The Walking Dead vs. The Resurrection & Life

There used to be this show Dan watched called Deadliest Warrior. Maybe it’s still around. But what would happen on this television series is two warriors from time periods spanning forever ago until now would be paired up for a “fight.” Based on the history of how these warriors fought, the weapons they used, etc., a warrior would be proclaimed winner. I’m probably simplifying things, but that’s the gist. For example, I believe I remember an episode I was made to watch where a gangster battled a ninja. I don’t remember who emerged victorious, as I had trouble getting past the hypothetical-ness of things, or maybe just the why. But, now that I look back on it, I can kinda see the intrigue.

Currently, there’s a little show on TV called The Walking Dead. Not sure if anyone’s really heard of it, it’s kind of small time. (Sarcasm flowing from a fire hydrant on this one, in case you missed it). I’ve been thinking about why a television series about undead people overrunning the earth, hunting and eating alive people, from which there is seemingly no escape is one of the biggest, if not the biggest show on TV. (IMDb lists it as number one most popular right now, with Game of Thrones as a second). There’s an obvious joy, excitement, thrill that people take in fantasizing about the Zombie Apocalypse. Why is that? It kind of seems scary to me to think about. I know I wouldn’t want to be caught dead when the Zombie Apocalypse happens….oh, wait a minute….

Here’s the deal. I think people relate to the zombies.

Here’s the deal. I think people relate to the zombies. We are a people group that has turned ourselves into the undead in the name of efficiency, multi-tasking, more money, more power, more, more more….Let me ask a few questions to illustrate my point:

Tired mommy of little ones, do you feel all alone in your never-ending task of raising civilized human beings?

CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as you drive your Lambo to the next big power lunch, secretly inside do you wonder what’s the point of it all?

Frat boy/sorority gal, do you drink and drink and drink to numb and forget? Or maybe you do it to make you feel like SOMEONE, anyone?

Just like the zombies roaming around, sometimes with hundreds of others, we feel alone. We feel compelled for more. We want what we want, so we do what we do to get it.

Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life

There’s one pairing I never saw on Deadliest Warrior. The Walking Dead vs. The Resurrection & the Life. John 11:25 tells us, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” There are a ton of names for God in the Bible, but it wasn’t until this week that it was brought to my attention that the Resurrection and Life are His names. Sure, I’ve read that verse a million times, and I understood that He gives us eternal life. But, it’s bigger than that, folks! Jesus has the power to bring back to life what once was dead, right now. Not just in eternity. He can resuscitate the stone, cold dead and make it live this very moment! This is for real, here, friends! Not a TV show! So, you out there in a marriage that seems to be DOA. Think again. HE can breathe life into it here and now. Dad who just yelled at your kid for the ump-teenth time, and are sure your relationship is done for. I’ve got the Good News! It’s not. The Resurrection can raise it to life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Resurrection & Life would stomp the Dead on Deadliest Warrior because He does it already for every single person who believes. I don’t need a TV show to tell me that.

What’s more is that Jesus doesn’t offer a mediocre life. He doesn’t raise the dead just to let them keep stumbling about in agony. Nope, he says, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “ He’s got good things for you and for me. Instead of mindlessly allowing your flesh to direct your path, why not step into the abundance that Christ offers? Abundant blessings, abundant love, abundant grace and mercy. Joy and peace. Abundant community and fellowship with Him. Whoa! Now, come on. Who would turn that down?

Jesus is the Life. While we may not be wandering around with vastly decomposed flesh, we are in fact, the walking dead apart from Christ. But there is hope. We can beat the mind-blowing numbness that we all feel at times. We can overcome the loneliness that’s eating us up inside. You and I can be free of the fear that enslaves us and keeps us from loving powerfully. His name’s the Resurrection. I’m putting my money on Him.

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The badge of the Christian

What do you think I’m talking about? I can see you all in my mind’s eye, raising your hands, shouting out answers…

Faith! Gentleness! Love!

And you would all be wrong. It is forgiveness.

I am learning a lot about forgiveness lately. When I say lately, I mean over the past seven years. I remember a conversation back then that started to turn my thinking around. My husband and I were leaving a church service in Michigan, where we lived at the time. It had been about forgiveness, and the Huz asked me if there’s anyone I hadn’t forgiven. I quickly responded with the name of my old boss at a PR firm where I used to work. This guy had been mean with a capital M. I think he terrorized people just for the sheer joy and power it brought him. I often heard him yelling at people down the hall from my office, berating them for what any other sane person would call a job well done. I’d heard stories of him throwing staplers at people. Firing people on the spot. I had only had two run-ins with him personally. The first was about 10 or 11 months into my tenure there, and his sites had been set on me, the quiet one cowering in the corner, finally. He brought me into his office, and began screaming at me. For what, I do not remember. I sat there calmly listening to this five-foot-nothing of a man try to shake me. And then I looked him in the eye and told him he was to never speak to me that way again. I got up and left and went back to my office. Shortly after that I had my second run-in with him. It was to tell me that I was being “let go due to down-sizing.” This may sound like a very mild run-in to those seasoned folks out there. But to a twenty-something, fresh to the work world, this hurt. A lot.

