Light in the Darkness

Romans 2: 19

[A]nd are confident that you yourself are a guide to people who are blind, a light to those in darkness.

The way of Christianity, it is not always easy to discern. One thing I have learned, though, is that we must walk in the light. You are not surprised by this, I am sure, but I find it a more challenging issue to live than we may believe.

Jesus said, “I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness,” (John 12: 46). Because of this statement, we go about the world trying to lure people out of the darkness and into the light. The compassion which drives that task is commendable. The problem I have seen is in the way we go about it. I have witnessed more condemnation, criticism, judgment and loathing in our approach than compassion. Jesus came as the light so that none should remain in darkness. We believe ourselves redeemed from a life of darkness and yet, we plunge ourselves right back into that shadowy world when we begin to address others. Believe this, one cannot defeat darkness with darkness. Only the light can dispel darkness.

The one who fights against another by criticizing and judging, only condemns himself. This is a hard lesson. We think we are of the light, but do we remain in the light when we see something we believe is amiss?

I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life,” (John 8:12). Life is in the light and so is love. I know, it gets old hearing about love, but it really is the only way to fight the darkness. Prayer has the power to change situations and people, but that prayer must be a prayer of reconciliation, healing, redemption and forgiveness. Only the light can overcome darkness. That means there is a better way to pray than asking God to change what we think is wrong with someone. It means hateful speech and harsh criticisms are to be set aside in favor of kindness.

If you watch, you will see other Christians and even whole churches focusing on methods of darkness. Obviously, that is not the way, but we only realize that darkness has crept back in when we stop and look around. I think when you observe the life around you, you will see that many of us are trying to dispel the darkness with more darkness. I know, though, that I can count on you to be a light, a true light in a dark place. Let Jesus’ light within you shine and bring joy and healing to an already hurting world.

Story Time

Jude 20 – 21

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

May I tell you a story today? Recently I attended an event where I met another pastor. He and I began to discuss our ministries and to my surprise I characterized my ministry by saying, “I hang out in God’s love.” I told him that is the most important topic of my ministry. Let me tell you why that is funny.

When I was young, I thought the pastors who preached on love sounded like a bunch of milk toast sissies. I was young, tough and strong. I wanted to hear about a strong God. Then I ran into my pastor for my life, Pat Markley. No one would every call Pat a sissy. In fact, he was a former navy seal. It was no accident that our Father led me to Pat. I needed that image to help me understand that true love is tough and strong. So, though I have learned much since then, I still found myself surprised identifying myself and my ministry in such a manner.

The other pastor immediately began to speak of God’s wrath. Again, a bit funny in that I had just had a conversation with someone else about God’ compassion where I said, “How can anyone know the Father and believe Him to be angry?” We have made great sport about God striking us with lightening when we say something foolish, but I always thought people knew better. Well, this pastor believes it is his job to preach on God’s wrath. This same preacher (perhaps a better moniker than pastor) had just quoted John 3: 16 to me, “For God so loved . . ..” I mean, get a revelation, “God is love,” (1 John 4: 8).

I encourage you to read the book of Jude. It is quite short. Jude does spend 19 verses recounting the history of the wicked and from that this preacher got his message. However, it isn’t until verse 20 that Jude begins to address his audience and when he does direct his words directly to his audience, his message is love. He spends the first part of his book on the historical record, but his conclusion, his actual message comes after the conjunction “but” in the twentieth verse. That is the way arguments are constructed. The prelude is the background against which the message shall be forecast. His message, then, is “keep yourselves in the love of God.”

Our God is love; He is characterized by love. He did not send his beloved son to earth to die a horrible death just so He could pour out His wrath upon us! Come on! God isn’t sending people to hell. His whole thing is saving people from hell. Some people refuse to be saved, and that is their choice. With free will comes the choice to choose heaven or hell. Back in Deuteronomy God told us the choice between life and death was ours to make but His recommendation was that we choose life (Deuteronomy 30: 19).

After that evening and discussion regarding wrath versus love, I came home and read Jude multiple times. I read it and prayed until I was certain Father had ministered His wisdom to me regarding the book. I came away with the conviction that God is love. To know the Father is to know love. My mission is to bring people into the presence of God. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16: 11). How can His presence be full of joy if He is an angry, vengeful God? To know God is to know unsurpassed love. The more we get to know Him, the more we will see that He is love.

Therefore, my message is simply this, God loves you! He loves you far more than you can even imagine. He loves you more than you love your own children. He wants you saved and living eternally with Him in heaven. Be blessed in the truth.

