Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Rhonda Logan Bailey
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”
(Proverbs 22:6 KJV).
I learned a lot of basic things from my dad while growing up, including how to bait a hook and fish with a cane pole, how to drive on slippery, snowy roads, and how to press a straight crease on a shirt sleeve. One of the most significant lessons my dad taught me was how to hold a flashlight.
Go ahead, chuckle. I know. “How hard could it be to just hold a flashlight?” You see, I usually wanted to help, but I couldn’t do much more than keep him company and try not to get under foot. So, when called upon to “hold the light,” I was eager to prove myself. It was my time to shine. But, it’s harder than it looks.
There is an art to being an accomplished holder of the light. Here are seven skills to master.
You see, in a larger sense he was teaching me compassion, as I learned to see a situation from another person’s perspective, and humility since my perception of a situation isn’t necessarily the most critical one. He taught me how to love unconditionally and serve generously, to be instant in season and out, and to persevere until the job gets done.
Is it your time to shine? Do you have the opportunity to serve as a light bearer while someone else gets the recognition for solving a problem or mending a rift? If so, rejoice. It’s your turn to shine. That’s how God gets the glory!
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 KJV).
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
To those of us living in southeastern Ohio, as in other places around the world, it is no secret that we are experiencing a season of rain. For weeks, it seems we have been in this cycle of rainy days separated by just enough dry days to get the grass mowed before the rains return, making the grass grow all the more. We have had two or three heavy rains creating localized flooding, yet most farmers have been able to harvest their wheat, and the corn in the fields is standing more than head-high. Both good and bad results from the same rains.
The Lord speaks a lot about rain and storms in His word. He uses it to teach us about His love and kindness, (Acts 14:17) about righteousness (Is.45:8), about growth and blessings, about His holiness and majesty, (Ps. 29 and Job 37), and He speaks to us of His judgment as in Genesis 7:4. Those who rely on the presence of God in their lives have historically heard the voice of the Lord in the thunder and seen His overpowering presence in the lightning. Yet, we often get the greatest comfort in the gentle rain or even the refreshing that comes with a morning mist.
Consider how our relationship with God is like the summer rains: It may be only a sprinkling. We can go about our work, engage in most outdoor activities while barely noticing its existence. If we are driving, we may turn our windshield wipers on “intermittent.” That, in itself, is symbolic of our engagement with the Lord. He is
with us throughout our days but we barely notice. Other matters occupy our minds. If something goes wrong, we may call on Him just to ask that He wipe away our problem.
Then there are scattered showers. It seems the weather forecasters throw these in most summer days just as a hedge in case a shower may pop up. Some folks may receive a shower or two, some may not. As a teenager, I worked for a farmer who operated two farms which were separated by just a mile. Many a day we were rained out at one farm yet could move to the other and continue to work the fields. While we understood the rain to be a blessing and a necessity for the success of the farm, it was far too easy for us to see the rain as an interference to our plans and an irritant in our day.
Of course, summer rains often come as thunderstorms; heavy rain accompanied by lightning and thunder, sometimes even wind and hail. When these come, it is time to take cover. It is time to “batten down the hatches,” to use a nautical term. Some of these can be frightening and cause people to call upon the Lord, begging for His mercy. In the Old Testament particularly, such storms were often seen to represent God’s anger and judgment upon a wayward people, but we also learn that these provide opportunity for the Lord to demonstrate his protective nature, to exercise His calming presence. “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms the child.”(author unknown.)
Then there are times when we get to experience a nice steady rain: the kind which sets in all day, refreshing and renewing the earth. These are rains in which you may sit on the porch and watch as the world of His creation drinks deeply of His blessing. These are days for lying back and listening to the steady rhythm of the rain on the roof, allowing even the sound of it to permeate your soul. This is time when you can relax sufficient to engage in pure conversation with the Lord; to find yourself being more open to hear Him clearly, and perhaps even more freed to speak honestly with Him. These are the good days. Yes, such rains come infrequently and perhaps we aren’t always so freed up to take advantage of them, but the experience can become a part of our daily living as we learn to walk with the Lord and in Him be refreshed, as in walking in a gentle summer rain.
Written by Beth Bankert - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
While preparing to share a biblical study of the word tattoo with my 23-year-old tattooist grandson, Jonathan, my eyes and heart were reproved, but rejoicing followed. I call these moments, "Ouch hallelujahs." It's like going to the chiropractor to get an adjustment, which can "hurt so good." Well, I received an adjustment recently.
