Friday, July 27, 2012

Candles & Flashlights

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 NASB

Here's another way to put it:

"You're here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I'm putting you on a light stand.  Now that  I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light-stand - SHINE!  Keep open house, be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven."
The Message

"The painful preacher, like candlelight, consumes himself in giving others light."
Benjamin Franklin

When there's a storm, and the power goes out, what do we usually reach for?  What's the first thing that we stumble around in the dark for?  A waffle iron?  The T.V.? 


Maybe, if you have one - a generator would be worth reaching for.  But, most reach for a trusty old flashlight. 

After finding the flashlights, we'll usually go to the cupboard and get out the candles, matches, and candlesticks.

Candles and flashlights, our first line of defense against any storm power-outage.  Why is that?

It's because in the midst of the storms and darkness, we crave light!  We need to see where we are going.  We are uncomfortable in our vulnerability in the darkness.  In darkness, we lose our sense of direction, lose our sense of balance.  In all, we lose our bearings.

Ever notice when the lights go out, someone usually says, "Nobody move til I get a flashlight and some candles!"

And, when these things are procured, do you notice how you feel afterward?  Things become more focused.  You remember where you are, and where things are put.  Order is restored, and we all sigh a collective, "That's better!"

We remind ourselves that we're okay and that nobody's gotten hurt and that we'll ride out the rest of the storm just fine.  Some of us actually start to enjoy the glow of the candles and flashlight.  With the warmth of the glow, we'll cuddle on couches and put sleeping bags down on the living room floor for the kids.  We might even break out in song - perhaps, This Little Light of Mine.

Yes, we're enjoying ourselves - we have light.  But, what about the drain on the batteries?  And, what about the candles burning down, running out of wax and wicks? 

A common element in children's literature is to give human thoughts and feelings to animals and inanimate objects - like candles and flashlights.  Were we to employ "personification" here, we might wonder if Flashlight Fred worries about his batteries running down -

Or Carl Candle is fretting about how soon his wick burns to the bottom! 

Truth is - candles and flashlights don't bother about such things.  It's just not in their character.  They are designed and called to one service - one purpose:  To give light and SHINE

They give no thought to rewards or accolades.  They just shine their light in the darkness - showing the path on the way to where you are going - getting you there and back again safely. 

They have purpose and take rest in that purpose.  The Master of the house will see to it that they are properly disciplined and ready when needed with fresh batteries and trimmed wick.  He puts them where they can be found, keeps them properly upgraded and maintained. 

The same is true in our calling and purpose as Christians - to SHINE in the darkness and storms of the world around us.  We're not to worry about running down, or fret that we might burn out.  We trust our Master, Creator, Savior, to take care of us - making us disciplined and ready for use as He wills.  All we have to do is SHINE - and enjoy the journey - to rest in the knowledge of our purpose, what we were created to be - to do - to SHINE HIS LIGHT

After all, He is the One Who turned us on - and He will be the One to shut us off . . . or blow us out . . . in His time, and no other.

We are to take pleasure in showing people where they are and where they are going - and to help them get safely on the path there and back again.  In so doing, we demonstrate the goodness and generosity of our Heavenly Father - our Generator.

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing Candles & Flashlights this week with:
Laura's Faithful Friday at Beholding Glory
Charlotte's Spiritual Sundays

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Salted Peanuts

"You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."
Matthew 5:13

I have read, and re-read this scripture many times.  I read it from different translations.  I read it fast.  I read it slow.  Something about this scripture was troubling to me, and I couldn't quite put a finger on it.  I looked up this passage in commentaries, and read the explanations from various Bible scholars, and still, it didn't feel right.

This was getting personal - I was feeling challenged!

Finally, I read it word by word, and then phrase by phrase, and the Holy Spirit began to breakdown both the scriptures and myself.  He broke them down into tiny-bite-size pieces, or morsels - like little salted nuts.

Funny, the more he broke it down, the more hungry and thirsty I'd become - like eating something salty and then needing a drink afterwards.

One thing I can honestly say about salt is that it makes you thirsty!  Try eating pretzels, or potato chips, or peanuts without drinking something along with it!  As a matter of fact, try eating anything that has salt in it and NOT drink something!  The more you eat, the more drink you require.

Taking a page out of my former life, let me tell you of my "bar" experience.  I spend my time at a different  "bar" now - studying God's Law, and the way I should live.  Old "bar" habits have passed away - behold  all things in my life are new - God is making me a "used-to-be." 

Anyway, in the old days I would go to a bar, looking for liquid refreshment after a hard day's work.  Seating myself at the the bar, there lay before me bowls of pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts all stationed strategically in front of each barstool.

Was it because of the owners being overly generous and wanting to give out free food?

No.  Pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts are loaded with salt!

They were there to make you thirsty!  The more you would eat, the more drinks you would buy.

Talk about cause and effect!

Needless to say, their little ploy worked.  Their registers were singing a most happy tune, right up to the "last call."  You couldn't help but  notice the last call, because all the patrons would go into mourning as the bartenders stopped giving out food and pouring drinks.  Everyone would break out in a bit of a dirge, "the party's over!"

