Monday, July 23, 2007

Excellent article

Wow, a rather postful day this has been...

This story and column are really cool. I love seeing God work, and this is definitely a case of his working.

Sourced: Freed

- Chris

Two thoughts

Two unrelated thoughts that struck me last night:

People's deepest needs are to be loved and to be known - but, more than that, to be loved even though they are known.

And the second:

I don't really feel closer to anyone in particular here. I know some people better, but I feel equally close to everyone. I think that's what Heaven is going to be like: everyone is going to be equally close, just we'll know some people better than others.

God bless you all.

- Chris

Bittersweet The Partings

Two days from now we will have graduation at FFI.

This has been one of the most magnificent summers of my life - probably my favorite so far as I can remember. Incredible fellowship, incredible community, incredible opportunity to serve. It has far surpassed my imagination of what it might be. God has shown up in marvelous ways. His glory radiates in the eyes of those who are here.

Yesterday we shared our testimonies of what God has done in us this summer, and affirmed each other in an incredible way. It was one of the most amazing times I've ever had. There was joy; there was grief. There was a glad sorrow about the time... The sky in our hearts was a mix of blue and white and gray, golden beams streaming down on a late summer afternoon.

I am incredibly excited about the days ahead, about the fruit this time will yield. Yet I am also incredibly melancholy, for I do not want to leave this place. There are many people I am just beginning to know - wonderful people who reflect the beauty and glory of God in remarkable ways - people I want to continue to draw close to, and yet will not, because distance and time will separate us indefinitely. We will remain close in heart, and we will continue to support each other, arms linked across the miles... but we will not be together, and that is a sad thing. I am reminded of something J. R. R. Tolkien wrote regarding the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth - but that rings true of all our partings in this fallen world: "And in all things, now, joy is mingled with sorrow..."

This summer has made me hungry for heaven, when these partings need not come and certainly never need be sorrowful. I long for the day when this great company of warriors - this great cadre of servants - is reunited on the other side in unison, rejoicing at the marvelous works God has done in days between.

I am ready for us to go. The time has come. It would not be good for us to stay here; we must move on, pressing forward with the commission we have been given. But that does not make the parting any less bittersweet; nor does it reduce the melancholy of the moment. I recall my mother mentioning similar sentiments when the time came for me to move out for the first time when I left for Oklahoma two years ago, and I now begin to catch the slightest glimpse of the way she felt in that moment - though I shall never understand, I think, the depth of sorrow that penetrates a mother's heart as her children leave the nest.

I am glad to have been here, though I know not what God's purpose was in these months - I need not know, save that His glory is being served and His desires fulfilled. That is more than enough for me.

I pray His peace be with you all, especially those of you reading this who walk through the same transition. May His glory be the joy and the delight of your heart!

- Chris

Thursday, July 19, 2007

At any moment

We talked about death in class today - about grief and dealing with loss.

That's probably why I was struck so starkly and deeply by my own mortality while out driving tonight (no worries; I'm fine and there were no accidents or any such difficulties). I just found myself confronted by the possibility that I could die at any moment, for any reason. God's will is ultimate, not my plans.

I don't mean to sound morbid. Far from it: I was reminded of the essential nature of our call to live for Christ today, because none of us are promised tomorrow.

I didn't do that today. I will strive to do so tomorrow, and I will fail - but by the grace of God I will come nearer the mark as He perfects me, sanctifies me, remakes me in His own image.

What about you? Are you living for Him right here, right now, in this moment? Are you daring to walk through life as though you may not have tomorrow here on this earth?

Let us be once again respond to the call to a life that is laying down our lives daily!

- Chris

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gospel need

In doing some reading (specifically, in John Piper's excellent Desiring God) I came across some excellent resources for praying for world missions and for increasing awareness. These sites may be familiar to some of you, but I hope they are blessing and encouragement to all.

