though temptation came at times both often and random,

I had to hold fast to what the Word says is right.

The journey wasn’t easy, but I found the King one day,

and just as I believed in my heart, the King lifted that burden away.

Sonnets for my Savior 8

Sonnets for my Savior 8

As Long As I Live

The pangs of Sheol laid hold on me

until I called on thee, until I called on thee.

The snares of death encompassed me

until I called on thee, until I called on thee.

The Lord is gracious and righteous;

He is holy and merciful.

His blessings are surely bounteous,

His love is amazing and beautiful.

I offer You my thanksgiving,

and I call on Your holy name.

I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,

for you delivered my soul from death and my heart from shame.

I pay my vows to You;

as long as I live, Lord, I call upon You!

 


 

Guard My Heart

We could wash our hands a million times and never be clean.

Please don’t let us worship You in vain.

It is not what we consume that makes us obscene,

but what comes out of us that leaves a stain.

Let our worship be from the heart

not from our lips.

Let your word be where we end and start;

Make us deaf to false teaching and help us avoid poisonous relationships.   

Grant us sight so we know who to follow,

let our footsteps not match those of the blind.

Help us break free of the pointless ceremony in which we wallow;

instead let our hearts and Your Spirit be intertwined.

Let us never break your commandment for the sake of our tradition;

But always look to you, with our highest love and most humble submission.


 

How Love is Shown

To show His love,

what did he do?

He came from above,

and faced every torture man could think to put him through.

He gave himself up

as a sacrifice to the Father.

He drank from his cup,

so that God’s wrath need not fall on another

If he was willing to die

at just the right time,

why can’t we just rely

on He who could pay for every crime?

He gave Himself up just to redeem our wickedness,

so we must offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness.


 

The Ransom

Our rightful king did not come to be served;

instead He came to serve.

The things He suffered were undeserved,

yet He bore them so our souls He might preserve.

He gave his life as a ransom for many;

his precious blood was spilled for our sake.

If we look in ourselves for righteousness, we won’t find any,

but His sacrifice covers our every mistake.

Adam’s disobedience cast us into sin,

but Christ’s obedience made us righteous.

If our hearts He resides within,

then the grace of God is given to us.

Through his love our spirits have been taken,

and from God’s hands, they can never be shaken.


 

The Glory

The glory, Lord, belongs to you,

for all good things come from you.

The gifts I use are given by you,

and the praise for all deeds belong only to you.

The goodness of life, Lord, comes from you,

for all things are done for good for those faithful to you.

Evil is altered for good by you,

and the strength gained through adversity is provided from you.

This universe was created by you,

so that all the creatures in it might glorify you.

Man and woman were created by you,

and we live our lives to please only you.

Praise and glory we offer to you!

All praise and all glory belong only to you!


 

Giving

Even I would not hand a stone

to my son who asks for bread.

What father would leave his child alone,

without a place to sleep or a roof over his head?

No father would give a serpent

to a son who asked for a fish.

Indeed, what father has not spent,

all he could to grant his child’s every wish?

If we know to give good things,

even in the state we are in,

how much more will our Father, who is in Heaven, bring

to his children who follow Christ and turn from sin?

To seek with praise and supplication is such a simple task,

and our Father, who is in Heaven, will always give good things to those who ask.


 

One Day

One day our Lord will return;

one day he will rule.

Woe to those who did spurn

the gift of Christ and did offer his followers ridicule.

One day Jesus Christ will sit on his glorious throne;

one day Jesus Christ will be the judge.

Woe to those who have evil sewn

and, against those who followed Christ, held a grudge. 

One Day the Son of God will come;

one day, the Son of God will appear.

Woe to those who did succumb

to the call of false Christs claiming, “He is here!”

One day the Son of Man will appear in the sky,

one day the Son of Man will return and rule from on high.

Sonnets for My Savior 5

Sonnets for My Savior 5

A Family Under God

Let husbands love their wives with a sacrificial love;

let husbands love their wives as they love themselves.

