Visits From A Man Named Nobody 76

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 76

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The hard part was watching Derek put the needle in. A part of him understood that he didn’t have to watch. That part was dwarfed by a strange compulsion to stare. Even once the IV was set up, Paul watched as the solution poured down from the bag and into her arm. He hated seeing it even as he hoped that this solution would do its job. 

Paul sat near his mother and held her hand as she read. She whispered the words to herself so low he couldn’t make them out. The entire process felt surreal to him. He’d watch her lips move, look at her arm and the solution, look up at the bag, and look back at her. He couldn’t tell if Derek had left or not, and Paul didn’t spare a moment to look around for him. 

“Do you need anything?” he asked.

She smiled at him, patting his hand. “I have everything I need.”

“I could get you some water or maybe a pillow?” He wanted to do something, anything. 

Her smile widened. “I’m OK.” She turned back to her reading.

Each of the bags seemed to deflate. Derek must have been there. At the very least, he came back to switch bags, but Paul never noticed.  

His mother looked away from her reading again. “I love you.” Her eyes hardened. She spoke so forcefully, as if she’d never said the words before and was desperate for him to believe her. 

He smiled. “I know.”

She shook her head. “Do you understand what love is?”

He looked at her. “Sure.”

She stared at him. Did he actually expect him to define the term? 

He stammered. “It’s … well, it’s when you care about someone. It’s when they’re important to you.”

She nodded, but it wasn’t one that conveyed agreement. “I think most people think that way, but love is so much more.” 

She waved her hand around the room. “You took time off work. You help around the house.”

“Most the people who visit the house just sort of appreciate that I stay out of the way.” Paul wasn’t sure why he felt the urge to fell embarrassed, but he did.

“You’re here now, when you could be somewhere else,” she said. 

“Where else would I go?” Did she think he’d leave her? “Mom, I’m right here.”

She nodded, and this time her smile showed she agreed with his words. “I know you love me because you’re caring for me now. You’re sacrificing a chance to do more at work, and I know you’re still using that brain of yours. But you’re here with me.”

“I’m not leaving you!” This time it was Paul’s turn to speak with urgency. 

She smiled again. “I know. My point is, love is sacrifice. Anyone can say someone is important, but we show importance by how we prioritize things. When we’re willing to give up ourselves for someone else, we show our love for them.”

“Where is this coming from?” Paul let out a chuckle. 

“Because as much as I love you, though I’m willing to give up everything for you, there’s something I can’t do.” A tear rolled down her cheek.

“What? Mom, is something wrong?” Paul stood up and looked around for Derek. Was she in pain? 

He was about to call out when his mother said, “I can’t save you.”

Paul let out a long, slow breath. He was worried she was in pain, and she was just gearing up for a sermon. She was giving a speech right there in the treatment center. 

“Oh, I know that look,” his mother said. “If you must be mad at me, be mad, but I don’t frankly know when or how else to tell you this.”

Paul plopped down in the chair, gritting his teeth. “I already know your point.”

“Then give me the decency to allow me to say it, and maybe without looking like I’ve just slapped you.” She gave him a stern look. He shut his eyes. 

She’s afraid, and she wants to say her piece.

That thought actually made him more angry for a second. He didn’t want to lose her in the first place. But if he wanted to be near her, he’d better get more than a little used to her faith. She’s worth that much and more.

He opened his eyes to find her smiling. “Thank you. I would give my life for you to have anything, but Christ died so that you can have everything, and whatever happens, before things get bad, I wanted to tell you that. I understand you’re hurt, but all the pain we face in this world isn’t worth comparing to the glory to come.”

He gave her his full attention, hoping to at least show her he cared about her enough to hear her out. After she hadn’t said anything for another few moments, he nodded. 

“Thank you,” she said. 

That was it? He’d thought she would want some sort of statement or affirmation. He was really worried he’d have to lie to her to make her feel better.

“Would you believe in God if I got better?” she asked.

Paul gave a scoffing laugh before he could stop himself. He also couldn’t avoid opening his mouth to talk. “I’d believe the doctors were good at what they did.”

She nodded. Paul worried she would be angry at his mocking tone, but she only shrugged. “I see,” she said. “So man gets the credit for anything good that happens, but God only gets the blame for the bad things.”

He let out another sigh. He’d walked right into that one. 

She shook her head. “Just a point I wanted to emphasize to you. My son, we’ve both felt pain that no one should ever have to, but one day, you’ll see that it all works for your good.”

Bill died for his good. His biological father beat him for his own good. His mother got cancer for his own good.

“There’s that look again,” she muttered. “Keep that temper for three more seconds. I promise you; one day, you’ll see it.”

