In My Undies

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All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  –Psalm 22:17

It’s a recurring dream — you may have had a similar one.  I’m walking through a school or a church, rushing to get somewhere, and I realize I’m wearing only my underwear!

The rest of the dream is spent desperately trying to find something else to wear, and failing spectacularly.  Sometimes people notice, point, and laugh.  Always I feel extremely vulnerable.

I think that’s the point of that particular dream.  It’s a subconscious reflection of me feeling vulnerable about something.  My near nakedness in the dream symbolizes an inability to hide myself from others.

Dreams of being naked or near naked frequently make Top 10 lists of common dreams.  We have these dreams because many of us share that same fear:  Forced to reveal ourselves more than is comfortable.

This is not just physical, having our “bones on display”.  It’s more mental or even spiritual.  Having our inner most thoughts, fantasies and fears displayed for others.  Near panic at the notion of people knowing the real us.

What would have to change to make all those scary dreams go away?  Could the world decide it’s time to shed any unneeded clothes and walk around just as God made us?  Or if we all took a couple years of therapy could we develop a healthier self esteem, with no need to hold back who we are?

It just seems such a shame that you and I, created in God’s Image, have to spend so much energy trying to obscure ourselves from others.  It must be some consequence of our sinful nature that our very thoughts and traits can seem unsuitable for public viewing.

This is something we can work on.  We can seek to be more transparent, less terrified of being vulnerable.  We can admit our faults, be faithful with our gifts, and trust to be covered by Grace when our undies are showing.

Come to think of it, many of the people I most admire are those whose soul shines so brilliantly, I don’t even notice how much they’re covered up.  These are the people whose faith helps them clothe those around them in Christ.

I want to be one of those people.  The more aggressively I practice this kind of faith, the less I’ll have that dream.  That’s the premise I’m adopting, anyway…

If that takes stripping down to my spiritual skivvies, so be it.

As for my physical body?

That’s, for now,

a subject I’ve thoroughly covered.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

Tired of being slowed down at airport security, Vince began to travel in only a pair of Speedos.

 

 

 

The Devil Came For My Soul — And Couldn’t Find It.

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The Devil came to me in a dream last night, dressed in his red suit and pitchfork and arrogant grin.  We were standing in a rocky, barren place.  He looked around and pointed to some rocks on the ground.

“Hungry?  Sure, you could fast and pray, I suppose.  But why not turn these stones into some bread?”

“Wait, I can do that?” I asked.  (I was kind of hungry)

“In this place,” he smirked, “you’ve got that kind of power.”

“Well, I’m not really a bread guy.”  I turned and yelled at the stones.  “Turn into Nachos!  And a Diet Coke!”  And sure enough, a great big plate of cheesy nachos appeared, along with a 44oz diet coke, light ice.

“That’s it?” the devil blinked at me.  “No hesitation at all.  Just diving in to a plate of nachos.”

I blinked back at him, my mouth full.

“Okay,” he said.  “On to the next”.  He snapped his finger and we were standing on the roof of my church.

“Now,” he continued.  “Throw yourself off this building, and God will keep you from hitting the ground.”

“God would do that?” I asked.

“Well, you believe that bad things only happen to bad people, right?  And you’re a good person.  Right?”  There was a gleam in his eye. “Surely God would save you.”

“Good point,” I said, and before his horrified look I stepped off the ledge.   The fall was not a little bit frightening.  As the sidewalk began to loom before me I thought, “any time now, God”.

But it wasn’t God that saved me, it was the Devil, and he was looking perturbed.

“Look, I couldn’t let you hit the ground.  You’d go splat and then you’d wake up from this dream, and I’m not finished with you yet.”

I looked around to see where God was…probably lurking there in the shadows ready to save a good guy like me at the very last instant.

The Devil grimaced and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, we were standing at the top of Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas.  The Devil waved his arm across the plains around us.

“All you have to do is become my second in command, and all this –”  He frowned.  “Well, all this and lots more you can’t see from here, will be yours.”

“Second in command?” I asked.  “What does that entail?”

