Kayla’s Story, an Allegory: Chapter 7 Appearances

It was every bit as hard as she had thought it would be. As she stepped over empty soda cans and broken beer bottles, maneuvered around discarded electronics, furniture, and bags of trash, and avoided the holes that seemed to be all over, she realized there was a good reason people warned about crossing this vacant lot. It was not only full of dangerous traps, but it smelled as bad as it looked. The rancid odor of decaying food mixed with the musty odor of rotten wood filled the air. Kayla tried not to breath as, through sheer strength of will, she slowly limped her way through the maze of obstacles. Finally, reaching the halfway point without falling even once, Kayla rewarded herself with a rest stop. Spotting an abandoned armchair, she checked it over for signs of rodents, and seeing none, gratefully lowered herself into it. Exhausted, but proud of her achievement, Kayla sat back and looked at the sky. Gray clouds still swirled, blocking most of the sunlight, but every now and then a tiny sliver of light managed to break through. A longing rose in Kayla’s heart as she focused on those tiny beams of life. She knew, above the clouds, the light in all its fullness was still there, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted to feel the warm sunshine on her face again. She wanted to bask in the light as she had been doing before the phone call. She wanted those clouds that separated her from her beloved light to be gone.

“She’s here somewhere.” The man’s deep voice shattered her thoughts. Kayla froze as she listened. Maybe they weren’t talking about her. The voice had come from her right side, but as from a distance. Maybe they were talking about a stray cat. Please let it be about a stray cat.

“Are you sure it was her?” came another voice. This one sounded familiar. Too familiar. Chills rose along her spine as she realized it belonged to the man in the black hoodie who had glared at her earlier that day. Panic stricken that it might actually be her they were after, she looked around for a place to hide, but the only thing nearby bigger than her was the green armchair she was sitting in. Stuck where she was, hoping her green sweatshirt would blend in with the green of the armchair, she quickly pulled her knees up to her chest and tried to disappear into the chair’s soft, worn out back.

“Yeah, it was her. She had the same limp. Look, here’s a footprint.”

“There’s more. They look like they’re heading for that green chair.”

“Maybe we’ll find more footprints on the other side. Let’s go check it out.”

Kayla closed her eyes as heavy footsteps approached. “I’m invisible. I’m invisible.  I’m invisible,” Kayla thought as loud as she could. “Nothing to see here – just a green chair.”

“Hello again.” The voice came from directly in front of her. “So glad we found you.”

Kayla didn’t know what to do. Open her eyes and face what was coming? Or play possum and hope they lost interest and went away? Not ready to face anything, she slowed her breathing as much as she could.

“Is she dead?”

“I don’t think so. I think I saw her arm move. I’m going to try to wake her.”

“No, don’t touch her. She might be sick.”

“But we can’t leave her like this.”

“No, we can’t. I’m going to try something.”

Kayla’s heart raced and she almost lost control of her breathing. What were they going to try? Did it involve hurting her? She remembered the times she had used twigs to poke at insects to check if they were alive. Were they about to do the same with her?

There was the sound of things being moved around, and then a voice. “This should work.” Kayla forced her body to relax, anticipating a jab on her leg. She was not disappointed. The jab came, hard enough to be felt but not hard enough to hurt. Kayla was able to ignore it, as well as several more jabs in other parts of her body.

“Let me try. You’re not doing it hard enough.”

Suddenly a sharp jab to her side caused Kayla to gasp.

“See? I told you.”

“See what? I didn’t see anything. She’s still not moving. We need to call 911.”

Kayla remained still. Why hadn’t she thought about calling 911 herself as soon as she knew she had been spotted? And why on earth would they call 911 on themselves? Something wasn’t making sense.

 “Want me to jab her again?”

Not if she could help it. The first hard jab was bad enough; she did not want to experience it a second time. If ignoring them didn’t’ work, maybe acting tough would. She opened her eyes. “Leave me alone,” she told them through gritted teeth.

