Monthly Archives: February 2015

Aim for the target


In a beautiful morning scene in the movie, a man spoke of enjoying beauty and celebrating life wherever he went. He then fired his shotgun into the air and related his joy in shooting birds from the sky.  “I’m a contradiction,” he confessed, pausing. “We all are.”


Indeed we all are contradictions. We believe in eating well but we behave as if food is our salvation, the salve to every wound. Or we believe that relationships matter most yet spend our time in isolation. We ask why doesn’t someone do something about a problem that bothers us while forgetting that we are someone.  We believe that it’s best to trust God, yet often act as if everything depends on us.


We’ll never get it perfect this side of heaven, but there is a difference between striving-yet-missing the mark and not aiming in the right direction in the first place.


We always behave in a way that is consistent with our real beliefs. But our stated or desired beliefs aren’t always affirmed by our heart. Do you know what you really believe and why? What we really believe to be true is revealed by our thoughts and actions. A quick examination of our daily agenda, our checkbooks, and our pressing ambitions (if we were honest enough to unveil them) would reveal what we really believe.


What is your target today, this week, this year?


Think about what you value most right now and what you think you’ll value most at the end of life. Aim for that. Live today focused on the target.



This too will pass


This too shall pass.


We say this when we’re going through tough times. It reminds us to hold on to hope that our trials will not last forever. It teaches us to not take the good times for granted.


While “this to will pass” is not found in the bible, the concept is a common thread throughout biblical teaching. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “For every thing there is a season and a time for everything under heaven.” Whatever you are experiencing now, be it happiness or sorrow, pleasure or pain, it will not last; it too will pass with time.


I remember thinking between my second and third rounds of chemo that my innards would never heal. The chemo wreaked havoc on my mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines. After two months of daily pain I wondered if this was to be my new normal. But in time, the pain passed. Even as different pains replaced it, I remember being thankful not to have to endure the same pain for a third month.


Yet sometimes the same pain or sorrow DOES last for seasons, years, or even a lifetime. What are we to say then? Paul suffered some ongoing ‘thorn in his side.’ After considerable prayer he moved on, accepting it would continue. Still he wrote that his troubles were small compared to the glory that awaits us. In other words, pain and sorrow doesn’t last forever for the follower of Christ. That may seem impossible to grasp when the pain is so intense and when the darkness of the night seems it will never give way to morning. But this too will pass. In fact, Paul writes that not only will our present troubles pass, but they are actually working to create this new glory. Our troubles are the building material that creates future glory. We understand that hard work and perseverance create accomplishments. We can grasp that loving acts build up loving relationships. But pain building up greatness and glory?


Glory isn’t a word we often use in every day conversation. It might help to think of it as being held in highest honor. What kind of honor do you think is built up by your suffering? Could it be the honor of faithfulness, perseverance amongst trials, or simple obedience to do what God says? Or is it the magnificent and radiant glory of the perfect God who lives in you, joining you to himself, to his glory?


Whatever you face today, turn your eyes from that circumstance and focus on the goodness yet to be revealed by God. Let his presence calm you, his grace sustain you, and his promises give you great hope. . . because this too will pass.


“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18



What season are you in?


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.
Ecclesiastes 3:3-8,14


What season are you in right now?


There’s the season of the young mom putting away her toddler’s toys and clothes as her little one busily empties them out again. Of giving them a bath only to have them spill soggy cereal on their head.


There is a season when careers threaten to hijack our lives, squeezing more out of the day than we’d like. At the same time, it is a season of accomplishment, income generation, and hopefully beneficial relationships.


For some there is a season of expanding homes to make room for growing families. a season of launching children into the world ‘on their own’ and the season of them ‘coming back.’ There’s a season called ’empty nest’ and a season of ‘all alone.’ There’s a season of illness that sometimes stays for too long a time. There’s a season of going and a season of waiting. There is a season of seemingly endless frustrations and a usually shorter time of a plan coming together.


There’s a temptation to believe that the season we’re in will last forever – forever young, forever happy, or forever in pain, grief, despair. But the truth is that seasons change, sometimes without notice. And there is a constant thread that binds all the seasons of our lives together.


Whatever season you are in right now, the God of all ages is there to meet you. He has gone ahead to prepare this place for you and you for this time. Seasons of life reveal what’s in our heart. Every season bears the mark of his “in all things” goodness if you search for it and the opportunity to seek his purpose. He gives wisdom, strength and courage to those who ask and grace that sustains to those in need. In all seasons you can find faith, hope, and love.


