Faith in the Dark

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To Trust God in the light is nothing,
but trust him in the dark -that is faith. C.H. Spurgeon

Have you ever traveled the open sea at night, perhaps on a cruise ship or even a sailboat? It can be pretty relaxing and even romantic when the wind is calm and a clear sky unveils a full glowing moon along with glittering diamond-like stars. But it can also be a rather scary and dangerous experience when stormy weather ruffles the waters and blocks every possible external light. It’s quite comforting to ride on smooth and lighted seas trusting that the Captain or helmsman is in full control. However, when navigating through dark and rough waters even the bravest passenger’s heart will skip a beat causing him or her to pray that those driving the ship know exactly what they are doing.

It’s easy to exercise faith during difficult times when there is someone around who can provide encouragement and support. But what happens when seemingly unbearable trials obstruct every possible ray of hope and there is no human contact to rely on? Faith is much more than trusting audible and tangible sources of comfort. True faith is made evident when we experience a challenging situation all by ourselves and are left to fully trust in no one else but God. In moments like these, God’s word serves as a lighthouse to guide us safely to tranquil shores for it is the light that never fades, even in the darkest hour. When all lights go out, open the Bible and let God’s word guide you through the dark waters and into His glorious presence where there is renewed peace, hope, and strength.

Prayer: Everpresent God, thank you for the people you have placed in my life to encourage me during difficult times. But if I must face even greater trials all by myself remind me that in your word I can find the peace, the guidance, and the strength I need to carry on. May I treasure your word in my heart and meditate on it every day. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”  -Proverbs 12:25
 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”…” -Hebrews 3:13
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” -Psalm 73:25
 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” -Psalm 119:105
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4
 *All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible NIV

What’s in a Shadow? (Pt. 2)

Lighthouse Sunrise and Shadow

“How sweetly you bring light. You’re the ray of the sun
and I’m the shade of a shadow”  – Shade of a Shadow by Teitur

From mythology to astrology and folklore to Psychology shadows inspire a variety of symbolisms. Because a shadow is associated with darkness it often represents something evil. However, since a shadow cannot exist without light it can also represent something good. The most encouraging symbolic meaning attributed to a shadow can be found in Scriptures where it is associated with God’s protection. Consider these verses and how they can remind you that God is your protector.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1. To dwell in God’s shelter is to be in his presence continuously. It is to acknowledge that He is Omnipresent and therefore you ought to intentionally include him in both your public and private life. If you allow God to be a part of your daily thoughts, plans and actions you will experience peace in every situation, especially when your heart grows weary.

Priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 36:7. No amount of money, good deeds, or sacrifice could ever pay for God’s love. You will never understand how much He really loves you, but you can get a glimpse of the immensity of that love at Calvary’s cross. Becuase of this great love you can confidently run to him and find protection in times of trouble.

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. -Psalm 63:7. Not only can you find rest and safety under the shadow of our God, but you can also find joy. His hand is always stretched out to guide you and sustain you. This is more than enough reason to sing shouts of victory and praise unto Him no matter the circumstances that surround you.  

Prayer: Oh Most High God, you are my shelter, my protector, and my ever present help in times of need. In you I find rest. In you I am safe. In you I have joy. I surrender all that I am to you and take comfort in knowing that you will guide me, strengthen me and protect me no matter what I go through. In Jesus’ name I pray amen.

 -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV unless otherwise stated.

What’s In a Shadow? (Pt.1)

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How would you define reputation? How about character? And what comes to mind when you hear the word integrity?

Can you guess what the dark image on this photo is? From its shape, and because you already know what this blog is all about, you should be able to tell that it is the shadow of a lighthouse. However, what you cannot tell is the color of the actual structure or what condition it’s in. In other words, you don’t know if the lighthouse is well kept and functional or if it’s broken and deteriorating.

The structural condition of a lighthouse, both inside and out, is crucial for its function as a beacon of hope. In addition to a good outer paint job the lighthouse’s tower walls, windows, staircase, and gallery deck must all be well maintained. Plus, in order for it to be considered fully functional, its light source must be operational. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than a concrete landmark.

For me, reputation is like the shadow of a lighthouse, character is what the lighthouse actually looks like from the outside, and integrity is the true condition of its structure and its parts and how well they function. Our reputation is established by the image that our actions cast upon the world. Our character is built and strengthened by our interpersonal relationships with others. Our integrity, on the other hand, is the true condition of our heart and how well it sustains us during challenging times. So, let the light of Christ continuously cast the shadow of his love and compassion through your deeds. Communicate with people in such a way that they see you for who you really are. And let your motives stem from an intimate relationship with God so that you can fulfill your purpose and honor Him in everything you do, especially when no one is watching.

Prayer: Father in heaven, let my life cast an image of You upon the lives of those around me. Let my actions declare the transforming power of your grace. And may the desires of my heart be your desires, so that in everything that I do I may bring honor and praise to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” – John 2:6 (NASB)
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:3 (NIV)
“Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” – Psalm 41:12
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV unless otherwise stated.

 

 

Haunted Lighthouses

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A lighthouse is fascinating in general, but add a little eerie twist to its history and it becomes an even more interesting conversation piece especially for those who like mystery and suspense. One quick internet search will reveal hundreds of stories about “haunted” lighthouses. However, in light of Scriptures, they are nothing more than sensational stories inspired by fear and superstition. And although we can dismiss such stories as legends and lore, being haunted can be a real experience resulting from images and reminders of our hurtful and sinful past.

