We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Sneak Peek at Recording of “The White Gypsy”

Lamplighter Theatre’s newest audio drama, The White Gypsy, is now airing on 1500 stations in 23 countries!

Take a sneak peek at our time recording this drama in the studio:

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Consider Your Ways

This morning I was reading in the book of Haggai and found something that piqued my interest. In Haggai chapter 1, the prophet writes: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.’ Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.'”

You see, as the people focused on their own material wealth, they neglected God’s priority–the rebuilding of his house. Throughout the text you continue to hear the phrase “Consider your ways!” In the New Living Translation it says, “Look at what’s happening to you.”

Too often we find ourselves trying to protect our own investments, when, if we could just learn to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things really would be added to us. I think we live in a day similar to that of Haggai.

However, in Haggai’s day the people responded and repented after carefully considering their selfishness and greed. They considered their ways. They considered the words of the prophet–that their wages were put into pockets with holes. What a picture! Pockets with holes! I can imagine that there are many who can identify, especially in light of our economy.

You see, in order to get their attention, God ruined everything they worked so hard to get. But upon hearing the words of God, the people responded. Within a month the Lord turned this curse into a blessing.

It was only when they considered their ways and turned their attention to what was most important–the things of God–that God was able to turn the curse into a blessing. Oh if we could consider our ways today. The losses that have occurred in our economy should be enough of a reminder. It is time to rebuild the house of God. It is time to be holy, for we are the house of God.

Small Defeats

In the book of Joshua, God challenges His people repeatedly to “be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:7). Along with this challenge, God seeks to bolster their courage by affirming that “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life . . . I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

For a while, everything goes well for the children of Israel. Following God’s commands at Jericho, they watch the strongholds of their enemies fall. Faith and obedience are rewarded. Scripture reasserts what has already been evident: “So the LORD was with Joshua . . . .” (Joshua 6:27a).

But then suddenly in chapter 7 everything starts to unravel. A handful of the men are killed in battle. After such a glorious and decisive victory over Jericho, Joshua is perplexed. So Joshua and the elders of Israel fell on their faces before the Lord.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the accursed things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings . . . I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the accursed things from among you. Get up! Consecrate the people’ . . . for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, ‘There are accursed things in your midst . . . You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed things from among you'” (Joshua 7:10-13).

As I ponder this story I am reminded that small defeats are often big reminders of sin in our lives. It would behoove us to begin a self-evaluation to see if there are any accursed things in our midst that are restricting the blessing of God. An accursed thing can take many forms–but it is always that which provides temporary satisfaction for an eternal, God-shaped void.

Two Way Conversation

Gene Edward Veith, author of the book Reading Between the Lines, weighs in on the subject of communication by saying:

“We can never know anyone intimately by simply being in that person’s presence. We need to have a conversation in order to share our thoughts and our personalities. By the same token, we need a conversation with God–two-way conversation through language–in order to know Him on a personal basis.

Just as human beings address God by means of language through prayer, God addresses human beings by means of language in the pages of Scripture. Prayer and Bible reading are central to a personal relationship with God. Christians have to be, in some sense, readers” (Reading Between the Lines, p. 18).

Joshua understood this well when he penned his thoughts on the pages of Scripture:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

Psalm 119 is a beautiful depiction of the love that God’s children should have for His word. This Psalm makes it clear that reading and meditating on God’s Word has joyous results! Despite any trials you are facing, make certain to be a Word-centered person, taking delight from the Word of God. Then you will be able to say with David,

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life” (Psalm 119:92-93).

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Changes to Upcoming Lamplighter Guild Week

If there was ever anything certain, it is this: God has His hand upon the upcoming Guild week in July.

At the same time, I am very disappointed and extremely excited to share with you some changes in our lineup of master teachers.

First, we have learned that Lizzie Glassborow may be recovering from surgery and unable to travel during her recovery period. Philip did not think it would be wise for him to be away from home, so I must share the sad news that our beloved, London-accented friends will not be with us this year.

But all was not lost when I learned that Peter Moreton would not only be able to teach all that Philip would teach but also incorporate stage acting with his incredible skills.Then, just recently I heard from Peter, who contacted me with fear and trembling. An unusual conflict occurred with the very small print in a contract of his for an upcoming theatrical production. He told me that he and his agent tried everything possible, but he would not be permitted to travel during the week of the Guild. What was God doing? A quick note was sent to the Lamplighter staff, but God seemed to be giving a peace beyond understanding. Peter called me again, and I thought he was about to tell me that he was cleared to come. But instead he recommended his replacement–a celebrated European actress who loved the Lord. When he told me her name, I could only smile. It was Cathy Sara. Some of you may know her as the voice of Mary in the Lamplighter Theatre drama, The Basket of Flowers. But this is not the best part of the story.

