The Light of Faith

GUEST POST BY JENNIFER RUNDLETT

Over the next couple of months this blog will be hosting a series of posts by guest bloggers as we again participate in our annual Summer Blog Tour. I hope you follow along, check out each author’s personal blog, and find ways to unshackle your faith. You can download previous blog tours here.

We all can get burned out from time to time…
and our once full throated song can become a half-hearted tune that we push through as we become absent minded about the glorious light of our faith.
How can we cope with these times of the “doldrums” in our walk with God?
How can we encourage the sweet wind of the Holy Spirit to blow through us to re-kindle our inner fire?
Our faith is a precious treasure, a gift that should be nurtured in the best of times, so we might thrive, but also so we might navigate the storms ahead without losing our way.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God. ~ Psalm 42:1


This week, as I was considering the images of our faith, I was attracted to Claude Monet’s series of paintings on the Rouen Cathedral.

Monet was the founder of the 19th century French Impressionism movement. He was controversial for his time because he became fascinated with capturing on canvas the effects of light on one subject. To do this, he left the sanctuary of his studio and went directly to the outdoors to experience the changing effects natural light would have on a particular scene.

The National Gallery of Art describes this series of paintings as Monet’s desire to capture the “effects of light and weather” and he does this by painting the facade of this church some 30 times over many months as he rented rooms across from the Cathedral in late January of 1892 and stayed until spring.

This got me thinking about how many ways we use the word light to represent our faith and how our understanding of it can change over our lifetime.

  • Light represents seeing
  • It can also symbolize hope
  • A knowledge of a great truth…something that defines us and gives us purpose.
  • Our understanding of Light, gives us an impression of God.
  • Our attention to the light can fill us up until we overflow
  • Experiencing the warmth of God’s light tells us we are loved by our creator.

What do you think of when you talk about God’s light?

When I look at these paintings, I’m impressed and inspired by the thought of his devotion to capture the beauty of the light day after day.
Like Monet, I believe, that often what it takes to thrive in our spirituality is to stop-look-and listen- every day.
I want to encourage you to commit to a regular time of devotion to our Lord. Here are just a few ideas of things I have discovered along the way that rejuvenated my devotional time:

  • Rise early: Easier said than done, but try going to bed earlier so you can set your clock an hour earlier to spend time in prayer and devotion with our Lord. If the tasks of your day keep rushing in, make a quick to do list, then set it aside. It will be there when you are done and your time in prayer will help you remain in God’s peace as you enter your day.
  • A special place: whether it is in your home or office, create a special devotional space and fill it with items that will help you look forward to your quiet time with God. Perhaps you will light a candle or maybe you will have your special mug and favorite blend of coffee, these things can heighten your senses and help you relax allowing you to become more present as you attend to God’s voice.
  • Keep a prayer journal: I have always struggled with maintaining regular prayer practice, until I started writing my prayers. Now it is more of a conversation. I allow myself to write in a free form flowing in and out of prayer and regularly making note of where I noticed God in my day. You can also jot down Bible scriptures or favorite quotes. I’m always amazed at how writing something down helps me to hardwire the passage and meditate on a personal meaning for me.
  • Amazon Wish List: Start a wish list on amazon of all the books you would like to read. Anytime you hear about a book from a friend on Facebook or Twitter you can automatically add it to your list. Goodreads and Spotify are also wonderful social networks that can help you find recommendations for books and music to keep your devotional time fresh and inspiring.
  • Silence: Resolve to ask God questions and follow it by a period of silence…you will be amazed at how God will speak to your heart and open your eyes to new insights, discoveries and people all around you.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” ~ Isaiah 26:3

“Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God. Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to attend to God.” ~ Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality p. 161

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry we do not lose heart…For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 1, 6

Like Monet, may we attend to the light of our faith so that we might notice all the beauty and all the little details of His divine love in our lives each day.

“To me the motif itself is an insignificant factor…What I wanted to reproduce is what exists between the motif and me. ~ Claude Monet

May God’s light and peace be with you

Jennifer Rundlett, founder of God thru the Arts ministries, maintains a presence in the community with her active lecture and concert series highlighting the spiritual connections throughout the arts. Author of My Dancing Day: Reflections of the Incarnation in Art and Music, and The Joyful Sound: Reflections on the Life of Christ in Art and Music she regularly posts devotional blogs on God thru the Arts at http://www.jrundlett.wordpress.com and has been a speaker at the Pepperdine University Bible Lectures in Malibu CA, Tulsa Workshop in Tulsa OK, David Lipscomb University Summer Celebration in Nashville TN, Rochester College Streaming in Rochester Hills Michigan and Fort Detrick Prayer Breakfast in Frederick Maryland.

