Tag Archives: Christian

The Living Dead

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What does the enemy do with people who aren’t afraid to die?  How do you fight something like that?  If the enemy says, “I’m going to kill you,” and you respond with a shrug, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  How does he stop you?  The ultimate threat of Satan is death, but Jesus holds the keys to death.  Death has lost its sting in the Resurrection of the Son of God.

Christians who live like they are going to benefit in death are NOT like the suicide bombers of Radical Islam.  Christians do not actively court death.  We embrace life, but we do not FEAR death.  We don’t seek to destroy others through our deaths.  We don’t die for the sake of hatred.  We seek to SAVE as many as possible.  We die for the sake of LOVE, when we must be killed.  It is completely different when a Christian lives like he’s already dead.  It simply means he’s willing to take risks without fear for the sake of saving as many as possible.

All die, but not all really live.  Jesus Christ told his disciples not to fear the one who can kill the body but can do nothing to the soul, but to fear the one that can both kill the body and then throw the soul into hell to experience eternal death.  So who are you going to fear?  Satan can kill the body, but if you belong to Christ, he can never touch your soul.  What is to fear about that?

Happy Day of the Dead! (a continuation of missionary pitfalls)

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I decided to just sit quietly and let the students hash out this cultural dilemma amongst themselves.  It was nearing the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, and our Christian university students were arguing about what was appropriate for a Christian to do or not to do during this holiday.  Since I was still in the cultural learning phase and didn’t fully understand all the implications of the holiday for Mexicans, I decided to keep my mouth shut and see where this conversation goes.

“Yes,” said one guy in the group, “I know that we don’t want to glorify death, but what about eating the Pan de Muerto (the traditional Bread of the Dead was sold in all the stores this time of year.)  My Grandmother makes it, and it’s SOOOOO good!  Do I offend her?  Do I NOT eat the bread?  But I reeeeeally like it!”  A hot debate burst open between the students who argued that the Pan de Muerto symbolizes everything they were wanting to avoid, and those students who felt that you can’t become corrupted by what you eat like Paul arguing about food sacrificed to idols.  I could see both sides of the debate.  Personally I was thinking about how shocked and offended our students would be if they knew that I had 3 carved pumpkins in my backyard as we spoke!  Heathen!!

In the end, the Pan de Muerto issue was not resolved, but the students agreed to make their own “ofrenda” or display to show their campus how Christians view death.  They constructed a cardboard coffin and painted it black.  Inside the coffin they placed a mirror at head height.  Around the mirror they wrote scripture verses, “It is appointed unto man once to die, then after that the Judgement,” and “I am the resurrection and the life.  He that believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.  And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  I was impressed at what they came up with!

I was inspired by their solution.  So at our own house we decorated for Halloween, which is just starting to catch on as a candy-centered bonus to Day of the Dead.  I bought a ton of candy, pulled out a box of pocket sized Bibles in Spanish that a team had given us, and fired up my computer to print up some bookmarks with those verses on them in Spanish.  That night as the Trick-or-Treaters rang my doorbell, I gave out 75 Bibles and 125 bookmarks with Bible verses on them!

Secretly, I also bought a loaf of Pan de Muerto just to taste it.  I wasn’t impressed, so that detail no longer tempted me.  But you can see that as a missionary, I had to decide how to handle a holiday that is based in the pagan culture.  What does it look like from the perspective of the Christians in THIS culture?  How do I go about becoming all things to all people so that I might win some?  Can I use the base of a pagan holiday as a tool to do something good for the Kingdom of God?  Heck yeah!  The Devil is always trying to take our good stuff and twist it for his evil plans, so I just consider this and eye for an eye.

Happiness within the Call

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From the time my sister was in college until just a few years ago she has worked at various positions with Senior Citizens.  She loves old people.  (We always joke that I get the kids and she gets the old people.)  She can hug someone over 100-years old (very gently) any time she wants!

But there was a time when the company she was working for was under lousy management and working there become stressful.  Fortunately another position opened within the Christian university that we both attended.  It paid more and offered a fresh environment with a challenge.  She worked there for about 5 years, and though she enjoyed her job, she missed her old people.  Always missed them.

