Tag Archives: Jesus

What difference does the resurrection make?


The day after Easter, it’s worth pondering, “What difference does the resurrection of Jesus have in my life?”


Some people, even professing Christians, believe it was just a story. (How in the world can people who call themselves ‘Christian’ still come to such a conclusion?) And for some who do believe, Easter is more of an event than a lifestyle. Church attendance swells on Easter Sunday and then dwindles to normal the week after. We turn the page of the calendar and move on. Of course, we’re thankful that Jesus conquering the grave means His followers also will share in that promise when our bodies die. But is there more?


Think on this. What if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead? What if He remained in the tomb forever? He would be just like all the other ‘good’ teachers, wouldn’t He? We could say, “He was such a good teacher. I want to try to be like Him.” His life would inspire us to higher ideals, but we’d be left on our own to sort out how to accomplish that. Furthermore, if He was just like all the other ‘good’ teachers we’d be tempted to blend all the ‘good’ teachings into our lives: a little Christianity, a little Hindu, a little Buddhism. We’re told it’s ‘extreme’ to believe in “THE way, THE truth, and THE life.” And so it becomes easy to fold Christianity into a part of our life, rather than being our life.


But Jesus couldn’t have been just a good teacher. He claimed to be the Son of God. What good teacher would lead His followers to believe a lie if He was a mere man? And what believers would follow a lie to their persecution and tortuous death . . . for centuries to follow? And what difference did the resurrection of their beloved master and Lord make in their lives?


Following His death they were huddled in fear, guilt, and depression. Hopelessness and despair defined their days. They must have been asking, “What now? Should we go back to our routine manner of living?” They didn’t have long to ponder this because three days later they had real encounters with their risen Lord. They saw Him with their eyes. They touched Him with their hands. They talked with Him and fellowshipped with Him. And then they came to understand His compelling purpose for their lives.


While He walked on earth, Jesus interacted personally with many. After His resurrection He gave His Holy Spirit so that ALL could encounter Him any time, all the time, at the same time, now and forever. Because Jesus conquered the grave, we share in His promise that our death is not final, that true believers also will be resurrected unto eternal life. But amazing as that is, there’s more!


Because Jesus rose from the grave, we have hope for today! Because Jesus conquered death, Jesus-in-us can conquer life and all we face. For those who live in His Spirit there is resurrection power, not only in heaven, but for living – today.


You’ve heard about the historical Jesus. Maybe you’ve tried to incorporate His teachings into your life. But have you had a personal encounter with the real resurrected Jesus? Ask Him to be Lord of your life and let His resurrection power make a profound difference in your life, not only for eternity but for today.


“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33



The freedom road


image At the Richmond Civil War Battlefield in Kentucky you can take a free tour of the historic Roger’s house that witnessed the fierce fighting of that time. Caretaker Phillip Seyfrit is eager to share historical perspective on the happenings of that era. One of the items that caught my eye was a quilt pattern from the underground railroad.


It wasn’t uncommon in those days for quilts to be aired out on a fence or window ledge. The underground railroad used specially ‘coded’ quilts in this inauspicious way to send alerts to slaves planning to escape. Each quilt pattern signaled a specific action to take when the quilt was aired. A wagon wheel indicated they should pack things in a wagon but a ‘drunkard’s path’ pattern warned they should move in a staggering manner and avoid straight lines to keep from being detected by slave hunters. A bow tie indicated they should wear formal clothes as if going to a wedding or other special function. The pattern of a log cabin indicated the slaves were on the right route. There were a dozen or so of these special quilt patterns that held no significance to the casual eye. But to the watchful eye, they spoke the code of freedom and outlined the path to escape from captivity.


Today we revel in our freedom. We think of it as our inalienable right. Yet you might not feel free. You may feel imprisoned in trouble that never ends. You keep looking for an escape path but there seems to be no way out. And it’s not just our troubles that bind us. So do our pursuits.


