May I kill it? by mattpapa

I am so thankful for the gospel-metaphorical-power in the writings of C.S. Lewis.  In a discipleship/counseling situation the other day, I was reminded of this passage from “The Great Divorce”.  I read it aloud, and as I did, the presence of the Lord fell.  I pray the same might happen as you read and that God might use it in your life.

Before you read let me give a framework.

“The Great Divorce” is a story about a group of “ghosts” from purgatory or hell who take a bus trip to the foothills of heaven where they meet “spirits” who urge them to journey upward.  The ghosts are all self-centered, fragile, “unsubstantial” creatures, and the spirits are all large, solid, unselfish, happy people.  What follows is a powerful scene where our narrator, a ghost, observes an awesome encounter between another ghost and a spirit/angel…..

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I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.

“Off so soon?” said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

“Yes. I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see.

I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard), “that he’d have to be quiet if he came -which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realise that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.”

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit-an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh-ah-look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardlv meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the onlv way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here-well, it’s so damned embarrassing.”

“May I kill it?”

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”

“There is no time. May I kill it?”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please-really-don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.”

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well to-day. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”

“Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.”

“This moment contains all moments.”

“Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me-before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.”

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams-all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent____”

“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t. But supposing it did?”

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

“Then I may?”

“Damn and blast you! Go on can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.

“Ow! That’s done for me,” gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.

For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man-an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.

The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse’s back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I well knew what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.

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The stubborn mercy of God.  He waits for us.  He will not move past what is important.  He will not budge from it.  We smother our convictions with distraction, but He is always there waiting….back there at the fork in the road where we took the foolish turn.  ”Shall I kill it?” He says to us.  And mercifully, the conversation will not go anywhere else….anywhere else….until our answer is “Yes”.

Writing that you might say “yes”,

Matt

Clean, but not organized by mattpapa

About 6 months ago i cleaned out our garage.  As most americans know, this was no easy task.  Culturally (for those of us who are “normal”) the garage is simply the place where you throw all your junk that you have no idea what to do with.

“Put it in the garage.”

So i finally carved out a couple days and did it, and it was clean.

There.

Selah.

About 2 days ago I cleaned out our garage.  Yes.  Again.  It was a landfill.  Again.  What the hec happened?

Well….about 6 months ago (like i said) i cleaned our garage….but I didn’t organize it.  Stuff was neat and tidy and tucked away, but there wasn’t a system to guide the ongoing cleanliness of the garage.  so,

“I don’t know…..put it over there…”

Happened enough times and now…..we have another hiroshima.  Another mess.

What’s the point.

Ok.

St. Augustine talked about the fact that the problem with the human heart is that we have disordered loves.  Let me make sure you heard that correctly.  He said our problem is not our problems.  Not our sins.  But our loves.  They are not ordered.  They are not organized.

The natural tendency of the human heart is to clean itself up.  And this applies to the christian AND the non-christian.  We all feel the need to “get ourselves together”….and we do this either through self-discovery (the nonbeliever) or moral conformity (the believer) (as tim keller so aptly puts it).

So every 6 months or so there is a revival of “clean up time”.  Alright.  Buckle down.  Get it done.  Finally do it.  And you go on a cleaning spree.  you throw the beer in the trash.  you get a new devotional book.  you burn the porn.  you start evangelizing daily.  you wake up at 4 am and sing every tomlin song you know.

The garage is finally clean, and man you feel good.  (i mean really.  after i cleaned that thing i wanted to sleep in there.)

But what happens?  You guessed it.

You mess up again.  And after a little time….. the garage….your life….it’s another bomb site.  And why is this?

you.  didn’t.  organize.

a problem came and you didn’t know where to put it.  a blessing came and you didn’t know where to put it.

What did my garage need?  To be cleaned?  Yes.  But what did it also need?  It needed someone….an image bearer of God….to come in there and say “this goes here and it always goes here”.  “This is trash and so it goes in the trash can.”  “This is important and so it always goes here.”

and do you know that’s what you need?  what I need?

we need for Someone to not only cleanse us…but for Someone…..The Image of God….to come in and order us.  To arrange us.  To put our restless, messy hearts at rest.  to come in and say this is important and it goes here.  This is worth keeping but you don’t need it now.  This is an idol and it goes in the trash.  this you need, and you need to use it everyday.

THAT’S what you need.  but you must invite Him in.  you must let Him.

You must trust in His blood to cleanse you and you must actively trust in His power to change you.  You must believe that only his wisdom and goodness can order your heart and life in such a way that it doesn’t become a wasteland again…..reeking and moldy and always making people trip and generally just not doing what it was made to do.

Let me reiterate….we don’t organize our loves/lives.  We can’t.  But He can.  Let Him come in.  Surrender.  Let him order everything for your good and for your joy.

He will throw some things away.   He will give you some new things.  He will put some things out of your reach.

But He loves you.  Look at the cross.   He will die to see to it that you are clean, and that you stay that way.

Writing that you might be so,

Matt

The problem with seeking God’s will by mattpapa

 “God knows what is better for us. Let us seek only that our heart be free from sin.” – Augustine

I have spent too much of my life, and my prayer life, asking for God to lead me into His “perfect will”.  “God lead me”.  “Guide me”.  “Use me”.  “Bless me”.  While I know that God is a gracious, condescending God who meets us wherever we are, I something wonder if God has been up there saying….

“Um…yeah.  I’m Your Shepherd.  That’s what I do.”

So there’s a problem revealed here.  If I really believed that God was good….that He was my dad who was all powerful and all knowing and all loving….then I wouldn’t be repeatedly begging him to lead me with this certain twinge of anxiety.  I would relax.  Dad’s got me.  Chill.

