Category Archives: seeking understanding

Upon what corner need the light to shine in our hearts?

Epiphany is the coming of light. This light is for all people (people groups, ethnicities) – so says Jesus. But it’s not just the light on the path TO Jesus for the first time, we Christ followers need it constantly.

Light from the wood stove up in my favorite retreat house in Hungary

I think there are two ways we need the light daily – sin and wisdom. Let’s think first about the light and our sin.

C. S. Lewis wrote about rats in the basement. They scatter when the hear you coming. So when you turn on the light you don’t see them. He used this metaphor in a discussion about our sinfulness.

Our constant battle. I need the light of Jesus to shine into my heart as I worship him (see Ps. 100 yesterday). The more I dwell on him and his light the more glaring my sins are, and if I’m really paying attention, the faster I’ll see them so I can confess and repent and keep going with him! I must be vigilant in the battle between the flesh and the spirit.

Or not.

An alternative is intellectualizing away my sin and refuse to shine the light. The less I look, the less I want to look. It feels soooooo good to not see my sin. I can just go my merry way into the pit. I don’t need the light because I’m just fine, thank you very much.

I. Don’t. Think. So.

We need to remember the ongoing need for the light.

Imagine an old hurricane lantern inside which is a flame. This flame shines through the lamp’s glass.

Now imagine this lamp has been neglected and the glass is smoky, dusty and barely translucent. It is certainly not transparent so as the show the true brilliance of the light inside.

This is the condition of a Christ follower whose attitude toward sin is a bit too casual. The light is inside, but difficult to see and therefore a less effective source of light.

The glass door on the wood stove is another great example. The glass in the door gets grimy fast in the winter as it is used so much. I clean the glass every morning before lighting the first fire of the day. I want to see through the glass to check the fire.

Perhaps this is the very reason to take stock daily. Maybe Luther’s suggestion about daily meditating on the 10 Commandments is a pretty good idea after all.

Take a moment, take stock, run to the throne of Grace because forgiveness and help are there. There is light!

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Into the throne room…

My Psalter reading this morning…

Hearing Keller inspired me to read the Psalms every month and began during my sabbatical in May. My dear fellow disciple Bill gave me this psalter over a decade ago and it is a blessing.

brought me to Psalm 100 and I decided to use it in a copy-meditate* time. Here is the result…

During Epiphany, we need reminding to run to the throne of Grace where is the light so that we are made more like him to be his lights… I see a pattern of worship in this psalm:

Make a joyful noise, all the earth (go walk in the woods and listen)…

Serve with gladness (dwelling in him fights feelings of drudgery)…

Sing!

Recognize that God is god. I am not (this is really hard)…

I didn’t create me (so I can’t fix me)…

Come to the throne with gratitude (cultivate thankfulness by practicing it)…

Regularly remind yourself that he is good…

and faithful…

always.

Glory to God!

___________________

* The discipline of copy-meditate helps me slooooow down as I copy scripture in my notebook.

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An effect of the light…

We’ve said that Epiphany is the season of light to the world. Jesus IS the light to the world. As he lights us, we are his lights to the part of the world immediately around us.

But if I’m going to be an effective light to others, I must allow the light to probe into my darkness. Make no mistake, even though the light is IN me, there are still corners of darkness. (Paul describes it as the inners battle between the flesh and the spirit.)

The first commandments remind us not to have other Gods, yet Calvin says we are idol factories. What are your idols? In a helpful book about work, Keller says:

Money and power certainly top the list. But remember that an idol is a good thing that we make into an ultimate thing.*

To engage in the battle mentioned above each morning I remind myself of the gospel in two ways:

1. I remind myself of the 10 commands (thank you Dr. Martin).

2. I run to the throne of Grace and plead for help because I know that I am a wretched man.

Remind, confess, beg for help.

Receive his help.

Repeat.

Slowly, he changes me and help me be more and more free from the idols that I so love. Slowly he turns my light up so that others may see.

Thanks be to God!

_______________

*Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller
https://a.co/ajyRKfV

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Faithfulness

As we go through life we face all kinds of challenges. Some are smaller daily challenges – the car breaks down, a leaking pipe, or trouble with a work assignment. Others are life changing challenges, loss of a job, serious illness, death of a family member. Regardless of severity, whether short or long term effect, remember this: God is faithful and God is for you.

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

(Remember that “Selah” is a signal to pause and reflect on what you just read.)

Think about a movie about battles in the Middle Ages. When trouble comes the townspeople run to the castle, the fortress for protection. It was the same in the time of the Psalms. Trouble coming? Go get inside the fortress walls.

Fortifications at old town Osijek, Croatia that were built up for protection against invading Ottomans

But deep in the fortifications is the throne room, the most protected space in the fortress. Aside from the elite guard and highest officials, only the family of the monarch were allowed there. Here there was the deepest safety and comfort.

It’s the same today for we followers of Jesus. We know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father at the throne of grace. He is speaking on our behalf because he completely understands our struggles. He can empathize with us because of the Incarnation. As fully human, he experienced life as we do, was tempted as we are, was opposed as we sometimes feel.

Jesus gets it.

As fully God, He sent the Spirit. He resides in each of us. When we’re frustrated with family, our jobs, our friends, we are understood by God.

So when it’s tough, when you’re disappointed, frustrated, or afraid, run, don’t walk, to the throne of Grace.

God is faithful and God is for you.

Think about THAT!

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The light of the world

We are still in the season of Epiphany, the season where we celebrate Jesus as the light.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
‭‭John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You have to HAVE the light to be the light.

Follow him.

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Be the light!

I have a buddy with red hair who works real hard, and succeeds, at being the light. He will often text or email “Be the light!” It’s like he’s a natural.

Let me tell you, it’s not natural for me. Is it for you?

Hard or easy, Red is right, be the light!

Here’s Jesus: “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 ‭ESV‬‬)

Jesus is the light (remember, it’s Epiphany – today is day 3 of 12 in the season) and he indwells us so we can be the light, just like my buddy likes to exclaim.

There are many ways to be the light, but the first is to love people more than judge them.

Let’s look for ways to love people that don’t seem so lovable to us. In this way we too can be the light. In the accumulation of all our little lights there can come a glow. That’s kind of like what I think the Magi saw, the collective glow from the angels giving glory to God. That got the Magi moving westward, but they will see light again. See, they’re not quite half way to Judea yet, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, be the light! In this way, Jesus says, we glorify the Father.

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