Dean Bruer - Lighthouses - Pukekohe, Washington State, USA - December 21, 2007


The keepers of the light, who day by day
Wipe clean the lamp, that it will clear display
Trim back the wick, so that it will burn bright
Then add the oil, enough to burn all night.

'Tis not their lot to turn the helms of ships
Nor change the tide, or stop the wind that whips
Their portion is that precious light to tend
And o'er and o'er a constant message send.

The Keepers of the Light, at eventide,
Kindle the flame, which shall in darkness guide
The Mariners who ply the treach'rous sea
Oft peering in the dark, so anxiously.

That steady beam which says the 'Someone cares,'
Makes even hardened seamen offer prayers,
That still upon the earth are such as these,
Concerned to help them safely cross the seas.

The Keepers of the Light in midnight dress,
They know not who is watching, far or near;
Nor can they see some weary seaman weep
When lost at sea, A glimpse! A bearing reap!

These faithful souls, whose vigil in the night
Steadfast to send a beacon of strong light;
It matters not how fierce the storm and gale,
They purpose true...

James 1:2, John 8:12, Matthew 5:16

Light is something that is hard to describe and difficult to define. This afternoon, for the sake of illustration, we would like to share about light-houses and also about the keepers of the light and try to draw some parallels. Also the keepers of the light and their responsibilities and privileges. There are some wonderful privileges, but also some responsibilities.

Before I was in this ministry, there was a period of time I worked on ships on the West Coast of USA and Canada and Alaska as we serviced their towns and villages along the coast with supplies. With voyages up and down the coast, there were a number of light-houses. Those light-houses came to be to us as dear friends, as faithful friends. We knew their names, where they were, and as we would travel along and especially at night, we would, in anticipation, be looking for where the light-houses would appear and it was reassuring and a joy and comfort in and we would pass on by and see it no more. Our anticipation would be traveling to the next light-house and in anticipation be up watching to see it. It wasn’t so often that we saw the keepers of the lights. It wasn’t so necessary that we saw keepers, it was necessary that we saw the light. Those light-house keepers, they were friendly folk and sometimes in the daytime they would be out and they would wave and maybe they were lonely in their setting and there was some comradeship and we would wave back, and there was something nice about it.

Sometimes light-houses were painted with scenes of the day but the greatest work was done in the dark and stormy nights. I appreciated what Paul wrote valuing the light of the life of Christ. Paul had the same feeling that the light was seen. Philemon 1:20-21, "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 1 Timonthy 1:19, "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."

Having worked in the sea, I have some close friends that we had some good times with that experienced shipwreck. Some of them were rescued and some were not and they went down and drowned in the depths of the ocean and their bodies were not to be recovered. And also spiritually we have some very good friends that were close and we enjoyed experiences and fellowship with and it seems that they have experienced shipwreck. Some of them have been rescued. Some of them have not. So it is a very serious subject to me and we know as time and life goes on that there still will be some shipwrecks. Some will be drowned and some will be rescued.

So very serious. We know even with the light-houses there are shipwrecks, but we also know that without them there would have been countless more. Even with the lights of the Lord’s servants and people there are some shipwrecks spiritually, but we do know that without them there would be countless more. Light-houses give out the silent message, "someone cares." Someone cares that you have a prosperous voyage. Someone cares that you have a safe arrival at your destination. Someone cares. There have been hardened coarse seamen that have been looking in the darkness for the light and direction around a reef, and they have seen a little glimpse of the flickering light and those seasoned coarse seamen have been known to have a tear that someone cares enough to keep a light burning.

There is an inscription on one light-house which says "to give light is to save life." In the kingdom, we could say to give light is to save souls. The life of a soul far exceeds that which is human. A motto of USA light-house keepers is "the light must never fail." No matter how dark the night, or the severity and length of the storm, the light must never fail.

The characteristics of the light-houses are the same in all parts of the world. South Africa as in USA, Arctic as in NZ, and Europe as in Asia. Those light-houses are the same. They would give the same message to vessel as a row boat, to a fishing boat with one man in it as an ocean liner with many people in it. They are impartial in their message, and they do not change at all when others are going by. They must be built with a strong foundation.

