Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: July, 2007


You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not made me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”?

Webb once mentioned that we see things upside-down.

What looks like failure is success.
And what looks like poverty is riches.
And what is true looks more like a lie.
It looks like you’re killing me, but you’re saving my life.

What look like weakness can do anything.
What looks like foolishness is understanding.
When what is powerful has not come to fight.
It looks like you’re going to war, but you lay down your life.

Oh, what looks like torture is a time to rejoice
And what sounds like thunder is a comforting voice.
When what is beautiful looks broken and crushed.
I say I don’t know you, but you say ‘It’s finished’.

To live the true life of devotion to Christ we need to break the way that we look at things. We see things upside-down. The fall corrupted our minds so that we cannot understand things properly. Think of your childhood and all the things you were convinced were right and true that now can be seen as folly. We are still in a sort of childhood and will be so long as we remain in our earthly bodies. Christ demands that we turn things around, even when that looks like foolishness from the point of view of the world. And indeed, much of his serious commands look incredibly foolish.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.
Do not resist the one who is evil.
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Of anyone would sue you and take your shirt, let him have your jacket as well.
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Give to whoever begs from you.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, drink or wear.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Foolish. Beware of softening these passages and twisting their meaning to fit with our personalities. Perhaps it seems that following his commands here will turn us into doormats. That’s foolish. But the foolishness of God is wiser than all the wisdom of the ages. Let us be wary of trusting in our own wisdom and accepted values of common sense. Instead let us trust the one who by wisdom founded the universe with its rolling spheres. Don’t look to yourself for guidance. Look to him who carved man from the dirt and breathed life into him. We are dust, and when was the last time you saw dust come up with a good idea of its own?

And sorry about the pics…I don’t know what happened…

Visual Delights

I realize that my last two posts had far too many words in them. To make up for it I’ll stop typing now and post some pictures.

I have more on my camera, but I can’t find my batteries, so they’ll have to wait until later.

Check the poll at the right!

Spiritual Vanity

As I walked through the world I happened upon a great bazaar. I had heard of this famous place long before I saw it with my eyes. Its name is Vanity Fair. In ages past many good men have written of it. The fair is massive and glorious. Every good and service imaginable is sold there. An observant man once wrote that one could purchase

houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts – as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not. And, moreover, at this fair there are at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind.

In a word, the Fair contains everything you could ever want to amaze, distract and tickle you, though it seemed to lack bread, meat and wine. This was of little discouragement to the patrons, of course, for the necessities of life are easily forgone so long as one has the luxuries.

I wandered for a while in the fair, careful not to attract the attention of the merchants, for they were eager to make a sale and I did not have the will to pay the high price for the wares they sold. I would have wished to not pass through that fair at all, but me destination lay beyond it and there was no way around. Seeing that I was not very interested in the wares they offered, the merchants directed me to a very large shop that I had not read about before. Indeed, I had never expected the merchant I was presently introduced to.

She was obviously a woman of wealth and high birth. Her many jewels and golden chains shimmered in the light. I noticed that while this was the best-lit shop, it also seemed to house the most shadows. The woman smiled at me, much like a lioness sneers at her next meal. She bid me enter the shop and inspect her wares.

“Come in, come in.” She said to me as she took me by the hand. “I promise I have the finest things, the best in all the land. Here in this town I’m sure you’ve found that many things are foul. But in this place I sell cheap grace and feelings for the soul. I am the Church, and I sell the wares of God.”

Her introduction piqued my interest, and I consented to being given a tour. The first room she took me into was full of color and light, as dazzling as a casino strip. I heard voices and musics and tongues of every kind running to and fro aimlessly throughout the room, all of them trying to entice me. I could tell that my hostess was a master saleswoman.

“This is the room of emotion.” She told me. “It is our biggest seller. I’m sure you’ll find something here to your liking.”

I browsed for a while, half-wondering if there would be anything here for me. I saw products fit for every disposition you could think of. There was a display called mindless prayer. In it I saw two men praying. Walking closer I noticed that their skulls were open and their brains were actually sitting outside their bodies in jars attached to them by copper wires. It was disturbing to say the least. The first man was on his knees, his eyes toward the ground and his mouth moving slowly and reverently. I crept up close to hear him speak.

“Great God and heavenly Father.” He said in a tone monotonous enough to kill a tortoise. “I thank you for the great joy in my life. For the amazing ecstasy and happiness with which you have blessed me. I thank you I am the only one who seems to be privy to this amazing, mind-blowing joy. Thank you.”

