One-a-Day Monday 6/2/14

number 1Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you  (Eph. 4:32).

There’s an interesting thing about forgiveness.  It works for the forgiver as powerfully as for the forgivee.

Some of us—and by that I mean me—have trouble in the forgiveness department. Oh, we’re pretty good about forgiving those who apologize to us.  We can be gracious and charitable—no problem.  But as you know, most people who offend you don’t apologize.

Because they’re jerks.

And yet we’re called to forgive them anyway.  The passage says, “Forgiving…just as in Christ God forgave you.”  He didn’t wait for us to apologize before acting to forgive us. If he had, he would have been waiting forever, which he could do, because he’s eternal, but what’s the point of that when we never would have made the first step?  Romans 5:8 says that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  While we were still hurting him, he was offering forgiveness.

Does this kind of forgiveness heal the relationship?  Not necessarily.  The offender needs to acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of forgiveness in order for that to happen.  Kind of exactly like it is with the sinner and God.  But forgiveness does more than release the offender from guilt; it releases the offended from bitterness.  Forgive, as an act of obedience to God, and you are free to move on, regardless of what the other person does.

If you need to forgive someone today, I humbly suggest that you follow God’s command and forgive.  They hurt you once; don’t give them the power to hurt you over and over again.

There’s no one in your life you need to forgive?


Gird your loins, Beloved.  It’s only a matter of time.



Goodbye, Loretta

R.I.P.I sign my name, and you are no longer mine.

Just like that.

For a decade we have been together, but now it is over.

Please, don’t look at me that way.

You understand, don’t you?  It’s not your fault.  I don’t blame you.  You have been a faithful friend, an excellent companion.  You were there for me morning after morning, mile after mile, and I thank you.  For years you were the soul of reliability—I admit you were so rock steady, I took you for granted, and for that I apologize.  I never questioned whether you would be there when I needed you.  You simply were.

Oh, there were always issues. You know that’s true.   At first, I chose to see them as lessons God was using you to teach me.  Your broken air conditioner taught me to endure hardship and appreciate the blessing of a cool breeze—rare though that be in summer.  Your broken driver’s door taught me to be thankful that I was limber enough to climb in through the passenger side and over the gear shift.  The fact that neither door would lock taught me to hold loosely to worldly possessions, since items left in you would likely go missing.  Your broken radio caused me to unplug from the world and spend more time in prayer.  The rust spots, torn seats, cracks in the dash wide enough to use as a drink holder—which was fortunate since the regular drink holder was broken—all of these just pointed to the passing of time, the ravages that come upon all of us in a fallen world.  After all, I’ve gained some rust spots of my own in the time we’ve been together, along with assorted cracks and tears.  If anything, the external cosmetic issues served to highlight your internal strength and reliability.  So many times we passed beautiful, shiny cars broken down by the side of the road, or strapped to a tow truck, and I patted your sticky steering wheel in thanks.

But then things began to change.  The trips to the mechanic became more frequent, and more costly.  My mantras, “It’s really just maintenance,” and, “Hey, it beats a car payment,” began to ring hollow.

You never stranded me away from home, and for that I will always be grateful.  You always seemed able to rally enough to make it to the mechanic, or at least to our driveway.  Do you remember that morning outside the orthodontist?  Completely dead, until the tow truck arrived.  Then, Sweet Loretta, you rallied for one last start, and made it to the mechanic under your own power.

Then came The Day of the Transmission.

It was so sudden.  From mild slippage on Sunday afternoon to massive meltdown on Monday.  You struggled so valiantly to shift gears, but there was nothing left.  Still, you fought like a champion to gain the refuge of the mechanic’s garage.  You refused heroic measures, arriving under your own power, trapped forever in secondish gear.  Wrapped in your own dignity, you shrieked your defiance of time through the horrible sound of grinding metal, leaving little pieces of yourself along the road.

I remembered our first road trip together as I coaxed you through our last.

Yes, Loretta, I could have given you a new transmission.  But the cost would have been too high.  Please understand that, though my heart considers you priceless, my wallet had reached its limit.

To everything there is a season.

A time to be born, a time to die.

A time to hold on, a time to let go.

I hope that you rest peacefully, knowing that you will continue to live on in other cars.  You, who have always been a giver, can now give all that you have to keep other Berettas on the road.  Be happy, my friend.  You have earned it.

As for me, I’m very glad people aren’t cars, and that when my time comes I will go in my entirety into glory.  I’m very glad that there is no such thing as a spiritual Pick-a-Part.

Although that is an interesting concept…

One-a-Day Friday 5/30/14

number 1But as for me, it is good to be near God (Psalm 73:28).

Certain verses seem to sum up vast amounts of Scripture.

This would be one of those verses.

All of my hopes and plans and dreams and desires, boiled down to one thought:

It is good to be near God.

When I am near him, I am safe.

When I am near him, I have peace.

When I am near him, my heart is full

and still

and quiet.

I don’t need to understand all the things that are too big for me

when I am near him.

I don’t need to see justice done and evil men face the consequences

when I am near him.

I don’t need to justify my actions

or my thoughts

or myself

when I am near him.

Oh, it is good to be near God.

He’s calling you close today; he wants you near enough to hold.

Because you are his Beloved.

One-a-Day Thursday 5/29/14

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

I’ve written, deleted, and rewritten today’s devotion multiple times, and you know what?  There’s not a thing I can add to this beautiful piece of Scripture.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to leave you with these verses today.  Drink them in, Beloved.  Draw strength and confidence and peace from the knowledge that you are his, and he is yours.

