Tag Archives: Christian life.

Mostly Dead


There is a scene in the movie The Princess Bride where the grumpy magician Miracle Max revives the Man in Black.  (Remember that one?  Classic.)  His friends think he’s dead, but Miracle Max says, “Turns out your friend here is only Mostly Dead.  And Mostly Dead means he’s slightly Alive!”

One of the central principles of the Christian faith is dying to yourself.  We are instructed to die to our sinful desires, to take off the “old man” and put on the “new man”, to identify with the death of Christ through baptism, to be dead to ourself.  Dead to ourself but alive to Christ.  Just as Christ rose from the dead, we too rise from the waters of baptism with a new Master in our lives.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  Romans 6:11 says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  So we are the Living Dead.

But here I have to confess that much of the time I am kind of half-hearted about this dying to myself thing.  I’m reluctantly Living Dead.  OK, most of the time I’m just Mostly Dead, which means I’m slightly Alive.  I’ve heard it said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.  Yes, that’s true of me.  My sinful desires are slippery and hard to nail down.  My own motives are hidden in the dark, unexplored corners of my heart.  And if I’m truly honest with myself, I don’t want those corners illuminated and mapped.  I’d rather keep a part of myself instead of giving my all to Jesus.

Living Dead is hard.  It’s a daily dying and most days I don’t die well.  I put up a fight.  Some days I’m just tired of the fight and that’s the only reason I die on that day.  Those are the days when I collapse in a heap at the foot of the cross and only have the strength to weep soul tears and whisper a one word prayer, Oh Jesus!  This Living Dead thing is wretchedly hard.

I’d like to give you a nice perky ending here, but then you’d know I was being a fake.  I’m not going to lie to you, it’s much easier to be a sinner than a saint.  But here’s where my faith picks me up out of my despairing heap and sets me back on my dead feet again.  I know that someday it will all be worth it.  I’m keeping Jesus in my sights and the hope of Heaven as my promissory note.  One day it will be worth it all when I see Jesus face to face.

“We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?… We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 6:1-11

Hobo Water


We used to live close to very busy “Round About” (or Rotunda if you’re from Costa Rica) on the main road into San Jose.  This Rotunda has a fountain that runs most days.  Some days we would see bums bathing in the fountain.  My kids were fascinated by this.  One day when we were driving around the Rotunda, the wind was blowing and the fountain was spraying all the cars on the East side of the fountain.  As our car entered the spray, my kids scrambled too late to close the car windows and screamed “Ahhhhh Hobo Water!” when they got wet.

We see homeless people every day.  And because of this, I make a mental point to notice them… even if they are just passed out on the sidewalk… because I don’t want to become insensitive to seeing them.  I don’t want homeless people to just become part of the background or the landscape of living in Latin America.  They are people too, they may be mentally ill or drug addicted, but they have parents and maybe other relatives who still wonder about them and care about them.  No man is an island.  Each person is born to a mother at the very least.  No one is a throw-away.

Behind the mall near my house is a shanty town, a “precario.”  If you drive through the street next to the precario there are signs warning you to slow down because children play in the street.  One sign says, “none of our children are extras, please drive slowly.”  I like that.  Someone is making a point to the world.  “We may be poor, but we love our children too!”  I make a point to read every word of that sign, even though I have long ago memorized it, because I like that someone is taking care in their own way.  I don’t want that sign to become invisible to my eyes.

On my daily commute from my kids’ school to the school where I teach English, I pass an empty lot.  I’m sitting in traffic long enough to pay attention to that lot and the things that happen among the weeds and construction debris left from the demolition of the building that was once on that corner.  Back in the far corner of the lot, a tile floor remains intact.  Over the last few weeks, two or three hobos have set up camp on the tile floor in the corner.  I look at them every day.  I want to see the junk that they have accumulated.  It’s treasure to them.  I noted when they found a mattress.  I noticed when they had a camp fire going.  I saw when they finally hung a sort of curtain over the door of the hut.  I laughed the day I saw a life sized, cardboard cut out of a woman advertising headache medicine propped up against the wall by the door.  Trophy wife?

I think about that life and I wonder if it’s really that much different than the life that you and I lead.  Most of us are on a life long mission to accumulate stuff.  Our houses are full of stuff we never need and don’t really want, but we can’t throw anything away because “it’s mine!”  How is our house full of fake flower arrangements and decorative bowls propped on useless side tables any different than the hobo house with the mattress and curtain door with the prized cardboard blonde holding a bottle of Tabcin?  We may have paid more for our junk, but it’s still not coming with us when we leave this life.  Our junk might look pretty in our eyes, but so does the grocery cart full of hub caps in the eyes of the homeless guy.

My point is, we aren’t all that different.  When you pass a homeless someone on the street, don’t pretend you don’t see them.  Don’t let them become the back ground of your commute to work.  Look at them.  Notice them.  Think about them when you’re at work or driving home.  Don’t let your heart be fatigued.  These people matter to God, they should matter to you too.

“Don’t let your heart grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13

“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for the urgent needs of others and not live unproductive lives.”  Titus 3:14

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers


My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

A long time ago I read a phrase in a book that has stuck with me:  “The weight of wings”.  The idea was that birds never complain about the weight of the things that give them the gift of flight.  They don’t think about it- they just fly naturally.  I think that’s how God wants us to live our Christian life- naturally.

When we spend too much time and energy focusing on HOW we are of service to others, our Christian duty becomes a burden, a weight.  But if we keep our focus not on ourselves and our usefulness but on Jesus, then our service becomes natural and effortless.  We will unconsciously be useful to God and to others.  It will be as natural and normal as a bird in flight.

I am challenged today to keep my focus on Jesus and to just BE whatever he’s made me to be.  BEING is more powerful than all the DOING in the world.  Focus on Jesus, not on myself.