“False Requiem?”

This is #021 of “The Lloyd Servant Show.” We pick up the story shortly after the funeral for Miss Betsy Mae Butler. You may remember that she had been mysteriously run over by a truck, signed a huge insurance policy with Bradley Martin, “Lloyd Servant, Your Servant Of The Lloyd,” as the beneficiary, held captive in an abandoned warehouse, and then apparently rescued by Miss Gladys Louise Brickle.

Yet someone does seem to have died here! What’s going on? Something smells worse than fishy! Worse than rotten! Worse than…well, you get the picture! More to follow soon!

Just a sidenote really, though it’s a rather long sidenote…I had started on this comic strip installment yesterday morning, but held off on it because it wasn’t complete in my mind. I didn’t know what to say about the “my personal savior” part. I wanted Helena Montgomery to voice some of what we may be fearful of hearing when we share our faith with others, but I wasn’t sure if this character was right or wrong.

I know that we often hear this phrase “my personal savior” in some churches, and I even did some research yesterday on the history of this phrase. It’s much newer than I imagined. I know at some funerals there will be words similar to, “If you are unsure of your eternal destiny, won’t you consider asking Jesus into your heart and making Him your personal savior before it’s too late?”

I’m still not completely sure what to say about the “my personal savior” part. Because I’ve heard that phrase so many times, I’m probably hearing it as a “Church Insider” rather than a “Church Outsider.” The more I question it, the more I feel like I need different words because maybe those words don’t work any more for me. So as evil as the character Helena Montgomery may be…perhaps she is on to something here?

Here’s what I mean…yesterday afternoon, I went to a Requiem Eucharist. It was for someone who I didn’t know at church who had lived with cancer for 5 years and still served as a key layperson during all of that time. Yet not knowing her gave me a greater opportunity to really listen to what was said. I never heard “Mary always had Jesus as her personal savior.” Instead I heard again and again “Mary knew that she belonged to Jesus.”

Maybe the wording is just a subtle difference to some, but for me, the more I think about it the greater the difference becomes.

Does Jesus belong to us? Do we belong to Jesus? Does this relationship depend on me and my decisions which are likely to be unsteady and lack commitment? Does this relationship depend on Jesus and His steadfastness?

I hope to be able to explore this more through other comic strips very soon. For now, I’m pondering this…

How will my journey be if, like Mary, I focus on “I belong to Jesus”?

Select this handy link to can catch up on the previous comic strips.

“The events depicted in this comic strip are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.”

“How Shameful To Have No Shame!”

This is the kind of comic strip that prompts questions like, “Are you serious?!? It’s shameful to have no shame?!? Shame make you a better Christian?!? Do you believe this junk?!?” But really that’s sort of the purpose of this kind of comic strip. It says the exact opposite of what I believe…and in an extreme way…helps me examine myself. It’s sort of like asking myself, “If you think this is so ridiculously false, why are you acting like it’s true? Why are you hoarding away shameful secrets from God?”

Shame can cause a barrier that keeps a person from reaching out towards God even though shame never keeps God from reaching out towards a person. Shame finds a great deal of power in secrets. Shame haunts us with the question “What will other people say?”

Shame can come from wrong decisions we’ve made but it can also be imposed upon us through no decision of our own. (For example, the pregnancy in this comic strip might have come about because of teenage love, but it could have also been the result of rape. We don’t know. We only know what Margie, “Flamethrower Mommy,” assumes. Don’t you really just want to tell her to mind her own business?!?)

This is one of the things I most dislike about shame. It can make us feel like there is something for which we need to repent when actually we didn’t do anything wrong. Something wrong was done to us. But we still feel shame. We don’t know what to do or what to pray. 

I had a tough time choosing a Bible verse for today for that very reason. Sometimes we can feel a huge amount of guilt and shame when the truth is that we did nothing wrong.