We talked about it.  After all these years, I think she finally realized that working with Seniors is what she was MADE  to do.  It was her Calling.  She would only feel fulfilled in her work if she was working with old people.  So when all the doors suddenly opened up for her to return to her old company as PART OF the management- to really do some good and affect some changes- she jumped at the opportunity.  We all encouraged her to follow her calling.

This last week my sister wrote this on her Facebook page:

Two moving moments today at work:
1) Having a grey-haired, 60-something adult child tear-up while I was counseling him about getting though his parents’ move.

2) Having an 80-something resident make ME tear-up. He lived at Augustana back when I worked there before and was one of my favs. He said to me, “Back in 2003, you did one of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for me. When we took a trip to Lakewood Cemetery, you offered to visit my wife’s grave with me. I’ve never forgotten that and it will be the last thing I think of before I close my eyes for the last time.” UGH! Tears!

I have thought many, many times about my purpose in life.  Personally, I feel most fulfilled being a missionary.  I feel that this was what I was MADE to be.  My sister feels that working with Seniors is what she was MADE to do.  Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you find the purpose and meaning for your life?  I think there are a lot of people out there still working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if they missed their occupational calling in life.  That’s sad.

Even though no one calls her a “Minister”, what my sister does IS ministry.  She ministers to old people and to their families who are struggling with the transition that their loved ones are going through.  She treats her job as sacred and sees it as a chance to share the love of God with people.  And THAT is how you handle a Calling.  When you KNOW that this is what God wants you to do with your life, you treat it as sacred.

“I deserve better”

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Being a big Paula Dean fan, I was tempted to transform this title to, “I deserve BUTTER”.  I still might someday make that my personal motto, but for now I better get focused *squirrel!*

“I deserve better” is the call of the wild for egoists everywhere.  It is best described as a sense of entitlement.  You might not actually come right out and say those exact words, but you think it in your heart.  You believe that you deserve something.

Some examples might be, “I’ve been good all week long and stayed on my diet, so tonight I deserve to eat a whole bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough… made with butter.”  What, why are you staring at me?  

And it can get even more sinister with things like money, “I’m working so hard lately that I deserve to buy myself those Louboutin shoes like the ones that Oprah wears.”  

Recently I listened to some old Andy Stanley leadership podcasts that talked about a few different bad behaviors that stem from a sense of entitlement.  (I’ve looked for the podcasts again and I can’t find them for the life of me, sorry.)  Especially in leaders, this sense of entitlement is particularly ugly… and particularly hard to see in yourself.  Normally everyone around you can see it clear as the nose on your face, but you are totally blind to your own faults.

So how do you know what it looks like in yourself?  It looks like jealously, taking the credit for everything, getting a big head,  never saying Thank You, not being able to celebrate the successes of others, and bragging.  It can also look like voting to give yourself stock options and a pay raise when the whole company is tanking financially… but that’s another story.

A Christian with a sense of entitlement might feel like “God owes me” for all the work I’ve done for him.  He owes me for all the sacrifices I’ve had to make for Him.

A non-believer might say  “life owes me” or “Karma owes me” or “someone else owes me”.

This is a super ugly attitude among missionaries, and believe me, I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen some missionaries live like America owes them.  (Maybe they are starting to get a little dizzy up on that pedestal.)  They say, “We’ve sacrificed so much already.  We deserve… fill in the blank with something nice.”  That’s not to say that there aren’t perks to living the missionary life style, there are.  But our attitude should be one of extreme thankfulness to God for each new blessing and humility that we should be so honored to be chosen to serve where we do.  A missionary should never have a sense of being owed something.

This is MY idea of exotic luxury… with a nanny watching my children for me.

Why is entitlement such a Dangerous Attitude?  It was Lucifer’s attitude when he tried to usurp the throne of God.  Lucifer was the most beautiful angel that God created, but he felt like God owed him more.  He felt like everyone owed him praise for his beauty and talents.  Ultimately it lead him to rebel against God and be cast to Earth in defeat.

When it comes right down to it, we should remember our rightful place.  We are servants… indentured servants bought with a price.  We have no rights, and our only “just due” is death for our sins.  We have no right to expect anything good… not even butter.  So we should be thankful for every good gift we DO receive from the hands of our loving Master.