Good Works Tuesday  4/10/18

A life worthy

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…(Ephesians 2:10)

“Aha! See, I told you it’s about works!”

Well, of course it is

and

no it isn’t.

Beloved, Jesus does not love you because of what you do. That, quite frankly, is a lie from the pit of hell that will torment you if you let it. Please do not undo God’s loving grace over one phrase.

However,

God did not create the unique, complex, individually awesome and talented you just so you can sit and watch the world go by. He created you to do stuff.

And you probably already are.

So, here’s a thought for my friends who get caught up in the need to do more and build more and be more…which is probably most of us. This verse does not just apply to serving meals in a soup kitchen or building houses in another country or teaching children overseas–though those are all wonderful things that God may have for you. This verse also applies to the kind word spoken in passing. It applies to an honest day’s work that benefits others. It applies to raising children that will follow Christ. It applies to studying hard to learn and build a God-honoring future.

Beloved, you will have epic moments, but you will have far more mundane moments.

Make them count.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Workmanship Monday 4/9/18

A life worthy

For we are God’s workmanship…(Ephesians 2:10)

You are hand-crafted,

custom made,

painstakingly formed by the Lord of the Universe.

All his works are wonderful,

including you.

How could you ever, even for a moment, think you are anything less than amazing?

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Boast One-a-Day Friday  4/6/18

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9).

Because we would.

Boast, that is.

I mean, I have been known to open a jar for my wife and then claim credit for “making dinner.”

When we apply that concept to our spiritual life, we find that it’s a very small step from, “GOD + me” to works-based religiosity, name-it-claim-it theology, self image issues, legalism, and Towers of Babel in your backyard.

No, those aren’t cell phone towers.

Anyway, God, in his infinite wisdom, made it very clear that our salvation is absolutely NOT up to us.

That’s freeing…aaaand a little frustrating,

and perfectly, thoroughly as it should be.

It’s for you, Beloved, but it’s not up to you.

Happy Friday

Never Enough One-a-Day Thursday  4/5/18

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works… (Ephesians 2:9)

How high can you jump?

You know, just jump straight up into the air?

One foot? Two?

If you want to measure, I’ll wait…

By the way, if you took video footage of that, please send it to me.

Obviously, some of us can jump higher than others. Age, strength, injuries all factor in. If you train hard and get the right shoes, you can increase your vertical leap. A professional basketball player can get above three feet–Wilt Chamberlain was able to jump four feet straight up.

Now, imagine that God’s requirement for eternal life was a vertical leap

of

one

thousand   

feet.

It would make the whole trying-to-earn-it-on-your-own business seem pretty silly, wouldn’t it?

Hmm…

Walk in grace today, Beloved. It’s easier on the ankles.

Happy Thursday

Gift One-a-Day Wednesday  4/4/18

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– (Ephesians 2:8).

Think of the best gift you have ever received.

Seriously…stop for a moment and think about it.

Consider the joy it gave you to open that package and see that what you had wished for and dreamed about and maybe imagined but never thought you would really have was really yours.

Grace is like that–only eversomuch more so.

 

Think of the best gift you have ever given.

Seriously…stop for a moment and think about it.

Consider the joy it gave you to watch one you love open that package and light up as they realized that what they had wished for and dreamed about and maybe imagined but never thought they  would really have was really theirs.

Because of you.

Giving grace is like that for God–only eversomuch more so.

Open the gift, Beloved. Everyone wins.

By Grace Tuesday  4/3/18

A life worthy

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves…(Ephesians 2:8).

I teach middle school.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, one of the adorably nightmarish traits of middle-schoolers is that they have a mind like a steel sieve. I mean, I pour glorious, powerful, world-shaking-life-changing knowledge in, and I can almost literally see it leaking out. If I want my students to truly understand, well, anything, I need to present it roughly 32,000 times. So I focus on the most crucial, most essential concept, and I cover it over and again in every form and fashion I can think of.

Have you noticed how often Paul talks about grace?

Now, I’m not saying that Paul thinks of us as pubescent children who can’t seem to focus on anything but food and entertainment and the cute kid across the room, but–

No, wait–

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Remember grace, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday

And Today Monday 4/2/18

A life worthy

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever  (Psalm 145:1-2).

So

Easter’s over.