I walked to his brain jar to examine the contents. It seemed asleep, as no alpha waves were being produced as far as I could tell. His jar read the name of his product. “Foolish Reverence.”

“That’s not much of a big seller these days.” My guide informed me. “But you should have seen the sales we’ve made in the past! We still keep it in stock for those who prefer vintage brands.”

The second was on his feet, hands stretched out toward heaven. His mouth moved rapidly, spitting words I could not understand. His brain was a world of difference from the first man. It seemed to pulsate and sparkle with a sort of sugary energy in its jar. I thought for sure this was a useful product. As I looked closer I saw the display screen report that, like the first man, there were no Alpha waves involved in this brain’s experience. There were many wires going into the brain, they seemed to be the source of the pulsating and the sparkles. I traced the wires and saw that they led back out into Vanity Fair. Interesting. The label read, “Distracted Devotion.”

“This is our biggest seller in many places. Shall I box one up for you?”

I told her I was just browsing for now, but I’d let her know if I found anything I wanted. I happened upon a section of the room marked “Theologies”. Boxes of equal size lined the walls. They were clearly labeled with product names, pictures and price. I examined a few.

On box of yellow and pink color was labeled, “The Anthrocentric God.” The picture was of a small man on a throne while a being of radiant light knelt before him. It promised to give the purchaser the whole world. The price was a mere soul.

A translucent box held something called “The God of the Possible.” It promised to preserve self and free will. The price was servitude to hopelessness.

The green box held “The God of a Thousand Cattle.” It gave a life of health and wealth and a very upbeat crowd. The price was an intellect and all your possessions, payable upon death.

Another box was offered in a package deal with “Distracted Devotion.” It was “The God of Fun”. Also known as “Buddy Jesus”. The price of that one wasn’t listed, so I assumed it to be pretty steep.

The last one I saw was a white box labeled “The Enlightened God.” The subtitle was called “The Wisdom of Men.” This one promised to give you the best of both worlds. Respect from the world and religious feelings from the church. I noticed that many people had purchased this one and all became quite prominent in the Fair. I would have queried about the price, but then I remembered that I had already purchased “The Foolishness of God” back at the Wicket Gate on Someone else’s account. I also remembered the saying that the foolishness of God is wiser that the wisdom of men. So I passed on.

The woman showing me around took me by the hand and speedily showed me the rest of her wares. She offered every kind of emotion (that was her specialty). Some, she said, enjoyed ecstasy while others delighted in solemnity. Some loved peace and others loved Rock n’ Roll. She catered to all. She also sold causes and ministries and many ends to which her religion could be a means. She sold clothes and foods and teachings to match every palette under the sun. Some were intellectual while others killed the mind. Some stirred the emotions and others dulled the heart. It was a good experience to see all these things, I was sure. When I had my fill I decided to take my leave. I bid my hostess good day and made my way to the door.

“Leaving so soon?” She said with crookedly sweet smile. “But you have not yet made a purchase.”

“I know,” I replied. “But you see I haven’t the money to pay your fees.”

“Oh that is no problem!” She exclaimed. “We can work out a payment program. You could even do a little work around the shop to help pay for whatever it is you need. I’m always open to negotiate.”

“You’re very kind.” I said. “But I really have no need for the wares you sell. And I think that even if I worked a payment plan out with you I would still end up paying more than I could afford. Besides, my Master has bid me be wary of the merchants in this Fair, and I think it would do him dishonor to deal with you.”

“But good sir! Your master is also mine! Perhaps you did not catch my name. I am Ariel, the very bride of the Master you serve. Immanuel has put me here to be a shining light to the sinful stalls all around. I blend in among them and dispense the spiritual light my husband has given me.”

“I find that hard to believe. I see all the electrical cables in your shop come from the Fair, so it would seem that you draw your power, not from the Celestial City, but from the Vain Fair itself. I have also noticed that the things you sell can be easily purchased at a hundred other stores in this fair, only in different boxes. Your emotions can be found in drugs, music and fun. Your causes and ministries can be found in thousands of other forms with only wrapping as the difference. And your theologies can be easily made at home. I see nothing unique at all about your wares. The only thing unique is that while the other shops fully claim to be of the world you claim to be of heaven. Only your selling tactic is different.”