“Ah,” the Devil grinned again, “You simply have to agree that I am the absolute authority about what’s right and what’s wrong in this world.”

“Right and wrong?  Why would I think you’re the authority on that?”

“Because I believe exactly what you believe.  Every political opinion, every social issue, every theological, ethical, and moral concept, I believe exactly as you.”

“Well,” I thought a moment, “then in that case, I agree.  So, does my power extend out beyond Kansas?”

The Devil was no longer smiling.

“Do you not even care that you failed all three of my tests?  I mean, you conjured up junk food instead of fasting.  You hurled yourself off a building, naively thinking God would alter the laws of physics just to save you from your own stupidity.  And then you think so highly of your own view of the world that you’d bow down to it–to me–to yourself, instead of God?”

“Wait,” I said.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about TEMPTATION,” the Devil bellowed.  “But you give in so quickly.  Where’s the fun in that?”  He tossed his pitchfork over his shoulder and sighed.  “You wouldn’t even know your own sin if it bit you on the back of the leg.

“You know what?” he continued.  “You’re so compromised you don’t even need a Devil.”  He heaved a heavy sigh and turned to walk away.   “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you don’t need a Tempter.”  He called back over his shoulder.  “You need a Savior.”

With that, I jolted awake.  The clock said 11:45am.

I crawled out of bed, feeling hungry.  What was that crazy dream I was having?

It was all fading away now.

Something about Nachos.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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A is for Anxiety

So here’s what happened to me yesterday…

I was at my locker getting some books and came across my World History textbook.

Oh no!  I realized I hadn’t been to a single class, and final exams were tomorrow!

And then I woke up.

———————–

Even though I haven’t been in school for years, I’m apparently feeling some kinship with all the students headed back to school this week.

This week everyone is dressed for success and jumping into a new routine. It’s exciting! But let’s also remember:

School may be fun, challenging, or downright boring, but at some point in the semester…

School = Anxiety.

There’s the anxiety to fit in and the anxiety to make good grades.

There’s the anxiety of adolescence, and the anxiety of questioning authority.

Running through it all is the great big anxious question:  “Who am I becoming???”

It’s no wonder so many of us have recurring bad dreams that take place back in school.  It’s the time in our lives when we asked that question the most fervently .

It’s a question I’m still asking. You too?

I read an excellent article in The Atlantic that talks about how much anxiety Americans carry around, especially students. Here’s the link.

Anxiety seems to be the watch word for many of us.

Hmm.  Remember Jesus’ thoughts on worry?

Essentially, he said, “Stop and smell the flowers.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  Worry never accomplished anything.”

Wow.  That’s a different message than the world gives. If only we could truly live like that.

What if life could have the freedom, grace, and joy that Jesus describes in Matthew 6?

Easier said than done, I know.  But less anxiety would make school (and life) less painful at times.

Here’s some quick advice (from a non-parent) for reducing anxiety with the student in your life:

1.  Remind students they don’t have to do everything.  Even though our culture promotes participation in a million projects/clubs/teams, the whole idea of sabbath is for resting and recharging on a regular basis. Stop and smell some lilies.

2.  If you’re going to pay for A’s, find a way to reward character, too.  In the long run, emotional intelligence may be more important than book smarts!

3.  Focus on your own body, mind, and spirit, and encourage your student to do so as well.  God cares more about our healthy souls than our report cards. If you model a healthy life, your student will be more likely to adopt one as well.

4.  Covenant to go to church together.  Then go out to lunch afterwards.  If that’s all the family time you have in a week, it will at least be quality time.

5.  Dream together. Plan family trips. Visit colleges. Take up fun hobbies.  Look to a future with hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 As I think about the challenges of today’s youth, I realize they are the challenges of today’s culture, placed in a pressure cooker.

Releasing some of that pressure makes for a healthier student.  And the truth is, we’re all students, aren’t we?

So as we begin another season of learning, here’s my wish for us:

I wish us less anxious days…

And far sweeter dreams.

Have a great week,

Mitch