Lessons from the ER

Sunday night I found myself at the hospital with Anna again. Her feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger have been uncontrollable. She was at the point where she did not trust herself to not hurt herself again and wanted to go to the hospital. I went with her. I was there with her until Monday evening. It took that long to find an open placement for her. But against the odds she got one.

What a way to spend Memorial day weekend right? But I learned a lot over that 21 hour wait:
Again I learned what a privilege it is to be with Anna and to advocate for her and stand with her when she is weak.
I learned that I can still do all-fighters and/or function on very little sleep.
I learned that being there with Anna meant everything to her.
I learned that when I am punch-drunk tired, I can be very funny.
I learned that you can be both amazingly strong and beautiful and extremely fragile and broken at the same time.
I learned that the prayers of friends and family are effective and necessary to keep me going.
I learned that Anna loves to play with hospital bed controls… especially if they are yours and not hers.
I learned that I do love being her dad. =)
And I learned that right now I can’t be in formal pastoral ministry. Family needs me too much. I can’t give the kind of time and energy to Anna and the rest of my family and also look after a congregation. I need to focus on them right now, and for the foreseeable future. So I have decided to switch gears and stay at Two Guys Smoke Shop and not consider fulltime ministry positions at this time. I will still take advantage of speaking and preaching opportunities, and I will still write and post on my blog here.

Ironically, twenty years ago today, I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. I was set to go from there into a lifetime of pastoral ministry. Now it looks like I may never go back. When I decided to go to seminary, I went with the attitude that there was no downside to it. At best, I would have the necessary academic credentials to pursue my calling into pastoral ministry. At worst (if you an say worst) I would be well educated in my faith and that would set me up to excel in my own faith and in practice as a husband, father, and worker in Christ’s kingdom.

You see, there is no not being a worker in His kingdom. I don’t see myself as having been demoted or benched. In some ways I feel promoted! We sometimes are guilty of thinking that pastors and missionaries are the ultimate Christians. That, my friends, is not at all the case. In truth the most influential Christian leader, mentor, and spiritual father I have ever met was an insurance salesman! That man loved Jesus better than anyone I know… and that includes all the pastors I know. Never confuse a degree or a title or a position as necessary things to possess in order to do “real” work in the Father’s kingdom. Most kingdom work happens in the everyday, common, and normal places of life where none of those things really come into play… like spending 21 hours in an ER with your anxious and hurting daughter.


Why Celebrate?

My daughter Anna struggles with depression and anxiety because of her Non Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). She was hospitalized eight times within a two year period. It was hard, real hard. Basically every three months she was in a hospital or C-BAT unit. But after that, because of her hard work and the prayers of many friends she started to make significant strides in learning to cope with her NVLD. When we came to the one year anniversary of her being free of self harm and hospitalization we had a celebration going to her favorite restaurant, the China Buffet. When she made it two years, we had a party with family and friends to celebrate her accomplishment.

But three months after the two year celebration, she hurt herself again and ended up back in a C-BAT unit.

The question has come up: what is the point of celebrating such milestones of recovery when there is no certainty that the recovery will continue without times when we fall? Does the fact that she fell again say that our celebration premature?

The reason for celebrating is not about what you are going to do tomorrow. It is acknowledging the work that was done in the past. She worked hard. She accomplished a lot. That was worth celebrating. We weren’t celebrating the expectation that she would never fall down again, we were celebrating the fact that she had gone so long without failing down again.

And you know what? She had a much easier time getting back on her feet this time. She is not the same person she was four and a half years ago. She is in not in the same place she was either. She is stronger, wiser, and more resilient. And so are we and the rest of her support system. Celebrating her milestones is about building her up, giving her hope, and acknowledging her work on her journey, not setting expectations for perfection in the future. She knows that.

I say, yes, it was worth celebrating. It was not a mistake. It was not premature. If I had the chance to do it over again, I would. And when we get to a year from her latest trip, we will all celebrate again. Love drives us to celebrate these milestones with her, no less than it drives us help her up when she falls.

Lessons from Marriage

Want some secrets for a good marriage?

So do I. I haven’t found any. I don’t think there is a secret ingredient or hidden key to making a marriage work. But twenty-six years of marriage has taught me a lot. I thought I would share some of the things I have been learning over the last two and a half decades.