“We can’t do that.” The taller one answered.

“Yes, you can.” Kayla said. “Just walk away.”

“Naw, can’t do that. Wouldn’t be right,” the second man responded.

Kayla’s heart raced, but she covered it by demanding, “What do you want? I don’t have any money.”

“Don’t want your money.” Larry said. “Buster and I just want to help you, like we tried when we first saw you limping on the sidewalk. This lot is too dange-“

Kayla interrupted, “It didn’t look like you were trying to help, not with those daggers in your eyes.”

“Daggers in my eyes?” Buster asked, sounding confused.

“You do look pretty mean when you get frustrated,” laughed Larry.

“Sorry,” Buster said. “Those ‘daggers’ were not meant for you. I was just frustrated to see that Rory guy grab you. He’s bad news.” Buster said.

“Pastor Rory’s not bad news. He tried to help me.” Kayla declared, crossing her arms.

“He tries to help lots of people – only not for their sake. Rory only does what’s good for Rory,” Buster said.

Larry added, “Many people are fooled by Rory’s false promises. That is no place for you, and neither is this place. If you’ll let us help, we know the safe way through this mess.

Kayla looked at the rest of the vacant lot that she still had to cross. There were even more pitfalls and obstacles on the second half, and with everything placed haphazardly, she couldn’t see a straight path. In fact, she couldn’t see any path. She sighed inwardly at the difficult journey ahead. She had made this far by herself, but she was tired and wasn’t sure if she could make it to the other side. At least not without falling. Turning back to the men, she looked from one. With their faces hidden by their black hoods, they looked every bit as dangerous as the trip across the lot. Maybe they were members of some gang, looking for a target in which to prove themselves. Well, she didn’t want to be a victim. Not if she could help it. She’d rather face the possible injuries of walking by herself than the probable attack by these two, if not their whole gang.

“It’s okay. I can find my own way,” she finally told them.

“Look, we’re not going to hurt you. We just want to give you what we have – our knowledge, experience, and strength – to get you to a safer place,” Larry said. “We really want what’s best for you.”

Buster nodded. “It’s not about us. If you insist, we can go away like you want and let you make your own way. It’s not like we need to help you. We just know what could happen and want to save you from it.”

 Kayla wished she could believe them. It would be so nice to have their help. But their black hoodies…

Suddenly Kayla realized if she looked past those hoodies, if she took her eyes off the obvious outerwear and focused on what lay underneath, she could see their eyes which seemed to glow as if reflecting a light. Excited, she looked up at the sky. Had the sun broken through the clouds? No, the clouds still covered the sky so the light wasn’t coming from the sun above. Looking back into their eyes, Kayla felt drawn to the peace that radiated out from them. It was a peace that went beyond anything she had ever experienced before. Evil could not possibly exist in a peace like this. Allowing the peace to seep into her, Kayla sighed as she relaxed. “I could use some help.”

Within minutes, Kayla was once again on her way home, this time supported on each side by strong arms. Navigating around the larger debris, and lifting her over the smaller ones, they made short work of what would have taken Kayla three times longer if she had had to do it herself. When they made it to the sidewalk, they stopped to celebrate. The men high fived each other while Kayla tried to pull out her wallet from her backpack. But they refused any payment, saying they were just happy to help.

“Where do you need to go from here?” Buster asked.

“Oh, just a couple of blocks. I’ll be fine now that I’m out of that hazard trap.”

“Here’s my number,” Buster said, handing her a card. “Call me if you need more help.”

Kayla took it. “I will. Thanks again.”

With a smile on her face, she watched them head back across the not-so-empty lot, amazed at what had just happened. Then she turned and headed towards her home. As she limped along, she thought about how those men were not at all what she had feared. And how the two well-dressed men in the florist shop were not what they appeared either. She sure had misjudged all four of them. And if she had misjudged them, then maybe she had also misjudged Lisa. The only way to tell was to actually get to know her. Kayla made a mental note to call Lisa once her ankle healed. Maybe they could go out to lunch or something.

