I want to encourage anyone right now who is going through a painful season.  When the Lord allows you to experience disappointment for a prolonged period, He’s not wasting your time.  He is allowing for the reaping of an even greater harvest.  He doesn’t want us to miss out on a single season of fruit, and if that means extra (and I mean, extra) pruning through frustration, disappointment, or delay, it is only for our good (see Surrender the Building Plans and For the Love of Redemption).


Similar to the third point of my blog Hope Deferred, one of the main reasons why God allows for the delay of our desires and dreams – which He actually wants to give because He put it in our heart to desire those things – is that He is growing our potential for fruit!  There are some things you can learn about God only when you are struggling, only when you are experiencing sadness or disappointment, and only when, because of this, you are forced to press into Him even more.  If we really believe that He is the desire of our hearts, we will realize that, though painful, this is the privilege of our lives – that He loves us enough to deepen our walk with Him through delayed or deferred hopes.


I just got back from our first family vacation in Colorado, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, but one day as we were driving past the lush mountains we saw a large open area that looked like it had been burned.  We remarked about it because, separate from all of the beauty around us, it looked awful.  Our first thought was that an accidental forest fire was the cause, but my brother’s girlfriend said that it was actually most likely due to something called a “prescribed fire.”  I did some research while there, and this is when a fire is not only good for the land, but absolutely necessary for its continued growth.  The park rangers actually start fires on the mountains themselves!  The Fire and Aviation Management website gave this insight:


“Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time:

  • Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires;
  • Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease;
  • Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem;
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species;
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and
  • Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.”


Basically, “the Forest Service manages prescribed fires and even some wildfires to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future.  More prescribed fires mean fewer extreme wildfires.”


This absolutely blows me away.  The majority of people might think that fires in an extremely dense forest area would be bad no matter what, but there is actually danger of an even worse fire taking place if the people don’t torch the land themselves.


“Specialists write burn plans for prescribed fires.  Burn plans identify – or prescribe – the best conditions under which trees and other plants will burn to get the best results safely.”  Now, I want you to apply this to your life.  Isn’t this like the Lord?  He’s a Burn Specialist.  He may have prescribed the fire and allowed the burn, but He’s written the entire burn plan, and He knows how it’s going to benefit you in the long-run.  A prescribed fire actually prepares the land for new and greater growth!  “When excess vegetation or needle layers are burned off, nitrogen and other nutrients are released into the soil and become available for new plants to grow.”  The burn is necessary for certain trees/plants because the exposed soil from the fire allows them to naturally regenerate.


Sometimes it feels like God deals harsher with those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  You may wonder, “Why God is this happening to me?  Why did You let this be my story?”  If so, I want to share this with you: “The LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:12).  This does not mean He is causing you simply to suffer, but if you feel that the Lord is allowing you to grow through painful situations again and again it is because He is desiring to teach you deeper things in the struggle.  It is actually proof of sonship and God’s love for you as He is letting you learn things in a controlled environment while He still protects you as a Father.  You are actually one of the privileged ones because you are gaining His awareness and closeness.  No matter what, if you are a human being on this planet, you will experience fire at some point.  However, if you allow the Lord to have His completed work in you through surrendering to His will, it is a fire that is purifying you.  It is a fire that is protecting you.  It is a fire that is making you more fruitful and able to grow.


There is more land to be acquired – some gained through pain, but God allows you to be burned so that you can actually be BLESSED.  How crazy is that?  Prescribed fires, or fires allowed and sometimes committed by the Lord’s hand, are actually creating the very opposite result we would expect.  We think that a fire (pain, disappointments) will kill and destroy, but God sometimes allows a fire to produce life and heal.  He brings healing where we didn’t know we needed it.  Where we would allow our land to be overgrown and pray for no fire, thinking that we are actually saving ourselves pain and stunted growth, God knows that the only way to keep growing is to set a torch to it.  He burns what is dangerous and what has potential for an unhealthy and out of control flame in the future and He cultivates what remains.


Personally, I know God is good and kind, but it can sometimes seem like He has taken a torch to my heart again and again.  If I didn’t know better, I would think the worst.  However, I remember this…

He is burning the old things, old parts of me that were not beautiful, old parts of me that were dead and dying.  Sometimes the only way to bear more fruit is to be burned (or pruned) by the Lord’s hand.  Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it seems harsh.  But yes, it is for my good.


When I was in college at Dallas Baptist University, I had a bookmark with John 15:5 on it that I kept in my Bible and read every day for almost 2 years.  Unfortunately, I lost it at church (which is hilarious to me), but it didn’t take long afterwards for me to realize that I had already internalized it deep into my heart:


“I am the Vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.  Apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5


If I remain in the Lord, it is a promise…I WILL bear MUCH fruit.  I do not have to doubt this, or feel bad about it.  It is just the natural byproduct of being with Him because I can do nothing without Him.  However, that does not mean that fruit comes easy.  Pain actually sometimes reveals the unfruitfulness inside of us.  Therefore, being fruitful through pain means that we have to ALLOW that torch to be put to the parts of us that no longer bear any fruit such as: comparison, jealousy, a quickness to anger, bitterness, selfishness, and the list goes on.  God taking the torch to parts of your heart through pain gives you an opportunity to expose these hidden things to the Lord in a deeper way, which then gives you an opportunity to grow your character and produces in you a greater love for Him, and a greater love and empathy for others.


“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” – John 15:8

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:5-8


God is faithful, and the pain that He allows, He allows for a purpose.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be Fruitful all the days of my life.  May He do whatever He has to do to take me to the place that brings Him the most glory, and may I wholeheartedly seek, bless, and obey Him all the way.  He doesn’t waste His fire, so I will not waste my growth.


