Monthly Archives: June 2021

Wine or the Spirit: Part 1

“Then Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you’” (1 Samuel 1:14; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

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I attend a church that celebrates communion every Sunday. We include actual wine, not grape juice, which might trouble people from more conservative Christian traditions. After one service, my then-teenaged son joked about ways this could create trouble; for example, what if a young child grabbed the chalice out of the deacon’s hands and drank it all? This led us to a more serious discussion about the parallels and differences between alcohol and the Holy Spirit.

I grew up in an alcoholic home. For most of my youth, my father drank heavily; he became sober while I was in high school, and his life dramatically changed. I saw the impact of alcohol. If you drink a large amount of alcohol, it changes your behavior. If you stick with it, it changes your character. Alcohol becomes an obsession. It takes control of the alcoholic’s passions, desires, and goals. (This is true of many forms of addiction.) In this case, it is not a good thing.

However, when God comes into your life, He also changes you. He changes your behavior and character. Instead of performing the deeds of the flesh, we bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23).

As this fruit grows, God can become an obsession that takes control of our passions, desires, and goals. Alcoholism is destructive, but the abundant life in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit are productive and life-giving.

However, such a passion for the Lord can look foolish to non-believers. Scripture tells several stories of people of faith whose zeal for God made them appear silly and drunk to observers.

First Samuel 1 introduces us to a woman named Hannah. In ancient Israel, polygamy was an accepted practice, and Hannah’s husband Elkanah had two wives. The other wife had borne him several children, but Hannah was childless. Such barrenness was embarrassing in those days, and the other wife abused her about it. Driven to desperation, Hannah prayed at the doorpost of the temple. In her shame and agony, she did not speak out loud but just moved her lips as she expressed her burden to the Lord.

The priest, Eli, saw her quivering lips, assumed she was drunk, and scolded her. When she explained herself, he relented and pronounced a blessing: “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:17). God did answer her prayer; she bore a son, named him Samuel, and dedicated him to the Lord’s service. As a child, he ministered at the temple in Shiloh (a prominent place of worship before the temple was built in Jerusalem) and became one of Israel’s greatest prophets, bridging the gap between the rule of the judges and the reigns of Israel’s kings. He is considered the last judge, and he coronated the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David.

Samuel’s birth came about because his mother was desperate enough to seek God’s blessing even if it made her look like a drunken fool to a leader of God’s people. Once a failure who looked like a fool, she became a role model for mothers everywhere.

I will share more about this subject from the New Testament next week. Stay tuned….

I would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fathers’ Day

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (which is the first commandment with a promise), ‘so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the fathers and grandfathers who read Darkened Glass Reflections. I would also like to extend that to the other father figures, especially those who are role models to young people who do not have an abiding relationship with their father. Sadly, there are too many fatherless children out there who need that support and guidance. To quote a few noted people from different ideological perspectives:

“Most American children suffer too much mother and too little father” (Gloria Steinem).
“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father” (Pope John XXIII).
“We need to restore fatherhood to its rightful place of honor” (James Dobson and Gary L. Bauer).

from “The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations,” compiled by Mark Water (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000).


Fathers: God has called us to an important ministry. We are called to disciple the next generation: to train our children in the way they should go so that, when they are old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Real fatherhood does not end at conception. It lasts a lifetime. It demands presence, persistence, perceptiveness, and patience. We need to treat fatherhood as a priority, not merely as something we squeeze in after work is done and the sporting events on TV are over. Our ministry as fatherhood has an impact for generations. As Jean Paul Richter said, “What a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but will be heard by posterity.”

I would like to dedicate this post to the memory of my father, Dennis Lynch, who passed away when I was 28 years old. We had some difficult times, but the last 12 years of his life were a testimony to the power of a changed life and the rewards of redeeming your time. His funeral was standing-room-only, not because he held political office or ran a prosperous corporation. He had simply touched numerous lives and was an inspiration to many. (A few of his friends from Alcoholics Anonymous told me “Your father saved my life” at his wake.) During his last years, he showed me that true significance is not measured by money or titles, but by the positive influence in the lives of others. Even if you have made mistakes in life and family, make the best of whatever opportunities you have now. Your past does not have to define your future; it can provide the lessons to make the best of your present and future.

I would like to hear from you. What encouragement or advice would you have for fathers? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Character and Values, Christian Life, Family, Holidays | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Sacrifices of Praise

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (First Thessalonians 5:16-18; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

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Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Praise God in all circumstances. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have heard these words of counsel. Maybe you have given this advice to others. It sounds like a few simple steps to become a spiritual giant.

