the beauty of death

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:… He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from beginning to the end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,11

I am absolutely captivated by fall in the Midwest. Every time I take a drive, I risk my life because I find myself looking at the trees rather than the road. Growing up in the desert (which has its own beauty), I never experienced such a colorful season. It’s just magnificent!

Today, as I was on one of my risky drives, I started thinking about the significance of autumn. Why do the leaves change colors?

Now, I am not a science teacher or any expert on biology, but I remember enough from grade school to know that as the days get shorter and the weather cools, the leaves stop making food, the chlorophyll (which makes the leaves green) breaks down, and the remaining pigments are revealed (hence the red, yellow, purple, and orange colors). Then within a short time, those leaves will fall. After all the leaves have fallen, the tree is prepared for the dark, cold winter. Once the tree has made it through the winter, warmth and light return with spring, and the tree continues to grow.

God reminded me of some Biblical truths through those autumn leaves today. In order for there to be growth, there must be periods of “death.”

Death for Life

The most significant time of death in the spiritual life is when we crucify our sinful natures. Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the bought of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” In salvation, we find freedom from sin. Our sin natures must die so that the Spirit might live within us. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) This death alone, which provides new life, is beautiful to me. I think my favorite passage on this is found in 1 Peter 2:21-24, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; be committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Death for Growth

Beyond this, I consider the wintry times of my life–times that seemed dark and cold. Before them, I didn’t realize what God was preparing me for. During them, I didn’t understand what God was doing or why He was even allowing it. After them, I couldn’t praise Him enough for proving Himself so real in my life! I came to see that in those times of “death,” He was preparing me for growth. He was working in my life to reveal Himself not only to me, but to others as well, and all for His glory! What an incredible God! 1 Peter 3:14 says, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye…” 

In James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this that they trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” That word perfect is referring to maturity. God has a plan for each and every one of us. In order for us to fulfill that plan, we must go through periods of pain in which we die to self and trust God. We must shed away our desires, our wants, our fears, and our desire for control. They only hinder us from allowing God to do His growing work. We must trust that He is good, and He is loving. I think that Asaph understood this when he wrote in Psalm 73:28, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”

A Final Thought

Our God is a creative God, and He is a God of order. I think this is wonderfully displayed in the changing of the seasons. I think creation reveals so much about God, not to cause us to worship that which was created, but rather the awesome, omnipotent Creator.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:…” It then goes on to speak of those who lost sight of the Creator, saying “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more that the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:20,25)

I think too often we are in such a rush that we forget to stop and look at the things which God has created. They reveal so much about our awesome God. David understood this when he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

Do not be in such a hurry that you miss something that He wants to show you. God began to reveal His power and wisdom to Job and said, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” (Job 37:14)

Will you stand still? Will you consider His works?

For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. ~ Psalm 92:4-5

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girl (or boy) meets Bible

I have probably watched every episode at least a dozen times. I could dominate every trivia game. I could throw out quote after quote. I could probably even quote entire episodes. I know every character and their whole story. In fact, my love for literature and part of my desire to be an English teacher stems from this show.

Boy Meets World.

We all have that show, or maybe that movie. Maybe several shows and several movies. I have a group of friends that can quote the entire script of Megamind. Truth be told, I don’t think that there is anything inherently wrong with that. I do think that we should strive to guard our minds and hearts from things that are contrary to the Word of God and don’t follow guidelines seen in Philippians 1:8 which says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” But I digress from these beliefs, and move to my point.

A few years ago, I was faced with an extremely convicting question: Do I know the Word of God  more than anything else?

I am privileged to teach a number of brilliant students. The things that they know often astound me. They all seem to have some area of specific interest, and they want to learn everything they can about whatever it is. You could probably think of your own interests in which you are quite knowledgeable. I think that is a good thing. But could someone say that you know your Bible?

In my last post, I addressed simply getting into God’s Word on a daily basis, but now you must go beyond that. You should be reading with a purpose. You should desire for God to speak to you through His Word, to change you to be more like Jesus Christ. In fact, we are commanded to be followers of God (Ephesians 5:1). That word followers literally means that we are to be imitators. How can you imitate something that you don’t know the least bit about? You can’t.

