Publication:Pastoral Letter,January 2017
Dear Friend in Christ:
Happy New Year from all of us at CSM! We pray you had a wonderful Christmas. As we enter 2017, I want to give a word of revelation that I hope will be an encouragement to you in these uncertain times. It starts with a personal story …
It was 1963, and I sat in my car, waiting in the left-hand turn lane for the green arrow to signal that it was my turn to move. The lane to my right was moving, then the lane that crossed my highway was moving. I anticipated that I would be next. But, the light skipped me! With little patience I waited for the process again. The other lanes had their turns and again I was ready to turn. But, it skipped again! By this time, I was looking to see if there were any police near; I was going to run the light. Against the strong temptation, I waited, then the arrow turned green, finally!
As I moved through the intersection I heard, “Rise and shine; your light has come!” At first, I laughed, but then I wondered, “Is the Lord saying something?” Isaiah chapter 60 was taking on new meaning. The Lord speaks at strange times and in strange ways. Not long after that, my life took a dramatically different course. Sometimes, we have to wait and not run ahead.
LET US TALK ABOUT LIGHT
“Your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Light remains a mystery to me, though I can say some things about it. “Light”, “vision”, “revelation”, or “revealed” are mentioned thousands of times in the Bible. There is no vision without light. Light and glory are both light; glory being much more intense. Both belong to God, natural and spiritual; and both come from God. “Woe to those who walk in the light of their own sparks” (see Isaiah 50:11).
God’s first command was, “Let there be light.” Light was the priority and preceded the rest of creation and order. It is made of energy and it energizes. Light is quick and it quickens. It travels 6 trillion miles per year; or to the moon and back in 2.5 seconds. It is quiet but aggressive and penetrates darkness; it even penetrates our flesh to the bone. It exposes what is in the darkness, it cuts and heals, it guides, carries information, gives life, and awakens life.
Without light there is only darkness. Go without it long enough and blindness or depression can begin. When I was five years old, my parents brought me to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The caves were lit, but at one point, the guide ordered us to stand still on the narrow path, telling us that the lights would be turned off. Then everything went black. The tiniest glimmer from a wrist watch dial could be seen at a distance. We were told that prolonged living in such darkness would cause blindness! But light gives us pictures of distant galaxies.
The Hubble Telescope has given to us awe-inspiring pictures of galaxies, each in various colors. The colors tell us a lot. One color indicates moving away. Another color indicates drawing closer. It is awesome! By the way, there are rays of light not visible to our eyes, such as x-ray. Could we see the totality of light, we would be blinded. The most important thing to know is that light comes from God!
JESUS IS LIGHT
It is a mysterious statement to say, as John Chapter one and other passages do, that Jesus is light. He does all that light does: quickens, awakens, exposes, cuts, heals, guides and more. In fact, Jesus created light. John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 tell us that He created ALL things, including light, and light leads us to Jesus if we follow it.
The wise men found Jesus by following the light of a special star. Light led to the source. Many other people must have seen the star, but these men followed it. Many people get glimpses of light, but some follow it to the source.
Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16 say, “Those that walked in darkness saw a great light.” Many saw Him, but some followed and were transformed in His light. He made light, He is light, and He gives light. He awakened, quickened, and exposed their darkness. He guided those that followed through a very dark time. He was their star. They were common men, varied in backgrounds, but had a uncommon love for light and truth. In time, they became lights that still shine all over the world even to this day.
Psalm 36:9 says, “In Your light, we see light.” That light is a fountain of life; there is life in the light as it was in the beginning. Light and life made ordinary men lights and leaders to the light. They pursued Jesus when others left. When Jesus gave His disciples the option to leave like the others, Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Sometimes they failed to understand, but they didn’t fail to follow. They felt energized and illuminated around Jesus. In His light, they saw light and loved it!
It was the light that drew them to Jesus and to each other; it became their bond. So it is with us; we find our lasting fellowship with those who love light and truth.
FELLOWSHIP IN THE LIGHT
I am amazed at the diversity of those who follow the light, all races and classes; many, who in their natural state would not like each other, find shared life and love in the light.
