My name is Joseph Rapp. I am the youngest of six children raised by two loving and faithful parents. My mother would tell you that I am one of the moodier children, and I would have to agree. But I would give the honorable title of “weirdest” to one of the other five, unless they dissent.
The impetus for starting this blog began when I was told, “Someone needs to read what you write.” And then the thought hit me: What’s the point of writing if no one’s reading? My goal for this blog is to write words that build, fit the occasion, and give grace to those who read. (Ephesians 4:29) And hopefully, as I do that, the LORD will bless the work and sharpen my hands to write better and better. We’ll see how the LORD leads. Thanks for reading! It means a lot. I would also like to thank all of those writers that have an influence on my life. Writers like C.S. Lewis, N.D. Wilson, and John C. Lennox inspire me to live faithfully.
About the Title
In Proverbs 24:15-16, Solomon writes, “Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
From my experience (all two decades of it) it seems that throughout our lives we fall a lot. Sometimes we fall physically, but I think more often we fall mentally or spiritually. When the Bible speaks of the righteous falling seven times, I don’t think this is referring to the righteous falling away from their faith in God, but rather falling into hardship or various sins. We fall into sin when we grow angry with our brothers and sisters, or become anxious about the future. We fall into sin when we fail to “take every thought captive.” There are other sins grievous in God’s eyes as sexual immorality and blasphemy. Yet, in another sense, the righteous falls through persecution and other perils or we fall ill or exhausted during the daily struggles of our life. Thus, we can fall in many ways, and unless we are falling into sin, it is no sin to fall.
Yet in whatever way the righteous falls, by the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins and who is the perfect example of love and humility, enables us to rise again. We rise again when we repent. We rise again when our enemies can no longer stand. We rise again as we fulfill our calling as God’s sons and daughters. And one day, we will rise again to new life and eternity with God. So no matter how much we stumble and fall, the life of a Christian is that of resurrection.
Solomon goes on to say “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” I don’t think that this verse is saying we should not have been glad when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies. However, it is telling us to not be glad of heart when our neighbors, who may fiercely hate us, come to poverty or keep falling deeper into sin. In contrast, it would seem that we are to mourn when we see our neighbors in such a state, and our dutiful response should be that of prayer for our neighbors. As Solomon declared earlier in the chapter, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”
That verse goes right along with our calling as Christians to be a light to the world – to be “A city set on a hill . . . .” This is why I found it fitting to put a picture of a city on the front page of the blog. The city is a reminder to us of what we are – a city set upon a hill called to bring the news of God’s salvation to the world. The city is also a reminder to us of how much work we have yet to do. Yet may we, as Christ, endure suffering “for the joy” set before us. May we, as Paul, forget “what lies behind” and strain “forward to what lies ahead.” May we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
As Christians, we should expect daily resurrection in our lives, seek it with all diligence, and spread the news of God’s love to others. And as the scriptures promise throughout, God will raise us up and provide us our daily bread. As David writes in Psalm 37, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” This is the peace that we know as Christians. May the whole world come to know it also.
About the Previous Title (Held in His Holy Hands)
You and I have been blown on by the Almighty God, and from that moment onward we have been held in His hands, and nothing will loosen the tender grasp of our Father’s firm hand holding our lives. Some may ignore the message of God’s love, refusing to believe that he is “righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17) But if we’ve already told them the truth, then let them continue on the easy path to death. We’re called to test hearts. If they listen, we must water them. If they cover their ears, then we must stop throwing pearls at them, and shake their dust off our feet.
Whether we choose life or death (choose life), we are still held in God’s hands. These are the hands that we nailed to the cross. His is the side that we thrust a sword through. Yet He endured the cross for us so that we might know His love. So what do we do now? We’re to show ourselves faithful to Him and sacrifice our own lives to spread His love to every point in the area of this globe. And while we’re doing this, we mustn’t forget that this miraculous sphere is spinning in His holy hands. That is a reason to rejoice.