Light Has an Order: How to Light Up Someone Else

We still have three more months.

I’m not one of those people who has their Christmas shopping done by September. Alas. I’d love to be.

But I’m never quite ready to think about it this early.

There’s an order to my Christmas shopping:

  • identify who to buy for,
  • determine what they’d like,
  • buy the gift,
  • wrap the gift, and
  • give the gift.

I usually get hung up at step 2. It takes me until December to get over the hump enough to move forward again.

Yet there’s something about Christmas I am ready for, at any time of the year. It’s a candlelight Christmas service at church. We attend one each December at a neighboring church as part of our annual Christmas tradition.

Lighting the candles is the most moving part for me.

There’s an order to it, too.

  • First, we receive the unlit candles.
  • Second, someone brings the fire, and lights his neighbor’s candle from his own.
  • Third, that person passes the flame to their neighbor, who passes it to their neighbor, until it’s finally my turn too.
  • And then I get to pass the flame to my neighbor.

In the end, we all have lit small candles with little flames, but it creates much light. We raise our candles high and climax in singing “Silent Night.”

It’s a beautiful process. It stirs my soul.

Jesus manifests himself to me in a similar order as well.

“This life was revealed to us. We have seen it, and we testify about it. We are reporting to you about this eternal life that was in the presence of the Father and was revealed to us.”
1 John 1:2

  • First, Jesus reveals his love.
  • I need to pay attention to see it.
  • If so, I receive it.
  • Then I have love to spread round to others.

In that order.

Granted, sometimes I get lazy and try to flip the order. I try to tell about something I know little about. Or show love before I’ve received love. Or I simply drop out after the first or second step, and never end up sharing this authentic life with another person.

So as I focus on 1 John 1:2 this week, I know Jesus will start the process by giving his love; I can count on that. My part is to notice how he becomes visible each day. In the seeing, I can then collect a bounty of love to share with someone else.

Just like the fire on the candles I light at Christmas, I want to feel the heat of Jesus’s presence. I want to smell the smoke. I want to notice the movement. I want to see by his light.

And then I want light up someone else with this love, too.


Who can you share a light with this week? Get your candle lit, then pass it along. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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What Dark Can’t Do to Light
—Grace & Truth Linkup

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Donna’s work exposes her to the underbelly of life. She often sees the bad things, the hard things, that we humans can do to each other.

In our featured post this week, Donna sits us in a courthouse hallway with her, awaiting her turn to advocate for a child.

But even in the worst of the worst situations, she still finds hope. She seeks for it.

Donna finds it in the light that God shines in the dark.

She reminds us of the apostle John’s words:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

Donna took a deep dive in the Greek word “overcome” in this verse.

And she saw what the darkness has NOT done.

The darkness has not overcome the light.

“Christ, the Light John speaks of in John 1:5, not only defeats darkness, He ensures the dark forces of sin and evil are powerless to ever apprehend Him and therefore His own.”

Read all of Donna’s post here, then add your blog own links below.

“A LIGHT THAT DEFEATS DARKNESS”

Where do you need to see light overcome darkness? Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

When You’re Not Sure How God Works

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Audacious Prayers

It’s Sunday morning, 10:30 a.m. We’re crammed in the choir room after first service is over but before second service begins (pre-Covid days).

Someone closes the door. This is serious now. A choir member has asked for prayers for healing. It’s time to get down to business.

In the church I grew up in years ago, we weren’t bold with our prayers. Sure, we asked God to help us…if he wanted to, if he didn’t have anything more important to do, if he thought us worthy enough.

It felt a little flimsy.

But the prayers in this choir room are of a different flavor.

And they make me nervous.

They’re outrageous. They don’t just ask for future healing; they declare it to be so. And further, that it’s already occurred.

Everyone in the room needs to agree.

I’m not used to this.

Um, should I walk out if I don’t fully believe that the healing has already occurred? I don’t want to be a hindrance.

But my leaving would be quite noticable. I would be embarrassed. I would be pegged an unbeliever.

Is It Okay to Ask?

But I can’t fully convince myself I know what God will or won’t do.

And I further can’t convince myself that if God DOES want to heal, my belief or unbelief wouldn’t outstrip his ability to do so.

Does that make me a heretic? Of little faith? A lesser believer?

Are questions a bad thing?

I understand how more certainty and less doubts can bring more peace, less stress.

Science agrees that those who regularly participate in religious practices with strong beliefs report greater well-being than those who don’t, for a variety of reasons.

Psychologists also examine how certainty comes into play.

“With belief—that God will intervene, that a ritual will heal—comes certainty. And with certainty comes a kind of inner peace.”
– David DeSteno, How God Works

People who are more certain that God is at this moment killing all the cancer cells as they pray are more likely to be calm. They’re more at peace. They have less stress.

I’m Not Convinced

But my questions remain.

What happens if the choir member finds out at next week’s scan that his cancer has not gone away, but in fact has grown? What does that do to his faith? To the faith of those who prayed away the cancer already?

Start the process over and believe even harder next time?

