The Long Walk Home by Matt Carter–Book Review

Journey along with the prodigal son, as Matt Carter leads you home, after some detours into Ecclesiastes, Hebrews, 2 Samuel and more.   His purpose is to expose the lie told by Satan and our culture, the same lie believed by the prodigal son.

“… there is a better life out there that I am completely missing out on by staying here in this place , being an obedient son or daughter of God…”

According to Carter, people are walking away from the church for the following reasons:

  1. Many young people have not made the faith they grew up in their own
  2.  The allure of the world
  3. The shame of past or current sin
  4.  Christians have often failed to become truly committed disciples

Like the prodigal, when we wander off in search of those worldly pleasures that call us we find that:

“… sin is a dead-end road, with the final destination being the stinking mud of a pigpen.”

We all do this at times, and the author gives examples from his own life. Returning to the father requires recognition of our sin and its’ failure to satisfy the deepest longings of the heart.  The lesson of the prodigal is this:  there are always consequences for our sins but

“one of them will never be a heavenly Father who says, ‘I’m done loving you.'”

VERDICT:  True, but predictable.  I give it 4 stars.  I appreciated the fact that the author did not gloss over the consequences of sin, and our need to recognize it and repent.

If you would like to purchase this book follow the link below:

The Long Walk Home

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

What is Sin?

I’ve heard sin described in different ways.  Obviously, whenever we disobey one of God’s laws, we sin. Sin has been called “missing the mark.”  The literal meaning of the Latin word for sin is “curved in on itself.” So sin is being self-centered, considering only our own wants and needs.  In a recent sermon, my husband described sin as our “condition.”  That’s a bit different, but I liked it.  Because of the original sin that we’re born with, sin is simply our condition, no different from any other physical disease or abnormality we deal with.

For example, I have slightly high blood sugar.  That is my “condition.”  Last year I took a Prevent Diabetes class, hoping to control it.  For an entire year I learned about what I could do.  I lost weight, added exercise to my daily routine and began to eat healthier foods.  I was convinced that my hard work would have the results I wanted — lower blood sugar!  Unfortunately my recent tests revealed that my blood sugar levels remained the same.  My efforts did have some effects — it is certainly better for me to weigh less, exercise and eat a healthier diet–but they couldn’t change my underlying condition.  It is evidently hereditary and I can only hope to hold it in check.  I’ll never get rid of it.

The same is true of sin.  It’s part of our DNA.  Sinners are simply what we are.  We can study the Bible, pray and attend worship services.  We can do good deeds and serve others.  All of these things will make us healthier spiritually, and maybe even physically…. but, will they change our condition?  No.  We’ll still be sinners, no matter how hard we try.  We just can’t be saved on our own, and we can’t look down on other sinners, because we’re all in the same fix.

So, what is the solution?  Well, admit our sin and our helplessness to change it.  Give thanks that we have a Savior and so we don’t have to take care of the “sin condition” on our own.  Then in thanks and gratitude, do those healthy, spiritual things that will lessen the effects of our sinful natures;  things that will help us and help others.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-15

For further discussion on sin, you can go to these posts:

Freedom from Tyranny + Freedom from Sin

Saints and Sinners

Saint and Sinner? Really?

Who Are We Really?

I’ve found myself thinking about this blog post and feeling that I would like to avoid writing it.  ( I’m preparing a Sunday School lesson on Jonah, the prophet who tried to run away from God, and boy, can I identify).  However, the Holy Spirit keeps nudging me to put it out there, so here goes.

The Hunger Games

Have you read the book, or watched the movie,  The Hunger Games?  I bet almost everyone has.  It’s the story of a young girl, Katniss Everdeen, who through her abilities and virtue, triumphs over an evil government, and becomes a symbol of freedom that motivates others. It’s a story we all want to identify with, especially here in America.  That’s how we see ourselves, right? The land of the brave and the free?  Individualists who broke away from the control of England to establish a country where liberty is  guaranteed and everyone has an opportunity to work hard and succeed.  Hunger Games fits well with the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we came to exist as a nation.  I suppose that’s okay as far as it goes.

Unfortunately what struck me, particularly when I saw the movie, was the thought that we’re not Katniss, we’re the people in the capital;  the people who are living an extravagant, gluttonous lifestyle, while outside our borders people starve.  Look up the statistics.  Did you know that 16% of the worlds’ population (this is pretty much the U.S., Europe and Japan) consume 80% of the natural resources?  Americans comprise 4% of the world population, but operate 1/3 of its’ cars and use 1/4 of its’ energy.

You may tell yourself that at least we’re not drafting people to compete in a murderous game for our entertainment.  Think again.  We haven’t quite gotten to that level, but we’re more than willing to view many “reality” shows that encourage conflict, lust and greed for our enjoyment.

Here’s the naked truth.  We live in the capital and we are those evil people.  We have no hope of isolating ourselves from sin, our own and that of society.  We don’t need a Katniss;  we need a savior.  Come Lord Jesus.

 

 

Remember the Gospel

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:1-2

My husband says every good Lutheran sermon must contain both law and gospel:  law so we recognize that we are sinners and the gospel message that through Christ’s atonement we are saved.

In our daily world, it’s easy to forget both of those things.  Sin has become a bad word.  We’re told it’s not healthy to feel guilt.  We simply “made a mistake” or “used poor judgement.”  It’s easy to make excuses for our behavior that lessen our responsibility.  It’s easy to deny our faults and blame somebody else.  That goes as far back as Adam, remember?  He told God, “the woman you gave me, caused me to sin.”

But we’re made for God and without Him we feel incomplete, so no matter how hard we try, guilt creeps in.  We doubt and despair.  We try to feel good about ourselves, but the devil continually whispers to us that we’ll never be acceptable.

There’s only one cure:  go to church, confess your sins really are sins and really are yours and then hear the gospel.  My husband says that’s simple, too:  Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for me.

Did you confess your sins today?  Did you hear the gospel?  If so, you may be a Lutheran.