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Category Archives: Calvin and Hobbes

To the Church in Laodicea: A Church that was Self-Sufficient

In a recent series of comic strips, my favorite theologian, Calvin & Hobbes, conspired to keep his babysitter nemesis, Rosalyn, locked out of the house.

While it is humorous in a comic strip, it is sad in real life. It is even sadder when the person we lock out of our lives is Jesus Christ. In Revelation 3:14-22, the church in Laodicea had pushed Christ out of the church, but didn’t even know he was missing.

In Revelation 1:11, Jesus sent a message to each of seven local churches in Asia Minor. Jesus rebukes the church in Laodicea for its self-sufficiency and materialism which blinded them to their spiritual poverty. He exhorts them to repent and open their hearts to pursue a deeper relationship with himself. This letter tell us that We need to repent of our self-sufficiency and materialism. We must pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus.

The Church (14a) – It is possible that the three sister churches—Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colossae—were established at the same time by Epaphras, who founded the Colossian church (Colossians 1:7) as well as evangelized Laodicea and Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13) during Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19).

The City (14a) – The city was located about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia on the road to Colossae. It was the greatest city of the Lycus River Valley. The city had material wealth through its banking industry. They were renowned for producing a garment of black wool fabric. The city was famous for its medical school that exported a powder used for eye salve. The independent nature of the city is demonstrated in the fact that when it was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 60, wealthy citizens paid to rebuild the city themselves without outside help.

The Character of Christ (14b) – Jesus described himself as the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. As the Amen, whatever Jesus says is true and certain. As the faithful and true witness, Jesus is reliable and trustworthy. As the beginning of God’s creation, Christ existed before creation and is sovereign over it. As the supreme creator and ruler of the universe, Jesus Christ has every right to critique his wayward church.

The Condition of the Church: Concern (15-17) – There is no commendation given to this church. Instead, Jesus soundly criticized the church. Their biggest failure was that the church was self-sufficient and blasé towards God.

Jesus critiques the church by saying they were lukewarm and that he wished they were hot or cold. The tendency is to think he is talking about one’s spiritual temperature. However, he seems odd that Jesus would rather someone was turned off toward him rather than lukewarm. The description makes more sense when you understand the geography and background of the city.

Laodicea was near two other cities, Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was a spa known for its hot mineral baths and medicinal waters. Colossae boasted the finest supply of cold, pure, refreshing water. While Laodicea was blessed with prosperity, their water supply was a problem. An aqueduct brought water to the city. Over time, mineral deposits accumulated in the pipes. The water that arrived in Laodicea was lukewarm and mineral laden. It was nauseating and disgusting to drink.

Like the city’s water supply, the church was neither a cold, refreshing drink nor a warm, healing bath. Some churches make the Lord weep, others make him angry; the Laodicean church made him sick. Lukewarm spirituality makes Christ gag.

Their biggest problem was they did not even realize they had a problem. Like the city, the church thought it was rich and self-sufficient. In reality, they were poor. The church thought it was clothed with righteous character. In reality, they were spiritually wretched, pitiful, and naked. The church thought it had spiritual insight. Instead, they were blind.

The Command (18-19) – While he finds the church repulsive, Christ takes time to offer counsel. They were urged to buy three things they did not think they needed.

Refined gold. A goldsmith subjects the gold to intense heat that liquefies the gold. The impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off. What remains is a purer gold of higher carat.

White clothes. Though they had beautiful clothes, they were urged to wear white, which was symbolic of righteousness which would cover their spiritual nakedness.

Salve for their eyes. The medical school offered a special salve to heal common eye troubles of the Middle East. What they needed was not this medicine but spiritual sight.

Christ’s criticism is based on his love. The most undeserving church is still loved by God. Christ rebuked them because he loved them.

The Commitment (20-21) – In addition to gold, clothing, and eye salve, Christ wants them to enjoy his person and his fellowship.

Christ pictured himself as standing outside and knocking on a door. Sadly, the church had pushed Christ right outside but did not even know he was missing. The appeal is for those who hear to open the door. To them Christ promised, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me.

With Christ on the outside, there can be no fellowship or genuine wealth. With Christ on the inside, there is wonderful fellowship and sharing of the marvelous grace of God. To those who respond, Christ promises to give the right to sit with him on his throne and share his victory.

The Challenge (22) – Take the message to heart. Hear and heed the message.

