One-a-Day Tuesday, 6/24/14

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So, I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have (2 Peter 1:12).

“Did you put on sunscreen?”

“Don’t forget your water bottle.”

“Remember your jacket.”

“Did you bring something to eat?”

My bride is big into reminders.  She’s a mom, after all, and she takes her job very seriously.  It’s kind of funny to watch our kids bristle under her admonishments.  It’s absolutely hilarious when they ignore her reminders and end up sunburned or thirsty or cold or “starving to death.”  You see, I learned long ago that my Cathy is a “think it through” kind of woman, and her recommendations are well worth heeding.

We need to be reminded of the things that are important.  My kids know what they need to survive a day out in the world, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to take those things.  Why?  Because they’re fifteen years old, and they still live in the magical world of “Somehow it’ll all just work out.”

Sometimes I live in that same world when it comes to my spiritual life.  I would say that I am “Firmly established in the truth.”  That, however, is no guarantee that I’m going to do the things I know I need to do.  I need people to come alongside me with reminders to pray, and trust God, and love my annoying neighbor as my annoying self.  I people to point out that God is so very powerful, and I am so very not.  That is one very important role of the Body of Christ in our lives.

So, Beloved…

Have you prayed today?

Did you remember to repent and ask God’s forgiveness?

Did you pack your trust?

Don’t forget to love.

 

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

One-a-Day Monday 6/23/14

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For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8).

There are these two rose bushes in my front yard.  They are planted about fifteen feet apart, and they grow up and across this lattice to meet over my front door.  In theory, they produce beautiful white blossoms that grace the entrance to our home and delight the eye of all who visit.

In theory.

In actual practice, the plants have been sickly for years, producing anemic little brownish blobs that serve well to scare away salesmen, missionaries, and the “If you buy ten magazines, I can win a trip to Nebraska” crew.  I’ve watered, fed, sprayed, snipped, talked to and threatened these plants, but to no avail.  Soon, these plants are headed for the green waste bin, because they are wasting my time.

I hate wasting time.  You see, I’m inherently lazy, so if I’m going to get off my backside and do something, I want it to count.  That goes for my garden.

That goes for my spiritual life.

Serving God isn’t easy.  Prayer, study, service—they all take time and energy.  If I’m going to do this, I certainly don’t want to find that I have been “ineffective and unproductive.”  So I’m going to take Peter’s advice and continue to develop, as best as I can, the qualities we talked about last week—faith, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and the rest.  I want the spiritual fruit—or flowers, to keep the analogy straight—that I produce to draw people in, not scare them away.

Grab your shovel and gloves, friend—it’s time to get to work.

Peacemaker

I do this every year.Peace

Summer comes, and I have great masses of time.  I also have a goal—usually grand and life-changing—that I will accomplish with the aforementioned masses of time.  I make my list, get my priorities in order, and then proceed to fill my masses of time with items completely unrelated to my goal.  The end of summer approaches, and I find that I have done much, but accomplished little.  And my big goal?  Usually untouched.

And then I get stressed.

And then the people I love get stressed.

Not my favorite pattern, but at least it’s predictable. Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday, 6/20/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love (2 Peter 1:6-7).

There it is again.

Love.

You know, no matter what we start looking at in the Word, it seems we always end up back at love.

I’m not complaining…just sayin’.

I suppose it goes without saying that love is a pretty important topic to the Lord of the Universe.  It heads the list of spiritual fruits in Galatians, and gets its own chapter in 1 Corinthians.  And John doesn’t say that God so liked us or felt warmly toward us or needed us or respected us or pitied us or feared us…

He said

For God so loved the world…

And love is the culmination of this passage.  All that we become through faith and goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance and godliness and brotherly kindness expresses itself in love.

Love for God.

Love for each other.

Strangely, at this level, the two are hard to distinguish and impossible to separate.

God’s love is the root of it all.  Your love is the fruit of it all.

Walk in love today, Beloved.

One-a-Day Thursday, 6/19/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness… (2 Peter 1:6-7).

Be nice.

I know, in some ways that command is harder than all the preceding ones put together.  Because people are just so…so…

Well, we’ve had that conversation before, haven’t we, Beloved?

But that’s what we’re called to.  Brotherly kindness.  Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Even when they are not particularly loveable.

Like me.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Sigh…O.K. Beloved.  It’s Thursday—get out there and love ‘em.  And take heart—they’re probably thinking the same thing about you.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 6/18/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness… (2 Peter 1:6).

No pressure.

Just, you know, now that you’re done persevering and all that stuff, go ahead and be godly.

Go on…I’ll wait…

Are you through yet?

Yeah…me neither.