When I called Cathy to see if she would be interested, I didn’t tell her what some of the goals of the 2012 Guild would be. In fact, I wasn’t going to share this with anyone until my introductory announcements at the Guild. But it does appear that God would have me announce these goals today. A year ago, God began to burden my heart for the children, teens, and women who have been enslaved in the sex trade, particularly in India, the Philippines and the U.S. In conjunction with Phillip Telfer and John-Clay Burnett teaching on the subject of Documentary Film Production, I thought that some of our students might be inspired to produce something that could awaken the church in America to be engaged in the rescue and redemption of those enslaved in this demeaning and dehumanizing atrocity. What a mission field we have before us.

What does this have to do with Cathy Sara? During the first minute of our conversation, Cathy said to me, “Mark, let me tell you what God has been doing in my life and where my passions are these days and then let’s see if I am a fit to teach at the Guild.” What Cathy said next was a moment that not only brought tears, but also confirmed that God had indeed rearranged our teachers to allow for a very important assignment. Cathy went on to say the following: “Mark, I just returned from India, working with the teens and young women who had been enslaved in the sex trade. I was there for three weeks teaching drama as a means of redemption and restoration. I have never been more blessed than what I experienced in working with these girls and I can’t wait to go back.”

Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? Cathy went on to say that she will be teaching our students some of the same content that she taught in India, thus preparing our students in the art of redemptive drama–a drama that goes much farther and deeper than mere entertainment. This is the art of rescuing souls and of setting the captives free.

My friends, I am more excited than ever to experience what God has for us during this life-transforming week of the Lamplighter Guild. I look forward to sharing more in the next letter. God has opened more doors than I ever imagined. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Christina at mail@lamplighterguild.com. We are more than happy to discuss any concerns you might have. If you’re intrigued, you can also register today!

Sincerely,

Mark Hamby
President Lamplighter Ministries
www.lamplighter.net

Published in: on May 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unwearied Labor

Unwearied Labor

Charles was just four years old when he was separated from his mother in a dreadful storm at sea. Endeavoring to save her baby girl, Charles’ mother could not save the life of her son. Assuming him lost forever, the grieving mother slowly rebuilt her life and treasured her daughter as the apple of her eye.

But little did she know that the unthinkable and unpredictable Providence of God was working behind the scenes, working all things together for good! Now reunited with his mother as a grown lad, Charles recounts the story of God’s miraculous provisions. Raised by a rural minister, Charles had returned as a man of purpose and conviction. His account of his upbringing will be an inspiration to all who read about the parenting instruction given by the wise old rural minister.

“Be unwearied in the labor of your calling. The vocation of a student is noble and honorable. Whether you study law, medicine, or divinity, in all these the welfare, either temporal or eternal, of your fellow beings is entrusted to you. It would be a fearful thought were you not in earnest in desiring to become master of your profession, and if, instead of contributing to the happiness of men, you, through ignorance and unskilfulness, should cause their injury. The years of study are the seed-time; make use of this precious time ere it flies away–else you cannot expect a joyful harvest” (The Little Lamb, p. 66).

As I read over these words, I thought what an apt reminder they are for those of us who are motivating and educating the next generation. Our children’s slackness could harm not only themselves, but future generations and even future civilizations as well. This realization should motivate us to inspire our children to pursue excellence in their gifts and callings.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace . . .” (1st Peter 4:10).

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Published in: on May 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones–But God Can Kill You! Part 2

Yesterday we talked about God’s intolerance to the Sabbath stick gatherer from Numbers 15. What appeared to be an innocent stroll to pick up a few sticks turned out to be a mob-enticed crowd of stone throwers and one victim–quite dead. I had raised some doubt as to God’s apparent inconsistent and unreliable sense of justice. Not wanting to be a target for a divine lighting bolt, I think it is the better part of wisdom to get right to the point here.

First of all, in God there is no darkness at all. Genesis 18:25 states, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Without a sense of God’s goodness toward mankind, it is impossible to trust God when He appears unjust or too severe.