Links To Go (July 17, 2017)

Links from around the Internet. No agreement nor endorsement implied… Tim


On Representing the Views of Others

I often told my PhD students that it wasn’t necessary or wise to exaggerate or distort the views of others in order to make their own case for their views. It wasn’t necessary to run down the work of previous scholars in order to justify their own work. All that was needed was to demonstrate some further contribution that their own work made to the subject, whether correcting, or supplementing, or reinforcing, or extending our understanding of it.


The pope praised him for providing for his parents; now Texas may want to deport them

Ortiz’s love for his father makes accepting the new Texas law all the more difficult, he said. He describes his father as a patriotic sort who taught his children at early ages to respect police and honor the U.S. flag.
“He’s kept a clean record. He raised us the right way,” Ortiz said. “Now, the people he taught us to look up to are the people who can deport him and decide what his future is.”


The Five Key Factors in Every Christian’s Sanctification

  • God Changes You
  • Truth Changes You
  • Wise People Change You
  • Suffering and Struggle Change You
  • You Change

These Are The Six Red Flags That You’re Getting Bad Advice

  1. The person isn’t qualified
  2. The advice isn’t tailored to you
  3. The person talks but doesn’t listen
  4. The advice is focused on the end result and not the process
  5. The advice is emotionally charged
  6. The advice ruffles your instincts

A leading happiness researcher says we’re giving our kids bad advice about how to succeed in life

Many widely-held theories about what it takes to be successful are proving to be counterproductive.
Sure, they may produce results in the short term. But eventually, they lead to burnout and—get this—less success. Here are a few of the most damaging things many of us are currently teaching our children about success, and what to teach them instead.


Town reduces pedestrian-vehicle accidents at dangerous crosswalk to zero using this one simple move

A once-dangerous intersection hasn’t had a single pedestrian-motor vehicle accident in the past year after beginning use of an all-red phase traffic signal — stopping traffic in all directions for 26 seconds every few minutes.


Thousands sign up to clean sewage because they didn’t read the small print

Do you read the terms and conditions? Probably not. No one does. And so, inevitably, 22,000 people have now found themselves legally bound to 1000 hours of community service, including, but not limited to, cleaning toilets at festivals, scraping chewing gum off the streets and “manually relieving sewer blockages”.


Don’t Domesticate Your Faith (Summer Blog Tour)

GUEST POST BY PETER HORNE

Over the next couple of months this blog will be hosting a series of posts by guest bloggers as we again participate in our annual Summer Blog Tour. I hope you follow along, check out each author’s personal blog, and find ways to unshackle your faith. You can download previous blog tours here.

In 2017 my church has adopted the theme “Faith Unshackled”. Intentionally ambiguous, this theme could be interpreted and applied in different ways. Inherent to the concept is the possibility that our faith may be shackled, restricted or limited.

Before I can decide if my faith languishes below God’s intention for me, I must understand the possibilities.

The word faith simply means to trust someone else. When that someone else is God, then the things we trust him with can be big things. But sometimes the things God wants us to trust him with are bigger than we’re ready to risk.

Jesus understood the dynamic nature of our faith in God. Our faith grows over time. As we establish a track record with God, our capacity to trust him with bigger areas and issues in our lives grows. Because faith does not grow along a straight line, the fragility of our faith means that some days we gladly trust God with everything, and then at other days we wonder if we can trust him with anything.

I know Jesus understands this phenomena because he witnessed it in his closest disciples.

In Matthew 17 a group of disciples attempted to cast out a demon… and failed. They approach Jesus seeking insight into why their efforts failed. Jesus responds with a well-known statement that I’m not sure encourages his disciples that they only need a little faith, or scolds them for not having even the smallest amount of faith.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘ Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

In the chapter prior, Jesus had given his disciples a big, enormous, radical faith challenge:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Both of these challenges from Jesus describe faith leading to radical outcomes. Yet so often we limit our faith to praying that Sister Jones’ kidney stone will pass quickly. In this process we reduce faith that was intended to be bold, radical and world-changing, and we domesticate it. We reduce faith to something manageable. Rather than inspiring courage, innovation and adventures for God, we transform it into a safety net in case of emergencies and kidney stones. Of course God cares about kidney stones and the suffering of his children, but the possibilities of faith extend much further.

In the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus sends his disciples to the ends of the earth. He reminds them of his supreme power and promises his presence wherever they go. Then he watches to see their faith in action.

Today, I write about this moment that took place 2000 years ago on the shores of Galilee, from a time and country never imagined all those years ago. My existence and love for Christ demonstrate the power of those disciples’ faith.

As my church explores what it means for us to live with Unshackled Faith, I have encouraged us not to leave our faith chained to the pew. We must demonstrate our faith in God to those around us.

This may mean involving oneself in church ministries such as our community garden, or apartment cookouts. Unshackled Faith could also mean hosting a cookout and inviting church members we’ve never eaten with before, just because we’re committed to following Christ together. Or maybe we’re finding ways to bring unchurched and churched friends together in non-threatening social settings. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting us to launch a new ministry or add our energy to an existing one.

We all have our comfort zones. The thing is, comfort zones don’t require faith.


Peter Horne moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he now gladly serves as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester, NY. You can find more of his writing on his blog: www.aussiepete.wordpress.com. He also writes to equip multi-ethnic churches at www.culturalmosaic.org.

Links To Go (July 13, 2017)

Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early Christianity

  1. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
  2. The divinity of Jesus was not decided until the council of Nicea in the fourth century.
  3. Christians did not have a “Bible” until the time of Constantine.
  4. The “Gnostic” Gospels like the Gospel of Thomas were just as popular as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  5. The words of the New Testament have been radically changed and corrupted in the earliest centuries.

12 Principles on How to Disagree with Other Christians

  1. Welcome those who disagree with you (Rom. 14:1–2).
  2. Those who have freedom of conscience must not look down on those who don’t (Rom. 14:3–4).
  3. Those whose conscience restricts them must not be judgmental toward those who have freedom (Rom. 14:3–4).
  4. Each believer must be fully convinced of their position in their own conscience (Rom. 14:5)
  5. Assume that others are partaking or refraining for the glory of God (Rom. 14:6–9).
  6. Do not judge each other in these matters because we will all someday stand before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10–12).
  7. Your freedom to eat meat is correct, but don’t let your freedom destroy the faith of a weak brother or sister (Rom. 14:13–15).
  8. Disagreements about eating and drinking are not important in the kingdom of God; building each other up in righteousness, peace, and joy is the important thing (Rom. 14:16–21).
  9. If you have freedom, don’t flaunt it; if you are strict, don’t expect others to be strict like you (Rom. 14:22a).
  10. A person who lives according to their conscience is blessed (Rom. 14:22b–23).
  11. We must follow the example of Christ, who put others first (Rom. 15:1–6).
  12. We bring glory to God when we welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us (Rom. 15:7).

Seven Costs to Being an Evangelistic Leader in Your Church

  1. It is spiritual warfare.
  2. You will be viewed as narrowed minded.
  3. Something else must be sacrificed when you are an evangelistic leader.
  4. Some of your members will complain.
  5. New converts will be seen as threats or inconveniences in your church.
  6. Discussing theology is easier than doing theology.
  7. You will have to break out of your holy huddles.

We Are Saved By Feelings Alone

To be clear, I don’t want to dismiss the importance of emotions in spirituality. Joy, peace, wonder, and gratitude are all hugely important. But love, generosity, hospitality, kindness and peace-making are behaviors. My concern here is the feeling/action divorce which allows many Christians to feel loved but who aren’t very loving.


In search of the minimum viable audience

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.
When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.


Rural and urban gun owners have different experiences, views on gun policy

Rural and urban gun owners, in particular, differ in many ways. Three-quarters of those in rural areas (75%) say they own more than one gun, compared with 48% of urban gun owners. And while protection tops the list of reasons for owning a gun among both groups, gun owners in rural areas are far more likely than urban owners to cite hunting as a major reason they own a gun (48% vs. 27%, respectively).


Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions

A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.


Human chain of 80 saves family from drowning off Florida beach

Strangers on a Florida Panhandle beach formed an 80-person human chain to rescue nine members of a family who had been caught in a riptide and pulled too far from shore.


Rewards vs relationship

If our relationship with God is based on rewards, we’ll tend to focus on what “gets us saved” or “makes us lost.”

If our relationship is based on God himself, we’ll focus on what pleases God.

Saved and lost still exist, but they aren’t our focus. Because we love God, we’ll try to do what he wants. Not out of fear. Out of love.