Paul’s breathing grew faster. She was talking like a crazy person! Here she is, near to death, and she still wanted to say her God loved her.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

The words sucked the anger right out of him. “For what?” 

“I know the thought angers you,” she admitted. “So I really appreciate you listening with such patience.”

He looked at her, worried she’d want more of that patience.

“Like I said.” She held up her hands in surrender. “That’s all I wanted to say.”

He studied the tiled floor. He was angry, but did he really want to take her faith from her at a time like this? 

No, he realized. Let her have it if it makes her feel better.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 32

Visits From  A Man Named Nobody 32

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Oct. 23, 2027, 9:33 p.m. 

18 Years, 145 Days Ago

Paul and Bill sat at the dinner table talking about scientific theory. They’d gotten a series of white boards and had somehow started jotting down notes that became an honest to goodness theory. 

Phrases and formulas littered the bulk of the boards, and they’d have to buy a new batch soon. Jordan quickly joined the effort, but he wasn’t there at the moment. Paul let the experiment slip in class, and the next thing he knew, even the school had started showing an interest. Honestly, other schools, started showing interest.

Paul distracted himself from the news by checking his latest numbers. Bill probably knew something was up, but Paul was waiting for his mother to get home. Which meant Paul needed a more powerful distraction, and he also wanted to try and test a more unusual theory.

“Do you ever, um, evangelize?” Paul asked.

“Hopefully every day,” Bill said, “but I imagine you mean something more formal. I’ve done two missionary trips, and I’d like to do more, but I haven’t really set anything up yet.”

Two? Paul had seen Nobody far more than that, and neither Bill nor Nobody would ever lie. They were eerily similar. The problem was it was hard to remember Nobody’s physical attributes. They may have only been standing together once, and Paul was much shorter then. Nobody always wore that mask, which muffled his voice just like it covered his facial features. 

He couldn’t exactly blurt out the questions he wanted to ask. “Are you Nobody?” “Why did you wait years after visiting me that first time to talk to my mom?” 

Then there was the experiment. If Bill was Nobody, he’d already know how to teleport. Could he just be teaching Paul how to do it in one of his drawn-out lessons? 

“The problem is researching a way to break down a physical object in a way that doesn’t destroy it,” Paul said. “Right now, I’m thinking of teleportation like a sort of physical email.” 

Bill nodded. “It’s a line of thought to consider. It may not lead to the answer, but in things like this, all a person can do is develop theories and test them.”

This was actually their eighteenth theory. The front door opened, announcing that Paul’s mother was home. 

“We’re in here!” Paul called.

“Where else would you be?” She walked in smiling. She gave Paul a hug before accepting a light kiss from Bill. In all these months, Bill had never stayed the night. He’d hang out until bed time and go home. 

Paul originally thought Bill would circle around back and sneak in so things looked appropriate, but even an all-night observation, one he felt both idiotic an ashamed about, proved Bill never stayed the night. 

This was one of the odd nights Paul’s mother worked late. Bill went into the kitchen to heat up some of the leftovers from dinner while Paul’s mother looked around the dining room.

“I think it’s time we think about getting something like a small garage with a space heating and cooling unit,” she said. “I want my dining room back, but I don’t want you to stop your studies.”

Paul smiled. “About that,” he said. “I have some news.”

“He’s been exceptionally quiet this evening,” Bill said as he walked back from the kitchen and set the plate in his girlfriend’s spot. “I imagine whatever it is will be exciting.”

“It is!” Paul waited for Bill and his mother to sit down. “This experiment … It’s important.”

“I certainly never expected you to be this passionate,” Bill said. “One day I hope you’ll trust me enough to tell me where the idea really came from.”

Only if you trust me enough to tell me why you’ve been visiting me all these years, if you are Nobody.

“I’m not lying,” Paul said. “I met someone years ago, and I think he vanished.”

“So someone can do what you’re trying to learn how to do,” Paul’s mother said. 

Paul nodded.

“Wouldn’t he be selling his idea?” she asked.

“I don’t think he’s very interested in money,” Paul said. “I’m not either really. I just want to see how he did it.”

Paul kept the more unusual details out of his story, but by the time they realized Paul really wanted to develop this technology, he had to at least explain why he was so adamant that it was possible. 

“Anyway, the school found out, and I guess they told, well I don’t know who all they told, but Carnegie in Pittsburgh found out,” Paul said.

The mention of one of the more prestigious technical schools caused Paul’s mother to sit up straight. 

Paul smiled. “They offered me a scholarship if I study this at their universi— ACK!”

Paul’s mother practically flew from her chair and flung her arms around him. It was genuinely hard to breathe. 

