The Light of Life

To mark this my 50th devotion I once again undertook the search for unusual lighthouses. This one resulted in an instant jaw dropper. Yes, that is a baby bottle! This unique 15 ft. lighthouse is the first and only in the world that was designed to resemble a “bah-bah.” It is known, obviously, as the Baby Bottle Lighthouse and it is located in Gijang-gun, Busan, Korea. It is appropriately decorated with tiles that are adorned with the hand and footprints of 144 babies and children. The lighthouse was built as part of a story telling project to encourage childbirth, and that is precisely what inspired me to write this devotion.

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South Korea’s birth rate has declined drastically since the 1960s and as a result, it is the lowest in the developed world. The government has spent billions of dollars (yes, billions) to help reverse the decline. Incentives to boost family growth have included guaranteed unpaid leave for fertility treatment, increased paternity pay, and priority to public childcare for households with 3 or more children, among others. Can you imagine? While our government has been funding organizations to terminate pregnancies for years (hopefully that will change now with the new administration), here is a country that has been investing in ways to encourage them. They even built a lighthouse to spur human procreation for crying out loud!

Needless to say, I believe that life begins at conception. Just as the heavens declare the glory of God so does his earthly creation. It is by God’s will and power that the unborn are formed in the womb. Every human fetus carries the breath of life and is purposed to become a light in the world. Every child born is like a ray of light from heaven; a testimony of God’s creative power and the proclamation of His love for life.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who disparage life, whether born or unborn. The only thing that will convince them that “All Life Matters” is a direct revelation from the living God. Therefore, we who have become the light of the world need to continuously pray for and not attack or ignore them. We are to love and engage them in meaningful, not quarrelsome, conversations that will lead them to consider the value of human life at every stage.

So, let us celebrate life as we see God’s light shining through the miracle of every pregnancy. Let us support men and women who are struggling to raise their children alone. Let us encourage those who are pregnant and contemplating abortion to chose life. And let us help save lives by donating our time and funds to life promoting agencies. Here are some wonderful ways that you, your family and/or church can help promote the light of life.

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Prayer: Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, stir within me a greater appreciation for life and lead me to encourage those who deem it unimportant. Help me to truly value every human being born and unborn so that your life-giving light within me becomes a greater testimony of your love and purposeful plan for everyone. Thank you Lord, for my life. May it continue to shine for your glory. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” -Deuteronomy 30:19
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” -Psalm 139:13-16 (NKJV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:5
“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the One who formed you from the womb, ‘I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone . . .'” -Isaiah 44:24 (NASV)
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward” -Psalm 127:3 (NASV)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED

An Interceding Light

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Situated on a granite outcrop in Nova Scotia, you will find Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. It is one of the most photographed and recognizable lighthouses in the world! This concrete and steel tower, which was built in 1915 and measures 49 feet tall, is still operational. It replaced the original wooden tower built in 1868. The lighthouse marks the eastern entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay at Peggy’s Cove, a small charming village with a narrow inlet that provides a safe haven for boats during the Atlantic’s inclement weather. The Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is definitely on my eastern seaboard lighthouse visiting list.

imag4534_1One very interesting feature about this lighthouse is what inspired me to write this devotion. Inside the tower itself, there is a small post office where visitors can send postcards and letters during the summer months. Each piece of mail receives a cancellation mark with the image of the lighthouse. How cool is that?

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse reminds me that as lighthouses for God we are more than just life-saving beacons, we are also spiritual mail carriers (intercessors). Not only should we light the way for those who are lost and guide them to the saving arms of Christ, but we should also be available to intercede for them whenever they face challenging times in life. We can, like a post office, accept their letters to God (prayer requests) and intercede on their behalf.

The ministry of intercession is not just for a specific group of people in the church. We are all called to intercede for one another in prayer. Sure, we may pray for our family and friends and hopefully do more than just agree when someone randomly asks us to pray for them. But to intercede for others goes beyond a simple, “…and God, please bless so and so.” A heartfelt and genuine prayer of intercession is one where you bear a sense of burden and responsibility for the one(s) you are praying for. It is one where your spirit actually moans for the condition of others. As interceding lights, you and I must be able to identify with our brethren’s needs and cry out to God with and for them. And not just for those of the household of faith, but especially for the wayward and for those who haven’t experienced the love and peace of God. 