So how can you read with purpose?

First things first, when you sit down to read your Bible, remove all distractions.

Please do not attempt to read your Bible in front of the television. Try to find a quiet place, where you can’t be bothered by siblings or pets or whatever. Above all, put your cell phone away! There are so many things screaming for your attention, don’t let them drown out what God is trying to say through His Word.

Once all distractions are removed, have a specific goal – determine that you will get something from what you read. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law.”

I think one of the best ways to fulfill this goal is to keep a Bible reading journal. Write down what you read, and then write down something that God showed you from that portion of Scripture. It may be a specific verse that God brought to your attention. It may be one word that will stay with you throughout the day. It may be a paragraph. It may be a prayer written out. Just write something!

Now, not everyone may agree with me on this, but I suggest marking your Bible. Highlight verses. Write in the margins. I love looking back at a Bible and seeing what verses stood out to me through different times in my life. In fact, moving from one Bible to another is difficult for me because I don’t want to lose all those markings (not that they are lost, they just aren’t as accessible).

After God has shown you something, meditate on it throughout the day. Psalm 1:2 says, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 119:15 says, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. The Bible also speaks for itself when it says, “Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:21-23) I am always amazed how God will use something from my devotions throughout the rest of the day, and often times I am able to share the blessing with others. Don’t just read your Bible to mark it off a checklist, read so that you can apply it’s principles to your daily life. Reading with a purpose will allow the Word of God to change you, guide you, comfort you, strengthen you.

Finally, and quite possibly most importantly, memorize the Word of God. I could probably write an entire post on this point alone. First, it can keep you from sin. A familiar verse to many is Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” It can provide direction when faced with a choice. It can bring comfort in time of sorrow. You know your besetting sins and struggles better than anyone. Find verses that will help you, and put them to memory. If you don’t know where to find the verses, ask! It is likely that God has placed spiritual influences in your life who can help you. Start with one verse a week, and see how often God will use that verse! I have no doubt you will be amazed!

So do you want to know God’s Word… truly know it? It won’t just happen. You must make a conscious effort. I will say, however, that the more you do, the more you will begin to desire it.

So, girl (or boy), meet your Bible. Know your Bible. Unlike your movie quotes and other random bits of (usually useless) knowledge, it will change your life!

“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” ~ Psalm 119:2

developing a relationship

God wants a relationship with YOU

First and foremost, the only way you can begin to have a relationship with God is to know His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Savior.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” You see, we were each born into this world as a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) Because of that sin, we are all condemned to eternal death–separation from God forever. Roman 6:23 speaks of the price of sin saying, “For the wages of sin is death…” But the verse doesn’t stop there! It continues with, “ …but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And in Romans 5:8, we read, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that , while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God doesn’t want you to suffer for eternity in a place called hell, forever separated from Him. He loves you, and He wants you to accept His gift of eternal life. Accepting that gift is simple. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So if you see your sin, and you realize your need for a Savior, and you have never called on Jesus Christ to save you, will you do that now? There is no greater decision!

If you have received Christ as your Savior, and you know without a doubt that you have a home in heaven, what next?

God doesn’t save you and then just leave you to live the rest of your life on your own. He has a plan for you, and He wants you to know Him more.

Think about any significant relationship in your life. It didn’t end upon meeting. Inevitably, there were many conversations in which you slowly got to know one another. In those conversations, you probably realized you had a lot in common. As your relationship developed, naturally, you wanted to spend time with that person, you wanted to know that person even more, you wanted to make that person happy. You wanted to give them things – for Christmas, for a birthday, then just because. You wanted the best for that person. You would do anything for that person if they needed it, and you knew this wasn’t one-sided. That person would do anything for you as well.

A good friend, right? Yes! But every friend holds one flaw. They are human. They will at some point let you down, and it is quite likely that you will let down a friend as well. Does your friendship end? I should hope not! If it is a true friendship, it will not (we will save this for another post).

“There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother…” (Proverbs 18:24) and he says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) He wants a personal relationship with you. He wants you to know Him. He wants to reveal Himself to you, but you must seek Him.

