October 21, 2020

Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass


Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Douglass was a compelling writer with a powerful story. The temptation for our day is to look backwards and to say, how could do many people have acted in such an evil way. But to quote a recent George Will column, it wasn't hard. Human nature is bent toward such evil, and the evil if today simply takes a different form. But we should be genuinely thankful that the forms of Douglass' day are seen for the genuine hellishness that was present.

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October 14, 2020

Review: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's Twain, so there is plenty of humor, some of it side splitting. The satiric treatment of slavery deftly brings forth the folly not only of the institution, but of the underlying racism.

It is also a somewhat tedious book. The lists (which Twain can use to great humor, as in Roughing It) got a little out of hand at times.

A good audiobook option to laugh away a commute or job where listening to books is an option.

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October 07, 2020

Review: On All Sides Nowhere by William Gruber


On All Sides Nowhere: Building a Life in Rural IdahoOn All Sides Nowhere: Building a Life in Rural Idaho by William Gruber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part memoir, part American History, part anthropology, and part philosophy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As someone who grew up driving and hiking around Alder Creek and living at the foot of the Benewah in the early 2000s, I found this a fascinating glimpse into life in 1970s Idaho.

Gruber, as an outsider, has the perspective to notice the peculiarities of life up Alder. But he doesn’t write them up sarcastically or condescendingly. He writes from a perspective of love for the place and its people.

Well worth the time.


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September 30, 2020

Review: Chapters from My Autobiography by Mark Twain


Chapters from My Autobiography: 1906-1907Chapters from My Autobiography: 1906-1907 by Mark Twain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some of the reflections he went into after sections written by his daughter were among the most moving I've ever read (or listened to, as the case may be).

Twain was a man of many regrets. And an exceptional gift for capturing feeling with language.

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September 23, 2020

Review: What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp


What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of MarriageWhat Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Practical, gospel-saturated. The biggest takeaways are that your marriage’s biggest problem is you and your sin, and the only solution is rightly aligned worship. He frequently repeats the important concept that marriages must be fixed vertically before they can be helped horizontally. Worthwhile read for married folks; I was using it in premarital counseling with a couple and it promoted several good discussions in that context as well.

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September 09, 2020

Review: Hokahey! A Good Day to Die! by Richard G. Hardorff


Hokahey! A Good Day to Die!: The Indian Casualties of the Custer FightHokahey! A Good Day to Die!: The Indian Casualties of the Custer Fight by Richard G. Hardorff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very informative, well researched. Not exactly a compelling read, but good for what it is.

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September 02, 2020

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best book I read in 2019. Beautiful, devastating, inspiring.

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August 27, 2020

Review: The Forgotten Church by Glenn Daman


The Forgotten Church: Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in AmericaThe Forgotten Church: Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in America by Glenn Daman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good, well-researched book. Covering why Rural Ministry matters, a number of the cultural and societal issues facing the rural church, and offering practical suggestions for ministry, Daman’s book is very practical. At times I think he overstated his case, but given the neglected nature of the subject matter this is understandable.

If you’re interested in rural ministry, involved in it, or curious about why anyone would “throw their life away” on small town small church ministry, this book is worth a read.

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August 26, 2020

A Hole

 Joe Blackburn

It’s 5:30 am. The morning is in transition from the grey of first light into something more approximating daylight. I look out over the porch, through a gap in the pine trees, to the wheat field across the road. I remember them mostly growing bluegrass in that field, but maybe wheat prices are up this year. Or maybe they thought they would be before the COVID mess.

My baby girl is laying on the floor to the right of me, intermittently sucking on her bottle and pulling it away to smile. She’s so happy. I wish he could have met her.

This is the first morning I’ve slept in this house, my grandparent’s place, since my grandpa died last December. I came out in June when we did a belated memorial service, but the house was packed with family from all over the country, so I just crashed at my brother’s place in town. 

We never called them our “grandparents”, always Grammie and Pak. When or how Pak became our equivalent for grandfather I’ll never know for sure, though I’m told it was my doing as a small child. He shaped me so profoundly. How I respond to people, how I tell a story (though my ability pales compared to his), even how I hold my fingers when I wave at someone--all bear the stamp of Pak’s influence. When my mom called me on December 17th of last year to tell me he was gone, I wasn’t surprised. But I still entered a state of numbness similar to shock. Then I got home and told my kids. My oldest, then 6, sat with me on the couch. And we cried.

