Armor One-a-Day Friday 8/7/20

A life worthy

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  (Ephesians 6:11).

Many moons ago, my kids got invited to go quadding with some family and friends. Their uncle, who was in charge of the outing, made sure that everyone was outfitted with protective gear. Helmet, gloves, goggles, chest protector—you didn’t ride if you weren’t protected.

It was a good thing, too.  One of the boys took an epic fall.  All that gear that he was wearing saved his bacon, not to mention his head, chest, etc.  He was knocked around and shaken up; without his armor, he could have been seriously injured.

An interesting note: it wasn’t his armor.  The gear was provided for him free of charge by someone who knew what dangers he faced, knew what would protect him, and wanted to keep him safe.

The quad, the hills, the rocks—they weren’t out to get anybody. They were simply passive objects that presented a hazard. You have an enemy who is anything but passive.

Is your gear on?

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Strength One-a-Day Thursday 8/6/20

A life worthy

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

How many pushups can you do?  How fast can you run? How far can you throw some large, heavy thing that needs throwing?

Doesn’t matter.

It’s not enough.

Hey, Mr. Cross-Training, Kickboxing, Black-Belt-Ninja-Man…it’s not enough.

No matter how expert, how brilliant, how talented you are, your powers are puny.   There are forces arrayed against you that are beyond your comprehension, much less your strength.  You can’t stand up to them—they will crush you to powder. You are no match for the least of them.

So don’t try to be.

You see, there is a God in Heaven, a God who makes all the forces of Hell itself look as weak and pathetic as…well, as you.  And he offers you his strength. He offers you his power. He wants you to stand in him today, putting on his power like a suit of armor. With him, in him, through him, you are invincible.

It’s a rough world out there.  Better suit up.

Happy Thursday, Beloved

Master One-a-Day Wednesday 8/5/20

A life worthy

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him (Ephesians 6:9).

You know how some people can get all jazzed over a little bit of power? Maybe they’re on the plant committee of the HOA, or they’re the assistant shift manager of the local Wendy’s, or maybe a pillow fluffer at a nursing home.

Perhaps a 7th grade history teacher.

They take their little bit of power and suddenly become Genghis Vader, the Mongol force-choker from space?

Don’t be that way–God doesn’t like it.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Who’s the Boss One-a-Day Tuesday 8/4/20

A life worthy

Obey them, not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free  (Ephesians 6:6-8).

So we’ve established that you’re not a slave, although that may be difficult to believe some days.

But you probably have a boss, and these verses fit the boss-employee relationship, too.

It’s simple, really: you just have to imagine that your boss is the Lord.

Wait…are you laughing or crying?  I can’t tell.

I don’t know if you have a good boss or not, but I do know that “My boss is a jerk” is no excuse for failing to do your work wisely and well. If you have any doubts about that, I have one word for you.

Joseph

If anyone ever had an excuse for skating by and doing the minimum, it would have been he. But Joseph knew that, no matter who signed his paychecks, he had one Master.

You work for God, Beloved.  He redeemed you–that means he purchased you.  You have accepted him as Lord–that means he is your master. So whoever signs your paychecks, you only really ever have one boss. Work for him today…and give him all you’ve got.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Slaves One-a-Day Monday 8/3/20

A life worthy

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ  (Ephesians 6:5).

I’ve never been a slave.

I’m gonna figure you haven’t been either.

So…kinda hard to identify with this one.

Yes, there’s the comparison to the boss-employee relationship, and I’ll explore that tomorrow, but really?

Not  the same.

Because your boss doesn’t own you. He just thinks he does.

So consider this, Beloved. Whatever hard thing you’re facing today, whatever difficult point of submission, whatever impossible area of trust, whatever grueling act of humility you are called to today…you are not anyone’s slave.

Unless you make yourself one

And remember that your act of obedience, or trust, or humility, or whatever, is actually directed to Christ. Just as the wife submits to Christ through her husband, and the child submits to Christ through his parents, so you submit to Christ today through this difficult act.

Look, if Jesus appeared before you in bodily form and asked you to get him a ham sandwich, you’d do it

even if you’re Jewish.

So, if he appears before you in the form of…

Fill in the blank, and act accordingly.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Relationship One-a-Day Friday 7/31/20

A life worthy

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord  (Ephesians 6:4).

I teach middle school.

You’re welcome.

In the era of COVID, I’ve been in a lot of how-do-we-get-back-to-school teacher meetings, and one of the major areas of focus has been how to build relationships even though we’re teaching from a distance. The big idea is that kids learn better if they have a positive relationship with their teacher.  I have some questions about the validity of this in a classroom setting–even a traditional one. I learned plenty in school, and don’t recall many significant teacher relationships. For that matter, my wife aced her AP test and refers to her teacher as a slave driver.

