Exterior Illumination

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Pictured above is the Montauk Point Lighthouse. It is located on the easternmost point of Long Island, NY. Built in 1796 it is the oldest lighthouse in New York state and the fourth oldest in the US. It was actually number six on my 2016 Lighthouse Touring list. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to visit it. Hopefully, I’ll find some time before the winter storms arrive and venture on the three-hour drive so I can take pictures and add it to my Lighthouse Passport book.

There is nothing particularly spectacular about this lighthouse other than the fact that it is outlined with string lights during the Holiday season. Yet, that is precisely what inspired me to write this devotion.

In two of my previous devotions (“His Light is Our Light” and “This Little Light of His“) I explained that the light we carry within us and the one we ought to shine for all to see is the very light of Almighty God. Keeping this in mind, we should always be careful to give God the glory for anything and everything we accomplish in this life. If we don’t, we run the risk of falling prey to self-adulation. When God’s favor rests upon his people and they neglect to acknowledge him as the source of their blessings the lights of arrogance and self-sufficiency begin to outshine His light within them. Like the Montauk Point Lighthouse during the Christmastime, they end up attracting and distracting spectators with the glittering lights of their selfish deeds while the main saving light of Jesus shines dimly in the background. But then there are also those whose religiosity give the impression that they are God’s beacons when in reality they are nothing more than temporary lighthouse shaped decorations. Not only do they mislead people with their exterior illumination (pious appearance), but their colorful radiance eventually burns out only to leave them disregarded, disparaged or derided. Whereas those who are true spiritual lighthouses shine the eternal light of Christ at all times and are constantly sought out for guidance, comfort, and hope.

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Being a lighthouse for God is not only an honor and a privilege but a very serious entrustment. It is an unmerited favor bestowed upon those who join the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And while this same faith is the one that produces good works that shine in a dark and evil world, it is the glorious light of God that draws the sinner unto Him. In other words, even though our testimony serves as a visible witness of God’s redeeming power, it is only by His Spirit that men are convicted and brought to repentance. Heaven forbid we ever take credit for anything that God does in us or through us. Without the light of Christ, we would not be able to escape the darkness of this world let alone show others the way to His saving arms. So no matter if we are master theologians, influential preachers, selfless missionaries or generous good Samaritans if our motives are not God-inspired and we fail to give Him the glory in all that we do then our light is but a temporary flicker. May the light that radiates from our lighthouse always be the beacon of God’s unfathomable grace and not the external illumination of our self-centered and seemingly godly motivations.

Prayer: Oh Lord, guard my heart against selfish and self-righteous motivations. May my life be a genuine witness of your mercy, love, and grace. May your light be the preeminent source of guidance to those you place in my path. And may I always give you all the glory for that which you do in and through me. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and all praise forever, amen.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” -James 2:17
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” -Philippians 2:13
 -ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

A Lighthouse at World’s End

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And then he [Jesus] told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” – Mark the Evangelist

This lighthouse is known as the San Juan del Salvamento Lighthouse. It is located atop a rocky hill on Isla de los Estados, an island at the southernmost tip of Argentina, S.A. The island is just a few miles from Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago commonly referred to as “The End of the World.”  

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Built in 1858, this lighthouse stands 21 feet in height. It is an octagonal shaped building made out of wood with a metal roof. Its flashing lights can be seen through one of its windows. It was nicknamed “Lighthouse at the End of the World” by Jules Verne who wrote a novel of the same name.

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The lighthouse was operational until 1900. After being unattended and battered by the inclement weather for many years, its structure was eventually compromised and it slowly began to deteriorate. It wasn’t until 1997 that its remains were carefully moved from the island to the mainland where it was reconstructed at a local museum. However, a reproduction of the lighthouse was built at the original site in 1998 and it has been serving as an active navigational guide to mariners since then. 

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The San Juan del Salvamento Lighthouse may have inspired Jules to write a piratical adventure novel, but it has inspired me to write a devotion on the importance of shining God’s light to the “end of the world.”