Suddenly the light broke through the clouds and beamed down on Kayla. She looked up with delight as most of the clouds scattered and disappeared, leaving just a few behind. She took a deep breath, face upturned, and let the warmth of the sun fill her. This was more like it. She wouldn’t have any trouble getting home now that she was strengthened. Not even that pile of dirt was going to stop her.


Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (Prov 4:14-15)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Rom 16:17)

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

Part 9: Turn From Evil and Do Good (Christian But Not series)

Photo by mododeolhar on Pexels.com

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:16-18)

For “whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12, quoting from Psalm 34:12-16) 

This is a crucial time in the U.S. for everyone, but especially Christians. I believe God has been sending us warnings for many years that He’s going to pour out His wrath on our country for our sins. As a country, we have turned our back on Him in favor of the ideology of the American popular culture. We have compromised, turn our eyes, remained silent, or even totally sold out to ways that are not God’s ways. And God’s not happy with that.

There are many individual Christians within the church body that have not sold out, nor hidden. Their lights are shining bright. But there’s so few of them, comparatively speaking, that they seem to be swallowed up by the rest of the country, just like those few campfires in the analogy in my last post. The rest of us have banked our fires or let them go out altogether. God is saying no more. No more sleep. No more compromise. No more hiding. It’s time to choose which side of this spiritual war over our country we want to be on. The fence is shaking and we will fall on the enemy’s side if we don’t jump to God’s side first.

So how do we do that? How do we choose His side? How do we stoke our fire? Is it a matter of words? Do we just say “God, I’m on your side,” and go about out life as usual? Many Christians will no doubt find this adequate. After all, they accepted Jesus and have eternal life. But disciples – the Christians But Nots – those who are…

– Christian But Not satisfied with the minimal requirements of salvation

– Christian But Not satisfied with living a self-centered life

– Christian But Not willing to compromise with evil anymore

– Christian But Not lukewarm in their love and commitment to Jesus

… back up their words with action. They search their hearts and lives, and ask God to show them anything that is not pleasing to Him. And when areas are revealed, they turn from them. They don’t make excuses. They don’t try to justify. They don’t pretend they hadn’t heard. They don’t compromise. They don’t try to interpret them in the light of their American world view. They humble themselves by acknowledging them, asking forgiveness, and turning away from them.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)

and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. (Jer 18:8)

Does God want us to pray for Him to relent from the wrath He has warned us about and to save our country so that we can go back to our comfortable lifestyles? No. He wants His Name glorified. He wants to draw as many people as possible to Himself, to save them from the evil one and to live with Him forever. He wants our fires to burn brightly 24/7. He wants that fence permanently gone and our fires to penetrate the enemy camp. That is what Jesus called us to from the beginning.

The war is intensifying. The enemy is on the move and it’s time for the rest of us to join the battle. It’s time to repent and to rekindle our fire and let it burn brightly along with the faithful ones already burning. The future of our country depends on it.

Turning From Evil

What is the evil we need to turn from? Some of it is easy to detect, but most of it has crept into our lives and hearts in deceptively subtle ways.

The sins of some men are obvious, going ahead of them to judgment, but the sins of others do not surface until later. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even the ones that are inconspicuous cannot remain hidden. (1 Tim 5:24-25)

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:12-13)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Let’s look at what God considers evil based on a few more passages of Scripture.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.(Rom 1:29-31)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Col 3:5-10)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph 4:30-32)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Those lists are quite detailed. The funny thing is, if we just knew how to love each other the way Jesus loves us, we wouldn’t need lists like these. But we don’t, and so we do. How many of the sins listed by Paul to these four churches do we engage in but dismiss because we are “under grace”? Paul addressed this in Romans 5 and 6. Just because we are under grace doesn’t give us permission to live a sinful life. There are other numerous reasons we excuse our sins.