“I’m so proud of you!” she said. 

“Mom, can’t … breathe .. “ he wasn’t exaggerating. She was much stronger than she looked.

She let him go, but then she covered him in kisses. Suffocation would have been a preferable alternative to embarrassment. Paul stepped away. She thankfully realized she was being dramatic and sat back down.

“That’s an incredible achievement,” Bill said. 

Paul shrugged. “I still have to graduate high school. Oh! and yes, I told them you were helping me. They didn’t seem to mind.”

Bill shrugged. “It’s not like I’m doing much more than offering you research.”

Paul frowned. “They called you, didn’t they?” 

Bill nodded. “Not to convince them to offer you a scholarship. They only wanted to see if you were helping me more than I was helping you, and I told them the truth.” “

“Why didn’t you tell me you knew?” Paul asked.

“I only knew they called,” Bill said. “I had no idea they’d actually offered you the scholarship.”

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 31

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 31

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“I don’t think he’ll be harassing you anymore,” Bill said, “but let me know if he does.”

Paul laughed. “Dude, you totally shut him down.”

“I didn’t do any such thing,” Bill said. “If he had been willing to sit down and look at scripture, that would have been better. If we could have been reconciled, that would have been even greater.”

Bill really sounded sad. A part of Paul had no issue feeling smug about someone shoving Mr. Dorney’s words back down his throat, but it was hard to feel that way when Bill, who also claims to be a Christian, was the one who did it. On top of it all, Bill felt remorse. 

“Why are they all so different?” Paul asked. They were still making their way back to the house, so Paul came to a stop. He wanted to understand.

Bill turned around to answer. “I assume you mean why so many people who claim to be Christian can have so many different views and attitudes?” 

Paul nodded his head. 

“There are at least four religions who all share a portion of the Bible,” Bill said. “They have at least the bulk of the same text, that being the Old Testament and even a significant amount of the New Testament, save those of Judaism, who do not recognize Christ as the Messiah.”

“You’d think God would make it clear,” Paul said. 

“You mean like sending his son down to earth saying, ‘Listen to me’?” Bill said. “The trouble with religion isn’t God; it’s man.” 

That caused Paul to cock his head in confusion. 

Bill gave one of those knowing and patient smiles. “God is perfect. God is all knowing. Humanity was made in his image, after his likeness.” 

Bill firmed his lips. Paul guessed that Bill was fighting the urge to cite the scripture he just quoted. Does he always cite the scripture he’s referencing in his head? 

He didn’t offer the verse he was referencing. Instead, Bill continued. “But man has ever wanted to be God himself. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. We want to be masters in our fields. We want to be masters of our homes. We want to satisfy our own desires and our own goals. This is the nature of sin.”

“What does this have to do with why so many religions are so different?” Paul asked. 

“I’m coming to that,” Bill said. “Humanity ultimately has two choices. The first is to honor God and submit to him. The second choice is to refuse to take the first. But there are those who want to maintain the appearance of faith, so they create new gods, idols. Or they deny the existence of God, thus making themselves an idol. True Christians will ever seek God’s authority on the matter. They’ll read his words and work to come to an understanding. Indeed, if the word seems unclear, they’ll accept the differing opinions as equally valid and let the matter go without judgement because True Christians are called to judge rightly.”

“Wait,” Paul said. “I thought they weren’t supposed to judge at all.”

“You’re referencing Matthew 7:1-3,” Bill said. “Where Jesus warned about hypocritical judging. There is absolutely a wrong judging, and I’d define it as judging designed to elevate yourself rather than bring the person you’re speaking to closer to God. There is also a right judgement, which Christ talks about in John 7:24. And that’s the answer to your question right there. When people seek after themselves, they might cherry pick parts of the Bible that fit their ideals, letting the rest of the word pass away, but no one who wants to honor God can only follow part of his word. Sure, we’re human, but we’re meant to pursue knowing and honoring him. We’re not supposed to just take the parts we like and cast the rest aside.”

“That’s what Mr. Dorney does.” Paul realized it as Bill was speaking. “That’s why he didn’t want to sit and look through the whole scripture with you.”

Bill nodded and smiled. “A True Christian would be excited to sit and look at scripture with another person. I’m not saying Mr. Dorney would have welcomed us into the house that moment. I’m not implying I don’t do anything but read the Bible. Otherwise, how would I be dating your mom. The point is, we’d have made arrangements. If the issue of dispute was critical, we might very well sit down that moment and look at it, but that, to me, is the difference.”

“I’m not sure it makes sense,” Paul said.

Bill nodded. “Let’s say you’re playing a board game.”

Paul shrugged.

