Peace One-a-Day Thursday  10/19/17

A life worthy

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

This one falls squarely into the, “Easier said than done” category.  I mean, it sounds like an impossible command–

Don’t let your stomach growl.

Don’t think of the color blue.

Don’t breathe.

Don’t be anxious.

Frankly, it’s one of the only times in Scripture when I want to poke Paul in the eye.   And if I am anxious, please don’t throw this verse at me, because I might just poke you in the eye.  Because sometimes, after I’ve prayed and petitioned and thanksgivinged and presented…I’m still anxious.

And then I feel like a failure.

It is my sincere prayer that you have no idea what I’m talking about.

But I’ll bet you do.

So, what to make of this?  

I take this moment to remind you that I am not a Bible scholar, just a Michael.  But here’s what I think…

Worry is sin after a fashion, because it represents a lack of trust in God.  If I really, truly, nose-to-toes believed that God was in control and looking out for me, I wouldn’t worry.  

But, I’m not there yet.  I’m that work in progress we’ve talked about before.  So, like Peter, I take my eyes off Jesus, and I look at the waves, and I sink.  

And, like he did with Peter, Christ stretches forth his hand and rescues me.  Though I worry, I don’t despair, I don’t give up, I don’t let go.

He guards my heart and my mind.  And even if I don’t always feel peace descend like a warm blanket to wrap me in cuddliosity, I know that it is there. Here’s a thought…maybe God’s peace is less like that aforementioned blanket and more like the cop who patrols the night, keeping dangers I’m not even aware of at bay so that I can rest in safety.  Guarding me.

After all, we call them peace officers, don’t we?

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Gentleness  One-a-Day Wednesday    10/18/17

A life worthy

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).

Not wimpiness

Not weakness

Not wishy-washy-namby-pamby-milquetoastiness

Gentleness

To have great strength and choose to restrain it.

To reach out a hand when you want to shake a fist.

To use a tack hammer when you could wield Mjolnir.

You see where I’m going.

The God of all strength chooses to be gentle with you.

What do you choose, Beloved?

Today I will spend seven hours with seventh-graders.  I will have endless opportunities to practice gentleness. Will I take those opportunities?  

Will you?

Let’s pray for each other today, Beloved.

And, uh, put the hammer down.

Rejoice  One-a-Day Tuesday    10/17/17

A life worthy

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your–

No..not like that.  Please.

Paul’s not talking about happy-clappy-fakey-smiley-insipid nonsense.  

Because sometimes life hurts.  

A lot

If ever a man knew that, it was Paul.  Beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, betrayal, imprisonment–not exactly moments of fluff and delight.

And yet he rejoiced.  How did he do that?

How can we?

It comes down to counting your blessings.  Look, I know how tired and worn out that phrase is, but the concept works.  If I stop to enumerate all the ways God has shown his love for me, the list becomes quite long and my mood much improved.

Or, if I’m in a bit of a hurry, I can go for the shortcut list:

#1 The God of the Universe knows me completely, and loves me completely.

Uh…sorry…did you need a #2?

It’s Tuesday.  Rejoice, Beloved.

Together One-a-Day Monday    10/16/17

A life worthy

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel… (Philippians 4:2-3)

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

“By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another…”

“Hey!  Knock it off!  Cut the bickering, you pathetic lumps of flesh…”

Can you guess which of the above was not scripture?

Look, we all have disagreements from time to time.  Often those disagreements will be with brothers and sisters in Christ.  That just confirms our personhood, and reminds us of the fact that sometimes people are annoying.

Even you.

No offense.

Here’s the problem.  Folks are watching.  

Even non-believers.

No…especially non-believers.  

They’re looking to see how we handle interpersonal emotional yuck.  You see, even if they don’t believe, they’re still curious to see whether we live up to this love stuff we spout.

So…live up to it.  

What about it, Beloved?  Do you have someone with whom you need to make amends today?  Is there a quarrel you have the power to end?  Can you help others make peace in the name of the Lord?

What are you waiting for?

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Stand Firm One-a-Day Thursday  10/12/17

A life worthy

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I long for, my joy and my crown, this is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians 4:1).

Stand firm in your own power.

Nope

Stand firm in the glory of your vast intellect.

Yeah…no

Stand firm in the light of our benevolent government and its great wisdom.

Um, you’re kidding, right?

Beloved, we of all people anywhere, are able to stand firm. We’re the only ones with a foundation that won’t crumble right out from under our feet.

Remember that.

Whatever personal earthquakes you endure today, your feet are planted on solid rock.

The Solid Rock.

Stand firm today, Beloved.

Transformation  One-a-Day Wednesday    10/11/17

A life worthy

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

Paul isn’t trying to body shame you.

He has no idea when you last went to the gym, or Fatty Burger Barn, and he doesn’t care.

His point is, when Jesus comes for us, we will be transformed.  The aches, the pains, the flab, the laugh lines, the frown lines, the receding hair lines, the fading eyesight, the flaring back pain, the bags, the sags, the general raising of our cholesterol and lowering of our center of gravity–all of it will be gone.

Poof

We will be given a body like Jesus has.

I don’t know exactly what that will be like, but my extensive research and decades of Biblical education lead me to this deepest of theological insights:

It will be better.

So, as you haul your bacon out of bed today, remember the promise:

You are going to be amazing.

You are going to be glorious.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need a donut.

And a nap.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Eagerly One-a-Day Monday    10/9/17

A life worthy

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ… (Philippians 3:20)

Eagerly

Like a little kid on the last day of school

Like a puppy at the back door when the neighbor’s cat is in the yard

Like an office worker at 4:59

That’s how you think I’d be, contemplating the arrival of the Most Important

Person Ever.

But I’m not…at least, not often.

Not enough

Oh, the reasons are many–busyness, stress, the surreality of it all.

But the fact remains

I’m not.

How about you?

Hey, whoa, look, I’m not going for guilt here.  You manufacture enough guilt on your own; you definitely don’t need my help. Besides, we serve a God of redemption, of transformation, not of guilt.

Then what are you doing, Michael?

I’m trying to remind you–us–that we can have that eagerness. We can have that excitement. You see, the kid on Christmas morning is excited because he has been obsessing about these presents for months.  He has been thinking and wondering and imagining and picturing himself with his new Nifty Zoom 3000.  It’s filled his eight-year-old brain, the same way the neighbor’s cat fills the dog’s brain.

Such as it is.

So here’s the challenge, Beloved of Christ. Think about him today. Not only in prayer, but in your mental down time. Your in-between moments. Imagine what it will be like when he comes to you, when he transforms you, when you stand before him clean and whole and forgiven and bathed in his perfect love. Dwell on it today, and see if that doesn’t produce a little eagerness.

But don’t drool.  Your dog can get away with it–you can’t.

Happy Monday, Beloved

Citizenship One-a-Day Friday  10/6/17

A life worthy

But our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

I teach a class for my local community college.  It’s for immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens.  We work on English, US History, Civics…that kinda thing.  One of the questions I ask is why they want to become citizens in the first place.  The best answer I’ve ever received is this:

I want to belong here.

Ya, you betcha.

Citizenship means I belong, that no one can force me to leave this place that I call home.  There is no danger of being kicked out, because this is where I am supposed to be.  

We are citizens of heaven, Beloved.  We belong there.  No one can force us out or take away our right to an eternity with the One who knows us best and loves us most. We have the right to enter boldly, because it is our home.

I could make an illegal immigration analogy here, but I’ll resist…except to say that God’s border security awfully tight. There’s only the one way in.

Enter boldly, Beloved.  It is your right.

Happy Friday