Do you have a weird neighbor?

image found here

Our city had a resident who was mid 20-30s, particularly short, always out speed-walking with his Walkman radio in one hand, headphones on, and snapping his fingers. But he wasn’t in work-out clothes…he was always showered, and groomed, like he was walking to work in casual clothing. But there was something “off” about him. Maybe because all of the high school students started mentioning him and about crossing paths on their way to school. Yet, we all lived in different parts of the city. This guy was everywhere. Did he just walk the city all day? We saw him on the walk to school, if you went home for lunch, if you left school early or late, you’d see him. He was a phenomenon. One student claimed, they stopped him once, and asked to listen to his headphones and they didn’t hear any music playing. So, he was deemed the token WEIRD guy of our city. Everyone was aware of him.

Luckily, he was no harm to anyone, he was just an odd character, someone to pop up in our memories years later. In today’s world, if someone exhibits dangerous behavior to themselves or others, we commit them to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. But what did they do several centuries ago?

In one particular case, someone who would frequently fall on the ground and foam at the mouth, the town had no idea what to do with them, so they guarded the individual, chained and shackled. However, during one of his violent fits, he was able to break free, and then as a crazed person does…he ripped off all his clothes, and left town to live among the tombs, naked.

Eventually, Jesus crossed his path, and drove the evil spirits dwelling within him into some pigs, that quickly ran into water and drowned. The man was clothed, fed, lucid and praising God. What did the town folk do? They asked Jesus to leave, because he made them nervous with all the quick changes. They preferred status quo. They got used to their token crazy neighbor (living out-of-sight-out-of-mind) and, dang it, now they were short some pigs. Guess the Luau and feast were off now.

35 People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus’ feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. 36 Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved. 37 Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave – too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. 

Luke 8:35-37 (MSG)


Are you good soil? (Home Depot Image)

I’m like every person, moved by all the color and assortment of plants & flowers at the local Home Depot or Lowes. I’ll walk though the garden and exclaim how PRETTY they are and hey, let’s buy this and that! And then, I’ll remember, I have no clue of what plant from another and how they should be cared. I don’t even know the type of pot or planter to best be suited for whatever.

I laugh, because these stores actually have signs and little plastic directions stuck in the soil – indicating if outdoor or indoor (or both) or if direct sunlight or little sun, etc. I get excited when I see these contemplating, maybe I can do this! I am tricked into thinking I can be successful!

We purchase some vibrant beauty, and I ensure we have new soil for plenty of nutrients & the pot has holes at the bottom so that water can drain and no root rot and it can get air. And I feel very capable in the first few days, maybe couple weeks. And then the DESTROYER…

Either it’s watered too much, or not enough…or we’ll have an incredibly sunny day, and the bloom will get fried. Or, we have a particularly COLD night and I forget to bring in and the lusciousness freezes, never to recover! Or if it’s doing just fine, then the bugs come and eat it to destruction or the deer will feast. Therefore, whenever I feel motivated to purchase anything, I always apologize to the beauties, in advance, for their inevitable doom.

So, whenever Jesus uses the parable of the seed/sower, I’m like ugh…no not that one. If we’re talking soil, I’m foiled.

But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience – Luke 8:15 (NKJV)

But Really

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I can’t imagine how frustrating, at times, it had to have been for the apostles to not only understand Jesus, but act on what he said. As crowds began to follow him, his “earthly” family decided to visit him, but couldn’t reach him due to the masses gathered. So the disciples approached Jesus to notify him during his teaching, and Jesus dismissed them indicating that everyone present is a mother and a brother, if they obey God.

What do you do with that? (blink, blink)

“uh…understood, teacher, but really, your ‘birth’ mom is here.” as you point in their direction and look over to the family and shrug your shoulders, and call out to them….

“Sorry. Jesus is being very Jesus right now…you know how it is.” and they all nod and then make eating motions with their hands…

…and then back to Jesus, “Oh…your mom just wants to know if they are expecting you for supper. Give her a thumbs up or down, that would be great.”

19 Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” – Luke 8:19-21 (NKJV)