Thursday, November 17, 2016

To Seattle

Its been several months ago now, we were sitting around our kitchen table, playing games and having conversations with friends. Our Pastor, Tim, and his wife, Ashley, had come over for dinner and game night with their kiddos, and we were enjoying our fellowship. We have a loosely established rule for our fun times spent together, we don't talk church. I can't really think of a time that we have gotten together that Tim and I have actually followed this rule, but its there nonetheless. One of the reasons for our inability to spend an evening together and not start discussing the church is because of a deep, passionate love that we both share for our church. On this particular night, we were talking about things that we were hoping to see happen with the church in the next year or two. It was as we were having this discussion that Tim told us about a pastor that is the father of some friends. This pastor was going to be heading to Seattle to plant a new church. We spent a little while that evening just talking about the job to be undertaken, and the amazing impact a Christ-exalting church could have in downtown Seattle. It was an exciting and interesting thought.

The week that followed was filled with more of the same in my life, growing disillusionment over an inability to find advancement in my career, a desire to find a calling, and a desire to not waste my life (thanks John Piper). I found myself daydreaming about the thought of working with this church in Seattle. I kept it to myself, it was too crazy of a thought to share. My wife and I had been discussing for the last year thoughts of moving, going into missions work, my going to Seminary, or trying to find something. We had a strong sense that the stonewall I was running into professionally was to prevent me from getting into a position that would inhibit the work that God was preparing my family for. Even with these talks, it was one thing to play around with the idea of it, it was another to blurt out one day that I thought God was presenting us with an opportunity.

Then, one day, I got a call from Tim. We talked about a couple of things, and then he said something along these lines, "I can't tell you what you're supposed to do, or that I heard God say this, but I can't get this thought out of my head, what if your family is supposed to go to Seattle?" I was floored. The creeping sense I had been having about Seattle was being confirmed in the heart of someone else. If my mind couldn't get away from it, and the thought was gripping someone else, then it needed to be brought to light and discussed with my wife. I got off of the phone and found my wife working on dinner. She asked me what Time wanted, and I told her that we had discussed a couple of things, and also he asked if we would consider the possibility of moving to Seattle. I wasn't sure what to expect from springing this news on her, but she turned to me very calmly and said that that would be something to be thinking and praying about, but that we probably really could.

The pastor that is planting the church visited our church that next Sunday, He sat down in front of us, turned, and politely said hi before turning to our daughter and having a quick exchange with her. There was something comforting about this, seeing how easily my kids could interact with him. By the end of the service, it was clear to us, we needed to sit down and work through how we could get from where we were to making a decision on moving. As we sat that night, discussing between the two of us, my wife and I took turns discussing our fears, our encouragements, and everything in between. But two things started to become clear,
1) All of our "reasons" not to go were not legitimate reasons, they were excuses to not trust God.
2) We wanted to go

This all came through over the last couple of months. We have been working through telling family the news, and discussing it with friends, mentors, etc. But this much is known, we are moving to Seattle. We are getting rid of most everything we own, selling our house, taking with us only what will fit in the back of our car, and we are headed to the Pacific Northwest to help in any way we can with the planting of a new church in Downtown Seattle. Our house will be on the market in mid-January, I'll be signing on with a nursing agency to find work, and we will leave.

It is an overwhelmingly emotional process, but it is good. We are sad to leave our families, our home, our friends, our church, but we cling to the promise Jesus gives his disciples in  Mark 10:29-30 and Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."

Pray for us.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Illusions of Free Will

I am firmly convinced that one of the crowning achievements of Satan's rule over mankind is the muddling of the reality of free will. We, as sinful men and women have bought into a free will lie. We have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, and thus perverted the beauty of what free will really means.

We fervently affirm the reality that we have this free ability to do whatever we desire. To seek after that which brings us joy and pleasure. We cling tightly to a reality that God desires us to be supremely happy, and that He would never interfere with that which brings us fullness of joy. And here is the good news, those truths are pretty solid. The problem comes with the twisting that has been placed in our mind on the reality of this free will... We are free to seek after joy, but we do not control the source of that joy. We are free to seek after the desires of our heart, but that which holds the place of desire in our heart is not our choice.