Have you ever gone to Starbucks and just waited for your friend to show up? You didn’t text her to let her know that you were going. You didn’t ask her to meet up with you. You just hoped she would come. That would be absurd. If you want to spend time with someone, you usually have to plan that time.

How can you expect to know God if you do not seek to know Him? You have to make time for Him. I cannot emphasize enough how important this time is! Every decision that you make in this life, everything that you do or don’t do will be directly related to your relationship with God and how well you know His Word.

So how do you even begin to know an infinite God?

How can you know His will?

Read His Word

The best way to know God and His will is to know His Word, because Jesus Christ is the living Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

In the beginning of my Christian life, the task of reading the Bible seemed overwhelming. Recently, I asked my class of junior high girls if they had ever made a decision to read through the Bible in a year. Almost every hand went up. I then asked them how many of them had quit after missing a day or two because they felt like they would never be able to catch up. Those same hands stayed up. I was not surprised in the least! I knew exactly how each girl felt because I had done the same thing! I would determine to read through the Bible. I would get through Genesis and then Exodus and then I would start Leviticus; then suddenly I had no idea what was happening. I would miss a day, then two, then three, and then I would conclude that I had failed altogether for the year, so I would quit and make another attempt next year.

Don’t quit!

It was in high school that I learned something that shifted my paradigm (sadly, it wasn’t until several years later that I actually put it into practice, but the lesson stayed with me nonetheless). If I read my Bible solely for the purpose of the getting through it by the end of the year, I would probably quit every time. BUT, if I read the Bible because I loved God and I wanted to know Him and His will, reading was no longer a task, but rather my special time with God. So I threw out my “Through the Bible in a Year” schedule and started reading specific books of the Bible in varied order. Please do not get me wrong, reading through the Bible in a year is awesome, and I think everyone should do it at some point, but you cannot hasten through the Bible for the sake of saying you read it. If you do, you will miss out on so many things that God may be trying to teach you. R.A. Torrey  said, “It is better to read one verse attentively than to read a dozen chapters thoughtlessly.”

You must begin reading your Bible daily. Your relationship with the Lord depends on it. It is unlikely that you go a day without talking to your best friend. Why should it be any different with the truest Friend, the One that gave His life for you?

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. ~ Psalm 119:10

experience God

Since school started in August, this is the first night that I have not had a pile of grading or a to-do list taunting me. This is the first night that I have really been able to write what God has been putting on my heart. I started with five simple truths that I wanted to share, but since these things have been on my mind since August, I came realized that I won’t be able to share them all in one post. In fact, I won’t even be able to share all of one truth in one post…

Let me just get started.

Since this summer, one question has prevailed in my mind and I have discussed it with many others. How can I help others, particularly my students, understand the importance of living the Christian life? How do I get them to realize that there really is no happier life than a life submitted to God?

The answer was the same every time.

I cannot.

I love writing. I literally have hundreds of papers filled with quotations, illustrations, thoughts, sermon outlines, blog ideas, poems, verses, and so much more. My favorite pieces of paper are those with verses and thoughts; whether it is truth from the Word of God or lessons taught to me by God, I want others to experience those same things. Most of them are incomplete, waiting for a day when I will put it into a complete work to teach as a lesson or post on my blog. While both of these mediums are good (God has used many lessons and many blog posts to shape me), they are just not good enough.

If all you ever do is learn God’s truths from lessons taught in Sunday School or posts written by godly men and women, you are missing the point, and you will end up spiritually emaciated.

You absolutely MUST experience God for yourself!

I can give you Biblical principals. I can live by example. But ultimately, the choice lies with you. Each and every person must come to a point where they make the choice to follow God or follow self.

I went through life for years before I realized this. I had been taught and had read about a number of truths that kept me going on the right path and protected me from mistakes, but it was not until I experienced these truths personally that I realized the joy and satisfaction in experiencing God on a personal level.

I will share some of those truths in the next few posts, but you cannot take my word for it. Go to God’s Word and then ask God to make Himself real to you!

Psalm 34:8 – O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

nice to see you… see you later!

This post was not written by me; however, the author requested to remain anonymous. It was too good not to share! Please read it, enjoy its content, and apply its message accordingly.