I’m not convinced this is how faith works. I’m not convinced this is how God works.

And I’m not convinced that God is bothered by my questions.

God created some of us more inquisitive than others. My dad was that way. He was always asking questions. Always curious. Always wanting to learn more. Maybe I am this way, too.

I don’t think it’s a negative. Or a sin.

It doesn’t mean I love God less. Or trust God less. Or have less faith. It just means I’m inquisitive.

God is stronger than my weakest doubt. My faith isn’t dependent on my certainty about how God works.

I’m not even capable of understanding how God works anyway.

None of us are.

Uncertainty Is Uncomfortable

As I walk through this year of Uncertainty as my One Word, I’m learning that making peace with uncertainty is both harder than I ever imagined, but also more necessary than I thought.

Because, after all, if I’m never uncertain about anything, I’ll never change. I’ll never grow. I’ll never move closer and closer to actual truth.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to be sure about things. There are plenty of things I feel sure about. And yes, it comforts me (or, depending on what it is, it disturbs me).

But we can’t be sure about everything. Too much of life is volatile. It’s unpredictable.

When I am positive I already know everything, I shut myself off from learning new things.

And I can’t afford to do that. There is always more to learn.

I need to learn new things. I need to grow. I need to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ by experiencing him in new ways and by thinking new thoughts and by learning new behaviors.

Better ones. More accurate ones. More godly ones.

I believe it’s what God wants me to do. He wants me to keep searching for him. And he’ll keep providing evidence to prove his presence.

Uncertainty can be a bridge between here to there. It requires humility to cross over. It requests arrogance be left behind.

Am I wrong even now about some of the things I’m certain are true? Most assuredly so, even though I can’t see which ones yet.

I trust God to continue revealing truth to me all my life, if I’ll remain open to receive it.

But Uncertainty Is Okay

I stay in the choir room that Sunday morning. It feels rude to leave.

But I pray my own prayer, my honest prayer.

Like the others in the room, I want to believe God has already stripped away the cancer cells from my friend and that the doctor will find nothing on the next x-ray. I ask with audacity for complete healing. I’ve done so many times in the past and will continue to do so in the future. 

But I just can’t demand God to do it.

And I can’t guarantee his answer.

Uncertainty is okay. Even good. It leaves space for God to show up in unexpected ways.

Even when it’s uncomfortable.

How does God work?

I can’t say for certain.

I’ve just seen that he does.

Even if I don’t understand how.


Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley for the review copy of How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion by David DeSteno. It’s a fascinating look at how religious practices themselves affect our lives from birth to death (but it’s not about how God does or doesn’t act through the practices).

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Are You Spiritually Jaundiced? 3 Ways Light Can Save Your Life

She’s Here!

It’s a Wednesday in October 2019. Cheyenne is 1 day old.

She is a bigger girl than we expected, 9 pounds and 4 ounces. She feels so heavy, looks so beautiful, already loved so dearly.

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But the nurse whisks in this day with a determined look in her eye. Mid-nursing, my daughter Morgan is asked by the nurse to hand over her baby.

They have Cheyenne’s bilirubin numbers. They are dangerously high. She is jaundiced at a disturbing level.

She must go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Now!

Everything now depends on the light.

The Dangers of Jaundice

Mild infant jaundice isn’t unusual. Almost 60% of newborns are born with jaundice. It causes their skin and eyes to look yellowish. It often disappears on its own within two to three weeks and is harmless.

But occasionally, the build-up of bilirubin in the blood (the normal byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells) is so high it can cross the thin tissue that separates the brain and blood.

It can damage both the spinal cord and the brain. It can lead to cerebral palsy, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and if left untreated, it can even be fatal.

But what about spiritual jaundice? Is it dangerous too?

When we have a build-up of bad habits, of toxic relationships, of negative attitudes, our spiritual lives also become jaundiced. And not to stretch the metaphor too far, but this build-up can also cross the thin place connecting the brain and the blood.

What can we do about it?

Turn on the Lights!

With my granddaughter Cheyenne, they say she’ll need to stay under the special lights in NICU 24/7, for 3-5 days, until her bilirubin levels come down. Otherwise, she could have brain damage (kernicterus or bilirubin encephalopathy).

She immediately begins phototherapy, or light treatment.

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Thank God for the light.

How does phototherapy work?

The special blue-green spectrum of bililights helps make the bilirubin water-soluble, a process called photo-oxidation. With more oxygen in the bilirubin, it’s easier for Cheyenne’s liver to break down the bilirubin and remove it from her blood as she pees and poops. She’s also extra hydrated to speed up the elimination of bilirubin and to protect her from losing too much water through her skin under the lights.

Jeff and I get to peek at Cheyenne in the NICU. We can’t touch her yet.

But we can see her.

She looks so lonely there by herself, wearing the tiniest little sunglasses you ever can imagine, hooked up to an IV, and laying on a bili-blanket of light below with an array of lights all around.

3 Ways Light Can Save You

The healing for our spiritual jaundice also requires extra doses of light. The message the apostle Paul heard from John is God is light (1 John 1: 5).

