Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When I Hit Rock Bottom by Matt Harris

 
When I Hit Rock Bottom

Heading the wrong way down Taylor Avenue,
we sped past the cemetery,
where tombstones protruded from their plots
like pale tongues that prophesied doom:
A ghostly guardrail on the shoulder of Taylor,
positioned as if in a three-point stance,
sacked our four-wheeled quarterback
like a Ray-Lewis-lead Ravens’ defense:
Impact from the back of the front passenger’s seat
halted my momentum and forced me to fumble
my pipe brimming with PCP.
On the wrong side of Taylor Avenue,
beneath a flickering Bic butane,
my Timex still ticking read 2:10 a.m.
I was stoned with a brain that crackled
like a fire log swallowed up by wretched flame.
As warnings to toss my dope sounded in my mind
like those sirens approaching from afar,
I loitered by the wreck, instead,
shackled in the shadows of dependency,
PCP and I had no grounds for divorce,
not even a chance for separation,
such were the bonds of my addiction.
I huddled with the team, as Annapolis
dispatched its team, adorned in badges and blue.
When the jail door slammed shut that night,
I had no idea how long
before it might open again....

Fortunately, the jail door opened the next day; and several months later, the judge threw out my drug charge on a technicality. But for several years after that, as I battled addiction, I still lived in a jail cell: a jail cell of sin and death; a jail cell I finally realized that only Jesus had the key to release me from. This realization came to me from reading Scripture, from people sharing the gospel with me, and from God, who answered the prayers of people who were praying for my salvation. I knew then that I needed God’s Son for the same reason we all do, and that’s because “…the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD” (Romans 6:23).
 
 
 

 
What death ultimately means is to be separated from God for all of eternity in Hell because of our sin. Two thousand years ago, during His earthly ministry, Jesus gave us a glimpse into this place of torment, when He gave an eyewitness account of a man there; a man who begged for one drop of water to cool his tongue; a man who cried out and said, “I am tormented in this flame”; a man who is still there today and will be for all of eternity. That is “the wages of sin,” the destination we all are headed toward without Christ.
 
But because Jesus was fully God and fully Man, and because He loves us, He came to save us from that flame. He accomplished this feat in the first century when He shed His blood on a Roman cross to forgive our sins and reconcile us back to God His Father, from Whom our sin had separated us, and it was then that Jesus’ Father raised Him from the dead. This is the gospel, and this is what it means when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

God promises that if we repent from our sins and believe the gospel, He will give us eternal life, a life beyond the grave. And to repent simply means to be sorry to God for our sins and then turn away from them and ask His Son, Jesus, to forgive us. This is God’s gift to the world; but just like any gift, we must first receive it before it becomes ours. The only sin God won’t forgive is the rejection of His Son, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

I received Jesus as my Savior on December 12, 1982; on that day, I rebounded from rock bottom when Jesus saved me from Hell and gave me His free gift of eternal life, a life beyond the grave. Today is the day of salvation; we may not have tomorrow. So, now, if you would like to receive Jesus as your Savior, the following prayer is a guide to help.

Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and would be lost in Hell without You. Please forgive me for my sins and come into my life. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and that God, Your Father, raised You from the dead. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me Your free gift of eternal life. Amen.

If you get a minute, let me know what you decided. The best way to reach me is through email:

matt@seeingthroughblindness.com


 

Monday, September 5, 2016

From the Age of Rock to the Rock of Ages, by Matt Harris

Jerry Zengler's band, The Lemon Lime,
 opened for Led Zeppelin in 1969.
 
 
 
 
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Jerry Zengler was the lead singer in a popular Maryland rock band called The Lemon Lime. During that time, Jerry’s band was climbing the staircase of Maryland’s rock scene two steps at a time, hearing much applause while playing at such venues as The Hulabaloo and The Jaguar Club. After Jerry won the best lead singer award at a battle of the bands’ contest, featuring over one hundred bands, the pinnacle of his rock career culminated on February 16, 1969. On that Sunday evening, he and The Lemon Lime shared the stage with Led Zeppelin in the old Baltimore Civic Center.

