Sunday Thoughts: Matthew 18:6-9

If you were to see us not in our Sunday best, but in our spiritual armor, in our TrueSelves, what would you see? A congregation of beauty? Coiffed and pampered? Polished plate, gleaming and shiny? Our swords sheathed and our guns holstered? Maybe clean, on parade soldiers, unsoiled and unspoiled by war?

No, my dear friend, no.

You would see a congregation of scarred, maimed amputees. You would see intense listeners, leaning forward in their seats. We fight our exhaustion. We push through distraction. Our swords are in our laps, blades bare, guns drawn and ready.

Row after row after row of bone-tired warriors with missing eyes, fingers, arms, and legs, gather together. We wear dented, miss-matched armor covered in blood and gore. We’re broken, weary to the point of tears, hungry, and never out of the fight.

Look deeper. Look at our gossamer souls. Do you see the holes? Do you see the daily deaths we die to ourselves for one another? Over there is a battle with sin not going so well. Up front is a disfigured saint still gnawed at by a particular temptation. Back there is a weeping soul who fell yet again into the same trap. They bend under the weight of the battles they have waged this week. They stop their ears to lies and unbelief.

Do you see the dreams sacrificed? Do you see the wants set aside? Do you see the here and now given up? The prayers prayed during the dark of the night? The trials, great and ordinary? The hatred of sin? The suffering endured? The pain of refining? The constant ruthless severity with which each saint turns blade and bullet on his own heart and flesh to rend and fight the corruption within?

This isn’t clean.   

This isn’t pretty.

This is war.

Battle.

Look at us on the path to heaven. We have sacrificed beauty and ease here for glory there. We are the scarred, amputated, broken, weary warriors. We are the ruthless.

We are the loved.

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Sunday Thoughts: The Dangerous

“Jesus retrieves those who are dangerous.” – Jarrett Downs (Luke 4:31-37)

We are insignificant monsters hidden in closets.

We are diseased.

We are murderers of innocence.

We are dangerous thieves.

Who will save us, the wretches wondering in the shadows?

Who will save the unsavable?

Who would want to?

The great SoulDefender arises.

He turns from the whole, the healed, the clean, the good.

He brings the light into darkness.

He touches the sick.

He befriends the villain.

He retrieves the dangerous.

The great SoulDefender. He is not a doctor of bodies, but of dirty souls.

He heals the rips and tears, re-knitting us. He battles and fights, great warrior, to win back, to save, that which others would only reject, leave, rightly abandoned.

Humbled by our undeserved rescue, by our undeserved adoption, we redeemed monsters follow our great Captain!

– Abby Jones

(Inspired by the preaching on Luke 4 and 5.)

Sunday Thoughts: Repetition

repetition

Courtesy of Bing.

 

This should probably be titled Wednesday Thoughts, since it was inspired more by our Wednesday night lessons on the Trinity, but since it’s inspired by preaching, I’ll just leave it Sunday Thoughts.

My husband has been preaching on the Trinity for about two years now, or about 71 lessons. He just finished up. What a challenging blessing this journey had been for our congregation. We’ve covered the basics of the doctrine, its historical development, the heresies surrounding it, and the theology of it. You can listen to all it on his blog, Rod of Iron.

I’ve had an interesting journey as I’ve listened to the preaching on the Trinity. I started out treating the doctrine as something I couldn’t understand and thus was exempt from understanding. Halfway through, I was terrified I was constantly thinking of God in error. Now, I am aware of how much I don’t understand, feel like I have a grasp on some things, and am more thankful than ever for the gift God gives us in our Pastors and Teachers.

One of the books I’m reading right now is By Common Confession, essays in honor of James M. Renihan, edited by Ronald S. Baines, Richard C. Barcellos, and James P. Butler. In it, there is an essay by Stefan T. Lindblad on the Eternal Generation of the Son. This was the first essay in the book that was way over my head. The language and subject matter are far above my normal reading level. And yet, due to the diligent preaching of the word by faithful men, I followed for more of the essay than I would have otherwise.