The bible says we all remain slaves – that whatever we obey becomes our master. We don’t like to think of ourselves as being addicted, but we are drawn like moths to the fire by our appetites and ambitions. We imprison ourselves in unforgiveness and let ourselves be chained to harmful opinions and beliefs that separate us from others and separate us from God. We willingly handcuff our minds to the pursuit of indulgent lifestyles that confines us to an island isolated from the rest of our brothers and sisters around the world. We think we are free but our minds and hearts remain captive to what we pursue. Our spirits yearn for the freedom road but our fleshly appetites and desires long to remain in Egyptian captivity. How do we find a way out? Is there a secret code we can follow?


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6) The message is in plain sight, not hidden in some secret pattern, though most will not see it still. Is His message quilted into the fabric of your daily life and freely aired as a constant reminder to you and others to stay on the freedom road? It seems intolerable in today’s pantheistic society, but it is The Way of freedom, not just for salvation, but for today!



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.



From routine to the edge of adventure



Do you ever have the feeling like you are stuck in a routine, doing the same thing over and over, never really getting anywhere, but instead just running in circles, and just wasting your life away?


That was the plight of Bill Murray’s character in the movie, Groundhog Day. Every day he would wake up on Groundhog Day and everything would be the same as yesterday. The same pointless routines, the same meaningless dialog, and the same boring and unfulfilled existence.


Maybe you feel the same way. You look back at the past year and ask, “Where did time go?” You look back over a lifetime of toil and ask, “What happened to my goals and dreams?”   You’re stuck in a rut that seems like a grave with the ends dug out. You ask, “Is there a way out?”


Maybe today is the day to drive a stake in the ground or draw a line firmly in the wet concrete that proclaims, “I’m not going to waste my life. I am going to live a life of adventure with purpose and passion!”


What does it mean for a Christian to ditch the wasted routine and start living on the edge of adventure?


Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). He said it is like one who lost a treasure and gave up everything in order to find it.


It might look like Paul who considered everything he once sought to win as becoming like rubbish, worthless compared to knowing Jesus. Not just knowing more about Jesus, but knowing Him in such an intimate way that compels you to follow Him in everything you do. As the martyred Jim Elliot said,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”


Elliot’s fellow missionary, martyred by his side, summed it this way:

I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it.


Francis Schaefer said it is the life being visibly marked by the expression of God’s love for others. Like a mentor of mine when I was a youth said, “To have even your unconscious thoughts and desires bear the mark of Jesus.”


Maybe the question isn’t, “Am I ready to get out of a rut?” Maybe the question is, “Do I really want to bear the full mark of Jesus and live the ‘abundant life’ adventure of following Him?” The call is yours. Answer it today.



Understanding “You will always have the poor”


“You will always have the poor among you . . .” – Mark 14:7


I think that if a verse of scripture is short enough to fit on a bumper sticker, it is most likely to be misunderstood.


Sometimes I have heard this verse interpreted to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about poverty. “Why bother? There are always so many poor people that it is a winless battle!” But is that really what Jesus was saying in this passage? Real understanding comes from examining the context.


So what was Jesus saying in this passage? The immediate context shows us that Jesus was defending a woman criticized of anointing him with expensive perfume that could otherwise have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus replies, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want. But you will not always have me.” His focus is on honoring her faith and worship of him, not of diminishing the importance of giving to the poor.


In the larger context of this passage, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 15 which commands Israelites to cancel all debts every seven years. Some people harbored thoughts of contempt, not wishing aid the needy when all debts were about to be canceled. The writer says, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.“ (v 11) He wasn’t saying be apathetic to their cause. Quite the opposite, he was commanding the people to give generously to their plight, particularly at an ‘inconvenient’ time when there would assuredly be no repayment.


In vs 4-5 of Deuteronomy 15 we are told, “there need be no poor people among you. . . if only you fully obey the Lord your God.” Did you catch that? Do you believe what God’s Word says…that if we all did our part, there would be no poor among you? Edward Everett Hale said it this way:


“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”


May our lives be living testimony that worship of the one true God compels us to obey His command to “be open-handed” to our fellow man, not just giving them a handout but rather a helping hand, in the same compassion that Jesus showed us.



