When You Don’t Fit The Mold

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I’ve come across some incredibly beautiful lighthouses on the internet, many of which I hope to personally visit someday.  Today I figured I would search for some strange and unusual looking ones and I actually came across quite a few. This one, the Lucap Lighthouse in Alaminos City, Pangasinan, Philipines, truly caught my attention. Can you guess why? It looks like the designer got it all wrong. The spiral staircase should have been inside the tower, not outside! So, does this automatically disqualify it from being a lighthouse? Since, by definition, a lighthouse is a structure containing a beacon light to warn or guide ships at sea, the answer is no.  Even if this lighthouse doesn’t fit the mold of what we think a lighthouse should look like, it is by definition and function a legitimate lighthouse.

Have you or someone you know ever been criticized for not fitting the Christian mold? Hopefully you haven’t been the one doing the criticizing! And by not fitting the mold I mean not dressing, doing church (worshiping, praying, witnessing), or acting and reacting  the way a Christian “should?” Since, by definition, a Christian is a person who believes in Jesus and follows his teachings, then a true Christian is one who strives to conform to the image of Christ and not to people’s opinions. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believe that He is the only way to heaven, live a life in obedience to His word, and are drawing people to Him, then you are a Christian even if you don’t “look” or “act” like what others think you should. Now granted, the Bible is clear that a tree is known by its fruit and that trees that bear bad fruit are to be cut off. But a careful exegesis of this passage reveals that it refers to trees that consistently bear nothing but bad fruit. Just because an apple tree bears a couple of bad apples doesn’t stop it from being an apple tree nor do you automatically go and chop it down. Every Christian is a like a tree that needs to be pruned every now and then. And yes, we are called to judge (admonish) one another when we veer off track, but it must be done in love, with respect, and with the purpose of bringing us back into a right relationship with God.

The Lucap Lighthouse may not fit the mold of a typical lighthouse, especially when compared to those whose staircases are inside the tower, but the fact that it was designed and built to be a beacon makes it a true lighthouse nonetheless. You may not fit the mold of a typical Christian (whatever that is) especially when compared to others who may appear to be more pious, but if you follow Jesus and His light shines through you then you are a Christian. However, right now you may find yourself in the dark as a result of sin or even a trial. In other words, you may have some bad fruits on your tree. If you do, don’t allow the voice of guilt or religiosity to condemn you. Just cry out to Jesus and cast all your burdens upon Him. Confess any sin you may have allowed to dim His light within you and receive the forgiveness of your heavenly Father. Remember, you were saved to shine His light not to fit a mold.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you because I have been fearfully and wonderfully made by You. In spite of my weaknesses and shortcomings, I am a new creation and I rest in the assurance that I am your child by faith in Jesus Christ. Remove anything that may keep your light from shining in and through me. Help me to walk in your righteousness and let my heart stay true to you. May I continue to conform more and more to you and you alone. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” -1 Samuel 16:7
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’ -John 14:23
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” -1 Corinthians 5:12
“Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted.” -Galatians 6:1 (GWT)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:8-9
  -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

More Than a Lighthouse

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Chances are you can easily recognize this figure and know that it is a symbol of liberty and freedom. What you may not know is that during its first 16 years, on what is now known as Liberty Island, it served as an official lighthouse. Following its inauguration in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was under the supervision of the United States Lighthouse Board and functioned as a navigational aid for ships entering the New York harbor. Unfortunately, its mariner guiding days came to an end in 1902 when it was turned over to the War Department. Then in 1933 the National Park Service took over its administration and has made of Lady Liberty one of the most visited attractions in the U.S.A.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world, a city on a hill whose lights cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). In some of my previous devotions, I have used the analogy of a lighthouse to help you understand how we can actually be the light that Jesus refers to in Matthew 5. But when I consider how the Statue of Liberty has served, not only as a beacon, but also as an inspiring symbol of freedom, friendship, independence, and patriotism, I think of how much more than a lighthouse you and I truly are. 

Like a lighthouse, we shine the light of Christ’s salvation on a world that is darkened by sin, but we can do more than that. Because of God’s grace we can be a testimony of true freedom by living a life free of guilt and condemnation. A life that is filled with the peace and the joy of our Lord. We can model genuine friendship by intentionally caring for others and putting our neighbor’s needs before ours. We can declare our spiritual independence from this world by not conforming to it and by being transformed (daily) into the image of Christ. Plus, we can show real patriotism not only by celebrating our country’s commendable victories but also by mournfully praying for it in recognition of its moral and spiritual shortcomings.

We have a lot in common with the Statue of Liberty. We were created to be more than a lighthouse!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to live in the freedom you have granted me through faith in Christ, to genuinely love and care for those around me, and to strengthen my dependence on you. Have mercy on our nation and turn its heart towards you. May I continue to be the light that leads others to your salvation. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

 “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” -Acts 13:47 (ESV)
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” -John 8:36
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians 2:3-4
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” -Romans 12:2
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” -Jeremiah 29:7
  -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

A Lighthouse Restored

Sapelo Island LH

Originally built in 1820 the Sapelo Island Lighthouse is the second oldest brick lighthouse in the U.S. It sits 5 miles off the coast of Georgia on an island with a remarkably rich history. The tower was damaged by a strong hurricane in 1898 and remained inactive for 93 years. It was finally restored to its 1890 appearance in 1998 and the lantern room, which had been dark for almost a century, was finally relit with a modern light and lens.

