It’s Electric–A Lesson on 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?

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An Attitude of Gratitude

As the summer winds down and the school year starts up, my mind and heart are grateful. Time passes so quickly. Evening comes sooner now. Have I savored the precious moments?

Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, challenges us to write 1000 things for which we are grateful. This list could contain: a breathtaking butterfly flitting amidst colorful echanacea; a beautiful sunrise; morning dew; birds chirping; sun shining through the window across the hardwood floors; dear friends who open their lovely homes; fun co-workers; a cozy bed in which to sleep. What are you grateful for today, this summer? May each day our hearts, my heart, have an attitude of gratitude.

“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” –Philemon 4-7 NIV.

Reflect:

–For what, for whom, are you grateful? Please comment with at least one thing/person you are thankful for.

–Consider making a list of 1000 gifts today.

Renew:

–“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” –Philippians 3:11b

–“Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.”  –Victor Hugo.

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Grace For the Recovering Perfectionist

I am a recovering perfectionist. I admit it. What do you think is the difference between perfection, striving for excellence, and doing your best?

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When I was a little girl, I organized all my crayons by the rainbow-color acronym name—remember it? R-O-Y- G-  B-I-V (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).  I kept them organized, even if it was a box of 64 crayons. Yes, coloring inside the lines was a must. I was a born perfectionist.

Bless my sweet parents. I was harder on myself than they ever were on me.

All these years later, I still struggle with perfectionism in some areas of my life.  But who holds the measuring stick to decide what “perfect” is? Your “perfect” is different from my “perfect.” The only true measuring stick for perfection is Jesus, and nowhere this side of heaven will I, will we reach the beautiful perfection of Jesus.

I remember one role model in my career taught me this pithy poem:

Good, better, best, And may we never rest,

Until our good is better, And our better, best.

That’s when it hit me–My best is not perfection. And that’s OK.

When I get up each morning, every fiber of my being strives for excellence. Then life happens…traffic is at a standstill, and I’m late for work; a long-anticipated meeting is rescheduled at the last minute; miscommunication occurs with a loved one; reality falls short of expectations.

One of my favorite verses is five words: “She did what she could… Mark 14:8a  NIV.  Don’t you love it? Maybe I should have that on my epitaph!  What grace! It sure makes me exhale.

To set up the scene, Jesus was visiting the home of Simon the Leper. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, brought in an expensive alabaster jar full of pure nard, which is costly perfume. She took it, broke it, and poured it all on Jesus. Some of Jesus’ disciples ridiculed her for wasting more than a year’s wages of perfume on Jesus instead of giving it to the poor.

Jesus told them to leave her alone and said it was a beautiful thing that she did. He told them He would not always be around and this poured perfume was preparing him for his burial. Jesus was trying to tell them he would soon die.

Mary did what she could. It may not have been “perfect” or even “excellent” in the sight of the disciples. She gave it her all.

Dear friends, there is grace for those of us recovering from perfectionism. Keep doing your best, and react with grace knowing obstacles will come into your divine path. Be encouraged. You are making a difference.

Relax. Breathe deeply.  Exhale. Laugh. His grace is sufficient for you and for me. Feel free to color outside the lines sometimes.

Reflect:

–What are some ways you are a recovering perfectionist like me? Please comment.

-What grace can you give yourself or a loved one who struggles with perfectionism?

–How can you make sure your heart is in all your work? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Renew:

–“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

–“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” –2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV.

–“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10 NIV

Resource:

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply going to www.danyajordan.com, adding your email address and subscribing to this little leap-of-faith “Pure Inspiration” blog.

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Convincing the “Nones”: Loving the Unchurched*

Emanuel AME Church

“When I am on the water on Sunday mornings, that IS my church!” my friend Jeff passionately exclaimed.

I could not remember the last time I saw Jeff in our church, although he was a long-time member from childhood. I missed him.

Jeff is so fun and is an influential leader in the community. He had recently purchased a new boat. He went out every day after work and every day of the weekend.