This led me to have a greater respect for repetition. You know that bit of review a pastor does at the start of every sermon in the series? You know that sermon almost exactly like the one he preached before his break? You know, that part at the beginning where you only half listen cause you just heard this last week?

That part.

I always viewed that part as necessary for people who weren’t here last Wednesday/Sunday. (Sounds so prideful doesn’t it?) I often encouraged my husband to not do so much review. I thought if he stopped reviewing so much, he could finish the series faster. And we’ve all heard it before. Thankfully, he didn’t really take my advice. The concepts, truths, and theology he was teaching are hard to understand, hard to hold onto, hard to processes. We want to skip it, so we don’t have to wrestle with it.

Over and over, on Wednesday nights, he repeated the same things about the Trinity. Over and over, we sat and listened. Things got deeper, bigger, broader, and my view on review started to change. From one Wednesday night to the next, I eagerly awaited the review because I knew I wasn’t holding onto all that had been taught last week. I needed to refit it all in my brain. Then I’d go home, meditate, worry I wasn’t thinking through it right, and be ready for the repetitive review by the next Wednesday night.

Repetition became one of the biggest aids in a difficult and often misunderstood or abandoned doctrine. It familiarizes us with the terms, re-aligns our thinking, and helps us gather up what we’d forgotten. Repetition gave me hooks to hang thoughts on allowing me to sort of follow an article about the Trinity written far above my normal reading level. Repetition is helpful.

This is why we never get tired of hearing the Gospel. I’ve been in church my whole life, was saved at a young age, and still, I come to church each week hungry for the gospel. I’ve sinned, fallen short, and I need to hear of grace again.

So, this is a remainder to me, and hopefully and encouragement to you, don’t check out when the Pastor is going over, yet again, the same thing he went over last week, and the same thing he’ll go over next week. It’s for our good. Listen.

 

Sunday Thoughts (Inspired Prose/Poem): Do Not Be Afraid

Do Not Be Afraid

Have you ever thought

how truly terrible

telepathy would be?

To read and feel and

know a fellow sinner,

a fellow monster’s,

inner thoughts?

All their anxiety, all their hatred, anger, lust, petty meanness, belittling, envy, covetousness. All that is selfish, self-focused, and disloyal in each of us. All that is psychopathic and sociopathic about each of us. All that is dark in us.

Can you imagine how that would tear,

rend,

bruise,

destroy

all of us, our families, our relationships, our world?

Monsters are we all, hidden behind our pretty clothes and jewels. Tombs, rotting and stinking, painted white and carved, all beautiful.

A King of pure holiness,

pure goodness,

pure light,

comes.

And horror of horror, mountains please fall on us, this King can see all that we are. Into our core, the very heart of us. He sees our TrueSelves: lazy, self-worshipping monsters, oozing rot and ruin, that we are.

He opens his mouth and we quail back from him.

We’re lost.

How can we be in his light?

“Do not be afraid.”

Worlds stop.

Sounds fall.

All stills.

Do not be afraid? He of pure light tells darkness not to be afraid?

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Worlds rejoice.

Sounds rise.

All is in peace.

True goodness says, “Do not be afraid.”

Grace, Grace!

We have found our hiding place where we are free, accepted, clean, and loved.

“Do not be afraid.”

With these words, we can turn and love washed monsters because we are washed monsters, fellow beloved of the good King.

-Abby Jones: inspired by Pastor Jarret Downs’ sermons on Luke 5

Sunday Thoughts: Ordinary People

stratforduponavon-bilboquote

(found on Google)

What is one of the must unsung things we as believers can do to help our congregations, our church family, our own pursuits of holiness?

Faithfully attend every service held in our local body.

Look! It’s so un-shiny, it’s so un-glitzy, it’s so . . . so . . . so boring.

Being there Sunday in, and Sunday out, on time, focused, in your pew, every week.

Where is the glamor? The excitement? The passion!?

Something inside us wants it to be more. We want to see!

Granted, there are some bigger and more obvious ways you can serve and encourage your church, but this is the best place to start. Start with the quiet and ordinary. Isn’t it funny how God always calls us to self-denial? We want something big and bold and he gives us something quiet and ordinary.