First is the Joshua Project. It is a listing of all the unreached people groups in the world. It is sobering to realize how unreached much of the world is - and it should compel us to prayer. The state of missions to unreached people groups is something that should bring both deep conviction to our hearts and great excitement. We are quickly closing the gap on reaching every "nation, tribe, and tongue" with the gospel. The task of evangelization will go on after the time when we have penetrated every people group, but there is a desperate need among these people who have never heard, never even had the chance to hear, the gospel. Most of these are in the 10/40 window across Africa and especially Asia, though there are others in the jungles of South America, as well. The Unreached People of the Day on the left side of the blogger version of this post is drawn from the Joshua Project.

Also worth looking at is Mission Frontiers, which has a newsletter with updates on the status of "frontier missions" - that is, missions to those selfsame unreached people. Most statistics agree that less tan 2% of all Christian giving is dedicated to these missions; most of the missionaries in the world today are working in already evangelized people groups. There is great need in those groups, of course - but how much greater a need in the peoples who have never heard the gospel in the least.

These situations ought to break our hearts, motivate us to give, to go, to reach out to those who are deady, dying, lost and without hope. Please at the very least pray for these people... but as a friend recently blogged, don't stop there. Prayerfully consider what you can do, and there are many options. For those who cannot go - because of circumstances, finances, and calling - you can give. There are good organizations out there to give to, organizations dedicated to reaching the unreached. I personally ask you to consider Wycliffe Bible Translators, who are working on translating the gospel into every tongue - and who are dreadfully understaffed and under-resourced.

God be with you all. May His truth go forth in power!

- Chris

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Holy Discontent review

Last weekend I finished reading Bill Hybels' Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision, published this year by Zondervan. Hybels is a fairly well known Christian author, but he is better known as the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The back cover asks, "What is the one aspect of this broken world that, when you see it, touch it, or get near it, you just can't stand? What reality is so troubling that it thrusts you off the couch and into action? This is what Bill Hybels refers to as a holy discontent..."

The book is relatively short, coming in at 149 pages. It is broken into three distinct sections focused respectively on finding one's holy discontent, developing it, and keeping it alive. Hybels begins by introducing the notion of a holy discontent, framing it in the context of his own life and the lives of various others through history, and even bringing in a repeating reference to Popeye the Sailor Man. Each section is broken down further into 3 chapters (the last chapter in the last section being a postscript). Each chapter draws on multiple examples, and most chapters open with tangible examples designed to draw the reader into the rest of the example - be they personal stories, others' testimonies, or simply compelling statistics.

What is it, he asks, that makes you say "Enough"? That, he says, is a holy discontent: a frustration with this world and its brokenness that moves us to action, to engagement. It is holy because it is a discontent spurred on by our vision of God's character and by His heart for this broken world. From there, he elaborates on the history of his notion of holy discontent, and demonstrates how it worked out in various people's lives. After that introduction, he asks the reader to consider what his or her own personal holy discontents are - and if he or she does not know, he gives some concrete ways to look for it. In the second section, he discusses how one can both actively take that discontent and fan it into flame, and how to practically go about doing something with that discontent. In the final section, he deals with the reality of our fallen natures: that we can grow discouraged in the ongoing battle, and presents suggestions of how to deal with that and press on - to keep fighting the good fight.

His style is fairly conversational, and it is clear that he is used to teaching both from the pulpit and in personal conversations. The book is simply written and easy to read, but not in any sense "dumbed down." It is clearly meant to be a quick read for most people, which is good, given his stated purpose of awakening people to action. His manner is engaging, and his examples, while occasionally somewhat silly (his frequent Popeye references, for example) are typically engaging and compelling. Most of his material is drawn from a combination of Scripture, his own experiences, and the experiences of everyday people who have changed the world in sometimes small but always significant ways because of passions that God laid on their hearts and their willingness to follow those passions and obey God's call to do something with them instead of just sitting. His voice is simple but well-organized; he never drifted off topic or got sidetracked by secondary discussions (again, his experience as a teaching pastor reaching out to the unchurched shows through).

