From Beacon to Columbarium

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One of the most valuable improvements contributed by modern technology is in the area of communications. As a result, many of the devices we grew up with have been either significantly upgraded or rendered totally obsolete. Sadly enough, lighthouses are no exception. Once hailed as the “Saviors of the Sea,” many of these iconic structures are being decommissioned due to the advancement in geolocation technology such as sonars, radars, and GPS navigation. Although many of them are being turned over to private organizations for upkeep it is still disheartening to know that many are being left to rot away. Such is the case with the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse aka Terrible Tilly (pictured above). Built in 1881 on a rock island off the coast of Oregon, it is one of the three most expensive lighthouses ever built in the US. Unfortunately, after suffering extensive storm damage and erosion it was decommissioned in 1957. Terrible Tilly was sold and passed through the hands of several owners before being converted to a columbarium: a storage house for urns full of cremated human remains. However, improper urn storage and bad record-keeping caused it to lose its license in 1999. It is now primarily a seabird nesting place and unless it is restored it will just sit there to rot along with its ashes.

It’s no secret that researchers have been experimenting with human genetics (gene editing) for quite some time. And while they claim that their work is all in the name of Science (to extend human life) some independent studies suggest that it is in hopes of finding a way to “upgrade” the human species. As Bible-believing Christians, you and I know that such efforts are totally unethical and ungodly. The only hope mankind has to achieve perfection is to be born again of the Spirit and await the sound of the trumpet. Until then we are to committedly continue to function as lighthouses for God being careful not to allow the storms of life to erode our spiritual foundation. The more challenges we face in this world the more determined we must become in honoring God, staying true to His word, and reaching the lost with the Gospel.

The storms of life will continue to rage around us. Some of them will pass us by while others will hit us head on. If our foundation is not strong enough we will crumble and will become dark and ineffective lighthouses. When this occurs, the enemy of our soul will seize the opportunity to present us with boxes that contain the ashes of our old self, our past hurts, and our bad choices. And if we are not careful, we will begin to store these boxes in our hearts and go from being bright beacons of hope to gloomy spiritual columbariums. So, rise up, keep shining, and remember that your heart is where the living God now resides. There is no room in there for ashes!

Prayer: Almighty God, my desire is to remain active in your kingdom and to stand strong before, during and after every storm I face in life. Let your joy, peace, and love reign in my heart each and every day. And if I am ever confronted with the ashes of my past, may they only serve to remind me that I was once dead in my sins and now have been made alive in You. In the name of Jesus, the author of my life, I pray, amen. 

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  – Corinthians 15:52 (KJB)
“…Christ loved the church and gave his life for it…in order to present the church to himself in all its beauty—pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection.” -Ephesians 5:25b & 27 (GNT)
“The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” -Romans6:10-11 (BSB)
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

Useful links:
Columbariums
Gene Editing
Super Humans?

Light Attracts – Part 2

4 LHWhat’s Attracting You?

Are you familiar with Manhattanhenge? This event, also known as Manhattan Solstice, is a breathtaking phenomenon that occurs twice a year when the setting sun aligns with the streets that run east to west on the Manhattan (NYC) street grid. The city that never sleeps undoubtedly has numerous spectacular attractions and this one, in particular, is no exception. Manhattanhenge not only attracts people, but it seemingly hypnotizes them for a few seconds. Even news reporters covering the event  are mesmerized by the glorious natural light show. Unfortunately, even though I lived in Manhattan for two years and worked there for 15 I never got to witness it in person. However, I must admit that I would rather spend a few minutes gazing at the silhouette of a lighthouse during a sunset than taking photos of Manhattanhenge.

Whether it’s the starburst effects of Manhattanhenge, a skillfully landscaped ornamental garden, or the majestic scene of snow-capped mountains, we are all attracted to something. And while some of the things that attract us can be beneficial to our psychological and even our spiritual health, there are many others that can seriously harm us. As a lighthouse aficionado, my attraction to these inspiring beacons serves as one more way for me to stay connected to my heavenly Father. But there was a time when my eyes and heart were attracted to things that were actually driving me farther and farther away from Him.

In an ever increasing visually oriented culture there are many things that are competing for our attention. Things that the enemy of our soul will use to distract us from focusing on what truly matters. If it’s not a new technology gadget it’s a social media or game app. No, no Pokemon Go characters here! The world will always have something to attract us. And if we are not particularly attracted to media, there is always money, work, fashion, porn, controlled substances, food, and gossip.

