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Cover Crops

Last year, we had a beautiful vegetable garden. It was a labor of love that my husband meticulously planned on paper so he could have the proper spacing, soil balance and growth. It was probably the most easily accessible garden we have even had to date and it was also the most productive. I miss that time.

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I say “I miss that time” because I feel like kind of resemble that garden. For years, I had time of wading through God’s Word in the morning before the kids went to school, was part of a ladies Bible study group, guarded prayer time and sat here before the computer and poured out the things God wanted me to share. I had the proper soil balance and growth- if you will. That is not where I am now and am spiritually depleted. Physically, I have seen changes, too. The busier schedule has resulted (ironically) in less exercise and fast eating…and the addition of many extra pounds. I feel distant…and fat.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18

Just before Winter, my hubby had researched “cover crops”. These are things that you plant to enrich the soil as well as keep down weed growth in the off-season. It also, theoretically, makes for an easy start-up in the Spring. Low maintenance! After his research, he chose oats. I wish I had a picture to share. When the oats grew it was beautiful! They were a  rich amber color that seemed to ripple like waves of water in the wind. In the cruise control of “low maintenance living” I didn’t see the battle lines that were being drawn all around.

This Spring, I fired up the lawn tractor for the first time. I put the tunes in my ears, hat on my head and took her for a spin. When I engaged the blades to start edging around the garden plot, I saw a wave out of the corner of my eye. Not of amber oats! This wave was brown. I depressed the brake and watched as some sixty little voles scurried through the garden. We had been invaded! Voles are cute (except when they are in my space). They are a relative of mice, have shorter tails and kinda dig like moles but leave no trace except a few small holes in the mulch and ground. They eat bulbs, roots, worms and other things…OATS it seems. This revelation gave us (and our neighbors) a wake up call. This explained why our neighbor’s tree died last year, this was the answer to the question, “What are those holes in my flowerbed?”. It also gave us fresh perspective on some behavior our crazy dog was engaging in this Winter. He was going into the garden and rolling in the oats! Ha ha ha It was like he was making crop circles and snow angels…minus the snow.

Let’s move across the street for a moment. I can’t remember if I told you a few years ago about the water retention pond across from our home. There was a battle there, too. The builder installed a sub-par water retention pond that has never been able to hold water. The improper installation and lack of maintenance also caused erosion on the farm behind it at one point and there was a legal remedy to all of that. Yet, somehow that area was quietly released to the care, custody and control of the residents in our neighborhood to maintain in the late 90s and nobody even knew about it. Before we moved in 15 years ago, it was already an overgrown forest. The county came to the residents a few years back and smacked the residents of our neighborhood with the notion that the water retention area was ours to collectively maintain AND we would have to raise and spend thousands of dollars to clear this area by a certain deadline – and keep it that way in the years and years to come. Wait…here’s the kicker…they also revealed that there were TWO areas. One we thought was just am empty lot. What a surprise! We personally have dumped over a thousand dollars in those holes out there. And – it would seem- displaced a colony of voles in the process. In 15 years we have never seen a vole…until that area was cleared, that is. It stings a little to say. We paid for one problem and caused another.

In our effort to find a low maintenance solution to weeds in the garden over the Winter, it was like we slapped up a neon hotel sign for little creatures who had been kicked out of their home. Laziness paved the way for a silent invasion that we never saw coming.  Laying a cover crop may look like a good way to keep the weeds down, but may become a breeding ground for silent invaders.

Spiritual (and physical) life is not much different. Cruise control is a dangerous place to be if you fall asleep at the wheel. Proper maintenance…daily bread and steady walk…pulling weeds of sin. In an effort to contribute financially to our home, I took a part-time job at school. The initial job offering was an answer to prayer, but I took on more responsibilities after the fact and that threw everything off. I pulled away from group study, don’t have adequate morning time and relationships/friendships are non-existent. Now I am spiritually depleted with an anemic prayer life and find myself surrounded by silent invaders. I am spiritually and physically unhealthy.

Then, yesterday, I read that verse in Proverbs. I have not had much in the area of spiritual revelation in a while. Far from the Word and prayer and time with the Lord.  TRUTH: Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.