It’s Monday.

I hope yesterday was very special for you. I hope you worshipped and prayed and rejoiced and felt especially close to Jesus as you celebrated his resurrection.

And now there’s today.

Monday

Mundane

As we move into our week, as all the stuff and garbage that we put aside yesterday comes flooding in with a power that only Monday can muster, can I ask you to do something?

(And by you, I mean me, too.)

Let’s try to approach Monday with the same joy and reverence and celebration that we felt yesterday.

The tomb is still empty.

He is still risen, indeed!

The One who made you and knows you and died for you and rose for you still loves you more than you can possibly imagine.

Walk in that love today, Beloved.

Happy Monday

Risen! One-a-Day Sunday  4/1/18

A life worthy

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave (Psalm 86:13).

Lost

Alone

Confused

Empty

That’s how I imagine the disciples felt on that Sunday morning. They must have figured that, after all, Jesus had failed.

After all the hopes

after all the struggles

after all the trials

after all the miracles

after all the moments of doubt and grace and glory

Jesus had failed.

Has anyone ever been more gloriously wrong?

On Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went with some of the other women to make sure that the body of Jesus was properly cared for. Oh, the surprise they got! The tomb was empty, the body was gone, and an angel announced, “He is not here; He has risen!”

Can you imagine?

No, seriously, can you imagine it?  Imagine going with Mary and seeing the stone rolled away, hearing the angel’s words.  Imagine being with the disciples when she brings them the news. Imagine running with Peter and John to see for yourself, and finding the tomb empty, the grave clothes neatly folded.  Imagine standing with Thomas, the doubter, as he touched the wounds on his living Lord.

Imagine.

His death satisfied the requirements of the old covenant—a perfect sacrifice to cover all sin always.

His resurrection broke the power of Death forever, and ushered in the New Covenant—a promise of grace and hope and peace.

His return will bring the fulfillment of history, as he gathers those who put their trust in him and takes them home forever.

He is risen, indeed!

Walk in joy today, Beloved.

Alone One-a-Day Saturday  3/31/18

A life worthy

Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones (Zechariah 13:7b).

Everybody loves you when you’re winning.

What happened to the crowds?  Was it just last Sunday that the people were lining the streets, cheering for Jesus?  Now where are they?

Gone.

When the soldiers came for Jesus, the disciples scattered.  John followed, but at a distance. He needed to know what was happening, but he couldn’t bring himself to intervene.

Peter, like John, followed at a distance.  He mingled with the crowd, where he could blend in and, hopefully, go unnoticed. While he was standing with a group, a servant girl recognized him. Here was Peter’s chance to stand tall for Christ.  Here was his golden opportunity to proclaim his loyalty to Jesus and stand with him—die with him, if need be. After all, that is what he had promised Jesus he would do.

What did he do?  You know what he did.  He denied his Lord. Big, strong Peter couldn’t stand up to the questions of the lowliest servant girl.

What of the rest?  All we know is that they ran for it.

Don’t be too hard on the disciples.  I’m convinced they genuinely believed that they were up to the challenge.  When Peter said he would never betray Jesus, I think he meant it down to the marrow of his bones.  He didn’t have the courage, because he was only human. Like us. We know that John, and Mary, and a few others came to the cross before Jesus died; Jesus even spoke to John from the cross. But in the end, Jesus had to fulfill his purpose himself.

In the end, Jesus went to the cross alone.

He went to the grave alone.

He rose from the dead alone.

Because he had to.  That was the point—if anyone else could have done it, if anyone else could have helped, we wouldn’t have needed the perfect Son of God.

Jesus stood alone so that you will never have to.

Because he loves you.

Yes, you

Walk in thankfulness today, Beloved.

Good Friday One-a-Day Friday  3/30/18

A life worthy

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Psalm 41:9).

Betrayal

It’s a bitter, ugly word for a bitter, ugly deed.

Perhaps the worst thing about betrayal is that, by its very nature, it involves someone you trust.  In a sense, you have to give the betrayer the power to hurt you by making yourself vulnerable. Those who never make themselves vulnerable to others can never be betrayed.

But then, they can never really love, either.

The most powerful of all persons made himself vulnerable, opened himself to rejection, let himself be betrayed, to rescue his beloved.

That would be you.

Good Friday, Beloved