Boast One-a-Day Thursday 3/26/20

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9).

Because we would.

Boast, that is.

I mean, I have been known to open a jar for my wife and then claim credit for “making dinner.”

When we apply that concept to our spiritual life, we find that it’s a very small step from, “GOD + me” to works-based religiosity, name-it-claim-it theology, self image issues, legalism, and Towers of Babel in your backyard.

No, those aren’t cell phone towers.

Anyway, God, in his infinite wisdom, made it very clear that our salvation is absolutely NOT up to us.

That’s freeing…aaaand a little frustrating,

and perfectly, thoroughly as it should be.

It’s for you, Beloved, but it’s not up to you.

Happy Thursday

Never Enough One-a-Day Wednesday 3/25/20

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works… (Ephesians 2:9)

How high can you jump?

You know, just jump straight up into the air?

One foot? Two?

If you want to measure, I’ll wait…

By the way, if you took video footage of that, please send it to me.

Obviously, some of us can jump higher than others. Age, strength, injuries all factor in. If you train hard and get the right shoes, you can increase your vertical leap. A professional basketball player can get above three feet–Wilt Chamberlain was able to jump four feet straight up.

Now, imagine that God’s requirement for eternal life was a vertical leap

of

one

thousand   

feet.

It would make the whole trying-to-earn-it-on-your-own business seem pretty silly, wouldn’t it?

Hmm…

Walk in grace today, Beloved. It’s easier on the knees.

Happy Wednesday

Gift One-a-Day Tuesday 3/24/20

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– (Ephesians 2:8).

Think of the best gift you have ever received.

Seriously…stop for a moment and think about it.

Consider the joy it gave you to open that package and see that what you had wished for and dreamed about and maybe imagined but never thought you would really have was really yours.

Grace is like that–only eversomuch more so.

Think of the best gift you have ever given.

Seriously…stop for a moment and think about it.

Consider the joy it gave you to watch one you love open that package and to see their face light up as they realized that what they had wished for and dreamed about and maybe imagined but never thought they  would really have was really theirs.

Because of you.

Giving grace is like that for God–only eversomuch more so.

Open the gift, Beloved. Everyone wins.

By Grace One-a-Day Monday 3/23/20

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves…(Ephesians 2:8).

I teach middle school.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, one of the adorably nightmarish traits of middle-schoolers is that they have a mind like a steel sieve. I mean, I pour glorious, powerful, world-shaking-life-changing knowledge in, and I can almost literally see it leaking out. If I want my students to truly understand, well, anything, I need to present it roughly 32,000 times. So I focus on the most crucial, most essential concept, and I cover it over and again in every form and fashion I can think of.

Have you noticed how often Paul talks about grace?

Now, I’m not saying that Paul thinks of us as pubescent children who can’t seem to focus on anything but food and entertainment and the cute kid across the room, but–

No, wait–

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Remember grace, Beloved.

Happy Monday

Trophies One-a-Day Friday 3/20/20

A life worthy

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7).

So, when I read this carefully, it sounds like God is planning to use us to show how awesome and powerful his love is.

We’re his trophies.

I like this.

I used to have a few trophies, back in the day when they counted for something. Each one represented a success, a moment when I overcame the odds and the opposition to achieve victory. They brought memories of pain and toil and sweat and blisters and work and vision and anticipation and triumph and joy. I could tell you the story behind each race–whether you wanted to hear it or not.

One of these days we’ll all be at the wedding feast, doing wedding feast things, and God is going to call me up to the front and say, “Hey everybody. This is Michael. Let me tell you about this guy!” And the Lord of the Universe will share what a blithering, pathetic piece of fluff I was before his grace got hold of me and reeled me in. It won’t be at all embarrassing or shameful because we’ll be past all that nonsense, and everyone will laugh and weep and cheer and applaud God and his amazing, transforming, wonderful love.

I can’t wait.

So…if we’re trophies to show off God’s amazing goodness, aaand we are part of the Bride of Christ, does that make us trophy wives?

I gotta say, that feels a bit odd, but I’ll take it.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Still Grace One-a-Day Thursday 3/19/20

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5).

Again with the grace?

Yes, again with the grace.

You see, I don’t know about you, but when I take my eyes off grace–even for a moment–I start thinking that all this atoning-for-my-multiplicity-of-sins-growing-in-Christ-becoming-a-man-of-God-making-an-impact-on-the-world-becoming-the-awesomest-version-of-me-I-can-be stuff is actually, you know, on MY shoulders.

Which, of course, would crush me to powder pretty quickly.

Oh, by the way…when I said I don’t know about you?

I lied.

Embrace the grace, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Life and Death One-a-Day Wednesday 3/18/20

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… (Ephesians 2:5)

I like zombie movies.

Go ahead and judge. You won’t be the first; you won’t be the last.

I think one of the fascinations behind these shows is the idea that a person can exist in two states, alive and dead at the same time.

It’s morbid and gruesome and scary and even funny on the screen, and yet…

That is who we were. We walked around in a macabre mockery of life, when in reality we were dead.

In the shows, the zombies are beyond hope; the only thing to do is release them from the pretense of life and kill them for good.

Of course, these shows don’t consider God. God solves the dilemma not by destroying life, but by defeating Death.

Imagine that movie–Jesus healing the zombies.

I’d pay to see that.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Mercy One-a-Day Tuesday 3/17/20

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy… (Ephesians 2:4)

So much mercy.

God is like Scrooge McDuck, with piles and piles of mercy, so much that you could dive into it, roll around in it, swim in it, practically drown in it

except that, you know…it’s the one thing keeping you afloat.

Of course, God doesn’t hoard his mercy. He spends it–rather lavishly, in fact.

On us

Happy Tuesday, Beloved

His Great Love One-a-Day Monday 3/16/20

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us… (Ephesians 2:4)

Stop

Wait

Woah, Nellie

Hold on a minute.

I know you have a bucket full of issues to deal with this morning, and I’ll let you get to it in just a moment, but first…

Think of all the ways we can finish the above verse.

Because of his great love for us…

we are his.

Because of his great love for us…

we are whole.

Because of his great love for us…

we are safe.

Because of his great love for us…

we have shelter and food and clothing and love and life and peace even when peace makes no sense at all…

You can go on from there…and then Monday might not seem so…Mondayish.

Happy Monday, Beloved.