Tag Archives: Woody Allen

Death And The Pillsbury Doughboy

Recently, on a hot afternoon in Arkansas, a woman was sitting in her car in a grocery store parking lot when she heard a loud pop followed by a sharp pain in the back of her head.

When she reached behind her to probe the damage, she felt something warm oozing down the back of her head. She concluded that she had been shot and in her hands she was holding the remnants of her brain.

To avoid any further bleeding and the possibility of her brains rushing out of her head, the woman held her hands tightly over the wound. Her only hope was that somebody would walk by her car, see her in her critical condition, and call an ambulance before she passed out and died.

A few long minutes later, a voice behind her asked, “Ma’am, are you OK?”

“I’ve been shot in the head,” she cried out, “and I’m holding my brains in.”

“Lady, I don’t think those are brains.”

The inquisitor then opened the rear car door and reached to grab something…

“A canister of Pillsbury biscuits in the back seat exploded from the heat and some of the dough hit you in the head.”

When people share their near-death experiences, surely this woman will talk about how the Pillsbury doughboy changed her life.

Death Is All Around Us

Death greatly impacts our lives. We all think about it, dream about it, and do anything we can to avoid it. We work out and eat right in order to delay its inevitable arrival. We lament the departure of our loved ones while watching movies that glorify the living dead, whom we call “zombies.”

Woody Allen once said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Death is so extreme, so painful, so…final. When someone dies, you can’t go back and revive the person.

In Ezekiel 37, God escorts Ezekiel to the middle of a valley.  All around them, as far as the eye could see, are piles of bones. Not comatose bodies that can be revived. Not even decaying carcasses.  Dry bones

God and Ezekiel wade through the sea of bones before the Almighty asks his companion, “Can these bones become living people again?”

Assuming this was a trick question, Ezekiel replies, “God, you tell me!”

I can imagine Ezekiel was thinking What do you mean, “Can these bones become living people?”  I’ve seen you do some amazing things. You’ve given me words of prophecy that have been fulfilled. You’ve provided for me and protected me. But let’s get serious—raise the dead? From these dry bones?  God, I’m leaving the answer to that question up to you.

Later, God tells Ezekiel, “These bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off’” (v.11).

At the time, Israel was enslaved by the vastly superior Babylonians. Israel’s strongest and smartest were living in Babylon while the poor and uneducated were struggling to stay alive in what was left of their war-torn country.

The chances of Israel rising from the ashes was about the same as the chances of the dry bones returning to life. All hope was gone.

Then God instructed Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’”

Soon Ezekiel heard a rattling sound from the bones coming together. Tendons appeared, then flesh, then skin. Bodies appeared everywhere, but they had no life.

The God instructed Ezekiel a second time: “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ”

Suddenly, the bodies began to move. They stood to their feet fully alive. A valley of dry bones transformed into a vast army.

Where are you in this story?

How often do we encounter situations when we expect life, but instead, we experience death?

  • A miscarriage
  • You get laid off from your job
  • A bad investment buries you under an overwhelming load of debt
  • Your marriage fails to live up to your expectations
  • A lifelong dream dies a slow death

I have good news for you.

Just because you’re surrounded by dry bones doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way. Regardless of what you feel and see, God knows your situation and he’s already at work. The results may not appear like you expect, but God is good, he’s powerful, and he knows what he’s doing.

Like the woman in her car who thought she was dying,  you may think you’re holding your life in your hands, but it’s only the remains of a Pillsbury dough mishap. Your life is in God’s hands.

At this point in our Lenten journey, death is all around us. We see the hopelessness of our own condition. But remember that Easter is coming.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. If you live in the Denver, Colorado area, please join the for worship on Easter Sunday. You can learn more at http://www.tnc3.org.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Avoiding Woody Allen’s Greatest Fear

Woody Allen once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Unfortunately, we’ll all be “there” when we die because the last I checked, the mortality rate has remained steady at 100%. Every person eventually dies. While we can’t stop it, people generally do everything in their power to avoid it.

I do, too. Every day I take a multivitamin to fend off sickness and I do my best to stay in shape. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year developing drugs that will help us push back our appointment with death. Cars are equipped with seat belts that have prolonged untold lives.

What fuels our fear of death? The unknown. The possibility of a surprise after we die. Payback for past transgressions. Finality.

But if you knew more about death—and how to avoid it—would it make you feel better? Of course.

Confused? Then please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Job 12:1-15:35
1 Corinthians 15:29-58
Psalm 39:1-13
Proverbs 21:30-31

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Job 12:1-15:35. Job’s contempt for his friends becomes apparent after listening to their insensitive platitudes. Rather than enter his pain, they offered advice from a distance. Trying to fix people who are suffering never works. What they need is someone who will offer empathy and a listening ear.

In the middle of his pain, Job didn’t need to hear that his actions had brought suffering upon himself. Previously, he acknowledged that he wasn’t perfect—yet he wasn’t evil either.

Job’s life teaches us that suffering happens, often without any apparent reason behind it. And, it occurs under God’s watchful eye. The reason behind our suffering is a mystery.

1 Corinthians 15:29-58. Verse 29 has served as a subject of debate for centuries and actually serves as a central belief in the Mormon church. Paul writes in verse 29, “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”

Scholars aren’t sure what Paul means here, especially since this is the only place in Scripture where it is mentioned. Additionally, no archeological evidence exists that people were baptized for the dead.

My favorite living New Testament scholar, Gordon Fee, affirms that it refers to some form of vicarious baptism. But he adds that if a person could be saved through baptism after they die, then it defeats the idea of justification by faith—because it would become a work someone does to earn eternal life. He concludes this puzzling passage by writing:

Whatever they were doing and for whatever reason, Paul saw it as a clear contradiction to the present stance of the community at large that “there is no resurrection of the dead.” If so, Paul argues, then this other action by some of their number is the highest expression of the absurdity. From his point of view, Christ’s resurrection makes any other form of spiritual existence beyond the grave a non sequitur [a conclusion that does not follow from the premises].

Proverbs 21:30. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” This is a great Scripture passage to make the focus of your prayer and meditation when you begin to worry about things like your future or the degradation of society.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Despite the intimacy he shared with God, even David was concerned about the end of his life: “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life” (Psalm 39:4).

While none of us know how or when we will die, we can know what happens after we die.

When our natural bodies die, those who follow Jesus will be given spiritual bodies. This means that we aren’t regenerated as angels or reincarnated as humans in another life. Our new spiritual bodies will be truly spiritual—in other words we won’t feel the compulsion to sin. Hallelujah!!

The only way we can be transformed into truly spiritual people is through the death of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. And when Christ returns to earth, our transformation will be complete. Since sin was the cause of our physical death, Jesus’ defeat of the effects of sin on the cross enable us to live forever.

So what does this mean to us? When we place our trust in Jesus to cleanse us of our “first Adam” behaviors and compulsions (read: sin), Jesus clothes us with himself. For this reason, Paul can quote Hosea 13:14:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Physical death is no longer our end. We no longer need to fear death because we have nothing to fear. Death is not our end nor do we need to fear hell.

When you give your life to Jesus, you’ll live forever with him.

Last night, an former mentor of mine died. Dennis Whaley invited me to be a youth group leader when I was still in college. Ironically, I later served in his same position at the church three years later. But while his death is sad–especially for his family–the reflections of the people who knew and loved Dennis is overwhelmingly joyous. Death has been defeated and while Dennis is no longer present, he will live forever.

And if you follow Jesus, you may meet Dennis someday in heaven.

Rest in peace, Dennis.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

What spoke to you in today’s reading?

Do you fear death? Why or why not?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized