Aug 24 2017

My Partial Eclipse

Clingmans Dome sunsetThe much heralded total eclipse of the sun has now come and gone. Did you see it? I’ve heard some people share what an amazing experience it was. I’ve heard others speak about how disappointing it was. Some confessed to me they never looked out that day, they just watched it all on television. I watched the eclipse from our church’s playground. Thankfully I had a pair of safe glasses to use to watch the moon cover the sun to varying degrees. When the moon almost covered the sun the streetlights around the church came on and the crickets began to chirp. The quality of the light definitely changed making it a surreal moment. Here in Henderson the moon covered 99.4% of the sun. I thought that would surely be close enough to a total eclipse that I could take some photographs. But I was wrong. Even at the peak moment there was too much light for me to risk taking a picture. If I had purchased a solar filter I could have done so but, once again, I was convinced we would be close enough to a total eclipse that I wouldn’t need one. Oh well, live and learn.

Slot Canyon light shaftI did learn an important truth on Monday, one that concerns the spiritual life.  I learned that it doesn’t take a whole lot of light to make a big difference. Even when only .6% of the sun was visible it was still bright, so bright I had to have my solar glasses to look at it. Here we should all be reminded that Jesus, who was himself the “Light of the world,” has called each of us to be “the light of the world” also. The Bible says we are to let the light of God shine through us before others. Why is this important? The answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it? Because there is so much darkness in the world. There is so much hatred, ugliness and division. Racism and injustice are prevalent. Greed, lust, and anger continue to dominate the scene. Wars and rumors of war are in the news daily. The amount of darkness in the world is staggering, so much so that we may wonder if there is any hope for the world. But there is hope. Darkness can be defeated. It doesn’t take a lot of light to dispel the darkness. That’s why it’s so important that we let our light shine. I may not be but a single light but I can make a difference. My church may not be a large church but if we shine together it can make a huge difference in our community and beyond. John 1:5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I hope we will all do our part to make sure that God’s light continues to shine in and through us. I hope we will do our part to dispel all the darkness we can. For God’s sake, and that of others, let your light shine!



Jul 27 2011

Bearing Fruit

Jesus frequently used nature as a teaching device.  The best known examples may be his charge to “consider the lilies” and “consider the birds.”  Both Matthew and Luke record these words of Jesus intended to elicit faith and combat worry in our lives.  In the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel we find another one of Jesus’ references to nature.  Here he said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” (v. 5)  Jesus used this illustration from the natural world to explain a number of vital truths.

 In verse 4 Christ noted the obvious—“No branch can bear fruit by itself.”  If a branch from an apple tree is cut off it will no longer be able to produce apples.  It has to remain connected in order to live and bring forth fruit.  In the same way, Jesus insisted, his followers must “remain” or “abide” in him.  He said, “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (v. 4)  In verses 4-10 Jesus used the word “remain” ten times.  He wanted to make sure that his disciples did not miss the point that staying connected to him was critical.  We simply cannot live the Christian life in our own power or strength.  We have got to stay attached to Christ.

Jesus’ call to “remain” in him implies a close communion or fellowship with himself.  This communion brings us much joy and peace.  Its purpose, however, goes far beyond this.  This communion is also the source of our strength and enables us to fulfill our purpose of bearing fruit.  Jesus said, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (v. 6)  In v. 8 he adds that by producing fruit we bring glory to God and reveal ourselves to be his disciples.

 There can be no denying that Christians are called to bear fruit but in this passage we are never explicitly told what that “fruit” is.  Over the years I have heard numerous suggestions offered.  Some say the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.  Others point to the “fruit of the Spirit” mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5.  Both suggestions may be implied but it seems to me that in this context what Jesus was referring to was love.  In the latter part of John’s Gospel Jesus speaks often about the priority of love and calls repeatedly for his followers to love one another in the same way that he has loved them.  By pointing to the example of vines and branches Jesus let it be known that the only way we will ever be able to love in this way is if we stay connected to him.  My own personal experience validates this.  I know all too well that I cannot love as I should on my own.  I need help. 

I am convinced that each of our lives do, indeed, have purpose and meaning.  I also believe that this purpose involves making a difference in our world through acts of selfless love and compassion.  When I see an apple tree, or any other fruit hanging from its branches, I am reminded that if I am going to love the world and those who inhabit it I will, likewise, have to remain attached or connected to the ultimate source of love—my Lord and Savior.


 (I took the pictures above this morning at one of my friend’s home here in Pikeville.)