Foolishness One-a-Day Friday 7/1/22

A life worthy

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).

You know those people who are better on their worst day than you are on your best day?

You know who I’m talking about.  The person who looks better after sleeping on a bus for three hours than you look on your way to a wedding.  The guy at the gym who lifts more on his “easy” day than you do in a week.  The one who picked up an instrument a week ago and can play the piece you’ve been attempting–unsuccessfully–for years.

Yeah, I like to throw rocks at those people.

Metaphorically…mostly

It’s like that with God, but in a good way.

Not the rock throwing part, the “better than you” part.

He’s just so far beyond us…there’s really no way to quantify him

or question him

or challenge him

and yet we just gotta try, don’t we?

Beloved, before you charge into your Friday, why don’t you soak for a minute in a few simple truths:

He really is all-wise.

He really is all-powerful.

He really does love you.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Power and Wisdom  One-a-Day Thursday 6/30/22

A life worthy

Jews demand miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

He just refuses to be what you demand of him.

Instead, he is so much more.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Wisdom One-a-Day Wednesday 6/29/22

A life worthy

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  For since in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe  (1 Corinthians 1:19-21).

God doesn’t play tricks.

I don’t think he sat on his throne and thought, “Oh, this’ll be hilarious!  I’ll make redemption so illogical that most people will reject it as foolishness.  It’ll only make sense to utter morons!  I shall build my kingdom upon the backs of idiots!  WooHoo!!”

Man, I hope it wasn’t like that.

God is not saying that we have to abandon our brains in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  After all, he gave us our intellect, and we honor him when we use it for his glory.  But, like everything else in creation, our minds have been corrupted by sin, so that now we look at everything through the egocentric lens of Pride.  This distorts the wisdom of Almighty God and makes it look like foolishness.  That’s why, in his letter to the Romans, Paul says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”  You see, God’s plan makes sense only when we see it in the light of faith and not of flesh.

So as you move into your Wednesday, don’t expect the world to understand.  They can’t.  Instead, ask the father of all wisdom to renew your mind, so that you can use it for his glory.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Foolishness   One-a-Day Tuesday 6/28/22

A life worthy

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

What could possibly seem foolish about it?

“You see, there’s this All-Powerful Being who has full control over all space and time and matter and life–you know, ‘cause he made ‘em.   So, anyways, this God had everything just perfect, and then he made people, but he gave people the power to choose whether they would believe in him or not and whether they would follow his really rather pretty simple rules or not.  He also gave them the spark of individuality, because he didn’t want automatons but interesting souls that he might call friends.  Well, you know, people chose not to follow him, because we have an Enemy who stoked people’s egos and gave them the idea that they could do a better job of running things than the One who made them. So we walked away from God–ran actually–and broke pretty much all his rules and messed things up so badly that we couldn’t have loved him properly even if we had wanted to.  God knew that there was only one way to fix this.  All the bad choices and evil things we had done would have to be washed away so that there could be a relationship between us.  Which, really, was what God wanted more than just about anything.  Of course, this would take a level of punishment that we could never endure, so God sent his Son–closer, more beloved, more part of himself that we can ever hope to understand–and let him take that punishment on our behalf.  The most powerful being ever chose to lay all his glory aside and become a man.  Then he chose to allow other men to hate him and torture him and nail him to a piece of wood and leave him to die in utter loneliness. He did all that to clear the slate, so that we could come back to God.  Then he broke Death itself into a million pieces by rising from the grave.  So, now we can have fellowship with God, and we are called to model our lives after His. We are his Beloved, and we will live forever with the One who loved us enough to die for us.  And live for us.”

The World calls you a fool for believing this.

Let ‘em.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

The Power of the Cross One-a-Day Monday  6/27/22

A life worthy

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

See, this is why Paul is Paul and I am just Michael.

Paul gets it.  He totally understands, right from the start, that you can’t convince someone into Heaven. 

You can’t argue them in.  

You can’t debate them in.

You can’t meme them in.

It’s gotta be the cross.

There’s power in sacrificial love, and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the power.

Hence the cross. 

The gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, mind-numbing, veil-tearing power of love that infinitely transcends my feeble words and useless arguments.

Oh, Father, how could you do it?  How could you give your Son over to such pain, such disgrace, such emptiness?  How could I possibly be worth that, when you and I both know what goes on inside this pathetic excuse for a heart?