Marriage is work. It is not easy. Anyone who says marriage is easy is selling something you don’t want to buy. Bumps and bruises, headaches, heartaches, and heartbreaks are part of the deal. Don’t be surprised when they happen. In fact, I would be worried if there are none. Marriage remember, is about learning to love as Christ loves the church. If the Gospels’ show us anything about that, they teach us that there were days when loving Peter, James, and John and the rest of “the gang” took a lot of patience, compassion, understanding, and commitment.

And that leads me to another important thing I’ve been learning. And that is being gracious and forgiving. If there is anything I have been learning its that no matter how I hurt Jesus, He forgives me. His love doesn’t stop, His commitment doesn’t waiver. His patience doesn’t dry up. And His kindness doesn’t cease. And a day doesn’t go by when I don’t hurt Him by what I do or don’t do. If He doesn’t ever give up on me, how could I give up on her? Grace is one of the things God wants us learning, and marriage is one of the prime places He uses to teach us.

Marriage is not about waiting for your spouse to change. It is doing whatever it takes, much as it depends on you. You can’t wait for your spouse to pony up, fess up, or ask for help. You need to be the one who takes that step. I’d doesn’t matter that your spouse should. If they don’t, you need to. Marriage is giving 100% not 50/50.

I have also been learning that sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. Sometimes it is you that did the hurting. Sometimes it may be intentional. Sometimes unintentional. But when it comes to light that your spouse has something against you, it is up to you to come forward and make it right.

I have also been learning that few things are as important to marriage than communication. Taking to each other takes time. You need to take the time. You also need to be honest, transparent, and venerable. That takes trust. Not only trust that your spouse is being honest, but trust that it is safe to be honest. That is crucial. If you do not feel like it is safe to share what is in your heart, you are not going to be able to be honest with one an other. Cultivating an atmosphere where that is safe is crucial. A big part of that is learning to listen. By that I mean listening to understand, not just listening to respond. You know what I mean. How often are we thinking about what we are going to say before the other person has even finished communicating what they want to say? When we listen like that, we miss things, misunderstand, and often come to the wrong conclusion about how to respond. Take the time to listen, reflect back what you heard to make sure you got it right. Ask questions to clarify and deepen your understanding. Follow that with questions to find out how your spouse wants you to respond. For instance:

Maybe they are just looking to share and not wanting help or counsel.

Maybe they are looking for your take on things.

Maybe they need you to do something.

Maybe they just need encouragement.

Maybe the best thing to do is pray together about it.

The better you get at listening to hear and understand and letting him or her direct how they need you to respond, the safer they will feel about opening up and being honest about what is on their mind and in their heart.

And that leads to my last lesson–I have been learning how important it is to take time to be together. And by that I mean quality time. As in dating. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t count. I don’t mean you have to go out for a night on the town or go on a cruise. I mean you need to spend time together where it is just the two of you focused on the two of you. Having three kids makes that a real challenge for us at times. Sometimes it is hard to getaway. One of the things Mandi and I have done to help with that is to have what we call “date night in.” We will make a simple dinner the girls like for them and then while Mandi does the bedtime routine, I will make a really nice dinner for two. You can make a really nice meal at home for a lot less than going out and then you don’t have to pay for a sitter either. That has been a big thing for us.

I love my wife. She is freakishly awesome in every way. We love being together. And I can honestly say that we are more in love with each other now than we ever have been. It is just betting better and sweeter for us. That doesn’t mean that there are not bad days, weeks, or even months! But we are committed to learning to be humble, to be patient, to be gracious, and to be listening to each other. And the truth is, God has been working in us through those lessons to deepen our love and joy for one another. I am sure He will do the same for you too.


Get Peace

If you have been walking this earth for any length of time you have probably been learning that people sometimes to dumb things. The one thing people never need to be taught is how to fail, hurt, let down, disappoint, and betray one another. There is no need for self help books on how make dumb decisions, or hurt the people we love, or on how to better misunderstand people.

Disagreements, disappointments, and disillusionment are part of life. They are common place. What is not common is love, kindness, grace, and peace. I think this fact is one of the reasons that Paul wrote these verses in Romans 12.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:18-21, NIV).

