One-a-Day Thursday, 12/26/13

number 1Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:7)  

I’m not really a fan of big government.  I would just as soon that the government leave me alone for the most part.

But His government?  I’m all in.

I’ve said before that the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship.  Because of sin, that kind of rule is not possible for any length of time.

Outside of Christ.

One day Jesus will rule here on Earth in the flesh.  His reign will go on and on and just get better and better.

Until then, we can know his government in our hearts and lives.

If you belong to Jesus, his peace, his power, his rule in your life is growing each day.  Oh, you may not feel it all the time, but it’s happening.

Chew on this today: are you allowing Christ to govern your life, or are you getting in his way?

One-a-Day Wednesday, 12/25/13

number 1Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

It’s Christmas Day.  A day when we celebrate peace on Earth.  A day that can be, ironically, one of the most hectic and stressful of the year.  For some of you, today will be a reminder of why you see your family only a few times a year.  Others might know the awkwardness of being the extra wheel at someone else’s gathering, or the pain of being alone.

Except you’re not.

Remember, he is the Prince of Peace.

Peace between you and God.

Peace that passes all understanding.

Peace that allows the Lord of the universe to make his home in your heart.

Peace with your freakish relatives.

Peace within the tumult of your own heart.

Embrace the baby today.  Celebrate this Prince who brings you peace.

Merry Christmas.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 12/24/13

number 1Everlasting Father,  (Isaiah 9:6).

I hope you have a great dad.  I hope he is loving and strong and gentle and a daily blessing to your life.  I hope this, not only to make those family Christmas dinners a little less awkward, but because it will give you a better picture of God.  You see, God presents himself to us in many ways through Scripture, but I think the one that hangs most people up is the image of a father.  It can be difficult to see God as loving and caring if your earthly father was cold, distant, or absent altogether.

Look, this is not the time or space to get all psychological, but as we close in on Christmas I need to point something out.  Whatever your earthly dad does well, your heavenly father does even better.  Wherever your earthly dad messes up, your heavenly father gets it right.  He is the perfection we all fall short of.  He is the goal we can never quite attain.  He will always be there to cheer you when you win, and comfort you when you lose.  His advice will always be perfect, and his discipline will always be just.  He will come to all your ball games, all your dance recitals, all your spelling bees.  He will be there at the hospital bed and at the wedding altar.

He will always love you.

Always, as in Everlasting.

Walk in his love this Christmas Eve.

One-a-Day Monday, 12/23/13

number 1…Mighty God,  (Isaiah 9:6)

As we move into Christmas week, all sorts of emotions are getting stirred up.  Although we would like to say we are focused strictly on the birth of our Savior, the fact is this can be a really crazy week.  Perhaps you are rushing to wrap—or get—or think of—those last gifts.  Maybe you are frantically trying to get ready to travel—tickets, luggage, ohnowhatdowedowiththedogwhilewe’regone.  Could be you’re receiving guests into your nightmare of a house—good luck with that.

Or you’re moving.

Or you have someone you love in the hospital.

Or you’re broke.

Or things are just falling apart.

Given all that, I feel blessed that you’ve taken the time to read this.  Since you have, make the most of the moment.  Let the words soak in:

He is Mighty God.

Read it again.  Go on.

This King we serve, this Lord we love, this Savior we celebrate is fully capable of meeting the challenges of your day, be they mundane or monstrous.

And he will.

Because you are his beloved.

Life Matters

If you asked my students, they would tell you it’s typecasting…Scrooge

I get to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge at LifeHouse, the theater my family has sort of made our second home.   I am stepping into the show for the final weekend of its run, as the main Scrooge is unavailable.  I am pleased to say that I was their top choice for the part after they were turned down by everyone else they asked.

Well, now, that’s not quite true…

Actually, yeah, it kinda is. Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday, 12/20/13

number 1And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, (Isaiah 9:6)

There can be a lot in a name.  My name is Michael, which means, “Who is like God?”  I like that—it’s a constant reminder of the answer…Nobody.  When I begin to get a little too big for my proverbial britches, my very name brings me back to Earth.