The merits of the book are in its cogency, its sense of urgency, and its ease of read and simplicity. The narratives are all coherent, and the book flows neatly from one section into another. The answers Hybels gives are never pat, but drawn from reality and compelling because he acknowledges the difficulty of what he calls people to do. The encouragement of real examples is tangible and effective. Hybels' voice of urgency is a great strength to the book, as well: he clearly and effectively communicates that there are a great many needs, and you are responsible to reach out and make a difference, to exercise your God-given gifts to change this world. At the same time, he avoids sounding shrill or hyperbolic, either of which would have made the book farcical or ridiculous to most readers. The straightforward manner in which he wrote - and the accompanying ease of reading - are a great asset to a book like this, as is the book's brevity. Had he missed either point, he likely would have missed his target audience: those very people in the church who are most in need of a book like this, but unlikely to pick up a lengthy tome speaking in high, theological terms of the need to change the world. At some level, while I occasionally found them annoying, the Popeye moments scattered throughout the text are probably among its greatest strengths, simply because they keep the reading at an accessible level. There were no significant typos or textual errors, something I found extremely refreshing.

I'm going to have a hard time discussing demerits; the book had none that I can think of. It set out to accomplish a particular goal - communicating the need for all Christians to exercise their gifts, talents, and abilities for the good of those around them, and to not be content in their own spheres.

While I did not find the book particularly challenging, that was more a response to the fact that Hybels was hitting on an area in which I've already developed significant convictions: this text was confirmation rather than conviction in my case. For many, that will not be so, and this book will be well worth their time to read. (My other difficulty with the book was my initial impression of it, formed before I had looked at the summary, was that it was about a discontent that pushed us toward holiness, rather than about holy discontent with the state of the world. I had to push through that misconception to fully appreciate the book, but as I did so I found Hybels' work excellent on all levels. Someone else still needs to write the book I thought this was!) I highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn't already have strong convictions about the ways they can change the world; and I recommend it as a good reminder to those who do.

God bless you all, and may your heart abound with grace, peace, and joy from our Father who gives every good and perfect gift, who fills us with everything necessary for life and for godliness.

- Chris

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Various Updates

Some quick (but important) updates, some of which I've referenced but never put up, some of which I don't know that I've mentioned at all.

First, I'll be graduating from Focus on the Family Institute on July 24th, which is both exciting and more than slightly saddening. I have only 10 days left here with these people, in what has truly been the closest and most incredible Christian community I have ever been a part of (and that says something... I have known incredibly close community before; but it has not been like this).

My family and I are going to Yellowstone for several days starting later that week. I'm looking forward to having time with family, to just catch up with everyone in more detail and have one good time together before everything shifts again. Things will be very different by the time we're all together again come Christmas. I'll have gone through another semester of college; my younger sister will have been through her own first semester of college; and my youngest sister will be halfway through her sophomore year of high school by then. We are all growing and changing immensely, and I can see it's hard on my parents. I'm trying to give them more grace, just as they are with me, and I'm trying to encourage my sisters to do so as well. It's much easier to transition from our end than it is from theirs: we are ready to go, and though they are ready for us to go, it's much harder to stop acting the way you have for twenty years than it is to keep walking forward. My parents are doing a good job, overall. They make their mistakes, to be sure - but we are all fallen, and they are seeking God's best in this, which is a blessing.

As a few of you know (but many do not yet), this year is going to look a bit different than expected. I'll be a full R.A. (rather than a SafeWalk) in Walker Center. Specifically, I'll be on Walker 3W. I'm excited about that; I know that God is going to move mightily in the year to come, though I don't know exactly what that looks like. Among other things, that means that I'll have significantly more responsibility on my plate. This will be a challenging semester. That also means that I'll be on the Chris and Laurie Goree's Ministry Team, about which I'm incredibly excited (though I am somewhat saddened I won't be on the Jaques' team again, and that I won't be with the Honors and Cate and Adams people). That has some interesting ramifications... suffice it to say that God has a sense of humor, and one that is extremely ironic.