This house feels so different without him. Not empty, there are more people moving to and fro than ever, a couple of my siblings have moved in during the past few months. But there is a vacancy. Something missing. A feeling that I could accomplish something while I’m here that would prove meaningful to the man I so much admired. Now he isn’t here. No more chances to share what’s happening in my life, hoping to hear his words of approval. No chance to fix something around the place for which he would have thanked me. Not because I wanted the thanks so much as they were a tangible evidence that I had in fact helped him, and I so desperately wanted to give back to this man who gave so much to me. 

I set my coffee down to think. Man. I miss my Pak.


August 23, 2020

Sermon Sunday : the Psalms

 here is a link to the sermons from the Psalms on the Remsen Bible page: https://remsenbible.blogspot.com/p/sermons-from-psalms.html?m=1


May the Lord bless your Sunday!

August 21, 2020

Who will accuse whom?

Here is a link to an excellent review of C.S. Lewis's masterpiece, Till We Have Faces. 

This book is one of the few novels I've ever re-read, and much like the author of this piece, I found the second reading far more rewarding. Lewis is using the metaphor of this myth to pierce into the deepest realities of our souls. Read the review to taste that, pick up the novel to experience it. 

An excerpt: 
Telling her strange story for posterity, this old queen presents a body of evidence, for her goal is to make a case against the divine. She details her complaints against the gods—their cruelty, hiddenness, jealousy, and trickery. But as she tells the story of hurt and injustice, something else develops. She realizes her case is, in reality, a case against herself.

Indignant, she discovers that, after all, she was the cruel and unjust one. Logical and learned, she discovers that, after all, she was the liar and deceiver. (The worst lies she tells are to herself.) Pragmatic and effective, a ruler who has built a solid and abiding empire, she discovers that, after all, her kingdom will be given to a distant relative she hardly knows.

Meanwhile, the one behind the stories was always drawing this queen to meet him, to show her that abiding satisfaction and truth never was found in the usual places—in shrines and magic, in book learning, or in politics. It was always, only, and forever found in him. Not found in a “what” or a “why,” but in a “whom.” 

Read the rest of it.

August 20, 2020

Reasons to Pray (part 1)

 This post is the first of three on prayer, drawn from the opening chapter of 1 Samuel. 


Do you pray? Maybe you're like me, someone who definitely prays, who even counts prayer to be a significant part of your life-and yet you find yourself feeling guilty that you still don't pray with near the frequency you should. After all, the apostle Paul told us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I hardly manage to pray with substantial frequency, let alone constancy. 


Reasons

Thus, I find it helpful when reading Scripture to observe the various reasons we are to pray. In prayer, God doesn't just give us an action to perform. He is welcoming us into a deeper relationship with himself, the very relationship for which we were designed and made. But our default tendency is to believe we don't need this relationship, that we are sufficient on our own. Which is why the first reason for prayer that I want to examine is this: desperation.


Desperation

Have you ever felt desperate? In the opening pages of the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, we meet a woman named Hannah. And Hannah is a woman distressed to the point of desperation. 

She is desperate for a couple of reasons: she has to share her husband with another woman. She has no children of her own, while the rival wife (Peninnah) is able to have several. Thus we read in v7 that Peninnah would provoke Hannah to the point where Hannah wept bitterly, and would not eat. In v10 we find her at the door of the tabernacle, where she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. Her lips are moving, but she is so beside herself in anguish that no words are coming out, and the priest at Shiloh, an old man named Eli, assumes that she is drunk.

Maybe you can place yourself in Hannah's shoes. You have a deep desire for something, an ache so bad it hurts. And then your lack is rubbed in your face by a rival, and even your loved ones and the figures who ought to represent some level of comfort (eg, Hannah's husband Elkanah, and Eli the priest) don't understand you in the least. In the words of Proverbs 14:10, the heart knows its own bitterness. 


To whom shall she turn?

In these times, who can we turn to? Hannah knows. We find this in her reply to Eli's accusation of drunkenness, "I have had neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation. She is deeply troubled, anxious, and vexed. And she turns to the Lord in prayer. Elkanah hasn't heard her. Eli hasn't heard her. But Hannah trusts that God will hear her.

We will look in upcoming posts at how God responds to Hannah's prayer, and the encouragement we can take from that. But what I want to draw your attention to in this post is this simple fact: Hannah knows herself to be desperate. And she takes that desperation to God. 

We so often live under the delusion of self-sufficiency. We don't think we need any help, let alone God's help. But God knows better. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). When we see ourselves in this light, as so much dust, always on the verge of returning to that dust, we will understand how desperate we are. Maybe it takes an extreme circumstance to put you there-an illness, a job loss, the death of a loved one. Or maybe the creeping realities of age, an unstable world, or always feeling tired give you daily reminders. Whatever is the cause of our coming to grips with frailty, the result should be the same: it should drive us to our knees. 