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I am sick and tired of seeing people treat God like barely even an acquaintance. “Devotional time” is less than five minutes. Prayers are nonexistent. We pull out the earbuds for a minute to catch a few verses and then plug right back into anything but God. The TV is always on. Some show is always pulsating its message and theme across the screen to you. Mindlessly, that message is absorbed and applied to your life. If we do manage to get away from the TV for awhile, we have our phones out. Consuming content. Never doing anything worthwhile. Never reading a book. Never sitting still and being at peace. No, the world would never allow that. This world wants the mind and hands constantly doing something. You’ll never notice the lack of God if you are kept busy and mindlessly influenced to the world. Amidst it all, we barely have time to even say “Hello” to God before we kick Him out of our lives again by turning on the TV, putting in the earbuds, or texting a friend. God is an acquaintance in the lobby of our life when He truly longs to be the author of our entire lives. Let’s look at a few quick ways we can unplug, turn down, and tune in to God.

1. Realize that you have too much “non-God” in your life.

This first step is always the hardest. You have to take an out-of-body approach to your life. Look at your “down time.” How is it spent? TV? iPod? Staring mindlessly at a virtual conversation on your phone? If you can’t see the “non-God” in these mundane things, here’s a simple question to ask to determine it: “Am I producing anything of value through my actions RIGHT NOW?” If no, you have a problem. Admit it. Be willing to change. It’s for the God Who loves you. Remember, change requires doing something you’ve never done before.

2. Replace the “non-God” with God.

Seems too simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! It truly is that simple. You have too much TV time on your hands? Put a Bible next to your remote. When you reach for the remote, grab the Bible first and say out loud, “I will read one chapter of the Bible,” and then do it. This is an easy step to take and it allows God to be placed before TV in your heart and mind. Trust me, God will honor that. Another easy replacement: when you pull out your phone to text, launch your Bible app first instead. Read a portion of Scripture until you find a verse that you want to tweet, post to Facebook, or screenshot for Instagram, and then post it! Again, this rewires your mind to begin realizing that God comes before texting. Final simple step to take: before you put your earbuds in and listen to your favorite tunes, look up Colossians 3:16-17 on your Bible app or in a Bible. If you don’t know these verses, memorize them. This prompts your mind to listen to music that is pleasing to God. Be warned: this will change your life. You won’t want to listen to Katy Perry if you truly realize what these verses say. You’ll delete Jay-Z from your iPod if you heed the words of this Scripture portion. As I said, remove the “non-God.” Simple and life-altering. Try these three simple swaps.

3. Read God’s Word with a goal in mind.

This can be anything. For me, I study His Word. I look for three-point messages. I find repeated words in the same chapter. I look up where else those words are used. In other words, I don’t just read mindlessly for a checklist; I come to my Bible with a purpose. Let me share two easy ways to have goals in Bible reading. The easiest is to read a chapter, then take a pen and write down on some paper what God is trying to say to you through it. Sometimes, you’ll write a paragraph. Sometimes you’ll write one word. Sometimes a long sentence. But realize this – you are writing something! That is a goal! You got something from God’s Word! Simple and applicable. Secondly, use a Bible app or concordance to see where and how an interesting word that you read is used in the rest of Scripture. For starters, look up words like peace, joy, love, or sin. You will find that God has much to say about His own Word! Go into His Word with a goal. And then thank Him for it!

This list could go on and on and on. But you will begin to make your own list of ways to replace the “non-God” with God as you walk each day with Him. Try it for one week and see if I’m lying to you. Look, the world is fighting for our attention, and we are letting it win each and every day. God patiently waits within the pages of Scripture, whispering softly for us to come to Him. We miss it. All the time. It’s time to start being aggressive in our walk with Him. Fight off the “non-God” for the sake of the One Who did more for you than any songwriter, actor, or friend ever did. In His Word are stories and examples of His amazing power, endless love, deep mercy, and righteous Person. There are also accounts of giants getting killed by teenagers, fire falling from the sky, the earth swallowing people, donkeys talking, dead men walking out of their graves, big fish swallowing and vomiting up people, mere words being used to create a universe, bleeding hands being spread in love for salvation, and heavenly mansions being prepared for those who embrace His Son. Doesn’t that sound interesting? The One Who wrote that Book wants you to set aside the “non-God” and come to Him. Don’t believe me? Well, look at what He said about this: “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalms 34:8) See? Just come get a taste of His Word. You’ll want more. Stop saying a quick “Hey!” to God… and sit down and dwell with Him awhile.

for restless hearts

Jeremiah 2:28 – But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are they gods, O Judah.