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Our prayers are a direct line to heaven and we shouldn’t selfishly spend all the time talking to God about our needs alone. Remember, there will come a day when you will also need others to intercede for you. It is not only emotionally reassuring, but also spiritually reviving to know that someone sympathizes/empathizes with your circumstance and is ready to stand in the gap for you in prayer. So, let’s learn from the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse and always be ready to shine and send letters (pray to God) on behalf of those in need.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, just as you loved me and interceded for me on the cross help me to love and intercede for others, especially for those who do not know you. Make me sensitive to their needs, Oh Lord. And may your light in me and my intercessory prayer know no boundaries so that all who you place in my path will be shown love, mercy, and grace.  Amen. 

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men…” – 1 Timothy 2:1
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” -Luke 6:31
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” – Matthew 5:44
“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 have welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:7
“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:14-16

Candy Canes, Barber Poles, and Lighthouses! Oh my!

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Our church recently sponsored an Angel Tree event for some of the kids in our community. As part of the program, we included a special segment where a storytelling candy maker (yours truly) read ‘The Legend of the Candy Cane, by Lori Walburg. Here are some photos of that fun-filled afternoon.

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There are a couple of stories regarding the true origins of the candy cane. In the Christian version, the candy was given a crook shape to remind us of the shepherds who were the first to visit the newborn King of the Jews. When you turn the cane upside down it resembles the letter ‘J’, which stands for Jesus, the name of the promised King. The candy was given red stripes to remind us of Jesus’ suffering and the blood He shed for our sins. And the white stripes are a symbol of the washing away of our sin through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. While this inspirational version may not be verifiable, its message of hope actually can be. It is found in God’s word, the Holy Bible.

With that in mind, I suppose a red and white barber pole can also remind us of God’s salvation and so can the White Shoal Lighthouse (pictured above and below). Built in 1910, this 124 feet tower, which is still operational, is located on a shoal in the northeasterly end of Lake Michigan. Although there are two other ‘barber pole’ style lighthouses in the US, this is the only one that is red and white or ‘candy cane striped.

I must admit that the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, while hectic and exhausting, does fill the atmosphere with a sense of gratitude and joy. However, as one who has personally experienced salvation as represented by the candy cane, I can attest that the joy of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior surpasses any pleasure available to man. Unfortunately, far too many people still can not relate to the life-changing act of love that started in a manger and ended at a cross.

Every lighthouse in the world is unique in design. Not all of them have the ‘candy cane stripes’, but they all have the same purpose; to emit a light beam that guides those who are lost at sea to safety. Likewise, we may not all look the same physically and spiritually, but we all have the same purpose; to shine God’s light and guide the spiritually lost to the saving arms of Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah foretold of Jesus’ sacrifice. He said that the Messiah would endure great pain and suffering and that by his wounds we would be saved. The scourging and other brutal punishments Jesus received resulted in the shedding of his precious blood (red stripes). The blood that still heals us by granting us forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life (white stripes). At Calvary’s cross, Jesus laid down His life as a ransom for all humanity. He did it to restore our broken relationship with God and allow us to experience true hope, peace, and joy. Not only during the holidays but throughout our lifetime.

15589535_1504424709586546_3071936329821047010_nPerhaps the next time you see anything with red and white stripes you will remember the story of the candy cane. Better yet, you will be reminded that it is a message that needs to be shared with everyone who is yet to know that Jesus died in order to save us!

I pray you had a wonderful Christmas. May the new year 2017 bring you closer to God and to your loved ones. Don’t forget to share the “red and white” story that is found in God’s story book (the Bible). It is verifiable not only because it is recorded therein, but because it has and continues to change millions of lives.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes (wounds) we are healed (saved).” -Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)

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USEFUL LINKS
Candy Cane History
Legend of the Candy Cane (film)
The Candymaker’s Gift

How Candy Canes are made

Spiritual Winters

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A wintry phenomenon

Like a magical tower in the land of Narnia, this beacon beckons us to marvel at the wonders of creation. Underneath this fairy-tale like facade is one of two lighthouses located on a pier in the town of St. Joseph, Michigan. Built in 1907 this range light, which is still operational, is known as the St. Joseph North Pier Outer Lighthouse. Perhaps you have already come across this or similar images which, along with an amazing drone captured video clip, has been circulating the internet since December 19th. Extreme cold weather in Lake Michigan has caused ice accretions to cover the lighthouse and pier. But more amazing than this wintry phenomenon is the fact that although everything surrounding the lighthouse is frozen its light continues to shine!

