One-a-Day Tuesday 5/6/14

number 1For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought… (Romans 12:3).

“Yes, but I deserve…”

Dangerous words.

I can’t tell you how many times those words, or at least that spirit, has flashed through my mind when I had the opportunity to help/serve/love someone.  If it’s going to take any sacrifice on my part, my brain immediately jumps to reasons that I shouldn’t have to do it, why I deserve better…or at least why I deserve recognition for my noble sacrifice.

And then, if I’m lucky, I remember.

It’s not about me.

This verse comes right after Paul’s urging to offer ourselves, “As living sacrifices,” and to be, “Transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The thread here seems to be that if we belong to God and he is truly at work in us, we will be able to see ourselves as we really are, with eyes that are unclouded by pride and self.

In those moments, when God allows me to see myself as I really am, I dare not utter the words, “I deserve…”

Because I know what I deserve…and it ain’t recognition for my noble sacrifice.

Take a good look at yourself today, Beloved.  You don’t deserve much, and yet you are worth everything.

And so is that person God is calling you to serve.

One-a-Day Monday 5/5/14

number 1…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

The theme of this week’s One-a-Days is, “It’s not about me.”  It covers many reasons you can be glad I’m not God…

I want to be like Jesus.

Mostly

I mean, the teaching, the leading, the healing—I love that stuff.

The prayer, the compassion—I’m there.

Clearing the temple—are you kidding me?  Give me a whip, and let’s go!

But the serving…

I’m OK with serving, as long as it’s on my terms.  Who I want. How I want. When I want.

But God doesn’t usually let me set the terms.  And that bugs me, because it can be so inconvenient.

Like, I suppose, the cross was inconvenient.

Beloved, I wish I could tell you that I really want to be a servant like my Lord.  Right now, the best I can say is that I really want to want to be a servant like my Lord.

What about you?  How is your heart this morning?  Are you looking to serve—any time, anyone, anywhere?  Or are you, like me, just praying for the desire?

I’ll pray for you today, Beloved.  You pray for me.

Breaking Point

I have a ladder which I like quite a bit.  Apart from its inherent Load limitusefulness, the thing I appreciate most about this piece of household equipment is that it clearly communicates its limitations to me.  There is a bold sticker on the side that says, “Max. wt. 300 lbs.”  If you weigh in at 350 and you hoist yourself up on my ladder, you’re going to have problems—and don’t come crying to me about it.

Ladders, bridges, fishing line—they all have a breaking point, and they all come clearly labelled so that you don’t expect more of them than you should.  If only people…

Today, a story of breaking points. Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday 5/2/14

number 1You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven  (Matthew 5:14).

This little light of mine, I’m gonna

Sorry.

You know, sometimes I don’t want to let my light shine.  It just seems so little, so dull—I can’t imagine anyone glorifying God because of it.

I’m sure you never feel that way.  Just humor me.

I am writing this from atop Zanja Peak, a wannabe mountain a few miles from my home.  It’s 11:00 at night, and I’m in the middle of a night hike.  As I worked my way up here, I remembered something important.  Nature gets dark at night.  Really dark.  So dark that if Mandibles of Death, the fluffy yet vicious golden retriever, weren’t with me, I might be a tad trepidatious.

I have a head lamp, and yes I do look silly wearing it.  That’s not the point.  The point is, at home the light from the head lamp looks pretty mild.  I sometimes have to double check to make sure it’s on.  Out here, in the ohsovery darkness, it’s a different story.  As I hike along, if I hear something go bump/slither/growl/snarl in the night, I click my trusty headlamp and the world is ablaze with light.  It’s so bright that my night vision is ruined for several minutes, which can be an adventure all its own, but that is also not the point.

This world is pretty dark, spiritually speaking. That little light of yours may not be much to you.  To a lost soul, it may seem like the very glory of God.

Which, in a way, it is.

Shine for him today, Beloved.

Happy Friday.

One-a-Day Thursday 5/1/14

number 1You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13).

Salt is a funny thing.  Too much of it will make you gag.  Too too much of it will kill you outright.  And yet it is essential to life.

Salt is easy to overlook, easy to forget about.  When you’re cooking, it’s fun to focus on the interesting spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom.  Who notices salt?  But just leave that pinch of salt out of your recipe and see how bland your meal becomes.

Salt is preserving.

Salt is healing.

Salt brings out the flavor of food.

 

People are funny.

God can use us to bring out the best in others.

To heal

To preserve

We are sometimes overlooked, but we are an essential component of God’s plan for the lives around us.

And yet, when we put too much of ourselves into the mix—when we try too hard to be noticed—we mess up the recipe.

Look, I know this is an awkward analogy, but I’m sticking with it.

