Intervention.

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Create in me a clean heart, O God –Psalm 51:10

This is an intervention.

We’re worried about you.  You’ve been distant lately.  Whenever we try to talk to you you seem so distracted, unfocussed.  Like your mind is caught up in other things.

Have you gotten yourself in some sort of trouble?  Are you making bad decisions?  Have you forsaken us for something unhealthy?  Maybe it’s your actions that have been problematic, or maybe it’s your thoughts.  You know, unhealthy patterns of thinking are just as dangerous as their corresponding actions.

Okay, we’ll just come out and ask it:  Are you cheating on us?  Of course, we already know the answer.  We’re your parent, your brother, your spirit.  We know you best.  We know every thought before you think it, every move before you make it.

We’re your heavenly family, with bonds stronger than even those of your earthly family.  When you pull away like this, it hurts us.  It hurts the whole Kingdom.

So what can we do to mend your cheating heart?  How can we guide you back into the fullness of relationship—not just with us, but with your earthly brothers and sisters?  How can we help you be healthier?  Holier?

This is an intervention.  It doesn’t work unless you admit you have a problem.  We love you so much, and we want to give you room to ponder who you are, and who you want to be.

Why don’t you take some time to think about it, and pray about it.

How about, say, 40 days?

Have a good Lent,

Mitch

Holytrinity

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6 scary Bible costume ideas

There’s scary, and then there’s SCARY.  These costume ideas are based on scripture, and while they may or may not frighten children, they ought to put fear in every adult Christian’s heart.

Here we go:  (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)

 

THE BOAT MISSER

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This one’s easy.  Just dress like you normally do, but thoroughly douse yourself with water.  When people ask, tell them you’re one of the folks who laughed at Noah.  Then, tonight, when you can’t sleep, shiver to realize the times you heard a prophet’s warning, thought they were all wet, but it turned out that YOU were.

 

THE ALIEN, THE WIDOW, AND THE ORPHAN

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In the Old Testament, it’s like a refrain.  16 times we are called to care for the alien, the widow, and the orphan.  These were the most vulnerable people in society, and that remains quite true today.  To dress up like one of these folks, dress like normal, pack a small bag, and shudder to think about life with just about everything you like/love ripped away.

 

THE RICH YOUNG RULER

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All you need for this costume is a robe and a fake bag of money.  Who hasn’t heard the story of Jesus telling the bright young man all he needs to do is sell all his possessions and follow him?  If you’re like me, you’ve spent countless hours trying to decide just how literal Jesus was being.  After all, just like the man in this story, I’ve got a frightening amount of stuff I just can’t seem to let go of.

 

THE WEIGHT LIFTER

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Grab a burlap sack.  Stencil the word “SIN” on it in big letters.  Add some fake sweat and you’re ready to go!  Dressing as someone who hasn’t asked Christ to carry their sins will remind you (and others) just how hard life can be without the miracle of faith.  (Here’s a chilling thought:  How much are you still carrying around?”)

 

THE WRONG GUY

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Two men went up to the temple to pray.  And you’re gonna be dressed as the wrong one.  Pick out your nicest, most pretentious outfit, lift your eyes to the good Lord in heaven, and add a little swagger to your prayer.  Perfect, you’re a pretentious Christian!  As you lord your good standing in heaven over all the other trick-or-treaters, be sure to take a good look in the mirror.  BOO!  God help you if you recognize yourself!

 

PONTIUS PILATE

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Yep.  This last costume actually has a name.  Grab a robe, maybe a cape, and a bowl of water and you’re good to go.  At every doorbell you can wash your hands of all responsibility for any tricks that might get played.  And while you’re at it, take a moment to think of all the times you might have washed your hands instead of standing up for what’s right, stepping out in faith, and doing the hard thing.

There you have it!  You’re all set to go door to door, filling your plastic bucket with goodies, but with a purpose! No matter which of these costume ideas you pick, you’re guaranteed a chance to do some soul-searching into the murkiest depths of your faith.  It’s true, you might be frightened by some of what you experience, but it’s nothing  the Holy Trinity can’t redeem.

Hmm.  Kind of like a Three Musketeer’s for the soul.

Have a scary week,

Mitch

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Homesick for the Holidays

christmas-is-a-time-when-you-get-homesickI’m homesick.

I know I’m in good company.

I picture countless college students, soldiers, business travelers and others, pining for home.

This is the time of year when it hits hardest.  A time for togetherness, a time of tradition.

But here’s my thing:

I counted it up, and in my life I’ve had exactly 15 places that I have called home.

That’s a lot, although you may have had even more.

Which one am I longing for?

I have wonderful memories that come from many of those places.

Families, fun, meals, gifts given and received.

But this year, it’s not for any of those places that I am homesick.

I am longing for what I might call a heavenly home.