“During a board game, if someone breaks a rule, you have a choice to make. You can let it slide, or you can challenge him on it,” Bill explained.

“OK.” Paul was just trying to show Bill he understood, at least so far.

“Well if you challenge the player on it, you create a new choice. The simplest thing would be to open the rule book and see what it says.”

Paul scoffed. “Of course.”

Bill held up a finger. “But what if the person you challenge says something like, ‘I don’t play that way’ or “That’s not how we do it in my house’?”

Paul scoffed again. “Doesn’t matter. The rules are the … “

Bill smiled. “People unwilling to look through all the scriptures, are those trying to create their own rule books. That’s something I never want to do.”

“What if I don’t want to follow that rule book?” Paul asked.

Bill took a deep breath. The comment honestly hurt Bill to hear. Paul sort of understood. Based on religion, if you don’t follow God, you go to Hell. Bill obviously didn’t want Paul to go to Hell. The problem was Paul wasn’t sure there was a Hell, so why be afraid of it?

Bill shut his eyes, probably thinking or praying, or both. He opened them just before speaking. “Christians are supposed to evangelize and spread the Good News, you may not know what that is, and that’s also a place where Mr. Dorney went wrong, but for now, I’m just trying to answer your question.”

Paul nodded to encourage Bill to continue. 

“If you choose not to follow God, that’s your choice. At least, it is in the simplest sense of the idea,” Bill said. “For those who aren’t of the faith, I’ll only ever be a light to shine for it, and I will continue to offer the Good News, but that’s it. If the word of God isn’t enough, nothing else I say is. I’ll be sad, but there’s no point in being angry. If I’m angry, it’s probably based on some degree of pride on my part. Think of it like finding a hungry person on the road. I bring him the tastiest fruit I have, and he rejects it because he doesn’t want it.”

“But if he’s starving, won’t he eat anything?” Paul asked.

“Maybe if you were inches from death,” Bill said. “But you’d be surprised how many people turn away perfectly good food because they don’t like the taste, so I think the metaphor holds up. Speaking of food, your mother told us to be back quickly.”

Paul smiled and followed Bill to the house for a few steps. But then he froze again. 

“What …. what is the Good News?”

Bill turned. He had a huge smile. “Well, Mr. Dorney probably covered the first part. He’s not wrong when he says that those who don’t follow God are doomed. The point is, all men have sinned.”

“I get that part,” Paul said. Mr. Dorney really loved talking about how evil every man was, every man but those who went to his specific church. 

“Every man needs to come to terms with the fact that he isn’t perfect.”

“Of course they’re not.” Even the statement sounded ridiculous.

Bill nodded as he sighed. “But one needs to understand that the fact that you’re not perfect means you’re evil in the sight of a perfect God, in whom there is no evil.

For some strange reason, Paul took a step back as if Bill had shoved him. It’s one thing to admit you’re not perfect, but to think that being imperfect makes you evil?

“That’s the part most people struggle with,” Bill said. “Who wants to think that the slightest imperfection makes you intolerable? But that realization, that hopelessness is why we need a living hope. It’s only the first part. God knew this from Eternity Past. So he sent his Son, God in the flesh, to pay the price of man. It is Jesus who gave himself up, so that his perfection could become ours, if we earnestly confess he is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. So we need Christ to give us his righteousness, so that we can enter God’s presence as adopted sons.”

Paul waited for a few moments, but Bill just turned back and started walking to the house. 

“That’s it?” Paul asked. 

Bill kept walking, but he answered. “Yep.”

“But I didn’t say I believed.” 


Paul waited again. He actually had to jog to catch up to Bill. He managed to get along side him. “But aren’t you going to say more?”

Bill still didn’t stop walking. “Like I said, if the word of God hasn’t taken root, nothing I think of with my mind or say with my mouth is going to do anything. But please know that won’t stop me from offering the Good News again. Maybe the soil needs a bit of tilling, but I’ll keep planting because that’s my job.”

“Planting?” Paul asked.

“I’ll explain later.” They had made it to the driveway of Paul’s house. “For now, let’s have dinner.”

Paul was willing to wait, but he was far more interested in how Bill spoke. He sounded exactly like Nobody. But how could Bill be Nobody? Could it be coincidence? Paul meant to figure it out. It was a new puzzle, but at least he felt pretty sure he could think about that puzzle on the way home. He didn’t think Mr. Dorney would be botching him anymore. 

The end of Chapter 8. To Be Continued.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

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“I’m Bill Tayro,” Bill said. “I’m courting Paul’s mother, and he’s told me you’ve been speaking with him.”

“I’ve been trying to save his soul,” Mr. Dorny said. 

