You suck.

you-suck

 

Anyone who eats blood must be cut off from their people.’”  Leviticus 7:27

For the past several weeks Jan and I have been watching the 90s/00s cult favorite show “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.”

It’s our third time.

The show may or may not be your cup of comedy/horror/drama, but we tend to rank it as some of the most clever writing ever on TV.  I’m not recruiting new fans, so don’t go snooping on my account.  I just wanted to explain why I’ve got vampires on the brain.  (on the neck?)

In the show, vampires are evil.  Mostly.  They are undead creatures that literally suck the life out of their victims.  I am convinced that you and I have some vampire in us.  I’ve never met someone who doesn’t.  In our most unhealthy moments we can leech other people’s energy and power. We’re needy like that.

I can recall a dating relationship from my high school and college days.  I could never figure out why we stayed together so long.  We always fought, we weren’t compatible.  We didn’t even much like each other.  She’d hurt me, and I’d hurt her. It wasn’t healthy, but for some reason we just kept feeding off each other. It was a bloody mess.

In my later life, there were times when I felt weak, helpless, and powerless.  Instead of asking for help or reaching out, I found myself manipulating people to my own ends,  unhealthily trying to steal their trust and energy.  I’ve scared a few people away that way.

Think about the energy flow between you and others.  Who gets fed from the relationship, and who leaves feeling a quart low? When a healthy balance of give and take doesn’t exist, who is feeding on you, or who do you find yourself stealing life from?

In Leviticus, we learn about ancient Israel’s system of sacrifice, in this case, a pigeon:

 The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. –Leviticus 1:15

This was how people dealt with their sins and deficiencies, by splashing the blood of an animal against the altar, and barbecuing the meat as an offering to God.  All the way up through the time of Jesus, this was the practice.  We look at this as an archaic and perhaps misguided practice, but instead of stealing an animal’s blood and energy, today we tend to steal each others.

Do you think this pleases God?  Not at all.  No more than killing animals as an empty sacrifice did.  Blood, more than anything, must be associated with life.  God given, precious life.  To misuse another’s life is to deny God’s purpose and power.

The next time you feel that unholy thirst to take what isn’t yours, look at the cross.  It repels vampires, after all.  And as for blood?

Jesus is offering his for free.

Have a great week,

Mitch

BuffyReligion

 

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Jesus Texting

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For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it. –Job 33:14

Luv4all:  Hey!

You:  Hey!  What’s up Jesus?

Luv4all:  Happy Birthday!

You:  Hehe, not my bday, dude!

Luv4all:  Yes it is.  I would know. 😉

You:  My birthday isn’t for 5 months.  You feeling okay?

Luv4all:  It’s all good.  You don’t get it.

You:  Get what?

Luv4all:  My present.  I send you one every day.

You:  Okay… what?

Luv4all: Life!  You get Life from me everyday.  So everyday is your birthday.

You:  Oh…like REbirth.  I get you.

Luv4all:  No.  Rebirth is important.  You get that too.  But every day is a NEW BIRTH.  A new chance.  A new opportunity.  A new lease on Life.

You: This is deep, JC.

Luv4all:  I KNOW it’s deep.  Remember this: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind”?  I want you to embrace my light, like it’s the candle on your birthday cake, every single day.

You: How come I’m just hearing about this?

Luv4all: *groans* I tried scripture–you’re too busy.  I tried talking to you in your prayers–you have trouble listening.  I tried speaking through other people–you always have somewhere else to be.

You:  Sorry.

Luv4all:  It’s alright.  I’m just pointing out that the only way you seem to be able to communicate these days is through texting.  Not exactly the easiest mode for transmitting Grace and Truth, you feeling me?

You:  I feel you.  Sorry.

Luv4all:  Don’t hassle it.  Short and sweet is better than nothing.

You:  So, it’s my birthday.  New Life.

Luv4all:  That’s right.  Celebrate by living the freedom that comes with it.

You:  Okay.  I will.

Luv4all:  Okay.  Gotta go.  Thumbs getting tired.

You:  LOL.  Thanks, Jesus.

Luv4all:  No prob.  But remember, a little prayer never hurt anyone.  And my data plan?

It’s unlimited.

 

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Certain Death

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 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. –Luke 21:25-26

Stanislov Petrov.  Does that name ring a bell? He was a good, good man.

We found out this week that he had passed away back in May, in a little town near Moscow.  By accounts he was a mild-mannered man, who lived a quiet life.

Oh, and he saved the world.

In 1983, according to rt.com, he was working in Russia at an early warning bunker, when the long range radar reported several missiles coming from the U.S.  The protocol would have been to announce an impending attack, leading to a nuclear response from the U.S.S.R.

Something didn’t feel right to Petrov.  He’d been trained that if the U.S. were to attack, it would have been a bombardment of missiles, not just a handful.  So he waited.

The missiles turned out to be the sun’s reflection on some clouds.  Stanislov Petrov’s clear headedness averted global nuclear war.

I don’t know how to feel about this true story.  Should I be glad there are intelligent people like Petrov in the world, or should I be terrified to think that just one person stood between a cold war and certain death?

