Posted on September 28th, 2013

Just got back from the funeral service of a 'too young' man whose grandmother has worked in our community food pantry for years. It has been a beautiful, warm, September Saturday and a very busy one. We have a volunteer paint crew painting the front of our downtown thrift store and a group of young people doing community service projects with my wife and youth pastor in other parts of the city.

I have been back and forth between the groups, encouraging, helping and also dreading the fact that I have to break away to attend yet another memorial service of a young man shot to death before he really had a chance to live his life. He was one of three killed in a local club shoot out a few nights ago. I believe this is the second killing at this club since June of this year and they may lose their liquor license over it. That doesn't help the families who are burying their young this week, but perhaps it will keep it from happening there again.
We all know from experience that closing clubs or taking away licenses is not the answer to the escalating violence we have witnessed in our area. Young people are searching for their place in society (some do not even see a place for themselves) with whatever tools, or lack of same, they have at their disposal. When you see a life without hope for yourself, the future holds nothing for you and life becomes cheap and expendable. Watchman Nee, a Christian writer and martyr from the early 20th century said, “The answer to all your problems is more of Jesus.” You may view that as overly simplistic, but I believe at its core it is absolutely correct. But I need to leave that discussion for another time or this blog will turn into a book.
The funeral was at a small black Baptist church just outside of town and I wanted to show support to those who were grieving, especially to the grandmother who spends a good part of her life doing for others. I arrived on time and found that I had to go about a quarter mile away just to find parking. There were still about a hundred people outside in front of the church waiting to get in. One of the elders poked his head outside and announced to us, “We are profusely sorry but we have no more room for anybody to come in, so we are closing the doors and starting the service.” The crowd was obviously disappointed but everyone understood and acted accordingly.
What really struck me that day were the contrasts, yet familiarity I felt. The group of city kids we were mentoring and doing community projects with were only a few years younger than the ones who were killed. These kids in our Vertical Youth Impact program were painting in a renovated city park, picking up trash on abandoned city lots, laughing, eating pizza and just full of life. On the other hand these young people who were killed came from the same area with the same set of obstacles and hardships. The big difference may be that our kids are working with consistent mentors who love, challenge and encourage them. The Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization took a survey and found that kids who grow up in poverty or difficult family situations do remarkably better in life if they just receive mentoring for one hour, once a week for one year.
There are civic and pastor’s groups in our city meeting together to find ways to curb the violence and that is needed and we are behind it. But when the meetings are ended, the reporters are gone home and the janitor turns the lights out and locks the doors we need to know that we are doing something meaningful to change the situation. For us, even though it’s not an overnight solution and does not sound sexy for the news shows or tabloids, it is this; the steady, everyday mentoring programs that reach kids while they are young and teach them good character, purpose, integrity and that they have a future hope. That is what will win the day. This violence did not happen overnight and it is a many pronged problem, but we have to be diligent and work toward the long view.
Hope lighthouse Ministries has been in Muskegon Heights nearly 18 years. We have a mentoring program for kids from 8 to 17 years old which has just moved to Wednesday nights from 7 to 8:30 pm. This year (2013) we are working with Muskegon Heights public school alumni association and middle school teachers to open an after school tutoring program in October, at our building a half block from the school and will include crafts and games. This will be our Vertical Youth After School Program and will give kids a safe place to go after school Monday thru Friday.
There is no funding available for this program from the schools or the city so if you would like to sow into this project please make out checks to Hope Lighthouse and put in the memo, “after school program.” We also need volunteers who like to work with kids and are willing to have a back-ground check done by us. You can volunteer for as much or as little time as you like. Call 231-737-HOPE (4673)
Thank you,
Doug Malear
Hope Lighthouse Ministries
2731 Peck St.
Muskegon Heights, MI 49444

by Doug Malear on February 27th, 2012

Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” NKJ

Is there “life” before death? Anyone who believes in eternal life or the “hear-after” will tell you there is life after death. The Apostle Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and the Bible teaches that after this earthly life we will live forever in eternity. But, what about before we leave this life, “Is there life before death,” or are we just born, follow some predestined routine and then die? Are we just puppets, playing out a predetermined destiny that we have no real control over? Are we just waiting, with our heads in the sand, to get through this life, not really living it? I want something a bit more meaningful than that in this life and I believe the Lord expects more than that from us. I want to truly live a life that matters, a more abundant life.

