Truth   One-a-Day Tuesday  8/21/18

A life worthy

Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…(Ephesians 6:14a)

If it isn’t true…

If God did not send his only begotten son to Earth…if Jesus did not die for our sins…if he did not rise from the grave…if he is not seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for you and me…

Then it’s all a lie.

My faith is a joke.  My salvation is a sham.  My righteousness is totally pointless. The peace I have with God is nothing but a delusion.  Nothing that I do matters, because in the end I am nothing.

If it isn’t true.

But…

it is true.

All of it.

And when I buckle that truth around me, my faith becomes a shield, my salvation a helmet, my righteousness the guardian of my heart, peace with God the shoes that help me stand.

As you head into your day, know this, Beloved: It is true.

Happy Tuesday

The Full Armor One-a-Day Monday 8/20/18

A life worthy

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

Words that intrigue me in this verse of Scripture (just in case you were wondering):

Full  Half measures won’t suffice.  You have to put on all the armor; if you leave a vulnerable spot, your enemy will find it and use it to hurt you.  He is far more experienced at this sort of thing than you are.

When As in, “When the day of evil comes.”  Don’t think in terms of “if.” If you live in California, the big earthquake will happen.  If you’re on the East Coast, the hurricane will happen. If you live on this planet, Evil will come for you.  Don’t pretend…prepare.

Stand Not leap.  Not fly. Not dance.  Stand. The day of evil will leave you bloody but not broken, drained but not destroyed.  When the tempest recedes, if you stand in Christ, you will stand.

If you stand in Christ,

You

Will

Stand.

Happy Monday, Beloved

The Struggle One-a-Day Friday  8/17/18

A life worthy

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6:12)

Ever have that nightmare where you’re being chased by a terrible monster, and no matter how fast you run it keeps getting closer and closer, and you’re absolutely powerless to stop it?

It’s kinda like that.

Only worse, because it’s real.

Physical skills cannot suffice against spiritual evil.  And that’s what you and I face each day as we go about our business.

Your only hope, my only hope, the only hope, is to let the righteous power of God guard us.

Don’t get macho about this.  There’s too much at stake.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Armor One-a-Day Thursday  8/16/18

A life worthy

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  (Ephesians 6:11).

A few years ago, my kids got invited to go quadding with some family and friends. Their uncle, who was in charge of the outing, made sure that everyone was outfitted with protective gear. Helmet, gloves, goggles, chest protector—you didn’t ride if you weren’t protected.

It was a good thing, too.  One of the boys took an epic fall.  All that gear that he was wearing saved his bacon, not to mention his head, chest, etc.  He was knocked around and shaken up; without his armor, he could have been seriously injured.

An interesting note: it wasn’t his armor.  The gear was provided for him free of charge by someone who knew what dangers her faced, knew what would protect him, and wanted to keep him safe.

The quad, the hills, the rocks—they weren’t out to get anybody. They were simply passive objects that presented a hazard. You have an enemy who is anything but passive.

Is your gear on?

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Strength One-a-Day Wednesday  8/15/18

A life worthy

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

How many pushups can you do?  How fast can you run? How far can you throw some large, heavy thing that needs throwing?

Doesn’t matter.

It’s not enough.

Hey, Mr. Cross-Training, Kickboxing, Black-Belt-Ninja-Man…it’s not enough.

No matter how expert, how brilliant, how talented you are, your powers are puny.   There are forces arrayed against you that are beyond your comprehension, much less your strength.  You can’t stand up to them—they will crush you to powder. You are no match for the least of them.

So don’t try to be.

You see, there is also a God in Heaven, a God who makes all the forces of Hell itself look as weak and pathetic as…well, as you.  And he offers you his strength. He offers you his power. He wants you to stand in him today, putting on his power like a suit of armor. With him, in him, through him, you are invincible.

It’s a rough world out there.  Better suit up.

Master One-a-Day Tuesday  8/14/18

A life worthy

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him (Ephesians 6:9).

You know how some people can get all jazzed over a little bit of power? Maybe they’re on the plant committee of the HOA, or they’re the assistant shift manager of the local Wendy’s, or maybe a pillow fluffer at a nursing home.

Perhaps a 7th grade history teacher.

They take their little bit of power and suddenly become Genghis Vader, the Mongol force-choker from space?

Don’t be that way–God doesn’t like it.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Him, Not Them One-a-Day Monday 8/13/18

A life worthy

Obey them, not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free  (Ephesians 6:6-8).

So we’ve established that you’re not a slave, although that may be difficult to believe on a Monday.

But you probably have a boss, and these verses fit the boss-employee relationship, too.

It’s simple, really: you just have to imagine that your boss is the Lord.

Wait…are you laughing or crying?  I can’t tell.

I don’t know if you have a good boss or not, but I do know that “My boss is a jerk” is no excuse for failing to do your work wisely and well. If you have any doubts about that, I have one word for you.

Joseph

If anyone ever had an excuse for skating by and doing the minimum, it would have been he. But Joseph knew that, no matter who signed his paychecks, he had one Master.