We also go through seasons

Winter is one of the seasons God established for as long as the earth remains. In the northern parts of our planet winter is usually accompanied by moderate to severe cold and icy conditions. In some cases, deep freezes can actually bring a whole populated region to a standstill. While hot summer days usually encourage people to travel to places where they can cool off (beaches, pools, air-conditioned malls) extremely cold winters discourage people from venturing out. They are forced to brave the bone-chilling weather only to go to work, school, or acquire a few essentials. Many actually feel despondent during this time of the year. Hence, the winter blues.

Just as the earth goes through seasons so do we. Many people I know and have read about have experienced fluctuating spiritual periods;  times when they have felt close to God and times when they have felt distant from any relationship with Him and even other people. While many refer to the latter as dry spells or desert times, I rather think of them as spiritual winters. Times when the blazing fire of God in our hearts gives way to soft smoldering embers. Times when the enthusiasm of gathering with other believers to worship is replaced with uncaring apathy. And times when the desire to be intimate with God in prayer and Bible reading is overtaken by sighs of despair. All of these are usually accompanied by feelings of abandonment, half-heartedness, and/or confusion. Do you know what I am talking about? If you do, you have definitely been through a spiritual winter. You are probably experiencing one right now. But don’t resign yourself to remain in that condition. It’s just for a season. 

You’re not the only one

Biblical and modern-day patriarchs of the faith have all had to endure spiritual winters of their own. I have experienced them myself. Some of the most faith-freezing times have not been so much feeling rejected by God as feeling guilty and unworthy. These are the times that I have allowed the enemy to use the memory of my past and my shortcomings to condemn me. Times when I have focused more on my failures than in the victories God has given me. Times when I have allowed the consequences of a bad choice to paralyze me instead of relying on the grace of Christ to set me free. Yet I can honestly say that my frozen faith has always, always, been thawed out by the warmth of God’s embrace. The assurance of His steadfast love has set me ablaze for Him over and over again. However, to get back to that state is not always that easy. His word, His promises, and the memory of His faithfulness have to be rooted deep in your heart in order for the Holy Spirit to use them as embers to rekindle the fire.

You can shine in spite of the weather

Granted, no one undergoing a spiritual winter has the desire let alone the energy to shine. Yet, like the St. Joseph Lighthouse we can keep shining in spite of the cold spell because the light within us is not our own, it is God’s. In the midst of our winter, we must show the world that His power is greater than any trial we can ever face. I am not suggesting that we hypocritically smile all the time and act like nothing is wrong. What I am saying is that while we can and should allow others to see our humanness, they also need to see that our faith is more than just a vocal declaration. It must be evident in the way we respond to our challenges. It must attest that we are guided by God’s faithfulness and not by our circumstances. Like Paul, we should be able to be content (to shine) in every situation, whether having abundance or suffering need. In fact, it is very likely that in our times of trouble someone somewhere is experiencing the same thing we are or even worse. That is why we must be ready to shine in spite of the weather. It might encourage you to read my devotion titled When You Are Needed The Most.

Be prepared for the inevitable

As I mentioned earlier, earth’s seasons have been established by our Creator. Spring, summer, fall, and winter are inevitable. Those who are blessed with the opportunity to experience them all know that the key to enjoying them is to be prepared for them. Just like the passionate horticulturist stays busy during the winter preparing for the spring we too need to take care of our spiritual winters lest they become a year-long condition that will end up in spiritual hypothermia. Trials will come. Jesus forewarned us about them. But He also encouraged us to keep our light shining by being of good cheer. Because he overcame the world and its challenges we too can overcome by keeping our eyes fixed on Him and our faith anchored in His promises.

As a lighthouse for God, here are a few things you can do to help you prepare for spiritual winters:

