Monday, September 26, 2011

I Am...the Light of the World!

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

We have lived a lot of places where it’s quite common to lose electricity.  About 90% of the time, it seems to happen at night.  It has to be one of Murphy’s Laws: When electricity goes out, it will be after dark.  No normal human likes darkness.  It’s difficult to navigate in the dark.  It’s impossible to find what you’re looking for.  It’s easy to get hurt.  Evil seems to be more “present.”  It’s a known fact that being in the dark is a much more frightening place.  A quick internet research shows that psychologists tell us the reason people are afraid of the dark is because “sounds lose their connection and uneasy suspicions are created.”  Personally, I don’t care what reason they come up with psychologically, or scientifically, I just know I do not like the dark.

That’s why in my house, we keep flashlights within quick, easy reach.  Every room is equipped with oil lamps.  The cupboard is full of candles.  When it comes to losing electricity, I earn the Girl Scout badge for being prepared.  All it takes is just one little light, and my heart stops racing, my mind settles down, and I am at rest.  If you think I’m bad now, you should have seen what I was like as a little girl...

One little light makes a difference.  Light is warm as it embraces us.  Light gives direction and puts everything back into perspective.  Light eliminates fear.  Light reveals what is around me, enabling me to stay relatively safe.  I’ve read that light is a natural, proactive source that wars against depression.  Light drives out evil.  Everyone is attracted to light – even bugs.

Jesus isn’t just one little candle lit in the dark.  He is the light of the world.  That’s a lot of light!  Even the sun can't light the whole world.  Think what that kind of light can accomplish in us when we allow ourselves to step into it! 

Probably what leaves me most speechless is that THE LIGHT places HIS LIGHT inside of me.  THE LIGHT taught, “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16).”

This, too, is my prayer...So be it! 

(A) He is THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD  +  (B)  I am LIGHT  =  (C)  I can make a difference in my world.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Am...the Resurrection!

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.”
John 11:25

The finality of death is so drastic.  We are cut off, severed, completely void of all connections.  We deeply grieve the loss of ones we love; and, it’s definitely just as difficult to deal with the death of dreams.  Whatever form death takes, it takes its toll on our hearts.  I know; I’ve experienced all kinds of death.  There’s rarely anything good to be said about death... 

BUT, JESUS!  There’s the exception to the above.  He is the exception to the rule.  He is not just a resurrection sort of guy (as in having been raised to life again).  He IS the RESURRECTION.  I love this statement: 
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54).  That’s the concept of resurrection in a nutshell.  The full impact of resurrection stated simply in six words. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Grieving is a good emotion.  It’s the bridge we cross as we process death.  We all must pass over that bridge.  However, without the good news that Jesus is The Resurrection, we’d jump off the bridge.  There has to be hope on the other side; and, there is!  Not just hope, but unconquerable victory.  Joy leaping, song singing, heels clicking new life.  We call that new life:  HEAVEN.  And, it’s heaven, because THE RESURRECTION, Jesus, is present, in His fullness, in front of our eyes.  At last, we see Him.  At last, all becomes clear (no more staring at life as in a mirror dimly).  No more sorrow.  No more pain.  No more death.

Hearing those words in the midst of the process of grieving doesn’t feel hopeful.  Being reminded of this truth about Jesus, while we hurt, doesn’t help.  Truth in the midst of pain is trite.  Nothing more than a platitude.  So, right now, on this side of the death of a loved one, or the death of a dream, settle this theology in your mind.  Knowing it today (really “knowing” it) will help the process tomorrow. 


(A)  He is THE RESURRECTION  +  (B)  I am ALIVE FOREVERMORE in Him  =  (C)  Joy in the midst of loss.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Am...the Life!

Let’s finish the rest of John 14:6.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life...”  He repeated that statement to Martha in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life...”  

Jesus was all about life.  A chapter earlier, while teaching his disciples, he contrasted himself with the thief who comes to steal away our joy, kill and destroy in multiple ways.  “I am come that you might have life, and might have it abundantly.”

Jesus doesn’t just want us to have life, but to experience it in great measure. 

Random thought.  When I was a little girl, my mother used to curtail my eating (usually of junk food) with this statement, “You have had enough, any more would be superfluous.”  I didn’t know what that meant, but I figured it must be A LOT (honestly, I am not even sure she knew what it meant).   Indeed, it did mean A LOT...some synonyms we might understand are: extra, surplus, excessive, profuse, plentiful, more than abundant. 

Ah...more than abundant.  That’s the kind of life Jesus came to give us.  Sadly, I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of girl.  Sometimes, I fear my focus is entirely on the empty part, instead of the full part of life.  This is, yet another, manipulative method of the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy our ability to be grateful. 

Wasn’t that the enemy’s tactics in the Garden of Eden?  Focus on what you can’t have...not what you do have:  a garden full of amazing fruit trees.  Ingrate!  I have begun to realize that I am never more like the enemy of my soul, than when I am ungrateful. 

Jesus has brought me abundant life...Over the last year (actually, since the fall of 2010, when I was writing an “email from Eve” for a breakout chapel), the Lord keeps reminding me that a forgotten discipline is that of developing an attitude of gratitude.  As I do, the reality of this abundant life, seeps through my pores, and into my life!  Attitudes of gratitude are contagious.

(A)  He is THE LIFE  +  (B)  I am BLESSED  =  (C)  An Attitude of Gratitude.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Am...the Truth, #2

I realize we’ve already looked at Jesus’ statement about Himself in John 14:16, “I am the way, the truth...”  However, bear with me.  There’s more, I think, needs to be said about this FACT.

If Jesus is THE TRUTH, then He cannot lie.
If Jesus is THE TRUTH, then what He says He will do, He has to fulfill.
If Jesus is THE TRUTH, then I can take what He says to the bank, and live as if it is TRUE, even if circumstances around me tell me differently.

Right?  Of course, right!

The question, however, is do I?  Do I live like I know His words will be fulfilled?  This is where I see a total disconnect in my life and figure I am probably not alone.

Often times my circumstances drown out THE TRUTH.  Sometimes, the way I feel drowns out THE TRUTH.  Now and then, what I hear from the media, read in books, and see in my culture, drowns out THE TRUTH.  Other voices are much louder than THE TRUTH.  Because they are louder, they appear to be true, when, in fact, they are downright lies.  The father of lies is very manipulative in that way.  What screams the loudest always gets my attention. 

When this happens, I lose hope.  I know that happens to you, as well.  I know that, because I am journeying alongside several of you, who have lost hope and are longing to see it renewed.  Hope is only renewed by focusing on THE TRUTH (Isaiah 40:31).  TRUTH only is heard when we are silent enough, and still enough to listen (Ps. 46:10). 

With that in mind, God sort of (in His very gentle way) slapped me upside the head with these words from King David (who seemed to frequently lose hope):

But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more. (Ps 71:14). 

A couple of things rattled around in my brain:  Finding hope is an intentional act of the will.  It is a continual process (never stops).  Hope’s intentionality is in spite of what others say, the way I feel, or what I observe in my circumstances.  Hope rests on THE TRUTH; and, THE TRUTH be praised in increasing value.

I hope you are encouraged, because I am.

(A)  He is THE TRUTH  +  (B)  I AM HOPE-FULL  =  (C)  I live what is true no matter what!!!