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 heavy thing that needs throwing?
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’ll crush you to powder. You are no match for the least of them.
So don’t try to be.
You see, there is also 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.
There’s a rough week ahead. Better suit up.
I teach eighth grade.
One of the byproducts of my job is that I have become somewhat of an authority on current clothing trends amongst the middle-school set. There is a fascinating fluidity to their fashion that’s hard to keep up with, but I will share with you the basic principles, just in case you should find yourself amongst them and in need of camouflage. Continue reading
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Submission is the essence of relationship. When we put ourselves first, we aren’t really capable of loving anyone. Our own desires blind us to what the other person needs and wants. When we learn to submit, to see the other person’s needs and put them ahead of our own, we take the first step in learning to love. Jesus Christ provided us the perfect example of submission. Without his submission to the Father, we would be forever lost. When we follow his example, we honor him and build godly relationships at the same time.
This verse leads into Paul’s famous section on submission. Paul is going to talk about husbands and wives, parents and children, even slaves and masters. No matter what the relationship, the principal is the same. Put the other first. Don’t worry about what you need, or what you think you need. Trust your needs to God, and focus on the other person.
So, to whom do you need to submit today? Gird your loins—this oughta be fun!
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)
Today is Halloween. A day on which this fallen world celebrates death and darkness. Oh, they wrap it in candy and pumpkins, but it is what it is.
Instead of Halloween, make today your personal Thanksgiving. Make a point of noticing the blessings in your life. Point them out to your friends and praise God together. Pick your favorite worship song and get it stuck in your head. In short, fill yourself with life, not death…with light, not darkness.
Yes, you can still eat candy.
…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
Make no mistake—there is evil in this world, no matter what the popular culture and the intellectual elite say. It surrounds us, and seems to grow with each passing day.
You don’t belong to evil. You are not of this world. God will bring you opportunities to shine for him, to be salt and light to the people around you.
Be on the lookout this very day for ways to serve a risen savior in a fallen world. Pray for the vision to see the opportunity, the courage to take the chance, and the strength to bear the consequences.
Make the most of your Wednesday.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise… (Ephesians 5:15).
If you follow Christ, the world will not understand you. More than that, the world cannot understand you. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” That light is Jesus, and if he lives in you then you are a mystery to the world around you.
Knowing that, riddle me this: Why do you keep trying to do things the world’s way? Why do you follow the world’s advice, or try to impress the world? It’s never going to work, so give it up.
Paul says that we must be very careful to live in wisdom. That seems to indicate that, if we are not on our guard, we will naturally fall into the unwise patterns of the world. We must stand fast in the wisdom he has given us, the wisdom that looks like foolishness to the eyes of the world.
Embrace your inner enigma.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11)
Good things generally need light in order to grow. Sure, you can grow some things in darkness—mold, mildew, assorted fungal yuck—but not the good stuff. Apples, raspberries, peaches, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—these need light. What “Fruitless deeds of darkness” are you having something to do with? Hey, you don’t have to tell me—I’m not running a tabloid here. But ask yourself—what do you have in your life that is fruitless? What fungal yuck are you growing in the temple of the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t have to be raging evil. I’m assuming that you’ve never stolen a baby or sold your mother on eBay. But if God isn’t part of what you’re doing, if the Light of the World is not invited along, then it’s darkness. It’s fruitless. Pull it out by the roots—or better yet, ask God to do it. He won’t “accidentally” miss anything. Expose it to the Light, and let it wither away.
Let today be trash day.
They were like crazy people.
Virtually no experience, maybe four minutes of training, and here they were, three kids charging up the Himalayas on quads.
O.K., so they were only hills—they were steep ones.
My brother-in-law invited us out to his place on the Colorado River for the weekend. Dads and kids. Dirt, water, and fun. Bill brought his daughter, but his boy wasn’t able to make it, so we brought Tim, a buddy of Alec’s. That made four teens, three of whom were brand new to this stuff.
Let the games begin. Continue reading
…find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).
There’s a big difference between desire and love. Desire is about you—your wants, your needs, and how the object of your desire can fulfill them. Even the term, “Object of your desire,” denotes a thing, not a person.
Love is not about you; it is about the beloved. Your wants, your needs are subordinated to theirs. When you love someone, you want to know everything about them. So you spend hours with them, hanging on their every word. You study them, looking for the things they like to do, to eat, to wear. Kind of like stalking, only not so creepy. You pay attention; you get to know them. Then you show your love by doing things that you know they’ll appreciate. It can be hard work, but it feels like pure joy.
When was the last time you dove into Scripture with the sole purpose of knowing God better, of finding out what makes him happy? Better question: When will be the next time?
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)
Right now our neighborhood is decorating for Halloween. Witches, ghosts, tombstones, zombie creatures, bloody body parts—they cover the lawns and hang from the windows of houses up and down our street. If ever there was a time that glorified darkness, this is it.
As children of God, we are called to be different. We are light. Notice that the verse doesn’t say that we have light, but that we are light. Light has nothing to do with darkness. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t, but that it can’t. Go into a dark room and flick on the light switch. What happens to the darkness?
Just as sin can’t exist in the presence of God, darkness can’t exist in the presence of light. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can play the games that the world plays. If you dabble in darkness, you can’t live as light.
Does that mean that you can’t be living for Christ and have witches hanging from your windows and zombies bursting forth from your lawn?
Look, I don’t want to step on any toes. I’ll let God do it.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Where there is no light, there is darkness.
Where light is, darkness cannot be.
Go, Beloved of God, and live as a child of light today.