Man was created in the image and likeness of God. He was clothed with the glorious light of his Creator and enjoyed a complete and unobstructed intimate relationship with Him. But then sin came in like a mighty hurricane and completely destroyed that relationship bringing death and spiritual darkness into the soul of man. From then on and for thousands of years man could only experience forgiveness and be restored unto his Creator through ceremonial laws. It wasn’t until God himself  came to earth to ransom man from the inherited darkness of sin that he was able to once again enjoy intimacy with God and begin to reflect the glorious light of his salvation.

Like all other lighthouses, the Sapelo Island Lighthouse was built to shine and to guide mariners to safety. Unfortunately, due to the damaging effects of a mighty storm, it could no longer function as intended. In like manner, we were also created to shine the light of Christ and guide others to His saving arms. However, sin, no matter how big or small, has the power to dim that light and cause us to become ineffective in God’s kingdom. Fortunately, just as the Sapelo Island Lighthouse was completely restored to its original state and continue to radiate its life-saving light, we too can be completely restored and once again shine the light of God to a dark and lost world. Our restoration, however, does not come from the hands or works of man, but from the hand of God through the expiatory work of Jesus on the Cross.

Have you allowed sin to break your fellowship with God? Has it dimmed God’s light in you and prevent you from becoming a beacon of hope to others? This is the perfect time to confess your transgression to God the Father. Plead the saving blood of God the Son and let God the Holy Spirit restore His joy and strength in you so that you may continue to shine for His glory.

Prayer: Gracious God, search my heart and remove any sin I have allowed to dim your light in me. Restore and renew my soul that I man once again commune with you and continue to radiate the light of your salvation to a lost and dying world. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” -Genesis 1:27
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” -Isaiah 59:2
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:19
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” -Joel 2:25-26
 -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inextinguishable Light

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Look closely at the image above. Can you see it?

No, not the faces, although that’s the first thing I noticed when I came upon this photo. I am referring to the lighthouse, can you see it? Look again, it’s there. If you are having trouble finding it click/tap HERE. Amazing isn’t it? This photo is one of many that were taken when Hurricane Charlie hit the town of Porthcawl in South Wales, U.K. on February of 2014. The inconspicuous tower in this image is the 30-feet Porthcawl Lighthouse which has become a symbol of storm-battered Wales. Click on the thumbnails below to see a few more breath-taking images.

Needless to say, these waves are truly fascinating, but more fascinating than that is the story of how, for decades, this 1860 lighthouse was powered by a coin operated gas lantern. The Harbour Master and other volunteers would have to brave the elements to feed in coins to keep the light burning day and night so that it could provide ships with a visible warning signal.

David referred to the word of God as a lamp for his feet and a “light” on his path. That is a time transcending metaphorical truth that can still be echoed today. The word of God is light in that it reveals the true nature of our hearts and the way to be reconciled unto Him. It also shows us the way to live in response to His gift of love, namely Jesus. To grow in the knowledge of God and his holiness we need to read and study his word. To honor God and fulfill his plan for our lives  we need to be obedient to his word. To reach the lost with the Good News of salvation we need to preach and teach his word. And to truly make a difference in this world we need, above all else, to live by his word. In other words, just like the 20th century Porthcawl Lighthouse needed to be fed coins in order to keep its light burning, we also need to keep feeding our hearts with God’s word to keep his light burning in us. For it is the light that leads us on the right path; the beacon that helps the lost find their way to the saving arms of Christ.

Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for your precious life-giving word. Create in me a greater love for it that I may search it, treasure it and live by it.  Let it become an inextinguishable light so that I may declare its power and help lead others unto you. For your word is truly the light that guides all men in the path of righteousness. In the name of your Son I pray, amen. 
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” – Romans 1:16
“Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 [AKJV]
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” -James 1:22 [NLT]
 -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

 

 

Surrounded, But Not Overtaken

phares dans la tempte: "La Jument"

The photo above is titled, Phares dans la Tempete, la Jument, which means Lighthouse in a Storm, at la Jument. La Jument is the name of the lighthouse and it is located in the Northwestern part of Britanny, France.When I first came across this image I could have sworn it was one of the best photoshopped works I had ever seen. Had it not been for the name on the print, which of course prompted me to do a Google search on it, I would have dismissed it as another creative digital masterpiece. This incredible shot, which is one in a series of seven, was taken by photographer Jean Guichard, who in 1990 won second place from the World Press for the photographs that captured this dramatic moment.

The massive waves in this image are truly awe-inspiring, however, what inspired me to write this devotion was not the waves, but rather the man pictured at the door of the lighthouse. The man’s name is Théodore Malgorne, and he was the lighthouse keeper on that dangerous stormy day back in 1989. The short clip below shows Jean visiting Theodore to present him with a signed copy of the print and briefly discuss what happened on that day.

