“Metaphoric Is Not A Denomination (Even If It Sounds Like One)”

I’ve been thinking about this metaphor off and on for some time now. Maybe it fits, maybe it doesn’t. But if there’s any group that could definitely answer the question “What are you seeking?” well, it would have to be zombies. They sort of have a one-track mind. They just want “Brains!”

But discussing zombies could be a lot like walking through a theological minefield, even a metaphorical one! Not everyone likes zombies. (But there are some people that I’ve avoided just like they were zombies, and I shouldn’t have.)

I remember many years ago reading a warning about all kinds of science fiction and horror movies because they are all the devil’s counterfeit of God’s realities. Somehow talking about zombies and other imaginary topics was opening a door for the devil to come in and take over your life. Certain kinds of music have been said to do the same thing. I can’t really say whether or not those beliefs are valid or not, but I don’t want to offend anyone who holds to them or discount anyone’s personal experiences. (For me, I believe that the devil is real, but we need to realize that he has only as much power as God allows him to have. We are not to fear Him. The devil and God are not equals.)

Anyway, I may be exploring this a bit further in a few future comic strips, particularly from the standpoint of being spiritually dead. And if zombie aren’t for you, not even metaphorical ones, I understand.

“Desperate Times Call For Desperate Chemistry Set Names”

I think that the main idea of this comic strip is to put aside any kinds of rules that might be stuck in your mind about gifts and giving. You may even want to check way back and deep down. (I know I did!)

It wasn’t until I had a “Words Of Christ In Red” Bible that this next verse really stood out. It’s in the middle of what seems like page after page of black text except for some words that Jesus said to Paul.

…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 (KJV)

The other thing that makes these words stand out for me, besides being surrounded by all of that black text, is that it is not a direct quote in the context of events. The writer of Acts is reminding us of what Jesus said, perhaps because these words are not found in the four gospel accounts.

When it comes to giving and gifts, I think that the reason you’re more blessed when you give than when you receive is because when you are giving, you are acting like Our Heavenly Father. He gives abundantly those things which are good for us and which glorify Him.

What does Our Heavenly Father see when we are more desperately enthusiastic to give than to receive? Hmm…That’s when I think we look a lot like Jesus.

I know this probably sounds simplistic and way too much like a children’s Sunday School lesson, but it’s something that I needed to remind myself of this morning. Maybe I will have more astute and “adult” content tomorrow? Please bear with me! Caleb Joseph is doing his best to convince his mother that a chemistry set would be both good for him (help him to be a Junior Inventor) and glorify God (by doing using it in a Sunday School lesson). I’m afraid I see way too much of myself in Caleb Joseph today!

“A Really Nice Chemistry Set Might Even Create World Peace Too!”

Caleb Joseph and his desire for a chemistry set really has me a little confounded. Often he is the one who has something meaningful to say that would meet with the approval of Jesus, at least when he’s given a chance! He is the one who tries his best to follow Jesus regardless of the mixed messages and toxic statements he hears. Yet what he is seeking is no different from any other boy his age, and he’s trying to convince his mother that a chemistry set would be good for her too! It seems to be the “one gift that’s perfect for anyone in any situation”!

But the “situation” for Caleb Joseph is about teaching himself. The “situation” for his Flamethrower Mommy is more about teaching others a lesson. (Plus she really doesn’t want anyone to know what her heart is seeking! That’s a big clue there that she is seeking out side of God’s will for her life)

Obscured by all of this silliness is a really valid question: “Why would anyone bother to ask me what I’m seeking if they can’t do anything to help me find it?”

When Jesus asked “What are you seeking?” (John 1:35-42), He had an answer before He even asked His question. He knew what their question would be. He knew that it would lead them into a deeper relationship with God.

They didn’t answer “We’d like to know how to catch more fish,” although Jesus definitely knew how to make that happen and demonstrated it twice (Luke 5:1-11 and John 21:1-14). The first time helped convince Peter, James, and John to become His disciples. The second helped convince all of the disciples that Jesus was on the shore there with them. Hmm…so maybe whether you’re not a disciple yet or already a disciple, Jesus is asking questions and giving answers?