At this my hostess took offence. Her nostrils flared and she shouted out at me. “Heretic! Judgmental fool! Begone from here! You don’t belong in this place. Do not criticize what God has anointed and blessed. Get out and take your uptight, narrow-minded, puritanical ways with you!” And she drove me out of her presence.

I continued my walk through the world and passed through the fair. As I walked the path I came upon a grave man with the best of books in his hand. His eyes were turned towards heaven and his back was to the fair. He addressed me when I caught up to him.

“Good day, my dear son.” He said. “I have been waiting for you.”

“How is that? For we have never met.” I asked.

“I have been sent with a word of warning and encouragement. I also come with a gift, if you will accept it. My name is Teacher.”

“I stand in need of both. Please tell me what it is you were sent to say.”

“I know that you came across a woman claiming to be Ariel in the Fair just a short while ago.”

“This is true. She tried to sell me delights of every kind, but I perceived that though they were packed in heavenly boxes they were only worldly things that would perish along with those who delighted in them.”

“You perceived correctly. Many are taken in by that woman. She is not, as she claims, Ariel, the wife of our Lord. Her true name is Gomer and she is a prostitute by trade. Her skills lie in seductive and deceit. Many have fallen greatly by her and there are few pilgrims today who do not carry at least a few trinkets from her store in their pockets. She has been the fall of many and will be the fall of many more, ere this age comes to an end.”

“But why,” I asked, “does the Master allow her to use His name and claim His relation if she be but a prostitute.”

“There are several reasons for that. Some we cannot enter into until we cross the river. One is that the Master does indeed love her and offers to heal her faithlessness. He sends messages to her daily, inviting her to come out of the fair and be separate. She gets few of them, however, as the other shopkeepers intercept them and destroy or pervert them. The few she does receive she herself changes and sells them in her shop.”

“Praise be to God that I escaped her.”

“Praise indeed! For many do not realize that a part of the payment for any ware in her store is to be blinded and sent among the tombs to wander until death. Most of her customers are satisfied, however, because they love the feelings she grants more than the sight and wisdom available at the Wicket Gate.”

I mused on this for a good while and praise the God who kept my foot from slipping into her net.

“And now for the gift I mentioned.” At this point a simple but beautiful woman stepped out from behind him. “This is Wisdom. A wife for you on your pilgrimage that the Master has prepared for you and all who ask. Treat her well and heed her counsel. Lean not on your own understanding, but seek the Lord in all you do. Fare thee well.”

I rejoiced in this and set my face toward the City of my calling. As I walked I embraced my new wife and sang out.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious that jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.”

With a rod or with a smile?

Ariel sat up in bed. She stretched and rubbed her eyes. A new day. A new, glorious day, filled with countless opportunities and chances to do wonderful things. She lay back for a while, as there was no hurry to get out of bed. Sure, had her husband been home she’d leap out of bed to make him breakfast and do other wifely duties, but she obviously wasn’t expected to do that while he was away. He was expected any day now, that much was true, but he’d been away for almost two thousand years now, and what were the odds of him coming back today? Besides, she’d surely see him coming and have plenty of time to get ready for him. That thought excited her. One day. One day her husband would be back.

She knew exactly how that meeting would take place. He’d walk up the porch and she’d be standing there to meet him. He’d gaze upon her with his deep, gentle eyes and smile at her, his beautiful bride. He wouldn’t be upset that she’d put a few extra pounds on since he’d left. He surely wouldn’t mind the other ‘friends’ she’d made while he was gone. There would be nothing in his eyes but love and joy. What a wonderful day that would be.

She hopped out of bed and slipped her feet into her pink bunny slippers. It was Saturday, so she didn’t bother changing or grabbing a shower. That was for Sundays. She didn’t find it at all odd that it had been Saturday every day for the last couple decades. Down the massive flight of stairs to the kitchen she flew, hungry to start the day. Her husband’s house was certainly a neat place. It was always stocked with the best foods and choicest wines. She opened the cupboards and stared at the loaves and fish. She searched for some Fruit Loops. None to be found. She frowned and shut the cupboard. There were a few hundred empty Fruit Loop boxes around the kitchen, but all were empty. Strange that she would run out today. She would certainly need her Fruit Loops today, as it was to be a full day. She found her iPhone, BlackBerry and Palm Pilot underneath a pile of boxes and tissues and checked the day’s agenda. Sure enough, it was packed with profitable things.