(From Google)

(found on Google)

Think about it. Faithful attendance:

First, it encourages your pastors. They’ve worked diligently all week to be ready to preach to you because they care about your soul. Have you ever thought about how discouraging it is to them when you don’t come, or you come in late, or you get up and down over and over? They are the messenger of Christ with a word from the Lord and you over slept?

Second, think about the other members. If so and so with five kids can get there, why not you? If so and so who is sick or over worked, or old got there, why not you? And how discouraging is it to your church when you decide not to make attendance a priority? Think how it might tempt others who are already struggling with faithful attendance.

You can encourage the whole body just by being there, not to mention feed your own soul!

Third, think about the outside world and the message it sends when you give up on all the ‘Sunday’ stuff to be at church. This sends a stronger message of your walk than all the tracks or evangelism you could ever participate in.

All that, and it’s so easy, so ordinary, so boring: be at church every Sunday, every Wednesday, faithfully.

We live in a world trying to divest itself of the ordinary. In doing so, it misses the beauty and power of living a quiet, ordinary life. Don’t listen to the lies. Be content and even joyful about being ordinary.

(found on Google)

(found on Google)

Sunday Thoughts: God’s Love

We're on a ship!

He loves me!

 

 

Using my husband, the Lord has graciously taught me the value of systematic theology and sound, solid doctrine.

It’s not like I didn’t know before that theology and doctrine were important. I did. But I kept theology in one hand and practical application in another as if the two were totally different things that never touched each other. It’s an easy thing for the modern Christian to fall into, even one raised in the Reformed faith.

Over the last three years, the Lord has shown me the practical benefits, personally and corporately, of sound theology.

During this process, one of the greatest things I’ve learned is that the greater God is, the greater our salvation! The more we grasp and hold to the creature/Creator difference, the more powerful, gracious, and merciful our salvation is. Praise God that He would save me!

Facebook-20151008-090055

Pastor Pascal Denault

This same truth struck me a few Sundays ago when Pascal Denault preached for us after our SBFC-SW: God didn’t save us because He needed us. He saved us because He loved us!

What a powerful thought! What a harbinger of hope!

Think about all that Christ endured in this life only to die a torturous death, but then you see He did that out of love for me and His church, oh my heart! Here is beauty! We, the church, the chosen bride of Christ, are loved by Him that much! Not because He was incomplete without us. No, because He loves us. Oh how great God is! How great is salvation when it is all of grace! How great is this love!

He didn’t need me! He loved me!

We sell our salvation cheap when we think we are saved because God needed us somehow. It lessens God and glorifies man. It’s all about me. It’s all about me being something. It steals glory from God and leaves room for my pride. And, perish the thought, if He ever doesn’t need me anymore, or a better me comes along, I’m lost. What slavery!

I don’t want my husband to keep me around only cause he needs his socks cleaned or his meals cooked. I want him to love me outside of my abilities. I’m sick and can’t do much. One day, I’ll get old and be able to do less. If he only wants me for what I do for him, then I’m sunk. But, if he loves me, cooking and cleaning because a joy and no longer a burden. Old age can be faced with less fear because I know he loves me. He won’t abandon me when the road is dark, because he loves me.

The same is true of the Christian walk. If I obey out of fear that God will stop needing me, I don’t love Him. I’m only thinking about me. But If I obey not to earn God’s love, but because of it, than I am free from fear. I’m free to obey without worrying about losing my salvation. I did nothing to earn it. It is safely held in the sovereign, impassible hands of our mighty God.

Do you see how sound theology is infinitely practical?

 

 

Sunday Thoughts: Why I’m Not a Roman Catholic

Crucifixion_by_Josse_Lieferinxe_3

“It is finished.”

Those three words, fleshed out by other scriptures like those found in Hebrews, are why I’m a Reformed Baptist as opposed to a Roman Catholic.  I believe that the scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is humble and simple.  The glory of the salvation of sinners is all of Christ and none of us.

