We’re Not Home Yet

With all the current falling away from Truth, it is wise to remember that the ways of a fallen world do not determine our destinies. We are under the authority of a loving, eternal God who does not flinch or waver from who He is. No kingdoms rise or fall without His notice. No mandates of governments slip through unaware.

In the grip of a world at war with itself, we would do well to see the battle as more than a tug-of-war for “rights.” It is a conflict for the souls of men, a battle between good and evil. The same armies are still at odds, generation after generation. And while the struggle seems long and fierce, in light of eternity, it is as brief as the crash of an ocean wave upon the shore’s edge.

One splash, and it is over.

Do not be surprised when the tide turns against truth and morality. Do not be dismayed when the waves of persecution begin to whirl across the sands of your world. It is to be expected, after all. You can check your Bible if you have any doubts. God’s truth has always come head to head against Satan’s lies. And while it is frustrating to see and hear of abuses against followers of Christ, it actually makes sense when seen through the eyes of good and evil. Why would Satan war against other belief systems that turn hearts from Jesus? He has no need to mislead those who are already being misled. But to oppose truth and righteousness, that is where the battle has and always will be.

To war against the justice and mercy of an unrelenting Savior is Satan’s only hope to twist the fate of men and warp their God-breathed destinies.

In keeping with the thoughts of C.S. Lewis, it is wise to remember that we are  “born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil.” Instead of reeling in surprise from this fact, we would do well to prepare for it. To arm ourselves and our children for this battle of light versus darkness and to rise in courage in the midst of it.

“Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”

We cannot escape the conflict, nor can we shelter our children from the brunt of humanity turning away from morality, but we can rise in heroic bravery and love against it. Instead of following the crowd, we can follow hard after the One who has walked in this fallen place and overcome it victoriously. We can look to the King who has promised that all things will be set right in the end, even when the “now” seems so very dark and hopeless.

Fear not the rise of evil, beloved, but fear the Victor of the war and walk in righteousness. Redeem the times — your time — with truth and love. Act justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God. And above all, rejoice that this world is not our home. We are just here for a moment. So make the most of your moment, and occupy until He comes.

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Reflections

Here’s to another Five Minute Friday and the word prompt Reflect. You can join us at http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday.

REFLECT

Sun shimmers across water, casting its rays over the surface. Trees and clouds skitter atop the ripples, mirror image of the real. As I ponder the reflections of my gaze into pond depths, I can’t help but wonder how I absorb and reflect this life surrounding me each day.

Words are spoken, actions are lived out, all resounding and impacting me — for better or for worse — and I am helpless to do anything but reflect my own intentions. Some folks throw rays of love and peace into my life, but then there are others. Those whose reflections I’d much rather refract, turning them from entering my days. Keeping them at arm’s length instead of welcoming them in closely where our hearts entwine.

Because some folks are different. They respond to life in ways unlike my own. They perceive words and actions in ways I don’t. They seem to twist and turn my words into ugly when all was intended as light.

Some appear to take reflections and drain the last ounce of light from them, absorbing constantly while giving nothing in return. And while it’s so easy for me to become frustrated with these seeming “light suckers,” I would do well to remember that I am one myself.

I am forever the recipient of grace, she who drains the cup of mercy like a dehydrated desert-dweller. All that God reflects, I greedily take. Drinking and draining the rays of love-light with barely more than a passing nod of gratitude.

And all the while, I remain frustrated at those who seem to do the same with my own offerings of love.

Today I pray for grace to come full circle as I hold the mirror of this life toward the rays of God’s love and turn the blessings back upon those who walk with me. And I will leave the outcome of my outpouring in God’s hands as I simply absorb and release the reflection of mercy upon this surrounding world.

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The Revealing

The Word with God was God.

Abiding in profound union,

So intricately entwined there could be no separation.

Everything was created through Him and reunited to Him through Him yet again.

A cycle of ceaseless grace consumed with His mercies

Gave light and brought life,

Unrelenting and unconquerable.

True Light,

Giving light to all.

 

Stepping into His own creation,

He remained unrecognizable.

So far removed from His glory dwelling.

So far removed from human expectations of the Divine.

Misunderstood.

Rejected.

By the very hearts created to beat in communion with His own.

 

BUT

To all who believed Him,

To those who saw Holy in a manger

And Glory on a rugged cross,

He sealed with sonship.

Securing their inheritance as His children.

The gift of rebirth granted to eyes opened by this Love Light.

 

The Word became flesh.

Incarnate confined by human skin,

Morphing Himself into the masterpiece He created.

Filling the canvas of temporal here

With the eternal presence of unfailing love and faithfulness.

Revealing God with us.

 

From His abundance, beggars are filled.

The blind see.

See the glory of the very countenance of I AM

Reflecting in this man face.

Revealing God

To all who will believe.

 

john11

 

Giving Voice to the Voiceless

When I awoke to find the following link on my facebook wall this morning, it stirred me to share its message. Although its content is one of heart wrenching sadness, it is reality for thousands of women across the world. Young women like my own daughters. The very thought of my girls experiencing anything so harrowing unsettles me to the core, prompting me to be a voice for those who weep in silence. Alone. Resigned to their lives of captivity. Today I share a cry from Bombay Teen Challenge, a ministry that is effectively reaching into the darkness of one of the largest red light districts in the world. Bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to those who sit in the abyss of Satan’s domain. Giving voice to the unheard cries of daughters, and sisters, and mothers. Rescuing captives; Bringing light to the darkness. One life at a time.