· 9:00am – Wake up
· 9:45am – Get out of bed
· 10:00am – Eat Fruit Loops
· 11:00am – Watch sitcoms and TV dramas
· 3:30pm – Run around and house
· 4:00pm – Watch TV dramas and sitcoms
· 8:00pm – Meet friends for dinner, laughs, etcetera.
· 11:00pm – Visit Beelzebub’s Brothel for the night, try to be home before morning.

If there was one thing she knew her husband loved, it was hard work and activity. Idle hands, after all, are the devil’s workshop, and Ariel knew much about resisting the devil. She’d had great success over that in the past few hundred years. She smiled as she thought back at the woman she used to be. So uptight. So conservative. So puritanical. Her new easygoing, fun-loving character was much more appealing to her husband, of this she was sure. It was a shame, however, that the third item on her list seemed impossible at the moment.

A thought struck her. Saturday! That was the day her supplies came in. She ran outside to check the mailbox. She had arrangements with many different businesses in town. Sure enough the box was jammed full. She filled her arms and ran back into the house with her many boxes, parcels and envelopes. She started to sort them.

In one pile she put the letters from her husband. She smiled when she thought of how faithful he was to write to her every day. If only she had more time to read them. Oh well, there would be plenty of time to catch up when he returned. The other packages, however, had expiry dates so it was much more logical to deal with them first. She placed the letters in the pile of all the other unopened ones on her desk, promising to read them when she got a spare moment. With glee she sorted through her other packages, finding toys, gadgets, books, feelings, emotions, fads, ministries, causes, money and, of course, Fruit Loops. It was like Christmas morning. For a while she just sat on the floor and reveled in the blessings that had been showered over her. How wonderful.

A knock at the door woke her from her daydream. She jumped up and ran to the door, always excited to have a visitor.

An intense flash of light greeted her when she opened the door. It stabbed at her eyes and made her horribly uncomfortable. When she regained her sight she looked upon her guest. He stood in the midst of countless golden lampstands, though many seemed to be flickering or just smoldering. He was clothed with a long robe and a golden sash around his chest. His hair was white like wool, like snow. His bare feet were like burnished bronze and his eyes stung her. They were alive and burning with a flame of fire. They did not seem gentle.

“Ariel.” The figure spoke, though without moving his lips. His voice was like the roar of many waters. His face glowed as he spoke, brighter than the sun. “Ariel. What have you done?”

“Who are you?” Ariel asked, very worried.

The stranger’s eyes quivered with a complex emotion that dwelled between desperate sadness and utter rage. “I am your husband.”

Ariel fell backward. Now?! He came now? Why did he look so angry with her? This was not what she had expected. Her husband pushed himself into the house he had built with his own hands and looked at the wife he had purchased with his own blood. He saw the mess of the house, still left incomplete. He saw the Fruit Loop boxes and toys strewn about the floor while the bread, fish and wine remained in the cupboards untouched. He looked at his wife and saw her sickly form. Her body was bloated with sugars and saturated fats. Her immune system destroyed by venereal diseases and sedentary living. She was a shadow of the beautiful bride she once was. A mockery of the woman he bled for. Almost worthless, but not quite.

He walked to the desk that held the many letters he had sent over the years. Ariel watched on in terror. He opened one and read it to himself. He shook his head and a tear rolled down his glorious cheek. He placed it back on the table and faced his bride, the timid, sickly Ariel. He walked to her and she backed away into the living room. She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t remember the last time she had seen her spouse and this was not the meeting she expected. Perhaps he didn’t understand. Maybe he couldn’t see the good in what she was doing or in what she had become. She tried to explain.

“You don’t understand.” She said. “I was all alone, I needed company.”

“I was your company, my letters were your guides.”

“I know I’ve let myself go a little, but you should see how I look when I dress up and put on my jewelry. Do you want me to run upstairs and change now?

“The outer clothing is almost irrelevant. When I last left you there was nothing outward to attract me, but the inner beauty ravished my heart. That beauty is all but gone and all you are is a white washed tomb.”

“I can understand that you’re a little upset about the state of your house, but you don’t know how busy I’ve been with other duties.”

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice. You have failed to follow me fully. You have not built my house. You have not cared about me enough to pick up your cross and follow me.”

“But the cross you gave me left so many splinters in my back from long ago. I thought I had carried it long enough.”

