Category Archives: Christian Living

Lighthouses


outerbanks-horse-lantern

Philippians 2:15 NKJV “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”

One of my favorite vacation spots is on the East Coast in North Carolina known affectionately as the Outer Banks.  It’s an old fishing destination because of its unique position as a series of islands off the coast that affords it access into the fringes of the Gulf Stream bringing in a wide variety of fish.  There is a natural beauty there and also some man-made wonders such as the lighthouses that stretch along the islands from the south at Cape Lookout to the north at Currituck, including the infamous Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island, and Ocracoke.   I’m sure most of you know the purpose for the lighthouses.  Years ago, mostly in the late 1800’s to early 20th century, the lighthouses served as a warning to incoming ships that they were getting to close to the shore.  The lights guided ships, the crew and cargo along the coast until they reached safety.

Our lead verse from the Apostle Paul’s epistle points toward exactly this same concept.  As Christians we are to be “lights in the world.”  Our light should shine forth so bright that all those around us can see God working in our lives.  As Charles H. Spurgeon points out, “His [Christian’s] conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and who he serves, and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions.”  Christians this is one of our roles in life.  To serve as not only an example to each other, but to non-believers alike, we must act as the lighthouses and protect others from the dangerous shores as well as point others towards the shores of Salvation.  Jesus emphasizes these very points in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

But there’s more to the verse from Philippians, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” and there’s more to the history from the Outer Banks.  My vacation destination that I described earlier is usually in the Nags Head area of the islands and this town has a history all to her own.  You see Nags Head gets her name from the pirates that would troll her shores looking for those ships I alluded to earlier.  Those pirates would walk the shores with a “nag”, horse, mule or otherwise, that would have a lantern around her neck or head.  The purpose of this would be to provide a false light and deceive the ship captains into thinking they were following a lighthouse and were safe, but in fact they were falling into a trap leading to their destruction.  Just like the lighthouses pointed toward our role as Christians, the pirates’ deception alludes to the false leaders of the church today.  From a distance, they too look safe and look like their light is shining just like those true followers of Christ.  But just like the ships of old that followed the false light of the “nags head”, without proper discernment and guidance, once you get too close it’s too late to turn back and a shipwreck is imminent.

Brethern throughout the history of the church there has been deception of great magnitude.  The best deceivers always manifest themselves as purveyors of truth and light, but in fact their deception is more dangerous than the shallow shores of the coast, because their path leads to eternal destruction.  Today is no different, in fact Scripture tells us in the last days these deceptions and deceivers will increase in number. (Matthew 24:11) This has never been more evident than now and it’s so critical to test everything (I Thessalonians 5:21) and pray for the discernment of the Holy Spirit that we might be able to follow the true lighthouses of the world and not the deceivers of light.

“The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure; they hoist the wrong light, be it ours to put up the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin, and tell what it leads to, that so we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world.” Charles H. Spurgeon

Additional Study:   Proverbs 2:1-22     Proverbs 15:21      Philippians 1:9

We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve

Pause with me for a second and think back to the last time you felt treated unfairly.  Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, maybe someone was chosen for an assignment that you wanted.  Maybe it was something more personal, your best friend is getting married and you think it should’ve been you or maybe someone you know is having a baby for the first time while you continue to try month after month to no avail.  No matter the situation, you were likely left thinking, “This isn’t fair, how come I never get what I deserve.”  Just like the title of this blog suggests, We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve, and we should be thankful for that.  Psalm 28:4 NKJV says, “Give them according to their deeds, And according to the wickedness of their endeavors; Give them according to the work of their hands; Render to them what they deserve.”  The implications of this verse are eye-opening.  Do we really want what we deserve?  If God were to give to us according to the works that we have done, would we really want that?  Along these same lines, we can look at Romans 6:23a and again we are taught, “For the wages of sin is death…”  If we were to really get what we deserved in life, it would be death and eternal separation from God.  There would be no chance for us because being born with a sinful nature, we start off wrong and it’s impossible for us to recover on our own.  But there is beauty in the redemption that we are offered through Jesus Christ.  Instead of receiving what is perfectly fair based on exactly what we deserve we are granted mercy and given grace when we need it most.  It’s this grace that carries us through our trials.  It’s grace that carries us to persevere through the most difficult of trials and circumstances.  This is the same grace that God declared was sufficient for the Apostle Paul during the most difficult, most trying, most faith testing time of his life in II Corinthians 12:9  We Don’t Always Get What We Deserve, but what we do get if we turn to Jesus for all of our needs, is grace, and it is more than sufficient.