1 John 1:5-7 tells us about this phenomenon. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” There is cleansing in the fellowship of light and truth. There is also fullness of joy in that fellowship (see 1 John 1:4).
That light is the same light of which God said, “Let there be.” It is the same light that met Moses at the burning bush and made his face radiant on Mt. Sinai. It is the same light that transfigured Jesus, shined on Stephen’s face as he was being stoned to death, and blinded Paul on the road to Damascus. It is Heaven’s light where sun and moon are unnecessary. That light is the treasure that we carry in our earthen vessels (see 2 Corinthians 4:5-6). It is so treasured that we are willing to give even the vessel in favor of the treasure, as so many have done. What else is amazing is that even as the vessel is persecuted or destroyed, the light seems to be brighter and continues to attract. The light that cuts also draws, as Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me” (see John 12:32). The Cross is where God’s light shone the brightest.
Let’s go back to Isaiah 60: “Arise and shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” As we continue to read, we see that darkness is covering the earth but the glory of God is seen upon His people and nations come to the light; Kings come along with abundance of resources. Sons and daughters return to the light and we exalt in joy!
The 1960s were, in many ways, a dark period in our history; the Vietnam War, demonstrations, assassinations, and the culture seemed beyond control. I had joined the very conservative organization, John Birch Society, but found no hope there. Barry Goldwater, the conservative presidential nominee was soundly defeated. I was very disappointed, but I heard the Lord saying, “Arise and shine for your light has come.” It was dark, but the light, and the light alone, could penetrate the darkness.
Within a few months of following the light that I saw in the Bible and in testimonies, I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was dramatic! My light, and the light of many others, had come! Praise God! Many former friends fled away, but many others from different races, classes, and denominations came. Resources came, as did many opportunities. The light drew others who had walked in darkness.
When the light comes, we may get loud, but quietly the light shines and does its work. We are not the light, as John the Baptist says in John 1:6-8, but we can carry the light that exposes, penetrates, energizes, and reveals. The light of God’s favor is contagious! It is not a program, it is energy!
Is the light still contagious? Absolutely! Remember this is not some method, skill, or fad; this is eternal light, the same light that has always shined. It will gather nations, resources, and bring our children home to Jesus. We just need to get into the light, pray in the light, believe in the light, follow the light, and watch it work! Whatever the Holy Spirit of truth tells us, do it.
One small candle shining on a dark clear night can be seen for over 10 miles. One candle has that much power and energy. Darkness can not put it out. What can the Eternal Light do? The centuries have not dimmed it; persecution has not quenched it. The enemy hates it, but here it is, shining, penetrating, energizing, guiding, and drawing us, nations, resources and children to Jesus.
I expect more and more testimonies of “seeing the light.” As you have one, please send it to me, it will encourage others. My testimony could be that I followed the light, but the truth is, it followed and found me. Somebody prayed and God answered! Quietly, unseen but aggressive, the light came and I heard, “Arise, shine for your light has come.”
Has your light come? Did it come years ago and now you wonder could if it could come again? Absolutely! The light never left; we might have left the light and stumbled around, but look, it is still here!
If we have seen light or if we are seeing more light, revelation, and insight, know that there is more. If we love light and the path that it reveals, we should continue on seeking the Source. “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter until the full day” (Proverbs 4:18 ESV). The full day is when the path finally leads us to Jesus, the Author of everlasting light and life.
I urge us to seek and keep on seeking; we will find it. Ask and keep on asking; we will receive it. Darkness cannot put it out. The darker it gets, the brighter the shine! Thank you for helping us to carry the light in 2017. Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving. Opportunities continue to arise, as does opposition. We trust God for the wisdom, resources, and strength to meet the needs He sets before us. Lives are at stake; light is a matter of life or death. We deeply appreciate your friendship during these momentous times.
P.S. If you are interested in education, I recommend, Humanizing the Education Machine by our good friend Rex Miller. It shines light upon this critical issue.
Scripture References: Isaiah 505:11; Colossians 1:16; John 1:3; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; Psalm 36:9; John 6:68; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 John 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6; John 12:32; Isaiah 60; Proverbs 4:18