The distinguishing mark of the Christian is, I submit, not that he or she doesn’t sin or sins less (at least compared to some), but rather how the Christian responds when they sin and how they respond when others hurt them. Christians are to be peacemakers. Peace does not just happen. It does not just magically appear. It must be made. Anything that is made takes work, it takes effort, it takes intentionality. Look at how Paul puts it:

If it is possible. If there is a way to make peace, we are to take it. If it is at all possible, we need to be pursuing peace with one another.

As far as it depends on you. Paul knows that making peace is not a one way street. Sometimes the other person or party is not willing to go there or do the work. But as far as it depends on you, you are to do it. We need to do everything that is possible to make peace with people, whether the other person or party is doing everything they can do or not. This isn’t quid pro quo.

Live at peace with everyone. The original Greek for “everyone” is everyone! Paul is not just talking about pursuing peace with Christian brothers and sisters. No one is exempt from this. If there is a breakdown in relationship (be it our fault or their fault) the thing God wants us to do as His sons and daughters is to do everything that is humanly possible to live at peace with one another.

We aren’t to rub people’s faces in it. We aren’t to seek revenge. We aren’t to respond in kind when we are hurt. We are to leave that to God. That’s what it means to “leave room for God’s wrath.” He knows best how to judge. We need to leave that to him. Not only is He the only one with the right and authority to do so, but He is the only one who can convict and judge and discipline with a perfect loving respect to the offender. When we judge someone–not judge an action but judge a person–we will inevitably hurt them. Whenever we try that, not only will we fail at helping the other person, we end up committing a serious sin ourselves by taking God’s place as judge. Ours is not to be God’s hammer, our job is to love others as He loves us.

And if you think about How Jesus lived this out for us, you will see how inconsistent it is when we justify our not needing to repent, or when we rationalize our giving up on peace. Jesus found the one way possible to make peace between us and His Father. He had to leave His Father’s side, become a man, and live a perfect life and be willing to be hated, misunderstood, lied about, betrayed by His friends, and murdered by His enemies. It all depended on Him, so He did it. And just in case you missed it, I was His enemy… and so are you. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NIV). That was how far He went to pursue peace with you and me. And I don’t know about you, but I know no one has ever hurt me as much as I hurt my Jesus every single day. Yet He does not give up on me. What right do I have to give up on others?

Friends, pursue peace. Life comes with enough consequences for our actions. God sees to that. Let Him determine what blessings or discipline a person has. If He decides to be gracious who are we to argue with Him? Let us do whatever we can, give what ever grace we can, give all the patience we can, suffer as long as we can, and be as kind as we can so that we can say that as far as it depended on us we lived at peace with everyone.

For Mom

That rascally, reclusive, and reluctant varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow this morning. Cold snowy weather for the next six weeks if you can trust the groundhog. He’s not actually all that reliable. He’s been right 50% of the time since he and his forehogs started this tradition back in the 1886.

While I am not so hot on today being Ground Hog Day, February 2nd is also my mom’s birthday.

That makes today a great day.

My mom is one of my favorite people. She’s funny, happy, always interested in what you are doing, and loves to laugh. She has a real servant-heart attitude, and loves to help people–maybe by making some of her famous chicken soup, or just by stopping by and letting them know she’s thinking of them. She is very compassionate, kind, and gracious. I learned about those things from her. She’s not afraid to tell me what I need to hear when I need corrected, but she is always excited to tell me things she is proud of or thankful for related to me. And honestly, those calls are far more common.

She is a great example of what it means to be a spiritual mother. She conducts herself in the truth and responds in grace, and is sold out to her Lord Jesus Christ and lives for God through Him. I can honestly say, I would not know Jesus was well as I do today if not for my mother.

Happy birthday mom! Love you!

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling

PS: She’s in the back in the middle, at the center of the fun.



Being Children of the Light

If you read my post, “Soul Cutting” from yesterday, then you would probably understand that today has been very busy and (to be truthful) draining and difficult. I have no real ability to think deep thoughts. The good news is that as an author I have a repository of written material. This particular piece is very apropos to my current situation, and addresses the interest of a number of readers for more of my thoughts on the nature and work of discipleship.


In my years as a bible teacher in Christian schools and as a youth pastor I can tell you that my experience was that as many as half the kids I worked with were from broken homes. It has been my experience that abuse and neglect are more common than any of us would like to think. I know of a high school dance that was cancelled less than an hour after it started because too many freshmen showed up drunk. I have had to counsel families whose children died from drug use.