Blog Pic: Riding the gondola in Breckenridge, Colorado

You are a Lighthouse

I just got back from a mission trip to Honduras, and let me tell you: EVERYONE is looking for the light.  I don’t care who you are, or where you live in the world – you want to know what real love and light is.  People are tired of being tossed by the sea in the darkness.


The Sunday before I left, my Dad said something that really struck a chord with me:

“You are a Lighthouse.”


First of all, I’ve just got to say that I love my Dad.  🙂  Second of all, what is a lighthouse and what does it really mean to be one?  According to Britannica, a lighthouse is for “coastal navigation, warning mariners of hazards, establishing their position, and guiding them to their destinations.”  Literally, a light house is a house of light; light that points others towards home.


Jesus says to His believers: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).  He is the Light, but He chooses to make US His carriers.  God wants us to live so brightly that there is no denying we are not of this world; to keep loving, to keep shining, and to be unashamed like Jesus.


“For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2


Jesus only cared to please the Father.  Even before the cross, He despised the shame of looking weird or crazy or too godly, pure, or obsessive…for us.  He didn’t care about the stark contrast in which He was shining, or about what other people thought of Him while He lived on the earth.  In fact, He was not concerned with Himself at all!  He was only concerned with housing God’s light, and pointing His people towards home.  He despised the shame of His devotion because He never lost sight of the joy set before Him – His coming and dwelling inside of our hearts with His light, which leads me to ask myself: Am I willing to despise the shame of being different for the joy set before ME – being filled with Him even more?


Everything in the world makes us think that we need to fit IN and not stand OUT, but where is the power in that?  I’m realizing that my power lies in living purely for the Lord and actually being as different as possible.  The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy our gifts, our talents, and our personalities – what God has given us to make us shine for His glory – by making us hold back for the sake of trying to blend in.  Therefore, if you realize that this is his strategy, you won’t be surprised when you are hit with the most insecurities in the places where you are actually the most gifted, anointed, and powerful.


For example, I used to be fearful of being “too spiritual” or “too happy.”  I was afraid of people looking at me and thinking I was inauthentic or fake because they didn’t know me.  I felt I needed to suppress my personality, and be a little more “normal” to be relatable to people and honoring to God.  What I didn’t realize was that the enemy was lying to me, slowly eating away at my boldness, and making me insecure in the very thing that God had given me – my personality – to shine His glory the most.  How do I know this?  If anything, and I mean ANYTHING – no matter what it is, lowers your standard of living confidently in the Lord, or takes away from your relationship with Jesus instead of adding to it, it is not from Him.  And if anything is pure and points others to Him, it is nothing to be ashamed of.  God moves in power no matter what we do because that is who He is, but when we choose to carry His Presence (His light and love) boldly and intentionally, crazy stuff starts to happen.  For example, do you believe that someone can…


…be healed by a hug you give?

…be radically saved by looking at a painting you made?

…encounter the Presence of God through a song you wrote?

…be forever changed by an encouraging word you say?


It may sound extreme, but if we really believe that the Light of the world lives inside of us, do we not believe that He wants to light up even the simplest things we do as well?  It’s not complicated to shine God’s glory and be used of Him!  When you’re focused on the Lord, you don’t even have to try; you just shine.  I can’t tell you how many times people have told me recently that, as a worship leader, I wasn’t even leading a song of worship at church, but simply standing on stage or in the audience WORSHIPING, and when they looked at me they were touched by Jesus.  That is so humbling to me, but why is that?  It’s because when we fix our eyes on Him, people look at us and no longer see us…they see Him!  I don’t think there is a greater blessing or privilege on this earth, and we are ALL called to shine no matter what we do.  We are lighthouses that house His glory!  Why would He not use us in crazy, random, intricate ways that we’ve never even thought of before to reveal Himself and bring glory to His Name?


So, what is the moral of the story here?  You don’t have to look like the darkness to attract it.  You do not have to be ashamed of the light or goodness inside of you because it’s not your goodness – it’s God’s!  It is Jesus’ love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, and patience.  From Him, to Him, and through Him are ALL good things.  God wants you to shine because He is the light and it glorifies Him.  The enemy will try to get us to self-consciously focus on ourselves, but it’s actually not about us at all.  Whether it’s pride or insecurity, both are a focus on self, neither are from God, and both distract from His true purposes.  However, if we can fix our eyes on Jesus, all pride and insecurity will fade away, and we will be able to truly stand firm in our calling and purpose without any false motives or flesh interfering.  As a lighthouse that is solely concerned with the Light, we can partner with Him in our faith and be an example for others of what it looks like to follow God, and walk out His calling.  What it looks like to be natural, but supernatural at the same time.  Finite and infinite.  Confident, but still completely reliant.  Burning, yet still constantly in need of fuel.  When we let God shine His light through us, we are practically living in such a way so as to intentionally worship Him in everything we do.


I definitely don’t get this right all the time, however, isn’t part of being a lighthouse needing to be constantly refilled with light?!  It’s the only way to keep shining!  The light doesn’t come from me, but from Him inside of me.  If He is not ashamed to dwell inside of me, I am not ashamed to need Him.


“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”  Hebrews 2:11

“Without holiness, no one will see God.”  Hebrews 12:14

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you…” 2 Timothy 1:6

“But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:6

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16


So, what is your calling?  What do you have faith for?  How does God want to use you to point others to Him?  Don’t let the enemy put out the light God put in you.  You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but it’s never too late to start shining for His glory.  🙂


Blog Pic: Southerness Lighthouse at Southerness Beach, the second oldest lighthouse in Scotland