But I don’t believe it, obviously.  And yet the problem goes deeper still.  If the pulse of my prayer life is set on my future (“God lead me guide me help me”), and not on God Himself (“Our Father who art in heaven”) then this has revealed that there is really a rival god in the mix.  An idol.  “Success” or perhaps “Comfort” or “Control”.  I want my best life now, not Jesus.  Really what I have been asking is….”God make my life go perfectly”.  “Make it exceptional.”  “Make my life epic.”

Now….there’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking God’s guidance.  But ask yourself this….”If the world could read my prayer journal….all in all…..would God look more like a genie or a treasure?”

Why are we so obsessed with “it” (God’s will) unless knowing “it” is more desirable to us than knowing “Him”?

Maybe God doesn’t want your life to be epic.  Maybe He wants it to be normal.  Maybe He wants your heart to be epic.  And the path to seeing this accomplished is….your heart made more like his….will actually not come through the achievement of your plans but through their mutilation.  God, for His children, will patiently and lovingly deny them of their desires until what they desire is Him.

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

What are you seeking?  God or something He can give you.  Your happiness is at stake.  Your soul is at stake.

Writing that you might want Him,

Matt

True Repentance by mattpapa

The following is an excerpt of a Tim Keller sermon that I listened to recently called, “Removing Idols of the Heart”.  I have used it in several counseling situations recently, and it has been very helpful, so I thought I would just post it for the world.  In the sermon, Keller echoes Stephen Charnock (Puritan) in talking about the way we truly change, and the difference between self-pity and repentance.  READ:

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“The way in which you destroy the power of a sin is to take it to the cross, not to Mount Sinai. Take it to Mount Calvary, not to Mount Sinai. I’ll explain this for a minute.

If you take a sin to Mount Sinai that means you’re thinking about the danger of it. You’re thinking about how it has messed up your life. You’re thinking about all the punishments that are probably going to come down on you for it. That is not repentance; that is self-pity. Self-pity and repentance are two different things. I came to a place in my life where I realized 90 percent of what I thought I had been doing as repentance throughout most of my life was really just self-pity.

The difference between self-pity and repentance is this: Self-pity is thinking about what a mess your sin got you into. Self-pity is thinking about the consequences of it, what a wreck it’s made of you, how God will probably get me for it, or how my parents will probably get me for it, or how my boss will probably get me for it, or all the problems it will create in my life or already has created in my life. “Oh, Lord, how sorry I am this has happened. Oh, Lord, get this out of my life.” What you’re really doing is saying, “I hate the consequences of this sin,” but you haven’t learned to hate the sin. What is happening is instead of hating the sin, you’re hating the consequences of the sin, and you’re hating yourself for being so stupid.

Self-pity leads to continuing to love the sin so it still has power over you but hating yourself. Real repentance is when you say, “What has this sin done to God? What has it cost God? What does God feel about it?” Let me give you an interesting example of two guys who wrote 300 or 400 years ago. One man’s name is Stephen Charnock. Stephen Charnock tries to explain the difference between taking your sin to Mount Sinai, where you just look at the danger of it, and taking your sin to the cross, where you see what effect it’s had on God.

When you see what effect it has had on the loving God who died so you wouldn’t do it, who died for your holiness, when you begin to see that…it melts you, and it makes you begin to hate the sin. It begins to lose its attractive power over you. Instead of making you hate yourself…you find you hate it, and so the idol begins to get crushed bit by bit. Listen carefully to Stephen Charnock, because he’s using old English. Charnock says there is a difference between a legalistic (religious) conviction of sin and an evangelical (Christian) one.

“A legal (religious) conviction of sin ariseth from a consideration of God’s justice chiefly, an evangelical conviction of sin from a sense of God’s goodness.” Now hear this. “A legally convinced person cries out, ‘I have exasperated a power that is as the roaring of a lion … I have provoked one that is the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth whose word can tear up the foundation of the world …’ But an evangelically convinced person cries, ‘I have incensed the goodness that is like the dropping of a dew. I have offended a God that had his hands stretched out to me as a friend. My heart must be made of marble. My heart must be made of iron to throw his blood in his face.’ ”

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Love ≠ Open-mindedness by mattpapa

We live in the “same love” culture.   The new ethic is sincerity.  If he’s into guys, cool.  If she’s into girls, ok.   If that’s his religion, then it’s true for him.  If she wants to kill it, then that’s her choice.  Don’t judge, don’t offend, don’t disrupt.

Chill out evangelicals.

Granted….and sadly…Christians haven’t been the most gracious when it comes to these topics.  However…

Love ≠ open-mindedness.

Love is intense.  We all know this.

Nearly everyday my kids sincerely don’t want to sit in their carseats.  What does love do?  “Ok, no big deal honey, sit wherever you want.”

No.

Love does this:  “Put your bottom in your carseat right now, or I will come put it there myself.”

If you have a friend who is making decisions that are ruining their life, love doesn’t stand by and watch it.  It sits them down…it gets in their face.

As it’s been said, the opposite of love is not hate.  It is indifference.

Love gets angry when the good of it’s beloved is threatened.

“To love is will the good of another.”  (T. Aquinas)

It turns out that our culture’s view of love is self-defeating.  If to love is to will the good of another, but in a culture of “non-judgmentalism” and “tolerance” a standard of good is lost,then love is lost.

Truth without love is bigotry, and quite often, Christians have been bigots.  But love without truth is cowardice.  And we live in a culture of cowards.

Stand up.  Do something.  Say something.  For love’s sake.  Be cool or be loving.  You can’t be both.

I Will Help You by mattpapa

We’re here at the Campus Crusade Conference in Greensboro, and earlier this morning I heard Tyler Jones reference a Spurgeon quote that I had to share.  I hope it does for your soul what it did for mine.  It rings with the glories of Romans 8:32.

