I received my first Bible on my 18th Birthday as a gift from my mother. I had been going to church for 2 months and working with a strong disciple of Christ on the sports fields of Vashon High School by the name of Paul Guintoli. I was deeply convicted when I went to the church service and read the words in the pew Bible that spoke against idolatry, lies, deceit and immorality but affirmed sacrifice, faith and life after death. I had watched Paul read from his Inductive Study Bible and the copious notes he took in the margins. He even used colored pencils to assist in his study. I told my mom, “Get me Paul’s Bible,” because I wanted the devotion I saw lived out by him.
One spring afternoon he challenged me as we were preparing the ball field. He asked me to read Romans 12 so we could talk it through the following day. I read it and was impressed with the image of “heaping burning coals on your enemies head” (vs. 19). I felt satisfied reading it through once and returned to the ball field confident in what I had gleaned. I shared my nugget with Paul, he smiled and then proceeded to recite Romans 12 by memory. He got stuck at verse 15. I was already impressed but his face took on a pained visage. Paul was raised in a traditional Catholic family but had not been introduced to Jesus as his Savior and Master until he was in his early 40’s. Paul made up for lost time, consuming the Scriptures, immersing himself in a church family and laboring with his hands. As that pained expression filled his face he simply said, “Kaj, I have read and processed the Scripture so often forgive me for not having it deposited in my heart.” Even though I was only an 18-year-old, unsaved Vashonite, I was marked from that day with a picture of what I desired in the Lord. I wanted to know His Word like Paul knew it. I wanted to read it, take notes in the margins to trap the Word in my memory and most of all- I wanted it to flow out of me like it did from this groundskeeper on Vashon.
Shortly after this encounter, I was saved. I graduated from Vashon and moved on to the Pacific Lutheran University campus and found disciples that also loved God’s Word. We set out to know His Word, let it transform us and live as the righteous Biblical figures lived. Men like Gavin Brem, Jon Phelps, Brad Busick, Scott Sailer and Mark Mariani helped shape the Word as a priority for me. When people promoted carnal Christianity, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 confronted them; when denial of miracles surfaced Hebrews 13:8 silenced arguments and when confusion came over End Times or Creation- His Word was refreshingly clear. We were living epistles on that dark campus and the Scriptures were a banner over us. When Satan tested Jesus in Luke 4, he relied solely on the Scriptures by repeating the simple phrase, “It is written.” At Seattle Foursquare Church we apply the affirmation of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness: so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Questions for the Soul:
Can you live in the admonition of Paul to his spiritual son and be “adequate + equipped for every good work”?
Can you, when temptation comes, repeat as Jesus did, “It is written?”
Make Paul Guintoli’s model of depositing the Word in his heart a lifestyle choice for you and those you disciple. Read, write and then recite.