The heart of the natural man seeks joy and fulfillment in the realm of the natural man. Thus, our free will to seek after that which we desire is irredemptively (which may not be a real word) directed away from God. We make choices and decisions, freely, that seek after that which we think will bring us joy, peace, happiness, and they do those things, they satisfy. We used to tell the lie that these things never satisfy the longings of our heart, but I think we should stop. The heart of natural, sinful flesh, is fully satisfied in the carnal joys of fleshly living. It is not a lack of satisfaction, rather a lust for further gluttonous indulgence that perpetuates sin in the natural man. And our "free will" will never break us away from this cycle. Our will is free to seek after our desires, but our desires are not ours to determine. We are hopelessly left in a self-seeking, pleasure-drenched, slow and eternal death, seeking deeper levels of fleshly satisfaction.

But God...

After the counsel of His own will, and according to His plan, desire, and grace, God intervenes. He does not interfere with our fee will, but He replaces the sinful desires of our heart of stone and places within us a new heart of flesh. Etched into this heart is a singular, new desire: the Glory of God. This new desire begins to permeate our very being. Our free will remains unchanged, we still are free to seek that which will most satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. But the desire of our heart has been drastically changed, not by an act of our will, but by an act of Sovereign Grace that sits well outside of the scope of human ability. We find that what brings us the deepest levels of joy, peace, happiness, and satisfaction is seeking after the glory of God. Our will remains as free as it ever has been, and God desires us to use that freedom to find new, creative, beautiful ways to display His glory for the world to see. This exchange of hearts brings us to understanding, opens us to the redemption of our souls accomplished by Christ, lights in us a desire to know Him and make Him known among the nations. The will does not change, but the desire does. And we see that the satisfaction we found in our old heart, though it felt so deep before, was so pathetically ill-informed of the depth of the glory of God.

As John Piper says: "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."

Monday, October 3, 2016

Drink black coffee

Coffee is an interesting little bean. When properly processed, roasted, and brewed it releases a complex mix of flavors and sensations that shine unique clues about where the bean comes from, how it's fruit was handled, and gives a glimpse into the nature of its cultivator. Everything you need to know about that bean can be found through the sipping of the cup.

This is what goes through my mind as we study through Revelation 17, as the great prostitute of Babylon sits with her golden cup. In the cup is a brew of immorality and abomination mixed in with a wine of the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, the blood of the prophets and saints. I'll admit, my mind took off in a different direction as I was thinking through this passage as it had been preached.

The prostitute takes pleasure from and enjoys the intermingled flavors of immorality and abomination mixed with the righteous blood of the followers of Christ. These flavors cannot come together naturally, they must be opposed to one another. From the perspective of the one drinking, immorality and abomination must be the sweet sugar and the smooth cream added to what has to be the comparatively bitter, astringent righteousness of the coffee of the blood.

From this view, the stronger, richer, and fuller the coffee is made, the more of her "sweetness and cream" must be added. She pours in more and more abomination, adds another heaping spoonful of immorality, trying to stifle the flavors of the coffee. She cannot stand the flavor notes of  the righteousness of the redeemed that she has killed and will continue to kill. But the cup is hers to drink. She must drink it in full. As the blood continues to build through her destruction, she pours out more destruction, creating the cyclic nature of the current age. The culmination of which will see her cup overflowing with such debauchery and decadence that many will taste of it and claim it to be delicious because the bitterness of righteousness is so muted that surely this brew is as it was always intended to be. The natural man is a sucker for a sweet drink, even if part of him feels it may be destructive to his reality.

The Christian, however, does not desire the smooth, sweet creaminess of the whore's brew. We desire the hot, black wonder of the righteousness of Christ which can only be found outside the cup of Babylon. We seek the undefiled, intricate, and subtle differences found in the pure cup. We desire for our lives to be poured out into a brew that is distinct to the soil we were cultivated in, that shows the care of the cultivator, and the richness of the love that caused us to grow. We look for our tree to bear a fruit that is unique, filled with a flavor that is singularly our own, yet that is united to trees that bear a similar fruit. We want to be filled with notes of flavor so significant that when the prostitute drinks of our blood, she knows it is from our veins and that it was born of the work of Christ. We want to be the reason she feels that her cup requires more of her "sweetner" and and extra dose of her "cream".

The righteousness of the people of God's innumerable multitude will and should taste bitter to those who desire the unrighteousness of the Babylonian brew. Our righteousness should be such that more immorality and abomination must be added to attempt to mute our flavors. And, if I understand Paul, this should see contradictory to those who desire sweetness, it should seem absolutely foolish to those who have not been given a desire for the taste of the pure goodness of God.