Last but not least for this set of updates, I want to update some of you who know about my major project (and fill in for the rest of you). Over the course of the last year, there are a lot of ideas and passions God has laid on my heart with regards to the calling of His body. Anyone who reads my blog (be it on blogger, xanga, or facebook) knows that I am incredibly passionate about the gospel and God's glory, and that I am saddened by the state of the American church. God has called me to take the gifting He has given me and the passions and broken-heartedness He has put in me for these areas and from them to create something for His glory. After a great deal of prayer, I have begun working on a book, as yet untitled, calling the American church out of its apathy and to stand and do spiritual battle to advance the gospel as it ought. I have written a detailed outline, an introduction, and drafted the first two chapters. I would greatly appreciate your prayer support. My goal is to finish the first draft of the book (which will probably be about 300 pages long) by Christmas. This is something that is beyond me, that I cannot do in my own strength. I need your support in prayer; and I need the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit for this to be effective. I will post regular short updates here, and I will also be doing e-mail updates. I'll let you know when I start that. I'll also probably post the first chapter here and on my website so that you can all take a look at it and hopefully gain some vision of where my heart is.

Thank you all for your friendship, for your love, for your support. I could not walk without you. Fix your eyes on our Father above, and be in awe of His glory, His greatness, His love, His mercy!

- Chris

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One year and counting

I'm doing better... and worse. Hard to explain. There are things in my heart and on my heart that I'm still working through, wrestling with. I continue to confront wounds and issues I had no idea even existed. I continue to press in to deal with recalcitrant thought and emotion patterns. My heart continues to be in rebellion against God. It is dark and terrible; and I despise the evil I sometimes see lurking in me. Deeper yet is the loathing that rises up in my soul as I realize that the evil I see is not the extent of all that lurks in the depths of my being. Yet, at the same time, I am absolutely assured of the faithfulness of my God, my Savior - the One whose work is far greater than the dark in my heart. Thank you all for your prayers over the past few days (and indeed over the last many months).

As I write, it is very early Wednesday morning (12:02 a.m. as I started writing). That means that it is now July 11. It has been exactly one year since I launched the then-blogspot version of this blog (now blogger, of course). It has been nearly two years since I set out on this journey of blogging. I'm rather amazed, looking back, quite honestly. Very many things have changed in that time. My writing has matured, and I can see now how very far it has to go, especially when I read the incredibly compelling posts that go up at places like Decompose or Job's Tale or AMExpression...

More than that, though, I stand in awe of the kinds of changes God has wrought in me in the last few years, and particularly in the last year. I am humbled by His work in my life, and grateful that He has seen fit to move as He has. It has not always been pleasant or enjoyable - indeed, I would have to say that this past year was largely the least enjoyable year I have had since I was 15 (now that was a bad year). Yet I can also say that it was the year in which I grew most in my relationship to God, in which He transformed me most radically (and perhaps even most dramatically). He stripped me of much that I thought was true of myself, ripped away the layers of falsehood that I had built up to protect myself, and laid bare my soul - and my sin. He forced me to deal with the consequences of the Fall, both in my own heart and in the hearts of those around me. He challenged me immeasurably in every area of my life. And He laid on my heart a vision for my life, a sense of purpose and calling that has never faded, that has grown only stronger. I am incredibly grateful for what this past year has held, though there were times I simply wanted to escape it all. I cannot imagine what my life would be like - indeed, who I would be - without the events of the last year. Have they always been my desire? Not in the least. Have they always been worked ultimately for good? Most certainly.

I often find that it is in these moments of reflection that I see most clearly how God's hand has moved in my life. I am struck by a notion I encountered earlier today in reading for Focus on the Family Institute: Hope is not essentially a function of our looking toward the future, but of our awareness of the past. Hope springs not from a sense of what the future will hold in and of itself, but rather out of a remembering of the past and an expectation that the future, like the past, will ultimately be a good place, though at times a very difficult one - that God will carry the day, no matter how the circumstances may appear. I am filled with a great expectation for all that lies ahead in the months and years that will follow. Why? Not because I know what they will hold, but because I know Him who holds them in His hand.

I am increasingly excited about this year, too: about being an R.A. at the University of Oklahoma; about being more directly involved in ministries on campus; about finishing my book; about pursuing God with a greater passion; about finishing this book that I am making slow but steady progress on; about seeing continued fruit in the lives of the men around me that God has trusted me to disciple. Looking back on how they have grown in the last year humbles me, because I know it had little to do with me and much to do with His power to transform their lives. I know the work God will do in the year ahead will surpass that by more than I can imagine.