Jesus is the light of the world. The light that removes the spiritual darkness caused by sin and keeps mankind separated from God. His word is also light. The light that illuminates the path that leads us back to God. These are the primary things (intimate fellowship with God & passion for His word) that should be attracting us as believers. They are not only beneficial to our soul, but to those around us as well. When we are attracted to the things of God people notice. Our lives become a living testimony that what God has to offer is far more rewarding, satisfying, and awe-inspiring than the temporary things of this world. What is attracting you?

Prayer: Oh Glorious Father, there is surely no one like You. Nothing can compare to your majesty and to the love, joy, and peace that I have found in you. Deliver me from the temptations that so adamantly seek to attract me and distract me. May my eyes be focused solely on you and your life-changing word. May you be my one and only main attraction. In the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior I pray, amen. 

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
“We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.” -Hebrews 12:2 (GWT)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” -Matthew 6:33 
“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.” -Deuteronomy 11:16
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

Light Attracts – Part 1

4 LHWho Are You Attracting?

Ever since structural lighthouses first appeared, the most famous one of antiquity dates back to 280 B.C., they have become the center of attraction for countless aficionados as well as passersby who just happen to spot them from afar. Whether young or old, professional or unskilled, artistic or uncreative, people from all walks of life have been attracted to lighthouses. There is something about them that spectators find intriguing, exciting, or as in my case, peaceful and inspiring. But what exactly is it that draws us to these fascinating towers of the sea? Could it be their long-standing history, their design, or perhaps even where they’re located? For me, it’s simply their navigational purpose. Lighthouses are remarkably strong and dependable structures that were built to guide, warn, and save the lives of those navigating through dark and treacherous waters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemember, a lighthouse shines during any kind of weather. So, whether you are spiritually on fire or a little cold because you’re experiencing some trying times, you are supposed to be attracting people and guiding them towards God. As a lighthouse for God, you are to radiate His love and compassion in a world that is lost in darkness. A darkness caused by hatred, confusion, and fear. And, if you are following the news closely, you’ll realize that it’s only getting darker with each day that passes by.

Undoubtedly, lighthouses attract thousands of spectators throughout the year, but they were made exclusively to draw the attention of those in maritime distress so as to warn them of coastal dangers and  guide them safely to land. They have been able to do this by serving as entrance makers to ports by day and as warning beacons by night and on stormy days. You too should be able to attract people not only because you dress, talk, and carry on nicely, but because you reflect the love, peace, hope and joy that comes from having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. You must attract the wealthy, the well-educated, the humble, and the pious as well as the poor, the illiterate, the prideful, and the immoral. You must warn them all of the dangers of living without Christ and lead them towards the cross where they can find salvation for their souls. Otherwise, they will continue to navigate aimlessly in darkness while being attracted by the very things that will ultimately destroy them. Who are you attracting?

Prayer: Oh gracious Lord, it was your light that drew me, rescued me, and brought me to your saving arms. And it is that same light that you have deposited in me so that I may shine for you. May my thoughts, actions, and speech reflect your love, mercy, and grace so that I may draw others unto you. Help me to stand strong and continue to shine amid the darkness of this world. And I will be careful to give you all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” -John 12:32
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (NASB)
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself.” – Ephesians 5:13 (BSB)
“But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.” -Ezekiel 3:19 
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

A Million Dollars to Shine

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During the late 18th century importing and exporting commodities by sea was not only in high demand, but it became one of the riskiest forms of intercontinental commerce. Frequent shipwrecks due to low or no visibility were responsible for the loss of precious life and valuable cargo. This created the need for a navigational system that would safely guide ships to harbors while staying clear of identified outcrops. Hence, the creation and design of lighthouses along the sea coasts of Europe and North America. Because lighthouses were originally lit using large candles and oil lamps, their illumination was rather dim and could only be seen from a short distance. So the biggest challenge was to have them shine strong enough for ships to see them before it was too late. This prompted engineers to search for ways to focus and increase the range of the light. In 1822, French Physicist, Augustin Fresnel (Frey-nell) invented what is known as the Fresnel lens. This multi-focal lens is what most lighthouses still use to project warning lights miles away into the sea. The concept and design of the fresnel lens is truly remarkable.

