John 8:12: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

For two decades Bill and I have lived in Arizona, and we have fallen in love with the local desert. Nature trails around here are usually very uneven. Hikers keep their eyes glued to the ground to avoid tripping and falling. We have both done our fair share of hiking; I particularly like the early morning hikes.

In Arizona it gets light outside long before the Sun actually shows up on the horizon. The early light paints the awakening desert in pastel colors. Hiking before the Sun is up is magical, but can be a bit hazardous. On one occasion I forgot to bring my flashlight, BIG mistake! As a result, I stumbled more than I walked. Thankfully, the Sun rose in time before I got seriously hurt. Wilderness walks are unforgiving if we are not properly equipped.

We don’t need to be hikers to be able to relate to the wilderness experience. Life can resemble a wilderness walk, metaphorically speaking. Randy Newman’s song “It’s a jungle out there!” is a humorous way of putting it. God helps us through that jungle. The Light of the World has a way of seeing us through confusing times.

During the Christmas season it’s a custom in North America to decorate our homes, yards and streets with a myriad of Christmas lights; I believe this is one way of depicting Jesus bringing God’s Light into the world.

Jesus will change our fears and tears into hope and radiant joy, much like the sun shining through the drizzling rain will create a beautiful rainbow. The Lord dips our life in color. Walking with Him, we have the Light that leads to life.

John 6:35: “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

Our soul, similar to our physical body, is in need of healing after a traumatic event. Our Western culture has a tendency to overlook such things – probably because souls do not show up with physical evidence.

Imagine we could see each other’s soul-bodies and recognize how malnourished or wounded some of us are. The Lord certainly can. Connected with God, His children will become sensitized to the demands and longings of their soul.

There are countless references to the human soul in the Bible; one of the most prominent is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul [Deuteronomy 6:5]. In the book of Psalms our soul is encouraged to cry out to the Lord, to praise the Lord, to sing to the Lord. As the body gets hungry, so does the soul. The body craves physical food while the soul craves spiritual food; God has plenty of spiritual food in store for the longing soul. In Peter’s first letter we read [1 Peter 2:2]:

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 

It is the Lord’s kindness the soul is after. No amount of fame or fortune can satisfy the extravagant cravings of the soul, not even the love we experience from other people. That is why Jesus says [Matthew 4:4]:

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

On that note, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us today our daily bread”, we request the physical and the spiritual bread, since we are in dire need of both.

Let us follow the urges of our soul and pursue God’s wonderful Bread of Life.

Hebrews 1:1-2: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”

Most of us are familiar with upgrades. Technology is constantly improving and has affected the way we communicate. The invention of the telephone [not to mention the wireless phone] has connected us globally and revolutionized human communication. Remember how long it took to get a letter from one continent to another? Letters had to be shipped, and if your letter happened to be on a ship that never made it to shore you would have to send another one. With the invention of the telephone and especially the computer we effortlessly bridge long distances today.

If cellphones and computers represent a major breakthrough in long distance communication, certainly our perception of God has been revolutionized when the Word became flesh and lived among us. It is so much easier for us to grasp God’s message of love by just looking at Jesus. Jesus walked the talk. In Him God’s Word literally comes alive.

We have a God who communicates. He has shared the truth with us for as long as there have been people. What God has proclaimed through His prophets in preceding centuries is now plain to be seen in His Son.

John 1:1-2, 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

A couple of millennia ago, God became a human baby. God Almighty, who has everything and does not need anything, turns into this bundle of joy, helpless without His parents.

Why did God become human and needy? Why would He put Himself in such a precarious position?

I think we need to stop expecting anything conventional from the creative Godhead, the One who thought up the entire universe. It is in His nature to be extraordinary and solve problems with out-of-the-box thinking.

A major problem was created a long time ago, when seeds of distrust were sown. A snake asked one simple question: “Did God really say?” This question threw us off. We started assuming things about God that were not true. Ever since, there has been fear, misinformation and a whole lot of superstition.

Our estrangement from God has caused a substantial rift. Death puts a stamp of futility on everything we hold dear. Our eternal God, on the other hand, is untouched by death and decay – and this is why we commonly think that He is out of touch with our reality. Well, quite the opposite is true. God empathizes with us, so much so, that He decided to walk in our shoes. The Son of God came to bridge the rift that has come between us and our Creator.

Actions sometimes speak louder than words. Here is one very loud action: the Word became human; the Immortal became mortal; God became one of us. He entered our home turf and lived in the neighborhood. We could literally touch Him. We could put a face to His name. Looking into His face, we could see the One whose name is “Yahweh saves”, aka Jesus, the Messiah.

“There He was to everyone’s delight in the middle of the night. What a beautiful wondrous sight!” – Basically Two

2 Peter 3:5-7: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

Like other planets, Earth has been subject to change. In its volatile history it has gone through several ice ages; additionally our home planet has been shaped by a fair amount of global disasters. The most recent and probably best-known mass extinction of animal and plant life happened approximately 66 million years ago. 75% of all species became extinct, including dinosaurs. Most widely supported explanation of this catastrophe is a large meteorite impact.