Don’t fret, Beloved. Peter isn’t telling us to be godlike; he’s telling us to be godly.  There is a difference.  No need to walk on water, heal the blind, or raise the dead—not that you ought to shun the opportunity should the occasion arise.  To be godly, as I understand it, means that your life is submitted to Christ.  Your attitudes, your actions, your very thoughts, come from a place of reverence and devotion.  Your love for Christ informs every move you make.

It takes time to develop godliness.  It’s a process—a daily progression of letting go of the world and embracing God’s will.  How long does it take?  Well, it’s taken me 26 years so far.  Ask me in another 26.

You know that self-control you’re working on?  You’re going to need it.

You know the perseverance you’re learning?  You’ll be using every bit.

It won’t be easy—Peter says, “Make every effort,” not, “Just sit back, enjoy a rootbeer float, and let it happen.”  No, it won’t come easily.

But it will come.

It’s Wednesday, Beloved.  What a perfect day to grow in godliness.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 6/17/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance… (2 Peter 1:6).

Some days are just hard.  You will fail; your self-control will falter.  Attacks will come, from within and without, that simply seem too much for you.  You will feel that, at best, you are spiritually stagnant, that you will never be the person you know God has called you to be.

Hold on.

Tight.

This is when God calls you to persevere.  That is your part of the equation.  God supplies the strength—you must supply the will.  Are you praying for a deeper relationship with God, but not seeing any results?

Persevere.  Press on.

Are you struggling with sin or insecurity or loneliness, and you feel as if things will never change?

Persevere.  Wrestle it until you pin it to the ground.

Are you interceding for someone you love, but you feel like your prayers are powerless?

Persevere.  Fight on.  Stand in the gap for your beloved, even as Christ has stood for you.

Fight though you are tired.  Fight though you are discouraged.  Fight though you see no results in this world.  Fight through the sadness and pain and brokenness and fear and rejection and disappointment and loss and grief.

Fight until he gives you the victory.

Beloved, I don’t know what challenge you face today, but I know that you are called to persevere.  And I know something else—if it’s a battle worth fighting, then it’s a battle worth winning.

So go win.

One-a-Day Monday 6/16/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control… (2 Peter 1:6a).

When my classroom of thirteen-year-olds gets ornery, I point out to them one of life’s great lessons—you will be controlled.  You have the option of controlling yourself, but if you don’t take that option, you will be controlled by someone else.  In the classroom setting, that “Someone else” is me, and my tools for controlling behavior take the form of discipline—unpleasant and unwanted for most people.

It’s very much the same when it comes to the spiritual life.  If you don’t control yourself, someone else will.  Peter is talking here to believers, and we don’t need to worry about our Enemy controlling us.  But if the Holy Spirit needs to step in and control your behavior, you’re not going to like it.  Remember, God is not interested in robots—He won’t simply remote-control you into proper behavior.  He will discipline you, much as a father or a teacher might.  And it won’t be pleasant.

Self-control is an important fruit of the Spirit.  Peter tells us elsewhere that we should, “Be clear minded and self-controlled, so you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).  As believers, we are expected to practice this discipline, so that we can be useful and productive members of His kingdom.

So, Beloved, who will control you today?  Will you be a spiritual grown up, or a spiritual 8th grader? Because, trust me, you aren’t going to like God’s version of after-school detention.

Holding Tight…Letting Go

I remember teaching you to ride a bicycle.  You were so scared, theHands bicycle so big.  It was, in truth, a tiny machine, long since sold at a yard sale. On that morning, however,  it was your Goliath to conquer, your stallion to tame and to claim.  

“Deeda, hold on tight.  You won’t let go, will you?”

Never, if I have the choice. Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday, 6/13/14

number 1For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge… (2 Peter 1:5b)

So you’re trusting God.

Excellent.

You’re practicing the goodness that comes out of a faith relationship with Him.

Wonderful.

Peter’s not through with you yet.

You see, there’s only so far you can go if you’re ignorant.  Just ask my students.  Think about it.  How much can you trust God, really, if you don’t have knowledge of who he is and how he has chosen to work in our world?  What we call “blind faith,” is really just, “lazy hope.” I am willing to climb on an airplane because, though I don’t fully understand the physics of how it works, I understand enough to know that an airplane does fly.

Usually

If someone offered me a ride on a flying chicken sandwich, I would have to say “no,” because I understand enough to be confident that a chicken sandwich big enough to hold me would never be capable of sustained flight.

That may be the worst analogy I have ever allowed to go to print.  But you get the point, right?

If you are going to live for Christ, if you are going to do good on his behalf, then you must know him.  Spend time today getting to know him better.  God has given us 66 books on the subject of how much he loves us, and how he wants to work in us and through us.  Study them.  Study him.

There will be a test, Beloved.

It’s called Life.