Perplexed One-a-Day Friday 9/13/19

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… (2 Corinthians 4:7-8).

Some days…it just doesn’t make sense.

Any of it.

This world, with its evil and darkness and pain.  I mean, how is it that they can’t see the wickedness all around them for what it is? How can they so willingly embrace lies?

And am I any better?  Failing over and over to do what I know I should do, to be who I know I should be?

Even God, for that matter.  Seriously, what is his game plan for this world?   For my life?

I suppose he knows—I’ve bet my forever on it.  Still…

It all seems so hopeless sometimes…except that Hope Himself lives within me.

And within you.

He is the treasure in this clay jar.  I will not despair.

Hold on to Hope today, Beloved.

Treasure the treasure.

Happy Friday.

Crushed…Not One-a-Day Thursday 9/12/19

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… (2 Corinthians 4:7-8).

There’s a science experiment I remember doing as a kid.  You take a metal container of some kind—it has to be metal, and it has to have a lid.  Fill the container about halfway with water and set it on the stove. Heat it until the water inside is boiling, then turn off the heat and screw the lid onto the container.

Then you wait…

As the container cools, it begins to implode.  It’s like some giant, unseen hand is squeezing the can. The whole thing crumples right before your eyes.  Way cool.

Why does the can crumple?  Pretty simple, really. By boiling the water, you increase the air pressure inside the can and drive much of the air out.  As the can cools, the air pressure drops, and the can tries to suck more air in—except it can’t, because you put the cap on.  You end up with a can that has very little air inside. The outside air pressure—the weight of the world, so to speak—literally crushes it.

Tell me you’re making the connection.

You, Beloved, are not empty inside.  You are filled with the treasure of His truth.  This world and all its pressures—crushing as they are—will not destroy you.

So there.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Eighteen Years One-a-Day Wednesday 9/11/19

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).

Eighteen years.

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

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

Eighteen 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 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.

Clay One-a-Day Tuesday 9/10/19

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 (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The Gospel.

The greatest of gifts.  The very truth of God’s love and sacrifice on our behalf.  A message with the power to change lives and worlds, and God puts it where?

In us.

Seriously?  Weak, fumbling, neurotic us?

Yep.

Why?

Well, he tells us, doesn’t he, Beloved?  He did it to show the world—and remind us—that it is his power at work and not ours.    

Look, I don’t know what big plans you have for this day, but we both know…

Not without Him.

Furthermore, I don’t know what troubles are coming your way today.  For some of us, it’s bound to be pretty rough. So, God wants you to know, here and now, that He is the one working in you…through you…

For you.

Whether today’s a hunkering down kinda day or a venturing forth kinda day, you are not doing it on your own.  Which, we can both admit, is a good thing.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Sick One-a-Day Monday 9/9/19

A life worthy

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, for he grants sleep to those he loves.  (Ps 127:1-2)

There’s no use denying it—I’ve got the crud.  For the last few days, I have hardly stirred from my big green chair.  I have slept, eaten, napped, watched TV, snoozed, scrolled aimlessly through Facebook, slumbered, and slept.

I’ve been sick.

There are no spectacular symptoms I can point you to.  No raging fever, no projectile vomiting, no delirium—at least, none that I’ve noticed. I’m not bleeding, either internally or externally.  Neither pox nor pustules are in ready evidence. It’s just a cold.

Frankly, I almost wish I had some better symptoms.It would kind of justify the time I’ve been out of commission.  When you tell someone that you’re sick, they invariably respond with some variation of, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What’s wrong?  Is it your stomach? Is it your head?” It’s great to have a solid response, like “Yeah, it’s my head. I’ve been bleeding from the eyes for several days now…fever’s at about 107,” or, “It’s weird…I’m covered head to toe in some kind of itchy purple fungus.  The doctor gave me some ointment, and that seems to be helping…”

Instead, I’m stuck with, “It’s just a really bad cold.”  See, even to you I had to add the “really.” And I qualified the statement with a “just,” as though to admit that I know I sound like a punk. And you may say, “Oh, that’s rough.  I know what that’s like,” but inside you’re thinking

“Wimp!”

“Lazy bum!”

“Weenie boy!”

“Haul your bacon out of bed and get something done!”

Well, maybe you’re not thinking that, but I am.  Because I’ll tell you, Charles Ingalls wouldn’t have called in sick today.  Virus? Ppfeh! That man worked a full-time job at the mill and ran a farm. Weekends?  That’s when he worked in his barn, hand-crafting furniture to put in the house he built by himself.

My plan for today is…maybe…to change from pajamas to sweats.

It’s humbling to be sick.  Frankly, I think that’s one reason God allows it. The occasional virus serves as a reminder that, not only is life not all about me, it’s not up to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house

its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city

the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early and stay up late,

for he grants sleep to those he loves.  (Ps 127:1-2)

I don’t know about you, but I can get way too caught up in my own importance.  It’s not that I don’t matter. As a husband, and a father, and a teacher, God has given me very important duties.  My problem (and I suspect yours, though I’m too polite and subtle to mention it) is that I start to think that I alone can and must accomplish all that has been set before me.  Though I don’t forget God, I do sometimes relegate him to the position of cheerleader. Of course, it’s when I think I have to accomplish everything that I feel most powerless. When I let myself rest, or when plague forces it on me, I am reminded that there is a God who is knowledgeable, capable, and on my side.

Hmmm.

I’m going back to sleep.