The summer before I started here I was the speaker at a Christian youth camp that was attended by more than a hundred 10-12th graders. About 75% of them knew a friend who had committed suicide.

In light of this reality, I suspect that more than a few of you over the last month have been thinking, “What you are saying does not apply to me. My family is hurting, broken, struggling just to tread water.” I suspect many of you have been asking questions like “How can I live out a life of love when my family is hurting and broken?” “How do I love or respect my spouse when My marriage is on the rocks?” and “How do I honor and obey my parents when my parents aren’t believers?”

The reason I did not touch on those questions before is because I felt they deserved more than a passing point. They deserve more than that.

The question for today is: How do we live a life of love when we live in a place where there is so much darkness, brokenness, and pain? To answer that we are going to look at Ephesians 5:1-21 (NIV).

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Whenever you see a “therefore,” like there is at the beginning of our text, it is important to look at what was talked about before. In Chapter 4, Paul urged the Ephesians to show their unity in Christ and to strive for maturity by living lives worthy of the calling they had received. To do so necessitated that they be completely humble and gentle; being patient, bearing with one another in love. [Making] every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, (Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV).

Paul argued that there should be a clear difference between Christians and non-believers. He says in 4:17-19 (NIV), So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

This was what Paul is referring back to in the opening verse of our text. Instead of being imitators of gentiles—who did not know Christ and lived by the sinful nature—they were to be imitators of Christ. If they lived like gentiles while claiming to be Christians they would be guilty of committing idolatry—worshipping sex or money instead of Christ.

If Christ truly lives in you, that is not who you are any more. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:8 (NIV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. When we give in to the temptations of sin, we are no longer being true to who we are—children of the light.

So Paul says, Live as children of the light. In verses 9-13 Paul tells the Ephesians what that looks like, how they would recognize it:

  1. They will recognize it by its fruit: goodness, righteousness and truth.
  2. It is recognized by intentionally asking what the Lord’s will is in any given situation.
  3. By having nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Verses 15-16 explain why this is important: because the days are evil. Because the days were evil the Ephesians needed to make every effort to wisely take advantage of every opportunity.

Verses 17-21 Paul directs them how to go about living wisely.

  1. Understand what the Lord’s will is.
  2. Don’t react by doing things that will pull you away from the Lord, like turning to drinking, but respond by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
  3. Speak in psalms and sing hymns and spiritual songs.
  4. Be thankful.
  5. And fifth, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

When we find ourselves living in dark places, we need to remember that Christ has called us to be a light in the dark. We are to be lights of God’s grace. So the answer to questions like “How can I live out a life of love when my family is hurting and broken?” “How do I love or respect my spouse when My marriage is on the rocks?” and “How do I honor and obey my parents when my parents aren’t believers?” is: be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live as children of the light. What I want to do this morning is ask three questions:

  1. What does it mean to be children of the light?
  2. What effect does it have?
  3. How do we nurture that light when our family is not able to?

What does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are God’s children. Jesus said in John 8:12 (NLT) I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. Jesus was the light of the world because He was God’s Son.

When God adopts you as a son or daughter, you too like Jesus become a child of the light. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:14 (NLT) You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Peter reaffirms this in 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) saying, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

To get a full understanding of what it means to be children of the light it is helpful to see how “light” is used throughout Scripture.

God is often compared to light in the Bible. Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? Psalm 76:4 (NIV) You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. Psalm 89:15 (NIV) Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. Matthew 17:2 (NIV) There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 1 John 1:5 (NIV) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Light is also a sign of God’s presence as in Exodus 13:21 (NIV), By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. This was also the meaning for the lamp in the tabernacle and the Temple that was lit day and night every day of the year (Leviticus 24:2).

Light is also given as a sign of His blessing as Exodus 10:23 (NIV), No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

Light is compared to truth and wisdom. Psalm 43:3 (NIV) says, Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Light is synonymous with righteousness. Proverbs 13:9 (NIV) says, The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

Light is also likened to salvation. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

So what does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are proof of God’s presence and blessing because our lives are marked by His wisdom, righteousness and grace.

What effect does being children of the light have on those around us?

  1. It identifies us as God’s children. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. John 3:21 (NIV) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
  2. It helps people see that they need that light. Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV) But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
  3. It motivates us to love one another. 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Living as children of the light identifies us as belonging to God and living in His power. When we are living as children of the light, God uses our life to wake people up to their need of a savior. And when we live as children of the light we share God’s love with the people around us.