“Evangelism exists to lead people to Christ, who is the only one who can save anyone,” Bill said. 

Mr. Dorny smiled, but it didn’t have any warmth. It was a picturesque definition of condescension. “What would an adulterous man know about salvation?” 

Paul felt his body tense, but Bill’s hand fell onto his shoulder. Paul looked at the man, who had a truly contemplative face.

“You’re accusing me of adultery?” Bill said it like a question, but he didn’t sound defensive or angry.

“You’ve confessed already,” Mr. Dorny said. “You’re dating a woman, doing who knows what with her.”

“She’s divorced,” Bill said. How did he keep that calm?

“Divorce is a sin,” Mr. Dorny said. “To have relations or even look at a person’s wife in lust is a sin.”

“I’m not sure your comment aligns well with Matthew Chapter 5 clearly enough,” Bill said. “Would you like to open the word together and look more closely?”

Wait. Paul thought. Did he seriously just offer to open the Bible and read it together?

“I’ve no interest in debating scripture with a clear unbeliever,” Mr. Dorney said.

“But you’ll use half-truths to harass a child to a point to where he’s afraid to even walk by your house?” Bill asked. 

Mr. Dorney’s eyebrows furrowed. “I’d have anyone not of Christ fear my presence.”

“I thought you said you were trying to save him?” Bill asked.

“I am.” Mr. Dorney’s tone grew louder.

“Have you tried sharing the gospel?” Bill asked. 

“No unrepentant sinner is ready for the gospel!” Mr. Dorney had started shouting.

“Why are you angry?” Bill asked. “If your goal is to evangelize to this young man, simply offer him the complete gospel.”

“He won’t even admit his sin!” Mr. Dorny stabbed a finger in Paul’s direction. 

Paul again tried to step forward, but Bill gently pulled his shoulder back. 

“What you’re doing is harassing a young boy,” Bill said. “You’re countenance is fallen, Geneses 4:6. You’re not acting with kindness, patience, or love, Colossians 3:12-13. Neither are you treating this outsider with graciousness seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6.”

“You dare quote scripture to me!” Mr. Dorny shouted. Now he seemed ready to hit someone.

“Are you unwilling to discuss scripture?” Bill asked. “How is it you intend to help any souls find Christ if you’re only willing to use his word to condemn?”

Through the whole exchange, Bill never wavered. He wore the same smile that was gentle, not condescending. His tone was patient and kind. 

Paul hadn’t seen anyone use or understand the Bible this way, no one except …

Paul looked at Bill. Could he be? That didn’t make sense. Bill didn’t even know Paul’s mom when Paul was a kid. But they spoke so similarly. 

“You false teacher!” Mr. Dorney said. “You’ll be put to death for your sin!”

“I’m not certain whether or not you’ve just threatened my well being.” Bill sounded like he was reading a particularly complex book. “But you’re quoting Deuteronomy 18:20 as if you know I’m speaking against one of God’s commandments. I don’t believe you’ve tested my spirit in accordance to 1 John 4:1-6. If you had, you would have remembered that I began this conversation acknowledging that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. He came in the flesh from God, and only those who come to him can find salvation.”

Mr. Dorny’s face turned red. “You blasphemer!”

“I think I’ve heard enough shouting.” The more Mr. Dorney shouted, the stronger Bill looked just keeping his tone and posture under control. “I’m not of the opinion you are worried about anything other than passing judgement, which isn’t anything like evangelism. So here’s how this is going to go. I’ve approached you personally in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Paul has witnessed this exchange. You’ve refused to repent. You’ve shown no desire to be reconciled to a brother.”

“You’re no brother of mine!” Mr. Dorney said. He sounded like he was trying not to laugh or shout, so the sound came out like some strange sort of cough. 

“Very well,” Bill said. “But I truly pray you search the scripture and reflect on this exchange. I pray that your eyes will be opened, and you’ll see you’re acting far more like Saul the oppressor rather than Paul the evangelist.”

It was weird for Paul to hear his name so many times and know that Bill was talking about an apostle who supposedly lived thousands of years ago.

Bill stepped behind him to put a second hand on both Paul’s shoulders. “This young man will be using this road to get home. You will not harass or approach him. If you do, the police will be notified. More importantly, I hope you’ll leave this young man to walk the path God has chosen. He’s a child, one of those to whom belong the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19:14.”

Mr. Dorney sneered. “Fine! Go enjoy your flesh and adultery. You’ll burn in Hell, and I’ll be happy to see it.”

“Would you be Lazarus standing with  Abraham? I’d be far more concerned about the plank in my eye.” Bill turned and started to walk back to the house. 