They are often placed where there are the strongest winds and they have to be placed where there are roaring winds and tides. There is a picture on the wall in the house there of tremendous wave coming into the side of the light-house and the power, but with a good foundation it is okay to withstand that wave and to withstand three, or four, or five. It is important that the light-house has a strong foundation so that it can withstand not one storm, but many storms. But what about thousands of these waves for years and perhaps centuries?

There must be that good foundation, and God’s people need a good foundation and there must be that solid foundation and down to the rock (Christ) because of the waves that may come and sometimes where God’s servants are, they are subjected to the changing tides. A light house does not shine because someone is watching it, but because someone may be watching it. We do not know who is watching our lives and so we want to keep faithful and constant.

Some of our friends had lived in an area for quite a while and they had some near neighbours for some years and eventually those neighbours came and asked them what they believed and went to some Gospel meetings and professed. Those people said, "We saw your life for many years, but we did not value it until we were in a dark and stormy experience of our own." Sometimes life is dark, stormy experiences, and that is when people value those who are constant and those who are true and those who are faithful in their place.

There are identifying characteristics for each light. When you are out at sea and I see the light-house, I see the flash, and using your watch, you can time it. If you do not know which one it is, our Government has a publication or a map giving all the identifying cadences of every light. Some light-houses flash three times a minute. Some may be six times a minute, and some might have an alternate flash with a colour and there are some special characteristics. We like to think of the scriptures and the authority of the scriptures, and it is like the final publication of Heaven.

There are some identifying characteristics to the New Testament Ministry. A few years ago we were visiting with a man and he knew the scriptures quite well and he brought up Matthew 10. And then he said, "Now I can begin to understand that Chapter. I have never seen anything I could relate to that Chapter to regarding the Ministry, but now I can begin to understand that chapter and the identifying characteristics concerning this ministry of selling all and going forth in faith, two together." We have the authority of Heaven regarding that.

That is how it should be, and then going on as far as the elders and their wives, we can have some identifying characteristics – Matthew 10, Mark 10, Romans 10, 1 Timonthy 3 and Titus, 1 Philemon and also 20 Acts. In an elders meeting, Paul had there for the elders from Ephesus. Vigilant, sober, good behaviour, given to hospitality, some of the identifying characteristics of different elders and their wives. And each and every disciple we can read of different characteristics. Have to do with serving and love, and forgiveness.

Identifying characteristics of the Child of God. It is possible to have a chart and be completely lost. It is possible to have a Bible and be completely lost. Wonderful feeling and experience when you are at sea and what you see begins to line up with the chart – a wonderful feeling and experience when what we see and we know in the Lord’s servants and people lines up with the scriptures and the joy in that.

If you have had a tour of a light-house, there will be a date that is mentioned on a plaque or something and it is the date when that light-house was lit for the first time and the light-house was commissioned. There is a lot of planning in the building and what happened afterwards. But there is a significant day when the lamp was lit and the light was commissioned. There was a lot planned as far as our testimony and there is a lot happened and there is a day that you ask is a special day, a daylight day. September 9, 1966 and to me that day with trembling knees I stood to my feet and I am grateful for what God entrusted to me at that time.

I was thinking of a light-house we went to visit. The main keeper there, there was just something about him that was appealing because that light was his life. He would take us up to the light and describe things about the prism and reflectors and that light was his life and then he would show us different other things regarding the buildings and grounds but everything about the grounds and buildings and light so influenced everything, and it was his life. Wonderful when we, as the keeper of the light, there is just something associated with the light and everything is done with decency and order. This means more to us than our life.

Thinking a little bit about marks of the keepers of the light. First of all, we mentioned about a wonderful keeper of the light. John the Baptist was not the theme, but the message to bring Jesus Christ the Lord of Life was the theme of his message. He must increase and I must decrease. John was not so anxious that he was seen, but Jesus the Light of man. John said, "I am the voice crying in the wilderness." There was a testimony of other people about Jesus in John 10. The people said of John that all things that John spoke of this man was true. That was a tremendous testimony. Things that John spoke of Jesus were true. That is a testimony we might have as the Lord’s children and maybe the Lord’s people do too. Wonderful if we could come into the community and if we lived everything like Jesus and everything we say about Jesus is true. It gets better what Jesus said about John 5:35. Jesus said about John: he was a burning and shining light. John was not a dim and flickering flame. He had angered Herod and Herodias, but the fact that they had him put to death didn’t alter their own adulterous union.