How often do we laugh them away, such as saying, “I know I’m not supposed to gossip but…”?

How often do we compromise in order to fit in with our colleagues, such as obscene jokes, boasting, or sexual immorality?

How often do we do them secretly, such as adultery, having a haughty attitude towards others, or entertaining impure thoughts?

How often do we do them for power or to be noticed, such as slander, swindling, or being ruthless?

How often do we use the excuse “everybody does it”, such as obscene talk, dishonesty (deceit), or stealing (like small office supplies from work)?

How often do we refuse to acknowledge them for what they are, such as murder (abortion), hating God (choosing the world over God), or idolatry (worshipping something other than God)?

How often do we just flat out enjoy them, such as foolish behavior, sexual immorality, or greed?

How often do we feel the other person deserves them, such as wrath, maliciousness, or being heartless?

How often do we dismiss them as not as important as others, such as lying (you know, those little white lies), disobedient to parents (they can’t tell me what to do), envy, or an insolent attitude?

How often do we do them because they bring us some kind of relief for our pain, such as stirring up strife, getting angry, being a drunkard, or joining with revilers?

How often do we side with our society which considers them human nature or the way we were born – and thus excusable, such as acting haughty or engaging in homosexual acts?

Struggling with a sinful behavior is not the same thing as living in it. In our human weaknesses, we are not capable of living a sinless life. We will and do fall at times. However that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about sin that we hold on to, refuse to acknowledge, or refuse to give up. We justify that it’s not really sin, or we buy in to the idea we were born with it and can’t do anything about it, or that the good we do in our lives outweighs the sin. We might even feel guilty and ask for forgiveness over and over and over again, knowing deep down in our hearts that we’re just going to engage in it again. We live in our flesh instead of living in the Spirit. We prefer the pleasure of the sin over the displeasure of God.

It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to love what God loves and hate what God hates. It’s time to judge ourselves so God won’t have to.

If we were judging ourselves correctly, we would not be judged. But when the Lord Jesus judges us, he disciplines us so that we won’t be condemned along with the rest of the world. (1 Cor 11:31-32) [Note: I’m aware that Paul was addressing the Corinthians behavior at their Lord’s Supper, but I think what he said about judgment and discipline applies to any wrong behavior we consistently engage in.]

Doing Good

Once we turned from sin and returned to Christ’s ways, we can’t hide away in our homes. We need to shine our light into the darkness by doing good whenever we get a chance. God calls us to do both – turn from sin and do good. And not just to those who love us. We are called to do good to everyone, including those who hate us.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-28, 33, 35-36)

Just as God was clear on what He calls evil, He’s also clear on what He calls doing good.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Is 1:17)

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. (Matt 25:35-36)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thes 5:12-22)

If we, as the Body of Christ, cleaned up and got busy doing good wherever we could, our country would see such a difference. I’m reminded of a city in the Old Testament who was also given a warning from God.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles; let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:3-10)

If a great city like Nineveh could do it, certainly we can do it, too. And maybe, just maybe, we can save our country and avoid the judgment of God.

Let’s all turn away from evil and toward the light of kingdom living.

Let’s all be Christian But Not.

Part 7: Glowing Christians (Christian But Not series)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ( Matt 5:14-16)

Jesus said He is the light of the world, but He also said we are the light of the world. Knowing how much greater He is than the brightest of us, I wondered if He was talking about two different kinds of lights, so I looked it up.  Nope. The original Greek word for ‘light’ is the same in both verses.

Light 
φῶς (phōs)
Noun – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5457: Light, a source of light, radiance. From an obsolete phao; luminousness.

Luminous means emitting or reflecting light, startling bright.

Radiance means bright or glowing light

We Christians are glowing! And not just any glow, but a radiant, transparent and flawless glow. Turn to someone and say, “You’re glowing!” Just kidding. I hate it when pastors tell us to do that.  But the truth remains, we are all glowing – or should be glowing – whether we are aware of it or not.

Why do some of us seem to glow brighter than others?

Jesus gives us a hint in Matthew 5:15. He said that hiding a lamp under a bowl defeats the purpose of the lamp, and keeps everyone in the dark. How often do we do just that in our work places, in crowded stores, or when other drivers get in our way? It’s hard to shine when we’re angry or frustrated, or where it would make us conspicuous. I remember a time when my colleagues wanted us all to do something that I considered dishonest. They were all good people, so I was surprised at the animosity I received when I mustered my courage and told them that, based on my belief, I couldn’t participate with them. I found out the hard way that my light was not always welcomed nor tolerated even among friends, and its lasting effect caused me to think twice before allowing my light to peek out from under my bowl again.

Another way a Christian’s glow can be diminished is found in Luke 11:33-37. “No one lights a lamp and puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body…

The same Greek word for ‘lamp’ is used both in Matthew and in Luke. It means an illuminator. Jesus is saying in Luke that our eyes are the illuminators for the light within us. Did He mean our physical eyes? That light should be shooting out of our eyes like the rays in a sci fi alien? Let’s keep reading and also look at the definitions of some of the original Greek words. (Some Bible translations use different words for a few of these. I will note those in parenthesis next to the applicable words.)

“…when your eye is clear, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. So watch out that the light in you is not darkness. Therefore if your whole body is full of light, without any dark part, it will be wholly illuminated, as when the lamp illuminates you with its light. (NASB)

eye
ὀφθαλμός (ophthalmos)
Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3788: The eye; fig: the mind’s eye. From optanomai; the eye; by implication, vision; figuratively, envy.

body.
σώματός (sōmatos)
Noun – Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4983: Body, flesh; the body of the Church. From sozo; the body, used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively.

clear,  (also healthy, good, single)
ἁπλοῦς (haplous)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 573: Single, simple, sound, perfect. Probably from a and the base of pleko; properly, folded together, i.e. Single.

full of light.
φωτεινόν (phōteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5460: Bright, luminous, full of light. From phos; lustrous, i.e. Transparent or well-illuminated.

poor, (also unhealthy, bad, evil)
πονηρὸς (ponēros)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 4190: Evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful.

[is] full of darkness.
σκοτεινόν (skoteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4652: Full of darkness, dark. From skotos; opaque, i.e. benighted.

you
σοὶ (soi)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun – Dative 2nd Person Singular
Strong’s Greek 4771: You. The person pronoun of the second person singular; thou.

darkness.
σκότος (skotos)
Noun – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4655: Darkness, either physical or moral. From the base of skia; shadiness, i.e. Obscurity.

radiant, (also fully illuminated, wholly bright, fully light)
φωτεινὸν (phōteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5460: Bright, luminous, full of light. From phos; lustrous, i.e. Transparent or well-illuminated.

were shining
ἀστραπῇ (astrapē)
Noun – Dative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 796: A flash of lightning, brightness, luster. From astrapto; lightning; by analogy, glare.

Linda’s interpretation:  our eyes are the filter by which light enters and leaves our body, not in a physically sense but in a moral sense. If we look at life through the lens of goodness and perfection, and if we act in accord with that, doing good whenever we can, then we are filled with the light of Jesus which will also shine like a spotlight on us for the benefit of everyone around us. But if our lens is tainted with evil, then that light is cut off and we are left in darkness along with everyone around us.

God makes it very clear what evil is. Do a search for “evil” and you’ll find numerous lists throughout the Old and New Testaments including Is 5:2-23; Is 59;2-25; Ez 22:1-31; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-24. Likewise, search “do good” and you’ll find enough scriptures, such as Isaiah 1:16-18 and Micah 6:8, to keep you reading for some time. Some places, such as Eph 5:1-17, describe both evil and doing good. Jesus gave us some additional ways to do good in His sermon on the mount (Luke 6:27-28). His ways are hard, and don’t make sense to our natural minds, yet that’s what we are called to do, regardless of how painful it might be, if we are to shine brightly.