Mr. Dorney shouted a lot more as they walked away, but Bill didn’t appear to pay any attention.

Book Review: Following Christ by Charles Spurgeon

Book Review: Following Christ by Charles Spurgeon

Following Christ by Charles Spurgeon is a book centered on what it means to follow Christ. It starts with the basic principle, and then it moves on to more applicable things like evangelism and serving the body.

This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I took three things from this book that I’d like to share with you:

Following Christ is, in one respect, honestly as simple as trying to imitate Christ. Do the things you think Christ would do. Don’t do the things you don’t think he’d do. This isn’t meant to imply people should walk around trying to heal the sick (unless they’re doctors) or raise the dead. Instead, it means the temperament and behavior of Christ. For non-fiction, I love it when authors are blunt, and Spurgeon leaves no room for interpretation. This portion of the book was every bit as convicting as it was inspiring. I think even the most devote Christian finds himself acting in ways that are contrary to Christ. The difference is that a Christian regrets his sins and works to return to the right path. This book simply states the obvious in a manner that doesn’t condone sinful behavior. It doesn’t lash out at sinners or sin. Instead, it simply shows that when you do sin, you’re not acting like Christ.

The tricker part for me (and a reason I intend to read this again in a while) is the parts talking about serving the body and evangelizing. On one hand, you have that fervor all evangelists should have. In this regard, I am currently a coward. This book convicts me to be bold. This blog allows me a degree of separation that makes me comfortable, but the idea is to make yourself uncomfortable. Yes, I’d love to see the whole world embrace Christianity. Other posts I’ve made offer my reasons, and you can read those thoughts if you wish. But in person, I’m not very bold, and I want to be. That doesn’t mean I’m going to run through my office at work shouting, “Christ is king!” But pray God grants me boldness in this respect.

This image was taken from the Christian Hall of Fame of Canton Baptist Temple website in an attempt to represent Spurgeon. This caption is a credit to where the image came from but does not necessarily endorse the site or its teaching as I haven’t studied their site much.

The final thing this talks about is something I’ve been pondering for a year now. How do I serve? In my wildest dreams (I do have them). I see myself building a school that runs from Pre-K to high school. I want to build a school where the graduates leave with a diploma and a scholarship for whatever occupational trade school or (state) college they prefer. Again, these are my wildest dreams. I dream of building churches based on Biblical expository teaching. I want to fully fund a missionary journey. I want to do all of these things, but I can’t have someone over for dinner and talk about scripture. Again, I pray for boldness. But in this case, I’m talking about serving the body. This part of the book was freeing in a way. One doesn’t need to head a ministry or be a deacon to serve. Instead, all one has to do is ask, “How can I help?” and mean it. All one needs to do is look for a person in need and help them. I think I’ve been so caught up in overt methods of service rather than just looking for ways to serve. This book speaks to that issue. I’m not saying I wanted to be a “shining star” in my church. I was just looking for, I guess the term would be, measurable ways to serve. Now, I feel a little easier just looking for ways to do so. I need that other COVID shot before I can do much of anything, but once I get vaccinated, I’m happy being that guy who just looks for a thing that needs doing.

Spurgeon is such a compelling, charismatic figure. Just reading his books makes me wish I could sit down and have a beverage with him. Reading his books gives me the same feeling as reading something from Lewis. So I’m looking forward to reading another book from him (which I’ve already downloaded).

Thanks for reading,


Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 3

Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 3

Click here to read Part One. Click here to read Part Two.

Paul snickered derisively.  “What the hell is that?”

“How to know what the right thing is.” Nobody returned to his backpack and lifted it onto his right shoulder. “You’re laughing like it’s the dumbest thing, but you’re the one standing there wondering how to find the right answers. I don’t imagine you’ve read it.”

A blast of air representing his distain preceded Paul’s response. “No.”

“So how about this.” Nobody strangely made his way toward Paul’s closet. “Read one chapter a day. Read it all the way through. Hold back your judgement and questions until after you’ve read the whole thing. Then see how you feel.”

“I’ve had plenty of preachers and so-called holy men try and tell me I’m a sinner, and I’m going to hell, and I need to be saved,” Paul said. “Why would this book be any different.”

“Did any of those men ever tell you how loved you are?”

The question froze Paul in his thoughts. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time anyone ever told him they loved him. His mother stopped just before she stopped coming into his room to patch him up after a beating. 

Nobody pointed at the Bible. “That’s absolutely a book with rules in it, but it’s not a rule book. It’s a story. It’s the story of a creator who loved you so much, he sent his son to die for you. That son chose to go and die for you. You are loved so much, he died so that you could live. He did that even though humanity had turned away. He did that even though we are sinners.”

