Stand Tuesday  3/27/18

A life worthy

…zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me (Psalm 69:9).

Jesus entered the city and went up to the temple.  It was Passover, the biggest holiday of the Jewish year, so the joint was really jumping.  Many people had come a long way to be part of the celebration. Rather than transport all the animals you would need for the various sacrifices, it was normal and acceptable to buy what you needed when you got to Jerusalem.  The customary practice was for vendors to set up shop at a convenient place near the temple.

What Jesus saw when he arrived was dramatically different. The vendors had their booths and tables set up in the temple itself. They were operating in an area called the Outer Court, the only place in the temple where non-Jews could come to worship God. There they were, selling animals and changing foreign currency into local currency, and just generally carrying on noisy business, all while people were trying to worship.

Jesus was furious.  He knocked over the tables and chased the vendors out of there.  John even says that Jesus made a whip and used it to drive the blasphemers away.  He yelled at them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers!’”

This is not the meek and mild Jesus we think of from Sunday School flannel boards.

He is not holding a lamb on his shoulders.

He does not have little kids crawling all over him.

He is not happy.

This is the Messiah, the Lion of Judah.  This is a man of righteous integrity, protecting the purity of his father’s house.

Do the insults of those who insult God fall on you?  There are a lot of people out there who mock Jesus, and this is a prime season for doing it.  Does that bother you, Beloved? What are you doing about it? Do you stand for Christ in your daily world?  Look, I’m not calling you to grab a whip and chase the heathen out of town—

but if you do, send me pictures and I promise to post them.

There is no sitting for Christ.  You stand, or you fall.

Stand for him today, Beloved.

Triumph Monday 3/26/18

A life worthy

Note:  Time to celebrate Holy Week.  Not that every week isn’t holy, but you know what I mean.   

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover.  This week would be the climax of his ministry, and would represent the very reason he came to live among us.  The time had come to declare himself the Messiah. (“Messiah,” by the way, is a Hebrew word that means “anointed one,” or “chosen one.”  The same word is translated “Christ” in the Greek.)

So, Jesus did what anyone would do—he sent for a donkey.

This really does make sense.  Zechariah had prophesied that the Messiah would arrive as a king, and would come to claim his throne riding on a donkey.  By arriving in this manner, Jesus was sending an unmistakable signal to the crowds. Now I know that a donkey is not the manliest of animals…certainly not very king-like.  But to the Hebrews, the donkey was significant. A king used a stallion when he rode to war, but a donkey when he came in peace. Thus, Jesus came as the King of Peace, to make peace between man and God.

The crowds loved it.  They spread cloaks and leafy branches on the ground for Jesus to ride upon—sort of a red carpet treatment. They cried out “Hosanna!” which means, “Save us,” and, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They were quoting Psalm 118, essentially acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and pledging themselves to him.

Crowds are so fickle.

As he descended the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem was spread out before him.  Jesus wept over the city, knowing that, though they praised him at that moment, they would soon turn on him.

Are we fickle, Beloved?  Do we praise him when the crowd is cheering and waving palm branches, but turn away when they scream and reach for the hammer and nails?

Serving this King is a serious business indeed.

Serve faithfully, Beloved.

Happy Monday

Trophies One-a-Day Friday  3/23/18

A life worthy

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7).

So, when I read this carefully, it sounds like God is planning to use us to show how awesome and powerful his love is.

We’re his trophies.

I like this.

I used to have a few trophies, back in the day when they counted for something. Each one represented a success, a moment when I overcame the odds and the opposition to achieve victory. They brought memories of pain and toil and sweat and blisters and work and vision and anticipation and triumph and joy. I could tell you the story behind each race–whether you wanted to hear it or not.

One of these days we’ll all be at the wedding feast, doing wedding feast things, and God is going to call me up to the front and say, “Hey everybody. This is Michael. Let me tell you about this guy!” And the Lord of the Universe will share what a blithering, pathetic piece of fluff I was before his grace got hold of me and reeled me in. It won’t be at all embarrassing or shameful because we’ll be past all that nonsense, and everyone will laugh and weep and cheer and applaud God and his amazing, transforming, wonderful love.

