Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria.

In 1917, a convention was called in Petrograd, Russia. That city today is Saint Petersburg. It’s the second-largest city in Russia. This convention was for the gathering of orthodox priests from all over Russia.

And gathered they did. More than 100 million people came together to worship in the name of Jesus most Sundays in the grand edifices across Russia. So much so, that they nicknamed Russia, “Holy Russia.”

The first two days of this particular convention in Petrograd, the priest discussed the liturgy of their faith. Orthodox services are filled with liturgy rooted in God’s word. They agreed on any adjustment that needed to be made to the wording. The priest also discussed the color of their vestments worn for different seasons and occasions. Colors, icons and pictures are a significant part of orthodox Christianity. They wanted to be unified in their service as priests.

However, while these priests were meeting, another group of radicals were meeting just six blocks away. They were known as the Bolsheviks.

They were preparing to call their fellow citizens to a different form of government that would dismiss God’s name and ways from public life.

They succeeded in their mission in 1918. And they continued in that mission successfully in many other nations of the world during the last century.

That’s a sobering story and one we should take to heart. We’ve seen darkness invade our nation, but God’s promise is that his light can overcome.

Paul tells us, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Wake up means to emerge from a state where we are present but not present.

God needs His church to be fully present. He needs us to stand against what brings bondage and stand for what brings blessing to our world. Paul gives us three ways to do that.

Live carefully

“Be very careful, then, how you live,” Ephesians 5:15.

God’s people are called, not just to learn his values and truth but to live them. What are we allowing our hearts to love and our eyes to look at? Are we filling our spirit with his presence or doubt, fear, worry or pleasure? God has given us wonderful churches not to entertain but to equip us to be light to our world.

Live wisely

“... not as unwise but as wise,” Ephesians 5:15.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Proverbs says when we get God’s wisdom, we love life. The most important thing we do is find and follow God’s wisdom, and then model and help others find it too, so they experience the abundant life God has.

Live purposefully

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:17-18.

Living under the influence of the Holy Spirit enables us to live out our personal purpose, and leads to a destiny greater than what we’d imagine. He gives us his plan and the power to carry it out.

Let’s be at our best as his church and help each other shine on.

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Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit myffc.com.

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