You see, Beloved?  That there’s the power that will change a life and save a soul.

Spend a little time at the foot of the Cross this morning, will you? 

Happy Monday.

Do I Have to be a Misogynist?

A life worthy

In light of today’s Supreme Court decision, I offer this piece originally written some years ago.

An honest question for my liberal friends: Does the fact that I disagree with you automatically make me a “hater” in your eyes?

So, let’s talk abortion.

I’m totally, thoroughly, decidedly against it.  

Now, you have two choices at this point.  You can write me off as a misogynist who wants to control women, or you can read on to see why I believe as I do.  Your call, and hey, no hard feelings.

Still here?  Sweet.  So, here we go.

My thanks to Greg Koukl of the organization Stand to Reason for pointing out what I find to be a beautiful piece of common sense. It goes like this:  When it comes to abortion, there is really only one question, and that question is…

What is it?

Exactly

What is it that you are trying to kill?  You see, if that is not a human being in there, if it is not an actual living baby, then we have no argument with each other.  I mean, you don’t need a “right” to get a bunion removed, or a cyst or a tumor or a polyp or a goiter.

Do they remove goiters?  I’m not really sure, but you get my drift.

If that thing in your uterus is not a human life, then no one has the right to tell you what to do with it.  If it’s in your way, if it’s annoying, then by all means get rid of it.

But

if it’s a baby…

We don’t kill babies for the sake of convenience.  If we did, few people would make it out of the toddler stage.  I’ve helped raise two of the little critters, and I can tell you –they can be really inconvenient at times.  Yet no one fights for the right to retroactively abort because their kid drew with crayon on the walls or their teen totalled the car or their “young adult” forgot to take out the trash before you left on vacation and now the house smells of rotting mysteries.  

But Michael, there’s a big difference between a fetus and a child.

Really?  And what difference would that be?  I mean, a fetus doesn’t look fully human, but neither do a lot of the baby pictures I see posted on Facebook. The fetus can’t survive on its own?  Neither can an infant.  Or a three-year-old.  Or most teenagers.  The fetus is inside the body, the baby outside?  That would mean that we can abort a full term fetus, but a child born prematurely is protected, even though it is younger.  I can’t see the sense in that.

But Michael,  is it really alive when it’s still in the womb?

Uh…yes.  Again, common sense.  The DNA doesn’t magically change.  From the time sperm hits egg and–SHAZAM–begins to divide, it is genetically identifiable as an itty bitty teeny person, with the same genetic coding it will have when it is old and paunchy and bald and funny-smelling.

But Michael, just being alive doesn’t make you a “person.” You have to be more than a bunch of cells to be a person.

You’re right.  There’s more to personhood than just a physical body.  But how do we define it?  My grandma died of Alzheimer’s.  She was bedridden, unable to care for herself, completely unaware of her surroundings.  She had lost all of her personality, all of her ability to interact.  Had she lost her personhood?  Sorry, my friend, but I think it is arrogant in the extreme to assume that we can decide what constitutes personhood.  I’m going to stick with life.

But Michael, what about a woman’s right to control her own body?  Her right to choose?

I believe a woman has the right to choose.  She has the right to choose whether or not she will have sex.  If she chooses to have sex, she does so knowing that pregnancy is a possibility.  Frankly, I think society is being disrespectful of women when we assume they aren’t capable of rational, cause-and-effect decision making.

But Michael, what about rape?

Rape is a horrible crime.  For what it’s worth, I’m open to the death penalty for a rapist.  But not for the victims of his crime.  A little girl conceived in rape–or incest for that matter–had no choice in her conception.  She is a victim, as is her mother.  Frankly, I would never counsel a woman to keep and raise a child conceived in rape or incest.  I can’t fathom the difficulty and pain involved in that.  I would counsel a woman in that situation to give the child up for adoption, where she has a chance to be raised by parents who can look at her and not be daily reminded of the darkest day of her life.

Look, I’m not being frivolous about this.  I can’t imagine asking my daughter to spend nine months growing the baby of an evil man who viciously attacked her.  To endure the changes–some irreversible–to her body.  To go through labor and childbirth just to bring a reminder of humiliation into the world.

But it’s not the baby’s fault.

She doesn’t deserve to die for the sins of her father.

But Michael, what if the life of the mother is in danger?