Sometimes, for reasons we don’t understand, or for seasons that we think go on way too long, God puts His children in dark places. It isn’t because we did something wrong, or because we are on God’s bad list. It’s because God wants us to be His light in that dark place. He wants us to incarnate His grace where there is none.

That brings us to the third question: How do we nurture that light when our family is not able to?

This reality highlights the wisdom of God in giving us a spiritual family. Specifically it highlights the importance of having spiritual mothers and fathers. When home is not a place where we can be nurtured and grown and taught and encouraged as God’s sons and daughters, we need to be living in relationship as sons and daughters to godly men and women who can provide the spiritual parenting we need.

This is the kind of relationship Mandi and I have with Shelby. Now Shelby would be the first to tell you that we have not replaced her parents. She still loves her mom and dad very much. And, so do Mandi and I. But Shelby looks at us as her spiritual parents. She looks to us for spiritual guidance, how to understand Scripture, how to live it out at school, at work, in her relationships. Shelby is not in a unique situation. All of us need spiritual moms and dads. In the best of all possible worlds our natural parents and our spiritual parents would be one and the same. But we all need to be in relationships as sons and daughters to people who we can call spiritual parents.

We need to focus on our light, not the darkness in others. Does that seem counter-intuitive to you? Yet if you look back at our text and even at 4:17-32 where Paul is also talking about how we are to nurture our light, this is clearly the case. In the 36 verses between 4:17 and 5:21 there are 22 directions that are aimed at “you,” the believer.

You control your anger,

stop stealing,

stop using foul language,

encourage others with your talk,

do not grieve the Holy Spirit by how you live,

forgive as God forgave you,

imitate God,

live a life of love,

be sexually pure,

don’t be immoral,

don’t be greedy,

live as children of the light,

be careful how you live,

be wise,

take advantage of every opportunity,

understand what the Lord’s will is,

don’t get drunk,

be filled with the Spirit,

speak Scripture,

sing songs,

be thankful,

and submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.

If we are honest with ourselves, if we were to give ourselves to doing these 22 things, we would have precious little time to concern ourselves with “fixing” other people. I have a feeling that was God’s intention! And that leads right to my last point,

Through our grace God will bring to light what is not good in others. There is in our text one verse that talks about dealing with sin in others, Ephesians 5:11 (NIV) Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. In what way are we to “expose them?” Let me suggest, that calling people out for their sin should be one of the last things we do instead of the first. The reason for this is that when we put ourselves in the position of referee, we can easily go from having a motivation to love and encourage God’s light in them to a motivation of showing them how dark they are compared to ourselves. That is a place you do not want to go.

One of the stories that Charlie Jones, liked to tell was about a time when he was having a difficult time with his wife Gloria. He was mad. She didn’t listen to him. She was always nagging him. It was at the point where he didn’t love her any more.

One night, after a long day of sales and travel as he was walking to the bedroom he heard her praying. She was not asking God to change Charlie, she was asking God to help her be a better wife. Then it hit him, or rather God hit him. She wasn’t the problem he was. He was the problem. Charlie broke down and wept. And after an 8 year drought, his love for Gloria came back. Let God do the convicting. You focus on the loving.

Let God use the light that shines out from you to do the convicting and exposing. It is so much more effective.

Let me suggest that the first idea that pops into our minds about how to expose them is often the wrong one—calling them out. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when this is clearly the thing we are to do, and Scripture tells us there are times when it is absolutely necessary too. Jesus wasn’t sinning when He rebuked Peter saying “Get behind me Satan!” Paul did the right thing when he publically called Peter to task for snubbing Gentile Christians in favor of Jewish ones. And Jesus clearly says in Luke 17:3 (NIV), If your brother sins, rebuke him.

So let’s sum up:

What does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are proof of God’s presence and blessing because our lives are marked by His wisdom, righteousness and grace.

Living as children of the light identifies us as belonging to God and living in His power. When we are living as children of the light, God uses our life to wake people up to their need of a savior. And when we live as children of the light we share God’s love with the people around us.

We nurture that light when our family is not able to by connecting to godly men and women in our church family who can be spiritual parents to us, by focusing on keeping our light bright and clear instead of focusing on the darkness in others, and by letting God use the light that shines out from us to bring to light the need for Jesus’ love and forgiveness in those around us.