That is not how Paul meant it. This was not advice for prosperous people with great health, social standing, high-paying jobs, and a comfortable lifestyle. This was written for people facing persecution. Some Thessalonians probably wondered if God had abandoned them. These were the people whom Paul urged to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in every circumstance.

The Thessalonian church had a brief but colorful history before Paul wrote his two letters to it. It was formed when Paul visited the city, with his partner Silas, on his second missionary journey. Not long before, they had been imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40). Their ministry in Thessalonica got off to a good start: Paul preached in the local synagogue, and several people received the good news. Soon thereafter, though, persecution broke out against the young church, and the new Christians persuaded Paul and Silas to flee for their lives to Berea (Acts 17:1-10).

The church continued to grow, but persecution continued. Furthermore, false teaching arose in the church as some preachers claimed that the second coming of Jesus had already occurred. Some scholars think they were teaching that Jesus was not literally coming back and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was His “second coming.” It would be easy to lose heart.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Even when times are hard. Even when you are suffering. Even when tempted to think God has forgotten about you. Do not give up.

I recently published my wife’s healing testimony on this site. In that, she shared how she had developed a habit of “memorizing scripture about healing, spending time praising God, thanking Him, and praying.” While her church was having a prayer meeting devoted to her healing, she was at home “worshipping and praying while listening to praise music.”

We might be tempted to think that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is a message to act upon when life is going well. That is not correct. It is easy to be happy when life is going well; rejoicing takes effort when sickness controls your life. It is easy to pray regularly when God seems to be taking care of you; it is difficult when marital difficulties and financial problems linger for years. It is easy to give thanks when your refrigerator and bank account are overflowing; it takes a lot of effort when you do not know how you will get your next meal or feed your children.

A statue of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not give in to despair or depression, but He prayed fervently during the hardest night of His life. Statue at the Malvern Retreat House, Malvern, PA. Photo by Michael E. Lynch.

Yet, this is when 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 becomes a power passage. This is when it becomes spiritual warfare. The real blessing and real spiritual power are when we follow these instructions when our circumstances and emotions tell us it is time to quit.

There are times when it is easy to get angry at God. Do not deny it. If you are angry, tell Him so. Feel free to yell at Him. Tell Him how furious you are. Tell Him how you really feel. Be honest. Be brutal. God knows how you feel. In fact, the Book of Psalms has several prayers/songs that are perfect for times like this. David and the other writers did not avoid expressing their anger, fear, or dismay in their songs and prayers. Jesus quoted Psalm 22 on the cross when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). He probably recited the entire psalm, including its expression of faith at the end (Psalm 22:25-31). When we bring our burdens to God—even when we think He is the burden—He takes our cares from us and brings comfort, hope, and healing.

No matter what happens, do not avoid Him. No matter how angry you are, God is big enough to handle it. He is also merciful enough to forgive you.

When your life hits bottom, it may be at that point that you will realize that God is all you have to hold onto. No matter what you are going through, hold onto Him with all that is within you. He will hold onto you with all of His power.

Rejoice always, and soon your joy will not just be an act of the will; it will be genuine and unstoppable. Pray without ceasing, and eventually, it will flow as you see God turning your life around. In everything give thanks: Before you know it, you may realize that you have had reasons to be thankful all along.

Scripture often urges us to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15; Psalm 50:23). Sacrifices can hurt. True faith worships God not only when it is easy, but even more so when it is a sacrifice—when we choose to worship God when it would be easier to ignore Him.

I would like to hear from you. How do you worship God in hard times? What helps you to worship Him when it is not easy to do so? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life, Spiritual disciplines | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Righteousness, Rights, and Hard Times

“For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:37–38; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Image created using the YouVersion Bible app.

When faith is genuine, it governs our lives. When we have true faith, God’s righteousness will grow in us. We will live by God’s standards of righteousness and justice.

While Christians should be eager to see God’s justice manifested, we cannot afford to make our rights our top priority. Americans stand up for our rights. However, God calls us to do what is right, no matter what. Sometimes, we may need to place God’s glory ahead of our rights.

This is one of the main themes of the letter to the Hebrews. The original readers were presumably Jewish converts to Christianity. When persecution hit, some were tempted to return to Judaism. Returning to their former, more “acceptable,” faith offered a better chance of keeping their homes, jobs, possessions, etc., instead of suffering persecution. The author (probably not Paul, but one of his ministry partners or companions) urged them to remain faithful to Jesus. The rewards of everlasting life are far greater than any earthly possessions or privileges.

“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one” (Hebrews 10:32–34).

The early Christians did not expect “your best life now.” While Jesus had promised innumerable blessings to His followers, He said they would not come cheaply. The Christian life begins with repentance. It leads to self-sacrifice. Suffering frequently follows.