Always a season for resting on God's promises!

Always a season for resting on God’s promises!


Whether you are in the season of sunrise, sunset, or the noonday sun, let it be marked by God’s enduring love.



Mind games


Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming? Sometimes we let our mind slip back to a precious moment from the past that spoke truth and value into our lives and we just want to replay it to strengthen us today. Or we might find ourselves dreaming of a beautiful future, anticipating the good plan God has for us, the rewards of faithful living.


But daydreaming can also take us where we don’t want to go… the fantasy world of “what if.” It typically starts when you are bored or frustrated or discontented with life. And it leads us down a path of deception.


We have an endless capacity to deceive ourselves, asking what if:

‘Wrong’ depends on the situation.
Everyone else does it.
Lies can be justified.
Sin doesn’t matter.


We have such disastrous capacity to block out the consequences of our actions, forgetting the past and the future, living only for the moment of today. The truth is – none of us can trust ourselves apart from God. The walls that protect us are of no use if the gates are unwatched. And our mind is the gateway to our whole life: the books we read, the movies we see, the conversations we have, the thoughts we think, the passions we embrace.


The world has a different definition of faithfulness than God does. The world says lust can enhance a marriage. Jesus calls it adultery. We think it’s okay to devote a lifetime to meaningless collections and hobbies. If it competes with our passion for God, he calls it idolatry. We try to rationalize a meaningless life but it’s just so many rational lies. What we let in through the gates of our mind can defeat us. We need to be the gatekeepers of our renewed minds.


The good news is that the same mind that leads us down the road of sin can lead us back to God. If we are to daydream, we can choose to think about God’s ways, his blessings, his promises. Whatever is noble, true, right, praiseworthy, think about such things. We need to stop rationalizing something’s not wrong and start asking what is the right thing to do!


It’s not a game. We’re either in it or we’re not.
God chose you. Choose God again today.
Choose to be the new creation you really are.
Take captive every thought and make it obedient.
Guard the gates.


Remember that every temptation is an opportunity to trust God.
He will help you. He will set you free.


Think well. Live well. Believe.

It matters.



The danger of ‘the last word’


Have you ever won an argument only to found out that you really lost more than you gained?


Having “the last word” of an argument isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact it might be just the first word of the next argument!  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction in winning the argument but it’s both a fleeting and empty gain if someone else had to be disrespected in the process. Think for a moment. If you win the argument but lose the respect, trust, and affection of the other person was it worth the ‘win’?


Even temporary relationships like the encounters you have while shopping and traveling have a bigger impact than we might think. I remember being in a restaurant when someone ripped into a waitress because the coffee was not hot enough. Is it not enough to stand your ground when requesting good service without having to resort to belittling or deriding another human being? (I’ve read that the ‘Sunday lunch crowd’ is regarded as one of the worst in this regard by restaurant workers…a point for somber reflection.)


Relationships aren’t meant to be battle grounds. Especially when we argue about such petty things, how a decision is made might be as or more important than the actual decision. The last one standing is not the victor. In fact, if someone has to lose in order for the other to win, the best part of the relationship may be lost. Great relationships are best characterized by cooperative and synergistic efforts that build each other up. And we don’t build something up by tearing it down. You can’t protect, preserve, defend, support, sustain or shield with words and actions that attack, offend, belittle, or disparage the other person.


Here’s the challenge. The next time you find yourself at odds with someone else, consider what is really important. Ask yourself how ‘winning’ this argument will affect the rest of your relationship with this person and future decisions. In our attempt to be understood, let’s make sure we are first attempting to understand what is important to the other person. We can do this by being people of peace who build up others, not tear them down. After all, don’t we so very much appreciate grace and forgiveness when it is extended to us that we should also be eager to extend it to others?


There is a line from a gentle Christmas song that would guide us well all year long in our relationships and especially or ‘arguments’:


Let there be peace on earth  –  and let it begin with me.


Make sure your ‘last word’ can live with all the words that follow.


Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18



The sum of your life


Do you ever think about your purpose in life? About what will be remembered after all the work is done and the chores are finished (at least for the day)? Days go by and turn into weeks and months and years. You might ask, “Does my life account for anything?”


For those most seen in the public’s eye, Wikipedia may include a page listing notable accomplishments. For many, decades of struggles, accomplishments, sorrows and joy are summed up in a few paragraphs in the paper’s obituaries.


