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The Story of Lanterns

For most of the country, the crisp cool air of autumn is upon us. A sure sign of autumn is that Christmas
decorations are popping up everywhere in retail stores. Halloween costumes and disguises are selling out in stores
as trick-or-treaters are ready to take over the streets. A popular symbol of both harvest time and Halloween is the
pumpkin. I was thinking recently that being a Christian is a lot like being a pumpkin. Perhaps you are visualizing this
orange, round vegetable and wondering how you could ever be compared to one of these squashes! Simply put,
like a child chooses a pumpkin to carve and mold an image upon, so God carves and molds His own unique design
in you.

The Scriptures tell us that the Lord chooses us. He lifts us up and washes the dirt from our skin. Then he opens us,
connecting deep inside to scoop out all the slimy, yucky stuff, including seeds of doubt, spite, lies, and fear. Then
He carves a new creation and makes our faces shine by putting His light inside for all to see. Sometimes I feel like I
don't want my light to shine because I am ashamed of a thought or action or pattern in my life. I try to hide the
light Christ has put in me and blend in with the crowd. What I forget is that when God carved me, created me, and
gave me His Son, I no longer had to count on my own strength. I can count on the Lord's. It is He who washes me
clean; it is He who gives me a spirit of strength and perseverance; it is He who makes me pure; it is He who frees
me from sin; and it is He who gives me hope. When I realize that my part of the equation is to rely on His strength
and power, then I can do as Scriptures say, and shine His light through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What starts as an everyday squash turns into a lantern of light. What starts as an everyday person turns into a
beacon of hope for all to see. Through our union with Christ, we are given the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit
who enters and dwells in our lives. It is He who picked you out and carved you just the way He wants you. So,
make sure you keep your lantern lit for all to see.

Back Up

By now you’ve watched enough TV cop shows to know that an officer should never go into a dangerous
building alone. Always call for backup.

How can a parent ever fully relax? When your kids are little, they
are vulnerable to a thousand dangers and risks, from SIDS to choking to falling down the stairs. But the
risks are just as big when they are high schoolers and go out on the streets by themselves. What parent
of teenagers hasn’t worried about automobile accidents, alcohol, and drugs?

Once Jesus scolded his disciples for brushing off the importance of children. In that rebuke is a marvelous comfort for every
Christian parent: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their
angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

Did you catch the significance? You have backup! God’s powerful angels have specific personal assignments, and they
know the names and whereabouts of the little ones at all times. They must report to the Father and
have all of his authority and power behind them. Someday, when we’re in heaven, God may choose to
tell us how many hair-raising disasters his invisible agents averted. Maybe we’ll get to meet the angels
who watched our kids. I hope so—I’ve got a big load of thanks to deliver.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for giving us children to love and rear in accordance with your Word
and will. Thank you also for the protection and backup of your powerful angels, helping to keep them
safe. May we be the kind of parents you want us to be, and may our children grow up loving, trusting,
and serving our Savior Jesus Christ. Bring us all safely to our heavenly home for all eternity. In Jesus’
name we ask this. Amen.

Stop Whining!

(This is not from my household, but I think we can all relate to this article.)


So, we have six children in our house. And although our older children are getting a little older, there is still a lot of crying and whining in our house. I cannot tell you how many cries of “injustice” I hear in a day. “He…!!!!” “She….!!!” And you know, it isn’t the “tattling” that bothers me. I actually like to be told. It is the manner of which the reports come. If they would simply stay calm and talk to me, state their case, and listen to my advice and act according to what we together reason as the best solution… How much more peaceful things could really be.


But our children can be very emotional and irrational creatures a times… And truth be told… So can I. How many times am I really whining at God? How many times am I crying out “He…!!!” “She…!!” How many times do I, deep, deep down, not want to reason anything out but simply want to vent out? How many times am I truly not interested in hearing Him but only in Him hearing me? How many times do I want to see my idea of justice, forgetting that justice looked like an innocent man on a cross?


Oh, how God uses our children to so clearly allow us to see ourselves… To remind us that we are deeply loved despite our irrational and emotional tendencies… To speak to our hearts in a gentle and yet thundering way: “Stop whining. Stop crying ‘injustice!’ Just come to me. Reason with me. Follow my guidance and all the sin will be made white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and 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 as wool."

