Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Little Lights

These pretty little votive candles were burning brightly in two different churches we visited in Salzburg, Austria.  The red candles were in the Salzburg Cathedral and the white candles in St. Peter's Church.  In both cases, worshipers lit the candles to offer a specific prayer for someone or some need.  This reminds me how each us as Christians are to be lights in a dark world as a testimony of our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus said it plainly, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:16.

I have one of these little votive battery-powered lights with a switch on the bottom.  My little grandkids love it when I take them into our big, dark closet, flick on the small light, and sing the song, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine..."  Then, they put their hand over top of the candle and the light grows very dim as we sing, "Hide it under a bushel, No!, I'm going to let it shine...."  Of course, they love to "blow" out the candle (as they blow, I quickly flick the switch on the bottom and we're plunged into darkness), as we sing, "Won't let Satan blow it out, I'm going to let it shine...." 

It's a little scary to kids to be in a dark closet, so I quickly flick the candle back on after they "blow" it out and once again our light shines for Jesus.  What a reminder of the importance for our Christian light to stay lit for Jesus in this dark world in which we live.

I'm very active in a church with many fellow-Christians.  My entire family are also Christians (Praise God!).  These are the people I spend most of my time with -- look again at the pictures.  I feel like I am one of those votive candles, living with my candle lit -- in the midst of all these warmly flickering candles.  Although my candle may sputter and flicker low at times, praise God it has not gone out entirely.  And -- I am a Christian surrounded by other Christians (for the most part).  I feel very blessed.

At the same time, there is a vast dark world beyond my doorstep.  I want to be a light shining in darkness to someone.  As Sandi Patti sings, I want to be a "candle lighting someone home" -- home being the loving, saving arms of Jesus Christ. 

I love being surrounded by other warm, brightly glowing candles, but I pray that God will give me opportunity and brightness of my own candle that I might be a beacon for Him - to bring Him glory and to guide someone to the warmth and brightness that He offers to the whole world.

"...For the Lord will be your everlasting light..."  Isaiah 60:20.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Road Ahead

I don't know about you, but seeing this bicycle leaning against a post along a picturesque street in Zurich, Switzerland, makes me want to hop on and cycle around the curve up ahead and see what the intriguing European streets have to offer.  Of course, I'd never steal a bike, but it's still fun to imagine pedaling along those cobbled streets and admiring the scenery.  We walked down the road instead and admired the scenery at a slower pace.

I've written a number of posts about paths and the roads we travel through life, but I'm ever intrigued by the concept of walking through life - one step at a time - with no earthly idea what lies around the corner up ahead.  I am very thankful that my Father God knows that path backwards and forwards and is aware of every dip and rough spot in the road.  And -- He not only knows what lies beyond the curve in the road -- He's already waiting there for me.  Now, that's a really cool thought.

Here's what God told Isaiah to write:  "I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight" 42:16.  Another place in Isaiah, He says, "I will go before you..." 45:2.

Whether the road ahead of you looks appealing as this street in Zurich does, or it looks like a mass of rocky stones, just know that there is nowhere on this earth or even beyond this earth where God is not there, waiting around the curve for you -- even as He guides your present steps.  It's a miracle that only an omnipresent God can accomplish.

Over and over in God's Word we are assured that He will be with us, before us and around us. The Psalmist says, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" 16:11.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Revelation 1:13-20

I am fascinated by this fresco painted up in the ceiling of one of the side chapels inside the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral in Austria.  This is the type of picture that makes scripture seem to come alive and pop off the page for me.  Although it doesn't include every single detail in the verses that it visualizes, for me it captures the spirit of the message that John writes to us in Revelation the first chapter.

" the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band... He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.'"

That is a long passage of scripture, but it is captured so well in the painting.  Notice the water in the background below the cloud -- John was on the Island of Patmos as a prisoner when he had this vision of past, present and future events.  

One of the apparent inaccuracies might be that John is portrayed in this picture as very young -- more like the youth who walked as a disciple with Jesus than the old man he had become at the time he was on the island and wrote Revelation (he was probably in his mid-80s).  Rather than being inaccurate though, I see something infinitely beautiful in that portrayal.  I see Jesus viewing His dear son John as the young man he would always be to Him.  I believe that as our Father, God always sees His children as young and beautiful.  And, isn't the spirit within us always younger than our outsides would indicate?  Also, in verse 10, John indicated that he was "in the Spirit" when he had this vision.

I'm not offering up a commentary on this passage of scripture, but just this painting to help you visualize a moment in time that happened a little less than 2,000 years ago and continues to offer a message to the church today.  I will simply repeat what Jesus Himself says to each of the seven churches (and to each of us who are a part of His church):  "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches..."

I suggest you read Revelation 2-3 to see what the Spirit says to the seven churches.