Here we have the one time that, in my worldview, abortion is a reasonable option.  When it is a question of one life or another, I believe that the mother makes that choice.  And yet I wonder what percentage of abortions are due to rape of incest or danger to the life of the mother?  A very small percentage, I would imagine.  

Michael, you are a man. Who are you to decide what happens to my body?

I’m not dictating what happens to your body.  If you want to get tattoos, shave your head, pierce your parts, that’s none of my business.  I’m discussing what happens to that other body that is in your body.  If a stranger attacks a pregnant woman and kills her baby, we call it murder.  If a doctor kills the child at her request, we call it choice.  How is that rational or moral or good?

We live in a Me First world.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  It’s not what the Father designed, nor what his Son taught.  We see this attitude reflected throughout our culture, but nowhere more than in the area of abortion.  It is the height of selfishness to sentence an innocent to death to avoid inconvenience.

Do my words condemn me as a misogynist?  I don’t think so, but I’d love to hear from you.  I know I haven’t covered all aspects of this debate–feel free to comment and tell me what I’ve missed, where I’ve gone wrong.  But I hope you see that my beliefs have come from careful consideration, and not from fear or hate or a need to control.

I don’t hate women…I just love babies.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:15-16

Follower One-a-Day Friday  6/24/22

A life worthy

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul;” another, “I follow Apollos;” another, “I follow Cephas;” still another, “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you…  (1 Corinthians 1:11-14)

How many times have we seen it?  A shepherd falls, and the sheep are left confused and angry and bitter and disillusioned.  Sometimes they walk away from the faith, saying that they have been “burned” by the Church.  They complain about the hypocrisy of Christians.  The damage can take years to heal, if it ever does.

How many times?

Way more than four.

Hey, there are great church leaders out there, godly people who minister in the name of Jesus and who spend their lives bringing others closer to God.  We should respect them, honor them, admire them.

But we follow Christ.

Who do you follow, Beloved?  Don’t answer too quickly.  This is important.  Think twice and take three deep breaths before you answer.

Now…who do you follow?

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Agree With Me  One-a-Day Thursday  6/23/22

A life worthy

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10).

I know.

I know.

Some people are just so wrong about so many things.  I mean, just because they’re believers doesn’t mean they aren’t wacked out when it comes to points of doctrine, or social issues, or political parties.

Of course, if they’re believers, I guess they’ve got the most important thing right.

You see, Beloved, that’s Paul’s point.  If they’re believers, then nothing else really matters.  If we allow any peripheral fluff to cause division, to ruin our fellowship, then the world says, “Look, they’re no different” and the enemy wins.

And you know they’re watching.

So maybe you don’t agree on that point of doctrine, or that social issue, or that political party.  God’s not calling you to abandon your brain.  But we can agree that we are one in Christ, we can stand together, and we can let our love for each other demonstrate the power of God’s grace in our lives.

Besides, you may be the one who’s wrong.

Or, worse yet…

I may.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Fellowship with God One-a-Day Wednesday  6/22/22

A life worthy

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9).

Yeah, I remember when I decided to go searching for God.  I figured, you know, if there’s a God out there, I’d better find him and figure out some way to have a relationship with him.  Seemed like the least I could do, what with him being so busy running the universe and all…

What?  That’s not the way it happened?

Oh, yeah…right.

Beloved, this fellowship with God thing was his idea, not ours.  He called you, not the other way around.  God knows how to make it work.  He doesn’t need us to instruct him or advise him.

Just to trust him.

God is not like that friend who calls you to come over, and then when you get there says, “I dunno; whadda you wanna do?”

He knows what he wants to do, and he has called you to be part of it.

Because he loves you.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Strong and Blameless   One-a-Day Tuesday  6/21/22

A life worthy

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:8).

Sometimes I wonder if the Bible even applies to me.

Because I don’t feel strong, and I know I’m not blameless.

Peek into my heart and you will see.

Yeah, on second thought…don’t.

Those are the times when I have to remind myself that this passage really isn’t about me at all.

It’s about him.

It’s about the power of his grace to be strong in my weakness, to take my overwhelming blame and make it his, then make it gone.  It’s about God’s unfathomable ability and promise to create in me the man he has called me to be, so that I will–no might, no should–be ready when he returns for me.

So, this passage rings false if I make it about me, but makes complete sense if I make it about him.

Kinda like life.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.