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“Let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: ‘I will help you.  It is but a small thing for me, your God, to help you.  Consider what I have done already.  What! not help you?  Why, I bought you with my blood.  What! Not help you?  I have died for you; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less?  Help you!  It is the least thing I will ever do for you.  I have done more, and will do more.  Before the world began I chose you.  I made the covenant for you.  I laid aside my glory and became a man for you, I gave up my life for you; and if I did all this, I will surely help you now.  In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already.  If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you; you require little compared with what I am ready to give.  ’Tis much for you to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow.  Help you?  Fear not!  If there were an ant at the door of your granary asking for help, it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat; and you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency.  I will help you.’

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O my soul, is not this enough?  Do you need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity?  Do you want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit?  Bring here your empty pitcher!  Surely this well will fill it.  Haste, gather up your needs, and bring them here – your emptiness, your woes, your needs.  Behold, this river of God is full for your supply; what can you desire beside?  Go forth, my soul, in this your might.  The Eternal God is your helper.”

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Look & Live (Worship or Die) by mattpapa

One of the clearest pictures to me of what worship is like and what a worship leader does is found in a story in the Old Testament.

In Numbers 21 God’s people are wandering in the wilderness.  They are essentially, like us, a big group of tired, hungry, grouchy, grown-up kids who need a nap.  First, somebody in the back begins to grumble.

“This stinks.  Take us back to Egypt!”

The grumble spreads through the camp like wildfire…their entitlement now spewing projectile from their mouths.  They were tired of eating of manna burgers, bamanna bread, and manna-cotti (Thank you Keith Green).  They were tired of walking.  God was tired of their complaining.

Enter “fiery serpents”.

Poisonous snakes begin appearing…hundreds of them.  Biting.  Screaming.  Shrieking.  Fainting.  Dying.

Isreal wants mercy.  And so God, true to His character, grants them mercy.  But He chooses to do so in a very peculiar way…

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery (bronze) serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” Num 21:8

Now why show mercy in this way?  Couldn’t God have just said a word and fixed it all?  Healed them all?  Maybe just turned all the snakes into cute little puppies?

This is why: John 3:14-15.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

This is why the display of mercy was so peculiar.  It was a parable.

In this historical event, God is teaching us what faith is like…what worship is like.

Faith is a looking.  It is the blood-earnest, serious looking of serpent-bitten, sin-ridden people towards God’s peculiar display of mercy…the holy, battered, bloody, mutilated Son of God.  And if we don’t see Him…

We die.

We die.  We go to hell.  We have no victory over sin.  We have no power over our addictions.  Our lives remain a self-destructive mess.  We have no spiritual life…unless we see Him.  Unless we run to survey the Savior on the pole.  Unless we fight through the crowds and through our doubts and lift up our face.  The poison of idolatry will rot our veins until the glory of the crucified God-man fills our eyes.

The reason our church services are boring….the reason our sanctuaries are filled with cold, lifeless songs….the reason we feel the need to conjure up fake emotions with slick productions…it’s all because deep down we believe we’re ok.  We’ve forgotten that worship is life or death.

Worship is a looking.  It is the gaze of the soul towards greatness….towards some savior.  It is the pulsating, throbbing ache of the soul to see & celebrate glory.  The “wow” of the heart.  And we are always being captivated by something.  We must be.  The throne of the heart must be filled.

You have heard the phrase before “worship is a lifestyle”.  This is true, but weak.  It’s much more than that.  We cannot not worship.  We are continually kneeling to our highest perceived beauty.  The soul does not have an embrace….it is an embrace.  We never begin worship, we aim it.

And every week, people come into our churches.  They enter….eternal souls…hoping to be impressed.  Wanting to see real greatness.  They have seen the glory of the world this week.  We, along with them, have turned to the creation for happiness and have been betrayed.  We’ve seen the ads.  We’ve tried money, sex, and power and we have been bitten.  Entangled by all manner of slithering sins.  And now we come.  They come.  Wantingmore.  Craving, yearning, longing, dying for real glory.

The hour strikes, the service begins. The worship leader…that little moses…takes the stage.  He takes his pole and he lifts up…

a guitar riff.

a catchy tune.

his own personality.

his own opinion.

his own greatness.

an idol.

a tragedy.

Because what should have been the pole became the thing on the pole.  Jesus was the pole, a means to an end, and the people did not feast.  They were placated.  Inoculated.  Restless. Embracing shadows. They leave church with a pseudo happiness in a vision of a pseudo glory.

Brothers and sisters, this should not be.

We must give them Jesus.  Idols and addictions are never suppressed.  They are eclipsed.  Replaced.  The brightness of the stars vanish in the fury of the sun.  Money, Success, Power, Lust, Pride don’t stand a chance in the presence of Jesus.

So to my worship leader friends out there…my pastor friends…be a little moses.  Standing before you are ever-worshipping, dying, immortal beings.  People thirsting for greatness.  So give it to them.  Give them the glory they were made for…the anti-venom of the soul…the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Exalt Him.  Satisfy them.  Paint Him.  Lift Him up.  If you don’t, the people in the back are going to die.

Because a worship leader is not someone who stands on a stage and passively says “Stand & sing”.  It’s someone who stands before a world of restless, dying hearts and lifts up Jesus as high as he can, and screams with every fiber of his being along with John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

 

Worship or die.

 

Look & Live.

“Drawn away from love of the thing he tells…” by mattpapa

Below is an excerpt from chapter 9 of C.S. Lewis’ powerful book “The Great Divorce”…brimming with insights for anyone involved in the arts or communication.

A little context….”The Great Divorce” is a story about a group of “ghosts” from purgatory or hell who take a bus trip to the foothills of heaven where they meet “spirits” who urge them to journey upward. Lewis brilliantly paints here, as he does in so many of his works, the hollowness of selfishness and the “thickness” or reality of love, beauty, and selflessness.