Here are three ways we can turn on the light for spiritual light therapy, helping clear up our spiritual jaundice.

1. HEAR GOD

Check yourself into the ICU. Intentionally listen for stirrings of God. Maybe you’ll hear him in your favorite music. Or listen for him as you read a favorite psalm about God aloud. Step outside tonight to listen to the insect sounds he created and return outside in the morning to hear the bird songs he orchestrates.

2. SEE GOD

Sit under more light. Look for God in other people. Everyone is made in his image. You’ll find traces of him in every person that crosses your path. See him in your work with others. Reflect on your relationships through the years to remind yourself of all the places God has shown up.

3. TOUCH GOD

Reach for God’s light this week by loving yourself, his creation of wonder. Allow God to love you through small treats (for me, it’s a special dessert or time doing puzzles). Take a walk in the sunshine and feel God’s warmth on your skin.

God’s light is not in short supply. Wrap yourself up in it. Let his light break through your jaundice. 

Touch the Light

Cheyenne is now two days old. It’s Thursday. The grandparents are allowed again into the NICU. This time Lauren, her nurse (God bless her), lets us all the way in.

Jeff and I are grateful to hold our second granddaughter. It’s difficult with the tubes and the light board.

We gingerly wrap our hands around her. We’re thankful to touch her.

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The light is saving her life.

She cries. I do, too.

At three days old on Friday, the light treatment (and Cheyenne’s miraculous, God-designed body) is clearing out the bilirubin quicker than expected. She is disconnected from her IV and released from the NICU light therapy.

She returns to a regular hospital room with my daughter, her mom. And she meets her big sister.

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After five days in the hospital, Cheyenne is finally released.

Her journey with jaundice still isn’t over (it will take a few more days for it all to clear), but she’s finally well enough to ride home with her mommy and daddy on Saturday.

Grateful for the Light

I’ll always look back to those days almost two years ago with gratitude for the special light that saved my granddaughter.

It reminds me still to be grateful for the special light that saves us all.

We all depend on light for life.

The very Word of life, light himself, existed from the beginning. We have seen his light. We live because of his light.

See the light in your life today. Observe the light. Touch the light.

The light will save you, too.


This is Week 1 of reading (and for some of us, memorizing) 1 John 1. (It’s not too late to join us.)

John wrote:

“The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it.” (1 John 1:1, GW)

Yes. Thank you, God.

How has light saved you in your dark moments? Share in the comments.

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Who Do You Compare Yourself To?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

grace-and-truth-weekly-christian-linkup-its friday

Announcement

Please welcome our newest host to the Grace & Truth linkup!

We’re happy to have Tammy Kennington join us as another linkup host. Tammy is a Christian writer, speaker, educator, and life coach.

We will miss Heather and Valerie at Candidly Christian; they gave us years of faithfulness and friendship in hosting the Grace & Truth linkup. They continue to be actively involved in other ministries.

Reminder

If you’d like to walk more intentionally in the light of God, to be touched by his love so you can touch others with that same love, sign up here for 6 weeks in 1 John 1.

This is a create-your-own-adventure challenge. You can come along just to read the text, or to memorize it, meditate on it, or study it. Get all the details here.

We’ll provide the resources and community. You bring the heart.

We begin Sunday, September 12. 

Sign up here.

Sign up Touch the Light 1 John 1

This Week’s Featured Post

Who do you compare yourself to?

  • If only I was as disciplined as…
  • If only I was as smart as…
  • If only I wrote as well as…

If we think we’re on the plus side, it promotes pride. If we think we come up short, it develops humiliation. Neither are healthy.

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Comparison is a lose-lose game. 

The answer? Stop comparing altogether.

We know that, but we need reminding frequently. Theresa reminds us again in this post:

“Remember to be the best you. God only made one of you and we need you.”

Read all of Theresa’s post here, then add your own links below.

THE COMPARISON GAME OF APPLES AND ORANGES

Do you have a person that you often compare yourself to? Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Don’t Let Your Love Go to Waste

Don't let your love go to waste

Sometimes we can’t be with the people we want to love.

Maybe it’s due to physical distance. Maybe it’s emotional distance. Maybe it’s just circumstances like jobs or schedules or something, like, say a pandemic.

But as the old 1970 Stephen Stills song says, If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.

Don’t let your love go to waste.

If you’re far from home and need parental guidance, find parent-substitutes who can fill in the gaps. They can love you and you can love them.

If you’re the grandparent who can’t be with your grandkids, find other people’s children to love.

If you need the support of a family but you don’t have that, find a set of friends to love and be loved by.

Don’t let your love go to waste.

There are many lonely people in the world. Sometimes we’re those lonely people ourselves. Other times we’re the ones overflowing with love to spend on someone else who is lonely.

Whichever category you fit today, give some love away and get some back.

Don’t let your love go to waste.


I’m grateful that God never leaves us without people to love and to be loved by. Share in the comments.

I’m sharing at these blog parties