You are the salt of the earth.  Your saltiness—that which makes you useful to God—is the Holy Spirit working in you.  When you try to work in your own power, you lose your saltiness.  There’s too much you.  And you mess things up.

And your work is pretty much worthless.

Don’t try to work for God today, Beloved.  Instead, let him work through you.  Let him sprinkle you where he will, and let the Holy Spirit do his job in the lives around you, using you to bring out the best that is in them.

It’s a lot easier, and it won’t make people gag.

One-a-Day Wednesday 4/30/14

number 1Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).

Did you ever read Foxe’s Book of Christian Martyrs?  It tells the stories of men and women who suffered death—in various gruesome forms—rather than deny the name of Christ.

Intense.

And humbling.

I have never been threatened with death for following Jesus.  Chances are, neither have you.  Throughout history there has been persecution.  Even today, there are many in the world that risk imprisonment or worse for following Christ.  But not here. Not now.  For better or for worse, we live in a society that allows us to worship God openly, without fear of reprisals.

For the moment, anyway.

I’d like to think that, if real persecution came, I would stand firm, braving whatever might come with a song of praise on my lips.

I’d like to think that.

But I just don’t know, do I? Frankly, I sometimes crumble in the face of the micropersecution that does come my way.

The odd look.  The occasional raised eyebrow.  A little mocking because I don’t speak or act in the way that the world does.  It’s amazing how little it sometimes takes to send me packing.

Today, as we head out into our respective Wednesdays, let’s act in such a way that we stand out for Christ.  If that results in persecution, let us embrace it and rejoice.

Stand out.

Stand up.

Stand firm, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday 4/29/14

number 1Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Jesus is a peacemaker.

Peace between God and Man.

Peace between Man and Man.

Peace that passes all understanding, yet guards our hearts and minds.

The Son of God is calling you to follow in his footsteps today.  So, take a good look at the day ahead of you.  What potential conflicts are waiting?  What person will likely push your buttons and make you twitch?  What raging interpersonal storms do you get to sail into?

These are all opportunities.

Oh, I know they don’t feel like opportunities, Beloved.  Except perhaps opportunities to practice your stress management and work on finding your Happy Place.  But they are, in fact, opportunities to walk as Jesus did—to be a peacemaker.

Will you take the opportunity today, Beloved?  Will you be a child of God?  Will you stuff your pride and walk in grace and humility?

Oh, I know it’s hard.

Will you do it anyway?

One-a-Day Monday 4/28/14

number 1Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).

Your heart is not pure.

You will not see God.

Happy Monday.

Well, aren’t we glad that there’s more to the story than that.  Of course your heart is not pure; you know good and well what goes on in there.  I’m in the same boat, and so is everyone you know.  And everyone you don’t.

Praise God that he doesn’t leave us in that boat.

God wants us to see him.  He wants us to have fellowship with him.  And he knows that’s not going to happen if we are left to ourselves.  So he cleanses us, he renews us, he gives us that pure heart that allows us to see him.

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive        our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Before you go out into your Monday, do us both a favor—get your heart right before God.  Confess what needs confessing, address what needs addressing, let him purify your heart, so that you will see God.

Because, how are you supposed to walk with him if you can’t see him?

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Bubble

bubbleI have decided to create a bubble around myself.

Hold on a moment…there, it’s done.

My new bubble is a sphere approximately four-feet-seven-inches in diameter, centered on my xiphoid process. (That’s the little cartilage thingie at the bottom of your sternum.  I could have centered it on my belly button, but then you might not have taken me seriously.  I find that we rarely take the belly button seriously, but that is another topic for another time.)  My bubble is invisible, which is why I’m pointing it out.  I wouldn’t want you to stumble into it by mistake.

I call my new creation Michael’s-no-deception-no-pretense-no-mystery-no-posing-no-evasion-no guilt-no-condemnation-straight-up-straight-forward-I’m-a-big-boy-bubble-of-grace.  For discussion purposes, we’ll just call it “The Bubble.”  Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday 4/25/14

number 1Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7).

I need mercy like you wouldn’t believe.

Well, maybe you would.

I mean, I’m not an axe murderer or anything.  It’s just that I know what God requires, I know my heart, and I know that without the mercy of God I wouldn’t make it to my next breath.  So when I read this verse, I get really practical.  Actually, I get a little mercenary.  Or mercy-enary.  I figure, I give and I get.

As self-serving as that sounds, I think it makes me more merciful.  When I see a need, I think of all the times I have needed mercy. And all the times I will.  And I’m more likely to give.  I guess you could call it making a deposit in the mercy bank.

That is one account I never want to see overdrawn.

Think you might need mercy one of these days?

Then walk in mercy today, Beloved.