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“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

light in darknessHave you ever had one of those nights when you lay awake waiting for morning because daylight may be the only relief you get from the worry in your heart and soul? You breathed a sigh of relief of seeing the first glimmer of dawn because it signaled the dawn of a new day and hopefully respite from your pain?

Have you ever been under attack for your faith? Even though you had complete faith in what God’s word said, you watched as people you loved and respected seemed to turn away. The loneliness was harsh and your emotions ranged from pain (for what was being done to Jesus) to anger (because when attacked, anger is the easiest emotion).

Have you suffered through the loss of a loved one? Even though you knew they were in the arms of Jesus. Even though you knew they were without pain. Even though you knew that someday you would be reunited again and rejoice for eternity. Even though you knew all those things, the pain was still unbearable?

Have you ever watched the news with horror as sin was celebrated as normal and everything you knew pleased your Lord and Savior was being mocked, ridiculed and scorned? In the midst of it all, you felt completely helpless. Like Noah, you watched society fail and the raindrops begin to fall?

Here’s some good news. You were never called to conquer the world. Jesus will take care of that. You were never commissioned to be the one to turn the tide of events. That has already been planned out.

All we were called to do is shine. That’s it. Just shine. John writes in his first epistle that God is light. No darkness, just light (1 John 1:5). Jesus tells us that we are lights on a hill, like a city on a hill that is impossible to hide.

Remember this the next time the darkness seems to creep in around you. The deeper the darkness, the brighter even the smallest light will shine. No amount of darkness will ever be able to subdue, conquer or change the effectiveness of light.

I have a favorite campground in far northern Minnesota. A few years ago I was sitting on the shore late at night. The stars were amazing. In the distance I saw the small flicker of a campfire on an island on the other side of the lake. Just a small fire, yet it was clearly visible in the darkness.

Be a light for Jesus. Let God’s Spirit determine your effectiveness. Just shine. Shine because of the God within you, not because of the gods surrounding you. Your God is greater!

PRAYER: Father God. I confess that I worry rather than trust; that I doubt when I should have faith; that I am afraid when I should be confident and that I get discouraged when I could be encouraged by the fact you are in control. For today, let my light shine for you regardless of the darkness around me. Amen.


peace on earthSuddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14

I heard the bells on Christmas day, Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet, their words repeat, Peace on earth, goodwill to men

I thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along in unbroken song, Peace on earth, goodwill to men

The Christmas season always has a bit of a romantic, nostalgia to it. I love the atmosphere artists and musicians have portrayed of warm cozy fires, family celebrations and kisses under the mistletoe. Traditionally Christmas, followed by New Years, is a time of new beginnings and hope.

And in despair I bowed my head, There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song, Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

Reality hits hard. We’ve lost a sense of innocence and security over the years. That truth has come harshly in the past couple weeks with the tragedy in Paris, San Bernadino and London. School shootings have become so common place that if we aren’t careful, we see them as the norm. Families are in trouble. The economy is in trouble. It seems like everyone either has cancer or knows someone being attacked by this disease. It’s no wonder it’s easy to get discouraged by what we see and hear daily on the news and in our circles.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, goodwill to men.

A recent headline in an Los Angeles paper screamed, GOD CAN’T FIX THIS! It’s easy to understand the author’s frustration. The fact of the matter is, God didn’t break it. We did. The Psalmist expresses similar feelings in several places in the Psalms. My favorite is Psalm 13:1-2 where he pleads with a seemingly absent God. “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” And we echo the question? How Long?

While we may never be able to understand why God allows tragedies in our lives, I’m reminded of what the Apostle Peter said just after many of Jesus’ followers left him. Jesus asks, “Will you leave too?” Peter’s response is classic. He says “Where else do we go?” In other words, what other choice do we have.

Throughout history man has found new ways to destroy the peace Jesus came to give us. But too often we fail to realize that inner peace is available to us now through faith in Christ. Can God ‘fix this?’ Yes, some day every knee shall bow. Every single knee of every religion, every ethnic group, every denomination, every political party. Every knee will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, there are so many times when I get discouraged by what I see around me. Fear and doubt set in assisted by anger. Help me to move on knowing you are with me and will strengthen me no matter how bad the battle becomes. In Jesus name, Amen.



The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. Habakkuk 1:5

20151017_152407A friend tells the story of his encounter with a bear one fall day. He’d gone to his hunting land and walked the quarter mile trail into the forest. He climbed his stand and sat quietly waiting and watching for a deer. He made mental notes of which shooting lanes should be trimmed.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of rustling leaves. At first he thought it was a deer, but quickly decided the sound was too loud for a deer. It sounded more like human feet and this angered him. The land was clearly marked as private property and with NO TRESPASSING signs. It was approaching dusk, so he decided it was a good time to climb down, confront the intruder and head home.

He stood up and saw a dark form approaching his tree. This was the noise maker. This was the ‘intruder’. However, he immediately decided confrontation would not be wise since the trespasser was a black bear that he estimated to be 500 pounds! He hollered at the bear hoping to scare if off but the opposite happened. The bear got closer to the tree and once at the bottom decided to climb up and investigate this noise-maker!

Needless to say, my friend was terrified as the huge bear began to climb the tree effortlessly. His screaming grew more intense and he began to jump on the floor of his stand hoping to make as much noise as possible. Whether it was the noise, disinterest of the prayers being offered up in fear we’ll never know. But just below the stand the bear decided he’d had enough. He lowered himself down the tree and wandered into the woods.

My friend made record time getting down the tree and back to his car!

There are times in each of our lives when we may feel trapped by our circumstances. Like my friend we come face to face with things in our lives we aren’t prepared for and seem way beyond our ability to conquer. It’s during those times we need to remember who we serve.