Last Call.

Folks, do we really believe, that in the times in which we live, this could possibly be the"last call" of the Lord for people to be saved?  Do we really believe that this is the "party's over" for the most of the world's population?  Do we really believe that God is serious about us witnessing to the lost?

Think of it this way - Christians are the salted peanuts, potato chips, and pretzels in the earth, strategically placed in front of the unbeliever patrons of this world.  We're here to make people hungry and thirsty for Christ!

Read Numbers 18:19 very slowly:

"All the offerings of the Holy Gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you as a perpetual allotment.  It is an everlasting covenant of SALT before the Lord to you and your descendants with you."  NASB

It's New Testament counterpart is found in Romans 12:1-2:

"Therefore, I urge you, brethern, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

This is our lot - our heritage - to be salted peanuts to a dying world.

Christians are to live flavorful, to work up people's appetite and thirst for Him!  God has not called us to live a tasteless and flavorless Christian life.  He wants our daily choices in all manner of living, our conversation, what flows from our mouths and our hearts to be the spice of Christ, making those whose lives we touch thirst for - LIVING WATER!

Consider the urgency of the season.  Listen to Jesus in John 4:35 (NASB):

"Do you not say, 'There and yet four months, and then comes the harvest.'?  Behold, I say to you, 'Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest.' "

Also, in Matthew 9:37-38 (NASB):

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, beseech (beg) the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

So here's that personal challenge I mentioned at the outset - a challenge to me and you and anyone who identifies themselves by the name of Jesus Christ: 

How then shall we live? 

Perhaps, we need to stop being bar-flies, or video game-flies, or vain entertainment-flies, or just plain lazy-flies, and beg the Lord to take out His Saltshaker and shake us out into the world!  Salting the earth so people ask questions like bar patrons asking the bartender for another drink.  Are we keeping the bowls of peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips filled?   Are we lifting up the salted flavor of Jesus at work, at play, in the neighborhood, your family?

Listen to this promise from Jesus:

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, WILL draw all men to Myself."
John 12:32

Are we drawing this "draft" for people thirsting from the taste of our "salted" lives?

If people aren't being drawn to desire to drink, perhaps we've become tasteless.  If they're not noticing the bowls of peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips, perhaps it's because we aren't regularly refilling our bowls. 

If there's no salted peanuts on the bar to begin with, no one will even notice the "last call". 

They won't even care . . .

What do you think?  How do you read?

Sharing some Salted Peanuts this week with:
Laura on Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blessed Are the Chicken

"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Matthew 5:11-12

An insult is thrown.
A challenge is made.

The two parties choose their weapons. 

If it's a duel, pistols at dawn.
If it's cars, then a game of "chicken" has begun!

You know the drill in a duel.  The two parties stand back to back, count to ten paces, turn, and fire their pistols. 

The first one hit, loses.  He not only loses the duel, but the odds are that he also loses his life.  The first one who lays down his weapon without firing - "chicken's out".  He bears the former insult and dishonor, and is declared the loser. 

But, at least he's still alive!   Is he really the loser?

In a game of "chicken" two cars face each other as about a hundred yards - the length of a football field. 

A flag is dropped, the two cards barrel towards each other at full speed heading for a head to head collision.  The top speed going to the end of the hundred yards is anywhere from 80 to 85 miles an hour.  Imagine the impact!  Anyhow, the first car to get out of the way of the other car, avoiding the crash, is "chicken", and therefore the loser.  Right?

Well, according to today's text, WRONG!

Word Study:  PERSECUTE

The Greek word for 'persecute/persecuted' is 'diuko', which means, "to be put to flight".

So, blessed are you when you're insulted because of Jesus, and you take flight.  You just get out of there.  Blessed are you for being chicken, or put another way - blessed are you that gets out of the way - turns the other cheek and runs.

Getting out of the way of a bullet isn't chicken - it's being smart - genius even!  Getting out of the way of a car coming at you going 60 to 80 miles per hour isn't chicken - it's being a candidate for Mensa!

Remember the first Karate Kid movie when Mr. Myagi was teaching Daniel karate, his words were, "Best way to block a punch is not to be there.  Best way to save face."  


Jesus' teaching on the Beatitudes was about being poor in spirit, being repentant, being gentle, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, being merciful/forgiving, being pure in heart, and being a peacemaker.  Nowhere did He say, "Blessed are those who mouth off when insulted," OR "Blessed are the vengeful," OR "Blessed is the one who can punch someone's lights out," OR "Blessed is the one who can scare the daylight out of somebody," OR even - "Blessed are the ones who defend Me."

Jesus doesn't need defending.  He's God.  He defends us - not vice versa!

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us His accomplishments - not his aspirations!  He is showing us His Way - not the way of the world.  It's not, "Blessed is the tough guy."

It's, "Blessed are the meek, the weak, who don't rely on their physique!"

We are told that the prophets of old were put to flight.  We are told of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Gideon, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and many others who were put to flight.  They learned to "Live to fight another day!"