The children of Israel had forsaken the one true God for a number of false gods. They were to be judged – taken into captivity. The question in this verse is then asked, and the answer is obvious. None of their other “gods” can save them.

Today, Christians often forsake their God, the same God of Israel who sent His Son to pay the punishment for our sins. 1 John 4:24 says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It seems, however, that we tend to forget what He did, and we allow false gods to steal our worship. These gods are not objectified as miniature idols or relics, but rather as beauty, relationships, knowledge, materials, wealth, or power. But when the darkest of times come and you don’t know what to do and you seemingly have no answers, will your looks save you? Will your closest friends and family truly be able to help you? Will your education get you out of trouble? Will your wealth buy you a solution? Will power protect you? None of these things are guaranteed. None of these things give you the security or the answers that are found in God and His Word.

Pursue Him and everything else falls into its rightful place. You see yourself as God sees you –  that you are created specifically by Him and He has a special plan for you. You learn that He is your closest friend and knows you better than you know yourself. You find that all the knowledge in this world cannot compare to the wisdom found in the Word of God. You discover that the things of this world don’t matter for they will pass away. You choose to lay up treasure in heaven that are incorruptible. You pursue the eternal over the temporary. You realize that all the power in the world is still in His control for He is omniscient and omnipotent.

So make Him the center of your life. Focus solely on Him and His plan for you. There is no greater happiness and no greater peace found when you choose to love Him and worship Him. Interestingly, one of the primary themes of 1 John is love. In chapter five, verse three it says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments…” Near the end of the chapter (and book) you find, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true…” Then the very last verse of the entire book says this:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

It’s almost as if you will never love God or truly know Him if you put anything before Him.

Place Jesus Christ above all. Love Him. Know Him. Worship Him.

the Potter’s hands

Jeremiah 18:4 – And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

I love this picture that God gives in the book of Jeremiah. In context, it is a picture of His relationship with Israel, but I think it is also a picture of His relationship with me. In this picture, I have learned much of the love and grace of God. When the clay is marred, it is marred within the potter’s hands… and the same is true for me.

When I am marred, whether it be by wrong choices or by circumstances beyond my control, I am still in the almighty hand of my Potter. He is continually working to make me into the vessel He wants me to be – and all this for my good and His glory. He works past all my flaws, my scars, and my shortcomings, and amends each disfigurement to make me a much stronger and more beautiful vessel. He does what I could never do in my own power.

If I attempted to rectify any imperfection in my own strength, I would fall so miserably short. The vessel I would create would look a pitiful mess when compared to the exquisite vessel He could create… if I let go and let Him work.

He can do the same for you. Will you relinquish all you hold in your hands – your desires, your will? I know it can be hard. Maybe like me, you’re a “control freak”… but always keep in mind that His desire and His will are above and beyond what we could dream, and He is able to do above anything we could ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20)

He giveth His beloved sleep

I have been reading through the book of Psalms, and God has truly been working in my life through His Word. Like me, you have probably read this Psalm before, but honestly, I have never really noticed 127:2… perhaps because I am quite familiar with verses 1 and 3, I simply overlooked 2. It says this: “It is in vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Sleep is a gift from God. A gift given to those who accomplish the tasks that God would have them to accomplish to the best of their ability. Taking on those tasks in our own strength or taking on more than God would have us do is all in vain. We inevitably lose sleep and likely still do not finish all we think we must do. But for those who seek daily to do His will and only His will, He gives them sleep, and not just any sleep—probably the kind of sleep Jesus experienced in Mark 4:38, sound sleep in the midst of a great storm.

Anyway I thought this was such a great verse! Applicable to all types of people… People who accomplish little in a day and people who try to accomplish too much.