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is arguably one of the best rock songs ever written. Some of its lyrics even wax existential, with such lines as these: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by / But in the long run / There's still time to change the road you're on.” At the same time, however, I doubt if Robert Plant, Zeppelin’s lead singer, intended to express the idea of repentance when he penned those words. But as for Jerry, after having lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for several years, he felt a void that gnawed at his soul like a bull dog chewing on a bone, and realized it was time to change the road he was on. 




Jerry’s detour from that path occurred when a gentleman from a local church knocked on his door one afternoon. Always looking for an opportunity to amuse himself, Jerry opened the door and invited the man inside. When the fellow started to tell Jerry about Jesus, and about how God loved him so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for his sins, Jerry lit up a Marlboro and blew smoke in the man’s face. Undaunted by Jerry’s smokescreen, the man continued,

“But Jesus didn’t stay dead because God, His Father, raised Him from the grave. This is the gospel,” the man declared.

Jerry opened the refrigerator door and reached for a can of Miller Beer, then hesitated and closed the refigerator and sat down at his kitchen table and took a drag from his Marlboro that burned in the ashtray. Only this time, he did not blow smoke in the man’s face. But instead, he listened, as the man quoted these words of Jesus, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
 
“You better leave now, mister” Jerry told the man. “I got better things to do than sitting here all day listening to you.”

“Thank you for your time,” the man said. “Here’s another verse I would like for you to ponder, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death'” (Proverbs 14:12).

Within minutes after the man left, Jerry butted his Marlboro and realized that he needed Jesus. He dashed outside to try and find the man. Spotting the gentleman as he was about to knock on his next door neighbor’s front door, Jerry said,
 
“Hey, mister, I need to get saved.”

The man walked over to Jerry, looked him in the eye, and quoted this verse, “'For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6:23). Do you believe that you are a sinner, young man?”

“Yes sir, that’s a fact,” Jerry said.

“We all are sinners, son,” the man said. “And furthermore it is our sin that separates us from God and ultimately will put us in hell. But Jesus took care of that separation for us on the cross. All we have to do is receive His gift by repenting from our sins, which means to turn away from them, and by believing the gospel, that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us for our sins and that God, His Father, raised Him from the dead. There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. Our only hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Scripture says that ‘Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved' (Romans 10:13). Are you ready, Jerry, to call on His name, the only name under heaven by which a man can be saved?”

“Yes, sir, I want to get saved right now.”

“Then pray with me, Jerry,” the man said, “and ask the Lord to come into your life. Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and would be lost in hell without You. I turn from my sin and ask You to come into my life and forgive me. I believe You died on the cross to save me from my sins and that God Your Father raised You from the dead. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me Your free gift of eternal life. Amen.”

Jerry may have once opened for Led Zeppelin; but for the past 40 years, he has been opening for Jesus Christ. Shortly after Jerry surrendered his life to Jesus, he became a preacher. But not your typical every-Sunday-pulpit-preach-to-the-choir kind of preacher. No. Jerry first preached Jesus in the trenches of prisons throughout Maryland with a jail ministry that he started. For 20 years, he preached a simple message of repentance and Jesus crucified and raised from the dead. Hundreds of inmates responded to that message and surrendered their lives to Jesus, who gave them true freedom and His free gift of eternal life. Jerry never took a nickel for preaching. He supported his family as an iron worker in Baltimore, right down the street from where he once shared the stage with Zeppelin. He believes that since Jesus freely gave the gospel that he also should freely give it. For the past 20 years, he has preached that same message to thousands of truckers at God’s Trucking Ministry in Jessup, Maryland. Jerry likes to kid around with the truckers and say, “I know many of you have been pulled over by the police and given a ticket. Well, today God has pulled you over and given you a ticket: a ticket to heaven through His Son, Jesus Christ.”   