Have you ever felt like Theodore? Have you found yourself in the midst of an emotional or spiritual storm anxiously waiting for some relief only to realize that more troubling issues are appearing and moving in quicker than you can cry out for help? Lighthouse in a Storm, at la Jument serves as a perfect analogy between nature’s furies and the unexpected challenges we encounter while still battling one of the many storms of life. The lighthouse in this photo represents the strong tower of prayer and faith. This is the place where we can always find protection and comfort in times of trouble. The huge waves represent those additional challenges that unfold and quickly begin to surround us.

There may be a time when the magnitude of your trial is such that you may be tempted to escape the pain by forsaking prayer and even your faith and try to find comfort in sources outside of God’s will. Doing so will only cause you greater pain because this is when you are most vulnerable both spiritually and emotionally. Instead, during this time and more than ever, you need to fully rely on the faithfulness of God and realize that no matter how unbearable it may appear your best and only hope is to be still, hold on to faith, pray and wait. Remember, after every storm there is a calm that follows.

As you heard in the video clip, Theodore stepped out of the lighthouse because he heard the sound of a helicopter. A more detailed recount states that in fact, he and a couple more keepers had been living in fear of the deadly storm and were waiting to be rescued. This chopper, however, was there to take pictures and not to save them. Had Theodore lingered outside for just a few minutes longer he would have been overtaken by those monstrous waves and not live to appreciate the signed copy of “Phares dans la Tempete, la Jumentlet alone become one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in the world!

Venturing out of God’s will while facing a challenging situation is actually exposing yourself to greater emotional danger and inviting spiritual disaster. When surrounded by the battering waves of adversity you will not be overtaken if you remain in the tower of prayer and faith. For it is there, and only there, that you will be most secure and protected. If you wait out the storm you will survive and you’ll be able to testify of God’s faithfulness and power to save, but if you impatiently step out of God’s protection chances are you will not have much of a story to tell if any at all.

 Prayer: Heavenly Father, please strengthen my faith so that my communion with you may not be broken especially during seemingly unbearable times. For in your presence is where I am most secure. Though I am surrounded by the waves of adversity I will not be overtaken because I will trust you and remain in you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

“You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. for evils beyond number have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see.” -Psalm 40:11-12

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” – Nahum 1:7 (NAS)

They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 1:19

“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” -Psalm 107:29

 

The Bigger Picture

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To see the bigger picture you need to be at the top and to get to the top you need time to climb.
– Joe Rodriguez

Unlike skyscrapers and high-risers which, by definition, are continuously habitable buildings that are taller than 150 m (492 ft), a lighthouse can be as small as 3 m (11 feet) and as tall as 133 m (436 ft). It just needs to be tall enough or set on a place high enough above water so its light can be seen by mariners to guide them or to warn them of the impending danger.

Unless you are in an all glass windowed ocean front penthouse you won’t be able to appreciate the unobstructed 360° panoramic view you get from a lighthouse. The most breathtaking views of both land and sea together can be easily seen from some of the hundreds of historical lighthouses around the world. These structures, which were built entirely of brick or metal have only a few, if any, small windows for lighting and ventilation purposes. These windows allow just a very limited aerial view, so in order to appreciate the bigger picture, you have to climb to the lantern room located at the very top.

If you haven’t already, one day you may have the opportunity to look out the lantern room of your life and see how God was able to use every situation, both good and bad, to help you mature spiritually. Not that you will ever stop growing, but you’ll be able to see how your attitude, your desires, and your motivations all changed to help you conform more to the image of Christ. Notice that I said “one day.” To get to the lantern room you will have to climb the staircase of life, there is no question about it, and that will definitely take many years. It will also require a lot of sacrifice and perseverance. Plus, it will not happen without you making some mistakes (missteps), and even when you make it to the top the view may not be immediately clear. It may be blurred by the remnants of past storms (trials), but you will get there if it’s God’s will and the clouds will eventually give way to the sun. Then you will be able to give God all the glory for every joyful experience, every successful endeavor, and every battle won. But you will also thank Him for every disappointing moment, every painful trial, and every scar you received as a result of your many falls. For all these things will reveal the “bigger picture” of God’s perfect plan for your life.

So, don’t give up climbing. It will be amazing when you get to the top and see how God brings it all together for His glory and praise. And let the expectancy of reaching the lantern room be your greatest motivation to keep climbing no matter how long it takes, the challenges you face, and the mistakes you make along the way. Just remember that to see the bigger picture you need to be at the top and to get to the top you’ll need time to climb.

Prayer: Patient and loving Father, strengthen my resolve to climb up the ladder of my spiritual journey. Allow me to reach that place where I can look back and thank you for everything, both good and bad. I am encouraged by your word which tells me that all things work for my good according to your purpose for my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. -2 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. -Hebrews 10:36 (ESV)
Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. – Psalm 37:24 (ESV)
I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. Isaiah 46:10 (NLT)
 -All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.