The prophet Habakkuk served Israel during a time of national despair. The enemy surrounded them and they were without hope. It was during this dark hour that God spoke to him, as he does today. “Don’t be afraid! Wait to see what I have in store! Your enemy will be completely subdued by my power” (my paraphrase, obviously).

The military has a doctrine they refer to as shock and awe. Simply put, Shock and Awe is defined as “the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.”

Whatever enemy is attacking you; whatever fear is rising up within you, remember this. We serve a God who will one day conquer our enemies. They will be so overwhelmed by what they see that their will to fight will be destroyed and they will bow their knee in submission.

Don’t fear the one who can take your life. Align yourself with the one who determines the destiny of your soul.

PRAYER: Father God, creator of heaven and earth. There are those who threaten to destroy us. There are those who seek to weaken our resolve to rely on you. Help us, through the power of your Spirit to rest in the fact that one day you will reign over evil. Until then, keep our minds stayed on you and our hearts at peace. Amen.


I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

A particular hamburger chain ran a series of commercials a few years back in which an elderly woman looked into the bun of a competing hamburger chain and asked the question, “Where’s the beef?”

Today, the question may well be rephrased, “Where’s the peace?” It seems as though our world is coming apart at the seams politically, socially and spiritually. Things we once felt secure are, at best on shaky ground. Add to those struggles the fact that cancer, disease and natural disasters seem to be rampant as well and we have a pretty bleak picture of the world as we know it.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Those were turbulent times for our nation. Race riots, drug addiction, war protests and other social upheaval seemed to signal the end of the world…oh, yeah, and God died too! That didn’t help anything at all!

Times of unrest foster fear, worry and despair in all of us. Even those of us who ‘know’ who is in ultimate control question sometimes if he really is aware of what’s going on.

A story is making the rounds about a particular airline that went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure a woman whose son was in a coma was able to change flights (at no cost) and go see her son. The story illustrates how God works in our lives. She had no idea why she was being called off the plane. She had no idea what was going on in the background to get her to see her son. Yet, while she waited for her flight, plans were already underway to help her.

One day Jesus was teaching his disciples about terrible things that would happen to him and them in the future. Then he leaves them, and us, with this two-fold promise: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Later, his disciple, Peter would write, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Slide1What lessons can we learn from these two sections of scripture? First of all, trouble in this world should not surprise us. It doesn’t surprise God. In fact, Jesus has already been to your tomorrows. He’s seen the struggles. He’s seen your failures and the failures of those who have hurt you.  He’s not surprised by any of this in the smallest sense of the word.

The second lesson is that He’s already taken care of things. We should be prepared for tough times this side of heaven. Times in which we will fail, or be hurt and misunderstood. There will be times we feel completely defeated. But take heart. Jesus has overcome and through his power working through you, you will overcome too!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to see me through what lay ahead. I’m scared, confused and lonely. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an overcomer regardless of what I face today. Amen.


And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11 (NLT)

do by selfMy daughter showed her independence at a very young age. When it came time to put her coat on she would refuse help by stating in a very emphatic way “Do Byself” which translated as “I’ll do it by myself!” She had far more confidence in herself than we had. We learned early on to give her a couple minutes to get ready because it took her longer without our help.

As parents the idea of independence can be bittersweet for some of us. On the one hand, we all obviously want our children to grow up to think for themselves and be independent. But on the other hand, in reality, during those times of solitude we have to admit it’s hard to see them get to the point when ‘we are no longer needed’. For example when we see our ‘little girls’ or ‘little boys’ drive away in the car for the first time alone.

Independence is a good thing in many areas and our society applauds it. But there are some times when independence isn’t profitable. In the mid-60’s Simon and Garfunkel made a song popular that celebrated independence. “I am a Rock” proclaimed the gospel of not needing anyone for anything. An Island is completely self-sufficient. A Rock can’t be hurt by feelings of inadequacy and can weather even the most violent storms.

While the words made for a good song, independence in the spiritual realm isn’t profitable or even wise. The Apostle Paul and his troop of missionaries/ministers was going through a terrible ordeal. They were under constant attack to the point where they feared for their lives. In spite of the danger, they survived and Paul gave credit for their survival to the power of prayer and not just the prayers of his men, but the prayers of others that knew of him and lifted him up to the Father.

Somehow in the Christian life we’ve bought into the idea that to ask for help is a sign of weakness. Or maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been burned by ‘well-meaning friends’ who take our private requests and make them public or use them as a soapbox to try to fix us. (If you aren’t sure what I mean, read the story of Job and his ‘helpful friends’.)

Once our trust in others has been damaged by others it’s admittedly hard to ask for help. Especially in the matter of prayer when our requests are sensitive. There is perhaps no one in the Bible with a more fiery personality than the Apostle Paul. He was a man’s man. He was a leader. He was about as independent as they came. However, when it came to spiritual matters, I doubt very much that Paul had a ‘Do Byself’ attitude.

Paul knew the importance of surrounding himself with trusted people who would lift him to the throne of grace for strength, wisdom and protection. Each of his prayer partners had a part in his ministry as he states in today’s verse. It’s as if Paul is saying, “many people will be thankful because you prayed for us.”

Have a struggle coming up that you don’t know how to handle? Not sure what the future holds or which direction you need to turn? Surround yourself with people you can trust to pray for you objectively and without judgment.

PRAYER: Dear God. I don’t always ask for help very well. I have far too much confidence in my own abilities. I hesitate to ask others to pray because I don’t want to look weak. Provide me with people I can trust to strengthen me through prayer. Give me the courage to ask for help when I need it. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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