Fireflies At Night

fireflyPeople rarely partner stubbed toes and skinned knees with moments of pleasure . . . unless you’ve been a carefree child who chased the sentinels of light through the darkness of July nights. Even though those carefree days of bare feet and childhood innocence are long gone, I still enjoy the nocturnal dance of fireflies as they flutter across the night sky.

The waltz of the firefly reminds me of an old quote by Beecher:

If I were made a firefly, it would not become me to say: “If God had only made me a star to shine always, then I would shine.” It is my duty, if I am a firefly, to fly and sparkle, and fly and sparkle; not to shut my wings down over my phosphorescent self because God did not make me a sun or a star.

Regardless of person’s station in life, there seems to be a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction.  Solomon commented on this in Proverbs 27:19-20:  Just as water reflects a person’s true face, so the human heart reflects a person’s true character. As Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so the eyes of a person are never satisfied.

From their teenage years forward, people engage in an unending search for that elusive person, place, or thing that will satisfy the desires of their heart. The trivial pursuits of this world’s pleasures will never provide lasting satisfaction; you simply cannot find fulfillment in empty promises

Lasting peace and satisfaction is not found in the creation, but in the Creator:

  • Jesus said: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
  • God satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul is filled with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
  • Notice the promise of Psalm 16:11: God You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

The next time you see a firefly at night, pause and think about what it means to be content in and satisfied through Jesus.  When you do this, it might help to reflect on these words of Paul:

 I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. ~Philippians 4 (The Message)

Who is Jesus?

easter01This is a momentous week in the life of the church.  Because it has been framed by two monumental events of history, it is the week traditionally referred to as “holy week.”

It’s a week that began with Palm Sunday, and it will end this Sunday with the celebration of Easter.  Palm Sunday is associated with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and Easter is the joyful recognition of His resurrection.

There’s a three word question that was asked by those who observed Jesus on Palm Sunday. As He rode a white donkey through the narrow and dusty streets of Jerusalem, they asked:  “Who is this?”

The Gospel of John presents a group of witnesses that offer a line of testimony that answers this question:

  • John testifies that Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage supper of Cana.
  • The nobleman gives a detailed account of how Jesus simply spoke and his dying son was healed.
  • The man who had been crippled for 38 years jumps in the air and clicks his heels together to show the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed him.
  • The little boy holds up an empty lunch pail and says: “It had just enough food for my dinner, but Jesus blessed it and there was enough to feed 5,000 people.”
  • The seasoned fishermen relive the moment when they thought their boat was going to sink and they were going to drown: “The Master appeared out of nowhere, walked on the waves, commanded the water to be still, and we were saved.”

After listening to all the testimony, a man rises and says:  “May I speak?  I think my evidence is conclusive.  You see, I was dead, but somehow I heard the clear and loud voice of Jesus:  ‘Lazarus come forth,’ and I shook off the chains of death.  I’m living proof of who Jesus is.”

Who is this?  Jesus is:

  • The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
  • The Bread of Life.
  • The Light of the world.
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Resurrection and the life

Who is Jesus to you?

Recycling and Refocusing

recycle_word_peopleIn the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, Chris Mooney wrote:  “We have a problem, people: Even though we’re supposed to put the right stuff in the blue bin, a lot of recyclable material nevertheless winds up crammed into landfills. One of the most noteworthy of these is paper: While 64.6 percent of paper and paperboard got recycled in 2012, that still left 24.26 million tons of the stuff discarded, according to the EPA (Why We Don’t Recycle Crumpled Paper).”

While some things get tossed out simply because people won’t toss them in the recycle bin, research suggests there might be another reason.  The Environment and Behavior journal has reported on research by  Remi Trudel, Jennifer Argo, and Matthew Meng of Boston University and the University of Alberta.

Their research focused on the way your brain categorizes information and then acts on it.  When your brain sees a piece of crumpled paper, it perceives it to be trash and not something to be recycled.

The study found that, “Full sheets of paper were recycled 77.4 percent of the time, whereas crumpled paper was only recycled 7.8 percent of the time.”  The researchers said: “We consistently show that consumers’ decision to recycle the same product depends on whether the product is intact (i.e., whole) or distorted (i.e., crumpled, cut).”

When you meet an individual whose life has been crumpled by the power of sin or the heartache of failure, how do you respond?   Do you see them as trash or someone who can be recycled?

You are probably familiar with the verses that call you to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” but how well do you know and put into practice the scriptural admonition to be a recycler?  In Romans 15:1-2, Paul said:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

What is Christianity to you?  Is it an experience and relationship of convenience or are you willing to “lend a hand” to those in need?

Halloween: A Curse for the Nyctophobic

afraid-of-the-dark-copy21Some people love the night and its darkness, and there are others who are petrified of the dark. If you have a strong aversion to the night, you might have nyctophobia—the fear of night or darkness.

When you consider the biblical contrast between light and darkness, you can see that it might make good sense to be nyctophobic spiritually–to hate the darkness:

• Jesus said some people love the darkness than the light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19-21).
• In John 8:12, you can find one of the “I Am” statements of Jesus: I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
• In Romans 13:11-13, Paul said we need to be aware of the time and be ready to discard the deeds of darkness.
• When he wrote to the church at Ephesus, Paul encouraged them to “Walk as children of the light (Ephesians 5:7-9, 11).”
• In a time of horrible persecution, Peter reminded believers that God has “called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9-10).”
• According to John, loving the light and shunning the darkness is the key to walking with God: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (I John 1:4-6).”

The opposite of nyctophobia is photophobia—a symptom of intolerance to the visual perception of light. Are you more tolerant spiritually to the dark or to the light? Because they are polar opposites, light and darkness cannot coexist.

Jesus discussed the issue of light and darkness with his disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”

I encourage you to be the light in this world of darkness.