I don’t practice, nor will I ever practice Lent, confessions to a priest, mass, have a priest, or wear a crucifix.  Why?

“It is finished.”

All.  100%.  Every bit of the work that needed to be done for the salvation of the church has been done.  Christ is no longer on the cross.  He is no longer in the tomb.  He is SEATED at the right hand of God.

To understand why this is so important you have to be willing to stomach a little gore, and even if you can’t, you need to.  When God chose out a people, the Israelites, He set up a system of sacrifices.  They were required to lay their hand on the head of an animal as a symbol of it taking their sins upon itself.  Then, the animal was slaughtered, disemboweled, and dismembered.  Blood had to be spilled by an innocent creature to cover sin.  We see this in Genesis when God Himself took an animal skin to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness after they sinned.  We see this in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, and we see it in Christ’s crucifixion.  Sin requires blood.  Just imagine the sheer number of animals that gave up their innocent lives in the Old Testament era.  Thousands.  Over and over and over.

Hebrews 9: 19-26:

18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

What does this mean?  It didn’t work.  The blood of animals didn’t take away sin or they would have slaughter only one animal.  If it had worked, Christ wouldn’t have had to come and die.

Not only that, but look at the rules set in place to enter the presence of God.  Have we forgotten He is holy???  Guess who got to go into His presence? One man.  One man, once a year.  That was it.  A huge, heavy veil hung between the priests and the place where God was.  Even more space was between the priest and the people.  And, an even bigger space was between where God was and women.

But Christ!  Christ came, the better Prophet, the better Priest, and the better King.  He came, lived a holy life that we are incapable of living, humbly closed his mouth when falsely accused, died on a Roman cross, rose again and by death conquered death, entered not the earthly Holy of Holies behind the veil, but heaven itself where He was accepted by the Father.  And he SAT down.  One sacrifice, for all time, for His people.  He ripped the veil in two and opened the way for me, a woman, to come to God, through His blood.

Hebrews 10:11-18:

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Are we so quick to put veils back up between us and God?  Are we so quick to demand that we play a part in our salvation when Christ opened up the path to heaven?  Why do we run to the shadows when we have been given the light?

We are no longer required to do these things!  Our sins are forgotten.  Why should we repeat them to an earthly priest?  Was Christ’s blood not enough that we are required to do penance?  Is the blood of the Son of God that weak?  Aren’t we freed from the burdens of the law?  Why would we make new laws for ourselves?

It is finished!

Christ paid the price and asked us, his beloved church, to believe in Him.  He didn’t hand us a long list of do’s and don’ts. He told us to love one another.  Instead of abstaining from Facebook for a month, try loving the person sitting on the pew next to you!  We aren’t holier because we abstain or indulge!  We are called to love our church family.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

I’m amazed at how quickly we Protestants are willing to cave to the pressure to add rules or suggestions to the Scriptures that Christ hasn’t given.  We fought and bled for this truth, are we so fat and lazy we now willingly give it up just a few generations later?  I’m ashamed so many Protestants are unaware of why we don’t practice Lent.  It is finished, people.  The work is done.  Christ is sufficient.  He left nothing undone.  The few things Christ has called us to do – love our church family, develop the fruit of the Spirit, become more like Him – flow from our love of Him.  And, they are hard enough without adding burdens to your load that He never gave us.

What we don’t like about what Christ has given us is that these things start in the mind and heart of the believer and work out in our small local churches.  They aren’t real visible.  They don’t go viral.  The world doesn’t see them.  It’s work and it’s a daily, moment by moment, battle.  No one gets to really see if you’re being holy or not.  I think this is where we slip up.  We constantly want to have a hand in our salvation and our sanctification.  But biblical salvation is simple, not grand.  Its glory resides in a place beyond death.  That humility is so hard for us.  We want the glory here and now on this earth.  Resist the call of the flesh.  Resist the desire to add to your salvation.

