How to Hug a Vampire ...dealing with people who suck

When you’re dealing with people who are dysfunctional,  you often prepare for the devil’s attempt to discourage you through them.  What they say. What they don’t say.  What they do. What they don’t do.  How they look.  How they don’t look.  When they look at you.  When they don’t look at you.  We allow man to become our enemy,  yet scripture reminds us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood.  The devil is the enemy, though he seems to have people that he works through quite a bit.

Could it be that in some cases, the devil isn’t working through people, but God is working through them to teach you patience?  Sometimes God uses people as heavenly sandpaper to smooth out our rough edges so we can be conformed to the image of Christ.  It’s hard to know if God is at work or the devil is at work sometimes through people.  We ask, “is the enemy using this person to make me lose my mind, or is God teaching me something through them?”  Is it a little of both?

When you’re headed into a situation where people are going to be sucking the life out of you, it is important to model the initiative of Jesus who in many ways through the first punch.  He preemptively struck the “pharisaical vampires.”  He did not allow those opposed to him to kill him as they planned,  he chose to die instead.  What seemed to be a murder was actually a sacrifice.  They didn’t fire Jesus…he quite!

Some of the people you look at who seem to let others run all over them are really just allowing God to be the one that settles the score.  Nobody can take away something that you choose to give.

When you approach the dysfunctional people, or address the dysfunctional situations that suck you dry,  it is important to purpose in your heart to give to God freely.  What you give to God cannot be taken away from you.

Today I give my rights to God.  He is the controller, King, and Lord of my life.  Nothing and no one can infringe on my rights, because I don’t have any!  God has them all.  I give them all over to the source of my life….it’s not like I had any genuine control anyhow!  Now when someone tries to step on my rights, they can’t offend me because there’s nothing here to steal. 

A thief can’t break into an empty house.  I give my dreams, hopes, and ambitions over the God.   For far too long I’ve lived in bitterness toward someone who took something away from me, when in actuality it was something God wanted me to surrender to Him in the first place!

When my life is focused on my pride, and the preservation of my image, I find myself frustrated!  Frustration is the gap between what I expect and what I experience.  People frustrate me because I expect one thing, but often experience something short of my expectations….and that sucks! If you want to effectively deal with people who suck, you must place your expectations in the God who is able to hold your life in his hand.  I give myself away, emptying me of “me.”  Lord fill me up,  so that your love will overflow on those around me,  that I could hug even the people who suck.

Where Are The Monuments?

Landmarks serve a monumental purpose of remembrance.  In April 1863, in Columbus, Mississippi after decorating graves of her two sons,  an elderly woman moved to two unmarked mounds where she began to give the same attention and d├ęcor.  Upon being notified that under those mounds lay the bodies of two Union soldiers, the woman replied, “I know.  I also know that somewhere in the North, a mother or a young wife mourns for them as we do for ours.”  One lady grew to a band of ladies who set into motion what we now call Memorial Day; a monumental task, for a monumental purpose, now a monumental event.

Monuments exist across our great United States to remind us of our heritage.  The Washington Monument is scattered with scripture.  The Statue of Liberty welcomes all who would come into the land of the free.  Memorials stand in honor of veterans from the Civil War to our nation’s most recent excursions.  Monuments stand as reminders of landmark days both good and bad.  From Plymouth rock to ground zero,  America has always been a nation eager to preserve its national history.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing memorials was erected when Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan.  Remember, the water stopped flowing just as the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the water at the river’s edge.  They stood in the middle of the riverbed until the people had crossed safely into the Promised Land.

While crossing, Joshua instructed 12 men, one from each tribe, should gather 12 large stones to be erected as a monument on the bank of Jordan.  Joshua 4 says, “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?  Then ye shall answer them That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the water of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever….and they are there unto this day.”

These stones represented a time of provision, and reflected upon a time of battle.  The Jordan, is forever Landmarked by God not only as a display of his power, but as an opportunity for others to share of his providence. Can you imagine that little child coming home from playing wit his friends asking, “Papa, why are those rocks stacked out there?”  Papa takes his son on his knee and begins to share the account passed down to him of a time when God did the supernatural.  The child’s eyes lit with delight, and his imagination sparked with curiosity,  “Papa, could you tell me the rock story again?”   Without hesitation Papa would share this account innumerous times, for someday his little boy would passing this story along to the next generation.
Friend, where are your monument landmarks?  Have you intentionally constructed landmarks in your life that will spark the curiosity of the coming generation?  Do your landmarks point back to the God who miraculously provided for you?   As believers will we fight to preserve the landmarks that remain, pointing back to our country’s foundation upon the Word of God?  Upon our departure from this life,  will our lives serve as landmarks of faith?  No matter how old or how young, now is the time to begin construction.  Carve out landmarks in your time, finances, and faith that will allow the next generation to ask, “What mean these stones?”  Believer…where are the monuments? 

The Christian From Hell

Luke 16 relays an account of two individuals, Lazarus and “the rich man.” As we dig into the passage, we discover two men from polar opposite economic extremes. One rich man lives sumptuously with all the finest luxuries. In our mind’s eye we picture a large table of endless supply as this aristocrat feasts on more than he could ever consume, while outside his gate sits a man with no more than the scraps he wears for clothing. Lazarus begs, not for a seat at the table, nor for a penny to spend, but only for the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. His self-worth has reached a lower pit than any of us could even imagine, that the chewed remains falling from a fat man’s mouth would suffice his need for this day. We do not know for how long this pattern continued, but we do know that no matter how rich or poor, death is a common fate we all share.

 Luke 16: 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; This chapter continues on to tell us that the rich man lifts up his eyes in hell, being in torment and seeing Lazarus a far off in eternal comfort. The man who was once the pinnacle of the capitalistic society now pleads for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue. My how the tables have turned. The rich man pleads for the lives of his brothers still alive on earth. Through every request he is reminded of the great gulf between hell and “heaven.” He is reminded of the preachers and words he was blessed with during his time on earth. He is sentenced with an eternal, inescapable fate, with nothing but remorse for his wasted years.

 The character the rich man displays in hell can serve as a key example for Christian living today. In hell, he is “on fire for God.” The fire of this place consumes every thought and ounce of his existence.
Being reminded of the “great gulf” we find that there is separation in hell. All too often we spend our days incorporating elements of the world into our life. God commands “come out from among them and be separate! Touch not the unclean thing…” Today’s culture will forsake separation and sacrifice its purity on the altar of temporary satisfaction. Friend, separation is coming…

 This Luke 16 account quotes the rich man as saying “I pray…” He who once had no needs, therefore no desire to seek an Almighty provider, now humbles himself to pray to the one greater than himself. Take an example from this man, and invest your “on fire” existence into a passionate prayer life. 

Finally, in hell there is a passion for souls. You may have met, or may individually believe that hell is the place for you. In moments of frustration you may have wished someone to this all too horrific place. “GO TO HELL!” Upon his first second in hell, the rich man’s earnest plea was that none of his relatives join him in that place. If we could but tap into that desire today, how many more could be saved from that torment?

 Friend, I cannot speak for you, but my desire is to catch fire today, rather than wait until it is everlastingly too late. We encounter a church so tuned in to an off brand of “love” that it has forgotten the preceding fire. Fire always brings warmth, and without the fire of God, the world will never feel the warmth of our love. Fire is contagious to everything it touches. Would you like to live a contagious, effective life? You can be the “Christian from Hell” without ever visiting that place. Think about it…