Tag Archives: light

Let It Shine

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (HCSB)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 (NIV)

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I love singing the children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine” with my grandgirlies:

Verse 1: This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

All the time.

Verse 2: Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Verse 3: Won’t let Satan blow it out

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Even if the girlies don’t know all the words, they know all the motions and how to hide their light (index finger) under a bushel (hand covering the finger) and how to blow it out.

The daily goal of the Christian life is to walk in that light but, sometimes, we find ourselves in the shadows.

My counselor mentioned the term “shadow self” during one of our sessions and it was unfamiliar to me. I began to pay attention as I read various blogs, posts, tweets, and then did a little research on the subject.

As a believer, I know that in Christ all things were made new when I accepted Christ as my Savior. The sins I commit today are forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty for them on the cross. However, I’m still human and live in an imperfect body for the duration of my sojourn on earth. My perfection will only be attained on the shores of heaven.

So what is the shadow? It’s that part of ourselves that we keep hidden, often not even aware that it’s there. Many aspects are not the favorite parts of ourselves but shape our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions. But getting to know our shadow side is like cracking the code to the “why” of some of our actions and becoming aware of changes that need to be made.

Every day, we have the choice to walk away from Christ’s light and the balance He offers and right into the plan of the enemy. It’s Satan who wants to keep us in the shadows with our darkest self. But, over and over again, Jesus reminds His followers that He is the light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Reflecting on all of this, I’m reminded that I don’t have to stay stuck. Grace and forgiveness allow God to make all things new— to refine and purify me—so that those very shadowy aspects will be used for His glory and purpose. My part is to turn to Him daily and trust Him to dispel the shadow so that I will walk in the light and “let it shine.”

 

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Change It Up

 

Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. Acts 10:27-29 (The Message)

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Personality? Temperament? Nature? Nurture? Birth Order? I’m never quite sure why I react or respond like I do. There are some things in my life that once they are set, I don’t want to change — moving furniture around in a room, as an example. But don’t ask me about hair dressers.

Mark could wear and buy the same blue shirt every time. I’m all about color, style, comfort, uniqueness — never the same thing twice. Ask him about learning to drive the streets in California after he first moved there. He never knew which was was home because I never drove home the same way. (Now there is only one way in and one way out.)

I like to change it up. Variety adds spice to my life. Yet, I was raised in a very rigid home and church. Rules were the rules. And as a firstborn, I followed them all.

The apostle, Peter, was also used to following rules but God had other plans for him. It took three times, with the same vision, for Peter to understand that God had something important for him to do, different from his usual. He listened and obeyed with great results for the Kingdom.

The Christian community in Charleston is suffering and mourning as a result of one man being rigid and hateful. Isn’t it interesting that God’s name, grace, forgiveness, love and mercy are all over the TV right now?

Tolerance has been redefined to mean that we leave God out of our lexicon or a lawsuit is on the horizon. Forgiveness? Not! On our own, it’s impossible. We want justice—or maybe revenge. Love doesn’t even enter our minds. But in this time of tragedy, God is the source of comfort and, more importantly, forgiveness.

Commentators and pundits are amazed at the forgiveness offered by the Christian families of those lost. What they don’t understand is that it’s God’s love within a person that allows and offers forgiveness. Have you discovered God’s unfailing love for you?

As believers, let’s change it up and show our neighbor what this God-love is all about.

I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (The Message)

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Light up my Darkness

O Lord, you are my lamp.
    The Lord lights up my darkness.

In your strength I can crush an army;
    with my God I can scale any wall.

2 Samuel 22:29-30 (NLT) 

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Some things you learn by experience, others by trial and error, and some through education. My hope is that this post will be both helpful and encouraging to you.

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This was not a surprise since both of my parents had suffered with it — my mother had the wet and my father, the dry. My initial diagnosis was the dry kind for which there is no treatment other than vitamins containing Lutein and regular check-ups.

Early last year, my opthamologist announced, at the end of his annual examination, that I would not be driving in five years. What a blow! I drove to a nearby mall, sat on the first bench I found, and wept.

A few days later, I mentioned my distress during an appointment with my primary care doctor and she suggested I get a second opinion with a retina specialist at University Medical Center. My exam with the new doctor confirmed that I have AMD but he didn’t think it was a dire as predicted. Thank you, God.

Life, with its broken foot and respiratory illness, kept me inside most of the winter. However, when I started driving again, my vision just seemed to be off. I thought I needed a change in contacts. However, when I got home, I checked the Amsler Grid and instead of straight vertical and horizontal lines, they were all wound tightly in a circle. Of course, it was a Saturday, but Monday morning I headed to the doctor.

After a battery of tests, he reported that my left eye had changed from dry AMD to wet. I realized I had been holding my breath and when he paused, I burst into tears. This time, however, I knew a little something about the wet — it was treatable. My mother had been part of the clinical trials for Lucentis, a solution that is injected directly into the eye that closes the leaking blood vessels and restores the vision.