So, back to that day walking out of church with the Huz. I responded, “No, I haven’t forgiven That Guy. And I never will. He doesn’t deserve it.” To my astonishment and chagrin, my dearly beloved then pulled up this verse:

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6: 14-15

In all my years as a Christian up to that point, I had somehow managed to never hear that verse. Or successfully avoided it. Or figured a way for it not to apply to me. Whatever the case, it lay on my shoulders a heavy weight. I was in a bit of a conundrum. How could I forgive That Guy for being such a jerk? Not just to me, but to every person he’d ever come into contact with?

Well, since then, there’s been many a situation that has arisen in which I’ve asked myself that question time and time again. And each time I have reminded myself that if I do not ask the Holy Spirit for His help to forgive, then I am setting myself up for a broken relationship with my Father. Staring that fact in the face, I start down the road (usually begrudgingly) of forgiveness.

I’m reading a book right now called “Unpacking Forgiveness” by Chris Brauns. I started reading it because Dan and I (the aforementioned Huz) had recently found ourselves once again discussing forgiveness. This time it was not just I, but both of us, struggling to forgive. And not just forgive but to actually describe what forgiveness even means. There are SO MANY definitions of what forgiveness is. What it’s supposed to look like. It gets confusing.

I think Chris Brauns has nailed it. He says forgiveness is “a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” He goes on to further explain that this definition of forgiveness is modeled after the kind of forgiveness that Christ offers us. This forgiveness includes the following elements:

1. God’s forgiveness is gracious but not free. While salvation is a gift, God bought it at an infinitely high price.
2. God’s forgiveness is conditional. Only those who repent and believe are saved. Even though the gift of salvation is offered to everyone, only those who open the gift through repentance and belief are saved.
3. God’s forgiveness is a commitment. It is His promise that He will never hold that sin against the forgiven party.
4. Forgiveness lays the groundwork for and begins the process of reconciliation. Salvation and new birth are inextricably connected to reconciliation. You can’t be forgiven by God without being reconciled to Him.
5. Forgiveness does not mean the elimination of all consequences. The outcomes of our sin will happen. There’s a ripple effect to our choices. However, these consequences are not punishment but how God trains and teaches.

I have not finished Brauns book, but I do believe he is taking me down the right path. It is certain that forgiveness is incredibly difficult. It is at a high price. It is for those who are repentant. It takes a conscious commitment. Forgiveness drives us toward reconciliation, but consequences also are part. I also see that forgiveness is the nature of God. His entire plan was just so He could offer forgiveness to us. If God is so big on forgiveness, how can I not be?

If God is so big on forgiveness, how can I not be?

I’ll leave you with this quote from Brauns book:
Christians should always have a disposition of grace toward those who offend them. This is what Jesus modeled on the cross when he prayed,”Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Even while he was dying an excruciating death, and before there was any repentance on the part of those who crucified him, he offered grace. We are to follow his example.

So, let’s pray for each other. I confess there are people right now that I am struggling to forgive. I fear making myself vulnerable in that way. I wonder if it’s really worth it to open myself up. Can I really trust that person again? But the beauty of forgiveness is that it does not hinge on the other person’s reactions or lack of them. Forgiveness is offered by me to them. And the effort is powered by none other than the Master of Forgiveness, Himself. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Who do you need to forgive today?

There is no perfect blog

Last night I sipped my Mint Majesty Starbucks Tea, chatting with a friend about our desires to blog. We talked about what our goals for blogging might be. Is it just catharsis? Or is it to gain an audience? Or is it to be published one day? Or maybe it is just to be helpful to someone out there? Maybe it’s all of these. All I know is that I have been terribly inconsistent. Why IS this??? I love to write. I like the outcome it has (warm, fuzzy feelings on the inside, a few comments by my mom and some friends, feeling like I accomplished something…), yet I still balk at sitting down and just doing it, already! So, why?

…yet I still balk at sitting down and just doing it, already! So, why?

Last night, my friend and I think we may have happened upon why it is we hesitate to push the publish button. We want to make sure whatever we put out there in cyberspace is to perfection. I want to make sure every word is perfectly placed. That I’m using good grammar. No misspellings. But, more than that, I want to make sure I’m conveying what I actually want to convey. I want to make sure I’m not just talking to talk, but that I have something valuable to say. It’s a lot to consider, and adds a heavy weight to whether or not to post.

But, then we kind of decided to just do it. I’m a mom of two, a wife of one. I support my husband as he pastors at a church, and try to hold our household together. I’m kind of busy. I have a finite amount of time to do this thing I love, and that’s it. When time’s up, time’s up. Small people do not understand, “Please wait to have your tushy wiped, mommy is blogging.” They also do not take well to, “Dinner will be a few hours late, I have to finish this post.” No way! When nap time’s over (if it ever begins), it’s done and it’s game on. So, that also means blogging time is over (or more frequently, lay comatose for an hour time has ended abruptly). Yet, if I want to do this, then I have to take what I can get.

Yet, if I want to do this, then I have to take what I can get.

So, here’s to imperfection. <Insert clinking sippy cups here>

How about you? What have you been putting off because it needs to be “perfect”? Will you do it today?