Back in the 80’s I was terrified of nuclear annihilation. The fear has faded over time, but I don’t know why.  We’ve still got enough missiles pointed at each other to destroy the planet many times over.  Though we don’t like to think about it, the end of the world is only a few desperate choices away.

There are actually some folks who seem preoccupied by thinking about the end of the world.  A guy named David Meade, who studies numerology, predicts that the scripture above predicts the ending of the world, on Saturday, September 23rd.  He thinks some rogue planet is going to crash into the Earth.

Not even Stanislov Petrov would be able to put a stop to that.

To Meade, I say: Hogwash.  This is yet another poorly constructed prediction about the end of the world. But it does make me think. In many ways, like Petrov, we do have some say when it comes to “the end”.   We have it within our grasp to avoid certain death by caring for our environment, ending world hunger, fighting disease, and even blowing up an occasional asteroid, if you’re a fan of the movie Armageddon.

And as long as we have men and women with integrity and common sense, we may even be able to keep our fingers off the button.

But even as comforting as that notion is, the truth is that some day we’ll all die, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  Maybe all at once, I suppose, but more likely one at a time.  Remember, 120 years from now, none of us will be here.

How’s that for certain death?  Yikes.

Ready for some Good News?  Whenever it is we come to that moment between life and death, there will be a good man waiting there for us.  Better, even, than Stanislov Petrov.  This man will do even more for us than averting certain death.

He will take us by the hand,

and lead us into Certain Life.

Have a great week,
(especially Saturday)

Mitch

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Mr. E and I

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I have a best friend, but I can’t exactly tell you what he looks like.

It is never a dull moment when he is around.

We’ll spend hours just reflecting on the things that we know, and don’t know.  We’ll wonder, lost in thought, deep into the night.

This is not to say we never argue, Mr. E and I.

Sometimes he can be frustratingly vague.  He is far more comfortable with uncertainty than I could ever be.

And when we talk about the BIG things– Life, death, God — he seems content to remain discontented.

There are times when I have all but pushed Mr. E out of my life, seeking a more settled circle of friends, like Sir Tenty, Sir Enity, and Dr. Abness, but frankly, I get bored.

I know there is more to life than the surface, than the self-evident, and it is Mr. E who reminds me of this.

He reminds me I don’t have to know everything.  I wouldn’t even want to know everything.

Around each corner and each twist and turn is the promise of more to learn, more to grow, more to explore.

So, it’s my goal that Mr. E and I remain lifelong friends.

Life is long, afterall.

I know it’s not always easy,

but it should always be an adventure.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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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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Neat Freaking Out

’Slovenliness is no part of religion.’Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.’”  –John Wesley

I’m a neat freak.

Every morning I get up and make the bed.   I pick up the dirty clothes.  Then I spruce up the bathroom and empty the trash.    Occasionally I wipe down the mirrors so there aren’t any streaks.  Every few mornings I vacuum.   It’s a kind of ritual I have…

And it’s killing me.

You see, I am NOT, by nature, a neat freak–this trait has recently been imposed upon me.   In fact, I’m something quite a bit on the other side of the spectrum.  My mother couldn’t teach me to be this neat.  My father couldn’t.  Even my patient wife has all but given up on me being neat.

But my realtor?  She was somewhat more successful.  I believe her words to us were, “Now, are you going to be the kind of a family that needs a whole day’s notice before we show your house, or one hour’s notice?”   I eagerly said, “Have them call us any time.  We can be ready for a showing in 15 minutes!”

Yep, we’re trying to sell our house.  And even my wife, who likes things generally more clean than I do, is feeling the strain.  (Being a Lert can get old after a while!)

If we’re ever to sell our house, we’ve got to keep things in tip top shape.   We want people to experience this home as a thing of beauty, and so I find myself going against my own human nature for the sake of the Big Picture.

It’s got me wondering…

Does God expect me to be this clean in my spiritual life?  Does God expect me to be super assertive and mindful of my own sins and shortcomings?  If so, then being a Christian is a lot more work than many of us realize.   Every day, saying my prayers, reading my Bible?  Every day, helping those in need, loving my neighbors and even my enemies?  Every day, staying vigilant about discipleship? That’s hard! Especially for those of us whose human nature inclines them to be a little bit lazier.

I guess the Good News is that Christ is a bit like our realtor.   Helping us figure out how to get the most out of life.  Holding us to some standards.  Helping us make our lives worth showing to others.

Truth be told,  we’re about six weeks in now, and I’ve gotten in the groove a bit.   I’ve made my bed for the most consecutive days in my life, I’m sure.  And even though there’s stress as we wonder when somebody will buy our place (3517 SW Westport Drive Topeka, KS, in case you’re looking!), my wife and I are trying hard not to freak out.   After all, certainly there are advantages to living in a spotless house, just as there are advantages to trying to live a spotless life.

And when we fall short, Christ is ready to forgive us and help us clean up and move on.

That’s good to know…

Because you should see my office!

Have a Great Week,

Mitch