Double Take

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:30 (NIV)

I thought it was a weird sign for an airport. I looked up at a giant billboard which read, “You are smarter and stronger than you think.” I found it odd that the airport was trying to boost my self-esteem. Although there’s nothing really wrong with this positive message, I thought a better slogan to broadcast for an airport might be “Adventure Ahead” or “Your safety is our top priority.” I pondered that sign. For some reason, it bugged me. You are smarter and stronger than you think.

Then I realized why I was bothered. When we believe we are the ones who are ultimately smart and strong, where is the need for God? The truth is, we aren’t as smart and strong as we think. Constantly propping up the ego leads to pride. On the contrary, we are in desperate need of God. He is the one who is smarter and stronger than we think.

Instead of boasting about our intelligence or strength, we should brag on God’s. The Apostle Paul leads the way as we read “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). That runs counter to the world’s way of doing things. Lord Jesus, You are my strength and my defense. I humble myself before You, and I declare in my weakness, You are strong. There is no other like You.

Thank You for clothing me in Your power and righteousness. I am enough because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Back to School

2 Timothy 2:15 - "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to
be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

New clothes are in the closet, and the books and backpacks are out and ready to go. Summer vacation is
over and it’s back to school! Weeks of summer pleasure gave young minds a chance to rest, but now it’s
back to work. It’s time to study again. There is one book that we should never get tired of studying and
learning from. That, of course, is The Holy Bible. When was the last time you really took the time to dig
in and study God’s Word? Did the busyness of summer cause you to slack off of your study of God’s
Word? Vacations? Travel? Kids at home? Extra outside work? No matter what the season, there are
plenty of things to distract you and keep you from studying, but it’s time to put away the excuses and
get into the Word. What are you waiting for? It’s time to study!

Precious Lord, Your Word is my source of strength and wisdom. Let me never be so unwise as to think
that I know enough of it. Let me never neglect studying it. Let me never stop loving it.

Parenting is Permanent

“Only four more years ‘til I can quit worrying about my kid,” said the dad of a 14-year-old boy. The sad thing about this particular father is that he meant it and later proved it by neglect and emotional abuse. For the rest of us, being a parent is a life-long deal. The job description may change as time goes on, but the commitment, love and concern remain constant. Sometimes, especially for parents of “terrible” two-year-olds or even more terrible teenagers, this thought is not necessarily a pleasant one.  We wonder, “Will this ever get better?” It can be exhausting and daunting. 

Being someone’s mom or dad never ends. The joy you feel when celebrating your child’s successes, the pain you feel when they have failures or losses and the intense heartache when they are ill or worse, when they die: these things are a part of the package. Permanently.  

Even in the often-told parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32), the father never gives up. He never decides to stop being a parent just because his kid messes up in a huge way.  

If you have young children, draw on the strength and support of others to help give you stamina through this season. If you have teens that are testing every rule, boundary and request you make, stand firm. If you have adult children who are struggling, living apart from your will or in some kind of trouble, be strong and don’t give up.  

For all parents, be reminded that God’s grace is sufficient and that nothing can separate your child from God’s love and care. Romans 8: 39 says, “..neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Let God’s grace fuel you to stay the course and continue to act with love and patience. There will likely come a time when things will get easier. Your energy will be back to normal and your every thought won’t be consumed with, “When will this end?”

Be encouraged by 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”


Teamwork - Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just 1 pound of honey. That’s more than two times around the world! God created these amazing insects to be great at teamwork. As many as 80,000 bees live in a hive, and a hive can produce more than 80 pounds of honey each year. That’s a lot of honey — maybe even more than you weigh!

The incredible part is that each individual bee makes only 1½ teaspoons of honey during its entire lifetime. But bees can make a lot of honey because they work together! Teamwork also allows people to do more together than they could on their own.

A wise king named Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

On a piece of paper list some of the kinds of teams you can think of (examples: sports team, medical team). Now, answer these questions about each team:

  • How do the members of this team work together?
  • Why is every member important?
  • What might happen if one or more members of the team were missing?

One of the most important teams is God’s team of believers, called the Body of Christ. Read or listen to 1 Corinthians 12:20-25 to find out why each team member is essential! What might happen if one or more members were missing?

God created us (and bees) to work together and support one another. When we do, the results are sweet!

Dear Jesus, thank You for creating me to be part of a team. Thank You for giving me teammates in my parents, siblings, teachers and friends. I pray that You would help me work together with others to do all You have for us to do.