While I can’t really guarantee Jesus will help you find whatever you are seeking, I have a very strong feeling that if whatever you are seeking has left you angry, bitter, alienated from others and looking for something better, there is an answer from Jesus very much like “Come and you will see” (John 1:39).

“Of Goats And Emerods (With Apologies To John Steinbeck Fans)”

One of my favorite summertime novels were those of John Steinbeck. For quite a few years, I would read a different one each summer. So the title and some of the wording today is just a fond reflection of those summers. I’ve always appreciated the way a good novel can capture what it means to experience life.

When you sort through all of the gobbledegook and gibberish that has been cobbled together by Flamethrower Mommy, you’re really left with just a lot of what it means to experience death. So I’m not going to touch any of that! (In other words, I’m avoiding all of that like I would avoid a plague. Not even a cartload of golden mice and golden emerods would get me started down that path!)

What I would like to focus on instead is how Flamethrower Mommy uses words that are filled with death. Many of us may be carrying around similar messages. “This must have happened to me because I did something wrong” is one that seems very common. Along with that is “There must be something wrong with me. I’m a goat, not a sheep” is also another one that sneaks into our minds and disrupts our peace. (Instead of “goat,” substitute any negative label or stereotype.) Statements like this put the focus on self, not Jesus.

I also have a feeling that the best way to make changes in my life is to focus on Jesus, not on myself! As backwards as that sounds, it just might be right, especially when I realize that most days I don’t know what to change or how to change!

The question that began this comic strip is a simple one which comes from John’s Gospel. “Do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is?” It is very similar a question that appears in the other three Gospels. “Who do you say that I am?”

But I think the slightly different wording to the question in John’s Gospel works well with the miracle that follows.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (NASB)

And then Lazarus comes out of the tomb! He is raised from the dead! In other words, it is very important that you also believe what Jesus says about himself. Believing what He says about Himself brings life, not death!

Just as there are seven titles for Jesus in John Chapter One, throughout John’s Gospel, there are also seven “I Am” statements like this one. Each one is Jesus saying who He is. Each one brings life, not death. More on that list in a separate post!

In the meantime, focus on life. Focus on who Jesus says He is, not on what other people think you are or say you are.

“Three Simple Words?”

Who do you say Jesus is? That’s one of “The BIG Questions” I think we all have to answer. But do we answer just with words? I think that’s the point of this comic strip. Does what we say matter? Do words count? Do words make things happen?

Maybe you’ve been caught in a situation like this before where everyone else is saying or doing something, but it doesn’t feel quite right to you yet would make others happy or at least cause less conflict. Maybe you felt like God would know you weren’t completely sincere. After all, He knows your heart. Yet you still have that nagging inner voice that just won’t leave you alone saying, “It’s SIMPLE so why don’t you just do it?”

To be honest, these are words that I sometimes have a difficult time saying even when I’ve confessed all my sins and am feeling totally right with God. For me, it’s because I know that there are still temptations that could cause me to turn my back on Jesus. Maybe you’ve felt like that too.

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 16:16-17 (KJV)

…and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3 (KJV)

What these verses let us know, and what I think our main character is trying to say, is that there are no “magic words” when it comes to “Who do you say Jesus is?” We know who Jesus is because Our Heavenly Father has revealed Jesus to us (Matthew 16:17) and the Holy Spirit proclaims who Jesus is to us through our words and our actions. (1Corinthians 12:3) It’s from your spirit. That’s what counts the most.

But in this life there is always something new to learn about Jesus, some new area in which He is to be Lord. (We may never get to 100 percent in this life.) This may be some of what Peter had in mind when he closed a letter with these words.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)

(By the way, you do know that the “Memory Verse” is not really a memory verse, right? Just a reminder that sometimes we can get a very wrong message stuck in our minds.)