So in a nutshell, what we do and don’t do controls the amount of light in us and coming from us, and thus impacts what others are able to see.

Why does it matter how bright we glow?

Two reasons. One reason is because we love God, want a relationship with Him, and want to go to heaven when we die. We want to see in the darkness, to have our path lit up. We understand the need for people to live good lives in order to benefit society. The problem is that although most of us Christians (Christian: a person who has anything to do with Christ) want God in our lives, we only want Him on our terms. We want to live with God. We don’t want to live for God. While we’re here on earth, we’d rather live in as much darkness as we can away with and still get to heaven. We don’t think of it in those terms, but that’s what our lives say nonetheless. Sometimes, though, we don’t shine as strongly as we think we do because of deception. We may think we’re living according to the Bible, but our interpretation – or the interpretation of those who taught us – is faulty. Others of us who have become disciples (disciple: a person who is totally committed to Jesus and all He said) work to shine as brightly as we can, willingly paying the price to do so, because that’s what Jesus wanted.

Paul gives us the second reason in 2 Cor 4:6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We want to glow brightly to reveal God through Jesus to those who don’t know Him. The problem we run into is stated in 2 Cor 4:4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers; to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  It’s hard to keep shining brightly though when no one seems to understand, when people don’t want their deeds exposed to the light, or when it’s easier to conform than to stand out.

I discovered something else in these verses. The original Greek listeners/readers probably got it right away, but I missed it because I don’t read Greek. It wasn’t until I looked up the original Greek words and meanings that I made this discovery. In verse 34 “your eye is the lamp to your body”, the Greek word for ‘body’ is singular noun but is used in a very wide application, such as the body of the Church. Yet, the Greek word for ‘you’ is singular personal pronoun. That means how much each of us individually shines – or doesn’t shine – impacts the whole body of believers as a whole. That is definitely true in our country today. As Christians, we have earned ourselves a bad name because of our behavior. Paul had to address a similar issue with the Roman believers in Romans 2:17-24. But if you call yourself a Jew (think Christian) and rely on the law (think Bible) and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles (think non-Christian) because of you.’

When I look around America today, when I listen to both Christians and non-Christians, I am grieved at how God is blasphemed because of our actions. If what non-Christians see when they watch Christians (and yes, they are watching us) defines how they see God, no wonder they want no part of what we offer. We’re really no different than they are, and in some cases, even worse. If only more Christians would commit to being a disciple (a Christian-But-Not), then unbelievers could see God through clear lenses and be drawn to Him.

One more thing – maybe something a little more fun. Jesus mentioned a lamp because that’s pretty much all they had besides candles. However, we have many devises for light today: flashlight, nightlight, spotlight, lamp, lantern, Christmas lights, laser, glow in the dark light, etc. Each puts out a different amount of light for different purposes. Thinking about your life, which devise best fits you? Are you shining more like a nightlight (only seen in the dark) or a flashlight (pointing your light in only one direction at a time) or a lantern (shining your light everywhere at once)? Do you just glow softly, not really lighting up much of anything, or broadcast your light in intense ways? Is one way better than another? Are there times when different devises are needed? You might see all of these in the Christian body as a whole. Would the same hold true in a group of fully committed disciples?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. It’s been fun thinking about this but I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet.

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

“How about that ride?” Jesus pointed to a box hanging by four poles from a horizontal bar.  “I love riding this one!”

Amalia agreed, and they climbed in. “This swing is supposed to be able to go all the way around, right?”

“Yes, if you keep working at it.”

“I’m ready.”

Amalia waited. But nothing happened. No motor came on to move them. The box remained stationary.