“Ariel, you need to understand something,” he said as his eyes welled up. “Those whom I love I also chasten.” He reached under his robe and pulled out something. Ariel went pale when she realized what it was. A rod! There was nowhere to run. Immanuel fell upon her. He stripped her of her dirty and stained sleeping clothes and beat her. He actually beat her. It seemed to go on forever. Blow after blow landed on Ariel’s tender back, causing her to cry out. The cries attracted the attention of the neighbors, who peeked in through the windows to watch the trouble. She was put to open shame. Her tears flowed and became a pulled at her feet. She didn’t notice the larger puddle at her husband’s feet. On her desk nearby sat the last letter her husband had sent, the one she had thrown there having never opened it. It read:

How the faithful bride
has become a slut,
she who was full of justice!
Righteousness lodged in her,
but now murderers.
Your silver has become dross,
your best wine mixed with water.
Your shepherds are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.

Therefore the Lord declares,
Yahweh of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes.
I will turn my hand against you
and will smelt away your dross as with potassium hydroxide
and remove your alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the woman of righteousness,
the faithful bride.

After much time and many tears it was over. For a moment Ariel was left weeping on the ground. For a moment her neighbors and patrons stared at her broken form sprawled on the floor. For a moment Immanuel seemed far away. For a moment.
But he returned. He knelt beside her and covered her with the edge of his robe. She clung tight to him. He lifted her out of her bloody puddle and brought her into the bathroom. There he bathed her in his own blood and pure water. He rubbed ointment over her wounds and healed the bones that he had broken. He cleaned her face and combed her hair. He clothed her in glorious raiment and placed a ring in her nose. He smiled at her. She smiled back. She looked at herself in the mirror. She seemed to be a new woman.

She was no longer of pale skin. She was dark, but beautiful. No longer was her hair blonde, but raven black. Her eyes were not blue anymore, but they shined with brown brilliance. Her body, too, had changed. She was slender, but not thin. She was delicate, but pulsed with strength. She stood with the wisdom of ages, yet her figure was young as a child. She was made new, but entirely of the same stuff she had been formed with thousands of years before.

She turned and her husband was gone again. He had not really returned for her yet. She mused in sober reflection. He had come back to change her path, to sanctify her and cleanse her from the sin and whoredom she had been living in. She wiped a tear from her beautiful cheek. She went into the kitchen, ate and drank, read some mail and set her house in order. As she cleaned she sang:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for her is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!”

The Head

Here’s an experiment with blogging by e-mail…

Syria and Israel teamed up one day to go see if they could split open Jerusalem and take it for themselves. Ahaz, king of Judah, was shaking in his sandals. He went to Isaiah and told him about the problem. Isaiah got a message from God and said:

It shall not stand,
and it shall not come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.

Seems a little cryptic, eh? What did he mean? I think Ahaz was supposed to stand firm in faith
and ask what the head of Judah was. I suppose he well could have said:

The head of Judah is Jerusalem,
and the head of Jerusalem is Yahweh.

I want to encourage you with this one thought. When it seems impossible to succeed, when it seems like sin will always win the victory, when a normal, average,
fruitless life seems inevitable say this to yourself:

The head of Matthew is Christ, and the head of Christ is Yahweh.
If I stand firm in faith, I will be firm indeed.

Don’t give up. Go for the gold. In the race of faith and life there is no second place. There is only victory or defeat. Let’s press on together to a lifestyle that laughs in the face of Western priorities and worldviews. Let’s move away from the basic philosophies of the world to the truth of Christ. Let’s grab that cross, pick it up and sing with glee:

The body they may kill,
God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever.

Greater Than Nathan

I’ve moved to a new place here in Murree. It’s a really nice place with a wonderful view over the neighboring valley. I love it. The flat comes with a lot of books. One of them is Hudson Taylor’s autobiography. I was skimming through it last night and I came across an interesting story.