If I am not walking with God, I get loose. Standards slip, focus becomes more inward that UPward, I am tempted to look to my own interests instead of the interests of others (contrary to Philippians 2) and I don’t have the blessing of revelation from the Holy Spirit. No wonder I have not had a lot to say here on this blog.

So be careful with those cover crops. Man-made solutions and laziness. A relationship and daily walk with Jesus is the only adequate defense against the consequences of sin.

Now…about those voles…

We won’t have a garden this year. No fruit. We have a battle to wage to restore that plot of land to health. The fruit that comes to this garden will be shared, not stolen. So off to battle I go.

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Sour Power!

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I am a little apprehensive to brag about my kids. They’re not perfect…just as I am not perfect…and I don’t want to set them up for a great fall by placing them high up on a shelf or portraying them as such. But, there are times…the Lord blesses me through these kids and even gives a little affirmation that we’re doing alright at raising them. I am thankful for those moments.

Our son and daughter started at a new school this year and they are both really excelling- socially and academically. They are so different from each other. For him, the academics come easy and the social part is hard and she is just the opposite. She is in first grade and is friends with most kids in most grades. It just comes easy for her. Various experiences at this school are pushing our son out of his shell (I think maybe I need to go to school there, too. Maybe it would help me out! ha ha)  and it’s exciting to watch him bloom and grow. One of those experiences was last month. He had his first Science Fair!

You may remember the Science Fair from the days of your youth. They each have to pick something to report on, experiment on, or demonstrate and then present what they’ve learned and how they did it. Sitting on this side of the project…I now have a new appreciation for what my parents must have gone through. It was PAINFUL! I had to balance encouragement, pushing him, not doing it for him, and not getting to the point of frustration that would result in discouragement. MERCY. It was the most difficult and most draining experience I have had with our son to date. I understand why many parents just knock their kid out of the way and do it for them. It would be so much easier. But, where would that leave him? Yep…I had a tremendous growth experience in this, too.

The project he chose was the “lemon battery”. If you’ve never seen it, Google it for sure because it’s pretty cool. The acid in the lemon reacts with the zinc in a nail. Add some copper wire and you get a current that generates a small amount of electricity. FUN! So he decided to measure the electricity output of one lemon, then two hooked together …and so on. Then, when he was all done, he used five lemons hooked together to light a small string of low voltage LED lights. As I said, the project itself was fun- but, the preparation and education that went into it was a challenge. I had to lead him to videos that would explain the process on a level that he understands and could explain to others. I didn’t want him to just speak words…I wanted him to understand. This is a challenge and concern that runs deep in me- especially in his young walk as a Christian. I pray that for my children all the time- I want them to know the Lord, not the answers.

He did GREAT! He cut everything out, made graphs and mounted each piece while  I was like the paparazzi- taking pictures from a distance yet trying to give (push) him some direction. This was his finished project:

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Part of this project involved tying the experiment or demonstration to a Biblical correlation. He had to look at the project -or a component of the project- and write a short essay on how it relates to God or His character, creation or a Biblical principle. Once again, I had to resist handing him a bunch of scripture references and telling him what I thought…BAAAHHHH!!! I thought I’d crawl out of my skin. There is so much that could be drawn from this little lemon experiment. In my silence- our son came up with something beautiful.

PRAYER.

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Thank you, Lord.

Prayer. While he was in the midst of this project I was having some minor health issues. Pride presses on me to keep those issues to myself. Other people have problems of their own and much bigger than mine-  I don’t want to bug them to pray for me. So I pray -and rarely ask others to pray for me. In this process, God began to work on me…yep, through a fourth grade science project. Pride has to go. Prayer is a powerful thing and God is clear about praying with others in Jesus’ name….there is power in the name of Jesus. He wants us to link up and pray together and for each other. Pride blocks me from fellowship and from God directly.

I feel like this is an abrupt end to this post…but, I think I need to just let it sit here. Ponder and pray.

Lemonade anyone?