Prayer:  I know firsthand what it is to ask the questions posed above.  I’m far too guilty of claiming what I think is fair or not fair.  But it’s not up to me, just like it’s not up to you.  No matter what you’re faced with in life, if you’re in Christ and you’ve made Him Lord and Savior of your life, then things are more than fair, because you have His Grace and that’s enough.  Ask the Lord to remove any selfishness that you might be holding on to in your life.  Pray that He shows you that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Additional Study: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
II Corinthians 12:8-10

For the Love of Money (Repost)

Disclaimer: This is a repost from March.

…is the root of all evil.  That’s what the Apostle Paul was teaching to Timothy in I Timothy 6:10 KJV.  In context, his message is in direct response to the church at Ephesus and their leaders’ desire for financial gain.  Not only is this message one of conviction for that church, but it’s also equally applicable to today’s society, as the focus on money seems greater than ever. 

Turn on the evening news these days and what’s the major topic?  Money.  It’s all about money, in the form of bailouts, stimulus, greed, corporate corruption, financial advisors stealing, the housing bubble collapse, bank failures, the stock market…money, money, money.    I would argue that the majority of the current problems our country is facing is the direct result of the love of money, rooted heavily in a lack of Godliness.  We’ve become so obsessed with money on a global scale that it is literally undoing countries left and right. 

Case in point: I began following the news, via the cable news channels, after the presidential election of 2000.  It was such a contested event, that I wanted to tune in daily for new updates.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to monitor world news and current events, though more so from a Biblical perspective, in the past year.  In this time, I’ve never seen such an obsession with the stock market as I’ve seen within the last year.  Rather than searching for the latest Dow Jones index in the morning paper or on the old CNN Headline News, you now see it everywhere; it’s a ticker on every channel.  It’s even a category on my new iPhone (yeah, guilty as charged).  People seem to bow to the market as though it’s an idol, a beast capable of controlling a person’s destiny, when in fact it’s nothing more than man-made instrument used by many to measure self-worth.  One of my biggest pet peeves regarding the stock market is the daily office discussions.  I remember the stock market taking nose dive last year and the monitoring fixation that took place several times a day.  It became such an annoyance that I would jump into the conversation just to offer up an opinion like, “You can’t watch that every day, it’ll drive you crazy”, in an attempt to discourage the exchange.  These examples are just microcosms of the passion, or love, of money that’s captured our society.

So what’s the Christian’s role in these discussions?  How are we to live in a society so obsessed with money?  Our role is to let Christ’s love and Light shine through us.  We can do this, not through negative comments, like I made above, but through sharing the truth of the Gospel.  Paul enforces this very action in I Timothy 6:17-18, “Command [warn] those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command [charge] them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  When we use Christian love to point out the dangers of the love of money it will open up the door for us to share the Gospel.  Instead of saying, “You can’t watch the market every day, it’ll make you go crazy”, maybe something more along the lines of “That market is just so unreliable and unpredictable isn’t it?  I used to follow it pretty regularly too, but after reading a passage in Mark 10, it changed my whole perspective on money.”  Then just kindly tell of Jesus’ parable on the Rich Young man.  That’s just one example, but hopefully it will make you think of opportunities to share the gospel when conversations, such as those on money, come up.

It’s easy for any of us, believers and non-believers to get caught up in race for money, but ultimately as Christians, we need to avoid the trap of trying to get money and focus on how we can give more.  It’s times like these when Christians need to step up their giving, not only through tithing more, but through giving to local shelters and food banks.  In doing so, we’ll show that our true Master is not money, but God. Matthew 6:24

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”