Be that as it may, I have no doubt that this idea is spot on when it comes to the home. Fathers, our job is to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The stuff we’re teaching goes way beyond number sense and punctuation. We’re teaching life, and life eternal. That takes a relationship that is honest and deep and close and open to vulnerability. Hence the do not exasperate your children part of this verse. A frustrated, isolated, embittered child is not gonna be open to Life Lessons with Daddy.

Basically, if they are going to learn from you, they have to believe you.

So be someone they can believe.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Exasperation Station One-a-Day Thursday 7/30/20

A life worthy

Fathers, do not exasperate your children… (Ephesians 6:4)

Awww…but that’s the best part!

When I think of the word exasperate, I think of lovely evenings around the table making bad jokes and doing silly voices and causing my daughter such embarrassment–even when it’s just the four of us–that she threatens to leave the state and change her name, if not her heritage.

Good times, though now that she’s 21 it’s a less empty threat than it used to be.

Does Paul call me to give that up? No, that’s pure joy right there. I believe Paul is more concerned with a misuse of power. Your children have been called to obey you–that doesn’t make them your slaves. Nor does it make them You 2.0, with the responsibility of living the life you never lived and achieving the things you never achieved. They are people, no matter what their rooms look like, and you are called to guide them, not to shove them, through life.

But that in no way precludes Dad jokes. I’m sure that there’s Scripture to back that up; until I find it, just trust me.

Happy Thursday, Beloved

Mom One-a-Day Wednesday 7/29/20

A life worthy

“Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–”that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Those of you who are paying attention know I covered these verses yesterday.

Gold star for you.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my mother this summer. She’s 82, and has a hip that’s rapidly failing from arthritis. That would be the 2nd hip to go bad. This has caused severe pain and extremely limited mobility. Add to that her memory, which is more than a bit shaky these days, and a host of other age-related health issues, and it’s been a rough summer for Mom.

This verse has been on my mind as my sonly duties have morphed from picking her up for a doctor’s appointment to picking her up after a fall, from grabbing her some groceries to helping her eat them. The definition of “Honor” has changed over time, and I need to change with it. When I was a kid, honoring was pretty much the same as obeying. As a teen, honor meant trying to make her proud of me, or at least not embarrassing her. I remember a particularly painful middle-school sports award banquet where the coach forgot to call my name, and I actually waved my hand around to remind him that I was there.

Sorry, Ma.

When I left home, a big part of honoring my mom lay in simply not forgetting her birthday–which only happened the one time. Then came marriage and kids and honor meant remembering to involve her in family events and holidays, even when it was a hassle and involved two or three Thanksgivings on the same day.

Now, well, it’s changing again, and I’m not quite sure how it works. Today honor is about making decisions on Mom’s behalf and helping her do things she has always done for herself and comforting her when she’s afraid and taking a measure of authority over this woman whose word was law for all my growing years.

And trying to do it while helping her retain her dignity as she sits wide-eyed in a wheelchair crying from the pain and foggy from the pain meds and asking me why this is happening to her.

Well, beloved, it seems that I am using you as my personal therapist this morning. Thanks for letting me vent, and remember that life and circumstances and needs will all change, but the call to honor does not.

Honor your parents today, however they are, wherever they are.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved

Honor One-a-Day Tuesday 7/28/20

A life worthy

“Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–”that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Sometimes we honor by looking both ways, just like they taught us.

Sometimes we honor by being brave when it really, really hurts.

Sometimes we honor by taking care of our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes we honor by telling the truth.

Sometimes we honor by sharing when we had it  first.

Sometimes we honor by coloring inside the lines.

Sometimes we honor by coloring outside the lines.

Sometimes we honor by standing tall.

Sometimes we honor by bowing low.

Sometimes we honor by praying.

Sometimes we honor by doing.

Sometimes we honor by speaking.

Sometimes we honor by keeping our mouths shut.

Sometimes we honor by learning the lesson.

Sometimes we honor by passing it on.

Show honor today, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday

Trust and Obey One-a-Day Monday 7/27/20

A life worthy

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (Ephesians 6:1).

Parents, you know you love this verse.

Plaster it on your kid’s wall…on your kid’s lunch box…bathroom mirror…

Heck–plaster it on your kid.

Kids, I got a little something for you here. You know that phrase, “in the Lord,” that Paul uses? It means basically the same thing as when Paul told wives to submit to their husbands, “as unto the Lord.” See, no matter how amazing your parents are, you may not always catch the wisdom in what they decide for you. Furthermore, Paul knows that some parents are not exactly the strongest, wisest, most obeyable folks out there. But your job is to obey your parents as an act of obedience to God. You have to trust that God knows what he’s doing, even when you may wonder about the people he’s put in charge of you. So, unless your parents are taking you in a direction that clearly violates God’s law–

and curfew does not–

you gotta suck it up, trust, and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

That’s one of those hokey, old-timey hymns that happens to make a ton of sense.

Happy Monday, Beloved.