Sometimes I think about the genealogies of the bible. You know, where so and so begat so and so. The dream, passions, and life efforts of an entire generation of people were represented by one single name. And what about the “400 years of silence” between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament?! Surely, there was something worthwhile to be remembered, wasn’t there?


And then there’s Damaris. Her name is recorded just once in the bible (Acts 17). And what was accounted to her? What was her famous stake in life that led her to be mentioned in place of many others who remained anonymous?


She believed.

She responded to the good news and believed in Jesus.


No doubt, there was more than that. Likely, she cooked countless meals that nourished her family, washed baskets full of clothes, and swept the floor hundreds of times. Being a believer, I’m guessing she spent long times in quiet wonder of the amazing Jesus she adored. Maybe she sang songs of worship. Probably she encouraged others in the faith, possibly opening her home up welcome strangers so they could experience the truth and grace that flowed from her transformed life. I suspect troubles and sorrow visited her house just like they come to you and me. Maybe there were times of doubt and despair. We don’t know the details of her life. It’s not that they were unimportant. It’s just that they weren’t the most notable aspect of her life. What mattered most was that she believed.


Isn’t that true for us as well? Certainly, when God says, “Go” you should go. When he says, “Encourage your neighbor” we should be about that task. What we do matters much. But in the end, who we are matters more. God says to each of us:

Stay faithful in the presence of doubt.
Keep trusting in the face of fear.
Stand firm when your life is shaken.
Show grace when you are offended.
Speak truth in the presence of lies.
Love when you don’t feel like loving.
Keep on believing.


Our whole life is summed in this:
What did I believe and how did I live it?


May your day be marked by your all surpassing belief in the one true God who makes life worth living!



THIS is the day the Lord has made…


I confess. I am not by nature a chipper morning person. Have you noticed that how you begin your day determines the course of the day? Wake up grumpy and the whole day seems to get grumpy back at you. But the opposite is true too. Start the day by giving thanks and you find reason to give thanks all throughout the day.


You can start your day saying, “Good Lord, it’s morning.”


You can start your day saying, “Good morning, Lord!”


The psalmist wrote, “THIS is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) It is a pronouncement of how the day WILL be. Like the elderly man who was asked on the tour if he’d like to see which room of the nursing home would be his. He replied, “Not necessary. I’ve already decided it will be fine.”


How we start the day determines its course. The most valuable thing we will do today begins with our time with God. He is the one who hears our prayers and restores our soul. It is He who directs our path.


Why not pledge to give it a try each day for a week? Start this weekend. Stick a note on your mirror to remind you. Put another on your computer. Ask yourself:


“What will I do with this day God has entrusted to me?”


Promise yourself to give it your best today. Begin the day well so that at the end of the day you can say, “THAT was a day worth living!”



The Death of a Vision


There comes a dark time in most of our lives when hope dies.


Or so it seems.


Perhaps you’ve been there when the lights went out and darkness suddenly swept in, ushered by a minimum of spoken words:

“You – have – cancer.”

“You’re – fired.”

“I – want – a – divorce.”


In the blink of an eye, all that was good has suddenly turned to bad. It’s a dark moment when your vision dies. If it weren’t for the deep pain, you’d have thought you died too. Indeed a part of you did.


Abraham was there. God had promised him not only an heir but descendants as numerous as the sand. But in his old age, his wife was still barren. It seemed his vision had died. But then God intervened and the promise was fulfilled, the vision reborn.


Joseph was there. God revealed to him in a dream that he would be a great ruler of the people. Then left for dead in a pit, falsely accused and forgotten in prison, it seemed his vision had died. But the God intervened and the promise was fulfilled, the vision reborn.


David was there. God promised he would be king of Israel. But after being anointed, the present King Saul continued to persecute and tried to kill him. Taking refuge in the cave of Adullam, it must have seemed David’s vision had died. But God intervened and the promise was fulfilled, the vision reborn.


The disciples were there. They had devoted their lives to following their Lord, Jesus. But in a horrific turn of events, their master was tortured and crucified and they were in fear for their own lives. In those dark hours it must have seemed that their vision had died. But God intervened and Jesus rose victorious from the grave. The vision was reborn!


There are times in our own lives when the apparent death of a vision overcomes us with despair and grief. Despite the best efforts and all our plans, things don’t work out as we plan. And it seems as though the entire earth has swallowed us whole. And sometimes the vision we have does perish. But it is never the end of hope.