Finally, my heart settled on this verse. It is a promise that doesn’t come to mind very often because it hinges on “if we ask any thing according to his will.” I’m not always sure of what His will for me is, but I know for a fact His will is for all of us to live our lives free from shame, so it’s a promise to hold fast in our hearts.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)

When we find our voice and speak to Our Heavenly Father about the shame that we are feeling, His Holy Spirit will direct our prayers. Finding your voice, talking to God, letting His Holy Spirit guide you is, I believe, the best way to deal with either type of shame, and it prevents hoarding away secrets!



“First Things First”

Before anything else, I guess I should give a deep and sincere “Thank You” to all of my readers who have been waiting patiently for the list titled “How To Get A Dinosaur Off Of Your Grandma’s Sofa.” So “Thank You!” and be assured, I will not rest until there are no dinosaurs on any sofas anywhere in these United States!

Still, I do want to say that I think Rob is really on to something here.

I had planned to include something in this post about my own “Grandma’s Jesus” as that seemed like a logical way to end this series. That has proved to be almost as difficult as the “Dinosaur and Sofa” list.

One of the things I know is that my grandmother grew up in a very different time. She cooked the best butter beans ever and her fried cornbread was almost perfection. But my grandmother never really found her voice.

I think she tried to make up for this towards the end of her life. She bought several very large Bibles from door-to-door salesmen. They were big and heavy and not for everyday reading. I think that more than anything she wanted the words of forgiveness to be as big in her life as they were on those pages.

For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Luke 8:17 (KJV)

I’ve know people who have lived in fear and condemnation because of secrets. They never found their voice for the wrongs they committed (actual or perceived) or the wrongs done to them. They have lived their whole lives covering up secrets, yet a secret only has power so long as it is hidden.

“Finding Your Voice” is the topic of the next “Voices From The Last Pew.” The story presented is different from my grandmother’s, but it’s like so many stories involving secrets that seem to be retold with each new generation. Hopefully it will help keep the next generation of grandchildren from ever saying, “My grandmother never really found her voice.” (And yes, that does go for grandfathers too! I have my grandfather’s Gospel of John as well. It is pocket-sized and worn.) 

“The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone” (Dialogue Revealed)

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post, so just to “set the stage” a bit…

This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone. The place is here. The time is now. And the journey into the shadows we’re about to watch could be our journey.

Panel One, Upper Left: This is Chuck Abbott, American entrepreneur and coffee drinker. He enjoys musing about days gone by and comparing everything to a business deal. For him, Jesus left and never came back. Jesus had been a salesman, perhaps the greatest salesman ever, standing at the “Deliveries Only” door and knocking, always knocking. But Americans treated Him like a customer and wanted to sell Him something instead.

Panel Two, Upper Right: The scene fades to a nearby beach and two young lovers, Kent and his best girl. They are engrossed in each other, as we would expect. For them, Jesus is like Santa Claus. She may as well say, “Oh, Kent! What would Santa say? Surely he wouldn’t approve!” To which he would similarly reply, “Does Santa kiss you like this?” Funny, we only learn Kent’s name, but then again…

Panel Three, Lower Left: Kent’s best girl is suddenly swept up by the tentacled arm of an invading alien from outer space before we even learn her name. Where’s Kent? Has he been crushed into the sand like a stale cigarette? Who knows? My guess is that he’s gone off to find his second best girl because this one is doomed while she bemoans her fate and wonders why Jesus wasn’t around to protect her. For Kent, Jesus is a good luck charm to attract what he wants. For Kent’s best girl, Jesus is a security guard to keep away what she didn’t want. For the space aliens, Jesus was just another “puny earthling” they ate for breakfast.

Panel Four, Lower Right: In a darkened room, somewhere distant from the mayhem caused by the invading aliens, a mysterious operative discusses plans with an unidentified individual. For them, the circumstances are simply something to be exploited to better their financial situation. Disasters drive people to finally answer the knock of Jesus on the “Deliveries Only” door of their hearts. These two want to make their version of Jesus the one that people are buying.

(Insert commercial for Dazzling Delight Dish Detergent here.)