I can’t wait.

So…if we’re trophies to show off God’s amazing goodness, aaand we are part of the Bride of Christ, does that make us trophy wives?

I gotta say, that feels a bit odd, but I’ll take it.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Still Grace One-a-Day Thursday  3/22/18

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5).

Again with the grace?

Yes, again with the grace.

You see, I don’t know about you, but when I take my eyes off grace–even for a moment–I start thinking that all this atoning-for-my-multiplicity-of-sins-growing-in-Christ-becoming-a-man-of-God-making-an-impact-on-the-world-becoming-the-awesomest-version-of-me-I-can-be stuff is actually, you know, on MY shoulders.

Which, of course, would crush me to powder in the blink of an eye.

Oh, by the way…when I said I don’t know about you?

I lied.

Embrace the grace, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Life and Death One-a-Day Wednesday  3/21/18

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… (Ephesians 2:5)

I like zombie movies.

Go ahead and judge. You won’t be the first; you won’t be the last.

I think one of the fascinations behind these shows is the idea that a person can exist in two states, alive and dead at the same time.

It’s morbid and gruesome and scary and even funny on the screen, and yet…

That is who we were. We walked around in a macabre mockery of life, when in reality we were dead.

In the shows, the zombies are beyond hope; the only thing to do is release them from the pretense of life and kill them for good.

Of course, these shows don’t consider God. God solves the dilemma not by destroying life, but by defeating Death.

Imagine that movie–Jesus healing the zombies.

I’d pay to see that.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Mercy Tuesday  3/20/18

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy… (Ephesians 2:4)

So much mercy.

God is like Scrooge McDuck, with piles and piles of mercy, so much that you could dive into it, roll around in it, swim in it, practically drown in it

except that, you know…it’s the one thing keeping you afloat.

Of course, God doesn’t hoard his mercy. He spends it–rather lavishly, in fact.

On us

Happy Tuesday, Beloved

His Great Love Monday 3/19/18

A life worthy

But because of his great love for us… (Ephesians 2:4)




Hold on a minute.

I know you have a bucket full of issues to deal with this morning, and I’ll let you get to it in just a moment, but first…

Think of all the ways we can finish the above verse.

Because of his great love for us…

we are his.

Because of his great love for us…

we are whole.

Because of his great love for us…

we are safe.

Because of his great love for us…

we have shelter and food and clothing and love and life and peace even when peace makes no sense at all…

You can go on from there…and then Monday might not seem so…Mondayish.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Spirit One-a-Day Thursday  3/15/18

A life worthy

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2) .

At the risk of being repetitive, redundant, and saying the same thing I’ve said before, allow me to point something out.

Those people out there, the ones without Christ, the ones who can make life so very difficult–they are not your enemy.

They are, in fact, being held captive by your Enemy.

They do not need your wrath.

They need rescue.

So, go out there today and be a rescue hero, ya?

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Kingdom of the Air One-a-Day Wednesday  3/14/18

A life worthy

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air… (Ephesians 2:2)

You used to live for yourself.

You used to do what you wanted, be who you wanted.

You used to sit on the throne of your own life.

I mean, that’s what you thought.

Paul reminds us that we were never really in charge. That “freedom” that we thought we had was a lie. We served the king of the air, just a surely as if we had been chained. Like inmates in an asylum, we strutted around as if we wore crowns instead of straight jackets.

Toward the end of her life, my grandmother lived in a nursing home. Her dementia caused her to think that she was living on a cruise ship, travelling to exotic places and feasting at the finest tables. We ran with that because…why not? There was no convincing her otherwise, and her fantasy beat her reality by a large margin. Still, it was sad to see someone we loved lost in a lie.

Beloved, you are going to meet people today who are trapped in the lie. They serve the king of the air, though they don’t realize it.

Do not mock.

Do not despise.

Have mercy, even as our Lord has mercy, and remember that you once wore those same chains.

And, but for grace, you would wear them still.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.