The Bachelor

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I was thinking about Jesus.

We describe him in a million ways: Savior, Lord, Prince Of Peace, etc.

But here’s one word we never mention: Bachelor.

Jesus was a single guy. Unattached. No ringy on the fingy.

Dan Brown-type speculation aside, as far as we know, Jesus was an unfettered fella.

My question is: Why? Why not find someone, settle down, and get married? He was here, in part, to have a human experience, so why not experience marriage?

Hmm. Maybe he never found the right person. When you’re, you know, divine, it could be hard finding someone compatible.

Or maybe he wasn’t much of a looker. Paintings of Jesus make him look like Brad Pitt, but in 2002 Popular Mechanics commissioned some forensic artists to create their best guest representation of what Jesus would have looked like.

Here’s what they came up with:

popular-mechanicsI’m not much of a judge—but would Angelina Jolie marry that guy? I have no idea.

I’d say the most likely reason Jesus never got married was because he was already married…to his job.

The Bible actually has a few places that seem to insinuate this. As if Jesus was the groom, and the Church was the bride.

I don’t know about that, but I can tell that Jesus lived and breathed the Kingdom of God. He had a message to share, and took every opportunity to share it. His devotion to the Good News was so complete that he was willing to die a bachelor for it.

There’s a TV show called “The Bachelor”. Have you watched it? I’ll be honest and share that I haven’t. I really don’t like “reality” shows in general. But enough people think this show is so great that it’s in its seventeenth season. (M*A*S*H, by comparison, had eleven seasons)

The premise, as I understand it, is pretty simple. An eligible bachelor gets to date a bunch of women, and sort his way down to “the one” — the winner, whom, the bachelor would supposedly marry. (But never does, apparently!)

Each week, the Bachelor gives roses to all the women who are still in the running, and the rest go home.

Jesus would have made a terrible contestant on The Bachelor.

Who would he not love? Who would he exclude and send home with a broken heart?

How could he choose to love one over another?

With this Bachelor…

Everybody gets a rose.

Have a great week,

Mitch

How Deep Is Your Love?

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Is your love shallow?  

Some rivers are little more than streams across the dessert.  Drizzles of water that spill aimlessly, and dry up too soon.

To love like this is to hardly love at all.

Is your love winding and twisting?

Some rivers curve around wildly, with no sense of direction, making it hard to stay oriented. Almost impossible to navigate.

To love like this is to love without focus.

Is your love a raging torrent?

Some rivers run fast and violent.  Sure, there’s the thrill of the white water, but almost too much too handle.

To love like this is to to love with no peace.

Is your love a lazy stream?

Some rivers take their time.  Floating along with barely a current, enjoying the scenery.

To love like this is to love with no passion.

Is your love deep?

Some rivers stand the test of time.  Carving out a legacy.  Majestic, mysterious and awe-inspiring.

To love like this is to love completely.

How deep is your love?

I’ve decided. I want the deep deep love of Jesus.

I want a river of life, pouring out of me.

Is this what you want?

If so, then let’s go deep.  Let’s seek God in our very depths.

Let’s be open to love with a direction and purpose, and a sense of reverence.

Let’s soak ourselves in passion and peace.

Let’s be nourished by water and the spirit.

And then,

Let’s make our marks on this world,

criss-crossing and creasing

and quenching the dry places,

until the whole world says:

“Ahhhhhhhh”

and “Amen”.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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The 6 people you probably WON’T see in Heaven (…at least, according to them)

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6 guys walk into the worship service.

You’re a nice friendly person, so you walk up to one and welcome them.

“Thanks,” he says a little nervously.  “We’re all non-believers.  We’re here for a school project.”

“Oh, well, glad you’re here! What exactly are you studying?”

“Well, apparently there’s more than one type of Christian, so we’ve been to a Catholic church, a Bible church, and now this one.”

The service is beginning, so they take their seats in the third row.

—-

A friend of mine sent me a great article (that you can read HERE) about Atheists and Non-Believers in America.  It’s based on a study done by researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Ready to meet 6 different types of Atheists/Non-believers?

Here we go:

1.  The first guy sitting in the row is larger than any of his friends. (He represents 38% of non-believers).  He’s intently listening to the preacher, but he looks like he’d rather be having a conversation than just listening.  He represents the “Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic” group.  Not particularly hostile towards believers, he’s up for a good philosophical debate with the pastor afterwards.

2.  The guy sitting next to him is smaller, but still good-sized (23%).  You notice he’s wearing buttons for various causes. He looks bored by much of the sermon, but when the pastor talks about social issues, he perks up, interested.  He represent the “Activist” group. He wants to heal what’s broken in the world…he just doesn’t think God created it.

3.  The third guy is a smaller fella (7.8%).  He’s watching the sermon intently, rubbing his chin and weighing out what’s being said.  He represents the “Seeker/Agnostic” group, those who really just don’t know what they believe.  He doesn’t have it all figured out, but probably doesn’t think the pastor does, either.

4.  I should have mentioned the 4th guy earlier, because you would have noticed him first and foremost.  Not because of his pretty average size (15%), but because he keeps scowling and shaking his head after just about everything in the sermon.  He represents the “Anti-theist” group.  He thinks religious is wrong, and dangerous, and the cause of most of the world’s problem.  If his other friends weren’t holding him back he’d probably jump up and give the whole congregation a piece of his mind! Whew!

5.  The smallest guy of the six can scarcely sit in his chair, he’s so small  (4.4%). He’s positively bored, and keeps looking at his phone.  He represents the “Non-theist” group.  He doesn’t believe in God, and honestly doesn’t much care for the whole conversation.  He thinks both the pastor and #4, sitting next to him, are taking the whole thing way too seriously.