Just like lighthouses, we can be bright guiding towers when we are connected to Christ, but we can also become like dark disenchanting ones when we are haunted by our past. The Bible says that when we turn our lives over to Christ we become new creations and that the old (way of life) is passed away. However, since God is the only One who can completely forget our past transgressions the memories of our bad choices and experiences can, from time to time, come back to rob us of our peace and joy. It is during these times that the enemy of our soul takes advantage and uses our past to condemn, weaken, and grieve us emotionally as well as spiritually. But remember, neither the Devil nor our haunting past can actually harm us. When Satan reminds you of your past remind him of his future! Don’t allow unpleasant or regretful memories to extinguish the light of Christ in you. Keep it shining by confessing his written word and by seeking godly counsel. Run towards the cross, not away from it. The redeeming power of Jesus’ blood not only cleanses us from all sin but it also removes the webs of guilt, clears the fog of shame and restores the light of hope.

It was King David who, in the midst of being haunted by his past, was led by God’s Spirit to pen some of the most encouraging Psalms. The Bible says that God makes all things work in favor of those who love Him. Yes, even the haunting effects of our past can be used by God to accomplish His purpose in our lives. This reminds me of a powerful quote I once saw on FB. It read, “Only Jesus can turn a MESS into a MESSAGE, a TEST into a TESTIMONY, a TRIAL into a TRIUMPH, a VICTIM into a VICTORY!

Prayer: Blessed Lord, when my past comes to haunt me remind me that it no longer has power over me for I am a new creation in You. I believe that I no longer stand condemned and therefore ask that you deliver me from any haunting thoughts that would seek to destroy my peace.  I believe that you can and will use all of my life experiences to help me grow spiritually and to fulfill your perfect plan for my life.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12
“..no weapon forged against you will prevail…” -Isaiah 54:17a
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” -Isaiah 43:18
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

The Church is a Lighthouse

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Pictured above is the beautiful St. Nicholas Church-Lighthouse in Malorichenske, Ukraine. It was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, and was built as a tribute to the memory of sailors, fishermen and travelers who have been victims of the sea. The building includes a museum with a memorial wall that holds the nameplates of people who have died in sea-related accidents. Visiting this lighthouse is definitely on my Bucket List.

The design of the St. Nicholas Church-Lighthouse reminds me of the unity that is characteristic of the body of Christ. First, the building is crowned with a golden cross. This, of course, symbolizes Jesus, the One whom we proclaim as Lord and Savior and the reason why the church exists in the first place. Then, beneath the cross, there is globe-like structure. This symbolizes the world (people) whom we are called to share God’s love with. The lantern is located right under the globe and it represents the Word of God, which we ought to read, study and live out so that it may shine in and through us. On the next level is the bell tower. The bell ring symbolizes the life-changing message (sound) of the Good News of salvation, which we must obediently proclaim to the world. Beneath that is the actual sanctuary where people gather to pray. This represents the fellowship of believers as they join together in one voice to worship God. Finally, the lower level of the complex holds a commemorative museum made up of 16 rooms, each telling different stories about tragedies at sea. These represent the countless lives and testimonies of those who have gone before us, many suffering martyrdom, in order that others may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

We are all an integral part of the body of Christ. Therefore, we should not forsake gathering with other believers to corporately worship God and to love on one another. Individually we are called to shine the light of Christ on those around us, but together, by serving in God’s kingdom, we can radiate that light beyond geographical and cultural boundaries to bring hope to a world that is lost in the dark seas of confusion and despair.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to form part of your church body and to help reach those who are lost in spiritual darkness. Thank you for all those who have faithfully served you by proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. Strengthen me so that I too may honor you and be a faithful witness of your love until my last breath. In your precious name I pray, amen.

“He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church…”  Colossians1:17-18a
“He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – Mark 16:15
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” -John 13:35
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” -Hebrews 10:25
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” -1 Corinthians 12:27

 

-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV unless otherwise stated.

Spiritual Blackouts

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Have you ever been in a blackout? I was born and raised in the Carribean (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands) where crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, exotic fruits and vegetables, and hot summer days that are cooled down by the evening’s gentle trade winds come together to paint what appears to be a picture-perfect paradise. And indeed it is, except for that time of the year when tropical depressions forming  off the coast of Africa begin their trajectory northeast towards the Lesser and Greater Antilles (pronounced, an-till-eez). Known as the Hurricane Season this is the time when rain, heavy winds and thunderstorms cause frequent power outages throughout the islands. Generators are primarily used to keep refrigerators up and running, whereas candles and lanterns provide the necessary light to move about in the homes. However, even after the storms have moved on blackout periods can last for hours, if not days. So venturing outside in the nighttime is like stepping into a creepy zone of nothingness. Unless of course the moon just happens to be in its full glory poised straight up in the sky, then its luminescence adds a hint of plum to the heavens revealing peaceful and, to some degree, romantic silhouettes everywhere.

Until we are united with Christ in eternity we will continue to experience stormy weather during our walk with Him here on earth. There will be times when the storms of life bring only clouds and drizzle, and at other times they will arrive with rain, winds and thunderstorms that will cause emotional and even spiritual “blackouts.” It is during these times that we need to be conscious of the Lord’s presence more than ever. We need to look up and see that his light continues to shine brightly. The light of His word and the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us can provide the peaceful silhouettes that will strengthen our faith in times of personal darkness. When you experience a blackout in your life turn to the Holy Scriptures and meditate on them, confess them, trust them and proclaim them audibly. They have the power to light up the darkest of days .

Prayer: Everpresent God, deliver me from the darkness that the storms of life may bring upon me. Help me to commit to read, study, proclaim and meditate upon your word so that it may provide the comforting light I will need during spiritual and emotional blackouts. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.   

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You [Lord], And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” -Psalm 139:11-12
“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” -Micah 7:8
“… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20b

 

-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV unless otherwise stated.