From the Depths One-a-Day Friday 9/27/19

A life worthy

He said, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.  From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”  (Jonah 2:2)

Do you remember, Beloved?

Do you remember when you called out to him?

Do you remember the pit—so dark, so deep?

The despair was palpable.

The sorrow tangible.

But he answered.

He listened.

Do you remember?

Let this be a day of remembrance, Beloved.  Drink deep of the memory. Let it roll around in your heart.  Taste its fullness. Then let it sink deep into your spirit, to refresh and sustain you.

Now you can look Today square in the eye.

Walk in confidence, Beloved.

Happy Friday

Time Out One-a-Day Thursday 9/26/19

A life worthy

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God (Jonah 2:1).

We all need to take a break from the world from time to time, sort of get away from the busyness and reconnect with God.

You may go to the mountains

or to the desert

or just to a quiet room with a closed door

or…you know…a fish.

Sometimes we refuse to take that break, and God forces a rest upon us.

He might send an illness

or a layoff

or a flight cancellation

or…you know…

Jonah didn’t ask for the fish, as he didn’t ask for the storm or the mission to Nineveh.  But he recognizes the fish for the provision it is, and he uses the time to reconnect with God and get his priorities straight.

At least for the moment.

And what about you, Beloved?

Are you taking time to fellowship with the One who loves you?  When was the last time you got away from the Crazy—if only for a few minutes—to let God restore, re-center, reconnect you?  Because if you don’t, he will.

Because you are his Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Splash One-a-Day Wednesday 9/25/19

A life worthy

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm…But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights  (Jonah 1:15-17).

Was it real?  Is Scripture literal here?

Well, the theotechnical answer would be…yeppers.

In Matthew 12, Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Yeah, so, apparently Jesus believed it.

That’ll work for me.

What amazes me—apart from, you know, being in a fish for three days and living to tell the tale (tail?)—is that God provided rescue in the midst of discipline.  I mean, God could have let Jonah drown—he deserved it—and then raised up someone else to preach to the Ninevites. But God’s message of judgment, repentance, and mercy was played out in Jonah’s life before he ever even got to Nineveh.

Also worth noting is that Jonah did not experience that provision—that grace—until he accepted responsibility for his sin and stepped out in faith and obedience.  Perhaps the fish was there the entire time, but Jonah didn’t see it until he hit the water.

Last thought: did you notice that Jonah did not throw himself into the sea?  He knew what needed to be done, and he was willing, but it seems that the idea of leaping into the raging storm was a little much for him.  Spirit willing, flesh weak—that sort of thing. I’m kinda glad about that.

It makes me think that there may be hope for us yet.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Mea Culpa One-a-Day Tuesday 9/24/19

A life worthy

The sea was getting rougher and rougher.  So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm.  I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:11-12)

Wow.

Way to own it, Jonah.

We make so many excuses.  We give so many reasons to justify our actions.

Or our inactions.

I teach middle school.  Trust me, I’ve heard about every excuse there is.  Those lovely little…people…can shift the blame like nobody’s business.  Somehow, in their world, the responsibility for failing a test, not doing homework, chewing gum, talking out of turn, falls squarely on the shoulders of

Someone else.

It is refreshing when on occasion I meet a student—or an adult, for that matter—who is willing to stand up and take responsibility for their actions.

No matter the consequences.

Lord, we are like Jonah in so many ways–make this one of them.

It’s not the easy way, Beloved.

But it is The Way.

Happy Tuesday.

Stand One-a-Day Monday 9/23/19

A life worthy

They asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do?  Where do you come from?  What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land.” (Jonah 8-9)

He ran from God.

But…

He stood for God.

In the midst of the calamity that was his fault, surrounded by angry, frightened accusers pointing the finger at him, confronted by the disastrous results of his own disobedience, Jonah did not deny who he was or to whom he belonged.

Would we do as well, Beloved?

I hope so.

Happy Monday.

Panic One-a-Day Friday 9/20/19

A life worthy

All the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his own god.  And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship (Jonah 1:5).

What a sad picture.

These frantic men, faced with a problem that was way beyond them.

Calling out to gods that are not God.

Attempting to solve a spiritual crisis by worldly means.  Hurting themselves because worldly wisdom says it will help.  Because that’s all they know.

That used to be us, Beloved.

Sometimes, it still is.

I’m going to avoid the “Storms of life” metaphor.  It’s already in your head anyway. Let me just remind you of this: You know the false gods you called on in the past, and you know they were powerless.  As for fixing things yourself…well…you remember how that worked out.

But you are no longer that person. Now, you know who to cry out to.  You know who can rescue you. And you know that Pride is the only thing keeping you from calling for help.

Pride, threatening to drag you to the bottom of the metaphoric ocean.

Throw that nasty little piece of cargo overboard and call out to Him, Beloved.

He’s waiting for you.

Happy Friday.

Storm Warning One-a-Day Thursday 9/19/19

A life worthy

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid… (Jonah 1:4-5).

The Law of Unintended Consequences.

I’m sure that Jonah wasn’t trying to put a bunch of pagan sailors in jeopardy.

I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about them at all.

He was just…running.

But when you run from God, when you deliberately put yourself outside of His will, stuff’s gonna happen.  You put yourself and others in situations that God never intended for you. Sin is like a nuclear blast, with fallout that you can neither predict nor control.

Bottom line—your sin is not just your own.  People can get hurt because of your disobedience.

Time for a heart check, Beloved.  Are there areas in your life you need to fix, sins you need to confess, attitudes you need to repent of?

Because you know, people are getting wet.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Runner One-a-Day Wednesday 9/18/19

A life worthy

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord…  (Jonah 1:1-3)

I talk a good game.

I say that I wish God would just be clear, tell me exactly what he wants of me.

And yet…

You know what I’m talking about.  You’re praying, asking for God’s guidance, and you get an answer.  A full-blown, here’s-what-I-want-you-to-do-Kid sort of answer. You know it in your heart.

But…

It’s not the answer you wanted.

In fact, it’s totally wrong.

So you run.

Oh, you may not hop a ship to Tarshish, but you run.

Why is it that when we say “Thy will…” we usually mean, “My will…?”

Because…you know…human.

Beloved, as we head into Wednesday, let’s try a little experiment.. Let’s pray that God would use us—no strings attached.  However, wherever and with whomever he chooses. Let’s lay ourselves at his feet and await his command. And then let’s follow.

Yeah, I know it’s a scary concept, but we trust him.

Right?

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Not Destroyed One-a-Day Tuesday 9/17/19

A life worthy

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Have you ever been knocked down?

Sure you have.

Literally and/or metaphorically you’ve been beaten, torn up, kicked around, thrown down and ground into the dirt until there’s grit in your eyes and blood in your mouth.

But you survived.

After all, here you are, enjoying this delightfully uplifting message.

As much as I love reading about the armor of God, I think the message of the cross is most powerful, most potent, when your armor has cracked, your shield has caved in, and your sword has been knocked from your hand.

That’s when resurrection comes in.

They say that God will never give you more than you can handle.  Perhaps it is better to say that he will never give you more than He can handle.

He is the one who lifts you up from the dust.

From the mire.

From the muck.

From the grave.

Metaphorically…and literally.

That is the treasure you carry in your little jar of clay.

Carry it with joy, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday.

Never Alone One-a-Day Monday 9/16/19

A life worthy

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned… (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

You may feel as if they’re all out to get you.

Maybe they are.

You may think that God’s left you to face it alone.

Never gonna happen, my friend.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Happy Monday, Beloved.