6.  And that brings us to #6.  He’s an average looking guy (12.5%), and as you look at him you start thinking he looks familiar.  Yes! You know him–he’s been to church a few times over the past year.   That’s right.  Not because he believes in God, but because he likes the ritual of the church.  He represents the “Ritual Atheist/Agnostic” group.  He likes being part of a community.

And indeed, as you think about it, he fits right in.  There are probably more than a handful of folks like #6 already in your congregation.

After the service, you make sure to shake their hands, and even #4 seems to do so willingly enough.

“It’s funny,” you tell them.  “In the same way you hadn’t realized there were lots of different kinds of Christians, I’d never really thought about all the different kinds of…”

“Non-believers”, #1 smiles.

“Agnostics”, #2 hands you a button.

“Seekers”, #3 winks.

“Atheists”, #4 glares.

“Whatever”, #5 shrugs.

“I don’t know what you should call me,” #6 says, shaking your hand…

“but I’ll probably see you next week.”

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Over Exposed

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Ephesians 5:13 says “Everything exposed to the light becomes visible.”

Why does that scare me?

Recently I was on vacation down in Orlando, out swimming in the pool, when it started pouring rain. That part was kind of cool, but when it began lightning, I decided I’d better head inside.

We were running, and it was raining, and I didn’t even have a towel, and suddenly I was in the main hotel lobby. Dripping wet, just pale ole’ overweight me in my swimsuit.

With everyone else, fully dressed, staring at me.

I swear I’ve had nightmares similar to that.  Although in those I don’t think I was even wearing a swimsuit. 😉

No, it’s not like I was streaking or anything, but I still felt vulnerable. Over exposed, if you will.  I was happy to get back in clothes again.

I’ve decided I’m more of a stayed-covered-up kind of guy.

Still, that scripture makes me wonder:  What if we couldn’t cover up at all? What if we couldn’t hide that nasty scar or that ridiculous tattoo? Or stretch marks, or bruises, or…

What if we couldn’t cover up anything?

What if the stranger passing you on the street knew everything about you?  Your bank account? Your sexual history? Your arrest record? Your fear of clowns?

Can you imagine?

I claim to not like secrets, but I sure hold close the ones that I choose to keep. What about you? Is there part of you that you like to play close to the vest? (That is, if you’re lucky enough to be wearing one.)

And is this the cost of true discipleship?  Either you stay outside the Kingdom of God and risk getting struck by lightning, or come into the fold where everyone can see all your imperfections?

Wow, what a choice!

No.  I don’t think Christianity was designed to leave us feeling over exposed, but rather to help us shake free from the need to hide.  There’s a big difference.

The writer of Ephesians equates standing in the light as living in the presence of God. That doesn’t mean swimming for your life, and it doesn’t mean living in the harsh light of the world, either.

It means basking in the glow of your Creator, living faithfully, just as you are.

Next time I’m in Orlando?

I’m working on my tan.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Uniquely American

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This year, for the 4th, I’m planning to celebrate in ways that are Uniquely American.

Here we go!

1.  THE HOT DOG!

What could be more uniquely American than the hot dog?  Globs of mustard and relish dripping off onto your fingers. Grill marks searing in the flavor.

But you know what? The Frankenfurter (and the Wiener) are distinctively German innovations, from back in the 13th Century.

So…let’s try something else.  How about…

2.  FIREWORKS!

There’s nothing that says “The 4th of July” like big booms and bright flashes. The kind that sizzle and cascade.  The kind that expand and blossom. All the colors and the sounds of the holiday.

Of course, not only were those fireworks probably made in China, but fireworks, themselves, were ACTUALLY made…in China.

Fireworks date back to the 7th Century in China, where they were used to celebrate all kinds of festivals, long before July 4th was anything but just another day.

Hmm.  That’s disconcerting.  What about…

3. WAVING THE FLAG!

Even moderately patriotic people are known to fly the flag for the fourth! It may just be a piece of fabric, but it stands for a people, and an ideal.

Actually, people have been waving flags since the time of the Roman Legion, back in the time of antiquity.  And Denmark has been flying its country’s flag from as far back as the 13th century, a powerful symbol for her people.

Well, this is getting hard.

Wait! I know!

4.  ICE CREAM!

You want uniquely American?  Here you go! Ice Cream is the official dessert of summer, right?  Put a couple scoops on my cone and I’m a happy camper.

But wait!  The Persians were making their version of ice cream as early as 400 B.C.!!!!

400 B.C.?????

HEY!  ISN’T THERE ANYTHING UNIQUELY AMERICAN WE CAN USE TO CELEBRATE THIS 4TH OF JULY?

I know…

WHAT ABOUT GOD?

We sing “God bless America”, or “God bless the U.S.A.” all the time.  We talk about being in “God’s Country” or even this being “The Promised Land”.

Doesn’t that mean God is an American?

I say Yes.

But not uniquely.

As we celebrate this wonderful country of ours this week, let’s remember that God is the God of the Persians.  And the Chinese.  And the Danish.  And the Germans.  God’s Grace shines upon all of God’s children, and that’s perhaps the most important thing we could ever celebrate.

As for the 4th of July?  I plan to eat my hotdog and my ice cream.  I plan to set off some fireworks, and wave my flag.

I plan to celebrate everything and everyone that has gone into making our country so great.

Then I’ll ask God to bless us.  All of us. 

I’ll raise a toast to the world, my cup overflowing with Coca Cola, which is, I’m happy to say…

Uniquely American.

Have a great 4th!

Mitch

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