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

August 19, 2020

Review: No Quick Fix by Andrew David Naselli


No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It's HarmfulNo Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It's Harmful by Andrew David Naselli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Super helpful, very clear. Useful book for lay people and pastors alike.

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August 17, 2020

You Reap What You Sow

 Yesterday our church celebrated its one year anniversary of meeting together as a local congregation. Our guest speaker was Mike Hulinsky, lead pastor at LeMars Bible Church.

As he preached from Galatians 6:7-10, his first point was simply a restating of verse seven: you reap what you sow.

This seems obvious, intuitive, and you almost ask, why, Paul, is this even necessary to state? But there is a reason he needs to say it: we don't want to believe it. We want to think that our actions don't have consequences. We want to act like they don't. 


Wild Oats

There used to be a phrase, which I don't hear as often anymore, but I think that has more to do with a change in vocabulary than a loss of the idea. You'd see someone, usually a young man, making some very foolish decisions with their life, and it would be described as sowing their wild oats. Johnny is doing a lot of partying and spending time with girls who are sexually indulgent, just sowing his wild oats. Ronnie takes up gambling and is getting into the drug scene, it's a phase, he's just got to sow his wild oats. And honestly, growing up, I just thought this was a phase most people went through. It was obvious to me that you didn't have to. But I thought it was normal, and while maybe not intelligent, not particularly problematic. 

However, as one old farmer once remarked, the problem with sowing wild oats is that you then are harvesting wild oats. Or, as Paul says in Galatians 6:7, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Choices have consequences, to think otherwise is to mock God. Those are pretty stark terms to put it in.


Realistic Hope

Now, the good news of the book of Galatians is that God is more than willing (and able!) to both forgive and change sinners like you and me. We all have done more sowing of the wrong seed than we would care to admit. But Christ died as a substitute, that we need not die eternally for our transgressions of God's law:

Galatians 3:13-14, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Jesus takes our curse, takes our ultimate punishment. And if our hope is in him, we are given the Holy Spirit of God, who himself is the power to change us. He will conform our desires to God's, so that we can choose to sow good seed. 

But this doesn't remove the reality of our earthly past. While we can find forgiveness, hope, and the power to change in Jesus, we often still face the painful realities of the choices we have made that are wrong. God does not magically remove every temporary and earthly consequence just because he's removed the eternal punishment. We still live in a world in which cherry tomato seeds produce cherry tomatoes, corn seeds produce corn, and wild oats produce wild oats. Your decisions still matter. Don't think that you can mock God. Sow to the Spirit.


August 16, 2020

Sermon Sunday: Cross Shaped Joy

 This is a sermon I preached back in March, out of John chapter 16


https://remsenbible.blogspot.com/2020/03/cross-shaped-joy-john-1616-24.html

August 15, 2020

Should Churches be Open?

 The first thing to say in this post is that I am profoundly thankful to live in Iowa these days. While there has certainly been COVID in our area (including among some members of our church), it hasn't reached the levels of other parts of the county. Additionally, our government, both local and state, have been very restrained as to what they restrain. 

As to the question I headed this post with, should churches remain open?, I don't propose to have an actual answer. Our church decided to begin meeting in person again the 1st Sunday in June, about a month after the legal ban on group gatherings lifted here. To be honest, it is a decision that I do feel was correct and prudent, but it is also one that I have lingering doubts toward. The balance between obeying Christ's command to gather, coupled with vital role of gathering in the Christian life seems to me to outweigh the potential risks to life and health--especially in a place where bars and restaurants remain open. Would my judgement be different if I lived in a place where the state were saying no to indoor gatherings? I'm not sure. I'd like to think that I'd be searching for creative ways to both address the spiritual needs of the church and honor the earthly authorities he has put in place (see Romans 13, Hebrews 10, 1 Peter 2). 

Here is my brief take, and then I'm going to link to some reading for you.

Churches need to be willing at this point to reevaluate what is actually important in ministry. Even if we make the call to go back to meeting, there is no scriptural warrant or need to force back into place all of our previous ministries and programs. Wisdom is needed. What are we called to do, specifically by Scripture? How can we best do that, while staying within governmental guidelines and protecting, insofar as possible, the physical health of our members? Not simple questions to answer. But important ones to ask.

Here's a statement that's gotten a lot of traction, including among people I know. I think I agree with what they're doing...but I think the statement itself has problems.

Here is a response from Brad LittleJohn (a long read, but worth it)

And 3 from 9Marks ministries: #1 Leeman Article

                                                    #2 Podcast, Leeman and Dever

                                                    #3 Leeman Follow-up

August 14, 2020

How Can I be Okay?