Then there are people like me… Who experience both types of days. Haha 🙂

fireflies

The first time I encountered a firefly (lightning bug, as some call it) was in Wisconsin. I was sitting on the dock, taking in the enchantment of the lake and the trees and all else that my beloved desert lacks, when this floating light passed me. At first, I squinted to be sure that I wasn’t going crazy, then I realized exactly what it was. I was so excited to finally see a firefly for the first time! …then it was gone. Later that night, I was curious, so I looked up what makes the little bug glow… as with most science, the scholarly jargon is beyond me, but basically fireflies contain special cells within them that make the light. Interesting, but I thought nothing more of it until almost three years later…

That was a few summers ago, when I first visited Indiana. My boyfriend (at the time) and I had been picked up from the airport and were driving back. As I looked out the car window and into the darkness, I saw flickering lights along the side of the road. I wondered if I was really seeing anything in particular or if it was just reflections of light from the car to whatever was in the surrounding area. Finally, I asked what I was seeing. Much to my delight, they were fireflies; this time not just one, but hundreds! I was captivated. I think I stared out the window for most of the drive catching glimpses of these fascinating creatures. My mind wandered and I remembered what I had read long ago about how they glowed… something inside them, shining outward, but only visible when it was dark…

Later during the trip, there was storm in the area, and we were advised to either stay put or try to get ahead of the storm and return home. We decided to beat the storm, so we quickly headed out and on our way. It was that night that I saw one of the most magnificent sights I have beheld to this day. In fact, the adjective magnificent (or stunning or dazzling or breathtaking) does not seem to do it justice. In my mind, I assumed that during a storm, there would be no fireflies to watch – surely they would hide from the storm – but i was quite mistaken. There must have been millions of them; and instead of keeping low to the ground, as I had seen before, they were up in the trees. No longer simply captivated, I was mesmerized. I don’t know that I can begin to accurately explain what I saw that night… the trees just sparkled!

I think back regularly to that spectacle – reminiscing, wishing I had captured the experience in a picture or that i could see it all over again… To me, fireflies are so phenomenal! I thank God for all things simple and yet sensational that He created…

My mind continues to wander…

Something special within them making light in the darkness, and apparently, even more so in a storm…

If you are a Christian, you too have within yourself something special (or should I say Someone) that can make you a light in the darkness. Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14a, 16) 

In this world of darkness, does your light shine? Can others look at your life and be captivated by seeing the Light in you? And when the storms of life come (for they always come), will you continue to let your light shine? Others will understand and maybe even expect you to hide from the storm, but will you bring glory to your Heavenly Father by letting your light shine on? It is in those times that others who are watching will be awestruck by the peace you have in the storm. It is in those times that your are a testament to the awesome grace of God!

none of these things move me

Acts 20:24 – “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

We are each running a course – a course we have never run before. It’s a course full of winding, climbing, soaring, and sometimes falling. There is no way to see the entire course. There is no way to know when the course ends. We call this course “life”, and to finish our course with the joy Paul speaks of, we must determine each day to live moment to moment with the “finish line” in mind. It is with that mindset that we can live each moment to it’s fullest, doing exactly what God created us to do – glorify Him with what we think, say, and do.

Every thought glorifying Him.

Every word glorifying Him.

Every action glorifying Him.

The only thing that can hinder you from finishing with joy is yourself. The only thing in the way is your way and not His way. If you focus on yourself, you will lose sight of the Cross. We often attempt to live this life relying on our feeble selves rather than depending on the Holy Spirit to work through us. Choose to live supernaturally. Let Him work through you. He wants to – depite your shortcomings, faults, and failures – He wants to use you!

So start every day with the decision to crucify your flesh… “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

I heard this quote my senior year of high school, and I have claimed it ever since. “Start every day with the purpose of proving that you love God far more than you love the things of this world or yourself.” I haven’t fully lived it. I do fall short, but it’s something I want to continually strive for.

Living for Him – to glorify Him – will lead you to a life of unfaltering joy. Whether through good times or bad, you will know that He is in control. With every path in this course that He leads you to, you can know it’s in His plan. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11 …and when you reach the end, knowing you remained unmoved despite the ever-changing circumstances of life, you can say “I have finished my course with joy.”