Taylor was traveling up a river one day. As they went he heard a strange sound. Looking around he saw a man in the water! He was drowning. Taylor couldn’t reach the man himself, but he saw a fishing boat nearby with nets that could save the man. He called out to the fishing boat.
“Come! Come and drag over this spot! A man is drowning!”
Veh bin” They replied. It is not convenient.
“Don’t talk of convenience!” Taylor cried in agony; “a man is drowning!”
“We are busy fishing,” they responded, “and cannot come.”
“Never mind your fishing,” Taylor said, “I will give you more money than many a day’s fishing will bring; only come – come at once!”
“How much money will you give us?”
“We cannot discuss that now! Come, or it will be too late. I will give you five dollars” (a decent amount back then).
“We won’t do it for that,” replied the men. “Give us twenty dollars.”
“I do not possess so much; do come quickly and I will give you all I have!”
“How much may that be?”
“I don’t know exactly, about fourteen dollars.”
At this point they decided to help. Slowly the boat paddled over and the reluctant men let their net into the water to bring up the body of the man. Of course, it was far too late. He was dead. The fishermen were upset because their outrageous demand was delayed while Taylor tried to resuscitate the man.

Taylor saw this incident as tragically sad and full of great significance. I’ll quote him now:

Were not those fishermen actually guilty of this poor Chinaman’s death, in that they had the means of saving him at hand, if they would but have used them? Assuredly they were guilty. And yet, let us pause ere we pronounce judgment against the, lest a greater than Nathan answer, “Thou art the man.” Is it so hardhearted, so wicked a think to neglect to save the body? Of how much sorer punishment, then, is he worthy of who leaves the soul to perish, and Cain-like says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord Jesus commands, commands me, commands you, into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. Shall we say to Him, “No, it is not convenient”? Shall we tell Him that we are busy fishing and cannot go? That we have purchased five yoke of oxen, or have married, or are engaged in other and more interesting pursuits, and cannot go? Ere long “we must all appears before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body.” Let us remember, let us pray for, let us labor for the unevangelized Chinese; or we shall sin against our own souls.

His sober realization is dead-on. If those fishermen should be held responsible for their criminal negligence, how much more should you and I be held accountable for the carefree way we live our lives? How we dance through this world completely convinced that God favors us and will destroy most of the world. You neighbors in Canada, America, Toronto, Niagara, Peterborough, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world are dying and drifting to the furnace because they know not your Friend. Look to your neighbor’s house, there is much work to do.

Knock, Knock, Knockin’

“[Humans], of course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so.” – Screwtape

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Paul

Paul may very well have freaked out some of his friends. He wrote to the Philippians that he would actually prefer to be dead. “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.” Which I shall choose?? It sounds like he is actually contemplating suicide! How can this be? Did Paul actually want to die?


We read on and find that he only chooses to stay alive because of the good he can do to others, but he really wants to depart and be with Christ.

From birth we have been taught that this is stupid. We are safe, dangerous people. Physically we are about the safest people on the planet. Almost everything we do is about preserving lives at the highest cost. Survival is our greatest good. Death is the greatest enemy. This, ultimately, is horribly dangerous as it leads us to totally re-interpret the Bible that teaches whoever will gain his life must lose it.

The foolishness of God teaches that death is the doorway to the greatest adventure of all. Paul never speaks badly about death. He even calls it sleeping. Death is to be welcomed by the believer. This is why one of the stupidest questions a believer can ask when moving or thinking about a new ministry is “Is it safe?”. Don’t ask that! When does Christ ever command you to be safe or careful or timid? He tells you to preach, to serve, to give, to die. All for him!

Now you will say to me, “Now, Matt, God gave us a brain and we’re supposed to use it.” That line has been used to justify countless sins. I suggest you never use it. But let’s address it anyway. God gave us this brain, yes? What does the brain say? If the brain is fed on a steady diet of the world it will say what the world says. If this happens please don’t trust your brain as far as you could throw it. If your brain is fed by the Word I think it would look very foolish to the world. This is a good thing. The Word says that those who count everything (like life, love, pleasure, toys, fame, power, etc.) as loss compared to Christ are good to go. Those who count their life as important will lose it.

The safety mindset we have is stifling the Church. We are more concerned with our safe, big houses and safe, big savings accounts and safe, big cars than we are with the beauty of Christ. I know it’s true because that’s the only issue people had with me coming over to Pakistan. “Isn’t it dangerous?” No, actually, it isn’t. And even if it was, what difference does it make? Ask yourself, “What difference does it make to me if I die?” The answer, if you love Christ, is wonderful! A wonderful difference! The greatest difference I could imagine! I will be free! I still choose to stay in the world because I have been placed here to do good, but I won’t argue once God says that it’s time to go! Stop fearing death and pain so much. These fears with be self-realized if we hold on to them too tightly.


The Internet here is great. Here’s some pics:

Do you like them?