Forever and always.

One-a-Day Wednesday 5/28/14

number 1When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny (Psalm 73:16-17).

How often do you avoid God?


When I’m in the kind of spiritual place we’ve been talking about this week—envious of the world, wounded by God’s callous disregard for my obvious piety—the last place I want to be is on my knees in prayer.

Can I just say, right now, that not wanting to be with the Father—worshipping, reading his Word, listening for his Holy Spirit—is an immediate sign that things are wrong?

Sure I can.

Of course, this is the time when I most need to be on my knees.  Because—and you know this as well as I do, Beloved—when I come to the Father, humbly and worshipfully, he changes me.

One of the few advantages to being kind of a spiritual yutz is that I am constantly going back to God to get my head straight.  Three, four, five times a day—or an hour—I am asking him to help me see myself, the people around me, and this insane world through his eyes.

Have you spent time with him today, Beloved?  Have you given him the chance to remind you that the people of this world are not to be envied, but to be pitied, not to be imitated, but to be prayed for?  Have you given him the chance to remind you that you have earned nothing, but have gained everything, that you deserve emptiness, but have been filled?

You haven’t?

Then what are you listening to me ramble on for?  Go to your father.  Now.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday 5/27/14

number 1Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence (Psalm 73:13).

Did I mention that I really identify with the Psalmist on this one?

When I’m in the kind of mood we talked about yesterday, I inevitably fall into what can only be described as a pity party.  My thoughts run to, “Oh, God, I work so hard for you; I do so much.  Why don’t you honor my amazingosity?”

I could count all the things wrong with that question, but I only have so many fingers and toes, and I’m trying to type.  Suffice to say that, like Isaiah said, all my righteous acts are like filthy rags.

God knows it.

I know it.

No one’s fooling anyone here.

So, Beloved, since you’re humoring me this week and going through exercises you obviously don’t need, follow me on this one.  Check your heart.  Do you find yourself feeling/thinking/acting like you have earned anything from God?  Do you feel a little put out that the Almighty has not deigned to recognize your excellent work on his behalf?

Probably not.

But just on the off chance that you do, may I suggest that you, how do I say this, knock it off?  Because, frankly, your righteousness is only slightly less filthy than mine.

God bless your Tuesday, Beloved.  Keep your head straight.

One-a-Day Monday 5/26/14

number 1Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.  But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:1-3).

Sometimes sinners seem to have all the fun.

I totally identify with the Psalmist on this one.  Although I know better, there are days when I feel like the worldly people around me just seem to have a better life.  Better cars, better jobs, better bank accounts—just…better.  It’s a dangerous place to find myself, as the Psalmist points out.  When I get in that mode, I focus way ever so much too much on what the world values, and I forget what my Lord considers important.  Frankly, I get kinda pathetic.

Look, I know you’re far too spiritually mature to fall into such moods.


Just to humor me, take a moment this morning to step back and evaluate how you look at the world around you.  Do you, by chance, find yourself envying those who do not follow God?  Do you find yourself thinking, even for a moment, that they have a better life than you do?  That they have a freedom you do not?

Father, I pray for clear vision to start the week.  Help us to see this world, and its people, as you do.  Help us to focus on you, and on the abundant, amazing life you offer us.  



Monday’s waiting, Beloved. Go get it.

One-a-Day Friday 5/23/14

number 1Today is a day to sing.

Sing this hymn we’ve been talking about all week.  If you don’t know the tune, just say the words.  Make it your prayer today, Beloved.


Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou, my best thought by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light


Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true word

I ever with Thee, and Thou with me, Lord

Thou my great Father; I thy true son

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one


Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance, now and always

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

High King of Heaven my treasure Thou art


High King of Heaven my victory won

May I reach Heaven’s joy, O Bright Heaven’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall

Still be my vision, O Ruler of all


One-a-Day Thursday 5/22/14

number 1High King of Heaven my victory won

May I reach Heaven’s joy, O Bright Heaven’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall

Still be my vision, O Ruler of all


Someday this will all be over.

A memory.

A blur.

Someday the promises will be fulfilled and you will stand in the presence of the one who has always loved you.

You will laugh

and sing

and weep

and dance.

Even I will dance, and nobody will laugh at me.

Not even my kids.

Until that day, we walk in the promise of what is to come.  Your Thursday may not look like glory, but the Lord of Glory is in it, waiting for you.

Walk in the promise today, Beloved.

One-a-Day Wednesday 5/21/14

number 1Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance, now and always

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

High King of Heaven my treasure Thou art

I wish this were true of me.

Oh, I don’t think I worship money—if you saw my car, you would know the truth of that.  But I must say I care a sight too much about, “Man’s empty praise.”

I wish I didn’t.

But I do.

Now, you probably don’t have an unhealthy focus on money or peoples’ opinions of you.  You seem pretty put-together to me.  But just in case, it’s worth noting that this song gives us an answer to our dilemma.  See, it’s not enough to try not to think about money, or popularity, or whatever worldly thing you obsess over.  Look, I’ll prove it to you.  On the count of three, don’t think about money. Ready?  1…2…3…Go.

See what I mean?

We need to focus on what we do have, the amazing treasure we possess.  If you belong to Christ, you are heir to a colossal inheritance.  You are a child of the King of the Universe.  You have eternal life.  Best of all, you have a relationship with the One who hand-crafted you, who created and chose and loved you before you even knew his name.  Remind yourself of that, today and every day.  That just might help you keep your mind off the so-called riches of this lost world.

He is your treasure.

You are his.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.