 Preface: This isn't "writing" per se, this is the first of three posts that will be lesson outlines from the VBS our church is conducting this week. The titles are, Where Did I Come From?, Am I Important, and How Can I Be Okay? My hope in sharing is that if you work with kids, or simply are interested in answering these questions for yourself, you will be edified.


How Can I Be Okay?


Gold bean bag

  • Do you ever feel broken? Like something inside of you just isn’t right? 

  • The last couple of days the kids have been working on a verse, Gen 1:1, In the beginning, God created…

  • The Bible starts not with people, not with some slog beginning with an immense hydrogen explosion, but with God. A speaking God. A God who speaks life into being

  • What did God call his creation? Very good (v31)

  • Part of that very good creation was an image-bearer: people

    • Kids, who made everything? God!

    • So, who made you? God!

    • So, who’s the boss? God is!

  • Right, God is the boss. And he gave people a job: take care of creation, and reflect what God is like, 1:26-27, 2:15

  • We were made to mirror what God is like-but do we?

    • What went wrong?

  • Kids, who’s the boss? God!

    • But remember, that’s good news. Why is it good news?

    • Who loves you? God!

  • Right, God loves you, and he knows everything. So when he makes a rule, it is a rule that flows from his love.

    • How many rules did he give to Adam and Eve? 1 rule!

  • Genesis 2:16


Black bean bag

  • In Genesis 3 we read about that start of everything that goes wrong: a snake comes into the garden. Gen 3:1-13

  • The snake comes with a terrible lie: God doesn’t love you. God doesn’t care about what’s best for you. Be your own boss, your own ruler. 

  • And the woman and the man both eat the fruit, and the black poison of sin takes root in their hearts


  • Did you know, that is the same poison that lives inside your heart? 

  • 3:15, God promises a Rescuer to fix things

  • The whole rest of the Bible is the story of God preparing a people to be the family of the Rescuer

    • But guess what? They keep failing, because the are full of sin, just like you and me

    • And do you know what the worst part of sin is? It cuts you off from God’s presence: you can’t be covered with sin and enjoy standing before God

  • So what’s going to happen?


Red Bean Bag

  • God wasn’t going to leave people separated from him forever.

  • John 3:16. God sent his Son into the world

  • But was Jesus just going to rescue his people out of the bad place, like a prince swooping in to take away the princess?

  • No, there was a price to be paid. Romans 6:23

  • Jesus came and shed his blood to cover your sins


White bean bag

  • Did you remember where I said you couldn’t stand when you’re covered in sin? 

  • The Bible says if you trust in Jesus, his blood covers your sins, and you get to wear his perfect righteousness. You get clean clothes! It’s called being forgiven

  • Have you ever had to ask for forgiveness? You can be forgiven by God, and live with him, because of what Jesus has done. 

  • You can’t do anything to earn it: it’s a free gift


Green bean bag

  • But this free gift of life isn’t the end of the story. Because eternal life is a real life that starts now

  • So we need to grow. How can we grow? We pray, read the Bible, go to church to spend time with other people who have been forgiven by Jesus. And we tell other people about what he’s done. 

Big Lesson: who made everything? Who made you? Who loves you? Who gives the gift of forgiveness and life to all who ask? God!

August 13, 2020

Am I Important?

Preface: This isn't "writing" per se, this is the first of three posts that will be lesson outlines from the VBS our church is conducting this week. The titles are, Where Did I Come From?, Am I Important, and How Can I Be Okay? My hope in sharing is that if you work with kids, or simply are interested in answering these questions for yourself, you will be edified.


Am I Important?


  • Have you ever felt small and unimportant? 

  • Did you know you are important to God? God cares about little things and little people, because God values all people. 

  • What did we talk about yesterday? Creation

  • Who remembers what the most important part of creation was? People; Gen 1:27, 31. 

  • Gen 2:

    • 7-9, how did God make man?

    • Where did God put him?

    • 15, why did God put him in the garden? Remember how people are supposed to take care of God’s world?

    • 16-17, God gives them a rule. How many rules? 1 rule!

    • What is the rule? Remember that, it’s important.

    • 18-23, God didn’t want Adam to be alone, so what did he do? Made him a wife! Does anyone know her name?

  • When you tell a story, do you like to talk about the boring part or the fun part? The fun part!

  • God spent the first chapter of the Bible telling us how he made everything. Then he spends another chapter telling us how he made one thing. People. 

  • Which part do you think God thinks is the fun part? People!

