When the Stars Shine Bright

sky2_1552774iI’ve been told that the English language can be difficult to comprehend due to the multiple definitions a single word can have.

As an example, think of the word “light.” It can be used in many different ways:

  • The words of the speaker shed some light on the subject.
  • Her suitcase was heavy, and she wanted to lighten her load.
  • He turned on the light switch, so he could see.

Light can also:

  • Bring comfort when a person is frightened
  • Be discomforting when it reveals a secret
  • Guide us or help to give direction: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).

Many years ago, I had a conversation with Richard Gregory concerning his time in the navy. When the ship was sailing under a “lights out” order, an officer would summons Richard to the deck. Richard could look at the stars at night and tell the officer what time it was.

Richard could do this because he was a student of astronomy, and he had memorized four important landmarks in the night sky:

  • The 0-hour circle
  • The 6-hour circle
  • The 12-hour circle
  • The 18-hour circle

Richard’s ability to comprehend the night sky was a benefit to his shipmates. It not only told them the hour of the night, but it also helped to guide the ship.

In I John 2:5, John used a word that is meaningful to our discussion: “Whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected.” The word “keeps” was a nautical term. Sailors in John’s day would speak of “keeping the stars,” or charting their course at night by the stars.

The Star that shines more brightly than any other is the one that Peter referred to as the “morning star,” and He is the one to follow:

We ourselves heard God’s voice from heaven when we were with Jesus on that holy mountain. We have a fuller confirmation of the message of the prophets. You would do well to pay close attention to this word; it is like a light that shines for you in the darkness of night until the day dawns when the morning star rises in your own hearts.

~2 Peter 1:18-9

Think about it: You can lighten your load, brighten your path, and find your way through the darkness when you chart your course by the light of the Morning Star.

The Year of the Naked Christmas

xmasI’m growing weary of the societal onslaught designed to strip Christmas of its dignity and clothe it in the seams of secularization.   One of the latest examples is the action of the “Executive Leadership Team” at the Salem VA Medical Center.  These mindless minions have banned Christmas trees, Christmas celebrations, and Christian speech, including the traditional Season’s Greeting of “Merry Christmas.”

Should the traditional Season’s Greeting be restricted to the “Ho, Ho, Ho,” of Santa Claus or should two letters be added to “Ho” and the greeting be: “Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” as we celebrate the gift of God’s Son?

Is Christmas to be the inflated plastic toys that line the shelves of stores like Home Depot who want your money, but deny the message of Christmas?  Is it to be a way for stores to profit while they reject The Prophet who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6)?

I realize that Thanksgiving is this week and Christmas is still a month away, but I’ve come to loathe the commercialization of Christmas.  When we forget the rich Christian history of this holy day, it becomes a remnant of empty boxes and crumpled wrapping paper.

The hope-filled Spirit of Christmas has transformed lives throughout the history of mankind.  One such incident is the World War I story involving Charles Brewer, a 19-year-old British lieutenant.

On Christmas Eve of 1914, Brewer and other soldiers of the Bedfordshire Regiment of the 2nd Battalion were shivering in a trench when they faintly heard the sound of singing coming from the trenches of the German soldiers.  After a moment, Brewer recognized the song was the familiar Christmas carol, “Silent Night.”  When the Germans were finished singing “Stille Nacht,” Brewer and other soldiers began to cheer, and they sang the English version of the song.

According to history.com, “When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.”

I think it’s time for the government to end this sterilization program and let our Veterans have their Christmas trees and its time merchants  begin  focusing less on the jingle bells of their cash registers and more on the message of Silent Night.

It’s The Season

Organize-Your-Home_chore-checklist_092011It’s one of those annual rites that’s practiced in most homes across the USA.  At some point in the Spring and the Fall months of the year, there is some time scheduled for extra cleaning.

Just as you make time to spruce up your house, you might want to examine your life as well.  Is it as tidy and clean as it was a week or a month ago?

Self-examination is a continuing theme throughout the pages of Scripture, and I’ve emphasized a word in each verse below.  While these are different words in the English, they come from the same word in the Greek which is the language of the New Testament.

As you read these verses consider them in the context of who, what, when, and why:

***1 Thessalonians 5:21-22:  Test everything. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil.

  • What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing that has created a void in my relationship with God?

***Philippians 1:9-11:  I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.  Jesus Christ will fill your lives with everything that God’s approval produces. Your lives will then bring glory and praise to God.

  • When did my love for Jesus quit growing and when did it cease to bring Him glory and praise?

***Ephesians 5:8-14: Live as children of light, for the fruit that the light produces consists of every form of goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Determine what pleases the Lord, and have nothing to do with the unfruitful actions that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by these disobedient people in secret.  But everything that is exposed to the light becomes visible, for the light is making everything visible.

  • Who has influenced me to walk in the shadowy sin of darkness instead of the light of God’s love?

***Galatians 6:3-4:  If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself; but let each one examine his own work

  • Why do I think I can live my life on my own terms and disregard the principles of God and compromise my testimony?

***Romans 12:1-2: I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.  Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Examine your life to discern who you are most like.  Are you more or less of a reflection of Jesus than you were a week or a month ago?  If you are less like Him, is it because you like Him less and some one or some thing else more?  Are you still conformed to His image or have you morphed into the likeness of the world?

Examine yourself:  Is it time for some Fall cleaning?