  1. Don’t stop adding oil to your lamp
    Pray even if you don’t feel like it. Remember, prayer is just talking to God. It’s OK to tell Him exactly how you feel. Even it means telling Him you don’t feel like talking to Him. Doing so still proves that you have faith that He is there and listening. You’ll be surprised what a simple and honest prayer can do. And read the Bible. Yes, read even if you are too tired, lazy, or uncaring. The word of God has the power not only to save but to heal and restore.
  2. Take proper care of your tower
    Physical health is as important as spiritual health. An unhealthy vessel is limited in what it can do for the Lord and it lacks the energy needed to properly carry out spiritual disciplines. Be serious and intentional about your diet and exercise regimen.
  3. Seek lighthouse assistants
    The Bible says victory comes through counsel. Seek advice from spiritually mature friends and church leaders. This does not mean you should become dependent on them, but rather conscious that God has placed them in your path to encourage and guide when you face trials of different kinds.
  4. Learn to detect potential malfunctions
    Winter is always preceded by falling leaves, chilly winds, and dry air. Learn to discern when the enemy is using people and situations to discourage, aggravate, and even tempt you. The bible says we are to be constantly vigilant for the enemy of our soul is looking for the opportune moment to strike. Be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit whose job is to warn, convict, and quicken you to stay away from potential spiritual downfalls. 
  5. Remember, it’s only for a season
    Winter is inevitable, but it is not forever. Every dormant tree rebuds in the spring. Whatever challenge you are facing now or may have to face in the future is only temporary. Even if your spiritual winter seems to be unending remember that in the midst of it you can still shine for God and be a witness to his loving mercy and grace. Plus, you can rest in the promise that one day every tear will be wiped away and there will be no more sickness, death, crying or pain. 

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Prayer: God of all creation, you who have set the seasons in place, grant me the strength to endure the spiritual winters in my life. Help me to keep your light shining brightly. Even in the midst of my challenging plight. Rekindle the fire of God in me, Oh Holy Spirt. And keep me from spiritual dormancy for the sake of those who depend on your light shining through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” – Genesis 8:22
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” -Philippians 4:12
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (KJV)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” -Romans 12:12
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” -Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)
“Be clear-minded and alert. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” -1 Peter 5:8 (ISV)
“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.

Every Lighthouse Needs a Maria

Located on a small rock island off Cape Ann on the Massachusetts coast in the USA are these two lighthouses known as the Thacher Island Twin Lights. The original towers built in 1771 were made out of wood. These were replaced with the present 124-foot tall granite ones in 1861. The Thacher Island Lights are the tallest lighthouses in the state of Massachusetts.

An amazing story that dates back to 1864 is told about these two lighthouses. It involves Alexander Bray, a Civil War veteran who was appointed keeper of the newly constructed towers, and his wife Maria. Both lighthouses required routine maintenance on a daily basis. This was a very arduous task since it required climbing the 150 steps in each tower while carrying containers of oil to replenish the lamps in the lantern rooms. The lights needed to burn continuously and the window panes needed to be kept soot free.

aphot2Alexander had two assistant keepers. On December 21, 1864, one of them got very ill and needed to be taken to the mainland for medical attention. He and his second assistant sailed a mile across the bay with the ailing man in hopes to get him to a doctor and quickly make it back home that same day. Alexander had no choice but to leave Maria in charge of the lighthouses while he was aphot1away. Once the men got to the mainland they were able to get the necessary help in a short amount of time. But just as they were getting ready to head back to the island, a slow but steady moving snowstorm had caught up with them. Not wanting to put himself and his other worker at risk, Alexander decided to wait a couple of hours, but the storm only increased in intensity and they were unable to leave as planned. In fact, they were forced to stay on the mainland for another two days. Alexander’s heart grew weary knowing that Maria would have to take over the strenuous job of keeping both lights burning.

With the help of her 12-year-old nephew, Maria braved the wintery conditions to take care of the lighthouses. First, she would have to carry fuel up 150 stairs to the lantern room of the first tower, trim the lantern wick and clean the window panes. Then she would have to descend the same amount of stairs and battle through waist high snow drifts and bitter winds to reach the second tower which was 900 ft. away! In addition, she had to monitor the engine rooms which contained the fog signals. Oh, did I mention that she had to do this three times a day while her husband was away? But for Maria, it was more than just lending a helping hand. It was about saving the lives of mariners, including her husband’s, who depended on the lighthouses especially during stormy days like this one. 

Finally, three days later (Christmas Eve) the winds subsided and Alexander was able to set sail. Visibility was still not good, but he was able to use the glowing lights from the towers to guide him safely home. Maria’s resilience and genuine love for people allowed her to stand in the gap and help out when she was needed the most. Because of her commitment to keeping the lights burning during the storm, there were no marine casualties. 

