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 4

Sonnets For My Savior 4

Unworthy

I deserve punishment;

You granted me grace.

I deserve banishment,

but still in Your kingdom, I have a place.

I can not do anything to erase my transgressions,

nor is there anything in me that is right.

Yet still You call me one of Your possessions,

and You bless me with the light.

I was blind until you gave me sight;

I was dead;

I could not be worthy of You try though I might,

so Your Son gave me His worth instead.

My salvation is only possible because of your love.

Thank you, My Lord, who rules from above!


 

Let it be Known

He turned water to blood,

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

He brought frogs, gnats and flies, and the livestock died in the barns and the mud

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

Boils, hail, locusts, and darkness he cast upon land,

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

Then all the firstborn were taken by His hand,

and some may ask why He made Pharaoh’s heart hard.

Pharaoh was raised so that God’s power might be known.

He has mercy on whom He shows mercy,

but some are set to be examples.

Our mighty God rules over all from his throne.

His plagues were sent to eliminate controversy.

Those who doubt must remember these displays of power were only samples.


 

Let My Seeds Grow

Do not let my heart be a path.

You, my Lord, can cover the road with fertile soil.

If my heart is on rocky ground, soften it, so I do not earn your wrath.

If my heart is surrounded by thorns, plant in it still, Lord, even though it is a toil.

Produce grain in me, a hundredfold, sixty, or thirty,

even if I should only be a harvest of one.

Please do not stop sowing, Lord, even though my heart is dirty.

Plant in me again and again, until my heart is won.

Do not let any birds snatch your seed away.

Let my roots go deep into the ground.

Don’t let persecution cause my faith in you to decay.

Let your word be all to which I am bound.

Let me grow in you.

Sow the field of my heart until I am made new.


 

How Great

How great is your sovereignty, Lord?

Every decision comes from You.

How great is your mercy, Lord?

You save us despite all that we do.

How terrifying is your judgement, Lord?

You reprove and discipline those whom you love.

How terrifying is your wrath, Lord?

Vengeance is yours to repay from above.

How immeasurable is your patience, Lord?

You are slow to frustration.

How immeasurable is your love, Lord?

While we were sinners, Your Son’s death gave us salvation.

How great you are!

How great you are!


 

Cleanse Me

I’m covered in the filth of my own nature.

My flesh overrules the desire of my soul.

Despite my wish to serve only you, my sin is in control.

Have mercy, Lord, for I am a sinful creature.

I am prideful, selfish, and lustful.

I serve my body when I wish to serve you.

I am unable to stop or help myself through

this constant failure of which I am so regretful.

Your blood is all that can wash my life clean.

Only Your spirit can set me free.

Only through You can I be made right.

On my behalf You can intervene.

Let me be your devotee.

In service to you, let me find my true delight.


 

Let Us Be Gathered

You sowed good seeds in your field,

but your enemy sowed weeds among them.

You let both grow so that our wheat we might yield.

Once the crops are harvested, the weeds You will condemn.

Have Your angels harvest us.

Let us be gathered into the barn.

The end of the age will be as thus,

but blessed will be those who to You are sworn.

Let us shine like the sun in the kingdom of our father;

gather for yourself all those who believe.

You can sow good seeds and no other.

Let those who have eyes see and perceive.

Please don’t cast us as weeds into the fire,

for to be with You, Lord, is our greatest desire.


 

Glory in Obedience

Let our hearts be closed to greed.

Let them be filled with honesty.

Let our actions be examples of modesty.

Let us give what is owed and to all who are in need.

Your name is as Holy as your person;

let us not profane it.

Let us not seek vengeance, no matter what transgressions people commit.

Let us not cause a person to stumble or make their situation worsen.

Let us be holy, for You are holy.

Let us glorify You in our obedience.

Let our love for You be reflect in our love for one another.

Let us love all, both the mighty and the lowly.

Let us deal with our neighbors with love, peace, and expedience.

Let us treat all with respect, as if they are a sister or brother.

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 29

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 29

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

See Part 20 here.

See Part 21 here.

See Part 22 here.

See Part 23 here.

See Part 24 here.

See Part 25 here.

See part 26 here.

See part 27 here.

See Part 28 here.

The Ceremony

Mom was never one for big deals. I got that trait from her. This mean her gathering was a small open house. The flaw in Mom’s plan was that she didn’t take into account just how many people loved her. The fact that my dad is well loved in the area as well meant that a few hours of an open house turned into a house packed with people, all sharing stories and talking.

