Clean One-a-Day Wednesday 9/16/20

A life worthy

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

Lady Macbeth knew.

Most of us can recall little of our high school Shakespeare, but we remember the murdering queen who walked and talked in her sleep.  Night after night she got out of bed, still asleep, and tried to scrub the blood of her crimes from her hands. There was nothing visible on her skin, but she knew the blood—the sin—was there.

“Out, out, damn spot!” she cried, but she could not make herself clean.  When the doctor saw her somnambulistic scrubbing, he commented that she did not need a doctor—she needed the Divine. This man knew his stuff—most doctors in that time period would have prescribed leeches.

Bad news—no one can cleanse your heart except God himself.  Few would be willing, and none would be able.

Good news—God is more than willing, and he is more than able. Whiter than snow, Baby. Whiter than snow.

Put down the Boraxo, Beloved.  Lift your heart to Him.

Happy Wednesday

Inner Parts One-a-Day Tuesday 9/15/20

A life worthy

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51:6).

Why can’t God leave well enough alone?  He has the surface—I look the part, act the part—anyone on the outside would think I’m a reasonably-well-functioning man of God.

Does he really need the core of my being?

It seems a little extreme, don’t you think?  I mean, a man deserves his privacy; this, “Openness with your feelings” thing only goes so far.

Nope

He wants it all.  He wants me

and you

and us

to reflect his wisdom and his love and his very nature all the way to the bone.  He wants us, in our very essence, to be like him. And he won’t stop until he gets what he wants.  Not if it takes all eternity.

Thank God, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday

From Birth and Before One-a-Day Monday 9/14/20

A life worthy

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).

Well, there’s a comforting thought.

As if this week wasn’t shaping up to be hard enough,  I‘ve gotta get hit with the concept that I’ve been sinful for as long as I’ve been me.

Still…there it is.

It’s not like sin is just a one-time, or even sometime, thing.  David can’t say, “Oops, I slipped.  Apart from this episode, I’ve pretty much been perfection.”  Even David—giant killing, Psalm writing, man-after-God’s-own-heart David—knows that sin seems to be woven into the very fabric of his nature.  He doesn’t stand a chance of standing on his own. It’s like fighting cancer with cough drops.

Poor David.

Poor me.

Poor us.

And yet God, because of who he is, loved us anyway.

And so God, because he loved us, didn’t want us to die in sin, as we were born in sin.

And then God, because he didn’t want us to die, died in our place.

And now God, because he died for us, raises us to life in him.

And this God, who had raised you to life, calls you Beloved.

I guess it’s not such a bad way to start your week, after all.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Nineteen One-a-Day Friday 9/11/20

A life worthy

Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men (Psalm 71:4).

Nineteen years.

Nineteen years since “Nine-One-One” became “Nine-Eleven.”

Nineteen years since we awakened to fire and smoke and terror and grief.

Nineteen years since the hand of the wicked reached out to strike at our nation.

It was a horrific reminder that there is evil in this world.  Evil will always attack the innocent. Evil will always set itself against the people of God.

And yet, you didn’t really need the reminder, did you?  You’ve seen it in the streets. You’ve known the attack of evil—maybe not on so grand a scale, but you’ve known it.

And you will again.

It comes with the territory.  It’s part of the package of being His, of living for Christ in this world.

And so is deliverance.

As surely as the sun rose this morning.

As surely as the Son rose long ago.

God will not let evil win.  Not in this world. Not in your life.

So as you remember 911 today, as you see the proud flags and hear the lofty speeches and see the heartfelt posts, remember your own personal 911’s, and how God has brought you through them.

And trust that he will again.

Walk in remembrance today, Beloved.

Only You One-a-Day Thursday 9/10/20

A life worthy

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and righteous when you judge (Psalm 51:4).

So, that driver you had the little road rage incident with, you know, the one who obviously saw that you were there but cut you off anyway, the one you chased for three miles so you could give him the evil eye and the fancy finger—the one who turned out to be an octogenarian grandma totally oblivious to your righteous wrath?

Yeah, that was Jesus.

The cop you lied to to get out of that ticket for multiple unsafe lane changes that you made in order to catch up to the aforementioned Granny-Who-Cannot-Drive?

Also, as it happens, Jesus.

The supermarket checker who got written up because her drawer didn’t balance because you kept the money she gave you because she can’t count and gave you seriously inaccurate change?

That would be the Lord of the Universe.

The scores of freakish folk you mocked on the “People of Walmart” page?

Your savior…each and every one.

I’m assuming that you’re not in David’s league here, that adultery and assassination are absent from your repertoire of iniquity.  It doesn’t really matter. Every sin—big or small in your perception—is ultimately committed against Jesus. He said as much in the parable of the sheep and the goats:

Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me….whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me (Matt 25).