In the next few days, I hope to get in reviews of Bill Hybels' Holy Discontent and the new movie Transformers. My best bet is that I will get one of those up by Thursday. I hope to write soon as well of the vision that God has been giving me of my own purpose and calling - of the Scriptures He has painted on my heart and the words and phrases with which He has begun to shape my thought. I do not know the fullness of those yet, but I know that He does, and even the glimpses I now catch fill me with a trembling of great excitement - and great fear before God; I want desperately not to fail at the commission He gives me.

I don't really want to go to work when this afternoon rolls around. I am tired of walking into grayness every time I walk into that store. It is a place that ought to be full of God's life and joy, and instead it is a place of legalism, of religiousness, and of frustration. There have been bright moments, but it saddens me to see what this store is in contrast to what it could be. [God, continue to break my heart at my own hardness, at my own selfishness. Continue, too, to show me how to honor You in this job. Continue to show me how to bring Your life here. I want to see You honored in this as in all of my life. I fall so short, but it is my desire.]

I have only three and a half weeks of summer left. I will return to Oklahoma on the 3rd of August so that I can be ready for R.A. training to begin on the 5th. There is a great sense of anticipation, of joy, at the opportunities I know lie ahead. God is going to move powerfully this semester, though I do not know precisely how yet (of course!). I will likely have nearly 90 young men on my floor (Walker 3W, for those who know), and while that is slightly intimidating, it is also a challenge that stirs my soul to arise in strength and go in the power that God has given me. He reminded me even as I wrote this of His word, that we are not given a spirit of fear (or timidity) - but one of love, power, and of a sound mind: the precise combination necessary to be an effective and Godly R.A. and representative of Christ before these young men and before the world.

I still do not know exactly how God is providing for the remainder of the expenses of FFI, but I know He will. This is a difficult and unpleasant palace to be, but I know He is Lord. It's interesting how much easier it is to believe in His sovereignty in the lives of those around us than our own, at times... how little our faith is. We read Mark 8 this morning for our devotional at the beginning of class. It amazes me how the disciples could think Jesus was worried about a lack of bread when they had just seen some 4000 men (which probably puts the total number at least twice that, likely more) fed with just a few loaves. Yet I see in my own heart the same lack of faith: the same God who paid my bills miraculously this past semester is more than capable of doing so now; but I doubt Him. I cannot begin to express how frustrated I am at my own lack of faith. Like the broken-hearted father of Mark 9, I cry out, "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" I long for my heart to respond with the faith that God deserves, yet it does not. How I yearn for this wretched body of sin to be destroyed, to be finally replaced with a body indestructible and perfected, for my sanctification to be finished and my responses truly holy!

I pray you are all blessed in this day. I go now to fold laundry, and then to study the very words of God. I pray His conviction for you, and His love poured out in your life and through you to those who so desperately need it.

- Chris

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I'm disquieted tonight. I don't really know why. My spirit is simply troubled. I was a bit disturbed at some people's response to an invitation this evening - but that doesn't seem enough to explain a disquietude of this magnitude. I'm frustrated with myself as much as anything, for the simple reason that I don't care for the response of my own heart to the situation; and I'm frustrated that I'm not getting to the root of the issue, whatever it may be.

I think there are a lot of issues here, brought to the surface by that response but not terribly connected to it. Things that were brought up in conversation with Justine the other night. Things that were brought up in conversation with Peggy tonight that stirred up emotions. Things that the pastor at my home church brought up that agitated my thoughts a bit. All of those only tangentially related. All of them relatively low-key; but together making a tangled mess in my mind, a boiling cauldron of emotion.

I want my heart to be steady; I want my mind to be stayed on God alone.

I'm going to go spend a while reading the Word, and then sleep. Hopefully the combination will help.

Peace with you all.

- Chris

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Days flying by

As I write, I am distinctly aware that I have only two and a half weeks remaining at Focus on the Family Institute. This time has passed quickly - too quickly, in many ways. I am somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that our time together will so soon be over. I have never had so excellent a summer as this one; and certainly in comparison with the difficulties of those just past it has been remarkable. The growth that God has wrought in me has been excellent; and the opportunities He has given me to serve Him and those around me have been a great blessing.