I was recently reminded of this section and wanted to post it, (especially) as a way to help to those who help us see…to my songwriting, preaching, painting, book-writing, instrument-strumming friends out there….who constantly strain…who continually squint…trying to further comprehend the Glory.  But why comprehend it?  Why communicate it?

That is Lewis’ question to us…..

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“God!” said the Ghost, glancing round the landscape.

“God what?” asked the Spirit.

“What do you mean, ‘God what’?” asked the Ghost.

“In our grammer God is a noun.”

“Oh-I see. I only meant ‘By Gum’ or something of the sort. I meant . . . well, all this. It’s . . . it’s … I should like to paint this.”

“I shouldn’t bother about that just at present if I were you.”

“Look here; isn’t one going to be allowed to go on painting?”

“Looking comes first.” “But I’ve had my look. I’ve seen just what I want to do. God!-I wish I’d thought of bringing my things with me!”

The Spirit shook his head, scattering light from his hair as he did so. “That sort of thing’s no good here,” he said.

“What do you mean?” said the Ghost.

“When you painted on earth-at least in your earlier days-it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already. In fact we see it better than you do.”

“Then there’s never going to be any point in painting here?”

“I don’t say that. When you’ve grown into a Person (it’s all right, we all had to do it) there’ll be some things which you’ll see better than anyone else. One of the things you’ll want to do will be to tell us about them. But not yet. At present your business is to see. Come and see. He is endless. Come and feed.”

There was a little pause. “That will be delightful,” said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice.

“Come, then,” said the Spirit, offering it his arm.

“How soon do you think I could begin painting?” it asked.

The Spirit broke into laughter. “Don’t you see you’ll never paint at all if that’s what you’re thinking about?” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked the Ghost.

“Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.”

“But that’s just how a real artist is interested in the country.”

“No. You’re forgetting,” said the Spirit. “That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.”

“Oh, that’s ages ago,” said the Ghost. “One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.”

“One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.”

=====================

That you may not be drawn away from love of the Thing you tell,

Matt

Trust (a poem) by mattpapa

The commandment comes,

“Do this I say,

cross not this line,

go not that way”

 

My fallen soul,

it writhes within,

it pouts and doubts

and seethes with sin

 

“I cannot do

this thing Love asks!

For shall I not

my freedom have?”

 

And so I choose

to disobey,

and flex my

suicidal strength

 

And as I fall

into a pit,

’tis not the freedom

that I meant.

 

Waste.

 

A tender hand

but strong, I feel,

and to my awe

no sword it wields

 

It pulls me out,

it cleanses me,

it chides me not,

but gently leads

 

Me to the place

where feet can stand,

a rock of grace

that never ends

 

“Oh Father, why?

How could you be

so patient with

a worm like me?”

 

I cling unto

this hand of love

that ever finds me

though I run

 

And now a dawn

within my soul,

this goodness

shall not let me go.

 

Rest.

 

The commandment comes,

“Do this I say,

cross not this line,

go not that way”

 

My heart of stone

is melted now,

and to this Word

I freely bow

 

The good hand points

and lo I see,

an altar there

prepared for me

 

This wooden-grace,

I cling to climb

My doubts erased

His promise mine

 

I lie upon it

peaceful, still,

a child who loves

his Father’s will.

 

Trust.

In The Studio… by mattpapa

Hi friends-

I’m writing you today from Nashville, TN, where I am incredibly thankful and excited to be recording my 4th full-length studio album.  God is good.  I feel more grateful than ever before to be able to create art for a living, and more grateful than ever for people like you who allow me to continue to do so through your prayers and support.  I am working hard to create music that adorns God’s Name, God’s people, and God’s world, and that’s why I’m writing to you today.

Would you take 60 seconds and pray for us?  Pray that God would take joy in what He hears. Pray that the music we make would point to the beauty of Jesus Christ. Pray that through this album people would see His glory more clearly. Pray that through this album, the Church would be encouraged, the lost would be converted, and that missionaries would be created. That’s why I do what I do.

Thank you!  Your prayers infinitely matter.

The new album, entitled “LOOK & LIVE”, is set to release early fall of this year.  Producing on the album is Stu G, former guitar player of the band Delirious.  It is sounding fantastic and I am thrilled to get these songs to you, and to serve you in this way.

Please stay tuned through twitter, Facebook, etc. for updates and exclusives about the album.

Blessings to you today, in Christ-

Matt

The Story of God by mattpapa

Click here to watch the video. 

 

 

The Story of God

by Matt Papa

.

Let me tell you a story

it’s no ordinary tale

no it is the ordinary

from which every other story hails

.

it’s the story of God

it’s the story of history

and I’m not the author

no, the Author is a glorious mystery

.

see long before He would put

His pen to the paper

long before there was time

or before there was matter

.

He was there, all alone

Father Son Holy Sprit

1 God in 3 persons

everlasting in existence

.

completely satisfied

needing absolutely nothing

He was happy in Himself

and His joy was overflowing

.

the Son in the arms

of His holy righteous Father

the Spirit overshadowing

all glorifying one another

.

so why would this God

even bother to create

the fountain of all happiness

can you improve upon this state?

.

well the joy within Himself

welling up at such capacity

was so full it must be shared

with a glorious society

.

so the mighty Author, quill in hand,

to share His infinite mind,

His love His joy, sat down to write

His “once upon a time”

.

in the beginning God created

the Heavens and the Earth

He made all things to reflect

His beauty and His worth

.

mountains rivers oceans trees

all gladly testifying

endless stars and galaxies

declare His glory shining

.

He made it all and it was good

and to culminate His work

He fashioned man

and breathed to life

His special ball of dirt

.

man came to life with blinking eyes

& was welcomed by God’s face

they walked with Him every day and night

there was peace and no such thing as shame

.