 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  –John 14:23

The earthly world seems especially slippery this year.  I find it hard to cling to some of those “home” traditions with the same joy I do most years.

This year I long for something eternal.  Something true.  Something I can hold on to.

I long for a Love I can call home.

This home is not necessarily a place, nor is it only accessible after one’s death.  It is the Father, Son, and Spirit setting up a spiritual home with you.

A home base.  A safe place.  A launching pad.  HOME.

What triggers this kind of homecoming?

Jesus says it:  Clinging to him.  Living with faith.

This is the kind of home I’m sick for.

The very kind that will make me well.

Merry Christmas!  Cling to Christ!

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Do The Shamrock Shake

This year, I’m gonna do the Shamrock Shake.

It disappeared for a few years, but McDonald’s has put their minty green shakes back on the menu for St Patrick’s Day.

Of course, at 840 calories for a large one, it will take a lot of shaking to burn off all that sugar!

Still, I think it might be worth it. Here’s what I learned (from Wikipedia):

Once upon a time there was a young boy named Patrick. He lived in Wales in the 5th century. At the age of 16 he was captured and taken to Ireland, where he served as a slave for 6 years. Finally, he escaped and went home to his family.

Time passed. Patrick became a priest. Then a Bishop. And where did he choose to go serve?

That’s right, Ireland. He returned to the country where he had been a slave, so that he could be a servant. Wow.

There are lots of stories about St. Patrick, and we don’t know which ones are true, and which ones aren’t. There’s one where his walking stick came back to life and began to bloom. There’s another one where he banishes all the snakes from Ireland (that’s a personal favorite of mine).

Perhaps the best story about St. Patrick involves the shamrock. Patrick used the 3-leafed shamrock to illustrate the trinity: Three separate leaves representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Separate, but connected. Working as one.

When I think about the way God must have touched Patrick’s life, it makes me happy. When I think about how he turned around and shared the Love of God with his own persecutors, it makes me want to dance.

It makes me want to do the Shamrock Shake! Hallelujah!

So, whether you do the dance, or drink the dessert, or both, remember that God is the one who delivers us from bondage, and calls us into service.

And because of faithful disciples, like St Patrick, who devote their lives to the Church, we can say:

Welcome to Christianity…

Millions and Millions Served.

Have a great week,

Mitch

The Doublity?

This coming Sunday is Pentecost.  The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Who cares?

You’ve got God up in heaven, who created everything.   You’ve got Jesus on earth, who died for our sins.   Isn’t that enough?

Some people think it is.  Hmm, maybe we don’t need the Holy Spirit.  Maybe we should get rid of the Trinity and call it the… Twinity?  The Twoity?  Personally I think the Doublity has a nice ring to it.   Then we could just call it the  “Father and Son”.   Sounds like a furniture store.

It’s true, sometimes the third person of the Trinity gets the short end of the stick (triangle?).   After all the miracles of the Bible, all the concepts Christians are asked to believe, for some reason it’s the idea of the Holy Spirit that can trip some people up.  Is it an actual Ghost that floats around whispering in people’s ears?  Is it some ethereal mist that helps inspire people? Does it breathe tongues of fire?  Does it convey the ability to speak in other languages?  A student told me they were taught that the Holy Spirit looked like Jiminy Cricket, sitting on your shoulder.   That’s a new one.

I 0nce wrote a paper describing the Trinity this way:

  1. God the Father(Parent) is LOVE, the source of all Love, the creative power of Love.
  2. God the Son(Jesus) is the LOVER–God’s expression of Love, come to Earth to love us, even to the point of His death.
  3. And God the Holy Spirit is LOVING–the divine power of Love, present in us and around us, helping us to put love into practice.

What do you think?  My professor didn’t seem terribly impressed, but when I think about the Trinity this way, I’m reminded that it’s a package deal.   Each way of talking about love is connected to the other.  All are ways we experience God.    God is our LOVE LOVER LOVING.

If you think about it this way, what would the world be without LOVING?   Sure, we’d be created in LOVE, and we’d be saved by the LOVER, but what would join your soul to mine?  What would inspire us to cherish and serve each other.   What would lead us down the right paths?  Without LOVING, I believe we’d be lost.

The truth is, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, and never left.   The third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, is literally the glue that holds us together.   And the energy that sends us out.   The Holy Spirit is so much a part of your life, and mine, that if we aren’t mindful we can take its presence for granted.  Let’s not do that.

This Sunday, how about wearing red to church?   Red is the color of the Pentecost and the color we assign to the Holy Spirit.

And how about practicing some LOVING while you’re at it?   Celebrate God with you!  Pass out hugs like they’re going out of style.  Sing like you’re in the shower.   Put a smile on the face of a stranger.   Pray for world peace, and believe it can happen!

In other words, put some Spirit…

In your Holy.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch