The Lord lights up my darkness

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Recent posts have focused on being a light in another person’s darkness, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge there are times when we have our own darkness to deal with.

Last week, Crosswalk released my latest article, 3 Lessons to Learn while Stuck in the Hallways of Life. I knew many could relate, I just didn’t realise how many. Some commented via facebook, and others reached out to me here on the blog; with genuine needs, genuine problems. Hallways they have lived in for years; an oppressive darkness.

To those who are doing life in the hallway I offer hope. Not false hope. Real hope.

[Tweet “To those who are doing life in the hallway Jesus offers hope. Not false hope. Real hope.”]

There are many times when I have seen God come through in my own life: the healing of a terminal disease in my mother’s body; provision of employment; and the miracle of finding my husband after ten years of waiting.

In a month of thankfulness, it is powerful to declare the goodness of God in our lives, but it is not where hope comes. We do not base what we know about God on experience. We base it on the Word. We believe the Bible before experience.

So the hope I offer is not in my testimony or because I told you so. I offer hope in God; in His Word.

Psalm 18:28 You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

I do not wish to belittle your darkness. It is real. It is painful. But in deep darkness, a light shines.

There is light in your dark situation. I know there is, because the Bible tells me so. And the light is there because of Him. Right now, it may only be a flicker, but it gets brighter.

You are not alone. It may have been dark for a long time, but the Lord lights up your darkness. The valley of the shadow is about to make way for a banqueting table. Jesus is with you in the dark place; better yet, He is the Light in it.

#outrageousLove

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This past week my city has been inconvenienced by the likes of Barak Obama, Vladimir Putin, and a barrage of others for the world G20 summit. It’s kinda a big thing with motorcades, surveillance helicopters, and high clearance security.

Most people have seen the summit as a good excuse for a holiday. But twenty-four-year-old Marly Welsh saw it as opportunity.

A few days ago, in the Amazing Darkness post, I wrote, “You make the darkness amazing.” Marly is an example of someone doing just that.

In the midst of talks about terrorism, Ebola, climate change, and other threats, Marly and her fiancé decided to make the darkness amazing. They realised with the world looking at Brisbane, they could shine a light into 2.5 million lives.

The idea was to pay for advertising on billboards throughout the G20 precinct with the slogan, “Jesus loves [name of people group]”. For example, “Jesus loves police”, or “Jesus loves bikies”.

I caught up with Marly and asked her a few questions about the #outrageousLove movement.

What inspired you to create Jesus Loves Billboards for the G20?

Ben (my fiancé) and I work in the design/advertising industry. We were sipping mint tea at Max Brenner one night; praying and discussing what we could do with our skills that could help spread the love of Jesus. Ben remembered that GOA (the billboard company we use) had a new technology that allowed you to change the messaging of your ad slot as many times as you want. It was a Holy-Spirit-light-bulb moment for us and we decided to use this technology to let people groups know that, despite what they may been told, Jesus loves them. We know the power of those words and have heard many stories of Jesus revealing himself to people who have simply been told “Jesus loves you”. It’s a simple truth – one that has transformed lives for thousands of years.

So you got the idea, but then what? We all get brilliant ideas, but few of us see them come to fruition. What did you do?

We told a couple of our close friends and they were as excited as we were. That encouragement helped us be more proactive about making it happen. We got a quote from GOA and the cost was a lot less than we thought so that gave us the motivation to start crowd funding it. Our deadline was EXTREMELY short (4 days to pay the billboard company) so we knew if we reached $30,000, it would only be God touching the hearts of people to invest in this vision.

Our good friend, Steve Limkin, was amazing in whipping up a video in one afternoon for the crowd funding website. After we posted it, we raised $10,000 in 12 hrs with the help of many friends calling, texting and sharing the link on social media. A couple of radio stations got hold of it too which really helped.

Did you think you would pull it off?

Ben and I are fairly normal people – with the exception of a little quirkiness – so there were definitely little moments of stress and doubt. But overall we really believed that this was something God wanted and we trusted Him to make it happen. We had nothing to gain (except the testimonies that would come from it) and nothing to loose (except a little bit of pride if it flopped).

We are both ideas people and have ideas ALL the time that never go anywhere but this one had the breath of God in it. The whole experience has been a crash-course in trust; trust in people to support it, trust in each others capabilities, but mostly, trust in the character of God to make it happen.

We would often look at each other in the tougher moments and say “Ok God, this is YOUR thing and YOU want this to happen. We have done everything in our power, now we trust You to do the rest.” – and He did!

Two people, shining a light, making the darkness amazing for bad drivers, gym junkies, nobodies, and many others.

So what can you do? What idea is burning in your heart? Never forget: you make the darkness amazing. Go shine your Light.

[Tweet “You make the darkness amazing. Go shine your Light.”]

Did anyone see the “Jesus loves” signs in G20 news coverage across the world? We would love to hear about it. And if God is calling you to step out in faith to shine your light in the darkness, leave a comment so we can pray and stand with you (I’ll make sure Marly sees your comments too).

You are light and you are good

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Sometimes it’s because I got angry.
Sometimes it’s because someone was angry at me.
Sometimes it’s because I let somebody down.
Sometimes it’s because I think I let somebody down.
Sometimes it’s because I’m having a bad day.
And sometimes it happens for no reason at all.

The toxic thought: I’m not good enough.

Perhaps you thought it today.

Can I tell you something? It’s wrong. The thought is wrong and you know it. So let me remind you.

You. Are. Good.

Here’s why: And God saw that the light was good. (Genesis 1:4)

You are the light of the world. Light is beautiful. Light is incredible. Light is good. You are good.

Refuse the lies. Refuse to shrink back. You are good. You are light. You make the darkness amazing.

So when you get angry, remember: you are good.
When someone gets angry at you: you are good.
When you let somebody down: you are good.
When you think you let somebody down: you are good.
When you’re having a bad day: you are good.
Whatever the thought: you are good.

Romans 3:24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Yes, friend, you are good.

Amazing Darkness

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My children play a game they call “The Amazing Darkness.” We enter the room, close the door, turn off the lights, then dance around with a flashlight. My role in the game is to gasp, “Ooh, ahh! How amazing.” They love it.

Amazing darkness is an oxymoron. Nothing about darkness is amazing. But that’s just it. Light makes darkness amazing.

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

Today you will encounter people living in darkness. A child. Your neighbour. Work colleague. Friend. And to them it is normal; this horrible, stifling pain. Life is unamazing darkness.

She bumps into you. And for a few minutes, life is amazing. For a moment, she feels the warmth and pleasure of light. She tastes possibility. The possibility of Light to disperse darkness forever. The possibility of Jesus. That is the kind of impact you can have. You make her darkness amazing.

[Tweet “Life is an opportunity to shine your light.”]

Life is an opportunity. An opportunity to shine your light. To make someone’s darkness amazing. Don’t let this time pass you by. Go shine your light in the darkness. Radiate the captivating light of you and make the darkness amazing.

#celebrateLight

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Christmas in Australia is very different to the northern hemisphere. There is no snow, no sleigh bells, no chestnuts roasting on an open fire. It is hot. Stinking hot. The contrast could not be greater. We celebrate by going to the beach, swimming in the pool and feasting on prawns. We’ve even created our own carols singing, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden ute.” (You might like to look here or here for an Aussie take on snowy Christmas carols.)

With me here in Australia, and many readers residing in the US and other northern countries, I want to unite us this Christmas. Are there common Christmas traditions regardless of the weather?

Lights. Christmas lights. All nations decorate with lights at Christmas. Some more than others.

[Tweet “The One who came to unite us all appeared as light at Christmas.”]

Then I had the thought: the One who came to unite us all appeared as light at Christmas. The Light to pierce through the darkness.

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

For the next seven weeks we will celebrate the Light. And I would love you to celebrate with me with your photos of lights at Christmas.

Share pictures of homes lit up or your beautifully decorated tree (like I did). Photograph spectacular light displays and parades. Who knows, they may even appear on the blog (with your permission of course).

So like my Facebook page, and follow me on Twitter or Instagram (I’ll follow back, I promise). Tag me in your Christmas light photos, #celebrateLight and let’s share the Light more than ever this Christmas.