The “Wonderful-Plan-For-Your-Life” Lunch Box

The “Wonderful-Plan-For-Your-Life” Lunch Box

If any post generates a lot of “Unfollows,” it might just be this one. The “Wonderful Plan For Your Life” Lunch Box Special is not one that I would recommend. It is the first “Jesus-In-A-Box” I ever bought. I took a number of years to realize it didn’t agree with me, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

Just like the old “Things Go Better With Coke” advertisements, there is a tremendous promise to satisfy all of our longings…

…only if a person is not spiritually minded, it can come across as a promise to satisfy our material longings.

That is perhaps the biggest concern I have with what is titled “The Four Spiritual Laws,” a tract published by The Navigators.

So before you click “Unfollow,” I want to say that it was that same “Four Spiritual Laws” tract which a friend shared with me between my junior and senior years of high school that started me on a path of serious discipleship. In fact, during my college years I was a member of the campus chapter of The Navigators and led Bible studies.

So why am I knocking the “First Spiritual Law”?

Mostly it is because if someone is not spiritually-minded, has not been regenerated spiritually, they will hear “wonderful plan for your life” and imagine fame, fortune, material things, a happy family life, and a place in Heaven where you get to do all of your favorite things.

That is not the experience of the early Christian martyrs or modern Christian martyrs. They were and still are treated as criminals, stripped of their possessions, disowned by their families, imprisoned, and tormented. For them, choosing Jesus is choosing the possible loss of life in one of many brutal ways. I would have a difficult time telling someone living in this type of culture, “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

You may be thinking “Well, buddy, the wonderful life that you’re knocking is really about spending eternity with Jesus in Heaven!” And although spending eternity with Jesus is a truly powerful motivator for those of us who are in Christ, I’m unsure that the average spiritually blind person will experience that same motivation when they hear “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

I was that way. I thought a great deal about the “wonderful plan for your life” part, and not so much about the “Jesus part.” Quite honestly, when I was most preoccupied with myself, the “Jesus part” did not agree with me very well.

Whatever The Gospel is…it has to be the same for everyone and everywhere. It can not be an extension of The American Dream. It is not just about selfish me and my selfish life.

The Gospel must be about more than me and the wonderful life I imagine for myself.

Thanks for reading!

John

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“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).

“Three More Simple Words…My Whole Lifetime”


This is a follow up to yesterday’s sketch. It didn’t seem quite right to abandon, so to speak, the homeless waitress spending the night with her boyfriend on the beach. She represents so many of the people we meet everyday who have lives that we don’t fully know.

Her grandmother today hopefully reminds us that we never know what effect our words may have on Our Father’s prodigal sons and daughters. Each of us can help to point the way even if we don’t see the results.

She also puts the three simple words “Jesus Is Lord” into greater perspective with three more simple words “your whole lifetime.” At least that’s what my life is teaching me, and it may be just about the most important thing I have to share all week.

It is taking my whole life to realize Jesus is Lord. I’m not sure if it’s just my own stubbornness and selfishness or if that’s just really the way it goes for most people. At times, it seems quite impossible for me to live out, really live out, these three simple words, Jesus is Lord. Other times, when everything seems to fall into its proper place, there is nothing more filled with sublime joy.

One afterthought for what it’s worth…There is a difference between “my whole lifetime” and “my whole life.” I chose “lifetime” because that’s probably closest to what I’m feeling for these two sketches (and for myself). Sometimes it takes “your whole lifetime” of searching down disappointing and dangerous wrong paths to get to a place where you are able and eager to give “your whole life.”


“Cross-Stitched And Tattooed…Three Simple Words?”

This is a follow up to yesterday’s comic strip and a lead in to tomorrow’s comic strip focusing on “Jesus Is Lord.” It’s one of several graphics along this same line with the question “Who do you say Jesus is?” Some of these are more realistic than others. In this one, I’m wondering about the effects of religious-sounding slogans and also about self-help sermons focused on having the best life in every area a person could possibly imagine.

What happens when the slogans begin to feel hollow? What happens when “the best life ever” doesn’t materialize or turns sour? What happens when the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ are lost in our experience of God?

I started doing similar graphic “snapshots” not too long ago while working on “My Grandma’s Jesus.” These work well for me because they capture a thought quickly. The challenge is more in how to make the most out of just the graphic without relying so much on the commentary part (like these words right here).

“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.”