Lessons from the Littles: Shooting hoops

As I said in the last post…God has been using interactions with our kids to teach ME lately. This one comes from the bleachers. We are in the middle of Upward Basketball season. We have participated- and hubby has coached- in this program for the past four years and it is a tremendous blessing to our community. Our son is…well…not very athletically inclined. Like many kids these days he’d rather be curled up with a book (or more likely a video game) than running anywhere. Thankfully for him- he does not get that choice. While we really try not to push them into things they absolutely hate, we do require some kind of sport with physical activity in the Winter months to keep them from…well, getting like me. (There…that’s my brutal self deprecating honesty for the day.) He didn’t want to do basketball again this season, but he couldn’t come up with another option so here we are. PRAISE THE LORD!

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This year, my hubby decided to coach our daughter instead of our son. Let’s just say there is some value in stepping back for a moment to invite another person in to give direction. While hubby has voiced that it hurts a little to see our son excel under the direction of another…we are both super excited at the change in our boy this year. And that’s not just a skill thing either! He is really getting it! In the years past he walked, skipped, sauntered…and stood…and dribbled…and stood…and dribbled…and let the clock run out while he did it. It was frustrating to watch, but we encouraged him every step of the way.  I don’t know if he was storing all of that knowledge up or if he is a little more coordinated this year…maybe a combination of both AND the unfamiliar voice telling him what to do. WOW. Each week he is learning and using a new skill. He is running. They are keeping him in longer. And his confidence is soaring! During his last game, he made 3 baskets and ran the whole time. WITH A SMILE.

One of the things I noticed in weeks past; someone on the opposing team would shoot the ball and my son’s team would rebound and run it up the court. Our son would run to that basket and just stand under it…waiting for the rebound. Never mind his team players scrambling for position and looking for someone…anyone…to be open. So the following week in practice, the coach focused on offensive and defensive positioning. He talked to them about running around to PLACE themselves in the best spot to receive the ball. That means positioning and re-positioning …going around obstacles and the people who are trying to keep you from that ball. Defensively, it means positioning yourself in a spot that will hinder the “enemy” and guard your teammate. Do you already see where I am going with this?

As I prayed on Tuesday, I was throwing a bit of a pity party. Stinking thinking. The comparison game is not a good one. I should be focused on the ONE…not the other ones. When I look down at my feet and the feet of those around me, I am not focused on God or the ministry that HE has laid out before me – and am certainly not walking (or sprinting) forward in victory.

Positioning.

There are times when I wait for the ball. Standing still. Not rushing to get it and not really knowing where to be. I want to shoot. I want to score- not to be known, but to make Jesus’ name known to others around me. I want to reach others and share God’s love. I want to serve and share. I want to link up and be part of God’s team. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” -just to be affirmed that I am being obedient. I need to move…eye always on the ball…placing myself in a position to act- always. Hands up. Ready to catch, pass, block. Where do I stand? Am I blocking Satan’s attacks for my friends and family? Praying for them? Interceding when they seek godly counsel? Stepping in and saying “No…look at HIM!”?  Do I hear the coach? Do I listen? Do I respond? Am I doing anything at all or just sitting on the bench?

(sigh)

Good news is- I am not on the bench, but there have been times when I was tempted to sit down. Especially as I watch other players shoot one after another…nothing but net…and wonder if I am needed; if I have a purpose at all. I am so thankful for the little team in this home I have been given to train up in the way they should go. The body of Christ…we are the body and a hand cannot be a foot. We all can’t be guards at the same time…offense AND defense are required. TEAM work all under the direction and in obedience to THE ONE coach. We all need good teammates, too. On Tuesday, one of my valued teammates blocked a shot, passed me the ball and pointed me in the right direction. Words of wisdom from a woman who is growing in Christ…

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Thank you Lord for your faithful and wise instruction. Always when I need it. Thank you for teammates who love and care and communicate truth. I pray that I will be one.

***6:48 am Friday (48 minutes after I posted this )…a reminder on the radio. “Grace”…it’s not about anything that I do, it’s about what Christ DID. A word from the Lord…focus on THAT ball. I am overwhelmed!

Lessons from the littles: Potholes

This has been one of those weeks. God is speaking (praise the Lord) and teaching me so much through interactions with my kids again. Well, I should say “still”…but, I am actually paying attention this week.

