Nov 05 2015

Opening Our Door to Light

Published by under Life


Do you know what the first picture is (upper left)?

How about the second one upper-middle (hint: it’s the same object as the first)?

How about the third one (upper-right)?

If you don’t have a good guess, let me tell you… It’s one of the engines for a 737 jet. See how much clearer it becomes from left to right?

Light illuminates the objects it shines on. It brings them to life and makes hidden things clear.

I’ve never really stood in the pitch black and said, “Oh, how beautiful!” But I HAVE stood in the dark and commented on the stars or the moon. It is light that makes darkness good.

And the same is true of our own lives. Most of us live in some kind of darkness. And we may be stuck there. We continue to sin and there’s nothing beautiful about it.

It’s only when God shines into our lives and casts his rays of light into our life that we can see what exists. The sin is like darkness – not beautiful on its own. It is light that drives out darkness and allows us to see beauty.

This is part of what it means to walk with God – to continually be beautified as more and more and more light is shone into our life.

Eventually, full light will illuminate our souls to be what he has always intended. If we saw a 737 engine in clear daylight, we would have no trouble identifying it. But the dimmer the light, the more confusion as to what an object is.

I’m in Calcutta this week, and the Victoria Memorial is just a stack of stone blocks without light. But with light, it is a masterpiece!

The more we yield to God, the more light gets inside us. And the more light inside us means the more our souls will shine love and kindness and beauty – the way God intended us to be. May we ask God to light us up so we can live the lives he wants! Jesus came to set us free from darkness so we could shine light!

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Oct 30 2015

Why We Have Nightmares

Published by under Life

It’s never a pack of koala bears chasing you in your dreams. I’ve never been playfully harassed by a litter of newborn puppies as I slumbered.

No, in our dreams, we’re usually chased by some person (often a shadowy figure) intent on ending our life. Even more peculiar… there rarely seems to be any REASON why we’re being chased. During the dream, we have this emotionally powerful question inside us which is never answered: “WHAT DID I DO? WHY AM I BEING CHASED?”

So why is it we have nightmares?

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Sleep is seemingly one of the most peaceful times a human being can experince. But not even sleep is secure from satan. Even there, he and his demons seek to disrupt us. In fact, the suffix “-mare” in the word “nightmare” is an Old English word that described a goblin who tormented people in their sleep. Our ancestors knew the spiritual dimension of dreams.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Prowling. Chasing. This is what satan does. He intimidates. He terrifies. In our dreams, we haven’t done anything wrong at all. Just as a dog chases sticks, satan chases humans. It’s his nature.

When we chase kids around, it’s fun. We lumber after them to their delight and shout, “I’m gonna get you!” even as they’re yelling, “Betcha can’t get me!”

Kids don’t fear being caught in a game of chase. They know it’s fun. But when satan chases, it’s different. He has malicious intent. Once he catches someone, he destroys them.

And so most of us are terrified of being caught by death. The bible tells us that a result of Jesus coming to earth was to crush satan’s chokehold of psychological warfare.

“[Jesus] shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Slavery is a 24 hour-a-day experience. And satan tries to hold us captive in a similar way – even in our sleep. Jesus the Rescuer comes to free us from the wiles, schemes, traps, and brutality of satan.

Jesus comes to chase away the one chasing us.
It was David who was trapped in a cave and appealed to God for help in the Psalms as King Saul chased after him and tried to end his life.

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” (Psalm 57:1)

Jesus is our protection from satan. Our soul’s garage is God. Let our scary dreams be a reminder that satan wants us destroyed. And let us remember we don’t need to wield a sword against satan ourselves. This is God’s battle. We just experience it. His deliverance from evil and pain is a cause for happiness.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)

Oh, Lord, keep us safe from satan. We don’t need a life of comfort, God. That isn’t what we’re after. We want the full life Jesus talked about. We don’t really understand what that means or looks like, Lord. But we want it because it comes from your good hand. We’re lost and lonely and in trouble without you, God. Thank you for sending Jesus to chase away the enemy who chases us.

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Oct 25 2015

Antiques Road Show

Published by under Life

So this dude shows up on the TV screen and he’s like, “Yeah, this is a teapot I discovered at a garage sale four years ago and I really liked the painting of the man playing the bag pipes.”

