It's the middle of the night. You're in a dark forest, so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face. There are others. Family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, people you don’t know and some you don’t particularly like. You can't see them, but they are there. And all around you are animals - dangerous, vicious animals that can quickly kill even the strongest, fastest and smartest.

Then someone whispers, Take this. A light is gently placed in the palm of your hand. With this you can find the way that will lead you to safety. You control the beam. Hold the light close and the beam is dim. Only you will be able to see it. Hold the light out and the beam is bright. Others here in the darkness will be able to see you and follow you out. But beware...the animals will be able to see you, too.

How bright will you make the light? Enough for favorite family members and special friends? Maybe a little brighter for those who have been nice to you? What about those you don’t know...have never met...dislike...don't trust? What about the ones who hate you? Or do you choose to hold it close?

Encourage•one•another•encourage•one•another•encourage

In American football, there's a vast array of coaches and players, from the great to the not-so-great to those with the best of intentions. This year I saw two great college players. Both are quarterbacks, exceptional athletes, and leaders on the field. When they enter the game, everything changes. Their teams become more confident, others more cautious. They instill deep loyalty, responsibility, respect and commitment in those who gladly follow them into battle. But that's not what makes them great.

One man, in every game, had a reference to a Bible verse clearly displayed on the black strips below his eyes. For one game he used John 3:16, and the next day 93 MILLION people Googled that verse to see what it said! Throughout his college career he has used his free time to do missionary work, share his faith, and visit those in hospitals, orphanages and prisons. The Governor of Florida once said of Tim Tebow, His impact is more far-reaching than you or I will ever know.

The other is also well known, but hasn't had the same success. Few do. But here's why he's a great man. The last game of the season was extremely emotional and hard fought. When it was finally over, he and his team had suffered a bitter defeat. The TV broadcast showed their fans...sad, angry, shocked...staring at the ground. Then the camera focused on Josh Nesbit. His head was down, too. But he was kneeling – alongside those he played with and those he played against - praying and honoring God.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Romans 1:16 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care." (Psalms 95:6-7)

What makes a person great? Ability or fame? Titles or awards? These are the world's standards, not God's. He looks for something different...the one who loves Him with all his heart, soul, mind and strength...whose life, actions and words show true faith...who is not ashamed to be His child.

This world is like that forest. A light has come and God has placed it in our hands...to share...to make it known...so those lost in the darkness can find the Way to Him. I'll ask again. How bright will you make the light? Does anyone know you have it? Can they see it? Or do you choose to hold it close?

Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:21 Take care and be God's,

Chuck Graham