Yesterday, our daughter was asking about potholes. With the recent snowfall, our streets are riddled with ruts, holes and cracks. She asked, “How can ice do that to the street?”

I barely got the explanation out of my mouth when the sermon set in. Oh, mercy! Thank you Lord for this word picture.

I explained:

When the snow falls, the moisture gets into the small cracks in the road. Little cracks that may not be visible to the eye are present because of poor maintenance or just wear and tear. The cold air causes that moisture to freeze and the ice expands because ice is fatter than the liquid water. (She’s 6…she understood that! ha ha) That frozen water/ice pushes the crack opened even wider and when it melts, the crack is larger. Eventually it will happen again and some cars will run over it again and again…then the crack becomes a hole and the hole becomes a pothole.

As I said, I barely had the words off my tongue when “SIN” entered my consciousness. I love opportunities that God places in common everyday life that provide opportunity for me to chat with the kids about God and His character…sin, trials, patience, forgiveness, and anything else that may be tossed this way. So this opened a beautiful discussion on the effects of sin.

If we don’t take our relationship with God seriously -have a daily walk where we seek Him and pursue Him….pray and listen…act in obedience…if we sit on cruise control- then our relationship is not being maintained. This opens us up to the dangers of temptation and sin. Sin may begin to seep in to those unmaintained areas. We may not notice until time passes and a larger crack or a gaping hole makes itself known. I explained that the road crew can patch the road but that portion of road will never be the same. As it is with sin. We can repent and be forgiven but, a scar sometimes remains in the form of memories, consequences or even physical manifestations.

Thanks to my six year old daughter- I will be viewing all of these potholes in a different light. I will also be praying and examining my relationship with the Lord when those quiet times creep in and I have a tendency to cruise a little.

I am so thankful for the many times and ways that the Lord shows himself in the seemingly mundane moments of this life. And so thankful for the “littles” who I have the honor and privilege of shepherding daily.

Thank YOU LORD!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Choking on desire

In the beginning of January we always sit down as a family to discuss family and personal goals. One of my son’s desires for me was that I would start a Sunday School class where I could study and share with others. I told him that I already have a beloved group of women who text bomb each other when the Lord reveals something in study…and, of course, I have my hubby and kids to share with. Shepherding these kids is something I really want to focus on. Upon his request and urging, I have decided that I will dust off the cobwebs and try to share a bit more on this blog. Some of the insights that the Lord gives me may be things you’ve studied out before or maybe you could share with me and ADD TO what I am reading and learning. Last week as I was reading in Numbers 11, I shared with my son and he said, “Mom, THIS is what you need to share!”…so here we go.

Numbers 11…

Quail From the Lord

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Then I want to skip ahead a bit (we’ll go back to this part soon).

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

Moving forward again…

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,[ because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.

A brief recap: The people completely forgot about the plagues, deliverance, the Red Sea, a number of miracles…and now manna is not good enough. Whining for meat- in verse 5, they recalled the “good ole days” in Egypt when they ate meat AT NO COST. What? No cost? Really?

In Exodus 1:11 & 13, the Bible describes forced labor, oppression, and how the current ruler worked them ruthlessly. In Exodus 1:22, the Pharaoh ordered that the baby boys be killed. And in Exodus 3:7 the Lord Himself says that He has seen the misery of His people in Egypt and has heard their crying and suffering. So it seems to me that their memory had become a little hazy…or maybe it was the heat. Oh, how soon we forget from what and where we have been delivered.

One thing that keeps coming to mind is Psalm 37:4…Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. When I read the above portions of Numbers, I can see that they are definitely NOT delighting in the Lord. But, I’ve said it before…we can’t be too hard on the Israelites because we are really no different.

So what happens if you do NOT delight in the Lord? What if your desire is burning for something else? The answer is clear and it hits me to my core. God created us to have free will, so if we are not seeking Him and His desires…then we are seeking self and our desires. I think this story illustrates exactly what happens when our desires don’t line up.

God will let us choose and have exactly what we want…and the consequences that go with it.