God said

be fruitful, fill the earth

and eat from any tree

except for this one

cause if you do you’ll surely fall from Me

.

now why do this? and give this choice?

because He is writing a Story

and He’s about to show to whole world

The fullness of His glory

.

conflict enters

early on in the script

with a snake in the garden

doing was he does best running his lip

.

flashback to when

this evil was created

he was an angel of heaven

who fell when his head got inflated

.

banished from God

and from His endless mercy

he came down to earth

to tempt us with the unworthy

.

so there in the garden

on an ordinary day

he came to the woman and said

did God really say?

.

that you should not eat

from every tree in the garden?

He must not want your happiness

or you would have total freedom

.

so pridefully they listened

and sinfully they took

and scorned their creator

and they ate the forbidden fruit

.

injustice. this, my friends

this is injustice

that God should be seen &

then treated as a nothing

.

that man should completely forfeit his joy

and dig for fleeting pleasures

in the gutters of this world

.

fallen now is all mankind

and sure to face His judgement

a world of pain, of toil and strain

and hell forever after

.

but God would make a promise to

preserve Himself a people

and through the brokenness of man

o could there shine a hero?

.

the plot line continues

some character development

all supporting actors

all fantastic as embellishment

.

Noah found great favor

in God’s holy sight

and when God sent the floods

He mercifully preserved his life

.

we come to Abraham

and God made him a covenant

He said “I will bless you

and make your offspring abundant”

.

to Isaac and to Jacob

God would come and do the same

and though many dangers

came to threaten His perfect plan

.

the story would go on

with the Author’s full control

and He would lead His people

everywhere that they should go

.

flash forward now 400 years

in Egypt there’s a pharaoh

who doesn’t like God’s people

growing numerous in freedom

.

so he made them slaves

but God came down and chose His servant Moses

a burning bush… a call to go

His presence was His promise

.

go and tell that pharaoh now to

let my people go

so they can freely worship Me

in the place that I will show

.

plagues.  numerous.

God would show that He is the I AM

that pharaoh’ rule is like a pawn

in His glorious hand

.

the waters part. the millions leave

to follow their great Savior

He guided them provided for them

though they were so ungrateful

.

at Sinai God gave the law

so perfect and so pure

His people soon discovered

they could not obey these rules

.

they tried they failed

they tried they failed

compelled to live in sin

they’d bow to worship idols

then they’d bow to God again

.

they said to God “give us a king”

and that will make things better

God, their rightful king, assured them

this would be a fetter

.

they insisted, God relented

gave to them their kings

some were good, led them to Him

some brought idolatry

.

God sent his prophets

“turn back to God”

sometimes the people listened

but mostly they just gave a nod

cause they all wanted to be Him

.

“God will not wink at your sin”

the prophets would all say

the people rose to eat and drink

and left to go and play

.

God finally seemed to have enough

and brought a blaring quiet

the prophets ceased, the people waited

400 years of silence.

.

enter our protagonist

mostly unannounced

the plot is quickly rising now

.

who is this guy?

nobody really knows

He meek…..He’s humble

unordinary hero

.

but the craziest thing

about this character is well

unlike the other characters

this is the Author himself

.

His name was Jesus

He was born of a virgin

fully God He was perfect

fully man He was learnin’

.

different from all the others

but tempted just the same

in every single way we are

without a single sin

.

He made the lame to jump

He caused the blind to see

and unlike the religious leaders

had some real authority

.

cause He came from high

and He came to redeem

not to be served but to serve

His haters and enemies

.

He loved, He gave

showed us the heart of the Author

claimed no glory for Himself

cause He came from His Father

.

and we hated Him for it

cause we wanted to be God

despised and rejected

we esteemed Him not.

.

conflict escalating now

it’s starts with a betrayal

Judas whores his eternal Lord

for 30 pieces of silver

.

a final meal a prayer and then

they head into the garden

where Jesus sweat with drops of blood

preparing for our pardon

.

The soldiers took the Lord away

and led him to a trail

“are you the Son of God?” they say

I AM there’s no denying

.

Except of course for His disciples

who left their Lord in fear

Jesus looked up to the sky

He was all alone from here

.

they led Him to the Pretorian

and then began to beat Him

“who hit you?” they would shout and say

“oh Father please forgive them”

.

they made His back a bloody mess

they whipped Him till he lost his breath

they threw the cross upon His wounds

the weight of sin 300 pounds

.

the great eternal Lord of all

the Author of all things

now like a lamb unto the slaughter

would this be His defeat?

.

they nailed Him to the rugged cross

they shouted out “where is Your God?”

He said “have You forsaken me?”

He takes a breath, His final three:

.

“It is finished”  the Savior’s cry

and then He bowed His head

the Author of life the Lord of all

the Son of God is dead

.

they laid His body in a tomb

then everything was quiet

as God’s people find themselves again

in everlasting silence

.

2 days pass.

.

on the second morning after Jesus died

Mary went to the tomb to take a look inside

.

and when she arrived she was

met by an angel

she fell to the ground but he said

there’s no danger

.

this Jesus, Jesus

is He the one that you seek?

Mary He is not here

He is risen indeed!

.

Climax, its true

every good story has one

the part where you feel

a slight shift of momentum

.

Mary sprints to go

tell the disciples

the Lord, He’s alive!

He’s alive like he promised

.

Peter and john go

and see for themselves

but there’s nothing there

they said “perhaps He truly lives?”

.

then Jesus’ words

came flashing to mind

they will kill the Son of man

but after three days He will rise

.

momentum is surely building now

the enemy is limpin’

Jesus finds the 12 and then

He gives to them the mission

.

all authority is mine

all in Heaven and on Earth

go and tell them I’m alive

go and tell the whole wide world

.

and don’t get slack

I’m coming back

.