Christian, drink the dark, black coffee of the glory of God. Taste the notes of his goodness and beauty. Seek to be cultivated by His hand. Live your life in a way that will alter the taste of the cup being consumed by our adversary. You are not called to taste like the world.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sickening deception

Began a new study over the last couple of weeks reading through John Piper's "Let the Nations be Glad." I am eagerly awaiting each week of this study as I am currently in desperate need of deep wisdom regarding the supremacy of God as it relates to the missional manner to which we are each called to live. As we began our discussions this week, we were focused solely on the introductory materials in the book, in particular Piper's pleas to prosperity preachers. A discussion on the folly of prosperity, word-of-faith, charismatic "Christianity" is typically right up my alley. I can make fun of the hawkers of this perversion of the faith I love for hours.
But not tonight. Tonight, it hit me in such a different way. I think this is owed to a working of the Spirit on my heart over the past year, kindling within me a deep desire that none should perish without hearing the beauty of the gospel of Christ. None should go to their grave without the knowledge of the propitiating, atoning, rescuing life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Tonight, the thought of the deception of millions in Africa was nothing but heart-wrenching, sickening reality. This stirring in my soul and alignment of my desires to see the nations reached with the Word has been an ongoing work throughout our church's study through the book of Revelation. I find it impossible to glimpse into the vision cycles of the Apostle John as he sees the resplendent glory of the Lamb, and the full weight of the just wrath of God culminating as these last days come towards their close and to sit back and not let it change the way I see the world. Tonight as we watched videos of the charismatic Pentecostalism that is sweeping through sub-Saharan Africa, and watched men preach messages of promises of wealth, health, prosperity to those with enough faith. And imploring their listeners to prove the level of their faith with a monetary gift that shows sufficiently the size of the faith they posses, regaling their audience with the proof of God's faithfulness based on the cars in his own garage. The deception at hand made me want to vomit. The book of Revelation, and supportive texts throughout the New Testament, is clear that God will utilize Satan's propensity for deception in this current age as one of the tools of His harvest, We see that those whose names were written in the Lamb's book of life before the ages began will continue to hold to the commandments and testimony of Jesus, and that those whose names were not found will be deceived into believing the lie. We know that throughout this age, and until the culmination of this age, that deceivers, such as those who are spreading this false truth across Africa and other parts of the world, will continue to multiply and their words will continue to strengthen. We know that this horrendous deception will be used to achieve God's ultimate purpose in the redemption of His saints. We even know that on that last day, the great deceiver, Satan himself, as well as the deceivers of this earth, will be thrown into the lake of fire that burns for eternity. But tonight, none of that knowledge touched the reality that right now, in our world these deceivers are doing their work. Right now, in our word, people are believing the lie. And that these people, in their current state, will join the rest of the deceivers and deceived in that same eternal fire.

My soul despairs at the thought of so many people being led away by half-truths that are full lies while men who claim to be speaking truth (and I believe many of them believe that they ARE speaking truth, for they have been deceived in the same way) are becoming exceedingly wealthy at the expense of the eternal souls of millions. My heart breaks for the cycle of deception that is spinning wildly in our world.

So, what do we do about it?

We pray. We seek ways to help send truth into these regions. We ask for the powerful work of the Spirit to continue to awaken the deceived to the beautifully bright reality of the true gospel. We ask for the resurrection of dead souls in these regions. We do whatever we can to see the living breath of God breathed out onto dead, dry bones, bringing life where death previously reigned. We pray for the story of Elly Achok Olare to be multiplied in the lives of countless others who are ensnared in the prosperity teachings. Olare is a pastor in Kenya who spent many years preaching the messages of the word-of-faith movement. He had been deceived, and fully believed the messages he preached were true. Through much trial, torment, and pain, he was brought to his knees in realization of his deception. He now leads a mission effort in Kenya to establish and spread the true gospel to his people. He desires to rescue from this movement people like himself and those whom his teachings affected for so many years. Men like Olare are needed to continue to work we see laid out in the book of Revelation. We see not only the deceivers and those being deceived in John's visions. We also see the saints, those who hold to the testimony of Jesus and hold to his commands. Throughout this age, we see those saints continuing to proclaim and prophesy against the deceivers of this world that some might continue to come out of the darkness and believe. Saints like Olare and the workers of his ministry, and saints like each of us who are called to the proclamation of truth among a world of lies, we are needed to continue to purpose to which we were called. We trust that among those being drawn into deception exist individuals whose names have been written, whose eternity rests among the elect of God. We trust in the effectual, sovereign call of Christ to His sheep, cast out among all nations. We trust the words of the Good Shepherd that His sheep know His voice, and that we come when called. We trust that God knows exactly what He is doing as the age heads towards culmination. We trust that He will continue to do all according to His own will and counsel, working all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

(for the full story of Elly Achok Olare: )

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Risk: part 1

Been reading through John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life". It's a bit of a gut wrenching trek into the depths of my own failures. So, if you're looking for that kind of soul-searing conviction, I recommend giving it a read. In all reality, it's pretty great. In particular, today I was reading about taking risks.

