"Do you understand what you are reading?"

The Thanksgiving week is nearing its end, it was a good week. I learned that the words “abnormal growth”, as frightening as they sound is much better than the word “cancer”. My latest novel, “Broken Crosses” went live on Thanksgiving Day. There is a link on the right side of this page if you would like to check it out. (Please do!)
The good news from the doctor combined with the completion of ‘Broken Crosses” has lightened the burden I bear considerably. I have been slack in my blogging, using the previously unknown diagnosis and the around the clock occupation of my thoughts along with the final edits of the book as excuses not to write. So now I have exhausted all excuses and reentered the blogosphere.
My granddaughter asked me “Why are you always writing Grandpa?” I don’t recall the answer I gave this inquisitive six year old, but her question did make me ask my own—“Why do I write?” The answer is complex; first I enjoy writing. I have been writing for many years now, it was only in the last six or seven that I gained the courage to share my thoughts with a reader. Second, because of my faith in God; I believe that when Christ said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” he was not just speaking to the disciples that sat around the table. His words were recorded for every believer to read and obey.
Now not all believers will “preach”, but all believers must be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks about the hope that is within. The hope that is within is the gospel. Not all believers will or can “go into all the world”, but the written word of the believer certainly can with 21st century technology. I find it incredible that the words I write tonight can be read anywhere in the world with just the click of a mouse. Now that’s not saying they will be, but I do know this; if I do not write about my faith then no one will ever read about my faith!
I am blessed to be able to teach from the Bible each Sunday at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Consider this an invitation, if you are ever compelled to fill your Sunday mornings with good company and scripture then come join Thee Class at Trinity. My intentions are to combine the time I spend studying and preparing to teach with the demanding time needed to update this blog. There may be some redundancy if you happen to read the blog and sit in the class, but I promise to try and never bore you. It is a simple promise to keep; God’s word is never boring!
Currently we are studying the Book of Acts from the perspective of being an effective witness for Christ. Our study today centered on Phillip and an Ethiopian eunuch. If you would like to read the story you will find it in chapter 8 of Acts. Every week the Lord seems to place a certain verse or passage on my heart even though the study may span an entire chapter. Today was no different. As I studied last week I kept returning to Phillip’s question to the Ethiopian man, “Do you understand what you are reading?” [Acts 8:30] In this case the man was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the greatest place to begin an understanding of who Christ is. As I thought about Philip’s question I began to apply it to all scripture. The Ethiopian could have been reading almost any verse(s) in the Bible and concluded with the same question, “Who is the Christ?” The entire Bible is written about Jesus, by either pointing to Him or telling about Him.
But it is Phillip’s question that began to convict. “Do I understand what I am reading?” Not brain-understanding, but heart-understanding. Let me try to explain. I read the Bible a lot; I receive great enjoyment from reading the Bible and then studying the historians and commentators, men and women much smarter than I, and developing a better understanding of the scriptures and biblical times. Hopefully that leads to brain-understanding.
Heart-understanding on the other hand only comes when I open my life to His word. It is one thing to know scripture, to be able to quote chapter and verse; it is an entirely different thing to live scripture. Satan can quote scripture; I dare say he knows it better than you or I. But his brain-understanding is temporal, one day it will be useless. Brain-understanding makes us smarter; heart-understanding changes our life.
“Do I understand what I am reading?” Phillip had gone first into Samaria and then into the desert of Gaza. He did so because he was following his heart. Phillip’s love for Jesus Christ was so great that he shared the gospel in a land whose people had rejected Jesus and with an Ethiopian man, a foreigner, a man whose race and ethnicity as different from his own. “Do I understand what I am reading?”
Do I possess the boldness, courage and impartiality towards any man or woman to act as a witness for Christ, an ambassador of the gospel? Regardless of race, ethnic background, religious beliefs, social choices of that person?
I do not.
One day I hope to shed the old layers of prejudices that were a part of my old self. I do not struggle with the immaturity of racism, but I am still too quick to judge someone based on their behavior or beliefs. Today there are people that I know and love to whom I cannot witness because of who they are. That is simply wrong.
Thank God that he didn’t judge me first.