I think many people are going through this life looking life-like, but not really engaged, and not living the life of abundance Jesus offers. Jesus said He came to give, not only life, but life more abundant. The original Greek for the word abundantly in John 10:10 is Per-is-sos’ and it means; exceeding some number or measure or rank or need …. over and above, more than is necessary ….. something further, more superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon …. more remarkable, more excellent.
He uses this full and lengthly description to impress upon us that He wants us to live life fully invested and fully alive in this world. He wants us to live life out-loud, without fear, and fully embracing all that He has for us here, as well as in the life to come. We may know that there is life after death, but Jesus desires us to experience life more abundant before death.

In the movie Braveheart, actor Mel Gibson plays the part of the 14th century, historical, Scottish hero, William Wallace. A well publicized line in the movie is; “All men die; few men ever really live.” William Wallace lived during a time of civil unrest in Scotland. After John Balliol, who held the throne of Scotland for a brief time, relinquished his kingship, Edward I, of England, had control of Scotland and ruled over the Scots with a heavy hand. Wallace rallied his countrymen and inspired them to fight for their freedom, and even give their very life for it. He himself was executed in 1305, but he lived life to the fullest by giving himself fully to standing up for his beliefs. I wonder how many of us are actually living our lives to the fullest, that is, to the point that we are willing to die reaching for that abundant life.

Every morning when the sun comes up on the African plain, a gazelle wakes up, and it knows that to survive today, it must run faster than the fastest lion. Also, every morning when the sun comes up on the African plain a lion wakes up, and it knows that to survive this day, it must run faster than the slowest gazelle. So whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun comes up you’d better be running. The point is that whatever our place or position in life, we need to be fully engaged participants to survive and flourish.

Jesus said in John 10:10, in the first part of that scripture, that the thief (satan) has come to steal, kill and destroy. He comes to convince us that we cannot live a victorious abundant life in Christ, by stealing our inheritance, killing our dreams and destroying our spirit. We live in a fallen world full of temptation, sin, tragedy and man’s inhumanity to man. We, as Christians, should be living victorious, exciting and challenging lives, holding back the enemy with one hand and building the kingdom of God (soul by soul) with the other hand.

Believers have been given a number of mandates in the Bible to live full and exciting lives. We’re told in Jude 23 to snatch others out of the fire; in Matthew 10 to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves ; in Luke 9 to take power and authority over all demons and cure diseases; In Acts 1:8 to receive Holy Ghost power to be global witnesses for Jesus; in Romans 8 to be more than conquerors; in Philippians 3 to rejoice in the Lord always; in Colossians 3to set our minds on things above; in Titus 2 to say no to ungodliness; in James 1to count it all joy in trials and tribulations; in 2 Peter 1to be partakers of His divine nature; in 1 John 4to love one another; and in Revelation 2 to be over-comers. The devil will lie to you and say you have no life, but the Bible tells you that all the promises of God [to you] are yes and amen (so be it).

Is there life before death? It depends on whether you’re living or just existing.

by Doug Malear on April 22nd, 2011


The book of Matthew, in the Bible, tells a story of ten virgins in chapter 25, verses one through thirteen. Five of them were wise because they had brought enough oil to keep their lamps burning. Five of them were foolish (procrastinators) because they did not come prepared for the Lord’s coming by having enough oil for their lamps. So, when their Lord does come, we read in verses 10, 11 & 12, “ …… and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us! But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “

The following story is a true illustration of my own procrastination in the early years of my marriage.

Once again, as in years past at Christmas time, I waited to the last moment to buy something special for my wife. One year I had really messed up. I waited until Christmas Eve to go out and find something, not having any ideal what I was looking for. I ended up at one of those cut-rate, carry-all, never closed marts, like E Z Mart or J Mart or something. It was about the only place I could find still open.

Most everything was picked over so I went to the lingerie section. The thing that seemed most appropriate, at the time, was a brown cotton night gown with acorns printed all over it. My wife and I still laugh, although uneasily, about that night gown to this day.

A couple years later here I was again, last minute shopping. But this year I was not worried. Weeks before Christmas, my wife had given me the name of a perfume she really liked. What could be easier? Many of the stores in our local Mall would probably carry it. I mean, what were the odds of them all selling out of the same brand of perfume at the same time? Between them, they must have had many hundreds of bottles of perfume on hand for this major buying season .

The name of the perfume was Cashmere and I learned later that it was very popular that year. You can probably already see the trouble I was heading for. Later on I wrote the following poem for my wife, describing my quest for Cashmere on that Christmas Eve in 2005.

Poem for my Wife

I asked my sweetheart what she longed for
As far as a gift, to her from me
I asked her to search her inner core
To find what that might be

She told me of the fragrance she sought
As a Christmas gift this year
She voiced its name, and it, I caught
The aroma called Cashmere

So I waited till Christmas Eve
And took my quest to the Mall
I tried every store from A to Z
Sears, Penny’s, Yonkers,… All!

