Light and Dark

“Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there is plenty of light from the sun.  Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.” – John 11:9-10 (MSG)

This reminded of a conversation I had recently with a colleague.  We were talking about the implications of how light and darkness work.  In the principle of light, darkness is not the entity that overcomes areas of light.  Only light is able to overcome the darkness.  What does this mean on a practical level?

Areas of darkness are not places where darkness has moved to.  Darkness is unable to move or relocate.  It is dark there simply because the light has ceased to exist or take over yet.  This happens on a territorial level as well as a neurological level.

As I processed through some things in my last year, I discovered some places in my mind that still had darkness, or lies, that had yet to be replaced by the truth and the light.  Some of the biggest break throughs for me was being able to address these areas in a clinical way.  It was the first time that I was able to address some dark and hidden places from my past.  It was only by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the following of my mentor that I was able to experience truth and the light in a fresh way.

What about you?  Are there any dark areas in your heart or mind that have yet to experience the light and truth?

Embracing the light is how we embark on the transformational process of becoming the light.  I can recall a podcast from Erwin McManus where he said that, “We are meant to be vessels of light.”  We are then able to fulfill our calling by going out and overcoming other places of darkness.

As I am processing through these concepts, I always get a little leery.  I never have fully understood the dynamics of how light and darkness works.  It’s a language that I am still discovering more about.  Even though there are areas of unfamiliarity for me, I rest in the simplicity of these two simple truths:

Darkness is nothing to be intimidated by because it merely is an area that is absent of the light.  

Darkness is not alive or does not exist outside of itself.

I pray that you would not be intimidated by anything amidst your journey towards the truth.  May the Holy Spirit lead you and bring victory in those places that truth has not yet an opportunity.  I pray that you would be able to take one step closer in trusting Jesus to lead you with His loving hand.

How Awesome Is Jesus?

“Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs.  He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition.” – Mark 6:7 (MSG)

How awesome is Jesus?

Jesus calls the disciples to Him and is ready to send them out a very important missions trip.  He gathers His team of misfits that most would consider to be the least qualified to be entrusted with leading the mission in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ around the world.  How does Jesus equip His team?  He gives them two things:

Jesus gave authority.
Jesus gave power.

If the church did missionary training like Jesus did, I wonder if we would have more missionaries being sent out.  This would be a leadership meeting I would be sure not to miss!

Jesus gave His disciples all of the power and the authority that they needed.  He set them up for one of the most radical adventures they could ever embark on.  I believe that the most qualified people are the exact ones who understand the importance of depending on Jesus.  They knew the beholder of the one that gave them power.

Jesus was, and still is, the advocate of giving His disciples the ability to handle everything they need while on this earth.

The Apostle Paul relates the relevance of this message to the church in Corinth.  He wrote to them, “You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV).  He makes it very clear to them.

Your skin is the structure that holds the Holy Spirit.
The power and authority of Jesus no longer exists outside of us, but dwells in us.

Not very many people are willing to take the journey into the heart.  Not very many able are able to trust God with the truth that His Spirit resides in us.  I pray that today would be one step closer for you to know the full extent of the power and authority that Jesus has put inside of you.

Don’t Listen to Them

“Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” – Mark 5:36 (MSG)

These words from Jesus saved me from a lot of emotional turmoil.

Isn’t it odd that the people who are supposed to be the most likely to love and accept can also become the most violent in destroying and damaging relationships?  The driving heart beat of the Bible conducts a movement of grace.  Jesus being sent to this earth was designed to make reconciliation possible.  The message of the cross allows for forgiveness to take place where it appears to be the last viable option.

Without truth, grace, reconciliation, and forgiveness, you are left with ambiguity for people to construct their own lies.

In this passage, Jesus overhears some news that a group of people just brought to their leader.  This group brings the news to their leader that his daughter just passed away.  I can only imagine the emotional turmoil that began to spin in the heart of this leader.  In this story, Jesus is able to intervene right before this leader is able to begin to go down a mental and emotional road that could have affected an entire community (leadership affects communities).

Jesus takes these opportunities, creates a miracle, and uses it to inspire the faith of others around Him.

Can you imagine being caught in a mental and emotional wreck?  Can you imagine feeling like your entire world is falling apart?  Have you ever felt the weight of losing a loved one?  I take comfort in the strength of words that Jesus spoke to this man during that time.  He said:

Don’t listen to them.
Just trust me.

In a spot where this leader’s life is beginning to fall apart, Jesus makes it possible for the reconciliation of relationship.  The way that this happens is by ignoring the things around him that are not true.  Instead of choosing to trust those voices, Jesus encourages the leader to put His trust in Jesus.  I wonder what would happen if more leaders were able to put aside the other voices and put their trust in Jesus.

I pray that you would be one step closer to trusting in a God that wants nothing more than to see your relationships be reconciled.

Soul Cravings

He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart.  They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat.” – Mar 8:2 (MSG)

My wife and I have made it a summer goal to get healthy and back in shape together.  Which means that this summer included some new changes.  I now have exercise goals as well as nutrition goals.  The first week was not that difficult for me, but it is getting harder to maintain.  I feel a new kind of hunger that I did not feel before.

I think that there are a lot of great comparisons between being nourished physically as well as spiritual.  Jesus makes it very clear that His words are the “Bread of Life” (John 6:47, MSG) for us.  Just in the way that our stomach is designed for food, our souls were designed for Jesus and His words.

Hungry people break the heart of God.

As I have been getting into the groove of my new summer schedule, I am brought back to some simple truths in my life.  The more I exercise, then the hungrier I am that day.  The harder I work, the better that I rest at night.  When I put the right food into my body, then I am a healthier person and can feel the affects of that.  The same truths are true for us about our faith.

The more we practice our faith, the hungrier we will get for Jesus.

When we live out our faith, the better our hearts are able to rest at night.

If we fill our lives with the Bread of Life, we are healthier and our entire lives see the results of that.

The tender and compassionate heart of God amazes me.  As His heart is broken, He is ignited to take action.  Following this scripture, Jesus takes the day to feed every single person that comes to Him.  There is something spiritual in the way that the hunger from our stomach is uniquely connected to the hunger that comes from our souls.  Erwin McManus refers to these spiritual hunger pains as Soul Cravings.

Only Jesus is able to satisfy the cravings of our soul.

Today, I pray that you will become one step closer to living out your faith and becoming even hungrier for Jesus than you ever have.

Again?

Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”  He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. – Mark 8:23-25 (MSG)

There was a word in this scripture that sticks out to me like a sore thumb.
It’s the word:

AGAIN.

Why did Jesus have to lay hands on this man twice?  What went wrong the first time?  Was it a half-healing that needed something more to complete?  Was Jesus having an off day?

I am not sure, but I relate to this man.  There have been areas in my life that needed a healing touch from the Son of God.  I can recall getting those healing touches, but finding out later that it was not completely taken care of.  Looking back, it seems like God took care of the immediate symptom, but He still had more work to do on my heart.

Is Jesus trying to teach us that there are different parts in the healing process?

A few months back I was having a conversation with a close mentor of mine in regards to the healing process.  He was sharing with me that when we come to Jesus our hearts will get saved, but then “Our minds have to catch up to what God has done in our heart.” (Dr. Ted Roberts).  Which explains how our Christian hearts can be changed, but the patterns in our life will remain the same.  It is the processing of renewing our mind in which our character and life is truly transformed.

I often wonder if I settle for a half healing.  I get excited about God cleansing my heart, but often am lazy about doing my part and living out the healing that has been done inside of me.  Today I ask myself, am I willing to be persistent and let God engage with me in the healing process?

Am I willing to continually go back so that God can heal me AGAIN?

There is always more work that can be done in me.  I am learning to let life be more about the journey than about the destination.  I pray that you would be one step closer to receiving more of God’s healing touch in your life.

They Heard and Ran

The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. – John 1:37 (MSG)

I have a confession to make.

I can’t think of the last time I ran towards anything.

You know that feeling when you want something so bad that you don’t care about anything else?  Those situations where your safety and comfort goes out the window just so you can reach something that everyone else says is unreachable.  It’s those moments where you risk everything.  The times where the world disappears and nothing else matters.

I can think of times where that has happened.  Those times are too far away though for what I have been called to.

Can you feel those same emotions when you read this simple verse?

The disciples HEARD Jesus.

