Monday, October 28, 2013

Lights On

It is an unspoken rule of Halloween--you don't ring the doorbell of a house with no porch light on. These people are either neighbors who had a party to attend, or someone who'd rather not join in on the festivities.

Heaven help the one who forgot and left their light on and then didn't answer their doorbell! It attracts all sorts of frustrated goblins during the night. They have been known to leave a few smashed eggs on the windows or t.p. draped in the trees.

Isn't it interesting how much promise a single light bulb could bring on a dark evening? The sticky-fingered super heroes, glass slippered princesses and grease-painted clowns spend hours of walking through neighborhoods, dragging a sack of candy that only grows heavier by the block.

We live in a dark world these days--we could use a few more porch lights on. So many people are searching for sweet words to carry in their own heart sacks. Why do we lock ourselves away in our homes and refuse to answer when someone comes knocking?

Some people seem to have all the signs of welcome to those seeking. But once the threshold is crossed and the Lost in their self-made masks come tapping on their door it remains tightly shut. The world seems farther away through that peep hole. It's scary to open your heart to someone who seems so different from you! (But you know, underneath that mask they're just as scared of you as you are of them.)

Meanwhile, the Lost in this world walk back into the dark with empty hearts--with no sweet taste of His Word, His love, His Grace in their life. Only the bitterness of apathy that erodes the hope of the next light that beckons.

A wise pastor once told me, "When you evangelize the prepared for them to show up. They may not look or talk like you, they might not even smell like you. But they will show up and it's up to us to love them."

So be brave dear Christ-follower...and when someone is drawn to your flickering faith, don't be alarmed. God wants you to be the His treat in someone's tricky life.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I was barefoot in the kitchen when my glass full of ice hit the tile floor. I had misjudged the counter's edge by the width of a drinking glass. It hit the floor inches from my toes and scattered a large radius with blue shards and ice cubes.

From experience, I knew better than to do the dance of avoidance and risk getting cut. Those slippery splinters stopped dancing after a few seconds and I remained still to survey the debris field. My husband had heard the crash and knew better than to run in sock-footed. He went to get the broom and dust pan while I backed to the edge of the kitchen.

We started on the outer edge and swept our way to the center, coaxing those sapphire slivers into a glittery pile. The larger pieces I gingerly plucked with my thumb and finger, careful not to press on the razor edges and tossed them into the garbage.

When it seemed clear, I did one more cleanup with a damp paper towel with a better vantage point from my knees. This snagged sand sized glass that would deliver sneaky foot punctures.

I found a bit of melancholy there as well...this was one of the glasses from a set my mom purchased for our home before she died.

When life seems to shatter at our feet, how do we handle it? Do we dance around, trying to avoid the flying debris of broken dreams and hearts? Or do we sweep them under the carpet, only to find them resurfacing at inopportune times? Do we tip toe around the shards and ignore the pain waiting to immobilize our walk in life? Or do we survey the damage and go right to work...with loved ones stepping in with just what we need? Do we work our way around the edges, gathering the pieces as we kneel in prayer--not missing a fragment that skittered away into a dark corner?

I realize the only way I'll get that glass put back together is if I was a glass blower. No amount of super glue will restore that drinking glass. The same goes with the crises in my life. The only One I can turn over the pieces to is God. He is the creator of this earthly vessel and He is the only one who will make something amazing out of the shards of my life.

But I have to be the one willing to get to work and pick up the pieces first.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.
Psalm 34:17-19 (MSG)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dried Fruit

The Fall season is here, and instead of colored leaves in Florida, the produce section is showing the signs of autumn. Pumpkins, nuts and dried fruits are more numerous than the pineapples and watermelons.

I had some dried apricots the other day and really enjoyed their concentrated flavor. I was amazed that an apricot could be condensed down into such a tasty morsel. Cooks like to use dried fruit because they store well--dried fruit doesn't rot because moisture is absent and bacteria cannot take a foothold. The leathery fruit can be "revived" with different liquids besides water--fruit juices and liquor.

I got to thinking while munching on my apricots and toasted almonds the other day and applied this concept to the "spiritual fruit" mentioned in the Bible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

I wondered, could that be one reason why some Christians complain of a "dry season"? Could God actually be withdrawing Himself for the reason of preserving or concentrating a specific spiritual fruit in our life?

I thought of Moses and his ministry...he had killed a man just after he started to step into the leadership role of the Israelites. God sent him into the wilderness. This was no evergreen retreat with babbling was a rocky, arid wilderness where water had to be pulled up from deep wells. For 40 years he was hung out to dry before God spoke to him and called him into action.

Then the grumbling Israelites that Moses led to the Promised Land...they longed for the abundant waters of the Nile, the cucumbers and fruits from the irrigated land in Egypt. They wanted to turn back and figured slavery was better than what God had to offer. And again...God led them into a serious drying time in the desert, another 40 years!

Before Jesus went into ministry, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness...but not for 40 years. He had no sin to be dealt with. He was there for 40 days and He was tested by satan. I wonder if Jesus felt like God had abandoned Him for a time?

I want to give you hope during your own "dry time" with God. After searching your heart and making sure there is not some unconfessed sin in your life, maybe God is working on some dried fruit with you. How's your patience lately? And your self-control, is it doing well? What about your joy, is it present during the day?

When you have waited on God for a season, how is that fruit of patience? And how much more joy is there when you have years of silence shattered by news of God's joy coming round the bend? Our kindness can become so much sweeter when we experience the dust of apathy--the trick is not to allow your fruit to become bitter.

When we tend our garden properly with prayer and confession, we harvest sweet spirit fruit. Then, when the Lord withdraws and His presence seems to be drawn from our souls with a thunderclap--get ready! Your spirit fruit is being condensed, preserved and room is being made for His Living Water to revive it into a more intense experience.

He will pour out His Spirit and Living Water into and onto your life again. And oh how sweet and intense that fruit will become!  Just promise me you won't make fruitcake with it.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Psalm 34:8 (MSG)