But to my amazement no one had it
It was sold out everywhere I went
And it was time for me to quit
For the day was nearly spent

On the way home I had a thought
I mean it became so clear men
Sure enough, there it was bought
At a place called Elder Beermans

I got lucky that night. Since then I have learned to plan my gift buying a little further in advance. I believe that procrastination is the cousin of apathy, and apathy is doing nothing. Edmund Burke, an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain, has been credited for the saying, “For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.”

The Lord told us in His Word that no man knows the day or the hour of his return, but we need to live alert and ready, watching for it as the watchman waits for the morning. Procrastination caused five of the ten virgins to miss the Lord. Stay alert and prepared, if your waiting to the last minute remember this; no one is guaranteed when that last moment will arrive.

by Doug Malear on March 26th, 2011

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.(Philippians 4:11-13 NLT)

Tough times call for tough people. Right? Well, maybe, but I believe there is a qualification that marks truly tough people. They understand where their strength comes from, just as the Psalmist did in Psalm 121:1 & 2 when he said, “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” My help, or my strength, or my toughness, comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s who makes me tough enough to go through tough times.

He gives me the wisdom to know that difficult times have an end. Good times, hard times, exciting times or boring times, they come and go. But they do not go on forever. They are cyclical like the seasons. I know that some places do not have radically different seasons, but in Michigan, we have a Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall that are clearly defined from one another.
There is no question, when the air temperature is 10° and there is three feet of white stuff on the ground, it is winter. When spring comes, the snow melts and buds appear on the branches of trees that have been void of leaves for months. The air is pregnant with new life, possibilities, expectations, and hope. Spring gives way to summer with its warmer temperatures, outside activities, and the cry of young people, “Surf’s up dude.” Well, they don’t actually surf on the Great Lakes (that I know of) but you get the idea - fun in the sun. Then the air begins to cool, the wind picks up, and the leaves on the trees are transformed into beautiful hues of yellows, reds, and browns before they fall to the ground. Again, there is no question, (at least not to native Michiganders) fall is here.

The thing we know for certain about these seasons is that they come every year and they end every year. It would get boring to have one season that never changed. Life is like that also. We live in a world of diversity where times, situations and circumstances are in a constant state of flux. In Michigan, we say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, it’ll change.” So when tough times come, remind yourself, they have come to pass. But the question I want to bring to our attention is, what do you do while you are waiting for it to pass?

First, you cannot do it alone. This is tough, particularly for men who are part of the Baby Boomer Generation. Many of them grew up hearing and watching stories of World War 2 heroes and tough cowboys who could grit their teeth, go it alone, stow their emotion, and win the day. That was reinforced with the John Wayne types on the silver screen. They would rather die than show weakness. When they did die, it was with their boots on! One might ask, “Is that the definition of tough, or is that actually a facade built on a type of weakness?” But that’s a question for another time.

Solomon spoke well in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 4, verses 8 through 12, “This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT)

We all need someone to help us shoulder daily burdens. We were not designed to go it alone. When God made Adam, he was alone. There was no other human for Adam to fellowship with. Then God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (NLT). The first source of help that Christians are to turn to is Jesus. It is He who gives us the strength we need to deal with the diversities of life. He assures us in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Secondly, as we are waiting for trouble to pass, we have to realize that it need not be passive waiting. There is much going on in as we wait. Isaiah 40:29-31 puts it like this, “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (NKJ) Waiting on the Lord is not passive. During those times we should be living life as usual; praying, meditating on God’s Word, helping others, and meeting with believers for fellowship around our common purpose which is to know Jesus and make Him known.

The Story Of The Chinese Bamboo Tree

A man takes a little seed of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, plants it, waters it, and fertilizes it for a whole year, and nothing happens. The second year he waters and fertilizes it and nothing happens. The third year he waters and fertilizes it and nothing happens. How discouraging this becomes!
The fourth year he waters and fertilizes it and, you guessed it, nothing happens. After four years of waiting, and nurturing, and watering, it gets frustrating and seems fruitless. But, if he continues to water and fertilize the seed, sometime during the fifth year, the Chinese Bamboo Tree grows ninety feet in six weeks. As the man who planted the seed waited to see growth, he watered and nurtured that seed. And even though he did not see the growth for a time, the roots were growing deeper and deeper as he waited and watered.
Life can be likened to the growing process of the Chinese bamboo Tree. It is often discouraging. We keep doing things right, and nothing changes. Things may even get tougher. But if we are waiting on the Lord and believing we can do all things through Christ, we realize that tough times don’t last but tough, Jesus people do.

