The Light of Darkness

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. ~Plato

There is a common misconception that the Bible is about good people, and its purpose is to make us better than we already are. But most of us feel pretty good about where we’re at. In other words, the Bible was written for the rest of the world.

I remember the first time I felt I was the outsider for whom the Bible was written.

I was 18 and attended a Bible study with similarly-aged Christians. We read a passage about people loving the darkness, and the teacher asked why that might be.

The room was silent, so I spoke up.

“I like darkness because I can hide in it. I can do all of the things that I want to do and no one sees. Darkness is safe.”

Thirty pairs of eyes stared. Every possible sin was written across my shirt as their minds raced. The teacher blinked, bit his lip, and then tried to steer the conversation back to what he had hoped to hear.

John tells us that we can’t walk in darkness and be part of God’s world. He is light and light will always overcome darkness. We are supposed to put away the deeds of darkness and go toward the light.

Do you avoid the town prostitute but hide in your closet indulging in Halloween candy? We can “pray” to many gods in a closet.

Maybe you know whose daughter had an abortion and think it serves her right when later she and her husband are infertile. Your lack of compassion is hatred.

Are you impatient with others who waste their money but your expenses go unchecked and justified in your own eyes?

John knew that we would want to place ourselves on pedestals, so he added a reminder:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 NIV

The Bible is filled with stories of people who screwed up – murderers, rebels, swindlers, bigots – and people who weren’t so bad in their own eyes.

Which of the two groups were unable to see when the Light shone on them?

Come into the Light.

Who’s Your Source

Researching a quotation can be fun, but it’s not always easy and many times may require some serious digging. ~Sharon Rickson, New York Public Library

Fake news. It’s all over the headlines. Kind of ironic, don’t you think?

You go to the news to find out whether the news is really “news.”

English teachers and Media Resource Center directors stress to their students to check the facts. Don’t use the first website that pops up on Google. Make sure your source is reputable.

Paul had a reputable source. His teacher was Gamaliel.

Gamaliel came from a line of Torah scholars, namely his famous grandfather, Hillel. Gamaliel lived in the first century AD and held a position of authority and leadership in the Sandhedrin- the ruling council. To study under him was to attend Harvard or Oxford.

Continue reading “Who’s Your Source”

There’s always something to learn

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

I’m reading a book that I find error-prone. Yet, I also believe it contains some truth and probably a lot of opinions that others in my sphere hold. So I keep reading it and try not to set my jaw too tightly.

Exposing our minds to differing beliefs and teachings helps us understand our own beliefs. Sometimes we feel justified in our beliefs, and sometimes we might find that we were wrong.

A Jew named Apollos was living in Alexandria. He was a smart guy, well-educated and an eloquent speaker. But he didn’t have all the facts.

Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos the way of Jesus and suddenly Apollos’s eyes were opened to the truth. His willingness to study further, to listen to others, and to accept that he may have been incorrect led Apollos to be a missionary to Achaia and to lead many more people to the truth of Jesus Christ as the Savior.

But Apollos didn’t just spout off his opinions. No, he used the Jews’ own scriptures to show that Jesus was the expected Messiah. He studied, prepared, and listened to the Spirit.

How do I know when I come across error-filled teaching? Because I know the scriptures. I read God’s word daily. I pray. I listen. I talk to others and process their conclusions. I surround myself with others who do the same.

Are you making sure that you know the truth and are being set free on the right path?

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:19-20 NIV

Commitment

The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed. ~Martina Navratilova

I teach English to Chinese students online. That means I have to work on their time. Beijing Time is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, and when the time changes in a few months, it will be 13 hours different. I rise very early in the morning in order to teach my favorite students about my favorite thing: words.

One of my students is moving to western Canada. He will be 3 hours behind me. That poor boy is going to have class at 5:00 in the MORNING once the time changes! He is committed to learning the language and speaking it well.

Some people are committed to healthy living. They rise early to run or go to the gym. They eat low-carb, even on Thanksgiving, and they never drink soda.

Others are committed to their work. They email from their phone on vacation, stay late at the office, and make notes about a meeting when they wake in the middle of the night.