The day of the Lord is a cataclysmic event predicted in several books of the Bible, also known as “doomsday”. Since Earth has seen major disasters before, there is no reason to believe it won’t happen again. Like a thief who breaks into our house the events will unravel unexpectedly.

On that note, it’s of no use trying to figure out the date of doomsday. The Bible expressly denotes that nobody knows the day or time. The abuse of doomsday lies in the abuse of the Scriptures, endorsed by false teachers. Brimstone and hell preaching represents preachers who manipulate the crowds by pushing the fear button. Their preaching has produced either a blind following or angry rebels. This kind of damage is difficult to undo.

Jesus warned the people who tried to hush the jubilant crowds on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem [Luke 19:40]:

“‘I tell you’, he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”

Stones will cry out and praise the Lord in our stead if we refuse to acknowledge Him. Ignoring that all the elements come from God turns the elements against us. Godlessness by definition is forgetting our roots. Nature on the other hand is rooted in the Lord and will always bear the testimony of its Maker – as do God’s children.

The children of God have the Lord’s promise that He is with them at all times. That’s the best promise He could have given them, especially when things are not looking so good. It is worth mentioning that God doesn’t just end things. He paves the way for a new beginning. On this note the apostle Peter wrote [2 Peter 3:13]:

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

Even though the dawn of God’s kingdom happens sometime in the future, it is actually entrenched in the here and now. Look around you. You can already notice the signs of His kingdom wherever Jesus left footprints in people’s hearts. When the Spirit of God moves and His will is being done – then His kingdom has already come.

Come at the sound of shofar oh King of kings – unlike Your first appearing all creation sings!

Psalm 136:1+26: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”

Sometimes, the holiday season can be hard on us. The holidays are designed to be celebrated with family and friends. If both friends and family members are missing, the most wonderful time of the year can quickly turn into the least desirable time of the year. We feel disjointed and alone.

Even if this goes against everything we currently feel, God encourages us to look up and thank Him for His goodness. In the end, it’s the Lord’s goodness that sees us through. When everything else is falling apart, He is still the Rock. When life gets dark, He is still the Light.

Nothing is as dark as walking through the valley of the shadow of death. My husband and I sat beside loved ones on their deathbed on several occasions. Grieving, we have to let go of the person passing, and the person passing has to let go of the physical body. God knows, letting go is not easy. What a relief that the Lord is with us, especially when we need Him the most.

God is faithful. His love for us is independent of our love for Him. God loves us, even if we don’t love Him back. However, if we do love Him back we get to experience His love here on earth and beyond. When we pass on to the other side the Lord can’t wait to welcome us into His arms.

Jesus is the Light of the world. We have seen the light when we have seen the Lord. Seeing Him is no one-time-experience. In fact, we need to continually reach out for His light to find our way. If we feel lost in the dark, we need to ask for His vision. If we feel confused, we need to ask for His wisdom. God will not hold back, and He will generously provide. The Light of the world is with us every step of the way; that is how we can walk in the dark; that is how we can successfully navigate through life.

The Lord is good. His love endures forever; God loves us always, throughout eternity, and nothing – absolutely nothing – can change that. That’s why we thank Him.

“Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness; open my eyes, let me see.” Tim Hughes

1 Chronicles 16:8: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”

I’m getting misty-eyed this morning – The first book of Chronicles contains the first Bible verse I have ever blogged about. It was in 2016, and this is what I wrote:

“Bragging about the Lord!  Here is a Bible verse that talks about broadcasting worldwide what the Lord has accomplished.  In today’s day and age with Internet access readily available this could be easily done, and we have been posting on Social Media on a regular basis; but now Bill and I would like to create a blog where we can post a Bible verse, elaborate on its meaning, and share it with the world. This would be our very first blog. Let’s see where this takes us!”

Years after this entry I can say that thinking and writing about a Bible verse is an experience I don’t want to miss. This habit has blessed me more than anything else. The Lord knows His own Word and He also knows what He wants to say to you and me. Reading the Scriptures – studying the apostles’ letters, the prophets’ writings, the gospels, the psalms, the five books of Moses – is our lifeline.

Some of us may think: Generations of believers have read the Bible; there is nothing special about it. – Exactly! The fact that generations of believers have read the Bible and it still gives us new insights is very special. The Bible is no old hat. It’s as alive as the Lord.

Yesterday I went outdoors and admired the colors of fall. Looking at something beautiful outside I often say jokingly to the Lord: “Stop bragging!” Well, He is not really bragging – He’s just brilliant. Everything the Lord has created is so good! His deeds have left an indelible footprint. Inasmuch His actions speak for itself, but so does He communicate through His Word; He talks to us in person through His Holy Spirit. His Word is like gentle rain that softens the hardened callouses of our hearts.