Is it really such a stretch to say that whatever we do to the least of these we do to him?

David realized this—eventually.  It got his head straight so that he was ready for real repentance.

Fortunately, Beloved, you have no need for repentance today.  This is merely an academic exercise for you, as your conscience is clear.

Well, you know, except for…

Hmm…

Happy Thursday, Beloved

Mercy One-a-Day Tuesday 9/8/20

A life worthy

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

There are two kinds of people in this world:

those who need forgiveness, and…

oh, wait—I guess there’s only one kind of people in this world.

Look, your sin may not be on the epic scale of King David’s—adultery, abuse of power, conspiracy to commit murder—but it’s still sin.

And you still need forgiveness.

And you still don’t deserve it.

David realized this.  He claimed no special privileges as God’s anointed.  He made no appeal based on his previous devotion. He expected no “do-overs” because of the mighty deeds he had done in God’s name.

He asked for mercy, not because of who he was, but because of who God is.

Oh, but Michael, we have something David didn’t have.  We have the Cross.

Yes, we do, Beloved. And we don’t deserve that, either.  The Cross stands as the ultimate evidence of God’s selfless love and great compassion.

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t expect forgiveness.  If you belong to Christ, the grace purchased at the Cross is yours for the taking—every day, all the time.  But don’t demand it–not with your words, or with your actions, or with your attitude.

Receive it with joy, a gift from the One who knows you best and loves you anyway.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

One or the Other One-a-Day Monday 9/7/20

A life worthy

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)

There is yet another massive wildfire in my area this week. Our home is in no danger, but my family and I have watched from the window and seen the flames consume the hillsides near us.

I see a lot of chaff being burned up.

I also see a lot of homes threatened, though as I write this none has been lost. Times like this always make me wonder about verses like this. It seems like God is saying that His people will be protected from the fire, but we know that is not always the case. That leads me into a brief round of “This is beautiful poetry, but we know that life’s not always like that so how can I trust any of Scripture maybe it’s all poetry and I can’t take any of it literally–”

I’m glad you never have those moments, Beloved.

Anyway, it’s at about this point in my mental panic that three things occur. First, I read a little more closely, and I see that the Psalm says that God “watches over” his people, not that he keeps them from all harm. He doesn’t promise that the fire will not come, only that He will be with you in the fire.

Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Second, I remember that God has a different set of priorities than Michael has. God is far less concerned with the stuff of my life, or even with my life itself, than he is with the eternal me. Me, he keeps safe. Me is untouchable by the flames, be they physical or metaphorical. Me is a life hidden with Christ in God.

Third, I realize that I had a similar meltdown just three verses ago, and I realize that I am indeed a pitiful wretch.

But I’m a pitiful wretch loved by God. I’ll take it.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Blown Away One-a-Day Friday 9/4/20

A life worthy

Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, or sinners in the assembly of the righteous (Psalm 1:4-5).

I forget.

Sometimes I look at the nonbelievers around me, and I envy their “freedom.”

I forget.

I forget their destiny.  I forget that, without Christ, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Ever wonder why chaff blows away, while the wheat (that would be you) remains?  It’s because chaff has no substance, no weight. There is nothing solid to it, nothing to keep it from drifting away on the breeze.

So…it does.

What I sometimes think is freedom is just the aimless drifting of an empty soul.

One day they, like we, will stand before the Father.  They will not be clothed in the righteousness of Christ—they will be naked in their sin.  They will not stand firm in the armor of God—they will be crushed under the weight of their own well-earned guilt.  They will not rejoice in the fellowship of the saints—they will be ever, forever alone.

Sometimes I forget.  But when I remember, I praise God for his grace, and I remember never to envy the lost, but ever to pity them, to pray for them, to reason and wrestle and reach for them.

I’m telling you—I’d rather be a tree.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Tree Talk One-a-Day Thursday 9/3/20

A life worthy

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

OK, I really appreciate the tree image.  On a day like today, when I’m running crazy, the idea of solid, deep stillness is delicious.  On a day like today, when so little that I do seems to be of real value, the thought of being useful, of fulfilling my purpose, is profoundly satisfying.  On a day like today, when my back aches and the gray is spreading, the hope of not withering invigorates me.

But I gotta tell you, I struggle with the rest of the verse.  I’m trying to be a Psalm 1 kinda guy, but I can’t honestly say that whatever I do prospers.  Maybe I’m not Psalm 1ish enough. Maybe I sit in the seat of mockers more often than I like to admit.  Maybe my meditation isn’t up to snuff.

Maybe.

On the other hand, maybe I don’t have a good enough grip on what it means to “prosper.”  Maybe God is prospering me in ways I can’t see, can’t even imagine.

Yeah, I like that “Maybe” better.

For all that I don’t know—which is plenty—there is one thing I do know.

I wanna be a tree.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.