In looking back over these last months, at journal entries, blog entries, and just patterns of thoughts, I can see God working. Some things I thought might come to be have not. Some things I thought would not happen have. The reverse is true, as well, of course: much of what I expected has been as expected. And there have been plenty of things I had no idea about that have been more important than those that I did.

If there's a theme for the summer, well, then there are at least two or three.

It's not about me. That's one of the big ones. I'm not here at the Institute for me; I may not even really be here for right now. I'm here to serve, and to be a tool for God and a resource for others. There's nothing terribly special about me - just equipping and training that I've been blessed with so as to serve the body of Christ.

God's glory is worth living for - every moment of every day. It's greater than I can hope to comprehend, yet I must pursue it with all of myself. Over and over again as I have come to God's word, to class, to the reading materials, and to the lives of the people around me, I find myself confronted with this incredible notion: that God's glory is ultimate, that it ought to be the passion of our lives. Communicating this to the people around me has become a driving focus of my life; and I can think of no better way to spend my days than in helping people to recognize God's glory and the greatness not only of His works but of His nature.

[Too often we couch Christianity in terms that are all about us; too often we phrase our definitions of sanctification and God-pursuit as though they center on our own benefit. Certainly our faith affects us, transforms us - but the point is not us; the point is Him. This is not about what He has done - marvelous though that is - but about who He is. What He has done is a reflection of that, a picture that points us to Him, a magnificent and splendid painting of His glorious nature. Even salvation is not about us... a hard pill to stomach in our self-actualizing, independent, individualistic culture, but one that we must take if we are to truly walk this life right. It is about God's glory being revealed; it is about His purposes being accomplished. To our fallen ears, this sounds terribly depressing - but I find that the more I live with Him in mind, understanding the benefit to myself to be of secondary importance, the more beautiful this life is: and even that is itself only a secondary benefit, because He is being glorified.

I have been forced, in wrestling with this, to ask some hard questions. Would I willingly go to hell if it meant the advancement of God's purposes? Do I love Him enough that I want His glory more than I want my own satisfaction? The question is ultimately meaningful not in the sense of telling us something about God - He does not require that of you or I, for that price has already been paid by Him - but about our own hearts. Do we, as Paul, have so strong a desire for the advancement of the gospel that were our own damnation enough to secure salvation for others we would take it? I am not there yet. I want to be. But I am not there yet. I am more concerned about myself than about the ultimate fates and destinies of others; and I am more caught up in my own desires than in the will of God.]

It is not only "okay" but often a good thing not to know what the future holds. I have very little idea what the years ahead hold for me in specific details. Marriage or not, a career in one field or another, graduate school or direct entry into a professional setting... I know nothing of what the future holds for me. I know, however, that God is good, and that I can rest secure in that. A conversation with Dr. Tackett helped solidify my understanding and convictions, born out of many discussions with my parents over the last few years, that God is going to use me in many different ways and places over my life. It will not be even a relatively straight path, but rather zigging and zagging hither and thither so as to accomplish His perfect will. He may have me walk through one door not for the sake of what is through that door but rather so that He may show me another door He wishes me to walk through - one that would have never been opened absent that first choice. (At some level, I feel this is the case even here at the Institute: my being here is for a purpose beyond my being here.) As I increasingly am taught to set my will on the altar and simply seek Him - not His plans, but Him - I am finding myself more and more content. He will show me what I need to know when it is time for me to know; and I will be obedient as I am able when that time comes.

It is now time for me to prepare to go to work. I am still so grateful for God's provision. I am also still learning true gratitude... so very far I have to go.

God bless you all. May His peace cover you today.

- Chris

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Trying something new

This journey into the heart of God, into an understanding of His glory, continues to amaze me, awe me, leave me humbled and without words to express the magnitude of the changes He is working in my mind and in my heart. I am in awe of God. I want to share that. So I'm going to do something a little bit different. Every so often, I'm going to pull from particularly good sessions of studying the Word and share what insights God is giving me. I hope it's a blessing to you!