He who is the light of the world entrusted us with His light so that we may proclaim the Gospel, or Good News, of His salvation to everyone, everywhere. This Good News is a message of love and hope, but most important, it is a message of reconciliation to God. It is truly the best imaginable good news anyone can ever receive, especially in a world where political apathy and social injustices seem to be the dominant topic on all information channels.

It is said that bad news travels fast, yet I think about third world countries and indigenous communities where people are living without media influence. Not to say that they don’t experience troubles and challenges of their own, but they are blessed by not having to hear about all the other bad news around the world. They do, however, need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and that is where you and I, as lighthouses for God, come into play. For we have been called to shine His light all over the world.

“…how can they believe in him [Jesus] if they have never heard about him? -The Apostle Paul to the Romans. 

You would think that good news disseminates just as quickly as bad news, especially if it’s the Good News of true love, forgiveness, peace, and joy. Unfortunately, it does not. There are still many who have no idea who Jesus is nor have they experienced the power of His saving grace. Either because it is forbidden by law, they live in areas that are almost inaccessible, or simply because no one has cared enough to tell them. But how can they call on him [Jesus] to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

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The Bible tells us that before ascending to heaven Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” We need to understand four important factors when considering this portion of Scripture. First, this command known as “The Great Commission” was not for the first-century followers of Jesus alone. It is for everyone who has become a disciple of Christ through faith in his atoning sacrifice. Secondly, we cannot take for granted that just because we are in the first world everyone has heard the Gospel. Nor can we assume that if they have heard it they understand what it means. That is why we need to take advantage of all the communication mediums available (broadcasts, the internet, publications, etc.) to proclaim and explain the only news that can change the world one person at a time.  Thirdly, we don’t need to be pastors, evangelists or theologians to share the Good News. We simply have to look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus; who He is, and why He came. There may even be times when our testimony will be enough to cause someone to question our faith, giving us an opportunity to openly witness to them. And finally, this task is not limited by our inability to travel abroad. We need to stop thinking “local” and think “global” when it comes to sharing the Gospel. By partnering with missionaries who set off to evangelize in foreign lands we can reach people all around the globe. Yes, we must pray for missionaries and their families, but we must also support them financially so that they can effectively shine God’s light to “the end of the world.”

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the Good News of Jesus Christ, and thank you for trusting me with the light of His salvation so that I may proclaim it to everyone, everywhere. I may not be able to travel the world to share it, but I ask you to bless and provide for all the missionaries who do. I also ask that you protect them, for many put their lives in danger in order to spread the message of hope. Make a way, Oh Lord, so that I may be able to support them financially as well. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” -Matthew 28:19
“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” -Mark 16:15 (NLT)
Declare his glory among the nations,    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” -Psalm 96:3 
 -ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

Not Like Arholma

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In contrast to my previous devotion titled, “Like Little Red, where I encouraged you to be like one of the lighthouses I had the privilege of visiting this past summer, this post is to encourage you NOT to be like this red and white lighthouse. Why? Well, let’s just say that even though very little is written about it enough is said to make an analogy between its function and the faulting spiritual state of many Christians in the world today.

This tower is located in Arholma Island, Sweden. It was built in 1768 and was partially constructed from the ruins of a castle that was destroyed during the Russian Pillage. It stands 52 feet tall and has never been lit because it only serves as a day beacon or daymark. In other words, it is visible and functions as a guide to sailors only in the daytime. The inside of the tower is currently used as an art gallery.

From a distance, one can obviously see that it is shaped like a lighthouse. It is painted like a lighthouse and partially functions as a lighthouse. In fact, it is known as the Arholma Lighthouse. Ironically, it has no light to shine so calling it a lighthouse or beacon is sort of paradoxical. Now granted, it does serve as a directional guide along the Stockholm archipelago during clear days, but it is useless during stormy or foggy weather and especially at night. Since there really isn’t a detailed history of this tower I cannot say for certain why it wasn’t given a light let alone why it is referred to as a beacon.