My sheep know my voice




My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27


I remember many years ago, the State Fair offered free telephone calls to anywhere in the world. This was way before Skype, cell phones, and internet chat. So, I stepped in the booth and called a former co-teacher I used to work with in Australia. I hadn’t thought about the time zone difference nor that I hadn’t spoken to this person in the many years since I lived overseas. I just dialed their number and said, “Hi. How are you doing?” Once I said who I was, my friend was all excited to talk with me, but at first she didn’t recognize my voice. After all, it had been a very long time.


Does it seem like God is quiet sometimes, that you just can’t hear His voice? Maybe you feel He has forgotten and left you. Maybe you think God doesn’t speak to people anymore, that we’re just left on our own to figure life out. Or maybe, just maybe, we don’t hear God’s voice because we don’t listen for it. In fact, maybe like my call to my Aussie coworker, it’s been so long since you’ve had a conversation with Him that you don’t even recognize His voice any more.


We listen to so many things these days. There’s the radio, our favorite CDs, the iPod, the phone, the internet, the TV. There’s Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to keep up with.  There’s our family and friends who want and need your attention. And your ministry efforts and favorite causes call to you. Then your work shouts, “Pay attention to me,” in a voice so loud as to drown out everything else. And underneath the favorite novels and magazines, maybe there is a bible. No wonder we have a hard time listening to God!


Being likened to sheep is not the highest compliment. Sheep wander and stray. They follow their own way and get into trouble. Typically, we think of sheep as rather helpless and dumb. But smart sheep know the voice of their shepherd. They tune out distractions and pay attention to the voice of the one who protects and provides for them.  They listen to Him and follow Him.


What kind of sheep are you going to be today? One who says, “I’ll have it MY way” or one who listens and follows the voice of the good shepherd? Be still, listen, and follow.





Capturing the cross


A caption in last week’s news is a reminder of why Go Light Our WorldTMpromotes the true gospel even in so-called ‘Christian’ countries.


The photo showed scores of ‘religious’ men diving off a dock into a cold lake in Sophia, Bulgaria (not far from the GLOW ministry in Vetren). They are trying to grab hold of a wooden cross thrown by the Orthodox priest to bless the waters. The men engage in this activity with hope that catching the cross will bring health and prosperity to the one who captures it.


Do void superstitions have influence over your life? Are “good luck” and “cross your fingers” woven into your vocabulary? Do you find yourself doing good deeds in hopes it will bring you blessing or good karma?


There is a way to capture the cross. And you don’t need to dive into frigid waters after some wooden icon. Simply bow your heart where you are right now, and extend your open hands in submission to the one who died on that cross and who offers His forgiveness and great hope to you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and show you the way you should go today.


“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
– Jesus, Mark 8:34



Being a lightbearer



“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 the lampstand, 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


That is Jesus speaking to all followers: YOU are the light of the world. Let your light shine. And yet so many Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of letting their light shine. Some think it should only shine through our actions, as if others will somehow guess good deeds mean someone is a Christian. The truth is there are lots of nonChristian people who are probably much better good deed doers than some Christians. Random acts of kindness…a good practice, but Jesus is talking about more than that. Some people think that words are the best expression of light. And yet we all have experienced the empty effect of slick speaking people who have more agenda than compassion. Some people think putting their lamp under the basket is the best method, as if being a follower of Jesus should be some sort of secret. “Let someone else shine the light,” they say.


We understand the discomfort of being honest and transparent about our faith. Others may feel offended or may judge us. Worse yet they may seek to isolate or persecute us. Reading a recent article about Christians in war-torn Syria, one believer commented, “They wound you with their words. It’s how they look at my religion as if it’s not real. With such utter contempt. As if the Bible is all made up.” Christians fear for their rights and identity. “For the first time in modern history, we are being persecuted for our faith,” explains one follower who fled Syria to live in the west.


But regardless of our circumstance, we are called to be people of faith who love. NOT people who intimidate others or badger them, but people of love, people of light. Asks one persecuted believer, “What is the point of having Christians in the Middle East 100 years from now if we are not acting as Christians in practice – standing up for the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the poor?” Said in another way to all of us across the world, “What is the point of saying we are Christian if we don’t demonstrate our care about others in our actions, our words and our daily prayers? What is the point of being given a light if we are going to put it under a basket?