We all know the Internet is an impersonal medium; and nothing beats sharing the gospel in person. Still I hope that the thoughts the Lord inspired me to write down initiate a domino effect of good things happening. At least that’s my prayer.

There is a lot to discover when it comes to the Lord, and the apostle John once wrote that no amount of books could cover all the things Jesus has done or is doing. Still this won’t keep us from trying – I for one will do just that: keep on writing.

Colossians 3:16: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

“Wo man singt, da lass dich nieder. Böse Menschen haben keine Lieder” – a German saying, which loosely translated means: “Wherever people get together to sing, join them. You won’t run into bad company there; evil people don’t have songs.”

My grandmother’s dad was Walter Seelheim. He knew how to play the accordion. At night, he played in dance halls, which were very popular in Germany in the 1920s. Well-paid jobs were scarce after the Germans had lost World War I; playing music at night probably helped my great grandfather to feed his nine children. My grandmother had seven sisters and one brother. Times were hard, but they knew how to have fun. At night, the girls who shared a bedroom fell into harmony singing old folk songs to pass the time.

Singing together is such a bonding activity. About choral singing Julia Layton wrote in her article: “The Physical Effects of Singing”:

“A study published in Australia in 2008 revealed that on average, choral singers rated their satisfaction with life higher than the public — even when the actual problems faced by those singers were more substantial than those faced by the general public. A 1998 study found that after nursing-home residents took part in a singing program for a month, there were significant decreases in both anxiety and depression levels. Another study surveying more than 600 British choral singers found that singing plays a central role in their psychological health.”* (*Source: science.howstuffworks.com; web link:  https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/singing-happy1.htm)

It’s no secret that not everybody can sing in tune, which would be a major deal-breaker for joining a choir. Singing in the shower, however, it won’t matter how we sound. Singing is simply good for the soul which is why the Lord encourages us to keep it up (Psalm 33:3):

“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Inspired by God’s Spirit His children sing. Let’s join them and sing a song to the Lord – He gave us all we have and without Him we wouldn’t be here in the first place. An added bonus for making music is that we typically don’t engage in violence as we sing. How do we change the world for the better? Maybe one song at a time!

My mother and I singing together in German in 2016

Hebrews 12:28: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcano explosions, Meteorite impacts – our planet has seen it all. The history of planet Earth is a history of evolution. As much as we like to cling to life on earth as we know it, everything is transitory. We live in a temporary setting in a temporary body housing an eternal soul. If you are comfortable with that, you are my champion. However, most people I know, myself included, don’t like to live on the brink of change. This is where faith comes in.

In our wedding vows we promise to be faithful saying “for better or worse, in good times and bad”. Years go by, and our marriage grows from a young shoot into a matured tree. In a temporary setting within our temporary bodies we have grown old together. Faith connects and faithfulness produces roots and new young shoots. Family tribes grow into nations.

Legacies aside, we are not destined to live on in our children and children’s children; that’s a common misconception. Our soul is destined to live on in a body that is equipped to live forever (2 Corinthians 5:1):

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

The apostle Paul calls our current physical appearance a “tent” and the new body we receive after we die “eternal house”. There is permanency after all. God’s kingdom remains; He is eternal and so are His children. They are destined to grow wings and fly to a kingdom that’s unshakable.

God made us unique, which means that nobody is reproduced in the exact likeness. There won’t be another you or me. We are all priceless originals, one of the reasons why every life matters. All life comes from God. He is the Creator of all things. When we reconnect with Him we discover our roots.

Thanks be to God! He is our life and song. Forever we belong – He is the center of our being and our home, sweet home.

Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

The prophet Zechariah who predicted the coming of the Messiah had night visions. An angel came to him and said (Zechariah 4:6):

“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’” says the Lord Almighty.”

The Messiah’s unwavering reliance on the Holy Spirit is truly remarkable. This is another example how the Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are submitted to one another. Their relationship is sealed with a trust that cannot be broken. Jesus went wherever the Spirit led Him, and because He blindly banked on His leadership, Jesus has forever changed our world.

One day the Lord asked His disciples: “Who do you say I am?” the apostle Peter famously answered: “You are God’s Anointed, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then made the following statement (Matthew 16:17):

Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.’

It is the privilege of the Holy Spirit to disclose Jesus to the world. Peter openly acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, to which the Lord replied (Matthew 16:18):

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then the Spirit of God has revealed it to us. We have this experience in common with Peter. And everybody who believes that Jesus is the Son of God becomes part of the movement the Lord calls “church”. On a side note, the church Christ talks about has little to do with buildings and denominations, but has everything to do with people led by the Holy Spirit, also called the body of Christ.

Whatever we do, whether in word or deed, we do it in the name of Jesus when we follow God’s Spirit. His Spirit authenticates our faith. The reason why the Jesus-movement is still relevant today lies in its authenticity. God endorses it, His Spirit proclaims it, and open hearts receive it.