Perceived assets

True condition God’s solution
Banking Poor

Refined gold

Medical school

Blind Eye salve
Textiles Naked

White garments

Independent

Self-sufficient

Wretched

Pitiable

Relationship with Christ

Principles (1) Self-sufficiency and materialism can blind a person to their spiritual poverty. (2) Jesus rebukes and disciplines his children in order to heal them. (3) To experience renewed fellowship with Jesus, we must be serious enough to change.

Questions to consider: (1) Are you making progress in the Christian life? (2) Where do you need to change and/or grow? (3) Are you willing to change? (4) Who will hold you accountable? (5) If “YES,” repent & pursue a deeper relationship with Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 25, 2018. It is the final message in a series on The State of the Church. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Finding humor in the deep freeze

In honor of the deep freeze we find ourselves in, here’s a collection of Calvin & Hobbes snow comics.

Calvin & Hobbes - snow - temptation Calvin & Hobbes - snow dance Calvin & Hobbes - snowball fight Calvin & Hobbes - snowballs at speed of light Calvin & Hobbes - snowman evolution Calvin & Hobbes - snowman suicide 2  Calvin & Hobbes - snowmen-1 Calvin & Hobbes - snowmen-2 Calvin & Hobbes - snowmen-3 Calvin & Hobbes - snowmen-4

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in Calvin and Hobbes, Winter

 

Be it resolved

Humorous New Years’ Resolutions from my cartoonist friends. Some are new and others are worth repeating.

Brewster Rocket

brewster-rockit-resolutions new-years-resolutions-1 new-years-resolutions-2 new-years-resolutions-3

Baby Blues

baby-blues-resolutions

Calvin & Hobbes

calvin-hobbes-resolutions-1 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-2 Calvin and Hobbes calvin-hobbes-resolutions-4 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-5 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-6 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-7 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-8 calvin-hobbes-resolutions-9

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2018 in Baby Blues, Calvin and Hobbes, Fun

 

Stuck in the waiting room

It seems like I am trapped in the waiting room. Like my friend Calvin observed, time tends to stand still.

One friend suggested I do a study of the concept of waiting in Scripture. Unbeknownst to her, I actually wrote and published an article on the subject in the early 90’s.

Her suggestion prompted me to go back and reread it. Now, I just need to believe what I believe.

 
 

Why I fell

My favorite theologian, Calvin & Hobbes, explained why I fell last week.

  • I didn’t stick the landing
  • I wasn’t wearing my “prepared for anything” helmet and cape (which some good friends gave me years ago.) Seems I need to find and unpack it.) 😉

Thank you Dave and Gary & Tricia for adding humor to my life.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Calvin and Hobbes

 

Grace Notes

Being surrounded by negativity, it is far too easy to adopt the mindset of our culture. We can play the “It’s not fair!” card or become consumed by worry about what might happen.

Considering what we are bombarded with, it’s no wonder we feel as bad as we do.

To change our mindset, we have to make a conscious choice as to what we feed our minds. We must shift our attention from woe to worship, from pity to praise, from complaining to confidence, and most importantly, from me to God.

Praise plays a key role in this process. Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future. Moses provides an excellent example of this principle in his song in Exodus 15:1-21.

Moses states his theme in verse 1: “Praise God, he won!” The song contains three stanzas—“See what God did” (2-6); “See who God is” (7-11); and “See what God will do” (12-18). The theme is repeated in the chorus (19-21).

Following the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, Moses led Israel in praising God (1). When God does something great, he deserves to be praised. Often this praise comes in the form of a song, something you see throughout the Old Testament.

The three stanzas of Moses’ song focus on God—what he did in the past, who he is, and what he will do in the future. In the first 18 verses, Moses refers to “the Lord” at least 45 times. It demonstrates that praise is focused on God, not on us.

In the opening stanza, Moses acknowledges God’s strength and it leads him to praise (2-6). In the middle stanza (7-11), Moses moves from history to theology, from describing the victory to exclaiming his wonder about God. He uses metaphors and word pictures to help describe God’s attributes and actions (8, 10). In the final stanza (12-18), he moves from proclaiming his wonder about what God did in the past to a statement of confidence and trust in what God will do in the future. God not only brought his people out of Egypt, but he will bring them in to the Promised Land.

The song concludes with Moses’ sister, Miriam, picking up a tambourine and leading the chorus. Considering that Moses wrote this song when he was 80 years old and Miriam played the tambourine in her 90’s, who says seniors can’t learn new songs and lead in worship!

This passage challenges me to consider three probing questions: (1) What can I praise God for today? (2) What does this tell me about God’s character? (3) What do I need to trust him for tomorrow? Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 20, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

 

Is it summer yet?

I could use a summer vacation.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Calvin and Hobbes, Summer