  • I want to read you a couple of Bible stories that show how much Jesus loves people: 

    • Lk 8:40-56, who did Jesus heal? 

    • John 4:46-54, who did Jesus heal?

    • Mt 19:13-15, who does Jesus love?

  • The Bible tells us (Jn 1:18) that Jesus came to show us what God is like, and Jesus shows us that God has love for all kinds of people. Like you.

  • Big lesson: Who made me? God made me (x3)

    • Who’s the boss? God is!

    • Who loves me? God loves me! (x3)

August 12, 2020

Where Did I Come From?

  Preface: This isn't "writing" per se, this is the first of three posts that will be lesson outlines from the VBS our church is conducting this week. The titles are, Where Did I Come From?, Am I Important, and How Can I Be Okay? My hope in sharing is that if you work with kids, or simply are interested in answering these questions for yourself, you will be edified.


Where Did I Come From?


  • Have you ever wondered where you came from? Who made me?

  • What’s our memory verse? Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

  • Can you name some things God made?

  • He made everything, stars and trees, elephants and bees, the stars and your knees!

  • But did you know he didn’t make it all at once? Gen 1:2

  • Does anyone know what void means? Empty. But he was there

  • Do you know what happened next? God did 2 things: form, and fill

  • Form: 1, Light/Dark (eyes open/close); 2 water/sky (swim/jump action); 3; water/dry land (swim/pump arms)

  • Fill: 4, Lights (can you name lights in the sky?); 5, (what goes in the air and the water?) can you name your favorite bird or fish?; 6, (what belongs on the land?) what’s your favorite land animal?

  • Do you know what God said the most important part of his creation is? People! Gen 1:26

  • People are supposed to take care of God’s creation and rule over it kindly. 

  • Do you have any pets? How do you take care of them? 

  • That’s how we’re supposed to relate to all of creation: loving rule, like God would take care of it.

  • But how do we know how he would take care of this world?

  • The Bible! The Bible is God’s letter to teach us what he is like, and what he wants us to know. The Bible teaches us how to live.

  • Big lesson: who made everything? God! Who made you? God! So, if God made us, who is in charge of us? God! 

    • Who made me? God made me! (x3)

    • Who’s the boss? God is! (x3)

Review: Educated by Tara Westover


EducatedEducated by Tara Westover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Westover's prose is brisk, clear. Her story is emotionally wrenching.

I was both pulled along by the narrative she weaves and forced to pause as I shared in her grappling: how can you love in the midst of abuse? How can one be honest without being bitter when reality is so demented? How do you do what is right for survival when doing so feels like betraying those whom you cherish?

A worthwhile read for anyone and everyone.

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August 11, 2020

Observing the Beginning

 I'm working on some VBS lessons out of the first couple chapters of Genesis, and I was struck once again by Genesis 1:1-2,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

Here are three quick things I noticed in this passage today.


God Created

This is the most obvious point. It's also the most important. The opening pages of the Bible assume the existence of an eternal Creator (present before the beginning, because he initiates said beginning). They also assume that everything else is derivative from, and dependent upon, him. This assumption frames the whole Bible; nothing makes sense without a Creator who transcends, who exists apart from and independent of, this world.


God Formed

I've always found it curious that God didn't just create everything in one big shot. He's speaking it all into being ex nihilio, why this pattern of days that we see? 

But one of the interesting things about this, which we read in v2, is that while this earth is formless and void, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. So while the previous verse introduced us to the transcendent Creator, here we meet the intimate Former of creation. God exists outside of creation, yes. He also personally at work within it.


No Date Stamp

Much to the consternation of people from every side of this question, the Bible doesn't tell us when God made the heavens and the earth. Well, it does: in the beginning. We just don't have a date for that beginning. And I think that's just fine.

I personally find a young earth argument to be the most reasonable based upon Biblical evidence, particularly in how the doctrine of sin develops. But I can look someone of a more Frances Collins persuasion right in the eye, shake their hand, and agree that we hold the central truth of this passage in common, God created. He rules. He is to be worshiped. Whenever he did this marvelous making of heavens and earth.

August 10, 2020

Count the Cost

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously wrote, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

That makes for a great pintrest quote or opening line to a blog. But does it reflect New Testament reality? The short answer is "yes."



Matthew 10:34-39

34  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.


Mark 8:34-38

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


Luke 14:25-33

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.


John 12:24-26

24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.


Jesus' call to us is clear: forsake your life, that you might find it. And know this going in-don't be surprised when relationships are strained and people look sideways at you and the world counts you as nothing because of your identification with Christ. They crucified him. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Count the cost. The cost is death. But what a small price. What can a man give in return for his soul?

About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).