Some people are committed to family. They attend children’s concerts and competitions, have a family dinner once a week, and spend vacations together.

What makes you draw your every breath?

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Luke 21:37-38 NIV

When you’re committed to something, you do what it takes to be there. Jesus was teaching in the temple, but people had to be at work. They had houses and children to care for. They had gardens to tend and animals to feed. But they knew they were hearing a good thing, and they wanted more of it. So Jesus met them early in the morning before all of that began.

It’s no different now. I have work. I have a house and kids. I have responsibilities that require my time and attention.

But I also know when I am hearing a good thing, when I need to hear a good thing.

And I make a commitment to be there.

My commitment isn’t early in the morning. Jesus and I meet at lunchtime, after my early morning work is completed and I can sit with him and have a pleasant conversation.

Everyone’s schedule is different. Early morning may be the best for you. Perhaps you need to meet Jesus at twilight after the children are snuggled in their beds.

It isn’t the timing that is important.

It’s the time.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

Treasure

We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures, but by studying them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than to pass quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture. ~Henry B. Eyring

“These are two or three hundred years old.”

“And your mother lets you touch them!?”

I was teaching one of my ESL students about the idea of “passing down” things from one generation to another. He showed he understood by sharing some articles his family has in a box. He shuffled through the box as if he touched 300 year old items every day.

Well, he lives in China; perhaps he does.

Hilkiah the high priest found a book in the Temple. He knew it was the Book of the Law and very important. When the king sent his secretary to check on business at the Temple, Hilkiah passed the book along to Shaphan, the secretary.

Shaphan recognized its importance and passed it along to the king.

King Josiah also understood its importance. He feared for his people because they had not kept the Law for many generations. King Josiah sent men to the prophetess Huldah to find out what they should do.

How long had the book survived?

Hundreds of years.

How long had it been since anyone read it?

Hundreds of years.

So how did the men know to go visit Huldah?

Some people had hidden the Book of the Law in their hearts. They had saved it, passing it from one generation to another. A treasure not hidden away, but opened for children’s hands to thumb through, to play with, to ask questions about, to learn from and to teach.

Huldah was one of those people. She knew the ancient words.

Where do you keep the ancient treasure? Is it collecting dust on a shelf?

Do your children know where to find it? Do they play with it and thumb through it with confidence?

Do people look for you to share the ancient wisdom? Are you known as a prophet who knows the Lord?

Have you obeyed the command of God . . .

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 ESV

The treasure is waiting to be opened.


“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Mt 24:35 ISV

Sunrise

morningI’m a morning person. I sing, I work out, I cook breakfast, I read my Bible and other devotionals, and I do it all with gusto. I especially like mornings in the spring and summer. The songbirds greet me with a chorus of “Zippa-dee-do-dah”. The sun dances through the window, cheery and bright.

But autumn slowly seeps in with fog and dreary rain. Getting up is not as easy. I would rather snuggle down into the warm nest of my quilt and comforter and avoid what I know is coming.

The time changes, the air changes, the light and the happiness and the song of the birds all change. It is harder to get up, harder to embrace the outdoors for a walk or a drive to the gym. The window is shut tight against the cold wind and darkness that threaten to force their way in. And it is harder to open my Bible, to listen to others’ words about God, even to pray.

But I get up anyway. I go to the gym, I make some warm oatmeal, and I crack open the Good Book.

Sometimes, the bad weather, cold darkness, and bitter wind arrive in the middle of summer. A bad report from the doctor, from the financial department, from the auto shop. Sometimes it is even a bad report from church; someone has lost their way or tried to make someone else lose their’s. Occasionally a storm blows in that includes all of these at once, and I burrow into the bed like Punxsutawney Phil crying for more time, more warmth, more sleep.

But I get up anyway. I work out with the disciplines I learned during good weather. I breakfast at the table of the Lord. And I dig deeper into the Word instead of my covers.

And then, when I raise my eyes and look out the window, a light begins to dawn. The birds begin a slow chorus. And the clouds begin to scatter.

No matter the season, no matter the weather, I know I must continue to seek the One who brings light to a dark world. Don’t let the weather be your whether or not.


“. . . And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79 ESV