Category Archives: Lamplighter Moments
Deep into the Vale of Promise ventures a young knight, Sir Constant, who desires nothing more than to be in service of the Great King. Though unworthy of this high calling, he sets forth on the perilous road that all who desire to serve the King must take – the Splendid Way. His heart, courage, valour, and faith will be tested. His strength and endurance will be challenged. And his allegiance to the one true King will be proven. A richly dramatized allegory wrought with biblical truth.
“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” — Lamentations 3:37-40
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” — Ecclesiastes 9:10
A Message to Garcia – Over forty million copies in print! Internationally acclaimed as the most inspiring message that rallies individuals to take the INITIATIVE in doing the right thing.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” — Proverbs 16:32
“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard it.” — Mark 11:12-14
When is the last time you expected a teenager to do something great?
In today’s culture the “teen years” are, at best, “too slow!” Teenagers seem to be caught in some kind of virtual unreality that often leads them into trouble. In fact, if you Google the word “teen,” you’re likely to find categories like: teens and drugs, teens and drinking, teens and rebellion, etcetera.
In their book, Do Hard Things, teen brothers Alex and Brett Harris contend that the primary culprit for such problems is low expectations. They point out that many teens and adults believe that adolescence is a time to “have fun” – and if we give teenagers anything to do, it’s little more than homework, a few household chores, and the admonition to stay out of trouble. But we rarely give these young people a challenge that pushes them to grow up into responsible adulthood.
The Harris brothers have a completely different perspective. They are challenging their peers to “do hard things” – by stepping out of comfort zones, dreaming big about careers and how to live out their faith, and tackling opportunities that even adults would find daunting.
And the results have been extraordinary. Teens are organizing political campaigns, starting new ministries to fight human trafficking and homelessness, and initiating dialogues with thousands of other teens around the world to do more of the same. Did I say teens? I meant, these young adults; and maybe it is time for the rest of the adult world to do the same.
The apostle Paul wrote: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. William Carey wrote, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God!” Let’s start challenging our teens to live extraordinary lives through the strength of a God who is able to do exceeding abundantly far more than we could ask or think!
|Elbert Hubbard, author of Message to Garcia, writes:
“A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness. Successful people forget. They know the past is irrevocable. They’re running a race. They can’t afford to look behind. Their eye is on the finish line.
Magnanimous people forget. They’re too big to let little things disturb them . . . If anyone does them wrong, they . . . keep cool. It’s only the small people who cherish revenge. Be a good forgetter. Business dictates it, and success demands it.”
Hubbard’s passion calls to mind the words of another writer from days long past. The Apostle Paul writes:
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way . . .”(Philippians 3:13b-15a)
How does one forget what lies behind when scarred by betrayal, guilt, conflict, disappointment, and bitterness? Paul exhorts us to:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
The only way to forget the past is to be preoccupied with the blessings of the present. Truly, those who have been forgiven the most really do love the most. It’s that simple.
Today I was reading a devotional written by Oswald Chambers and it smacked me right between the eyes. Chambers said that often, Christians think that if Jesus compels them to do something, He will lead them to success in the endeavor, if only they are obedient to Him. If you agree, then you are in for a rude awakening; our dreams of success are not God’s ultimate purpose for us. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is not of primary importance. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God often sees as the goal itself.
If I can stay calm and faithful while in the middle of turmoil, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God’s purpose is the process itself.
God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience and trust are the goal, then each moment as it comes becomes the real standard of success.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:12
Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
“Why do the nations rage?” Psalm 2, written by David, is a treatise on the tension that exists between humanity and God—basically because man wants things his way. David, God’s chosen king, was placed in authority over land that God would survey from Egypt to the Euphrates River. He overthrew the wicked nations that occupied that space.
Some people loved David, and some—even his own people—hated him. But that didn’t matter. God had decreed that David would be king, and no one was going to change it. Nonetheless, the nations did try to change it; they raged, beat their war drums, and fought against David. So often we do the same. God places authorities over us and we rage, resist, and fight. When we do, we restrict God’s blessings and favor.
Psalm 2 is also a Messianic psalm. David, God’s anointed, is a picture of Jesus the Anointed One. Just as they tried to remove David, we see the same occurrence today. Nations will fight until death but will band together when it comes to God’s Anointed, especially if Jesus is at the center of attention. And they will go to the extreme to do so.
God has two responses. He either laughs at man’s ridiculous attempt to have things his way or, if man doesn’t yield, He responds in wrath. That transition from laughter to wrath reminds me of my dad when he would suddenly shift from smirking to unleashing his belt on my behind!
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a preventative measure that will restrain God from unleashing His wrath. In Psalm 2:12 David writes, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.” One who is yielded to God submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Psalm 2 is referring to the Son of God! To “kiss the Son” means to submit to His rule over your life. This is illustrated today when someone bows before a leader and kisses their hand or ring.
It’s easy to tell who rules your life. If Christ, you will be yielded to and humbled by the assignments He gives. If you want things your way, you will resist, rage, and fight. If you find yourself currently resisting, fighting, or raging, it is time to surrender and “kiss the Son” lest He be angry!
|Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Facing difficult assignments? Mark recommends reading these inspirational devotionals written by 17th and 19th century theologians Francois Fenelon and J. C. Ryle.
In Luke 7 Jesus asks an unusual question: “What did you come out to see? A reed shaken in the wind?” For years this question eluded me.
To understand these questions, we need to look at the context. John the Baptist had just sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one to come or should they look for another. John is in prison, and it appears that he is having some doubts as to whether Jesus is really the Messiah. If Jesus was the Messiah, then John was probably wondering why he wasn’t acting very kingly and why Rome was still in charge. I can imagine John hearing reports about Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. It wouldn’t be too difficult for him to imagine the worst about Jesus.
I think it is fair to say that the last time John saw Jesus was at His baptism when He proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Just a year or two later, John is perplexed and bewildered about who this Jesus really is.
In Luke 7, Jesus never gives John’s disciples an answer as to who He really is. All He does is heal people and then tell them to report to John what they saw. While John’s disciples depart, Jesus tells the crowd that there is none greater than John the Baptist. At this point Jesus then turns to the crowd with this rebuking question: “What did you come out to see? A reed shaken in the wind?”
In ancient Israel they grew reeds similar to sugar cane. These sugar cane reeds bowed nearly to the ground during the heat of the day. At night, with the cool breeze of the Mediterranean, the reeds would rise again. This phenomenon was a crowd-gathering event. Families came out to see the reeds rise in the wind. Then they would return home, no different then when they had arrived.
This is what Jesus was trying to communicate to them. They heard John in the wilderness. It was an event that attracted a tribal gathering. But they were no different after they heard his admonition to repent and be baptized. Now when the people come to see Jesus, the same thing occurs. They go from event to event but are never truly changed.
When you hear God’s Word, what do you go out to see? Hopefully our focus is not on the eloquence of the preacher or on the clothes people wear, but rather a demonstration of the power of God to redeem us and change the way we think and the way we act.
|Making ready a people prepared for the Lord,