Monday, March 11, 2013

Zombiefied Christians

Have you watched any of the recent shows on TV surrounding the rivetting, freakishly bizarre theme of a zombie apocalypse? One thing for sure, it is all-the-latest craze and shows like "The Walking Dead" are raking in the big bucks.

So, how about them zombies? Well, I believe they exist for real, probably somewhere in an abandoned warehouse close to where you live, and they're coming after you soon! (Okay ... just kidding!) But, now that I've got your attention, what analogies may we draw from zombies as compared to many Christians?

First of all, zombies are basically dead people whose bodies are still somehow animated, and they apparently have a voracious appetite for living flesh. Within the ranks of Christianity there are those "believers" who are spiritually dead though physically alive, as they persist in their sinful lifestyles and live in something of a zombiefied state. Sadly enough, they don't even seem to be aware of their tragic and deplorable spiritual condition. Moreover, they have a tendency to prey on other believers (figuratively that is) with an insatiable appetite of carnality and materialism, thus pulling unsuspecting others into their same zombie-like state.

The apostle Paul poses a startling rhetorical question and quickly answers it in Romans 6:1-2 (ESV), "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" Faithful Christians cannot continue to live unrepentant, immoral lifestyle, as they did before baptism which ushered them into "newness of life" (vv. 3-4). To dwell in sin is to be analogous to the walking dead, only more troublesome and tragic. You see -- it means to forfeit eternal life! Unconfessed and rebellious sin has the effect of sucking the spiritual life right out of us and rendering us dead in our trespasses.

Second, in light of sin's deadly wages, we are completely reliant upon God's grace for salvation. Romans 6:23 (ESV) says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." However, the benefits of this grace are contingent upon a faithful and obedient response to the gospel of Christ. It is a gift that must be received in humble faith and obedience for it to be efficacious in accomplishing its intended purpose of salvation.

Third, in contrast to zombiefied Christians, Paul pleads with us in Romans 6:11-13 (ESV), "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to live, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." We have been given a new law (v. 14), the law of Christ, which is to be inscribed upon the tablets of our pliable hearts.

Fourth, even though the world tries to infect us with its deathly disease of sin and essentially transform us into spiritless zombies, we are revivified by the gift of the Holy Spirit which God freely gives to those who willingly surrender their lives to His perfect will (Acts 2:38). We can take great comfort and find hope in Paul's words (Romans 8:10, ESV) that exclaim, "But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Furthermore, Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) states, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved." Wow -- what a great blessing that is!

If I boil all this down: My intent is to warn us all (myself included) against turning into a zombiefied, heartless, and spiritually hollow Christian. Instead, we are called in Scripture to be alive to God and His righteousness and be dead to the deadly secularism and worldliness that surrounds us. So, get ready for the zombie apocalypse and be ready to fight back . . . for your soul's sake and for the spiritual security of those you love!

Note: This article originally appeared on my former blogsite (

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Power of Presence

[The following article consists of excerpts from my upcoming book, His Heart, My Hands. I am dedicating this piece to our good friend, B. J. Lowery of Henrietta, Texas. You'll see why in a moment!]
He came. Whatever else may be said about Jesus the Christ, it is undeniable that he came. When humanity needed him the most, he showed up in person -- in the humblest of ways. No telegrams, emails, or text messages. No creatively hand-written letter with his words penned in red ink. And he didn't send somebody else in his place -- a heavenly representative if you will.
Why not? He knew in his heart of hearts, for all eternity, those ways would simply not do. He had to come into the world himself as a flesh-and-blood person, physically present to humankind, as well as being emotionally and spiritually available to us. To write a letter, send a video, or make a digital recording wouldn't have cut the mustard. He had to show up in human skin, "taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7, ESV).
How does Jesus's coming speak to us today when it relates to Christian caregiving? What it says is that mailing a card or letter, making a quick phone call, or sending flowers or money to the hurting and downcast is all well and good, but it frankly is often not enough. A greater form of personal investment is required if a deeper level of caring is to be achieved. We need to show up in person and be physically present to people. There's absolutely no equivalent replacement for the human touch. It may be called the "ministry of presence." Another way of saying this is "being there for others."
During the initial days of our four-year-old son Austin's chemotherapy treatments for leukemia in 2005, several of our church family came to be with us and left a lasting impression. One such individual was a quiet, humble, rancher named B. J. Lowery. He was a person of few words but wise steps.
We were surprised when B. J. timidly poked his head through the door of Austin's hospital room. He was wearing a white cowboy hat, plaid shirt, blue jeans, and brown work-boots. With a friendly smile and in his Texan drawl, all he said was, "Hi guys. How are you making it? I love you and Austin and just wanted to be here. Do you mind if I sit with you a while?" Of course we were more than happy to have B. J.'s company because we loved and appreciated him, too. He had always made an extra effort to show special kindness to our children and us in the past.
B. J. sat unassumingly in Austin's low-lit, cramped hospital room with us, not taking the chair beside his bed, but the one next to the wall. He didn't want to be in anybody's way. While other visitors came and went, and medical staff went about their perfunctory tasks, B. J. sat quietly and respectfully, rarely chiming in to the conversation. And, though he at times appeared a bit self-conscious, he stayed from beginning of visiting hours to the very end. When the announcement over the loudspeaker signifying the end of visiting hours echoed through the hallways, B. J. said, "I love you, Austin. We'll go fishing together when you get back home." Austin responded, "I love you, too." We knew B. J. meant it. He didn't say much, but his comforting presence spoke volumes to us. We knew this gentle friend cared, because he came!
We thank God that Austin did get to fish with B. J. a few months later on his ranch. What a great blessing that was indeed -- for all of us!
Note: This article originally appeared on my former blogsite (

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mutual Caring Between Friends

Yesterday, I was blessed with the opportunity of going out to lunch with an "old" college buddy of mine. It's been years since we have really had the chance to hang out with each other and catch up on what's going on in each of our worlds. Both of our lives are much more busy and hectic nowadays than back when we were students. We're both married and also have teenage children, plus are bombarded daily with many familial and professional responsibilities to attend to. 

Over lunch we shared intimate stories of some of our personal struggles surrounding family health concerns, the pain surrounding the death of loved ones, and other gutwrenching situations we have both been confronted with over the past few years. In the last year, he lost a grandparent, parent, and aunt. I, on the other hand, have been dealing with serious challenges related to my oldest child whom my wife and I adopted when he was almost six years of age. He has many psychological scars due to severe abuse and neglect experienced during his first few years of life. Needless to say, it has been a long, hard road for our family.

Well, it was brought home to me again yesterday in a powerful way, the inestimable value of being able to share openly and honestly with a trustworthy, caring friend concerning personal difficulties and heartaches. Sitting and enjoying a tasty meal in a local diner, we were both able to talk freely and comfortably about some of the painful realities of life that have been on our hearts and minds lately. It felt safe to be transparent with one another, rather than feeling we had to hide behind a facade of "having it all together." It was a cathartic experience for both of us--as if a pressure valve had been released to let off some built-up steam.

In Christ, we are exhorted to provide mutual support and care as we "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2, ESV). What a wonderful blessing that is!

Note: This article originally appeared on my former blogsite (