Fresnel7bPictured to the right is the largest (12 ft. tall) first order hyper-radiant fresnel lens in America. It was built in 1887 and cost $15,280. In today’s economy, that is equivalent to $1,200,000! That was an exorbitant amount of money to pay for this technology back then, but considering how much more it would save it was worth every penny. The lens is part of the Makapu’u Lighthouse on the island of Ohau, HI (pictured above).

Because of sin, humanity has been navigating aimlessly through life in darkness. A darkness that continues to cause countless moral and spiritual shipwrecks. Of all the things man has lost, peace with God and with one another has been the most valuable one. The wreckage gives evidence of the other tragedies we have suffered. Among them is the contempt for the sanctity of life, the redefining of marriage, the condoning of immoral lifestyles, and the corruption 4077914of the very systems that were meant to provide us with ethical stability. Hence, why you and I were chosen to be lighthouses for God. We have been entrusted with the light of Christ so that we can use it to warn and guide the spiritually lost. But unlike the dim candles and oil lamps used when lighthouses were first built, His light is the most powerful light in existence. It can not only reach all of mankind, but it can transform it and lead it to eternal salvation. However, we too face a similar challenge; the need for this light to shine far beyond our altars on Sundays. It must be visible not only by those in close proximity but by those far away where the Gospel has not reached. This is where price and cost come into play.

The urgency to improve the lighting system of lighthouses so as to prevent further disasters was confronted with little to no resistance. Unfortunately, many of us are not concerned enough with the condition of the world to willingly pay the price for letting our light shine the way it is supposed to. You see, money is needed to send and support missionaries both locally and abroad. It takes a vigorous effort to get out of our comfort zone and witness to the unsaved. And in order to truly bless others, it requires us to commit and selflessly give of our time and talents. When considering this, many of us will find every excuse as to why we cannot shine, but I bet if we were offered a million dollars we would have no problem in eliminating all the pretexts. Yet, if we really consider the priceless rewards of shining the light of Christ we wouldn’t need to wait to be asked, let alone bribed, to do what should come naturally in response to His saving grace. We would eagerly want to shine, first of all, because we ourselves have been saved by His light. And second, because we would be guiding lost souls to salvation, helping to mend the broken-hearted, encouraging and uplifting the sick and the imprisoned, bringing comfort and peace to the troubled soul, and leading the wayward back to the arms of their heavenly Father. Do think that this is worth the price—or would you still need a million dollars to shine?

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for calling me to be a lighthouse and entrusting me with the light of your salvation. In response to this privilege, I commit to shine your light regardless of the price I must pay. Help me to realize the urgency of reaching those who are lost without a hope of eternity.  Remind me that what is required of me cannot be compared to what it cost you to rescue us from darkness. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen. 

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the Dawn will visit us from on high, to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” -Luke 1:78,79
“But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” -Proverbs 4:19
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” -2 Corinthians 4:6
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” “Very truly I [Jesus] tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” -Luke 4:18 & John 4:12
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

In Danger of Collapse

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This is The Nottawasaga Lighthouse, aka The Collingwood Lighthouse. It is located on Nottawasaga Island in Ontario and it is one of six imperial towers built on Lake Huron by the Canadian government. Erected in 1856, it stands ninety-five feet above shore level. The damaged exterior was caused by several lightning strikes and subsequent water infiltration. Back in 2010 the federal government decided that hundreds of Canada’s unmanned lighthouses were too expensive to maintain. As a result, the tower has not been serviced for many years and it is quickly falling apart. One of its windows recently fell out after the masonry beneath it gave way. This has left a gap which is allowing the elements to enter the tower and accelerate its deterioration. The Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) was formed to raise awareness of the tower’s condition and to help raise the much needed funds to repair and preserve it. In the meantime, they have been able to take several temporary measures, including strapping stabilizing bands around it, in hopes of buying time. Unfortunately, this has not stopped it from crumbling and, worst of all, time is quickly running out. If these damages are left unattended the tower will eventually collapse.