“That’s all just a story.” Paul had found his skepticism somewhere. “People don’t die and come back to life. The world wasn’t created by some creator. Miracles don’t happen.”

“How’d I get in your bedroom then?” 

Paul’s mind raced even as he responded. “I don’t know! Some sort of trick or science.”

“And who created science?” Nobody asked. “The very nature of science calls for cause and effect, but if this universe is the result of some effect, what then is the effect?”

Nobody opened the door to the closet. “I’m sure you’ll search for those answers, but they’re far less important. The answers to your first questions, which I think are more important, are in that book there. And if you want to dispute or debate that book, you still have to read it. One chapter a day.”

Nobody stepped inside the closet and shut the door. Paul darted at the closet, sucking in a breath of air as the wounds on his back protested. He stretched out a hand for the closet door when the air again seemed to swing from normal, to freezing cold, to boiling and back to normal in the blink of an eye. A light flashed, causing Paul to dive to the brown carpet floor and hide his eyes. Something cracked nearby. Paul took a few breaths nervously waiting for his eyes to adjust. The darkness of his room caused him to worry for a moment that he’d been blinded, but after a few moments, his vision adjusted, and he could see. 

He gritted through more pain as he shot to his feet and threw the closet door open. The closet was empty. Paul stepped inside and jerked a bare foot back after it stepped onto a  wet spot. It felt like someone dropped a glass of water on it.  

Paul shoved the fact aside and threw the shirts and jeans hanging above him around. Only occasional sharp pains that warned him he might reopen his wounds caused him to slow down as he searched around hangers and pressed against the walls of his closet. As strangely as he’d appeared, Nobody had vanished. 

Paul remembered the sound he’d heard. He stepped out of the classroom and looked around. A crack had split his bedroom window and caused a spiderweb of smaller cracks to spread. 

He panicked. If his father saw that … 

He scurried toward it as if he were going to wish or worry it away. His foot hit another strange wet spot on his carpet. He reflexively shifted his foot, and it banged into something hard. 

He grunted, pursing his lips to keep a yelp from escaping. He knelt down to look at what he’d hit. Whatever it was, it was wrapped in some strange sort of silvery material. He unraveled the object and discovered a window. It looked exactly like his own window except the white paint wasn’t faded. He noticed a note tapped to it. 

He let out an exasperated breath and made his way to his nightstand. He had a tiny pressure-activated flashlight in there, and he pulled it out and used it to read the note. 

“Window is easy to replace,” it read. “Just pull the levers at the top and switch it out. Your dad won’t notice. Remember, one chapter a day.”

…to be continued…

Musings on Christianity 39

Musings on Christianity 39

Why Can’t We Talk About Christianity

One glance at social media will offer you a lot of posts about religion. I don’t know about your pages, but I find that any posts about Christianity aren’t very kind.


People are more then willing to talk about God. People are more than willing to talk about how Christians are hateful. They post clever memes featuring depictions of Christ with phrases that usually don’t represent the actual moment depicted.

The occasional Bible verse is usually left alone, but defend the idea of salvation through Christ or state your belief in salvation through Christ alone, and the reactions turn heated or, at best, people politely tell you they’re not interested.


In fairness, I don’t see many posts explaining the doctrine of a lot of religions, but the vehemence with which people react to Christianity is only matched by the amount of false doctrine and unloving misrepresentation of Christ’s teaching.

There are those who are angry at the idea of Christianity. I’ve seen it. I’ve been told I was doomed because I have a Native American brother in law. I’ve been screamed at while trying to go to sporting events. I myself used to say things like, “I don’t believe in organized religion.”

After being screamed at for years by people claiming to be Christian, I simply assumed that’s what Christianity was. That treatment made me unwilling to listen.

This means the first reason people are unwilling to listen to Christ’s message is false teaching or false evangelism.

There are people who take the doctrine of salvation and twist it. They try to blend the Law and Christ when Christ is the fulfillment of the law. There are people who take the message of Christ’s forgiveness and want to forget that forgiveness is through Him, and those who don’t follow Him aren’t His.

All these mixed messages don’t do anything but confuse a very simple concept: Man sinned. The price of sin is death. The sacrifice of animals, introduced through Moses, could never cleanse man. This required a man to live a perfect life and then die a substitutionary death. This is the fundamental concept of salvation through Christ alone. Those who follow him, accepting Him as their savior, are redeemed. Those who follow Him turn from Sin for His sake.

That is Christianity. The term Christian was coined in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The very word means one who follows Christ.