The Arholma Lighthouse reminds me of how some of us Christians proclaim our faith. We look and walk the talk mostly during the “daytime” when everyone is watching. We are especially good at it on Sunday mornings and during our club-like fellowships. And let us not forget our social media platforms! We love to stand out by quoting Scripture, using righteous lingo and even denouncing sin. But how about in times of turmoil when the storms of life strike us and the fog of temptation surround us? How about when the sun goes down, when all lights are out and no one is watching? Or better yet, how about when we are in the midst of the darkness of this world mingling with unsaved friends and acquaintances, do we continue to shine? Do we still look and walk the talk?

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Be careful brothers and sisters! If our testimony is not guarded, especially when no one but God is watching we run the risk of becoming like the Arholma Lighthouse. We can end up being helpful daymarks, but useless night beacons. We can become like the Pharisees who Jesus compared to white-washed tombs or like the lukewarm “Christians” that will be rejected by God. Plus, we set ourselves up to be judged and sentenced with the final words, “depart from me…I do not know you!”

As lighthouses for God, we are to shine for His glory during the day (when all eyes are on us) and during the night (when we are alone behind closed doors). We are to proclaim salvation by standing firm through all kinds of weather. We are to shine His light at all times and walk in His holiness no matter the condition of this world. For there will always be someone looking out for help and there will certainly always be Someone watching.

Prayer: Help me, Oh Lord, to stand firm in all circumstances. To shine at all times, especially when no one but you is watching. Remind me that I have been called to guide the lost with your word and with a testimony that reflects the power of your salvation. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” -Matthew 23:27
“So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.” -Revelation 3:16 (HCSB)
“Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?”- Isaiah 29:15
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” -Matthew 7:22-23
“Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” -Hebrews 13:18
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
 -ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

The Church. A Lighthouse or a Club?

My previous devotion marked the 40th one published electronically. I thank God for the opportunity and privilege He has granted me to write for His glory. I pray that Lighthouse Devotions have blessed you in some way and I look forward to many more inspirations that will encourage you to keep shining the light of Jesus. Today I’d like to share with you someone else’s inspiration and pray that it too ministers to your life.

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Parable of a lighthouse

On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station.  Actually, it was merely a hut with only one boat, but the few members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea.  With little thought for themselves, they would go out day & night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost.  Many lives were saved by this brave band who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station.  By and by, it became a famous place.

Some of those who had been saved, as well as others along the seacoast, wanted to become associated with this little station.  They were willing to give their time, energy and money in support of its objectives.  New boats were purchased.  New crews were trained.  The station, once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant, began to grow.  Some of its members were unhappy the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped.  They felt a more comfortable place should be provided.  Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture.  Rough, handmade equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed.  The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, and systems.  By the time of its completion, the lifesaving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift.  It was now used as a sort of clubhouse, an attractive building for public gathering.  Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred.

Fewer members were interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work.  The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. Lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. There was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people.  They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely.  Others were “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. 

A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside, away from the club so victims of the shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.  At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members.

 Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims.  As you’d expect, some still insisted on saving lives, that this was their primary objective – that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations.  They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast!  They did.

As the years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes.  It evolved into another club – and yet another lifesaving station was begun.  History repeated itself. And if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives. 

Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved.  Every day they drown at sea, and so few others seem to care . . . so very few.    —Author Unkown

This parable, unfortunately, describes the spiritual and to some degree physical condition of many churches today. In a time when the church needs to stand out as the place where people can find relief from the madness of this depraved world, it is imperative that we do not lose our focus and the true purpose for which God saved us and deposited His light in us. May we never get too comfortable in our gatherings as to convert the church into a club. May we always be the place of refuge that souls come to and find love, comfort, healing, hope, and salvation. For there are still many lost and drowning in the turbulent seas of life.