“Is this ride broken? Why isn’t it swinging?”

“It’s waiting for you.”

“For me? What do I have to do? I’m already inside, standing up, holding on to the wall handles. I’m ready. So why doesn’t someone push the button to get this ride moving?” She leaned out the window. “Hey, anybody out there?”

“Amalia, You have to get it moving.”

“How do I do that?” She studied the walls, ceiling, and floor. “There are no buttons in here either.”

“The power comes from your body. You have to move, and then the box will move.”

“Oh, okay, if I have to.” She began hopping, jumping from foot to foot. The box jiggled, 0605202043 (2)but didn’t start swinging. She jumped harder, willing the box to swing, but it only jiggled more violently. “Come on, box! Why are you just jiggling? Start swinging!”  Frustrated at the lack of desired response, she looked at Jesus. He was laughing.

 

“Why are You laughing?”

“I’m laughing at the confusion this box must have, being jumped on like that. It’s reacting exactly as it should to what you are doing.”

“What do you mean? I’m trying as hard as I can to get it to swing, but it just bounces!”

“I know. But have you noticed that when you jump up and down, the box does the same?”

“How else am I supposed to get it to move?” Amalia frowned. “Besides, I like jumping.”

“Think about how a swing works. Specific movements are required. Any other movements won’t result in the swing moving in the direction it was made to move. You know, it’s kind of like when you do acts of service for people. You have to fit your actions to what they need. If you do only what you like or want, you won’t get worthwhile results.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you help people, you want to make their lives a little better, right? You want to bring them some happiness, share some love, or meet a need they have. But what if you only did what you wanted? What if someone needed their yard mowed, but you only liked to give food. If you went to them with food, they wouldn’t be very appreciative. They might be confused, or maybe even hurt that you weren’t really thinking about them.”

“Okay, I think I get it. “ She imagined sitting on a swing, and focused on which movements the swing needed her body to make into order to move. “Oh, I have to shift my weight frontwards and backwards.”

Amalia rocked back and forth. The box began to swing slightly. “It’s working!”

“Great! Keep going!”

After a while, sweaty from the effort, Amalia stopped moving. “Jesus, this is too hard. I’ve done my best, but I can only get halfway up. Can You help me?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

He threw His weight with hers, and the box quickly climbed higher with each swing. Soon the momentum of the box’s movements added to their effort, and Amalia found that she didn’t have to work as hard at it as she had at the beginning.

“This is fantastic!” Amalia laughed aloud.

With Jesus grinning by her side, they continued shifting their weight, and the box climbed even higher. Higher and higher and higher, until they were directly above the horizontal bar. They lingered there just a moment, before swinging back down, and up the other side until they were above the horizontal bar again.

Amalia marveled. To be suspended up in the air like that had to be one of the most fascinating experiences she’s ever had.

And then it got better. On the next swing up, instead of lingering at the top, it kept moving. It continued down the back, then up and over again, making complete circles around the horizontal bar.

Amalia couldn’t contain her enthusiasm. “More! More!”

“That’s enough for now. Your body isn’t ready to maintain this for long. You need to take time to rest.”

Disappointed as the box slowly settled to a gentle swing, and then to a stop, Amalia realized her body was indeed spent. Jesus was right. She did need a rest.

And then, she reassured herself, she would get Him to take her up on this ride again.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

How do you know what people need?

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

 

Scriptures:

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Romans 12:10-11 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Mark 6:30-31a The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.

Dear Little Weed Puller (From Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear Little Weed Puller,

Look at you, so focused on pulling those weeds. You are not overwhelmed with the large number of weeds around you. You are not worried that the job is too big for you. You are not frustrated because they are delaying your walk. You saw a need, and you stopped to take care of it, secure in the knowledge that I was there watching over you. You didn’t know, but you brought a delightful smile to my heart. And for that, I thank you.

As Always,

Someone Who Loves You

 

Gal 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.