“Time Warp Cheating!”

Laura seems quite determined to get help with Rob’s list challenge without opening her Bible! First she tried a “Dear Abby” kind of letter, now she’s using a time warp! (How she did this is another storyline entirely!)

What actually prompted this little series was a recent garage cleaning. I found some old books that I had put away along with some notes, and they were mostly all about Bible commentaries and Bible lists. This reminded me of how I had for a time been more inclined to “read about the Bible” rather than to “actually read the Bible.” I think I’ve said before, Laura is a lot like me in some respects!

So what do you think about reading the Bible? Is it something that you avoid doing? Would you rather take a “shortcut”? Even a “cheating shortcut”? (Which for me would be the times when I was afraid of what God would say to me if I read His Word directly, so I’d choose to read someone else’s word about His Word!)

I guess there may be two different ways of looking at the Bible.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow… Hebrews 4:12a (NASB)

The Bible can be used as a sword, a weapon, and I’ve done that. But I think that may have been wrong. The verse is only making a comparison, not giving a command to hack down as many people as possible with God’s Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

This is probably my more favorite view of the Bible these days. I really like how personal this makes God’s Word for me. My Lamp. My Feet. My Light. My Path.

And honestly, I really can’t go around hacking other people to pieces when I am looking for my next step, can I?!?

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Paul is wrong. I’m just saying that at times I have forgotten the latter part.

…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12b

That’s still God’s Word for me. My Judgment. My Thoughts. My Intentions. My Heart.

“The Hopelessly Lost…Obliterate Them…Really?!?”

Yesterday’s comic strip introduced the question “Were there some things that Jesus never got around to doing?” and also the implied question “Are there really people who are just hopelessly lost? People who are just so far gone that not even Jesus could reach?”

Today, the questions are the same, only the comic strip has changed. So what do you think? Was Jesus supposed to obliterate people? Are there people who are truly hopelessly lost?

The “answer,” if we step back in time to the days of Laser Eyes Jesus, was something like an “active obliteration of the hopelessly lost.” It seems that people wanted a Warrior King who would forcibly push out the occupying foreign Romans. The Great Flood and Noah, The Plagues Of Egypt, The Battles and Wars In The Promised Land were all “active obliterations.” There also seemed to be “passive obliterations” of the poor, the sick, the crippled, the lepers…just push them aside, ignore, and neglect them until they die.

In some respects, things have not changed much since then, and yet in other respects, everything has changed tremendously! Here’s what I mean. Jesus changed everything. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, sin and death had its grip firmly on us. Sin and death owned us.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:30 (NASB)

The Greek word used for “finished” is “tetelestai.” It is only used in two places in the entire New Testament, right here in verses 28 and 30. (In verse 28, “tetelestai” is translated as “completed.”) To me, that makes this particular word very important. During New Testament times “tetelestai” was used to show that a bill had been paid in full. Romans 6:6 and 6:18 remind us that we are no longer slaves to sin, bound to death. The price for our freedom has been paid.

On the Cross Of Jesus, everything in the world changed, at least from God’s perspective. It can change for us too. There is now no longer a need to “actively obliterate” people (however that might look in modern times) because freedom from sin and death has been made available to all. But I do see a need to stop the “passive obliteration” of people.

So what if Jesus accomplished all that He was to accomplish and now we have the ability to do all God has set for us to do? And chiefly perhaps to stop the “passive obliteration” of people, particularly those who would be labeled “the hopelessly lost”?

Take a look at how the Gospel of Mark ends.

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Mark 16:20 (NASB)

The world has changed. The death and resurrection of Jesus caused that change. The apostles were living out that change, just as we can today.

And do you see those amazing six words? They are “while the Lord worked with them.” Yes, it was “Mission Complete” on the Cross Of Jesus, but now Jesus is still very active and working with us on a ”New Mission”. It is Real Life Jesus, I believe, who is still actively at work with us to bring the change He purchased to the entire world, especially to those incorrectly labeled “The Hopelessly Lost.”

As someone who many people might have once labeled as a member of “The Hopelessly Lost,” I am truly grateful to all who never gave up on me.

“Warning: This Doesn’t Apply To Stupid Things!”

So what do you think about pain and hurting? Is it at its core basically the same for all of us regardless of what caused the pain? (Honestly this question is probably best NOT answered if you’re already in pain and hurting.) Can you create a hierarchy of painful things based on the cause? (Is losing a child in an automobile accident more or less painful than your spouse dying from cancer?) Would you discount Nate’s answer? (I’m guessing you probably would, but why? What makes it “stupid”?)

Here’s what I have learned from my life experiences about pain. (You don’t have to agree with these things. I don’t mind, and new experiences may change my perspective completely.)

Pain is pain, no matter what causes it…abuse, illness, loss, death.

Pain is like air, it tries to fill whatever vessel into which you place it…like how air fills a room or a balloon.

Pain can even make a vessel explode if the pain is beyond the capacity and strength of the container…a human heart.

When I think about the question, “What is the very worst thing ever that can happen to a person?” in light of these ideas, I must also ask, “What was the very worst thing ever for Jesus?”

I think most of us would agree with an answer somehow related to His crucifixion. “Waiting in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested and crucified” is what I think was “The Very Worst Thing Ever” for Him.

So if we want to know what to do when someone is dealing with pain and hurting, maybe it will help to know what Jesus wanted from His friends when He faced His own “Very Worst Thing Ever.”

Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” Matthew 26:38 (NASB)

He asked that they remain with Him, stay with Him, be with Him. “Remain here.” I think that is what we are called to do before anything else, at least at first, particularly when helping someone through something that is traumatic. There will be time to speak later, but listening and just being with someone should probably come first.

As for “Keep watch with Me,” I have always heard that was keeping watch for the Roman soldiers who were coming to arrest Him. Now I’m wondering if maybe “keep watch” might also mean “watching for Our Father’s answer to prayer, whatever that answer might be.”

I think perhaps this path is more difficult than saying things like “Everything happens for a reason” or “It’s all for God’s glory” or “God never gives us more than we can handle.” (These things might all be true, I’m not sure, but truth is more of a “mind thing” where pain is really a “heart thing.”)

It often takes a special kind of strength to “just be there” and walk silently and supportively with someone through their darkest days. In closing, I would like to suggest that we first apply this next often-quoted Bible verse to ourselves as listening helpers who are dedicated to “just being there” before sharing it with those we seek to help.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

Sometimes it takes a great deal of Christ’s own strength in us to help others, particularly when that help involves being mostly silent and listening. But we can do it, I believe, because Real Life Jesus knows the value of having someone to “remain here” in the painful circumstances and “keep watch” for Our Father’s answers to our prayers, whatever those answers may be.

“All That Glittery Glitter Glittering So Glitterfully!”

So now we have the “Official Laser Eyes Jesus Answer” to the question “What is the very worst thing ever that can happen to a person?”

First, a tip for Readers: When he’s not sure what to say, Laser Eyes Jesus usually says something about pudding cups! Not that he’s trying to mislead or hurt anyone. He just doesn’t know what else to say! (And then he will usually blast someone!)

Now comes the “So what do you think” part! Do we have sayings that we fall back on when faced with the hurt and suffering of others? Things that we say out of habit but maybe shouldn’t? Maybe because they don’t represent God properly?

“Everything happens for a reason.” To me, this implies that God is directing everything that happens to us, both good and bad. This makes God the source of job promotions, winning lottery tickets, football victories but also painful illnesses, mass murder, brutal torture.

“It’s all for God’s glory.” To me, this implies that God is more concerned with Himself than those He created and that somehow He is glorified by painful illnesses, mass murders, and brutal torturing.

“God never gives us more than we can handle.” To me, this implies that if you give up or get crushed, you’ve let God down. Maybe you didn’t pray enough or read your Bible enough. It’s your fault you couldn’t handle it.

So then, God PURPOSELY PICKED YOU to suffer through that horrible thing BECAUSE THAT GLORIFIES HIM, and if you just give up and stop believing in Him or start drinking or taking drugs to make it to the next day or kill yourself because to you it really is more than you can handle, then that FAILURE IS YOUR FAULT.

So what do you think? Are these honestly good things to say to yourself and to other people? Am I just suggesting that they aren’t any good because I am grumpy and have no pudding cups chilling in my refrigerator? (Maybe!)

Or maybe, just maybe, there are better things to say when the very worst thing ever happens to you or someone you know?

You see, yesterday I was wondering about how I ended the commentary part of the post. Maybe it was too much of a “Brady Bunch” kind of ending. Sort of like Marsha Brady’s worst thing ever: “Getting a pimple before your big date with the cutest boy in your class.” That really only makes sense if you’re a teenager.

So if you were not a Christian, not a Christ follower, that might have sounded as “ungroovy” as a “Brady Bunch” happily-ever-after ending.

These last two comic strip posts have really given me some things to consider, and I hope for you as well. What do we say and what do we do to help a hurting world? That’s what I want to understand and live out in a real way, not in a glittery glitterful way!

“The Very Worst Thing Ever!”

So what do you think? Who’s right in this comic strip? Or most right? Or most not wrong? Tough question!?!

Lydia is looking at “things.” Nate is looking at “people.” Sarah is looking beyond this present life, but seems to want to give an answer that will please Laser Eyes Jesus. And if Marsha Brady made a guest appearance, she would probably say, “Getting a pimple before your big date with the cutest boy in your class is the very worst thing ever!” (Ah! But what if there was NO Classic TV! Yikes! Has to be high on the list!)

I guess my point is that maybe in this present life, everyone could have a different “very worst thing ever,” and if we aren’t careful, we can get into a contest to see who has “The Very Best Very Worst Thing Ever Story.”

Do we even need to wonder about “the very worst thing ever”?

The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22 (NRSV)

Sometimes I’ve read verses like this and I want them to mean that I’m not going to have any sorrow in my life. I’ve read verses like this to mean that if I’ve got sorrow in my life, then I must not be blessed by God, and if I’m not blessed by God, then I must have done something wrong. I’ve also read verses like this to mean I’m going to be “things and people rich” nor “spiritually rich.”

So maybe there are times when we bring our own ideas to God’s Word rather than letting God’s Word bring His ideas to us? When we bring our own ideas, maybe we can feel like we have the biggest pimple ever, have run out of glitter, are sitting next to the most unpopular kid ever, and (if that wasn’t enough) are going to be sent to “H-E-Double Toothpicks”!

All I know is that there’s never any sorrow, I believe, from spending time with Real Life Jesus. I’m not sure what “the very worst thing ever” might be for you, but I know Real Life Jesus is “the very best thing ever” for all of us.