One-a-Day Monday 6/9/14

number 1Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2).

I know we have talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating.  The phrase grace and peace appears in nearly every New Testament letter.  Paul used it.  John used it.  Here we see Peter using the phrase.  It is always used as a blessing to believers.  It is always used at the beginning of the letter, kind of a launching pad.  It is always used in the same order.




Which reminds us that grace must come first.  Without grace—the completely undeserved blessing we have received from God—how can we ever know peace?  His grace sent his Son to the cross to purchase our peace with his blood.

Peter goes another step, pointing out that this grace and peace come through “The knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  God’s grace is not an anonymous gift left on our doorstep.  Jesus stands and holds it out to you; you must come and take it.  You must learn what it cost, and why.

To appreciate the gift, you must know the giver.

Spend time with him today, Beloved.  Take hold of the grace and peace he offers you.

The gift cost him more than you can ever fully know.

And you are worth it.

One-a-Day Friday, 6/6/14

number 1…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,” connotes 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.

Beloved, 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?

One-a-Day Thursday, 6/5/14

number 1For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)

Our culture is fascinated with darkness.  Zombies, vampires, witches, demons—they fill our movie screens and paperback novels.  And it’s not enough to have these forces of darkness in our pop culture entertainment; sometimes we make them the heroes.

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 yet filling your head with images of evil, Christless yuck?

Pretty much.

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.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 6/4/14

number 1…live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God  (Ephesians 5:2).

This verse goes along with yesterday’s.  One of the most powerful features of God’s character is his unending, unstoppable love.  If we imitate him, as verse 1 tells us to do, we will live a life that mirrors that love.

And what an example we have to follow.  Jesus loved us, and he told us in a way that goes far beyond words.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

So how do we do that?  I mean, laying down your life is all well and good if you’re rushing into a burning building to rescue people, or if you dive into traffic to save a toddler.  But that opportunity doesn’t arise very often, and frankly, you can only do that trick once.

There is another way to lay down your life—but you probably don’t want to hear about it.  This is the daily act of dying to yourself, of putting other people first.  It’s the little things—taking out the trash even though it isn’t your turn, letting someone else have the last doughnut even though you’ve been salivating over it all morning, letting the other car in front of you even though it means you have to slow down and why should you have to slow down why can’t they just wait their turn like everybody else—

Yeah, it’s that kind of stuff.  Not terribly dramatic; nothing to get you a mention in the paper, but loving nonetheless.  That’s your challenge.

So, Beloved…what will your fragrant offering be today?

One-a-Day Tuesday, 6/3/14

number 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children… (Ephesians 5:1).

Have you ever watched a son watch his father? The boy studies the man, soaking up the Dadness of it all.  Words, clothing, even mannerisms—the child models after what he observes.  Often, the child does not even realize what is going on.  He is simply watching, and becoming what he sees.  This can be dangerous, because not all of Dad’s ways are worthy of imitation.  Thus the origin of the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

We have a Father who says, “Do as I say; do as I do; do as I am.”  All his ways are perfectly worthy of imitation.  Study him closely today.  Look for him in his Word, in his world, and in his people.  Then, do your best to be what you see.

Go ahead, Beloved—be a copycat.

One-a-Day Monday 6/2/14

number 1Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you  (Eph. 4:32).

There’s an interesting thing about forgiveness.  It works for the forgiver as powerfully as for the forgivee.

Some of us—and by that I mean me—have trouble in the forgiveness department. Oh, we’re pretty good about forgiving those who apologize to us.  We can be gracious and charitable—no problem.  But as you know, most people who offend you don’t apologize.

Because they’re jerks.

And yet we’re called to forgive them anyway.  The passage says, “Forgiving…just as in Christ God forgave you.”  He didn’t wait for us to apologize before acting to forgive us. If he had, he would have been waiting forever, which he could do, because he’s eternal, but what’s the point of that when we never would have made the first step?  Romans 5:8 says that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  While we were still hurting him, he was offering forgiveness.

Does this kind of forgiveness heal the relationship?  Not necessarily.  The offender needs to acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of forgiveness in order for that to happen.  Kind of exactly like it is with the sinner and God.  But forgiveness does more than release the offender from guilt; it releases the offended from bitterness.  Forgive, as an act of obedience to God, and you are free to move on, regardless of what the other person does.

If you need to forgive someone today, I humbly suggest that you follow God’s command and forgive.  They hurt you once; don’t give them the power to hurt you over and over again.

There’s no one in your life you need to forgive?


Gird your loins, Beloved.  It’s only a matter of time.



Goodbye, Loretta

R.I.P.I sign my name, and you are no longer mine.

Just like that.

For a decade we have been together, but now it is over.

Please, don’t look at me that way.

You understand, don’t you?  It’s not your fault.  I don’t blame you.  You have been a faithful friend, an excellent companion.  You were there for me morning after morning, mile after mile, and I thank you.  For years you were the soul of reliability—I admit you were so rock steady, I took you for granted, and for that I apologize.  I never questioned whether you would be there when I needed you.  You simply were.