Piper gives some examples of the people of God who took risks for the glory of God. People like Esther, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and so on. People who stepped up and delivered faith when faced with uncertain outcomes. Piper makes an interesting statement about such acts, saying that in most examples of Godly risk-taking, that there is no special revelation given to the "hero", that the decision had to be based on "sanctified wisdom". This statement led me to this thought:

We, as Christians, are blessed with the endowment of the Holy Spirit. We have the counsel of God made evident through the witness of the Spirit, with the Law and Will of God etched on our regenerate heart. Thus, we do not face the risky decisions of this life unarmed. We are able to make calculated risks for the advancement of the Kingdom. We are not called to be the bringers of victory or the cause of defeat, we are called to be the obedient servants. We are co-laborers, adopted sons, and agents of an eternal kingdom.

As we face daily risks, so very minor in our own country, anything but minor for our brothers around the world, we have a trustworthy God who has given us exactly what we need to live a life of risk. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Better than hugs

My son gives the greatest hugs on the planet. There is something sweet and fantastic about hugging my daughter, and those moments are intimately, deeply nourishing to my soul. But my son's hugs? They are on a whole other level. He pours his whole self into these hugs, he melts into your arms. It is a moment frozen in a love that is as near to perfect as can be found this side of Heaven. 

Giving my children their bedtime hugs is one of the things I miss most when I'm at work. I long for days when I get to be there, every night, wrapped in their arms. It is with this longing in my heart that I was broken tonight. Finding a rare moment of downtime, and able to pick up one of my books and read, I turned the pages of Piper's "Don't waste your life" and I read as the author works through explanations of Paul's deeply passionate edifications that for him, to live is Christ and to die is gain. As Piper worked through what does it mean "to die is gain", he worked through those things in our life that we tend to treasure, and those things that we probably know hold a higher degree of importance in our daily pursuits than they should. But then, he reminds us that the underlying reality must be true in our lives that for our dying to be of gain, for Christ to be magnified above all else in our death, we must grasp that death is far better than life here. 

That statement generally gets a strong "hurrah!" from me. And tonight it did as well, until I read on as Piper listed out the things that we must be able to gladly proclaim that death would be better than... better than friends, better than love, better than professional success... better than hugging your kids.

Even as I type this out now, I have to pause... better than hugging my kids? The thought rings out into two streams in my head:
1) the beauty and reality of Christ, His atoning death upon the cross. The propitiation of my debt, and fulfillment of my random completed by his life, death, resurrection, and ascension is so monumentally glorious that I am called into a life that says: if today I die, I will rejoice in the glory of an eternity spent in the loving presence of my Lord. And that that is worth immeasurably more than the lifetime of hugs from my children. 

2) the beauty and unashamed, unbridled love that my son embraces with his hugs is merely a foretaste of the totality and perfection of the unconditional love that God has for His people, as displayed through the sacrifice of His Son. In those moments of deep satisfaction as I hug my kids, I am getting a shadow of the reality of an eternal embrace of my Heavenly Father, embracing His adopted Son. In these hugs, I should taste and see the wonderful glory of God's love for His children.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A daughter of Abraham

Jesus knows his people. He knew them, and He knows them. He knows them when they don't even know who they are. He knows them individually, as they are, in their sin, in their brokenness, their heartache, and their rebellion. He knows them by name, by their tongue, their tribe, their nation. He knows where they will stand in the choir of the elect. He holds their destiny, their past, their present, written in the scroll that only He can open. He knows them with the deep, abiding, intimate love that is most closely, humanly related within the knowing of a husband to his bride.

This immense, deep truth is something that I have wrestled with multiple times. The fact that in eternity past, before the foundations of our world, God handed to His Son a gift. It was a people for His own possession, a people for whom He would call His. But it wasn't simply an anonymous blob, a faceless conglomeration of people. It was individuals; beautifully unique, courageously singular making up a woven tapestry to be known as the body, the bride of Christ, His church. And this reality is something of great comfort, and extremely humility for me. Sadly, I think I had drifted a little too far from this mooring... started to float away a bit from this anchor.