Acts now the church is born

the Holy Spirit given

the news of Jesus

like the most contagious sickness spreadin’

.

thousands saved. A mighty wind

is blowing through the region

the promise God gave to Abraham

we’re finally starting to see it

.

Repentance and forgiveness preached

All in the name of Jesus

Sinners and saints alike proclaim

Our God has come to save us!

.

the Gentiles hear the story and

the news is blowing up

the plan is working, the gospel spreading

from Asia to Africa

.

martyrs laying down their lives

cause they know this story’s true

it’s a story like no other

it’s a movement you cannot undo.

.

Constantine tried to slow it down

and turn it into steeples

but an angry monk from Germany

wrote some holy gospel thesis

.

it’s spread like fire, then it came

to America by sail

and here we are the twenty-first century

the gospel cannot fail

.

It’s the greatest story

that’s ever been told

by the greatest Author the world has ever known

.

but there is some still left to go

yes there is some still left to go

.

see GO was the command

to every tribe and nation

and carry this great story to

this dying generation

.

cause when this gospel finally spreads

across the whole of earth

we’re gonna hear a trumpet sound

and Jesus will return

.

Heaven will be opened

and a white horse shall appear

and the One who sits upon it

all His enemies shall fear

.

His eyes will be like fire

and His purpose will be glory

justice for all evil

life for all who love this story

.

He’ll come to judge the quick, the dead

and all who’ve trod this world….every

knee will bow

and tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord

.

death and hades He will throw

into the Lake of Fire

and Satan too that serpent foe

that coward that old liar

.

the church will rise

surround the throne

and clothed in glory His

with every nation tribe and tongue

we will worship Him

.

singing Worthy Worthy

is the Lamb

The Lamb who has been slain

blessings honor glory and power

forever to His name

.

and for ages and ages

we will sing

the praises of

our God and King

.

it’s the greatest story

that ever been told

by the greatest Author

the world has known

.

yeah the bad guys lose

the good guys win

Jesus is Lord of all

The End.

Song-share by mattpapa

Hi Friends!

I’ll be heading into the studio VERY soon, and I want your help.  This saturday night I’ll be singing my new songs at Sola Coffee in Raleigh, and we’re asking you to come and vote on them!  That’s right.  Tell us what what you like and what you don’t like.  You can be nice like Paula or mean like Simon.  Come for a night of hanging out with friends, listening to music, enjoying coffee and a free dessert, and come ready to help us choose what songs will be going on my next album!  Here’s the pertinent info:

Where:  Sola Coffee

When:  8:30 PM

How Much:  $10 at door

What Do I Get:  A free dessert and a free digital download of My album “Scripture Songs & Hymns 2″

Anything Else:   Seating capacity is around 75.  First come first serve.

 

Hope to see you there!

Matt

Worship With Watts by mattpapa

Go worship at Emmanuel’s feet

A Hymn by Issac Watts

.

1 Go worship at Emmanuel’s feet,

See in His face what wonders meet!

Earth is too narrow to express

His worth, His glory, or His grace.

.

2 The whole creation can afford

But some faint shadows of my Lord;

Nature, to make His beauties known,

Must mingle colors not her own.

.

3 Is He compared to wine or bread?

Dear Lord! our souls would thus be fed:

That flesh, that dying blood of Thine,

Is bread of life, is heavenly wine.

.

4 Is He a tree? The world receives

Salvation from His healing leaves:

That righteous Branch, that fruitful bough,

Is David’s root and offspring too.

.

5 Is He a rose? Not Sharon yields,

Such fragrancy in all her fields:

Or if the lily He assume,

The valleys bless the rich perfume.

.

6 Is He a vine? His heavenly root

Supplies the boughs with life and fruit.

O let a lasting union join

My soul to Christ the living Vine!

.

7 Is He a head? Each member lives

And owns the vital power He gives;

The saints below and saints above,

Joined by His spirit and His love.

.

8 Is He a fountain? There I bathe,

And heal the plague of sin and death:

These waters all my soul renew,

And cleanse my spotted garments too.

.

9 Is He a fire? He’ll purge my dross:

But the true gold sustains no loss:

Like a refiner shall He sit,

And tread the refuse with His feet.

.

10 Is He a rock? How firm he proves!

The rock of ages never moves;

Yet the sweet streams that from him flow

Attend us all the desert through.

.

11 Is He a way? He leads to God,

The path is drawn in lines of blood;

There would I walk with hope and zeal,

‘Till I arrive at Zion’s hill.

.

12 Is He a door? I’ll enter in;

Behold the pastures large and green,

A paradise divinely fair,

None but the sheep have freedom there.

.

13 Is He designed the cornerstone,

For men to build their heaven upon?

I’ll make Him my foundation too,

Nor fear the plots of hell below.

.

14 Is He a temple? I adore

The indwelling majesty and power;

And still to His most holy place,

Whene’er I pray, I’ll turn my face.

.

15 Is He a star? He breaks the night,

Piercing the shades with dawning light;

I know His glories from afar,

I know the bright, the morning Star.

.

16 Is He a sun? His beams are grace,

His course is joy and righteousness;

Nations rejoice when he appears

To chase their clouds, and dry their tears.

.

17 O let me climb those higher skies,

Where storms and darkness never rise!

There He displays his powers abroad,

And shines and reigns the incarnate God.

.

18 Nor earth, nor seas, nor sun, nor stars,

Nor heaven His full resemblance bears;

His Beauties we can never trace,

Till we behold Him face to face.

Martyr Monday: Romanus / Turkey / 285 A.D. by mattpapa

The Roman prefect Asclepiades invaded the city of Antioch, intending to force the Christians to renounce their faith. But Romanus had encouraged the Christians to hold to Jesus.

As the believers saw the great grace of God working in Romanus, old men and women, fathers and mothers, young men and maidens were greatly encouraged to stand firm, ready to shed their blood for the name of their Christ. With one will and mind, they were able to fight off the armed Roman soldiers.