So began a series of three injections from February to May. A vision check revealed that my eyesight was back to normal and I could finally get a new prescription and glasses that would work.

Or so I thought. When the glasses arrived, I still couldn’t see well. The refraction was redone and a few changes made. More waiting.

During this time, we flew to California for Kate’s graduation. I noticed that a blackened area had developed in my line of vision and when I checked the Amsler Grip, it was distorted. I knew we had a problem.

The morning after we returned, I was again at the doctor’s office. Same tests. Same result—fluid was back in my left eye. Same treatment.

There are a couple of schools of thought on this problem. Some doctors automatically give an injection every month. My doctor is of the mind to give a series, check, and then hope that the eye will heal itself. We will see. (no pun intended.)

The new glasses arrived and the vision is still distorted but the doctor assures me it will get better and the optometrist is going to work with me to find the right prescription.

I’m usually a pretty optimistic person but this has all been very difficult. I watched my dad suffer to the end with near blindness. My mom died soon after completing the trials and never really enjoyed the better vision. The loss of independence is my greatest fear.

But God. He is so faithful to supply just the people and encouragement that I need each day. I had the right doctor to call when I needed it. I have a dear friend who has spent her entire career teaching newly blind adults. She assures me that I can do it.

I ran across Jennifer Rothschild on Facebook and am reading her book, God is Just Not Fair, Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. An eye disease rendered Jennifer blind at the age of 16. Yet, she lives a full life as a speaker, writer, singer, wife, mother. She writes honestly about her frustration and weariness of blindness but her encouragement speaks to my heart.

My family and friends are with me every step of the way.

And in the end, I have hope when I read, “O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.” He is there and this is part of His plan. I will trust that His way is best.

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One Little Critter

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. I Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

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I like my car but I know nothing about the workings of the engine and depend on the service guy to keep me going.

I often listen to the local radio station when I wake up to get the news and weather. On Saturdays, the show that follows is called, “Simmons Car Care.” The two hosts banter back and forth about car things but the subject this morning was pack rats. At first, I couldn’t figure out why this was the lead story. To my amazement, this is a problem in Tucson. Pack rats look for safe, protected places to build their nests. Who knew that a car engine was a good place? They bring in bits of cholla cactus, mesquite beans, the insulation from the hood of the car, and build a nice comfy home for their babies. You notice the problem when suddenly your car won’t start. They create chaos for the wiring from all the junk and gnawing around and completely disable your car.

So how do you fix it? Not easily. It’s necessary to physically remove all the debris and excrement, lysol the area, and add a predator scent, i.e., coyote or fox. Sometimes, a light is required to scare them off. One car was totaled by the insurance company due to the amount of debris and damage. And the worst part is that they return every year now that they have found such a nice place to stay. They also recommended a 40 yard perimeter of clearing around the area where the car is parked. Feisty critters.

Why am I telling you this story? Because the Devil is out and about, checking for openings where he can settle in and destroy your heart. He will test you with a little temptation or lie to see if he can get your attention. Nothing big. After all, he doesn’t come as a red devil with a pitchfork that would frighten us but rather as the Angel of Light to deceive us. He grabbed Eve and offered her power he didn’t have to give. One tiny opening is all he needs to gain access and the next thing we know, our heart and life are full of lies, anger, bitterness, and death.

Our cleansing process is much like the car. God has promised to give us a new heart when we confess our sins to Him, and turn around and go back the right way. He may not use Lysol but His blood washes away every bit of filth that has interfered with our relationship with Him. He jumpstarts our life so that life replaces death, and lights our way showing which path to take. That engine has sparked to life.

It might be a good idea to put up some boundaries for that scamp, the Devil. Be careful about what you read, view, listen to, where you go, who you spend your time with. Be on guard. Be vigilant. Don’t be afraid.

Remember, “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

 

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Darkness Into Light

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16 (NIV)

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 I love springtime. I had no idea when we moved to the desert that this brown landscape would fill with color, each cactus with its own particular flower. One of my favorite tasks after the cold, dreary, dark winter months is to replenish my pots with brilliant blooms. This year they glow red, yellow, and white. It warms my heart to look out on the courtyard and see them waving in the breeze.

This has been an especially dark year with only glimpses of light: not only in my house but those of my family and friends, and even our nation. Once again, bombs in Boston rock our security and bring destruction to families. The consequences of those acts of violence will last forever.

A friend struggles with the darkness of separation and divorce. Children are confused and angry, grandparents shuffle children between meeting spots wondering how did it get to this, friends are caught in the middle.

Depression has sucked Mark back into the pit over and over this year. There’s lots of talk about mental illness these days but for those who suffer from it, talk is cheap. New laws will not help and those who love them, watch and wait, hoping for a new treatment or medication to help them out of the darkness.

Hope is my word for 2013. Without hope, there is no reason to go on. However, God is faithful to His promise to “turn the darkness into light and make the rough places smooth.” I know that He does this for me, usually in ways that I might not choose, but the outcome is for my hope and future. Because my hope is in Him, I will be thankful for today, waiting with anticipation for what is just around the corner.

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