They were put to flight for their stand for God.  So, being "chicken" is to be in good company.  The only one who ever stood His ground was Jesus.  He stood His ground - planted on the cross - fighting for us!  He planted Himself so we could run to God, and that's a great reward. 

Who wants to end up like the Hatfield's and the McCoy's anyway?

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing Blessed Are the Chicken this week with:
Laura on Faith Filled Friday at Beholding Glory
Charlotte on Spiritual Sundays 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Bronco Is Now A Jet

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 5:10

They say that he can't throw.
They say that his style of play is so unorthodox that his mechanics are wrong.
They say that for his position, he's out of position to make a good play.
They say that he's not intelligent enough to be a quarterback in the NFL.
They say that he shouldn't be a quarterback, but a halfback, or fullback in football.
They say that he'll never be a good quarterback, or that he should never start at quarterback in the NFL.  They say that anybody who starts him will not win many games.
They say that he'll never be a winner, that he's one for the bench at best.

They always criticize his style.
They always criticize his public demeanor.
They say that he's a phony - that he's really not what he is in public - in private

Well, let's see . . .

In college, his teams won not only one, but two NCAA National Championships - Number One out of hundreds of college teams!  He was the first ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy - that's the honor of being named the top college football player in the nation - Number One out of thousands of football players!

As a pro, he was drafted Number One for the Denver  Broncos.  In his second year he led the Broncos to a western division title.  In his first playoff game, he led the Broncos to an upset win over the favored, superior Pittsburg Steelers!

Yet, he is still maligned, still put down.  Still - people are non-believers.

Throughout his whole life, he was told that he'd never measure up - that he'd always fall short.  And, what was his reward for leading the Broncos to a division title and a playoff win?

He was traded.
Traded to the New York Jets.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

You've heard people talk about him.
You've read about him in the newspapers
You've seen him on T.V..
You've heard the commentaries on the radio.

I'm talking here about the most polarizing player in the NFL today - TIM TEBOW!

You know, Tebow?  Of the "te-bowing"?  When he runs or throws for a touchdown, he immediately falls to his knees, bows, and prays a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus.

The term, "te-bowing" was given to him by the media, and it has sure caught on!  Tebow has been mocked by everyone from Saturday Night Live to  that wonderful bastion of conservatism, Bill Mahr.

He is criticized for giving credit to his teammates, his coaches, and of course, God - taking no credit for himself.  As a matter of fact, when asked about his ability, he will often quote scripture like:

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2

For stuff like this, he is often viewed as Public Enemy #1!

Why is he always put down?  Why is his name banter for jokes?  Why is he relentlessly persecuted?

Is it really for his athletic ability?  Is it really for his athletic record?  Is his tie on crooked?  Did he sell somebody a bum used car?


I believe, it's because of his stand for Jesus!

Tim Tebow is the son of Christian missionaries.  He was born in the Philippines and enjoyed a homeschool education.  He testifies that at age 25 he is still a virgin waiting for the woman God will give him in holy matrimony!

His Tim Tebow Foundation fulfills the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

It partners with other children's organizations throughout the U.S. and supports over 600 orphans worldwide.  Tim spends his free time working to bring faith, hope, and love to those in need.  These things don't bring cheers from the world and the worldly.

It brings raspberries!
It brings jealousy.
It brings slander from a world full of cynicism.


Those worldly minds who so harshly pass judgement on Tim Tebow can't see that his whole focus in life is to add to the Kingdom of God.  He's not after treasure that can be stolen, or rot, or rust.  He's claiming territory bought by the Blood of Jesus.

And, in all this, the world rewards him thus:  An adult porn site has offered a one million dollar reward to any woman - or man - that can provide proof that he/she took Tebow's virginity away from him.

Sounds like they're offering thirty pieces of silver to someone to betray innocence.

He drew "boo's" at Yankee Stadium for his witness for Jesus.  Many say he will fall in Sin Ciry, New York - that temptaion will get the best of him.  Even so, I recently  read that in his competition for the starting quarterback's job for the Jets, Mark Sanchez has stated that Tebow's presence makes him work harder and brings out the best in him!

Tim's birth in the Philippines was a troubled one.  His mother was told to abort him to save her life.  She didn't.  She prayed.  Together they beat the odds.  Instead of being a statistic, today Tim wears scripture verses on his "lamp black" under his eyes, so when people or players get close to him, maybe they'll read the scripture and become a statistic for the New Census in the Kingdom of God.

I have no doubt that he'll beat the odds in NYC, and will win over the fans of the Jets like he did with THIS Eagle fan!

The Bronco fans will rue the day that Tebow was traded, just like the sports world will rue the day that they joined the sinking ship of the media and put Tim down.

Thirty pieces of silver buys a temporal high on a smile from the world.  A soul saved inherits a Kingdom, and praise from the eternal God.  Why hasn't the world been able to beat Tim Tebow down?  Because:

"The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!"
John 1

Yeah - I'm a fan of Tim Tebow - but I'm more of a fan of the One he represents.

How do you read?  What do you think?

Sharing The Bronco Is Now A Jet with:
Laura on Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays
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