I’m not, nor have I ever, told anyone what to do in regard to religion. That is, in fact, your choice. It’s the same choice Christ gave people. He gave it to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-30).  When many left him, He even gave the apostles the chance to leave (John 6:67). The choice of whether or not you follow Christ yours. Christ, being God in the flesh, knew who would follow and who wouldn’t. He knew whom His Father chose and those His Father did not. I don’t have that advantage.

There are many who feel that belief in Christ alone as a way to Heaven is wrong. Again, that is their choice. The reason I need Christ is because I know I’m a sinner.  I know there isn’t anything I’m going to do to earn God’s favor. Therefore, I need someone to advocate for me. I need someone to pay the price I can’t pay.

However, the challenge is patiently inviting people to hear about who Christ is and what He’s done for mankind.

What confuses me is that people who are angry at Christianity often are scathing or judgmental because they think “all” Christians are scathing or judgmental. On a rational level, I can understand those who simply don’t want to hear the word. What I struggle understanding is why people would do the things they say no one should do. It gets even more baffling when people do the things they say no one should do in response to others doing those same things.

When we do evil, we are, in fact, being evil. One can not do evil for good. God can turn evil for his purpose, but He’s God. When we strike someone who strikes us, we’re guilty of the same offense.

So when when we judge others for judging, we are, in fact, being judgmental. This isn’t opinion. This is simple, rational truth.

This may cause people to be upset. They may defend or explain the reasons for their actions, but if a deed requires defense, there must be a reason it needs that defense.

What would happen if everyone in the world committed to the idea of treating others the way they would be treated? What would happen if this commitment wasn’t predicated on the belief that someone should treat them the way they want to be treated first.

The rule says treat others how you want to be treated. Even assuming most people want the same things, what two people want exactly the same treatment? So the rule can’t be, “treat others how you want to be treated, but wait until they treat you the way you want to be treated first.”

All this comes back to a question I’m struggling to answer. Why is it I’m not allowed to speak about my faith in Christ, but everyone who wants to bash Christians is free to do so? If I defend my faith, I’m evil. If I calmly, patiently offer to explain my faith, I’m, at best, turned down.

There is a double standard in the world, and it is sharply pointed at Christianity. It’s not the only double standard; it’s just the one I’m talking about today. It seems to me in some situations that a person can be anything except a Christian.

They argue this is because Christians are judgmental.

I want to cry out, “So you’re judging me because you believe my religion is judgmental?”

Now, this very book, posted originally on my blog, hasn’t come under any particular scrutiny. But what would happen if I post this same comment on something other than a blog visited by less than 40 people a day? 

The truth is no one has to listen. I’m not trying to make anyone. But it feels sometimes that speaking is in itself met with scorn and ridicule. At least once a day I see some sort of content that says why “Christians” are wrong or how “Christians” shouldn’t claim they have the only way to God.

The very nature of being Christian is to believe that Christ is the way (the truth and the life) to God (John 14:6).

If I’m wrong, I’m screwed, but that’s my problem. The irony is people claim they should be allowed to believe “whatever makes them happy.”

My reply is that they can. But not everyone goes to Heaven. Again, I believe Christ is the way to Heaven. If I’m right, good for me. If I’m wrong, bad for me. I don’t even know the number of other religions out there. I am, however, certain anyone who follows a religion does so because they truly believe that path is the right one. So how is Christianity all that different in that respect?

Another thing that doesn’t help is how politics warp religion. A guy can stand in front of a church or even in a church all day every day; it doesn’t actually make him a Christian. Christ himself proclaimed that there would be many who call on him on the last day, and he will tell them, “Depart from me, you workers of evil. I never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23).”

I don’t know the nature of anyone’s salvation. I’m not God. But looking at the fruit one bears is an indication. Even then, I leave it to the church to discipline its members (that’s a function of a church).  I leave to to the justice system to judge and punish crime. All I can really do is live like Christ as much as I can. He’ll judge me.

But when someone uses Christ or Christianity to tie it to a political agenda, it aligns Christ with a cause when Christ should be the cause. So people argue over this or that. Do some of the things people argue over (abortion) align with religious issues, yes. Do others? Probably not.

All of this debate makes passing the good news very hard. And Christians indeed need to do this. We’re commanded to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The gospels and all of Acts show how this is done.

So we need to look at those examples. I intend to follow those examples. Offer the good news. If people hear it, rejoice. If people reject it, shake off the dust from your shoes. The current landscape makes that difficult, but it’s one I feel we need to navigate with patient persistence. I don’t feel it should be done with aggression or accusation, but it should be done.

For our panel: So why is it so hard to talk about Christianity? How should one respond when they don’t want to hear the gospel? How do we correct those who aren’t speaking truth? Should we defend our beliefs when they’re challenged on social media? If so, how?