It’s a scene from Antiques Road Show.

Then this other guy, the appraiser, looks at the teapot and says, “Wow! Well, actually, what you have here is an extremely rare Douglas McIntyre teapot. Douglas McIntyre was a Scotsman and the son of a cobbler who made shoes for wealthy aristocrats. McIntyre learned the porcelain trade from an old Viking technique. No one else during McIntrye’s time made teapots like this because they didn’t know this technique. So his teapots were very sought after in his day by all the upper-class gentry of Scotland – in fact, all of Great Britain, and even as far east as China. If you don’t mind my asking, how much did you pay for it?”

The owner replies, “Well, the funny thing is that I didn’t pay ANYTHING for it. The lady at the sale saw how much I liked it and she just gave it to me.”

The appraiser gasped! “You got it for free!? Unbelievable!! Well, do you want to know how much this teapot would fetch at auction today? In the perfect condition we see it in here, I would conservatively guess this teapot bringing in $2.8 MILLION dollars. Another McIntyre recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $2.5 million and this is in far better condition than that one.”

The SURPRISE of Antiques Road Show is what makes it so amazing. And even though this story didn’t happen (I made it up), I bet you found yourself excited at what the appraiser said (and now ANGRY at me because it’s not true :). We love the story of the cheap item that is actually worth a fortune!

But the thing we never hear about on Antiques Road Show is the story of the person who SOLD the valuable items for pennies or, crazier, gave them away. Can you imagine selling something at a garage sale that you think is trash but later realizing it’s worth millions? How must that person feel?

Oddly, I don’t think we need to strain to understand the emotion.

We all give ourselves away. Every day. We give ourselves over to eating too much, drinking too much, sexing too much, socializing too much. We give ourselves over to gaming too much, gambling too much, working too much. And those “buyers” don’t pay a cent for us. We willing give ourselves to them.

People like to call those activities vices (or more dramatically, sins), but let’s be basic in our thinking. When we “sell” ourselves to these “buyers,” we feel good at the initial sale when we put some money in our pocket. But we always end up feeling cheated by them. Why? Because we are VALUABLE BEYOND ALL UNDERSTANDING! They’re not worthy of us!

I don’t care what you look like, what you struggle with, or how you’ve failed. You’re a Ferrari. Because you’re made in God’s image. YOU are the freaking Viking-technique teapot. God says, “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4).

In a world where we’re consistently made to feel cheap and worthless and forgotten, God sits as not only our Father, but the Chief Appraiser. And how does he value us? Jesus said, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7). We’re not forgotten. We’re not cheap. And we’re not worthless. And so we need to stop giving ourselves away to things that aren’t remotely deserving.

Can you see satan laughing!? “LOOK!” he snickers to the demons on a TV show in hell called “Human Road Show.” He says, “I just got this human named James for nothing! He’s worth a fortune and he just gave himself to me because I pretended I was interested in him… Yeah, interested in DESTROYING him!” NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

FLEE FROM THE EVIL OF THIS WORLD, brothers and sisters! Get away, get away, get away. The greatest responsibility we have is ourselves. May we not give our lives away for a pittance!

“If I lose myself I lose it all.” (Naughty Boy – Runnin’)

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Oct 24 2015

Don’t Hate Yourself.

Published by under Life

Please be patient with yourself. Trying to quit something? Trying to become something? Trying to heal from pain? Consider this… The beautiful mountains of our world didn’t develop overnight. The Appalachian Mountains, for example, took 100,000 MILLENIA to become what they are today. 100,000,000 years.

And even though our society moves fast, it doesn’t mean human beings can change at society’s speed.

You know, it takes about 270 days for a woman to carry a child to birth. Guess how long it takes a female rat? 3 WEEKS. 21 days. More majesty almost always takes more time.

Occasionally, God waves the wand and does a miracle in a moment. It doesn’t often happen that way. So be patient with yourself. God is. Do you know why love is patient? Because God is. “He is patient with you” (1 Peter 3:9). He knows your struggle to quit, heal, and become. Don’t set a pace God himself doesn’t demand. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and how much greater our souls than Rome!

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