The Lower Lights

By Kevin Cauley

On our recent trip to Maine, we had the opportunity to see several lighthouses. One we were able to visit up close as it was located within the boundaries of the national park and accessible by car. This particular lighthouse was not one of the tall, stately, and grand lighthouses that one is accustomed to think about when considering lighthouses, but rather, a shorter light. There were several of these lighthouses around the island on which we stayed. The tallest of the light houses around was out on another island inaccessible by car far out in the sea on Baker Island. These various light houses reminded me of the song, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” written by Philip P. Bliss, 1871. The song is as follows:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lam, my brother:
Some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

The lyrics of the song are instructive to us today. God’s great grace, love, and mercy is the greater light which shines for all to see into the distant and far ocean of sin. He draws the lost from the great darkness that is around them and leads them toward the safety of harbor. Those souls, however, as they near shore need additional guidance to finally make it safely in. These “harbor lights” are what allows them to dock and set foot on shore. God is the greater light, but Christians are these lesser, harbor lights, who use the light which God gives them, through teaching and influence, to illuminate others to the safe shore.

What can we do for those around us who are in darkness and struggling to come to the shore? We can love them by extending help and aid to those approaching the shore. Matthew 22:39 states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” We can provide the right example for those around us to encourage them to extend their lights to those in need of rescue. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” We can keep our lights pure and holy so that they will shine bright and not grow dim. James 1:27 states, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Jesus said in the great sermon on the mount, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

We have a choice before us. We can either let our light shine, or we can hide it. If we hide our light, then it does no one any good at all, including ourselves. However, if we let our light shine, then we have a great opportunity to glorify God. The few things listed above are just some things that one may do to let his light shine. There are many more. What are you doing to let your light shine? Find something, anything, that you can do to let your light shine and then SHINE!

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Those Folks are Different

This past week I was having a conversation with a friend who is a member of a denominational church. She mentioned to me that she wanted to come visit us and that she had told her “pastor” that she was going to visit us. Her “pastor” asked who we were and my friend responded, “the church of Christ.” The “pastor” said, “Are you sure you want to do that? Those folks are different!”

There are many members of the church today who would react negatively to that analysis. They would say, “Oh, we’re no different than any of the denominations around us.” To these, it is an embarrassment that they are considered to be different by the denominations. These would want to change the church into just another denomination, to legitimize and acquire instrumental music, to destroy the autonomy of the local congregation, to call the preacher, “pastor”, to get rid of the name “church of Christ,” etc. until the church is no longer distinctive from those around us. However, that would not be the way of God or Christ.

We read in the scriptures that God has always demanding of his people that they be different. In Deuteronomy 14:2, Moses tells the children of Israel that they are different. He says, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” The word “holy” means to be set apart, different. God wanted the children of Israel to be a “peculiar people.” The new English Standard Version translates this phrase “treasured possession.” Certainly something that is a treasured possession is different from everything else one has and is set apart.

In the New Testament as well, Peter quotes from this passage in Deuteronomy and applies it toward “Spiritual Israel”�Christians. Peter writes, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). God wants us, as Christians, to be different. Paul writes to Titus these words regarding Jesus, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” Titus 2:14). Jesus died so that we could be different. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” In order to be God’s children, the church must be separate, distinct, unique, different.

So, are we different? Yes, we are, and I am glad that we are. Today we live in a time when denominations around us are conforming to the world. We hear of denominations who condone abortion, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. The church of Christ does not condone such activities because God’s word condemns these things. Instead of conforming to the way that the world would have the church, the church ought to be demanding of individuals that their lives be transformed through repentance and renewal of mind. In Romans 12:2 we read, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Are we different? Yes, we are. We are different because we have been transformed by Christ to be a people who are holy, the children of God, separate from that which is sinful; different from the way the world would mold religion in its own image today. It is our differences from everyone else that define who we are as Christians. We should never be embarrassed of that! The world and the denominations may think us “strange” (1 Peter 4:4) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. One day, Jesus will return and all will bow and God will be glorified, not because of our similarities with the world, but because of our differences (Matthew 25:34).

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Should I Marry My Pregnant Girlfriend?

What is the appropriate thing to do biblically if a boy gets his girlfriend pregnant before he is married to her. He is a Christian and she is a baptist.Do they have to get married? He plans on supporting the child.

This is a difficult situation, but the Bible has some principles which can answer this question. Please also engage in prayer regarding this situation, as I am sure you already have (James 1:5).

First, he is the father of the child and he must act accordingly, whether the two get married or not. This means that he has the responsibility to love and support the child and to raise the child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). He will never get beyond that responsibility; it will follow him all of his life.

Second, while it would be ideal for this young man to marry this woman to give the child an ideal home environment, marriage is more than just a place to raise children. For a man to marry a woman is a commitment that he must make for the rest of his life (Matthew 19:6). He must love and cherish her as his own flesh (Ephesians 5:28, 29). She also must be willing to marry, love, and submit to his headship (Titus 2:4, 5). That is a choice that he AND she must make together. The two shouldn’t be forced to marry into a situation where they would not love and care for each other. That will only end in divorce and the latter end will become worse than the former. The only two people who can determine if their marriage is going to work will be these two people themselves. If they are willing to make that lifelong commitment, then they may marry. On the other hand, if they are not, or if they have reservations, then I wouldn’t force the issue. Perhaps they will not marry each other, but in the future one will marry another who is capable of providing a good home life for the child.

Third, You didn’t mention ages, but statistically, more couples remain married if they wait until their mid-twenties. For this reason, if the two are teens, my personal advice would be against marriage. Marriage is difficult enough as it is; it is even more difficult when a child is involved. Teens and even people in their early twenties just don’t have the life-experience to deal with such a situation.

Finally, if he has not already, this young man needs to repent and confess his fault before the church (James 5:16). He has brought reproach upon the people of God by his actions and he needs to be accountable for them. Then he needs to make a commitment not to continue to be involved in such behavior. He may simply be a young man, but if he is old enough to get himself involved in such a situation, then he is old enough to deal with the consequences. If he fails to make the appropriate acknowledgments of his sinful behavior, then the church will have to fulfill its obligations in 1 Corinthians 5.

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