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Beautifully, yet hauntingly written, today’s post is a call to awareness. More importantly, it is a call to prayer and action. May you become a voice for the voiceless as you find your place in bringing hope into this world.

http://bombayteenchallenge.org/2013/07/lane-14-4/#sthash.GdwJlIPp.dpuf

If All is Light…

I recently read a line from a novel referring to the “dark side” of the moon. Although this is not the first time I’ve noticed this particular phrasing in works of literature, for some reason my curiosity was piqued, and I couldn’t help but look into it a bit further. As it turns out, in scientific terms, there really is no “dark side” of the moon. Instead, that part of the moon that always appears dark to us is, in reality, known as the “far side” and receives approximately the same amount of light as the near side of the moon. Since we see only 59% of the moon’s surface, we mistakenly think the rest to be devoid of light, hence the “dark side” reference. From what I understand with my limited knowledge of science, the far side of the moon is only completely without sunlight during a full moon – when the sun is facing the moon with the earth in between them.

Enough of the science lesson. For literary and theatrical purposes, I must admit that the term “dark side” seems to be highly effective (From what I hear, Darth Vader has cookies there). And while I’ve yet to encounter Darth Vader or the proffered cookies, I have been tempted to mistake the “far side” for the “dark side” a time or two. And today, it is those thoughts that I am pondering.

Sometimes, I daresay, we all feel as if the “far side” is the “dark side” as we are confronted with too many questions. Questions like:
If all is lit, then why is not all light?
Why are so many things seemingly hidden from my line of vision?
Why am I constantly straining to see the 41% when the 59% is always before me?
Why the continual grasping for something other?
Why the perpetual looking for something beyond?
Why all this effort to hold something held at bay?

In short, why do I believe that if I cannot see the light, then the light must be absent?

It has been scientifically proven that my inability to see the far side of the moon does not reduce the amount of light to which it is exposed. Likewise, my perception of God’s love cannot diminish or increase His love. Love simply exists, because God is.

God is.

God is love.

God is light.

In the turning of circumstances, His light is present. No matter how quickly things appear to be spinning out of control, nothing can dissolve the rays of constant glowing. No revolution can diminish the brightness of His light. Nothing I do or do not do can lessen the reach of my Father. Sin cannot shorten His hand’s extension. My failings cannot rattle His plan of salvation. My faults never tip the scales… except to shift the weight of mercy in my direction.

All is light to the Light of the World.

God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Take heart, my friend. No matter your current line of vision, in God’s domain there is no dark side. There is no far side. There’s only light.

God is near.

Encompassing.

Filling.

Completing.

Within reach.

Within you.

Within me.

And all He is, is all we need

Because…

The_Shining_Moon_by_GenuineRebel

The Shunning of Christ (A Re-post from Christmas Past)

The other day, my daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree. This long-standing tradition also included the setting up of nativity scenes. Yes, that IS plural. Somewhere along the line, we have accumulated THREE of these treasured creches. Which is actually a good thing, considering the fascination my children have had with nativity sets throughout the years.

While some folks have beautiful figurines of great value, mine are of cheap ceramic, which means they have offered many years of “Baby Jesus and the manger” playtime. The largest set takes primary placement beneath the Christmas tree, while the other two are positioned in locations at the discretion of the chosen manger caregiver (aka: whoever gets to the boxes first). To be sure, there is much rearranging that takes place throughout the weeks leading up to the actual celebration of said manger baby’s birth.

This year’s placement was not nearly as dramatic since there was no one fighting over – I mean, attempting to carefully place – the beloved figurines. In fact, in my haste to complete the decorating task, I rather unceremoniously emptied the contents of Nativity Set #2 with instructions for my daughter to arrange them as she pleased. Considering to whom I was giving such unreserved rights, I should not have been surprised by the arrangement that was chosen. But still, I was caught off guard when I glanced at the set and saw Mary and Joseph with their backs firmly turned toward Baby Jesus. When I asked my daughter what on earth she was doing, she smiled and answered, “They’re shunning Him.”

IMG_2518While I could not help but smile at my daughter’s sense of humor, I had to admit her arrangement seemed much more appropriate considering the reality of how the Christmas season often appears to be celebrated. For while we all say that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, sadly, our actions seldom align themselves in accordance with our declaration. In a bit of holiday silliness, the two of us came up with what we considered would be an even more appropriate rendition of the celebration of Christmas in America.

Perhaps our nativity set would appear more fitting as the following:

IMG_2516When my husband noticed our circle of gift-worshipers, he suggested we keep it that way in order to make a statement… or perhaps simply to serve as a reminder of the true meaning versus our true actions. Regardless, this simple act has spoken volumes to my heart and is challenging me to resist getting carried away with the world’s twist of all things godly. Instead, I am determined to keep my focus firmly fixed on Jesus this year.

While it’s tempting to shun the Christ Child amidst all the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, I pray we will never find ourselves glorifying anything or anyone more highly than the Most High. Instead of shunning Jesus, may we determine to set our hearts and our minds on things above and not on the things of this earth.

May we shun shunning even as we turn our faces to meet and accept the greatest Gift of all — the Savior who has come to deliver us from our sins.

IMG_2517FOR REFLECTION
Do you fight the temptation to turn from the true meaning of Christmas as you’re tugged toward the glow of tinsel and lights? What are some practical ways you can keep Jesus as the center of your Christmas celebration? It may be as simple as taking time to read Scripture and encourage yourself in its truths, or it may mean you need to cut back on the gift-giving and spend your efforts and your dollars on things that pour love into the lives of others less fortunate than yourself. Regardless of how you readjust your position, may you find yourself forever facing the steady glow of manger’s light.