Monday, February 4, 2013

Message from JOHN HOULETTE

   Good morning.   
   I am very thrilled and humbled to speak at ICCS today as the De La Cours have been good friends over the years and Pastor Stan and I have shared a deep mentoring relationship.  I am currently the director of Three Stream Ministries, which provides care to Japanese pastors and their wives through coaching, counseling, retreats and ministry tools.  I have written a booklet called Stillness Tools, in Japanese, which is available as a PDF in English if you are interested. 
   We have just participated in that wonderful ordinance called the Lord’s Supper, reflecting on all that Jesus did for us on the cross and his powerful invitation to remembrance. From this event, I would like to think together with you about the metaphor of darkness and light.
   Let’s pray.
2 COR. 4:6-7 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
6「光が、やみの中から輝き出よ」と言われた神は、私たちの心を照らし、キリストの御顔にある神の栄光を知る知識を輝かせてくださったのです。7 私たちは、この宝を、土の器の中に入れているのです。それは、この測り知れない力が神のものであって、私たちから出たものでないことが明らかにされるためです。
   I have a question for you.  How many of you have an earthquake evacuation kit?  Do you have one of these? (flash light)  some are battery operated, some are hand cranked. It is very important when power goes out to see where you are and to avoid danger and find safety.  As a child, I grew up loving flashlights.  My dad built my sister’s a nice dollhouse in the backyard and by the time I was in elementary school my friends and I had turned it into a fort.  We would camp out in the summers and use flash lights to scare each other, putting the flashlight under our chins and making weird noises, or using the light for hand puppet shows.
   We are just finishing the ‘illumination season’ in Japan, this year highlighted by the Sky Tree light up.  After that we have had department store ‘sparkling sales’.
   These images of light remind of romance and great shopping deals!
   The Bible is full of many contrasts, and one of them is light and darkness.
   Light appears 244 times, darkness 174 in the English Standard Version.  It is major theme in the Scriptures.
   Let’s look at some of them.
A.               Concerning the nature of God.
GEN 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
1JOHN 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
B.               Concerning Jesus birth
People in times of Isaiah
Is. 9:2The people who walked in darkness  have seen a great light;  those who dwelt in a land
of deep darkness,  on them has light shined. 
Shepherds, outcasts of society, first worshipped the Lord, led by the light.
LUKE 2:8-9 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
Magi, followed a star to worship him.
MATT 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
B.  Light and Darkness during the Earthly Life of Christ.
JOHN 1:4-5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
JOHN 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
JOHN 8:12 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."
C.  Darkness on the cross
LUKE 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, Jesus literally becoming sin for us was depicted in supernatural darkness.
D.  Invitation to live in the light.
1PET 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1JOHN 1:7 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. 
E.  The spiritual battle of darkness and light.
2 Cor 4:3-2 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 2 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
·       Sometimes, we prefer the darkness to light.
·       Walking in light, truth is evident, which makes it easier to relate to others.
·       The cost of our sins meant total identification with darkness for Jesus.
·       God calls us out of the darkness into the light.
·       Jesus gives us light to live.
·       Seeing the light of Christ is a spiritual dynamic.
·       Some church traditions encourage the lighting of candles for healing and prayer.  It is a symbol of bringing light into the darkness of our problems. 
No, I am not talking about Jesus on Facebook, but the practice of seeking his face.
A.              The Marriage Mirror.
   After 32 years of marriage, I have learned that we figuratively give our spouses a mirror.  We allow our them to face the mirror towards us so that we can see ourselves for who we really are when we are listening to them.  We give each other permission to observe, comment and constructively encourage while we look at ourselves.  We show the mirror lovingly, in warm hues rather than in cold, blinding truth, so as not to shock or devastate each other!  Our response to seeing ourselves as reflected back to us by our spouses, is a key to a healthy marriage.  It is a humility builder!
        B.         The  Knowledge Mirror:  Reflecting God’s glory.
   The text here also speaks to us about a mirror, but a two dimensional one.
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
   The gospel of the cross shows the dark and evil of our sin, but also the brightness and power of the love of God in Christ.  Love always trumps sin. 
   We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
   Yet, there is another reflection.  When we become Christ followers we have a light inside which allows us to see Christ, and when we do that, we see the glory of God. 
   How do we see Christ? 
·       By inviting him into our daily lives.
·       By reading the Bible.
·       Through the Lord’s Supper.  Remember his broken body and shed blood. It is a glorious invitation to partake in the feast that celebrates salvation bought and paid for by Jesus at the cross.
When we come here, we see two tings:  the ugliness of our sin and the abundant riches of God’s grace and mercy. 
·       By responding to his invitations. Come, be, follow, seek, knock, ask….
·       By living as though he is with us.
By living in the  light in the dark” principle:  My light shines brightly for believers who trust me in the dark.  Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.
Running Guam marathon, star gazing at Tadami.
·       By focusing on right responses rather than right circumstances
PS 112:4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;  he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. 
·       PS 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news;  his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 
III.                    BROKENNESS 101
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
   How do we live out the Lord’s Supper?  By carrying the treasure of salvation, Christ’s life in us, in brokenness.
·       Jars of clay.  Broken vessels.  Built to reveal God in us and that he is our power source.
·       Pain-intimacy-power-influence.  Terry Walling. 

1.              Are you ‘in the dark,’ in life?
2.              How will you walk in the light today?
3.              Are you willing to walk with someone else, listen and help carry their burden?