The symptoms that creep through when this happens are myriad, but they can be easily summed up: I stop loving. When I forget that the elect of God, handed to Jesus, and promised to Him is not simply an amoebic hull of humanity, then I start to forget about people. Individuals who need to hear the Word of God, people who God is placing in my path that I might take the chance to boldly proclaim the truth the beauty of the treasure of God found only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Luckily, God has not left us without the tools necessary to identify the sins in our life. The light of His Word, cast into the darkness of our being displays shadowy corners where sins dwell. The Word also provides all we need to join with the work of the Spirit to put to death those sins. I'm thankful for that... and for a passage this past week that was the blazing torch revealing again the amazing truth that I wrote out to start this posting:

Luke 12:14-17 (ESV)
But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.   

Jesus had never met the woman before, the Bible tells us very little about who she was. As far as we can tell, this is the first time she is ever meeting or seeing Jesus at all. To the best of what we can infer from this passage, she is not a disciple or follower of any kind, just an ordinary woman who was tormented by Satan... but Jesus refers to her in a very specific manner: daughter of Abraham. In John's Gospel account, John records a conversation between Jesus and some Jewish people who had come to hear him. Jesus explains to these biological sons of Abraham that it is not their ethnic heritage that determines if they are true children of Abraham (i.e. heirs of the promises of God) but it is those who are set free by the Son. Jesus explains that it is only the true sons of Abraham who will remain in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus here names His elect "Children of Abraham". Applying that view to the passage from Luke reveals to us that though Jesus is just meeting this woman, He has known her from all eternity. He heals her of her torment. He brings this sheep into the fold. Not by any merit of her striving, or by any reason that can be comprehended in our feeble human mind. Jesus saw this woman and recognized her as one of His.

He does that same for every one of His sheep. 
 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (ESV)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

John 11:33-36

One of the things that I remember from the early days of getting back into church life, and beginning to meet with a men's small group, was that there was something different about that group. They were discussing real life, they were using scripture to build each other up, and there was a sense of realness about them. In particular I remember being intrigued by one thing more than the rest: One of the men loved the Word in  a way that I had never encountered up close before. It was like the Word was alive to him, it was an active part of his life, something he treasured. 
The image of this man rapidly flipping from verse to verse in our group, finding timely answers for the discussions we were having, encouraged me. I wanted to find this same level of passion. So, I set out at that point to work hard at loving God’s word. What followed over the next 5 years or so was largely an exercise in futility and frustration interspersed with a deepening scholarly knowledge of scripture. I had figured out how to read the word, and to study it, but there still wasn’t love for it. I don’t clearly remember the day, but I remember the passage of scripture where it started to change. I was studying in Ezekiel, and the word spoke to me differently that day. It revealed itself to me in a new and different way, showing me a picture of the glorious work of our God in salvation. The switch began being flipped in my heart, it wasn’t that I needed to study the scripture, I needed to allow scripture to study me as well. Bible reading became communion with God, it became prayerful, intentional, seeking God in His revelation. 
I still don’t have the level of love for the bible that I should, or that I hope one day to have, but I try to show up in the word every day and meet with God.
“There is nothing so fatal as to approach the Bible as just a textbook that you get to know; that is not its business. It's whole object is to bring you to him in whom is all this fullness of which we stand in need.” MLJ
With that being said, I want to share today a brief look into a short bit of teaching that Jesus gave to his disciples in Luke:
Luke 11:33-36
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful, lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light. 
There are 2 realities that I want to focus on:
There is a need (responsibility) of the believer to be active in the cultivation, purification, and strengthening of the light within us.
- As Christians, we bear the light of the glory of God within us. The Holy Spirit has ignited (at the proper time) within each of the elect of God a lamp. Via the effectual call of the Spirit, the wick of a lamp has been lit inside a defiled, broken lantern that sits within the Temple of our body. The light is the law of God, bringing out of the darkness all of the iniquity we thought we could hide. At first, the light shows the large imperfections of the lantern itself. Its cracked glass and sooty build-up stifling the light before it can even begin to escape. As the spirit works, identifying the flaws, it brings us to repentance and mends the fractured panes, clearing away the soot. Slowly the lantern is mended and the light begins to shine into the dark depravity of our temple, light calling out of darkness all manners of death. The further the light reaches, the more unfiltered and brightly the light shines within us. This portion of the process of sanctification is largely a passive process within the believer. The spirit does the work. 
 We have the additional responsibility of being an active participant in the working of the Spirit within each of us, allowing, by the means of Grace, for every corner of our being to be exposed to the light. We submit our whole selves to the invasive light of the Spirit knowing that “nothing that is hidden will not be made manifest, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). By the work being done to seek and eliminate darkness that still lurks within each of us, we should become increasingly aware of the breadth of the gap between who we are, and who Christ is. We should become aware of how much of what Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “the fullness” we lack. This revelation should move us, it should cause a disturbance within our soul, a craving that can only be filled by more of Jesus. The active work of killing sin and increasing in holiness should create a bittersweet balance in us, we become more holy, and more satisfied by the spirit, but in turn become more aware of how wretched we truly are. As we become more filled by the light, we become more aware of the dark. Much of the work that is to be done here by the believer is accomplished by active participation in the ordained means of Grace through which we approach the throne of God. We allow the word of God to fuel the lamp, allowing it to continually better expose our darkness, we pray, seeking closer communion with God, knowing that as we approach the Holy one, our fractured holiness becomes more noticeable. We worship, and partake in the sacraments, acts that proclaim the righteous beauty of God, and give Him thanks for all He is, humbling ourselves in the process.
  We must also guard and protect that light. What we take in with our eyes has a direct effect on what gets into our heart. The warning of this passage speaks to the tendency of man to confuse darkness and light in the power of our own vision. As the true light starts to creep into the darkened corners that house those sins we still love, we begin to doubt the light. We feel that same disturbance, but rather than get up and actively seek the destruction of the darkness, we shrug our shoulders at it and decide that it wasn’t really there to begin with. We try to throw the light in a new direction/ We, now having tasted of the light of the lamp, start to try to stroll ahead on a path defined by our own will, because we somehow start to think that we know the right way to go. (There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Prov 14:12). By traipsing down these side roads, we endanger the light in our eyes to become darkness. The ultimate danger being that we so shelter the light and pursue shadier paths that given time, we will no longer recognize the path we are on, and we run the risk of 1Tim1:19 that we make shipwreck of our faith, falling under the warning of Hebrews 6:4-6.If we do not pursue a progressive holiness, further mining the darkness out of us, allowing the totality of the light of the glory of God to reach into every crevice of our being, but instead insist on allowing dark to mingle with light, we are playing with very real fire, leading to a body that is full of darkness where once there was light.