Let’s Go!

Habakkuk 2: 2

Then the LORD answered me and said, “Write down the vision and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that one who reads it may run.”

Do you have a vision? Do you have pictures in your mind of things you would like to see come to pass? If so, great! Let’s bring them to maturity. Perhaps you began this month with some goals, dreams or objectives. It may be time to renew plans. Either way, step one is to write those things down.

January is almost done, but it is not too late to put some energy into those thoughts you had on January 1st. One of the best things we can do is to put those ambitions before our eyes. Have you ever made a dream board? Maybe now is the time. What is it that you truly want? What do you want badly enough that you are willing to get out of bed a half hour earlier? What are you truly passionate about? If you don’t have a passion, think about it a little. What do you love? What would you do if you knew it was possible? Life is a great gift. Let’s live it to the fullest.

Find some pictures of that thing you want or objective you would like to reach. What does it look like to have accomplished your goal. What will you look like. Will the attainment of some big goal look different on you? Will you gain a new level of confidence?

We saw last week that Jesus is willing to give us that for which we ask. He said, we don’t ask but that we should. It is early in the year. If you aren’t where you wanted to be by this point in January, no worries. Let’s pick ourselves up and begin again. Who says January first is the only time we can set ambitious goals. I say, today is the day. Let’s get excited about our lives and live fully.

Write down what it is that you really want. Put it in front of your eyes so that you are constantly reminded. Don’t let that dream slip away from you. Jesus is ready and willing. Father is waiting to partner with you and the Holy Spirit is standing on GO. Write the vision, make it plain and then run with it! This year can be our best ever without regard to anything that has gone before. You deserve it, God wants it so let’s go!

Ask and Receive

James 4: 2     God’s Word Translation

You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them.

Many of us know this verse as, “You have not because you ask not.” Seeing it in the God’s Word Translation certainly sheds some light on the meaning held within the text. It is clear that James, Jesus’ brother, thinks we should ask Father for the things we want. What do you think Jesus would, himself, say? Here are some quotes from Jesus.

John 15: 7  NASB

If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

GOD’S WORD Translation
If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours.

John 15: 16

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

John 16: 23

And on that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.

John 16: 24
Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

GOD’S WORD Translation

So far you haven’t asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive so that you can be completely happy.

There is a theme here which I am sure you see. I was reading my Bible recently when these verses seemed to shout for attention. Jesus wanted to bring to my notice that he and the Father want to answer prayer. It seems they want us to ask. That wasn’t all though. He wanted me to believe and to encourage you to believe that when we ask, we receive. The message he conveyed was, ask believing that he will answer; expect that he will provide.

I was very excited but also a little overwhelmed by the message because it seemed so urgent. Consider, this is a glimpse from only one book. Run a search on the word “ask” in Matthew and see what you get. The point is that this is not an isolated statement. Jesus wants to get across to us that he has a methodology in place. He seems to be moving us into an understanding that there is an established method for working with him on our needs and wants. This is not a begging forum. Father God and Jesus have established a way for us to work together and Jesus wants to take this opportunity to train us.

In my mind’s eye, I see a business office. I can see Jesus sitting in what looks more like a conference room than an executive office. The walls are predominantly glass which likely represents openness and accessibility. It seems this “office” is set up to receive people and to facilitate open, ready access to him. People stream in, give him their requests and then leave. It looks so simple. Give him the request, believing he will take care of it. As I watch people enter and hand him their requests, they have no stress on their faces. If anything, they look like the matter no longer occupies any of their mind space.

I am overwhelmed by Jesus’ insistence that we ask him. I have felt that way towards people myself at times. You see them struggle with something for which you have a skill or a tool. You want to offer; you want to jump in and help but you know you cannot. They must come on their own for it to have value to them. So, you wait. You drop little hints or try to make yourself plainly visible hoping they will ask, but so often they don’t, so you meander off. I think Jesus and our Father want to help us way more than we let them. I think they are dropping little hints to us hoping we will ask for their help.

Ask and you shall receive, but ask in belief and faith. Ask knowing that your heavenly Father wants to help you and Be Blessed.

Great News

Acts 18: 6

And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles.”

What a sad story! Paul was delivering to the Jews in Corinth the good news of the long-awaited Messiah. He must have anticipated that they would be as excited about the news as He. Instead, he was rejected and scorned by the Jews of that city. I think how discouraging that must have been for Paul. Yet, he shook it off, literally, and dedicated his life to the preaching of Jesus to the Gentiles.