Happy Monday, Beloved

Soar One-a-Day Friday 9/6/19

A life worthy

…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). 

I have, on occasion, taken verses a bit too literally.

Once upon a time, I ran a marathon.  Actually, that’s not quite accurate; I ran part of a marathon and hobbled the rest.  This verse kept running through my mind.

My hope was in the Lord.

And yet…

My strength was depleted.

Though I was sore, I did not soar.

I ran, and grew quite weary.

I walked, and was faint.

I crawled, and was blistered.

So maybe God wasn’t talking about marathon running.  Maybe he was talking about our spiritual life.

And yet…

Sometimes I feel like my spiritual life is like that marathon.  The pressures crowd in on me from every side, and I can’t find peace. My hope is in him, but I just feel weak and low and tired and afraid.  It doesn’t look like my hopes will ever be made real.

I’m sure you never feel this way—thanks for putting up with my dysfunction.

As I write this, my mind goes to two places—painful and awkward, but that’s how my brain works.  First, I think of yesterday’s verse: Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.  My hope cannot be based in my circumstances; it must be based in God’s character.  Second, I have to realize that this race is not over yet. I may feel like I’m about to drop, but I haven’t.

Does that resonate with you, even a little?  Because I hate to feel alone.

You feel like you’re about to fall, but you don’t fall.

By his grace, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And that is our hope.

As I think about it, I remember the end of that marathon.  After doing the death crawl for several eternities, I reached the 25 mile marker.

1.2 miles to go.

I prayed that God would give me the strength to finish at a run…and he did.

I ran the end of the race.

One might even say that I soared…but one would be wildly mistaken.

Still, I finished strong in that race.

And I will finish strong in this race.

And so will you, Beloved—that’s a promise.

Happy Friday

Hope in Him One-a-Day Thursday 9/5/19

A life worthy

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15).

Job was the poster boy for rough times.

He was beaten up, knocked down, stepped on.  He had more reason than any of us to think that God had abandoned him.

Yet what did he say?

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.

Can you say that, Beloved?  Will you hope in him regardless of what happens in your circumstances?  Is your hope based entirely in God’s character, or is it rooted in your own wants and needs?

Are there any limits to your hope in him?

Any “if’s” to your love?

Something to chew on today, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Mystery One-a-Day Wednesday 9/4/19

A life worthy

…God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. (Colossians 1:27).

I don’t understand how.

I can’t fathom why.

I just know what.

And the what is that the Lord of the Universe has chosen to make his home in you.  Somehow, someway, he lives in your heart, and that makes you completely, irrevocably his in a way that will always be a mystery.

It is, nevertheless, true.

And that truth is what gives us hope.  The security, the strength, the love that we can never earn is ours by right because we are his.  We are like street urchins who learn that we are, in fact, the lost heirs to the throne of the kingdom.  Vast, unimaginable riches are ours by birthright. You don’t need to mourn the past—those debts are paid.  You don’t need to fret over the future—glory awaits. You need only to let him live in and through you today, to let him build his home in your heart.  And that is exactly what he wants to do. And that is your hope.

You are his Beloved.

You are his, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday

Anchor One-a-Day Tuesday 9/3/19

A life worthy

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).

Go with the flow.

Drift with the tide.

Float wherever the breeze may take you.

Uh, no thanks.

Ships that drift are not happy ships.  They have an awkward tendency to bump into things like rocks and reefs and other ships, with unfortunate results.  Ships need guidance and direction and, when it’s time to rest, an anchor to hold them secure.

Yesterday we talked about hope.  As you looked at the things your heart aches for you may have seen all kinds of desires: physical healing, financial security, marriage, children, a loved one coming to Christ.  These are all worthy desires, but none will keep you from drifting, because none is guaranteed. An anchor must be a sure thing, solid and unmoving.

Like Christ.

Our hope in Christ is unlike any other hope, because it cannot fail to come to fruition.  Frankly, there is no guarantee that the other hopes we have talked about will ever come to pass.  I would love it if you were healed, or got married, or became wealthy, but nobody has promised you those things—at least, nobody with the power to make them happen.  But Jesus has promised you some pretty powerful things. He has promised to love you forever. He has promised that you are his, wholly and completely. He has promised to be with you, now and always.

Jesus is not the God of Maybe.

He is the great I Am.

So don’t drift through your day, Beloved.  Set your anchor and let your soul rest.

Happy Tuesday

Hope One-a-Day Monday 9/2/19

A life worthy

Welcome to Hope Week!

This week we focus on Hope, because…  

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).

There’s a whole lot of sick hearts out there.

We hope, we hunger, we long for something, and it tears at us.  We feel a hole in our hearts, and we yearn for that which will fill it.  And then, after weeks, months, years of patience, we obtain our hope, and all is bliss.

Except when we don’t.

Or we do, and it turns out not to be enough.

Then what?

I’m going to open the week with a simple question:  What do you hope for?

I said simple; I never said easy.

Do us both a favor; don’t tell me—or God, or yourself, for that matter—what you think we want to hear.  Because, “I hope for Christ’s return, when I will be glorified with him and made complete in him,” sounds incredibly spiritual, and is a gold star answer in Sunday School, and is probably even true.

But it’s not all, is it?

Dump out your heart this morning.  Sift through all the bits and bobs.  What do you find yourself yearning for, aching for, hoping for?

What is missing?

Just something to ponder as you head into your week.

Happy Monday, Beloved.