Like the federal government, who decided not to fund the upkeep of the lighthouses because it was too costly, we ourselves are the ones who choose not to invest in (upkeep) our spiritual life because it requires a lot of effort. In other words, it’s costly. Therefore, when the trials of life strike us like lightning we can only handle so much before we start experiencing spiritual deterioration. Secular worldviews begin to infiltrate our minds through the nooks and crannies caused by an unattended Bible study and prayer life. Lack of godly fellowship and counsel causes the windows of our soul to shatter allowing depression to enter and accelerate emotional and spiritual breakdown. We may be able to apply a temporary fix to our situation by saying a prayer here and there, going to church every now and then, and by quoting an inspirational verse every so often. But the truth of the matter is that if we neglect to take care of the damage properly and committedly we will eventually collapse.

Inevitably, the storms of life will hit and in addition to standing strong against them it is equally important to take action once they move away. Any damage caused by the lightning of adversity will need to be taken care of immediately. This, however, is solely the work of the Holy Spirit and we must be willing to let Him do the restoration job. The only way we can stop Him from doing so is by neglecting our spiritual disciplines. As a lighthouse for God, you cannot disregard committed prayer, worship, fellowship, and Bible application and expect to effectively overcome trials, let alone repair any damage you may suffer as a result of them. If you have neglected your spiritual life in any way say the following prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to start reconstructing your tower. If you ignore the situation you will be in danger of collapse. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to stand strong. When the lightning of adversity strikes strengthen my resolve to stay committed to the disciplines that will keep me from spiritual deterioration. May I never hinder the work of your Spirit within me. For He is the only One who can completely restore me and help me to keep shining your light ever so brightly. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“Never stop praying.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” -Proverbs 15:22 (KJB)
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” -1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

Keeper Of The Light

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All buildings and towers require some form of Preventive Maintenance (PM). PMs ensure that equipment and facilities are kept in satisfactory operating condition and because they are key to avoiding breakdowns or malfunctions, they must be scheduled periodically. However, back in the days when lighthouses were powered by oil lamps and clockwork mechanisms, Preventive Maintenance was not in any lighthouse keeper’s vocabulary let alone on any schedule. In fact, the concept of PM did not come into existence until 1950. Taking care of a lighthouse back then was not exactly a 9 to 5 job either. It was more like a predawn to dusk responsibility and in some cases, they required 24-hour monitoring. That is why performing any type of maintenance was pretty much a part of the daily routine. But lighthouse keepers did much more than just periodic checks. They also made repairs to the tower as needed and had to always be prepared to respond to any emergency, including shipwrecks. Plus, and most importantly, they had to ensure that the tower’s light and lens were clean and operable. After all, the main purpose of a lighthouse was, and still is, to guide and warn ships at night and during stormy days .

As a lighthouse, you and I also have a keeper, the Holy Spirit. When we were born again into God’s kingdom He not only entrusted us with the light of His salvation, but He also sent his Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts. Like a lighthouse, we too must endure the fury of life’s many storms. Storms that will eventually cause spiritual and emotional wear and tear. For this reason, we will always be in constant need of divine PM. But thank God for the Holy Spirit who resides in us and is available 24/7. He is there to keep us in check morally, respond to any spiritual wrecks and make the necessary repairs, restore us back to God, and ensure that His light continues to shine brightly in and through us.

As a result of modern technology, today’s lighthouses do not require round the clock maintenance. Oil lamps and lenses have been replaced by solar or electric powered bulbs. Unfortunately, unlike physical lighthouses, we cannot be upgraded to shine independently. First of all, because the light we have is not our own. It is God’s. Therefore, He is the One who powers it and controls it. Second, because God knows our hearts better than we do, He is the only one qualified to do preventive work on it. And lastly, we are incapable of repairing ourselves when we suffer the shipwrecks of sin and/or life’s many storms. Again, this is something that only God, the healer of souls, has the power to do. The Bible says that we are temples, lighthouses if you will, where the Holy Spirit dwells. That is why He is and always will be our lighthouse keeper, the keeper of the light!

Prayer: Almighty God, Thank you for your mercy, which has delivered me from darkness and brought me into your glorious light. And Thank you for your grace, which has allowed my heart to become a place where your Spirit dwells. Help me not to hinder the work of your Holy Spirit in me. For it is only through Him that I can be restored, empowered, and continue to shine your light to a world in darkness. In the glorious name of your Son I pray, amen. 

“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” – John 4:13
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” – Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)
“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.” – Acts 15:8
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.