“Peter began to say to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You.’ Jesus said, Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first’” (Mark 10:28–31, emphasis added).

How do we measure up? The COVID pandemic has shown how weak we are. People thought some of the restrictions—including mask requirements—were the mark of the beast. Many ranted that we are approaching the Great Tribulation because officials urged us to wear masks in public for the past year and to get a vaccine. Jesus told us that there would be great tribulation in the end times, “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matthew 24:21). COVID-related restrictions are minor compared to the suffering of Jews in Nazi Germany, Black slaves in the pre-Civil-War south, or countless other oppressed people throughout history. The restrictions of the past 15 months do not qualify as signs of the end times.

The original readers of Hebrews showed us how to respond to difficult times. They joyfully accepted the loss of their property. If they were not the direct victims of reproaches and tribulations, they stood by their brothers and sisters who were. Instead of cowering in fear, they stood with their brethren. When trials came, they accepted them.

Christians today must learn again how to sacrifice. We must learn how to endure trials and tribulations and how to identify and sympathize with those who are suffering persecution or injustice. We should be ready to speak out for justice for all, but we must also be courageous enough to face persecution without a spirit of self-righteousness, rebellion, bitterness, or revenge.

We do not prove our faith by twisting Scriptures to explain why we should be comfortable. Faith is validated when we persevere during trials, tribulations, and persecution. We do not prove our faith when life is easy, claim our blessings, attend church, post Bible verses online, or celebrate our comforts. We show our faith when we remain faithful to God despite hardship.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). If we grow discouraged or turn our backs on Him when things get tough, we do not have faith. The readers of Hebrews were tempted to give up—they had not done so yet—under pressures that would have destroyed most American Christians.

Are we strong enough to stand firm in Christ? Can we follow the example the writer of Hebrews sets before us? If not, what can we do to grow in true faith that can withstand hardship?

I would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life, Christians and Culture, God's Moral Attributes, God's Nature and Personality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Wife’s Healing Testimony

The following testimony was written by my wife, Joyce Lynch, thanking God for a miracle of healing 30 years ago today.

My healing testimony from 30 years ago today:

After living a healthy life for 22 years, I became sick one day in June 1986 with what seemed to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was working at a job I liked for one year after graduating from Evangel University before my life suddenly changed dramatically. I began to suffer intense migraine-like headaches daily with debilitating weakness unlike any I had ever known.

My arms and legs felt like very heavy lead weights, making it difficult for me to walk and reducing me to baby steps. The more I tried to exercise or live a normal routine, the more I experienced setbacks, which dragged my body even further down. After a year, it became too much of a grueling effort to commute to my job in Manhattan.

My family and my church at that time (Bethlehem Church, Richmond Hill, NY) constantly lifted my name up in prayer. I felt encouragement instead of true despair. I just knew deep inside that God was with me and would somehow meet my needs. However, days stretched into weeks and even years. At times, I would improve only to relapse. Doctors had no answer for me, with some of their experimental treatments leaving me with stomach issues that worsened me, even causing severe weight loss.

Four years after this began, I experienced yet another setback where I was in bed for many weeks. I had already started memorizing scripture about healing, spending time praising God, thanking Him, and praying. People called and visited with words of encouragement from the Bible. My pastor, Steve Montag, prophesied one night in a church service that I would be healed. He also felt led to have a day of prayer and fasting specifically for my healing.

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On June 5, 1991, the church opened at 6:00 am, so people could come throughout the day to pray. That evening’s Wednesday night service was designated a prayer meeting specifically for my healing. I was at home seeking God for a miracle, even though I didn’t know what to expect. I was worshipping and praying while listening to praise music, especially the song “I Am the God that Healeth Thee.”

Shortly afterwards, when I got off the couch where I was lying, I felt a change in my body. The heavy weights in my arms and legs felt a little lighter. My walking felt a little more buoyant. Usually, at night, I always felt more tired and never experienced an increase in energy. This was truly a miracle. I was immediately healed of a condition for which the doctors had no answers.

Over time, I slowly regained more strength, my headaches diminished, and the stomach pain lessened. I never again experienced those devastating setbacks where I could barely walk. I still faced some days that were difficult, but my overall progress went steadily upward. I returned to work part time and now work as a teacher aide with special needs kids. I also married a wonderful man, Michael Lynch, on May 20, 2000 and became stepmother to Daniel and now grandmother to his kids.

I praise Jesus for healing me and showing me that He is in control. When Jesus died for our sins on the cross, He also died for our healing (Isaiah 53:5). He is the God of the impossible!

Copyright © 2021 Joyce E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Christian Life | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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