by Doug Malear on March 18th, 2011

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “ONE THING you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21 (NKJ)

February is "Black History Month". Since our church is racially mixed, we celebrate it each year through different presentations throughout the month. One year, the kids from three of our Sunday school classes presented something special on that theme each successive Sunday of the month. And, of course, the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King are always highlighted at some point every year. Rev. King said many profound things and we always have plenty of his quotes on hand. The one that has really stuck with me through much of my life was from a 1964 speech made by King in my home town of Detroit. I don’t have it word for word here, but he said, "If a man doesn't have something worth dying for, it's not worth living." King believed so strongly in equality for all people that he devoted his life to that one important cause and was martyred in his quest for it. Jesus said, "He that gives his life for my sake will find it" (Matt 10:39). Certainly Rev. King was striving for the one overriding thing that Jesus taught believers; that we need to love one another with the love that comes from God.

The point is: that having a focus in life is important. It is beneficial in so many ways; it simplifies our lives, helps us stay on track and even blesses others. It gives purpose to our days by bringing an order to our lives which helps us to function. Do you have something you feel that strongly about, something larger than you? Something that is so important to you that you would give it your all.... your very life?

In the 1991 movie "City Slickers," starring Jack Palance and Billy Crystal, we are once again reminded of finding something, one major thing, in our life, that gives us meaning and purpose. In the movie Billy Crystal and some friends, who all live and work in New York, are going through a mid-life crisis trying to find what is truly important. The daily grind and ‘same old same old’ of their existence has left them craving something new and fresh. They decide to go out West and participate in an authentic cattle drive with real cowboys, in an effort to do something totally opposite of their ordinary, hum-drum, daily routines. But they are from the big city and know nothing of western life.

On their arrival at the cattle ranch they are met by a crusty old cowboy named “Curly” played by actor Jack Palance. He is the epitome of the tough, wind-worn, grizzled, larger than life trail-boss. He and Billy Crystal get off on the wrong foot and Crystal is a bit fearful of him. One day the two of them are riding along next to one another driving the herd and separated from everyone else. Curly looks over at Crystal, with a hand rolled cigarette hanging from his lips and says, “You city fellas arrive here all uptight and stressed out. You think one week out here will work out all your kinks and even reveal the meaning of life to you.” Then he holds up his pointer finger and says, "There's just ONE THING that’s really important in life." Crystal, of course, has been on a personal quest looking for answers to his questions about life; why am I here, what am I created to do, what is important in life? He asks excitedly, "What is it Curly? What is that ONE THING?" Curly chuckles as he draws on his cigarette and replies in a somewhat benevolent tone, "That's what you have to find out."

And so it is. Each one of us has to answer that question for ourselves at some point. "What is so important to me that I'm willing to give my life for it?" The Apostle Paul said, "I am being poured out as a drink offering....." (2 Timothy 4:6). He literally poured his life out in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. That was his ‘Bread & Butter,’ his ‘Meat & Potatoes,’ his life’s calling that he was willing to, and eventually did, give his very life for. At Hope Lighthouse Ministries, we feel so strongly about ministry to the poor, at risk children, the disenfranchised, the addicts and those who just do not fit the "American Dream" that we have given our lives to it since 1996. It's not always pretty; it's not often easy, and there are no over-riding financial benefits. As a matter of fact, my pay is often a few weeks behind. But, it's what we live for, to see people who feel forgotten find love and acceptance. We do that through meeting their practical needs, which models the love of Christ, and gives us credibility to speak to them about their major spiritual need, Jesus Christ.

We have a vision to change the lives of as many people as the Lord will entrust to us in the community we live in, and beyond. Again, we do this by first meeting them where they are at. Then, genuinely caring for their needs while showing them love tempered with dignity, and teaching them that God is no respecter of persons. Someone has said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Then, as always, we point them toward the Savior who beckons. If people can see the real Jesus modeled in us, we have done the “ONE THING” we feel we are called to do. God has given us a mandate to reach the least, the last and the lost with His saving grace. Do you have a burden for hurting people, throw-away children, ex-prisoners, addicts, etc., to know Jesus? These people, when saved, will live changed lives, which will change others, which will change communities, which will change our world.

Martin Luther King had that “ONE THING” in his life that made life worth living. Curly, the old cowboy knew that it was that “ONE THING” that made his life a great fulfilling adventure. What is your “ONE THING?”

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