Jeff represents the fastest- growing demographic in the US—the unchurched or “nones.” According to the Barna research group, the “nones” are the group of people who check the “none” box under “religion” or “church.” Sadly, this group is the most rapid growing demographic with approximately 100 million people in the US. Of that 100 million, 2/3 haven’t been to a worship service in the last six months. One statistic showed that of these unchurched, 40 percent used to attend church regularly. Ouch.

It’s not about being religious or simply attending church. Or at least it’s not for me.  It’s about discovering and strengthening a faith relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. How can we love on and convince the “nones” in our life to grow in their relationship with the Lord and want to attend church?

Attending church doesn’t make me a Christian, just as sitting in a doctor’s office doesn’t make me a doctor. Sunday morning worship at church is my favorite time of the whole week. Involving myself in church Sunday School and activities, hearing Biblically-sound sermons, and fellowshiping with fellow believers all strengthen my faith.

“In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” –1 Peter 3:15

Based on this wonderful life verse, the following are three ways you can be used to encourage others to deepen their faith and find a church home:

  1. Be ready, passionate and authentic with your testimony and your love for your church. No one can dispute your eyewitness account of how faith in Jesus has transformed your life. You are an ambassador (and cheerleader) for Christ and your church.
  2. Be humble about what God is doing in your life. Give God the glory. Don’t take any of the credit for God’s miracles.
  3. Be respectful of those God places in your path. We are not to judge. We are simply “fruit inspectors” of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

The following story I heard long ago epitomizes our need for church fellowship. May the faith fires of our hearts continue to burn brightly, warming the “nones” and those all around us. May our churches and hearts experience revival as a result.

The Fiery Sermon

A member of a country church had gotten upset with one of the church committees and decided he didn’t need to attend church anymore. After a few weeks, the minister decided to visit him.  It was a chilly day.  That evening, the minister found the man at home all alone sitting by a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his minister’s visit, the man welcomed him, and led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.  The minister made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.  After some minutes, he took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.  Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.  As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

The minister glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  Immediately it began to glow once more, with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the minister reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery sermon.  I shall be back in church next Sunday”.

*Danya’s message is reprinted from the Charleston Mercury’s Carolina Compass, July 2016 Edition.

Reflect:

Who are your neighbors or loved ones who can show God’s love and invite to church with you?

Renew:

“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18b.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus,’ is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and will all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.'” –Mark 12:28-31.

Resources:

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/

www.theaquilareport

www.smithvillechurch.org

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America! America!

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Have you noticed it also? The stores are packed with various sizes of American flags and patriotic bunting. The metal trailers for selling fireworks are cropping up throughout the city. Even the clothing stores are featuring larger quantities of patriotic attire. It’s coming soon… The Fourth of July, our nation’s 240th birthday.

However strong your Christian faith may be, however you may vote politically, we are all united as American citizens. May we all remember what is imprinted and engraved on all our US dollars and coins, as well as all of our hearts…In God we Trust.

We live in the greatest country in the world and are blessed with abundance and freedoms most countries envy.  We serve and play on the same team–Team USA.

We are blessed with valiant heroes today and in wars past. Each time I see a serviceman or woman in uniform, no matter where I am, if I am able to make eye contact, I say, “Thank you so much for serving our country.” To me, our encouragement is the least we can do for their valiant service of defending our country. Freedom is not free.

Let’s unfurl our American flags and wave them high. Let us show the world how much we believe in America. God truly shed His grace on thee.

In eighth grade, our Social Studies teacher had us memorize a portion of the Constitution’s Preamble. It still is recalled easily, as it is seered on my heart:

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,  provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.” Amen.

May we savor these tender words of “America the Beautiful”:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Reflect:

–Who are some American heroes in your life? How will you show your appreciation for them? Please comment.

Renew:

–” ‘…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will not refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.” –Isaiah 54:17 NIV

–“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” –Romans 9:5 NIV

–“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” –2 Timothy 2:3 NIV

Recharge:

–What do you or will you do this week to demonstrate your patriotism?

Resource:

–Enjoy the US Naval Academy singing “America the Beautiful.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JKCom39yKQ

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