I read that and start to get flustered.  My heart starts to shake a little bit again as I recall that place of hearing my daddy’s voice.  Pure bliss.  Serenity.  Safety.  Calmness.  Peace.  Joy.  His voice is more than words, it’s communication to my soul.  I desperately long for those moments where simply hearing Him causes me to drop everything and run.

They RAN after Him.

If you were to close your eyes and put yourself in this scene, I don’t think you could picture these guys briskly walking towards their Savior.  If you were a bystander, the hair on your head would shift positions as they screamed their way past you.  The excitement and tenacity would rattle through your bones.  Your heart would be still for a moment only to realize that something tremendous was about to happen.  As you sat on a nearby rock, you would start to sense that life around you was no longer going to stay the same.

Hearing and running can create enough momentum for your life to forever be rocked.

The presence of Jesus caused people to move.  Why isn’t it the same way today?  Am I missing something?

I pray that your vigorous and rushing wind would cause others to be moved to being one step closer to a Jesus who loves having His children close.

In On Everything

“The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life.” – John 3:35-36  (MSG)

Jesus sets up a natural rhythm of life in these verses.

When you accept and trust Jesus, something different will take place in your life.  Embracing Jesus in your life means that you have to let go of something else in order to hold on to Him.  When you do this, there is a natural transformation that will occur.  It is not a formula.  You can’t copy it or sell it. Accepting and trusting Jesus creates a new template of life for you to live from.  When this takes place you become,

In on everything.

The Lord impressed this on my heart right before I had coffee with a former pastor of mine.  When I showed up for coffee, it surprised me at how stubborn he was and unwilling to let go of previous hurts.  The result of that was a narrow focus on himself and the world around him.  He was unable to see the bigger picture and get out of something he had been stuck in for many years.

When you are close to Jesus, you are in on everything, and begin to see life through His eyes.  The closer I bring Him to me, the more my perspective on life begins to change.  Life with Christ really is a sweet promise that only He is able to fulfill.  Life with Christ means you have a,

Complete Life
and a
Life that lasts Forever.

The promises of God are amazing.  His promise to us is that when we let go of ourself and accept His ways, then we get a complete life.  A complete life lacks nothing.   Every angle gets taken care of there is no worry about not being satisfied ever again.  A life that lasts forever takes us out of our world and into His.  A life with Christ means a place in Heaven for all of eternity.

I pray that you will move one step closer to accepting and trusting Jesus Christ.

Follow the Water Jug

He directed two of his disciples, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him.” – Mark 14:13 (MSG)

The spring break of my senior year was the first time that I heard God’s voice in my life.  I was visiting Azusa Pacific University and was sitting outside in some beautiful scenery.  It was the beginning of my journey and I cried out to God not having a clue where to go or how I was going to get there.  I reminded Him that I had a car and $50 to my name as He gently called me to follow Him out to California.  It was all I needed to transport my entire life from Chicago and into the unknown.

In this passage, Jesus gave very simple directions.

Go to the city.

Follow the man carrying a jug of water.

What is going on through the minds of the disciples?  Why is it that Jesus always gives us just enough information, and yet not enough information?  Instead of details, He gave them a destination and what to do.  The city. Follow.

Looking back I wonder if I would have followed the leading of God’s voice in my life had I known where the path would take me.  At the same time, would I even have been able to understand what He wanted to take me through without having me just follow?  Probably not.  I highly doubt it.  But as I look back, I am enamored with how wonderfully and amazing my life has become so far.  If I would have known then, I never would have done it.  Looking back now, I would not trade it for the world.

Man is constantly challenged to be on their toes and following Jesus.

Jesus is revealing his God side to us here.  Who else would know that there would be a man carrying a jug of water?  Only God would have been able to know that they would be able to walk in a city and find a man carrying a water jug that would lead them to their next destination.  As I think about this I am plagued with two refreshing new thoughts:

I want to follow the voice of God into the unknown again, because it takes me places that are better than I could have dreamed.

I need to step back and let God be God.  He is the only one who knows the exact timing of things.

I pray that this verse will inspire you.  I hope that you will be encouraged to follow His voice into the unknown.  I pray that you would find yourself one step closer to yearning for the direction of your creator.