I saw old coworkers of my mother. I saw family I hadn’t seen in years. I saw childhood friends of my sisters. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of people talking and eating. I think at that point I was more overwhelmed than anything else.

I spoke with an old coworker. We got caught up in talking about the Bible and faith. I talked to family when I saw someone was alone. Eventually, I had a chance to talk with my dad.

The constant opinions that, “her pain is, at least, over” weren’t as much of a comfort as some might have thought. We all wanted Mom to get better.  After a week, I still don’t think he was in their bedroom for more than a few minutes. He certainly wouldn’t sleep in there.  When he talked to me about his frustration with the “end of pain” theory, I offered a different perspective.

“Of course we all wanted her to get better,” I said. “But if I had to choose between letting her suffering end and letting her existence to continue in pain, I’m glad her pain ended.” The fact is, we’re all mad about Mom’s death.

I think Dad had it pretty tough that day. I heard him explain the circumstances no fewer than four times.

“It wasn’t even the cancer that killed her,” he’d explain. “Her body just gave out.”

That’s true. The cancer hadn’t been what ultimately killed her.  Her body was fighting on too many fronts.

He maintained his strength and kept talking to people. I’ve always believed he was a very strong man. I think that day was the strongest I’ve ever seen him.

In reflection, the saddest thing was that it took something like this for this many people to come together.  When I was very young, the house looked pretty much like that around the holidays. Family would come from all over to hang out and share stories. Neither my dad nor I are fans of large gatherings, but I’d like to see our family come together more often without the tragic loss that caused this particular reunion.

The best thing was that love was everywhere I looked. People who needed comfort received it. People who needed fellowship received it. People who needed quite solace received it.

The hours went by, and the family cleaned up. Most of us had to head back to our lives after that, but they wouldn’t be normal. When we lose someone central to our life, normal doesn’t seem possible. My little sister still stops when she realizes she was about to say goodbye to my mom before work.  I caught myself picking up the phone the next Friday because I call her every Friday. She was such a central figure, our muscle memory was activating, and we had to remind ourselves that she was gone.

Several members of the family talked to me during the event. There’s a real fear that things will simply unravel now that Mom’s not here to hold it all together. I’m still not actually sure how to prevent that. On my end, I have to do a better job of reaching out.

There weren’t waves of tears and lamentations (which would have frustrated my mother).  Sure, some of us shed tears of sadness, but for the most part, we all just talked and caught up. This is exactly what my mom would have wanted.

Looking back, I’m happy at the number of Christ-like attributes my mother demonstrated.

First, she was forgiving and always willing to welcome us back. (Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the Prodigal son). No matter what I or any of my siblings did, we knew where home was. We knew if we were willing to make it right, she’d welcome us back.

My mom was loving, and she respected her own mother (Leviticus 19:3). When our grandma got sick, mom cared for her for so long I can’t remember.  I imagine grandma moved in somewhere around 2008. Mom denied herself trips, vacations, and even simple dates with my dad so that she could care for her mother. She did this all the way until Grandma’s death.

She was driven to make her home a home (Titus 2:3-5). She always worked around the house. She always had a project in mind. She cleaned almost nonstop.  Before her retirement, she did all of this after working to provide for us financially.

She was a selfless servant (John 13:1-17). If I’m shamed by anything, it’s how I never learned from her example. She never flaunted or abused her rightful power over us. She simply did what needed to be done. She never let something go undone because it was beneath her. Heck, she never let something go undone because she felt it was her duty to do so.

Reading The Bible as I do now, and looking back on how she acted, I can’t believe how blind I was. My lack of scriptural training made that impossible, and my hardened heart convinced me that being served was my right. As I grew older, I resented others for not doing more, but even my acts of service weren’t done out of love, but to elevate myself above my siblings.

Now, as I prepare to become a father, I can be glad that I had her example to learn from. She wasn’t perfect. I’m not trying to portray her as such, but she was the perfect mother for me. Now that I have a scriptural context with which to reflect on her behavior, I’m more equipped to be a better father.

The only thing left to do, was start my life without her.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

How can I apply what I saw my mom do to my life?

For starters, I can show the same sort of investment and love for my boys as my mother showed me. She took an interest in my life. She read the books I read (and my siblings) just because I read them. She watched whatever I wanted to watch.  I think the first year we truly started becoming close was 1997. Mom watched an entire football season with me. She even participated in a fantasy football league (and won I might add. Look, she picked mostly Broncos, her favorite team, and they won the Super Bowl that year.)

I have thoughts and scripture to guide me on a lot, but my mother’s example mostly helped me realize how to love and support my children. I want to make sure my boys feel that same level of support from me.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading

Matt