 


Jerry Zengler may have once opened for Led Zeppelin.
But for the past 40 years, he's been opening for Jesus Christ.

I have known Jerry Zengler for over 30 years. I, too, once lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, even though I never played in a band. When I was a young man, shortly after I surrendered my life to Jesus, I met Jerry at a church one Sunday morning. I was long-haired and visually impaired, an outcast, having recently been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), an incurable eye disease that leads to blindness. But those things didn’t seem to bother Jerry. We became friends, and he soon discovered that I, too, had the gift of evangelism. He took me under his wing and taught me how to articulate the gospel of Jesus and to share His love with the world. And for that, I am eternally grateful.    



"And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last...."

            






 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

American Christianity by Matt Harris


"American Christianity is oxymoronic."
American Christianity is a cocktail,
a smooth blend of Americanism—100 PROOF—
stirred with CHRISTIANITY,
a drink that only leads to thirst,
DILUTING…christ,
a name now offensive except when CURSED!

American Christianity is OXYMORONIC,
like moral majority, a long nap, sweet sin,

HOLY CRAP!

Teeter-Tottering between
FATHER Washington and FATHER God— the Holy Bible
and Bill of Rights—
Ping-Ponging its allegiances
between the flag and the cross, FLAPPING
between the STARS and the stripes and the STRIPES
that RIPPLED across the back of Christ for US—
sharp MOTTOES blaring like a dagger’s thrust:

“ONE NATION UNDER GOD! IN GOD WE TRUST!”

Which God is THAT?

That All Seeing Eye of Providence, perhaps,
that peers from the apex of the PYRAMID—
stamped on the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR—
Osiris’ OMINOUS stare
constructed by Freemasonry’s COMPASS and SQUARE?

THAT AIN’T JESUS!

American Christianity seeks political SAVIORS,
collecting political FAVORS. It demonizes the Left
while selling its soul to the Right. Yet both the LEFT
and the RIGHT are two arms attached
to the same CORPSE, mummified,
like King Tut,
FROZEN in DECOMPOSITION on CAPITOL HILL,
a Hill now preferred over CALVARY’S HILL.

American Christianity Desires To Make
DISCIPLES of DEMOCRACY, opening its Bible,
the Constitution, walking the Party Line

ALWAYS ARGUING

rather than letting the Light of Jesus SHINE,
and in the name of LIBERTY hides
in a Falwellian foxhole
saving their own life rather than losing it
FOR CHRIST’S SAKE
a PISTOL in one hand and SCRIPTURE in the other,
instead of standing on SIDEWALKS with Bibles opened—
protected by the SWORD of the SPIRIT—
proclaiming the gospel of CHRIST to ALL who will hear it!

It’s too LATE nationally for us to make amends,
I’ve read the SCRIPT. This play ends in a CRYPT.
Christianity is about JESUS. America’s god is not.
And that’s WHY we’ve now ENTERED into the days of LOT.


Over thirty years ago I realized that I needed Jesus for the same reason we all do and that’s because “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:35). We die because of sin. And because we all have sinned, we all die. And what death ultimately means is to be separated from God forever in hell. But because Jesus was fully God and fully Man, and because He loves us, He destroyed death by His resurrection from the dead—after He died on the cross to save us from our sins. This is the gospel. And if we repent from our sins, and believe the gospel, God promises to give us eternal life. And to repent simply means to be sorry to God for our sins, and then turn away from them, and ask His Son, Jesus, to come into our life and forgive us. If you would like to receive God’s free gift of eternal life, then pray this simple prayer by faith and mean it in your heart.

Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and would be lost in hell without You. I turn from my sin and ask for your forgiveness. Please come into my life and save me. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and that God, Your Father, raised You from the dead. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me Your free gift of eternal life. Amen!