It’s Electric–A Lesson in Light and Darkness

Understanding electricity is not a top priority for me. Please don’t get me wrong–I love light. I like to see the results of inserting a light bulb… and voila, let there be light. I learned a humbling lesson recently about photocells, yes, photocells, and how they relate to our faith.

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In my front yard is a cool “dusk-til-dawn” lantern. It’s peaceful to drive up to my home at night and see it shining brightly.

Recently it burned out. Bummer. Taking the step ladder, I gingerly removed the globe and old light bulb, replacing it with a new. Waiting for the light to radiate immediately, I waited and waited. Still darkness.

Remembering the GFI circuit thingy inside, I went inside the house and reset that little button. Craning my neck to look out in the yard, the lamppost was still dark. I even flipped the breaker switch doo-dad, still nothing. Obviously I had maxxed out any slight inkling of electrical knowledge I had, which wasn’t much.

The next day when telling my dear friend about my yard light situation, her husband remarked matter-of-factly. “Some debris may be blocking your light’s photocell, keeping it from shining.” Wait. What? What in the world is a photocell?

He explained that a photocell is a sensor that detects light. The photocell is what makes my lamp know to shine in the darkness. Ahhh. Once the debris was cleaned from the photocell, my lamp miraculously began shining again.

So what does all this mean? How is our faith’s “photocell?” What “debris” in our lives may be keeping us from shining our Light of Jesus? Could our debris be busyness, unforgiveness, unconfessed sin, jealousy, envy, a critical spirit? Ouch. Any of one these and so many others could be the debris blocking the Holy Spirit’s “photocell” connection in our hearts. God desires a total heart connection with us.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16 NIV

Anne Graham Lotz, in her book Just Give Me Jesus, tells this story I’ll soon not forget.

“One night when author Robert Louis Stevenson was a small boy, his nanny called him to come to bed. Oblivious to her summons, he was staring at something outside his nursery window. The nanny walked over, stood at his shoulder, and inquired patiently, ‘Robert, what are you looking at?’

The little boy, without taking his eyes away from the window, exclaimed in wonder as he pointed to the lamplighter who was lighting the streetlamps. ‘Look, Nanny! That man is putting holes in the darkness!’

With the Holy Spirit as our faith’s “photocell,”and with Jesus as the Light of the world, may we each be totally empowered to go “put holes in the darkness!” You shine!

Reflect:

–How is your light of faith shining right now?

Renew:

–“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” –John 8:12 NIV.

–“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” –2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV

Recharge:

–What is one action item you will accomplish this week to get rid of any “faith photocell debris” you may have?

Resource:

–What is a photocell?

 

Previously published in the January 2018 issue of the Carolina Compass insert in The Charleston Mercury.

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The New Year’s Resolution Revolution

I love the start of a new year. A blank slate. A blank calendar. A year of hope ahead. Fresh beginnings.

Then there is the pressure of forming New Year’s Resolutions. As January 2018 approached, I desired for this year to be different. Why are resolutions so hard to keep?

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36 percent of resolution-makers give up by the end of January. Ouch.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “resolution” as the act or process of resolving: a :  the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b :  the act of answering :  solving c :  the act of determining.

I propose a bolder approach.

Instead of forming resolutions, let’s consider life revelations. What’s the difference?

Webster’s defines revelation as “a :  an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b :  something that is revealed by God to humans.”

A revelation comes from God. A resolution comes straight from us. No wonder my resolutions often fail because they come from my flesh, not necessarily from listening to God.

Let’s start a revolution for the new year.

The minor prophet Habakkuk was in tuned to listening to God. Let’s look at how we can relate Habakkuk with our New Year’s revelations today.   We can change our resolutions to revelations.

In Habakkuk 1 he cried out to God. I love his authenticity, his raw emotion with the Lord.

“’How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?…Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?’”

The Lord listens and answers Habakkuk with a wonderful response.

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Habakkuk continues to complain and ends it with a declaration:

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. “ Habakkuk 2:1

‘Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2

 That’s one of my favorite leadership verses in the Bible.

The main revelation revolution lessons we can learn from Habakkuk are to:

1)Humble ourselves, pray and cry out to God. Even it seemed like complaining, Habakkuk was totally real when he told God exactly how he felt and asked God questions. God has big shoulders and can handle our big problems, our dreams, our desires. God listens and answers in His way, in His timing.

2) Strategize and write your revelation and plans on paper. Make them succinct enough that you (or anyone else) can understand them. I would encourage you to post them in your home so that you can refer to them often.

3) Be patient, work, and wait as God continues to work in your life on you and making your revelations come to fruition. God’s timing is perfect. He is never too early and never too late.

May Habakkuk’s story inspire us to start a revolution of New Year’s Revelations.

Happy New Year, friend. The best is yet to come.

Reflect:

What revelation is God revealing to you?

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Preparing Room

On this second day of Christmas, I’m still reflecting on the Christmas story. The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. He leaves much to our imagination.

With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed full at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph.

The Inn-keeper certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable/cave and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy in his life for the Savior of the world’s birth. Ouch. That hits home. During this Christmas season, my quiet time with the Lord has been cut shorter and shorter because of a long to-do list. I’m just like that Inn-Keeper.  I’m guilty.  This message is for me too.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we made room, didn’t we?

To bring in our new wonderful-smelling Christmas tree, we moved over our comfy chairs, reading lamp, plants–whatever it takes. Box after box of Christmas decorations require us to move our year-round décor and replace with our valued Christmas festive decor. In a few days we’ll be moving all the decorations back out and placing our furniture back as it was.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, since there was no room in the Inn, Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the smelly animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Sized Bed.

Even the favorite Christmas carol “Joy to the World” exclaims, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

The big question is: How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my budget for Jesus? He wants our whole heart, my whole heart. So many times I don’t make enough room with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Frederick Buechner sums the Inn-Keeper’s perspective up beautifully in “The Birth” from Magnificent Defeat:

“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.”

The exciting hope and Truth is that we who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” Jesus loves us so much and wants to reside in our hearts for eternity. Jesus is our only Way “IN” to eternal life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.'” –John 14:6.

Please forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. I’m excited to make much more room for You. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.”  In Jesus’ name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 Reflect:

–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV

“I’m prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” –Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing

Renew:

–How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my life for Jesus? Please comment

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