Ascledpiades had Romanus scourged with whips. But instead of tears, sighs, and groans, Romanus sang psalms all the time of his whipping. The more the martyr said about the Lord Jesus, the more furious the prefect became. He commanded the martyr’s sides to be slit with knives until the bones showed white.

Romanus continued to preach the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, His well-beloved Son, and eternal life through faith in His blood. This time, the prefect ordered that his teeth be knocked out, so he couldn’t speak clearly. His face was beat, his beard pulled out, his cheeks were gashed with knives. When they were finished, Romanus said, “I thank thee, O Prefect. Look how many wounds I have, so many mouths I have whereby I may preach my Lord and Savior Christ, and praise God.”

The Roman prefect was astonished with Romanus’ unwavering commitment to Christ. He commanded the tortures to cease. He threatened to burn him. He blasphemed God saying, “Your crucified Christ is but a yesterday’s God; the gods of the Gentiles are most ancient.”

Romanus then preached on the eternity of Christ, His human nature, of His death for all mankind. Then he said, “Give me a child, O Prefect, one who is only seven years old, and not yet spoiled by malice and vice. You will hear what he has to say.”

A little boy was called out of the crowd. “Tell me, child,” said the martyr, “whether we should worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or should we worship many gods?”

“God is one and unique, ” the child answered. “We children cannot believe that there are many gods.”

The prefect was amazed and said, “Where did you learn this lesson?”

“From my mother,” answered the child. “With her milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ.”

The mother was called, and she gladly appeared. The prefect commanded the child to be whipped. The crowd of people watching could not keep from crying. The mother alone stooddry-eyed, reminding her child of stories from the Scriptures of others who suffered. She called to her son, “Hold fast, my child. Soon you shall pass to Him who will give you a crown of eternal glory.”

The mother smiled her encouragement. The child was encouraged and received the stripes with a smiling face.

The prefect commanded the child’s head to be cut off. The mother kissed him, saying, “Farewell, my sweet child. When you have entered the kingdom of Christ, remember your mother.”

As the sword came down on her child’s neck, she sang:

“All laud and praise with heart and voice,

O Lord, we yield to thee:

To whom the death of this thy saint,

We know most dear to be.”

Asclepiades returned to torturing Romanus. He was cast into a mighty fire, but a great storm arose and quenched the fire. Finally, the prefect, amazed at Romanus’ courage, commanded him to be brought back into the prison and strangled.

====================================

Story from Fox’s book of martyrs.

Martyr Monday: John Denley, 1555 by mattpapa

England

1555

One day, on the way to visit some friends, John Denley was stopped and searched by the authorities, who found his written confession of faith. Denley believed the Church was built upon the apostles and prophets, with Christ as its head, and that the present state church, the Church of England, was not part of this true Church. In his time, many of its teachings were not according to the Bible.

For this he was turned over to a local government official, who turned him over to the bishop for questioning. Denley would not back down from his statement of faith, so he was condemned to die and turned over to the sheriff.

Within six weeks, he was sent to the stake to be burned. When they lit the wood beneath him, Denley showed no fear. He cheerfully sang a psalm as the flames rose around him. One of his tormentors picked up a piece of wood and threw it at him, hitting him in the face. He hoped to anger or silence Denley, but Denley only responded,

“Truly, you have spoiled a good old song.”

Then he spread his arms again and continued to sing until he died.

=

Story from “Jesus Freaks”, VOM (www.persecution.com)

Martyr Monday // Madagascar: Early 1800′s by mattpapa

Ranavalona, the queen of Madagascar, hated the Christians in her kingdom.  Her complaints against them were many: they despised her idols, they were always praying, They always went to church, and their women were chaste.  She sent officers to gather all those suspected of being Christians to bring them to trial.

About 1600 believers, when the charges were read, announced confidently, “Guilty.”  They would not deny the charges, for to do so would be to deny Christ.  The Queen offered them a second chance to deny Christ and bow to her idols, but each refused.  They were thrown into dark, dank dungeons, and many were executed.  The Queen was angered more, because for each Christian she had killed, twenty more rose up.

Later, the Queen ordered that 15 Christians be executed.  They were to be thrown over a cliff into a rocky ravine 150 feet below.  The Queen’s idols were taken to the top of the cliff, and each Christian was lowered slightly over the edge, tied with ropes.

“Will you worship the Queen’s gods?” the soldiers asked each Christian hanging over the precipice.

Each Christian answered, simply, “Christ.”

“Christ.”

“Christ.”

“Christ.”

The ropes were cut, and they plunged to the rocks.

Some sang as they fell to their deaths.

One young girl was spared and declared insane.

She later started a church.

======================

 

I wonder if some said “Christ” as bold as a lion, and others said “Christ” as a child crying for help.

But they said it.  They finished their race.

Run yours today.  Cling to Christ.  If the face of temptation, in the face of suffering, in the face of fear,

Answer simply,

“Christ.”

 

Matt

 

Story from www.persecutionblog.com

A Martyr Monday for Mother’s Day: China by mattpapa

The pastor had been questioned and beaten often, but today the guard took him to a room to talk. He said, “I’m curious about your beliefs and ask you to tell me the Ten Commandments.”

Shocked, the pastor began to share the Commandments. When he got to “Honor your father and mother,” the officer interrupted him. “Stop there. You Christians believe that God chose ‘Honor your father and mother’ as a very important commandment. Please look in the corner.”

The pastor turned to see an elderly woman chained and bruised beneath a pile of rags. She was the pastor’s own mother.

The guard inquired. “Look how much your mother has suffered. If you tell the secrets of the underground church, you and your mother can go free. If she dies from our torture, you will have failed to keep the commandment to honor her, and her blood shall be on your head.”