In my devotion titled, Keeper of The Light, I explain how the Holy Spirit is the One who imag4887maintains our spiritual lighthouse. Nevertheless, it is also He who, from time to time, provides other keepers to help us when the storms of life are seemingly unbearable. These keepers are the people who stand in the gap for us when we are faint of heart. They are the ones who pray for, encourage, and help us in practical ways so that our light does not fade away. As lighthouses for God, we all need a Maria in our lives. Someone who will do whatever they can to see that we don’t lose hope when all seems hopeless. Someone who will not just say that they will pray for us, but who will make the time to pick up the phone or pay us a visit to actually pray with us. That someone would also do more than just pray. They would be a physical extension of Jesus’ hands and feet. 

cpt_1481422534059I have a Maria in my life. Her name is actually Amparo, which means protection in Spanish. She is my mom. Mom’s spiritual help has been crucial in my life, especially during a time when I left my lighthouse unattended. I met the Lord at the age of 13 and faithfully served Him through the ministry of my local church until I graduated from high school. I left home at the age of 17 to go to college and it wasn’t long before I slowly began to drift away from my faith. For the next 8 years that followed my lighthouse had ceased to shine. But my Maria wasted no time and ran to the rescue. Mom’s fervent and faithful prayers to God on my behalf are the reason why I am once again a shining lighthouse for the Lord and am sitting here writing this devotion. Her spiritual insight and words of wisdom have cleared the soot from the window panes of my heart many times. Her commitment to God and His church in spite of her many challenges have taught me to rise above my circumstances and truly live by faith and not by sight. Thank you mom, for being my Maria. 

Because we will all need a Maria in our lives we need to pursue, establish and maintain genuine and trusting relationships with other spiritually mature Christians. And we need to pray not only for God to send us a Maria but to become a Maria ourselves to other lighthouses (believers). 

Prayer: Thank you Holy Spirit for being the keeper of my light. And thank you for those who have been there for me when I have needed them the most. Help me to stand in the gap for those who may be facing storms in their lives so that together we may continue to shine your light in a dark and lost world. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” -James 5:16
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak and not to please ourselves.” -Romans 15:1 (BLB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

 

 

 

The Hidden Lighthouse

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Nestled among two magnificent rocky mountain tops rising like gothic cathedrals out of the sea is this 40 ft. beacon known as the Skellig Michale Lighthouse. It is one of two lighthouses built in 1829 on Skellig Michale, an uninhabited steep rocky island lying off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. The first lighthouse, which is located at a higher elevation, has been out of commission since 1870. This one, however, has been renovated and still serves as a navigational aid to mariners.

Public visits to Skellig Michale are very limited and the lighthouse is not readily accessible as it is somewhat tucked away out of sight. The only way to reach it is by climbing a set of steep and dangerous steps that were originally constructed by 15th-century monks who once lived there. Because it is only visible from the north side of the rock island, this light has been referred to by one photographer as, “The Hidden Lighthouse.”

When I look at this inconspicuous tower hiding behind the weather battered scar-like rocks I can’t help but think of how we sometimes hide the light of Christ behind the scars of our past. While many of us wish we had never gone through some of the experiences we’ve had, some of us would be happy if we could just forget them all together. Unfortunately, we all bear the scar(s) of some undesirable past. Perhaps it was a broken relationship, a bad decision, an unexpected disappointment, a painful memory, or even an innocent mistake.

…scars are only a part of your life’s story not the end of it. 

As repentant sinners, we can rest assure that our past has been forgiven. But the truth is that sometimes it can come back to haunt us [Read Haunted Lighthouses]. Like scars, our past can leave memories that remind us of the pain and suffering we once endured. When we focus more on the reasons for our scars rather than on the fact that they are evidence of healed wounds, we can easily hide behind feelings of guilt, self-pity, and shame. These feelings cause us to hide the light of Christ within us. The same light that brought us out of darkness and into a bright, promising, and purposeful future. Don’t allow the scars of life to hide your light. Rise up to the mountain top where you can shine for all to see the NEW creation Christ has made of you. And let your scars serve only as a testimony of the healing power of His stripes. Remember, scars are only a part of your life’s story not the end of it. 

Have you or someone you know been hiding behind the scars of the past? I recommend that you not only read God’s word daily but commit it to memory and take God up on His promises. These promises include the assurance that we have been freed from the penalty of sin and no longer need to hide behind the walls of condemnation. Here is a link to a FREE 365 Promises E-Book. You can download it as PDF for your PC or as EPUB for your iPhone/Android. Enjoy! 

Prayer: Dear God, you are Jehova Rapha (The Lord who heals). Your sacrifice has healed the wounds of sin in my life. You are Jehova Or (The Lord of Light). Your salvation has rescued me from darkness and now shines upon me. Let the scars of my past only serve to remind me of your grace so that I may shine brightly and guide others to you. In the name of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), amen! 

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.” -1Peter2:24  (BSB)
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:18 (ESV)
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” -Isaiah 60:1
 -ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

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.

 

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