Jesus has been given the name Wonderful Counselor.  Think about it—what does a counselor do?  A good counselor does three things—listen deeply, see to the heart of the issue, and offer wisdom.    So, we serve a God who actually listens to us—listens deeply.  He doesn’t just pretend to listen to you while he is mentally planning out his day, the way I might.  He actually considers every word you speak—and those you don’t.

Jesus also sees to the heart of your issue—after all, he knows you better than you do—remember Psalm 139?  You couldn’t hide the truth from him if you tried, so knock it off already.

Wisdom?  Uh…do I need to point out that his words are the very words of God?  Literally?  Yeah, worth listening to.

You, Beloved, have a Wonderful Counselor.  Walk in his wisdom today.

One-a-Day Thursday, 12/19/13

number 1…and the government will be on his shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6)

Here’s the thing with governments—they’re generally made up of people.  And, well, I hate to tell you this, but people tend toward selfishness and greed.

I just heard a bubble burst…sorry.

Democracy works, except when the people are ignorant, selfish, and lazy.

Oh.

Same holds true for Communism, republics, feudal societies, even theocracies.  On paper, they look great.  It’s when you add the people that things go winky.

Frankly, the best, strongest, most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship.  The problem, of course, is that you can guarantee the dictator part, but not the benevolent bit.

Yet.

But the day will come when we will have an absolute monarch, a king of kings, who will rule with complete authority over all nations.  His reign will be perfect, unhampered by greed, unsullied by sin.  He will know what’s best, want what’s best, do what’s best.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 12/18/13

number 1For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…  (Isaiah 9:6)

I don’t know if there is anything in life more exciting than the birth of a baby.   The feeling of joy, of life, that you get from holding a newborn—it’s astounding.  It doesn’t even have to be your child.  Hope arrives with every baby.

How wonderful is it that God chose to bring Christ to us in this way.  Think about it—the Christ could have appeared fully grown, striding out of the desert on a Thursday morning.  He could have simply walked into the temple and started preaching.  Instead, we get to see him as a baby—yes, so that his genealogy could be verified and so that prophecy would be fulfilled—but also so that we could see a God willing to humble himself by birth, as he would one day humble himself by death.

Your God loves you so much that he sent a baby—the epitome of life—to call you to eternal life.

Heed the call today.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 12/17/13

number 1The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  (Isaiah 9:2).

The metaphor of light has been around for so long we’ve become numb to it.

See if you can unnumb (denumb?) yourself a bit.

Imagine the darkest place, the blackest night you have ever experienced.

Multiply it by a factor of infinity.

A blackness so complete it fills you, seeping in through your pores…crushing… suffocating.  It’s every nightmare, every horror coalesced and distilled into a pure, inky nothing that will consume you.

That has consumed you.

Then, a light.  It’s small at first, like a candle’s flame.  Even so, the darkness recoils from it; hope rushes in to fill the space.  The light grows and spreads until it fills you—or did it draw you into itself? Hard to tell.  The nightmare, the horror, the emptiness are revealed as fluff and nonsense by the glory of the light.

Yeah, yeah, I know; the imagery is as old as time.  But…

It’s true, you know.

He’s coming.

One-a-Day Monday, 12/16/13

number 1If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  (James 1: 5-6)

Life has been pretty crazy lately.  Good crazy—holidays, family time, teaching classes, taking classes, house guests, being in a show—but crazy all the same.  So much so that I haven’t gotten out a regular, full-length post for three weeks.  Yesterday, I was struggling with how to spend my morning.  I knew I needed to write a post, but I also had a major rehearsal to prepare for, and I had promised the family waffles for breakfast.  I was stuck.

I prayed that God would help me know what I should do with my morning.

Now, I’m not one of those people who sees angels around every corner and looks at every traffic light as a sign from God.  I do believe there is a certain randomness involved in everyday life.   And yet…

Just after I prayed that God would help me know what I should do with my morning I began to type a post.  I got three or four words in, and my computer shut down.  It didn’t break—I’m using it now—it just said, “Shutting Down,” and did.

Some days, I would call that random.  On this day, I took it as a sign.  I made waffles, studied my lines, and let the Pulitzer wait for another week.  It ended up being a pretty awesome day.

Ask God for something today, and when you do, expect an answer.  Be on the lookout for it.  Listen to it.

It’s kinda fun.