Romans 1:21-25 says just that:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

In Numbers, the Israelites’ desire was for an abundance of meat and they got it. God provided so much, in fact, that they were wading through it and God had said that they would eat it for a month and it would come out of their noses. (Oh, Aacck! The visual alone turns my gut!) Instead, they didn’t even get the satisfaction of a full belly and they were struck with plague. Gee, I don’t think that worked out as they had planned.

In Romans, their desire was for sin and self…they didn’t acknowledge God or give thanks to Him and God let them have exactly what they wanted. He gave them over to their own desires.

CHOKE. ON. THAT.

I have been there…I have chosen myself and I have choked on the consequences. I wonder how our desire would change if we had advance knowledge of the consequences? Maybe it would change the course for some; maybe. As Hebrews 11 points out (speaking about Moses…go figure)- it is better to suffer affliction than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

So I guess what I have discovered is the need for constant self-evaluation to really see where my desires meet up with the desires of the Lord.

Father God,  I pray that I will never again have to choke on the abundance of bad choices or selfish desires. Move me to seek YOU first.

In Jesus’ Name! Amen.

 

Red Sea Rules- the same God who led you in will lead you out

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

A dear friend of mine gave me a gift…and what a gift! She passed me a little book that she had been reading; it really is little; maybe about 6 inches by 5 inches. Wow, big things come in small packages.

I could write a full fledged book review here, but I am sure that there is another site out there for that. I will, however, summarize this little treasure and hopefully coax you into reading it, too.

I can imagine that you’re on the edge of your seat, with pen and paper in hand, waiting….What’s the name? Who wrote it?

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given strategies for difficult times by Robert J. Morgan.

I know that this isn’t a typical post from me- God willing, I will be back to writing soon. For now, enjoy these truths.

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A Multitude of Stars

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14-19

Lights in the sky…to guide us, mark sacred times and time itself. All placed, with purpose, by God himself.

I think that there was tremendous significance when God referenced Abraham’s offspring as stars.

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5

Yes, they were as numerous as stars. But, it seems to me that if you look at the Bible through a wide lense, we can mark many sacred events, historically significant times and even the future by Abraham’s descendants- much like the stars in the sky.

Then, there’s THE star- the one we think about during the Christmas season.

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After they had heard the king, they went on their way,and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-10

Yet another beacon from the line of Abraham and sign of things to come. And a star to mark the place…this particular star led the Magi to Jesus.

Stars: to offer light to the world and lead people to Jesus. As one of our pastors says sometimes, “Man just can’t write this stuff!”

I am going to shift gears a bit to look at stars in a different light.

When I look up “heavenly body” online, the most common definition is “a star, a planet or moon”.

When I think of being part of a body (one star in a multitude), I am drawn to 1 Corinthians.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

1 Corinthians 12:18-20

We all have different gifts, talents and functions within the body- but, none is more important than the next. And we are to use what we’ve been gifted.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11

I was watching “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on T.V. Monday night. This show features INSANE Christmas lights displays and they are judged for a prize. These aren’t commercially done. They are planned and implemented by homeowners in their own front yards (…and backyards, roofs, driveways and anywhere else they can fit a light.) There are millions of lights involved and some even use computer programs to synchronize the lights with sound. It was something else to see! So I wonder. Would those light displays be as spectacular if there was only one single, but very bright light? I would venture to say that the single light would pale in comparison to the thousands of lights synchronized to work in unison. The impact wouldn’t be the same.

We are all stars – placed in the sky by God himself to “give light on the earth” (Gen 1). We are heavenly bodies placed as such to give light to this earth as one body: To be bright and bold for Christ in individually and unison.

Individually, we are to be like the Bethlehem Star so many years ago; providing light, and pointing directly to Christ so others can find him, too.

Is any one star more important than another? Could a single bright star light up the whole night sky? No. When you look at the star next to you, he/she may appear brighter, but that star does not hold more significance in the sky than the next. I think God put stars in the sky in multitude so they could work together in multitude to shine bright as a whole. Just as he placed us side by side to shine for Him as a whole. Synchronized by the Spirit, we cast more light as a body.

Let your light so shine!