YOU are the light of the world. Will you make it a priority to let your light shine brightly today?



A New Year’s note from your friend – A.B. Simpson


In the name of the Lord, we wish for all to whom these words may come a happy New Year. In order that it may be so, let it be:


A year with Jesus. Let us seek its plan and direction from Him. Let us look to Him for our desire, ideals, expectations in it. Then shall it bring to us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. Let Him also be the sufficiency and strength of all the year. Let us not merely try to obey Christ or imitate Christ. Let us have Christ Himself in us to do the works, and let us every moment fall back on Him both to will and do in us of His good pleasure. And let our service be not our works, but the grace of Christ with us.


A year of self-forgetting ministry for Christ and others. Let us not drag our burdens through the year, but drop all our loads of care and be free to carry His yoke and His burden. Let us make the happy exchange, giving ours and taking His. So shall we lose our heaviest load—ourselves—and so shall we find our highest joy, divine love, the more blessed “to give” rather “than to receive.” Let us do good to all men as we have opportunity, let us lose no opportunity of blessing. Especially let us seek to win souls, and may 1886 [2015] be the harvest year of our lives.


A year of prayer. Let us learn the meaning of the ministry of prayer. Let us reach persons this year we cannot reach in person; let us expect results that we have never dared to claim before; let us count every difficulty only a greater occasion for prayer, and let us call on God for great and mighty things which we know not, and may the most glorious reminiscences of next New Year’s Eve be the wonders of answered prayer.


A year of joy and praise. Let us live in the promises of God and the outlook of His deliverance and blessing. Let us never dwell on the trial, but always on the victory just before. Let us not dwell in the tomb, but in the garden of Joseph and the light of the resurrection. Let us keep our faces toward the sun rising. In everything give thanks. Praise ye the Lord.


A year to forget the things that are behind and reach out unto those that are before. God has “a new thing” for us in 1886 [2015]. Let it be a year of deeper, wider, higher, diviner things. Let us hold fast that which we have attained, but go out also to “the regions beyond,” and arise and possess the length and breadth of the land which the Lord our God does give to us.

Yours in Him,

A.B. Simpson

(Excerpts reprinted from a personal letter to friends and acquaintances, January 1886—equally relevant for 2015.)



The Christmas gift of eternal love


“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ The Lord!” Luke 2:11



Our most urgent prayers have been answered, our waiting has been fulfilled. A Son has been born and He will rule forever as our mighty God, our wonderful counselor, our prince of peace. We hope you enjoy unwrapping the most precious gift of Christmas, the gift of Jesus who was given “unto you.”


Did you know that the most known bible verse is all about Christmas? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17


The Christmas story is the fulfillment of that promise, God sending us a Savior. It is the mark of His love for us. I hope you’ve responded to that love by accepting His gift and setting Him on the throne of your life.


We’ve made Christmas about giving presents. But the best Christmas gift is sharing the presence of God in your life. And we do this by letting our lives be marked by His unending love, especially at Christmas and always:


Love is patient. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of Christmas ruin your celebration. Practice patience. Don’t give in to judging others or get upset by trivial things. Let your love be patient.


Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Be happy for others and be happy with what you have. Whatever your lot in life, chances are many others would be glad to exchange their troubles for yours. Everyone is fighting a hard battle. Let your love be kind.


Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. An important lesson in life is learning “It is not all about me.” The best way of seeing others is through God’s eyes. Let your love known as a peacemaker who values others.


Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. The job of truth is to protect our trust and our hope. Truth pushes us to persevere to reach the prize. Let your love be truthful, honest, hopeful, and persevering, a beacon to others.


Love never fails. We fail but God’s love is enduring. Don’t give up when you goof up. Let His perfect love speak consistently through you.


And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Let God’s unending love be the best present you give to yourself and others this Christmas!


A very blessed Christmas to all our readers.