For the word study, I knew my centerpiece verse would be Isaiah 49:16a KJV, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…" I began my notes explaining how very sensitive the palms of our hands are with the hundreds of nerve endings so important for our tactile abilities. And I made a note in the margin about how wonderful it is for God to know our name.
I laid the Bible aside and began reading some commentaries from different sources. I found a quote regarding this verse by C. H. Spurgeon, which reads, "These words apply, first of all, to God's ancient people, the Jews. But they are equally true of all believers." Spurgeon adds, “The phrase, ‘I have graven thee,’ does not say thy name. Our name is there, but that is not all: I have graven THEE! See the fullness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee all together there. Wilt thou ever say again, that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon His own palms?"
My jaw dropped as I read this, and I sat, unbelieving, for a few moments. I went back to the Isaiah 49 passage and read it again and again. Somehow, someway, I had ALWAYS thought this verse said that my NAME was graven on his palms, but in reality, it's so much more. This is where the "ouch hallelujah” came in along with an enormous adjustment that changed my belief and my life. I had been quoting that Scripture so very wrong for so many years.
From this experience, I learned that knowing the whole Scripture, each God-breathed word, is best. But because each word is life giving, knowing even a portion is good. Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV says, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”
Those years when I thought just my name was tattooed on my Father's palms brought comfort, but in reality, I am written there. All of me, and He loves me still. You are there. And He loves all of you, too.
Footnote: Just days before sharing this with Jonathan and his family, there was a prestigious competition held in Indianapolis for tattooists. Jonathan was very sad to miss this opportunity as he was on vacation with his family. But a friend and client of his paid the entrance fee and entered the tattoo Jonathan had done for her on her ankle. Jonathan was elated to hear that he had won first place in the "traditional" category! A photo of the tattoo is pictured above.
Written by Janet Mueller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Painting by Barb Yoder with color enhancement by editor
I remember the delicious feeling upon awakening on the morning of the Fourth. I wiggled my toes before throwing off the bedsheets in anticipation of what this glorious day would hold.
This was the Fourth of July! I would spend the day with my friends and fistfuls of firecrackers. Up and down my street, I could hear pops and snaps as neighbors lit their pyrotechnic devices, adding fuel to my excitement. When I was a child, fireworks were reserved for one day and one day only — the Fourth of July. After that, they wouldn’t be used again for an entire year! So we would furiously pack all the fun we could into this one resplendent day.
Later, as dusk settled on our little town, my family would pop corn and put it in a large grocery sack. We piled into our Chevy and headed out of town. Somewhere on a quiet country road, my dad would pull over and us kids would climb out and sit on the hood of the car pushing and shoving one another for a spot. With our eyes on the sky, we waited and wiggled as the bag of popcorn dwindled. Often the evening air lingered warm and humid, and sometimes bold streaks of lightening and rumbling rolls of thunder threatened to end our adventure and send us home disappointed.
Just about the time a few stars began to peek out, the first colorful blast appeared. And then another. And another. I didn’t want to blink as I might miss one. Some would shoot straight up before exploding in an ear-shattering fashion, while others whirled in an impressive spiral. Some shattered into thousands of red and blue sparks followed by others that tumbled like a crimson waterfall. But my overall favorites were the ones that shot up quickly and then floated into a quiet, glittering silver shower. And just as soon as I thought I had seen the best one yet, another appeared that exceeded it.
Finally, the sky became dark and quiet. Was it over? No. Soon the sky lit up in a dazzling, thunderous show of red, gold, blue, and silver. The Grand Finale! Over and over, blast after blast filled the sky with a display that cried out, “And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there!”
As magnificent as the fireworks were on those memorable Independence Days, they cannot be compared to the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord yet to come. Children anticipate holidays much more than adults. Remaining childlike in our eagerness for Christ’s return keeps us close to His heart. After all, who do you think is looking forward to that day more than anyone? And those who are ready for His return look forward to this day more than any other day. But for those who are not prepared, it will be terrible.
Meditation: On this Fourth of July, consider your outlook concerning Jesus’ return. Does it excite you, terrify you, or do you feel ambivalent about it? How do feel about seeing His face? Do you desire to get more out of your earthly life before He returns or are you ready now?
“And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth— blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives” (Joel 2:30,31 NLT).
“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes. But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation (Luke 17:24,25 NLT).
“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Luke 12:40 NLT).
Prayer: Jesus, help me be ready to see You face-to-face. Fill me with wonder and anticipation of that Grand Finale when You return.