Oh, there were always issues. You know that’s true.   At first, I chose to see them as lessons God was using you to teach me.  Your broken air conditioner taught me to endure hardship and appreciate the blessing of a cool breeze—rare though that be in summer.  Your broken driver’s door taught me to be thankful that I was limber enough to climb in through the passenger side and over the gear shift.  The fact that neither door would lock taught me to hold loosely to worldly possessions, since items left in you would likely go missing.  Your broken radio caused me to unplug from the world and spend more time in prayer.  The rust spots, torn seats, cracks in the dash wide enough to use as a drink holder—which was fortunate since the regular drink holder was broken—all of these just pointed to the passing of time, the ravages that come upon all of us in a fallen world.  After all, I’ve gained some rust spots of my own in the time we’ve been together, along with assorted cracks and tears.  If anything, the external cosmetic issues served to highlight your internal strength and reliability.  So many times we passed beautiful, shiny cars broken down by the side of the road, or strapped to a tow truck, and I patted your sticky steering wheel in thanks.

But then things began to change.  The trips to the mechanic became more frequent, and more costly.  My mantras, “It’s really just maintenance,” and, “Hey, it beats a car payment,” began to ring hollow.

You never stranded me away from home, and for that I will always be grateful.  You always seemed able to rally enough to make it to the mechanic, or at least to our driveway.  Do you remember that morning outside the orthodontist?  Completely dead, until the tow truck arrived.  Then, Sweet Loretta, you rallied for one last start, and made it to the mechanic under your own power.

Then came The Day of the Transmission.

It was so sudden.  From mild slippage on Sunday afternoon to massive meltdown on Monday.  You struggled so valiantly to shift gears, but there was nothing left.  Still, you fought like a champion to gain the refuge of the mechanic’s garage.  You refused heroic measures, arriving under your own power, trapped forever in secondish gear.  Wrapped in your own dignity, you shrieked your defiance of time through the horrible sound of grinding metal, leaving little pieces of yourself along the road.

I remembered our first road trip together as I coaxed you through our last.

Yes, Loretta, I could have given you a new transmission.  But the cost would have been too high.  Please understand that, though my heart considers you priceless, my wallet had reached its limit.

To everything there is a season.

A time to be born, a time to die.

A time to hold on, a time to let go.

I hope that you rest peacefully, knowing that you will continue to live on in other cars.  You, who have always been a giver, can now give all that you have to keep other Berettas on the road.  Be happy, my friend.  You have earned it.

As for me, I’m very glad people aren’t cars, and that when my time comes I will go in my entirety into glory.  I’m very glad that there is no such thing as a spiritual Pick-a-Part.

Although that is an interesting concept…

One-a-Day Friday 5/30/14

number 1But as for me, it is good to be near God (Psalm 73:28).

Certain verses seem to sum up vast amounts of Scripture.

This would be one of those verses.

All of my hopes and plans and dreams and desires, boiled down to one thought:

It is good to be near God.

When I am near him, I am safe.

When I am near him, I have peace.

When I am near him, my heart is full

and still

and quiet.

I don’t need to understand all the things that are too big for me

when I am near him.

I don’t need to see justice done and evil men face the consequences

when I am near him.

I don’t need to justify my actions

or my thoughts

or myself

when I am near him.

Oh, it is good to be near God.

He’s calling you close today; he wants you near enough to hold.

Because you are his Beloved.

One-a-Day Thursday 5/29/14

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

I’ve written, deleted, and rewritten today’s devotion multiple times, and you know what?  There’s not a thing I can add to this beautiful piece of Scripture.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to leave you with these verses today.  Drink them in, Beloved.  Draw strength and confidence and peace from the knowledge that you are his, and he is yours.

Forever and always.

One-a-Day Wednesday 5/28/14

number 1When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny (Psalm 73:16-17).

How often do you avoid God?


When I’m in the kind of spiritual place we’ve been talking about this week—envious of the world, wounded by God’s callous disregard for my obvious piety—the last place I want to be is on my knees in prayer.

Can I just say, right now, that not wanting to be with the Father—worshipping, reading his Word, listening for his Holy Spirit—is an immediate sign that things are wrong?

Sure I can.

Of course, this is the time when I most need to be on my knees.  Because—and you know this as well as I do, Beloved—when I come to the Father, humbly and worshipfully, he changes me.

One of the few advantages to being kind of a spiritual yutz is that I am constantly going back to God to get my head straight.  Three, four, five times a day—or an hour—I am asking him to help me see myself, the people around me, and this insane world through his eyes.

Have you spent time with him today, Beloved?  Have you given him the chance to remind you that the people of this world are not to be envied, but to be pitied, not to be imitated, but to be prayed for?  Have you given him the chance to remind you that you have earned nothing, but have gained everything, that you deserve emptiness, but have been filled?

You haven’t?

Then what are you listening to me ramble on for?  Go to your father.  Now.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.