As I studied the stoning of the stick gatherer, I was reminded of the importance of letting Scripture interpret Scripture. If I were to read the account of the stick gatherer only, I would conclude that God seems to be unjust. But when I read the sentences just prior, I read these words: “But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is a native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

As I take the context into consideration, it would appear that this stick gatherer had an axe to grind with God and wasn’t willing to let anyone tell him what to do. Furthermore, Numbers 15 is about God’s mercy toward unintentional sins. The stick gatherer appears to be intentionally breaking the rules. God is a merciful God to those who humble themselves, but for the one who thinks he can live life with a “high hand” according to his own rules, “calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken without remedy” (Proverbs 6).

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Friends of the Family, Part 3

For the past two days, I’ve told you about some very special friends. If you missed those Moments, I’d encourage you to check out part 1 and part 2.

Our family has been significantly changed by daily visits from these friends. And just when I thought we had met the entire family, one night, just before bed, we heard a gentle knock on the door. Who could it be at this late hour?
I opened the door. There stood a very aged-but distinguished looking-gentleman. He had a hand-carved cane made of mahogany and sported an English cap and dark wool cloak. If I had to guess, I would say he was easily in his 90’s or maybe even 100. But when he spoke, he seemed ageless. Sure enough, when he introduced himself, he was none other than the father of this unique family-and his name was LOVE.

It didn’t take long to learn, from his countless stories that we listened to every night, that Love’s influence seem to turn evil into good each and every time. He would end each of his stories by swirling his cloak over our heads and saying something about him covering a multitude of something. I could never understand what he was talking about but it had something to do with his cloak being used as a covering. Our children loved listening to his stories each night, but I think I enjoyed them the most. They usually brought tears to my eyes as I began to learn from this meek and gentle man that he truly never fails.

In conclusion, remember that “By mercy and truth, iniquity is purged . . .” (Proverbs 16:6) and “Whoever covers an offense seeks love . . .” (Proverbs 17:9).

Friends of the Family, Part 2

Yesterday I told you about our family friends, Grace, Mercy, and Compassion. We loved having these ladies over each night and morning. Their influence was transforming our home. But then, just as things started to change for the better, the doorbell rang. Each of the women looked at each other with concern. Lo and behold it was their younger brother, TRUTH.

Truth seemed to think that it was his right to speak his mind…about everything! I wasn’t enjoying his company like his sisters. Grace and Mercy were very quiet while Truth spoke his mind. There were several times when I wanted to boot him out of my home. I wasn’t enjoying his brutal insights about my failures. Then one time when I was about to tell him off I realized that he was absolutely right…about everything. Then I realized something that had gone unnoticed. Each time I was about to boot him out of the house, Mercy would say something to me that encouraged me to swallow my pride. Mercy later shared with me that her brother means well but sometimes he can be a little bit black and white. That’s why she makes sure that wherever he goes she stays close behind (see Psalm 85:10).

Just when I was getting to enjoy the insights that brother Truth had for me and my family, the doorbell rang again. Truth looked at his watch and said that he would return but needed to go. With an exchange of pleasantries, Truth tipped his hat to another close relative, his aunt Hope. What a delight to have her. I felt this strange sensation; all the shame that Truth had dug up in my life was disappearing. And each time that Truth came over and seemed to shake me upside down and inside out, Hope would be at the door knocking. She was there to put me back together.

In our next moment, we will meet one more dear friend!

Friends of the Family, Part 1

I’d like to introduce you to my five good friends whom I have enjoyed so much that I’ve invited them into my home. Their names are Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Hope, Truth, and Love.

GRACE is an attractive older lady who makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world when you’re in her presence. I am often humbled by her lavish graciousness, which causes her influence over me to grow even stronger. I’ll never forget the lessons that she taught me about my tendency to place responsibility above relationship. She saw how this was affecting my family and enabled me to see that they would more willingly follow humility than authority.

Soon, Grace asked if she could invite her twin sister to visit. When I met her I was amazed at their similarities. But there was one remarkable difference. MERCY had some serious memory problems. In most areas, her memory was exact–but when it came to offenses, she seemed to not be able to remember yesterday. What was most remarkable about Mercy’s influence in my life was that the more I got to know her, the more I was able to see my family from an entirely different perspective–from God’s perspective. Mercy seemed to change my relationship with my children and spouse almost overnight.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was another sister! Grace and Mercy introduced COMPASSION to me early one morning. Compassion began coming over early in the morning–every morning (see Lamentations 3:22-23)–even before the coffee was brewing! Her influence was contagious. My kids loved waking up to her voice. She put a smile on everyone’s face and my oldest son loved her the most. She made him completely forget about yesterday’s failures–and she helped me to practice her same forgetfulness.

Join me as I introduce more of my friends in our next Lamplighter Moment!