The pastor turned to his mother who was starting to regain consciousness. “Dear Mother, what should I do?”

Lovingly she replied, “Since you were a small boy, I have taught you to love Christ and his church. Do not betray God. I am ready to die for the Holy Name.”

The pastor looked back at the guard and said with renewed courage, “You were very right, captain…a man must obey his mother.”

==============

Praise God for Moms….especially those that cherish Christ more than their children.

Matt

story from www.persecution.com

Martyr Monday: China: Pastor Li Dexian by mattpapa

Pastor Li Dexian had preached just a few minutes when Public Security Bureau officers stormed into the house. They dragged Pastor Li outside and beat him, as well as others in the Chinese congregation.

At the police station, the evangelist was beaten again until he vomited blood. The officers beat his face with his own Bible, leaving him bleeding and barely conscious on the concrete floor of the cell.

When he was released seven hours later, he resumed his ministry. The next time he delivered a message to that church, seven PSB officers came in, shouting accusations against the evangelist. When they saw visiting Westerners with him, they left but returned fifteen minutes later with reinforcements. The officers dragged Li out and began to beat his head against a stone wall.

As of 2000, Pastor Li had already been jailed 13 times for sharing the gospel.  Here is an account of some of his time in prison:

Upon arrival to prison Li was immediately put in chains.  Unlike other prisoners the authorities shackled his ankles, not once, but two times.  His ankles were placed into steel cuffs and then cranked down by bolts on either side.  Then a second set of steel cuffs was put on above the ankle near his shins.  After this they then placed a large steel bar in between the cuffs that spread his legs wider than his shoulders.   In the center of this bar there was a ring.  His hands were then shackled and they were brought down to the bar between his feet and cuffed to the ring in the center of the bar.  This left his back in a bowed position.  He was left in this position for three days with no relief.

By the second day his back was in severe pain.  After three days they finally released his hands and he was able to straighten up.  He was thankful that his back was not injured during this time.  With his hands released they then forced him to labor.  He had to start every day at 6 a.m. and worked until 11 p.m. – 17 hours of labor.

On April 26, Li was released with a stern warning not to preach…

Voice of the Martyrs article of June 2000

But preach he does. As he says, “I will preach until I die.”

Pray for Pastor Li and for the Church in China.

Martyr Monday: Rome: Vincent by mattpapa

The ropes at his wrists and ankles stretched further until Roman Christian Vincent felt his arms pull out of his shoulder sockets and his hips come out of joint.

Decius, the Roman emperor, stood by the rack where Vincent was tied. “You will die in terrible pain,” he told the young Christian.

“No death is more honorable than that of a martyr,” Vincent said to the king with conviction. “I see heaven, and I abhor your idols.”

Furious, the king called for the now-crippled Christian to be tortured even more. Yet they could not rid Vincent of his smile. He told the emperor through his pain, “You destroy only my body, which has to perish anyway. Inside of me lives another Vincent, and over him you have no power. That Vincent cannot be put on a rack and cannot be killed.” Vincent welcomed death with a smile.

Finally, the Roman soldiers pulled him from the rack, but his torments were not over. They stripped him of his clothes and threw him into a cell, the floor of which was covered with shattered glass. Unable to stand, Vincent was forced to lie on the ragged glass. Even there, God’s peace was with him. Guards later reported to the emperor that he rested on the shattered glass “as on a bed of flowers.”

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Those who see Heaven can smile.  Through anything.

Until this light, momentary, bed of flowers affliction becomes an eternal weight of glory-

Matt

 

story from www.persecution.com

Spurgeon Sermon Excerpt That Absolutely Moved Me by mattpapa

In a sermon entitled, “A View of God’s Glory”, Charles Spurgeon highlights the fact that when Moses asks God to see His glory, God says “I will cause all my GOODNESS to pass before You”.  Spurgeon explains, “The brightest gem in the crown of God’s glory is his goodness.”  He speaks of God’s goodness in creation, and then, here, He gets to God’s goodness towards His chosen people, and he just gets caught up in worship.  I was caught up as I read.  Magnificent preaching.  Join me in worship to our God as you read….

 

“Now….think of His sovereign goodness toward His chosen people. O, my soul, go thou back into eternity and see thy name in God’s book of predestinating, unchanging grace! And then come down to the time of redemption, and see there thy Saviour bleeding and agonizing. O my soul, there were drops of goodness before, but O, rivers of goodness roll before thee now! When thou sawest the Son of God groaning, agonizing, shrieking, dying, buried in his grave, and then rising again, thou sawest the goodness of God. “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” I say again, what a panorama! What a series of dissolving views! What sight upon sight, each one melting into the other! Could I stand here this morning, and borrow the eloquence of an angel; could I speak to you as I might wish—but, alas! I cannot break these bonds that hold my stammering tongue—could I loose these lips and speak as angels speak, then could I tell you something, but not much, of the goodness of God; for it is “past finding out.” Since I cannot utter it myself, I would invoke all creation to be vocal in his praise. Ye hills, lift up your voices; let the shaggy woods upon your summits wave with adoration. Ye valleys, fill the air with the bleatings of your sheep and the lowing of your cattle. Ye that have life, if ye have voices, tune his praise; and if ye walk in silence, let your joyful motions show the thanks ye cannot speak. O, ye trees of the field, clap your hands; ye winds, in solemn harmony chant to his glory. Thou ocean, with thy myriad waves, in all thy solemn pomp, thy motion to and fro, forget not him who bids a thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain, and write no furrow on thy ever youthful brow. And you, ye storms, howl out his greatness; let your thunders roll like drums in the march of the God of armies; let your lightnings write his name in fire upon the midnight darkness; let the illimitable void of space become one mouth for song; and let the unnavigated ether, through its shoreless depths, bear through the infinite remote the name of him who is ever good and doeth good.”