Galatians 3: 1 – 9:

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

My Christ, who paid for my sin, isn’t still on a tree.  He rose again!  He isn’t wringing His hands worried about who is and isn’t being saved.  He reigns now, knowing and preserving His people, His bride.  My job is to serve my church starting with the church member I live with and going out from there.  I’ll never wear a crucifix because Christ isn’t there.  I have pastors and teachers, not priests.  I have only One great High Priest who did His job one time and it is finished.

John 8: 31 – 32

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Sunday Thoughts: Visiting the Sick

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For the last week of April through the first week of May, I was sick. Sick for two weeks! Yuck. The first week, I mainly felt gross and had normal cold symptoms. I laid on the couch and watched Band of Brothers, Transporter 1, Safe, LA Confidential, Rambo 4, Hobbit 1 & 2, and Lord of the Rings. The second week, I was able to do a little writing and the cold symptoms abated, but I felt exhausted. Putting on a load of wash required resting for a few hours afterwards.

I tend to be an active person. I get up at 5AM and go until about 7PM. Between keeping up the house, my writing, and my far more important church and family, I rarely have a day to just sit and be. I like it this way. I don’t want to spend my life sitting and being. I want to serve and do. Being sick for two weeks required many reminders to let my body rest and heal at its own pace. It required trust in God’s providence and calm. I hope I learned from this experience how to better love others who are sick. In our own church, we have several people who have battled illness for years, not just days and weeks. We have fellow saints who know, barring accidents, what’s going to bring them face to face with the Lord someday in the future. How can I better serve shut-ins, those struggling with long-term illnesses, or those who just caught what’s going around? Here are the things I noticed while I was sick.

FALLING-IN-REVERSE-Framed-Quote-604

  • Communication: I had so many text and Facebook comments to encourage me to rest, to let me know I was missed, and reminding me to trust the Lord. Communication helps the person whose world is suddenly reduced to a room by reminding them of the bigger world outside, the place they hold in your lives, and your desire to have them back. It lifts the spirit and the morale. Often I was too sick to take phone calls—never knew how much energy that required—or have visitors who weren’t related to me, but thank goodness for Facebook and texting. This does require the sick person being at least slightly open about being sick. You can’t hide away and then be upset when no one can find you.
    I’m renewed in my determination, after being sick, to not lose track of my own church family members who are struggling with sickness. Some of them can’t come to church. We need to notice that and do what we can to remind them they are still part of our body. Send a note. Send flowers. Send a text. For those of us afflicted with lighter health issues, it’s important to notice when a member is gone. We have moms who don’t make it to church for weeks due to a rampaging cold or stomach flu. Text them. Facebook them. Remind them that this is a season.
  • Empathy: As a writer, I tend to analyze and explore every experience I have, or that you have, so I can increase my character realism. Being shut up for two weeks gave me new insight into the life of those who are shut up all the time and renewed my empathy for them. It reminded me to pray for them. To pray they don’t listen to the lies of their heart and the Devil and become bitter. It’s easy to do. From my window, I could see my sisters getting together to take a walk through our neighborhood. I had to swallow a hint of bitterness and selfishness. How dare they get together without me??? (As if we can only get together when I’m around.) Watching people do things you can’t, or finding out that life had to go on even though you weren’t there to be in it can be very hard, even when you’re thinking logically through the situation. Being sick helped me glimpse this danger, which will help me pray for those who are sick.
  • Visiting the Sick: I don’t know about you, but I tend to stay away from sick people . . .they’re sick. Or, I don’t think about visiting someone who is sick. I think about texting them, but I don’t think about visiting them. Part of this stems from being a bit of a loner. When I’m sick, I tend to want everyone to go away. But, even then, a visit from my moms or sisters for just a second or two can really lift my spirits. This obviously has to be balanced with how much the sick person can handle, but a visit can really make a difference. A drawing from my nephew and a gift box from my sister made my whole week. We are instructed to visit the sick in the Scriptures. Christ spent a fair amount of His time with the sick. This is an example we should follow. A visit doesn’t have to be in person, it can be a simple note just saying the person is missed.