I think that it is sometimes not much different today. And it is sad. At times I have noticed that it can be easier to talk with the unsaved about the things of God than it is the church. You have probably encountered the same thing. Have we just become complacent? I don’t know, but we have the best news in the world, the great good news that the world has been awaiting.

Each of us, every single one of us, needs to stir up that great gift that is inside of us. We need to renew our minds to the singular miracle of the Lord of all living inside of us. He walks with us everyday and our every breath is on his mind. As we think about the enormity of greatness that is within each and every one of us, perhaps the fire of the glory will be rekindled in us. Then we will rejoice, everyday, in the manifested presence of our dear Lord.

Happiest New Year

I received a New Year’s blessing from a friend who wished me the best year of all in 2023.  It is a wonderful sentiment, even if  not completely unique; and not unique because it is the premier wish we have for our friends.  This time, the cherished good sentiment hit me differently.  Normally I would simply set my heart in agreement.  This time, though, I asked myself what that would mean.  Would I make more money, more friends, accomplish some big goal, perform better athletically, feel better physically?  What would make 2023 the best year ever?  Are you looking for romance, to have a deeper relationship with your Lord Jesus?  Do you have business goals you would like to achieve?

Jesus commissioned us to go and tell the good news.  What is that good news?  It is that because of his overcoming victory, we can have whatever we ask for!  In him, all things are possible.  Therefore, I encourage you to take a few moments to ask yourself what you would truly like for this year.  You could learn a language, write a book, start a business or anything else you truly desire.  It does not matter if you are 20 years old or 90, God’s power and blessing are all you need.

Talk with the Father from your heart.  Together, consider what would make this the best year ever.  While you are in communion with Him or while you journal with Him, write down what would make 2023 spectacular.  Set down some mile markers.  For example, if you, like me, want to ride more miles on your bike this year than last, what does that mean for January milage?  Can you set out weekly or monthly objectives?   Lastly, what would it look like when you achieve your desire?  What motivates you to ride further, read more, pray everyday?  Attach your passion, create some mind pictures and get in partnership with the Holy Trinity.

Let’s really and truly make this our best year yet.  Let’s engage with the Father to grow our belief to a whole new level.  The brass ring is still there.  Go grab it.


Merry Christmas


John 15: 9

Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love.

I will forego the Luke 2 account of the Christmas story this year though I really do enjoy that old, old story. Instead, I want to tell you a Christmas story of my own which, incidentally, embraces my Christmas prayer for you.

My elementary school principal, Mr. Turner, had a beautiful voice, a deep, rich, resonant bass voice. At Christmastime, we would gather in the cafeteria to sing Christmas carols, as well as lively Christmas songs, for there is a difference, you know. Well do I remember those precious moments. I remember with my heart as clearly as I do with my mind, for even in recollecting this story for you, my heart seems to change its beat and I am transported, heart, soul and mind, to that little cafeteria miles and years away.

It was always a time I enjoyed but the thing that makes it stand out to me is the way it made me feel. I vividly remember how close to Jesus I felt in that moment long ago. He was there with us, moving amongst us and the tenderness of a grade school child was able to sense him and enjoy his presence.

Many of my adult years were spent chasing that feeling, but the adult was no longer tender for strength had to replace vulnerability and openness. None the less, I longed for that tender touch of Jesus’ presence and to give him the truest praise of all, the pure, unadulterated joy of simply being with him. I remember how much I loved him and how close we felt.

Every Christmas, I have chased that closeness and it truly seems that I find it easiest to draw nigh unto him in this season. People have their favorite holidays and for many Christians, it is the Easter season. For me, Christmas is when the Spirit is closest and that is probably because my heart searches and yearns, remembering Christmas’ of old. My heart and spirit are probably more open than at other times. Of course, this makes me more vulnerable which means I could be hurt more easily and that is dangerous, but on the other hand, the open heart can embrace Jesus much more easily and fully.

So, my Christmas wish for you is that your heart is open and receptive. I pray for you to be surrounded with people and music who nurture and protect you and who draw you deeper into the presence of the Holy Trinity. I pray for Jesus to touch your heart with his tender yet strong love that you may feel, within your own heart, the depth and passion of his love for you. And, may your love for him and for the Father, be unbridled. Most of all, I pray that you find this love and remain in it all year long.

Merry Christmas, one and all!