Let wives respect their husbands as heads just as the Lord is head above;

let your scripture be the source for guidance into which the family delves.

Let children be obedient and honor their parents;

let them be raised in the Lord’s discipline and instruction.

Let Your word and Your teachings be parents’ primary arguments

to guide them to a life free from the evil one’s seduction.

Let family members bear with each other and forgive

just as the Lord has forgiven us.

Let their worship for You outlive

any personal distrusts.

Let families live only in accordance to Your will,

so that love and blessings from their hearts overfill.


 

Appreciation

Let us give thanks to the Lord with all of our hearts

and proclaim all of His wonderful deeds.

We owe all we have to Him who gives all one needs;

We know that once You have one’s soul, from You it never departs.

He is our rock and our salvation,

so let us always keep him near.

His presence means we need not fear

the curse of eternal damnation.

He grants us our strength and makes us strong,

and to His people He gives peace.

We give thanks to the God from whom all things flow.

He has passed over the sins we have committed, indeed every wrong.

Through him we receive a release

and await the new lives he will, eventually, bestow.


 

An End to Suffering

We pray for Your day to come fast,

for that day, You will wipe the tears from our eyes,

and death will no longer last.

Mourning, crying, and pain will cease on the day You arise.

Even if we suffer for a time,

we rejoice despite the pain

because the age to come will be sublime.

Therefore our endurance is not in vain.

From the character endurance breeds comes hope,

and hope does not put us to shame.

Even if we feel we can’t cope,

we will put our trust in Your holy name

We await Your return eagerly,

for on that day, from suffering we will be free.


 

Faithful

Oh gracious God, You keep Your ears open for our supplications.

Your love is steadfast with those who love You and keep Your commandments.

You are faithful and provide ways to escape our temptations.

You provide for us and heal us from our ailments.

When we seek You with all our hearts, we find you.

When we come and pray to You, You hear.

Let us hold fast to our hope, for when You make a promise, You always come through.

We exalt You, Lord, for to us You are dear.

In times of temptation, we take heart in Your son.

Even if some are unfaithful, your faithfulness remains.

Even when we suffer, we trust in your will, which will always be done.

We were trapped in sin, and You have broken our chains.

Thank you for being merciful and true

and we give thanks for all the glorious things you do.


 

Trust in Your Wisdom

Your Wisdom is pure;

Your judgements are unsearchable.

Though we may doubt, you are always sure.

The depths of your knowledge are unmeasurable.

Fear of You is the beginning of knowledge;

to shun evil is understanding.

In times of sadness, let us pledge

to offer You praise that is abounding.

Should we encounter disappointment,

let us see it as an opportunity

to glorify your sovereign judgement

and conduct ourselves with dignity.

Any one can praise You in times of gladness,

but blessed are those who praise You even in times of sadness.


 

Doers

We know it isn’t enough to know.

Our fathers and ceremonies are not what count.

With all we do, we are held to account,

and we will reap what we sow.

You, Lord, measure our heart,

so the rule of law is not where our salvation lies.

Any person who relies on himself dies,

but those who put their faith in Christ are held apart.

Those who do the law are justified;

righteousness doesn’t come from listening.

Even those who haven’t heard it can be a law to themselves if they do what is required.

Those who know the law but break it show themselves falsified.

The disobedient will find the obedient condemning.

For those who receive grace through faith are the ones who are desired.


 

Call Me

Here I sit in my iniquity;

call me please, so with You I may sit.

To claim not to need You is fatuity.

I am a sinner, so to You I submit.

I am sick;

You are the only physician who can heal me.

Rebuild me, Lord, brick by brick,

and leave my transgressions in the debris.

I listen for Your call,

for I can not escape my sin.

Let me hear You before I fall,

for there is nothing good in my skin.

The table of tax collectors and sinners is where I should be,

so please sit with us and share the truth that sets us free.

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