A light must never fail. There was a keeper in one place before electricity, and the lights needed daily attention and they blew out in a tremendous storm. The waves beat and the rain tumbled down in torrents and the keeper looked out from his quarters where he could see the light and it was out and the rain was coming down in torrents and he said to himself, "Whoever would be so foolish to be out at sea in a storm like this?" And he waited a little bit for the storm to subside and attend to the light and he rolled over and he was warm and comfortable.

A few hours passed, day was breaking and he hastened up to attend to the light so it would be lit again and he looked down and there was a fishing boat capsized on the reef and he knew the reason why and he went on down to see what had transpired and to see if he could help. As he got closer, there was a body that had drifted up to the shore and he rolled the body over and looked down on the face of his son. On the night the son needed his father’s light more than ever before and he was trusting on it and, when he needed it in all desperation, his father failed him. The father could get the light going again. Parents do not fail your children in the changing seas. Do not let the lights go out as you get older and things could be more difficult. Your children are trusting and relying on the stormy experiences in life. By the grace of God let Him get it going again, but what about the future for you and experiences and for others? The keeping of the light was a daily thing.

I was enjoying thinking in the tabernacle it was a daily service. One of the tactics of pirates when they worked the high seas was that they would go and overpower the lighthouse keeper, put out the light, and just wait. A boat would come along and just wait for the shipwreck and they would plunder them. Satan knows that he could put out the light. He could wreck havoc on others, also

I was appreciating the candlestick in Leviticus 24:2, "Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually." Exodus 27:20, "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." That was a part of the daily service. We know that regarding the tabernacle and temple there were things regarding the weekly and daily and annual sacrifice. In our service to God, there are things weekly, daily, and annually. We like to be faithful in and each and every one of them.

This matter of the light had to do with the daily service. This matter of keeping the light lit is part of our daily service. It says olive oil. I appreciated that. Some have mentioned that olive oil is something that doesn’t smoke. I cannot be certain about that. When we were in areas that didn’t have electric light in different parts of the far North, we would use lanterns that is what I am more familiar with, gas and kerosene. It was a daily thing.

It wasn’t too long before I realized it is not just enough to add the oil – it began to smoke and smoked more and more. You have to trim the wick. Sometimes it would smoke and smoke more and cause your eyes to water and it was hindering our vision. It would need to have the wick trimming back – the wick of self. If we do not trim back the wick of self, it will smoke more and more. We can be hindering others and obscuring their vision. We must do it, trim back the wick of self.

Another story:

In Hawaii, there were some drums of oil and they were still using oil and somehow the drum caught fire and it was close to the other drums of oil and not too far from the building. The keeper of the light, he knew if it contacted the other barrels they would all go on fire and he knocked the barrel down and he pushed it over the bluff and it went on down and ended in the ocean and the flames went out. And in the process the other barrels of oil and the light house had been saved and the light did not fail. He was quite badly burned. There are some fires that are like that, they can put out the light. There is vital fire and fatal fire.

2 Timonthy 4:10, "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica." He seemed at one time to have been a faithful brother. Some fatal fire overtook the vital fire and he loved this present world. The love of the world is a fatal fire.

2 Timonthy 3:2-5, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." The love of self is a fatal fire. Love of pleasure is a fatal fire. If the love of pleasure increases and is uncontrolled, it will destroy the fire of the light and life of Christ.

2 Timonthy 3:6, "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." The love of money is a fatal fire.

What kind of a light keeper are we? Let us come back to Hawaii. On the large Island, there is a volcano island and the volcano goes off from time to time and the red lava coming down the side of the mountain and getting closer and closer to the ocean and it was on track to bury the Capello light house. But for that light-house keeper, that light was his life. They realized the lava was coming and he refused to be lifted off by helicopter or to go by boat.

They said, "If you do not get off the Island, your escape route would be gone." The lava kept coming closer and closer to the light-house and they said they would understand if he changed his mind and he listened to them, and considered the consequences, but the light was his life and he was going to attend to it until the end and that was his decision. Philemon 1:20, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."

That molten volcano poured lava on both sides of the light-house, but the lighthouse keeper knew that some would be wondering, and depending on that light. Amazingly it went around both sides and it was not destroyed. He valued the light more than his life. What means more to you? Is it human life or divine light and love of Christ? All that is of Christ will mean more to us than the human life. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." The light must never fail.