The smallest flicker of faith dispels the darkness that surrounds us. That small flame seems to grow as we feed it with increasing trust. It illuminates and reveals what we thought had been lost. God still has a good plan for your life. You were made for a specific purpose. You are not alone. His vision has not perished and neither have you. Hope remains. Hope always remains.


If it seems your vision has perished, don’t give up. Never give up. Turn to God and ask for His vision. Reach out to a friend. Write us at Go Light Our World. Don’t stay in the darkness. Keep your light of faith shining.



Understanding “All things work together”


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


Don’t you love to claim God’s promises? I do, everyday. But sometimes we apply them with wrong interpretation.


Some would have this verse mean that everything that happens is for your good. Lose your wallet? It’s for your good. Lose your child? It’s for your good. Become crippled? That’s for your good too. Well, not necessarily. I don’t see evidence that our loving God orchestrated all the sufferings of life so that He could say, “Buck up, it’s good for you.” Indeed there are many sufferings that are plain cruel.


But… IN all things, God works for good. All the way from the book of Genesis to “the book of maps”, the overarching theme is that God’s plan will not be thwarted in the long run. Suffering abuse at the hands of another is not the way of God. But God can rescue the abused and bring them to a good and healing place. Falling into temptation is not good for you. But moral failure doesn’t have to win. God can bring you from this to good. He is the great redeemer.


No matter what unfair or painful situation you face, God is still on your side. He doesn’t abandon you. When all you can do is stand, HE is the one who fights for you. In and through all these miserable circumstances that cry out for justice, God is ready to work good things according to those who love Him, not because these things are good for you, but because God is good.


Our God can call down a storm upon our lives to chastise us, warn us, and turn us around…for His good. He can and He does allow the circle of free will to spin out of our control, if that’s what it takes to bring us to His goodness.


Jesus coming to earth in human form was God’s greatest rescue mission. He saved not only His chosen people, the Jews, but adopted the gentiles into His family as well. Nobody is beyond the reach of God. Nothing can thwart His plan. He will ultimately and perfectly bring goodness to those who truly love Him.


The good news of Romans 8:28 is not that losing one job will be rewarded with a better one. It’s not that your suffering will result in hundreds coming to Jesus. It’s not the promise that poverty will turn to riches. The good news is that God IS God. His plan persists. It will not be thwarted by any circumstance that comes our way. The good news is that nothing can separate us from His love. And…your faithfulness in tough times matters! It is the mark of “those who have been called according to His purpose.”


Look for His goodness wherever you go today. Share it with others.



May I please have…more?


In the movie version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, young Oliver finds himself enslaved in a London workhouse with little to eat. He approaches the workhouse supervisor and says, “Please sir, may I have…more?”


Who could fault the nearly starving young boy, new to his oppressive surroundings, and wanting more?


Switch scenes to a young country girl who moved to the city to find new adventure: “I’ve always wanted…more.” Her friend twinkled his eyes and responds, “It’s a wonderful feeling . . . more!”


We all want more. Adam and Eve had it all. Yet they wanted more. The Israelites were hungry in the desert but when God gave them more food than they could eat, but they wanted more. I remember in the opening to one wage negotiation the question was posed, “What do you want?” The answer was simply stated: “We want MORE.”


We want more money, more clothes, more food, more service, more house, more possessions, more friends, more protection, more privacy, more consideration, more respect, more love, and in the end, everyone wants – more time.


What do you want more of? It’s okay to say it. God already knows the desires of your heart and mine. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. . . not only WHAT we want but also WHY we want it. He knows if we just had ‘this’ or more of ‘that’ we’d THINK we’d be happy.


There is no contentment to be found in wanting more when you have nothing. But there also is no contentment in having our needs met and still wanting more. The thirst for ‘more’ is insatiable.


So how do we find the secret of contentment? A friend reminded me recently, it is not so much ‘found’ but ‘learned.’ Paul writes, “I have learned the secret of being content.”


Contentment comes from:
Learning to give thanks for what we have: It is a daily practice, repeated over and over until it becomes habit and the habit becomes ingrained in our character.


Learning that our treasures and troubles are temporary: We think we have all the time in the world to build and acquire and accomplish. And we think our troubles will weigh on forever. But all we really have is today.


Learning to decide what to do with the time we have: The great line from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings sums it well: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world…besides the will of evil.”


Those ‘other forces’ are the forces of God’s power and goodness speaking great satisfaction to our hearts. There is one thing, that the more you have of it, the more content you will be. Having more of God and Him having more of you.


Go ahead and quench your thirst with more of Him! It begins by shutting down the busyness of your activities and stepping into His presence.