You work for God, Beloved.  He redeemed you–that means he purchased you.  You have accepted him as Lord–that means he is your master. So whoever signs your paychecks, you only really ever have one boss. Work for him today…and give him all you’ve got.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Slaves   One-a-Day Friday  8/10/18

A life worthy

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ  (Ephesians 6:5).

I’ve never been a slave.

I’m gonna figure you haven’t been either.

So…kinda hard to identify with this one.

Yes, there’s the comparison to the boss-employee relationship, and I’ll explore that next week, but really?

Not  the same.

Because your boss doesn’t own you. He just thinks he does.

So consider this, Beloved. Whatever hard thing you’re facing today, whatever difficult point of submission, whatever impossible area of trust, whatever grueling act of humility you are called to today…you are not called to this.

And remember that your act of obedience, or trust, or humility, or whatever, is actually directed to Christ. Just as the wife submits to Christ through her husband, and the child submits to Christ through his parents, so you submit to Christ today through this difficult act.

Look, if Jesus appeared before you in bodily form and asked you to get him a ham sandwich, you’d do it

even if you’re Jewish.

So, if he appears before you in the form of…

Fill in the blank, and act accordingly.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Land of Knowledge One-a-Day Thursday  8/9/18

A life worthy

School starts today. Bear with me while I pause to pontificate.

“What is a capital letter?”

“Does the United States have a king?”

“What city is Boston University in?”

The questions in this post are real.  They were asked of me, in my classroom.  The eleven to fourteen-year-olds who posed them are real children.  Many of those children are now grown, and walk among us as adults, leaders, parents.

I teach middle school.  You’re welcome.

School begins today. Though I have yet to meet my students, I am confident that some things do not change.  They will ask questions that will make me laugh. They will ask questions that will make me weep. I’ve taught kids from a variety of ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and they all have this in common—the bizzaro question.

The following exchange happened in my classroom many moons ago.  The discussion was about George W. Bush, then serving as President of the U.S.  You can bet I wrote it down verbatim, before the kids had even left the room. Even if I hadn’t, it’s kinda burned into my brain.

Student: So, when did he (President Bush) die?

Teacher: He is the current President of the United States.

Student: Yeah, him.  When did he die?

Teacher: He hasn’t died.  He is too busy being the current, right now, President.

Student: So, he’s still alive?

Teacher: Yep.

Student: Oh.

This, you must understand, closely followed an exchange in which another student asked if John Adams, the second President of the U.S., was still alive.

Student: So, is he still alive?

Teacher: John Adams was President of the United States from 1797-1801.

Student: So is he dead now?

Teacher: He was president over 200 years ago.

Student: So, he’s probably dead?

Teacher: Yes.

Student: Oh.

“Michael,” you ask me, “how do you do it? How do you teach day in, day out, without becoming brutally sarcastic?”

I don’t.  I am often brutally sarcastic, but they don’t get it, so I get to keep my job.

Don’t get me wrong.  These children aren’t dumb…mostly.  By and large, they will grow up to be  fully functioning adults who comprehend normal life spans and realize that people cease to function in this world once they have passed on to the next.  But at this age, their logic circuits haven’t fully formed. It’s a frontal lobe thing. Their mental world is just random enough to allow Africa to be one of the original thirteen colonies, or for Germany to have won WWII.

And I get to teach them.  More than that, I am called by God to teach them, and I want to be a teacher worthy of that calling.  Now I don’t know how you spend your working hours, but I’m willing to bet that you come across the same basic question that I do from time to time: “What am I doing here?”

I wonder that frequently.  Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?  Can I really make a difference in the lives of these kids?   How do I live for God in a place that doesn’t even let me talk about Him?

I don’t know how well this will work for you, but what keeps me afloat, on the days I manage to stay afloat, is the reminder that God wants me to love these little twerps.  I’m supposed to see them as He does—as people of infinite value, for whom Christ was willing to sacrifice Himself. When I can see them that way—which is not as often as I’d like—I find it a trifle easier to put up with their inability to remember basic facts and their complete lack of common sense.

If I allow myself to dwell on it, I become uncomfortably aware of the similarity between the way I see these kids and the way God sees me.  How often do I miss simple spiritual connections or fail to hold on to basic truths? If God had a blog, would I be an example in it? Let’s think of other things, shall we?

Happy First Day of School, Beloved

It’s a Relationship Thing   One-a-Day Wednesday  8/8/18

A life worthy

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord  (Ephesians 6:4).

I teach middle school.

You’re welcome.

The last few days, I’ve been in a lot of back-to-school teacher meetings, and one of the major areas of focus has been building relationships. The big idea is that kids learn better if they have a positive relationship with their teacher.  I have some questions about the validity of this in a classroom setting–I learned plenty in school, and don’t recall any significant teacher relationships. For that matter, my wife aced her AP test and refers to her teacher as a slave driver.

But when it comes to home, I have no doubt that this idea is spot on. Fathers, our job is to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The stuff we’re teaching goes way beyond number sense and punctuation. We’re teaching life, and life eternal. That takes a relationship that is honest and deep and close and open to vulnerability. Hence the do not exasperate your children part of this verse. A frustrated, isolated, embittered child is not gonna be open to Life Lessons with Daddy.

Basically, if they are going to learn from you, they have to believe you.

So be someone they can believe.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.