36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ – Matthew 25:36

index

Being sick for a few weeks reminded me of our church members who are sick even now. I think about Sherman, Mark, Delbert, my Dad, and others. I think about my own Grandma and Aunt Vi who, due to age, aren’t able to make it to church as often as they like, or ever. I’m convicted. I go about many of my days without thinking about them, praying for them, or finding some way to visit them. There are people who have struggled with major health issues in our church, some of which, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t even really notice. I want to notice. I want to visit. I want to let them know they’re loved and missed. This was done for me. I want to do it for others.

Being sick for a few weeks reminded me of the joy of being visited, the joy of being missed, the joy of being in a church family. It convicted me of the ways I don’t make time for others who are sick in my church family. It reminded me to that my health is not promised to me, but God’s goodness is.

I’m very thankful for Christ’s gentle leading and I hope I can hold onto the frustration I felt at being in this room, trapped on the couch by my own body, so that I can better love and serve my fellow pilgrims.

blessings-for-pinterest-330x247If you would like to read a couple of blogs written by people who deal with chronic illness, or who are  caregivers, I can suggest two, written by a mother and daughter I love very much.

http://strokemanswoman.wordpress.com/

http://likeabedofrest.wordpress.com/

Sunday Thoughts: The Seven Deadly Sins

Any chance I have to be a complete geek I'm going to take. Full Metal Alchemists is one of my favorite animes of all time!

Any chance I have to be a complete geek I’m going to take. Full Metal Alchemists is one of my favorite animes of all time!

Our modern culture seems to have forgotten that Lust is one of the seven deadly sins. We’re all still pretty agreed on Greed, Wrath, and Gluttony. Sloth, Pride, and Envy seem tolerated as long as they don’t get out of hand. But Lust is fully accepted. It’s gone from deadly to everyone does it so it must just be a natural working of our chemical make-up, right?

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” (Awww, the oft missed wisdom of parents.)

I noticed this the other day while I was listening to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Gaiman gave a broad description of the city of London going on about its everyday life. He threw lust in there alongside paying the bills and grocery shopping. He set it on the same level as those mundane, every day activities.

If anyone could make me set my pen down and stop writing, it would be Neil Gaiman. His books are so beautiful it hurts. The descriptions are vivid and unique. The characters are both down to earth and fantastical. His stories are full of whispered hints of past fairy tales, past stories, shared culture. They are rich, engaging, and masterfully detailed. And yet. Yet, I’m constantly frustrated by my inability to share them without caveats. He always has something inappropriate or sinful in them.

It’s not that a book is only good if it doesn’t have sin. Quite the opposite. We need sin in our stories or we have no salvation. We need death or we have no resurrection. But so many stories, Gaiman included, don’t show the consequences of sin. They might show the consequences of some sin in the anti-hero, or the villain, or as conflict, but it’s never treated as sin. Rarely, and growing more rare, do the characters see their sin, their need for salvation and repentance. Half, or more, of the 10 commandments are treated as guidelines and suggestions, if not just completely ignored.

You can listen to the BBC production, or Gaiman reading it himself. I suggest both!

You can listen to the BBC production, or Gaiman reading it himself. I suggest both!

Characters face the consequences of bad decisions but rarely for their lust. It’s just treated like, “well, everyone does it, what are you gonna do.” Shrug shoulders. I have a thought! We could fight it. We could show the fact that lust leads to death just as surely as gluttony does. We could stop pretending teen pregnancy, rampant abortion, lack of marriage vow holding, and a whole slew of other problems don’t exist as a consequence of lust. We could open our eyes and see the price of sin is death.

But, that is a supernatural work. It requires the work of the Holy Spirit. Dead men can’t smell their own stink.

Thus, I will hold my pen and not throw it down in awe of the gift God gave another man. I will keep writing so that not all the stories treat lust like it’s the equivalent of a stomach rumble. And I will keep copying—in the simple way a child draws stick figures as he watches his father paint—my heavenly Father by saving sinners from their sin. This is what I will aim to write. And I will do it as beautifully as I can using the gift given to me.

I will also keep reading Neil Gaiman because he sparks meditation on the grace of God by showing me how lost I am without that blessed blood shed for me.