One-a-Day Thursday, 7/24/14

number 1But when he saw the wind, he was afraid (Matthew 14:30).

Poor Peter.

There he was, walking on the water, standing on the waves with the One who made them.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

And it didn’t.

Because he took his eyes and his thoughts off of Jesus for just a moment.  And a moment was all it took.  Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what went through Peter’s mind at that moment, but I’m thinking it was along the lines of, “What am I doing?  I can’t walk on water!”

And, just like that, he couldn’t.

Peter’s in good company.  The prophet Elijah would understand completely.  He had just called down fire from God—pretty impressive—to annihilate the wicked prophets of Baal.  A little showy, perhaps, but very effective—and an obvious demonstration that God was with Elijah.  This annoyed Queen Jezebel, and she threatened to kill Elijah.

So he ran.  Fast and far.  For just a moment, he took his eyes off God and focused on the danger represented by this woman.  And just like that, the danger became more real that the God Elijah served.

I’ve done it, too.  So have you.  God is doing something wonderful in our lives, teaching us, growing us, showing us new dimensions of his love…

And then we look down, like the tightrope walker a thousand feet in the air.

And we panic.

Scripture tells us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  Life backs that up.

What is God calling you to, Beloved?  What is he working on in you?  It doesn’t have to be as grand as walking on water or calling down fire—though if he does, call me.  I wanna watch.  It could be as ordinary as learning to trust him with your future, as simple as learning to love unconditionally, as basic as learning to give without thought of reward.

Actually, walking on water may just be easier than any of those.

Whatever today’s challenge is, lock your eyes on the author and perfecter of your faith and start walking.

Don’t look down, Beloved.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 7/23/14

number 1Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:29).

Wow.

He did it.

I know it’s easy to focus on the fact that Peter sank—and we will look at that tomorrow—but for today, let’s give the young man some props.  He wanted to do what Jesus was doing, he got the go ahead from the Lord, and he went for it.

And he did something that, frankly, you and I have never done.

No you haven’t.

One of Peter’s great strengths was his ability to take decisive action without overanalyzing every situation.

Of course, the negative side of that is called, “Going off half-cocked without thinking things through,” which was probably his greatest weakness.

But we’re praising Peter today.  And in this verse we see that Peter didn’t allow logic to override God’s call.

Now, let’s be careful here.  Don’t hear what I’m not saying.  Am I saying that we should throw logic and wisdom out the window and just follow our feelings?

Uh, no.

Am I saying that we should make all our decisions with our hearts and not our minds?

Huh uh.

Am I saying that sometimes God may call us to something that makes no sense, by the world’s definition of sense?

Ding ding ding!

Now, he may not be calling you to something as blatantly wacky as waterskiing sans boat and skis.  But maybe, just maybe, that desire in your heart, that secret dream that makes no logical sense, is there because he put it there.  Maybe, just maybe, your Lord is calling you to do something the world calls crazy, but he calls right and good.

Maybe.

Just maybe.

What will you do about it, Beloved?  Will you analyze and dissect debate his call until you convince yourself that it can’t be done?

Or will you climb out of the boat and walk?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get your feet wet, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 7/22/14

number 1“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.  (Matthew 14:28-2)

God wants you to do cool stuff.

I hope I didn’t lose you in the heavy theology there.

I have heard this passage preached on many times, and most of the time the focus is on Peter wanting to be with Jesus, and Jesus calling to him from the storm, and it all gets real metaphorical.  And, I suppose those aspects of the story are valid.

But so is this one.

Peter saw Jesus doing something amazingly cool, and he wanted in on it.  Jesus saw Peter’s excitement, and he wanted to share the fun.

Because, yes, God likes fun, and walking on water would be really fun.

What cool things is God doing in the world around you?

Do you want in on the fun?

Have you asked him?

If your life in Christ is dull, may I suggest that perhaps you’re missing something?

Chew on that today.  Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Monday 7/21/14

number 1When the disciples saw [Jesus] walking on the water, they were terrified.   “It’s a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage.  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27).

The disciples were terrified.  They saw something coming at them out of the darkness; something they didn’t understand, something they didn’t recognize.  They were helpless and alone—or so they thought.  They assumed the worst, and their courage failed.

But it was Jesus.

It was Jesus.

Now, we could chide the disciples for not recognizing Jesus.  After all, he was their master, their teacher, their constant companion.  How could they not know it was the Lord?

But let’s not pick on Peter and the boys.  I don’t think it was their fault.  I don’t think it was shallowness, or selfishness, or spiritual insensitivity that caused them to mistake Jesus for a ghost.  I think it was much simpler than that.

Jesus came in a way that they weren’t expecting.

I mean, he was walking on water, for corn sake.  Who’s watching for that?

Jesus was doing a God thing, and the disciples were seeing it through Man eyes.

Hmm…

So I wonder…how many of the things that are terrifying in my life are, in fact, Jesus at work?  As I panic and prepare to dive overboard, is he simply coming to me, teaching me, working in me, in a way that I’m not used to?

Am I willing to let him work, even though it scares me?

Because if you know your Scripture, you know what’s coming next.

Take courage, Beloved.

One-a-Day Friday, 7/11/14

…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 a lot 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 drop, but you haven’t.

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.

One-a-Day Thursday, 7/17/14

number 1Though 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 based 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.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 7/16/14

…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.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 7/15/14

number 1We 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.

One-a-Day Monday 7/14/14

number 1This 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.

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.

Roller Coaster

roller coasterI am not a fan of heights.

Roller coasters most often involve great heights.

Therefore…

When I was about twelve years old, I got to spend the day at Knott’s Berry Farm with my best friend, Michael.  My friend knew I was afraid of roller coasters, and he decided that this was the day for me to conquer my fear.  The roller coaster of choice at the park in those days was called Corkscrew, and Michael was determined to get me on that ride.  He spoke with all the eloquence his twelve-year-old self could muster about safety records and engineering and not being a wusmeister.

I didn’t want to be a wusmeister.  So I rode the ride.

Thanks, peer pressure. Continue reading