The second point I want to bring out of this passage today deals much more with our responsibility given to us in the power of the great commission. Reading further into what Jesus is impressing on His disciples could be an exhortation to the pursuit of Holiness that is not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of those who are not as far along the path of righteousness as they are. We are called to be disciples who are making disciples, to the advancement of the Kingdom on this earth. It seems possible that the purpose of the warnings given through the passage is to ensure that as we grow in our pursuit of Christlikeness, that our lights are shining more and more brightly so as to light the path for those who will come to follow. The image that most readily comes into my mind on this actually comes out of Pilgrim’s Progress. In one of the early conversations between Christian and Evangelist, the latter is informing the former that he needs to take the path before him to the wicket gate. Evangelist asks if Christian can see the gate, to which he replies, “no.” No worry to Evangelist however, who then says, “well, can you see that light?” Christian indeed does see that light, and is instructed to follow the path onward toward that light and he shall find the gate. What we find at the gate is Goodwill, a person who has been placed on the path of Christian to provide a light for him to follow along his journey. The promise of this passage of Luke is that if we continue in the renewing of our mind, and the conforming of our life to the pursuit of holiness, that we will continue to conquer those things within us that restrain the light. As our light becomes stronger, we become beacons on the path for others. We look ahead and see the lights of those who have gone before us, and we follow that path, while allowing our light to shine behind us, lighting the path for those whom God would have following us. 

The eternal significance of this second facet is a secondary reality of the importance of the work to be done in the first. The need to pursue holiness, to seek the fullness of God, is for our own salvation, our own joy, and our own eternal pleasures. We pursue a life befitting the heir of a great kingdom, and we seek a treasure so great that to gain it is worth sacrificing all of the other good things in our life. But, as is taught so often in the Epistles, a life well-lived, doctrine well-taught, and a race well-run will save more than just ourselves. We have an obligation to be beacons of glorious light, imitators of Christ in such a way that even if someone fails to fully grasp the beauty and glory of Jesus, we can light part of their path.