A Spiritual Response to the Sydney Seige: Turn Your Eyes

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It was a beautiful day. Sunshine and blessing blended into perfection.

Yet our hearts were breaking.

What do you say when your country falls apart? When a man takes a cafe hostage and two innocents are killed? What do you say?

We watched and cried in disbelief. Tossed and turned in restlessness, praying for the captives with every groan. And awoke to death. A sad day.

So what do I say? The last few weeks I have blogged about the light of Jesus. Again. And again. All I feel is darkness. A dark day in history. Our innocence has been stolen. This does not happen in Australia.

But it has.

We ask why? We wonder what could have been done. But this is not a political piece. There are others who are far more qualified. My response is spiritual.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

In the midst of heartache, all I hear is this: turn your eyes upon Jesus. Noah built an ark with one window toward heaven. Look up. And help comes. The light of His grace, the light of His glory – which is His goodness – will show the way.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher.

It is Christmas. This time of year belonging to Jesus. Turn your eyes from television. Turn them from social media. Turn them from opinion. Turn them back on Jesus. Look full into His grace and goodness. This season is Jesus; not death, not Muslim extremists, not pain.

Jesus.

Gaze on Him. Allow Jesus to melt away the sadness. Melt away the tears. He has the final say.

In the light of His glory and grace.

[Photo credit: Lightstock.com]

Is Jesus missing from your Christmas?

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My family decided to make a statement with our Christmas lights. While everyone else in the neighbourhood decked their homes with Santa and reindeer, we placed a manger in our garden. And in the manger, wrapped in an old towel, was a doll from Kmart representing baby Jesus.

Cars would crawl by our display, admiring the pretty lights, and felt perhaps our subtle acknowledgement of the reason for the season. At least we thought so.

Leaving for work one morning, I had to do a double take.There sat the manger, but where was baby Jesus? I searched our garden, yard, and several other gardens and yards.

But baby Jesus was gone.

Prior to Jesus birth, the world was covered in darkness. For four hundred years, God’s voice was silent. In His absence came rules, oppression, and injustice.

That’s what happens when Light is gone. More darkness. Greater oppression.

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Light came as a baby. Light pierced through the darkness, and darkness would never overcome again. No more injustice. No more pain. Instead, grace and truth.

Jesus is still the answer. He is the inextinguishable Light to overcome immense darkness. He has not vanished. He is not momentarily distracted. He is Light in our world. Jesus shines.

A few days later baby Jesus was returned to us – in exchange for chocolate. As you know, the ransom for our lives was more costly.

Love shines on at Christmas. It is not missing. He paid the price for it to shine through you.

This Little Light of Mine

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I wrote a post for blog, Grace for Moms. Here is an excerpt. Keep shining, friends.

My mind goes back to an old Sunday School room of fraying carpet and an out of tune piano. Sticker books filled with pictures of cats reading, “Blessed are the meek.” I sat eager to learn. Eager to listen. Eager to hear about Jesus, and David, and a little girl brought to life.

And we sang songs. Songs about the love of Jesus. Songs about surfing for the Lord and oil in my lamp. And a light.

This little light if mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, shine, shine.
Let it shine.

Childhood songs make a big impact. They shape who we are. Who we become. And with those words, I believed I had a little light. Something small. Something I was embarrassed about.

Many times I feel little. I feel what I do for Jesus is little. I am too little to do something big. Because all I have is a little light.

But it’s not little.

Continue reading at one of my favourite blogs, Grace for Moms.

Santa and Jesus

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Do you find yourself frustrated at Christmas? As you walk through the mall do the images of snowflakes and Santas make your skin crawl?

“What about Jesus?” your heart cries. “Why won’t the world acknowledge Jesus at Christmas?”

I know. Christmas is so commercialised it can be sickening. If we let it, Santa, Christmas trees, and everything else can turn us into a miserable Grinch.

2 Corinthians 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

How can it be, that Jesus uses a clay jar like me to shine for Him? With all my failings, with all my faults, He entrusts my life with His great treasure. It amazes me.

You know, trees, turkey, bonbons, and trimmings are clay jars. No, they are not the perfect vessel worthy of celebrating the King of kings. They are imperfect. Like us. Clay jars. Containing the greatest treasure of all.

I figure, if Jesus can use me – imperfect as I am – can’t He also use a shabby Christmas tree? Or a big, fat man, dressed in red?

Yeah, I wish Christmas wasn’t so commercial. I wish the focus was Jesus not Santa. But those clay jars don’t bother me. I love Christmas. I love the Santas, the fake snow, and the festivity, because the world is celebrating Jesus.

His power still works though clay jars in the form of Christmas trees, Santas, and snowmen. Just as His power works through me.

Bright Lights

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Philippians 2:15 Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

Not sure about your neighbourhood, but mine is filled with light; homes bursting with the sparkle of Christmas. As I drive through the streets, amazed by the trimmings and creativity, I think of you.

I do, I think of you.
I think of us.
And I think of our festive challenge.

At the beginning of November I declared a celebration of Jesus, light of the world. We don’t have snow or sleigh bells to unite us, but we have Light. Here we are, all of us, spurring one another on to be light in our world.

My prayer for you this Christmas is you will shine. Whatever happened this past year – the disappointments and the victories – I pray they do not define you. The world is crooked and perverse. Wicked and painful. Stuff happens, and there is no explanation. But in Jesus we have hope. The hope of heaven, the hope of glory. Because He lives, we shine like bright lights – on the tree, in the yard, flickering in the sky.

So my friend, shine. Let Light radiate from the core of your being. There is hope. Your life is making a difference.

And when you see the sparkling lights on the walk home, or in a department store, remember us. Remember this community: people all over the world shining because of Jesus. Let us pray for one another. Pray we shine in our dark and perverse worlds. They need us. They need you.

Shine.