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, the dialogue used actually told me more about my perceptions of how the world views Jesus than I expected. So how would I answer the question “What do you believe your neighbor thinks about Jesus?” Accurate or not, I probably see most people as holding to some form of Deism where Jesus is real, but remote. He put all of this salvation stuff in place, but now He’s just sitting back and waiting to see how it all turns out. Even if there are invading space aliens, He’s not going to get involved with us, so why should we get involved with Him? This may best be summarized by “Believing isn’t worshipping.” (Hopefully this would go without saying, but just to make sure you understand…I’m not saying that’s how people are, just how I might perceive them to be, and I probably don’t see people as well as I should.)

For me, understanding all of this is important because it showed me some ideas which I may unknowingly carry into a conversation about Real Life Jesus. Those preconceived notions may make it difficult for me to truly listen.

Do you remember this “What if…?” What if I assumed everyone already had a relationship with Jesus? So maybe it’s a one-way relationship and Jesus is the only one actively involved, but it’s still a relationship. What if my goal should not be to start that relationship but instead to help that relationship along? 

Well, here’s another “What if…?” to go with it. What if since everyone already has a relationship with Jesus (whether they realized it or not), I try first to learn what Jesus has already revealed of Himself to them before I try to share what Jesus has revealed of Himself to me? I’m betting I’ll learn something that will help build a connection.

(Scroll closing credits.)

“The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone” (Dialogue Hidden)

Just as a refresher, with this whole concept of “Not My Grandma’s Jesus,” I cycled through some of the Nickel Boy Graphics characters and imagined how they would react to it. These aren’t arranged in any special order other than what I thought would look good visually. These are just a few of the ideas to come to mind.

As I was thinking about these for today’s post, it occurred to me that they almost made a storyboard for a movie or television show like maybe “The Twilight Zone.” This was partly because of how the individual dialog balloons seemed to go together and also because the swimsuit in Panel 2 (upper right) looks a lot like the swimsuit in Panel 3 (lower left).

So I used a black and white type of filter on them and took away the dialog in the balloons because I thought you might enjoy imagining your own movie or television episode titled “The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone” or something similar. So that’s why they are empty today! (Not that I got lazy and couldn’t think of anything!)

Just to “set the stage”a bit…If you are familiar with this old show created by Rod Sterling, you’ll recall it frequently imagined “a world gone mad” where you learned to expect the unexpected.

Each episode in a season had a standard opening narration. This is the one used for Season 1.

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

There was then a unique introduction to set up the story to follow. This is the one used for Episode 1 of Season 1.

The place is here. The time is now. And the journey into the shadows we’re about to watch could be our journey.

So what do you think? If you were to write an episode, not necessarily based on anything scriptural (seriously, invading space aliens) or with a happy ending (seriously, a hoard of evil invading space aliens), how would that go? The only real “rule”is that each of the four panels must include “My Grandma’s Jesus” or “Your Grandma’s Jesus” at least once. Inserting “Not” is okay too. Here is a link to download a single page PDF to doodle on and print. (The background is white to save ink and toner.)

Tomorrow I will share my version of this storyboard’s dialogue, and you can compare it with your own. (Oh, WOW! A two-part episode! “Tune in tomorrow!“) You may find that your first impressions are very self-revealing, at least I did for myself. 

The dialogue that I used actually told me more about my perception of how the world views Jesus than I expected. For me, that’s important because it showed me some of my preconceptions about people which I may unknowingly carry into a conversation about Real Life Jesus. Those preconceived notions may make it difficult for me to truly listen. In other words, I think it’s quite possible if we assume that the majority of the people we come in contact with view Jesus a certain way, then that is going to shape our interactions with them regardless of what they might say to us. That will then be a barrier to making a connection with that person.

Until tomorrow! And HEY! Don’t get trapped in either “The My Grandma’s Jesus Zone” or “The Not My Grandma’s Jesus Zone”! Make sure you’re in “The Real Life Jesus Zone.”