Monday, July 2, 2007 - Journal Entry
Text: Psalm 29 (drawing on ESV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, and AMP for study)
Glory: His glory demands our holiness. We have to worship Adonai in "holy array," in the "beauty of holiness." Interestingly, that can also be translated as a command to worship God "in majesty." Now majesty is closely tied to glory. In fact, it's frequently found in the same passages, often even in the same sentences, when referring to God. So then holiness and glory are intimately connected, at some level I do not yet understand (see v. 2).

In Hi stemple, everything says "Glory!" All cry it, and all are saying it (various translations). That's a continuous present tense verb, and thus the action is continuous - it's not a singular event. People are constantly calling out "Glory!" in God's temple. Worshipping requires acknowledgment of His glory. Is it possible that worship is simply that? Calling out "Glory!" to Him with everything in us (see v. 9)?

"The glory due His name" would literally be translated as "the glory of His name" (emphasis added). It's already His, it ialready is an attribute of His name. [Your name is glorious? This is beyond me... I ask for understanding and wisdom.] His name is glorious because His name is Him at some level: His names are His character, His person revealed to us. But if "just" His name (as if that phrase even makes sense) - "just" one of His many names - is glorious, how much more so His totality, the immeasurable sum of His infinitude? It is beyond description (see v. 2).

We are to worship "in the beauty of holiness" or in "holy array." The NKJV references 2 Chronicles 20:21 and Psalm 110:3. In the former, we see "holy attire" fitted to the priests who led the army to battle. They were to sing to the Lord and praise Him in that garb as Jehoshophat went to war to save Judah - the same as they had done when taking Jericho hundreds of years earlier. Notice the context: there is a great shout in response to God's word coming just verses earlier (an interesting parallel to the shouting in the temple in Psalm 29). Also, earlier in the chapter, Jehoshophat declares that God's name is in the temple (2 Chronicles 20:9). Most of the time people reference His glory being in the temple (the Hebrew word Shekinah - His presence and glory filling the temple, for which a later prophet mourned when it was taken) - but here Jehoshophat say's that it's God's name in the temple. That's a powerful statement, and somewhat confusing. How is His name there? And how closely does that tie to glory, both from the semantics and grammar here, and from the reference back to Psalm 29? There is a strong connection here, one I must needs grasp.

Now, Psalm 110 is one of the prophetic, Messianic psalms of David. It addresses the coming savior - Christ. People wear holy garments in the day of His power, offering themselves freely (v. 3). Holy garb is required - but it's a given, too: His people will be set apart (holiness is the state of being set apart for God). And so we come full circle.

God's glory demands our holiness - our being utterly set apart for Him, dedicated to Him. he - His glory - does not need us; but He demands our allegiance and our holiness nevertheless.

[God, make me holy as You are holy. Set me apart for You that I may display Your glory. Let me know Your glory more. Let me know You in Your glory more. Amen.]

- Chris

Sunday, July 1, 2007

God of Glory

Starting about three weeks ago, I began a study on glory - specifically, on the glory of God. The weeks since then have blown me away at what I'm slowly discovering. There is something incredible about getting a firmer grasp on some particular aspect of God's nature and character. It changes you, as Dr. Tackett has ntoed, to gaze upon the face of God. Moses came back from Mt. Sinai with his face glowing brightly. The three disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration came back awed and altered by the experience. And I am finding myself transformed by this. I'm reminded of Romans 12:2, as I see the renewing of my mind - the complete alteration of my understand of who God really is - changing the very way I live, the way I interact with people, the priorities of my life, my vision...

Glory. What does the word really mean? And beyond that, what does it mean that God is glorious, that indeed, as Psalm 29 says, He is the God of glory?

I suspect that if there is a significant intellectual disadvantage to those of us Christians living in American democracy, it is that we do not understand royalty. The closest thing we have is a President, and the president is a very different creature from a King. We do not understand the association of majesty and glory - yet we are hungry for it. You can see it any time the Queen of England visits: there is something in us that instinctively reaches out to embrace royalty with a rather different touch than we do to almost anything else. There is an embodied sense of awe; there is a sense that there is something deep in the person of royalty: an image that we can very nearly but not quite grasp, a picture of something greater beyond the person, the position, before us. The Queen of England is largely symbolic, now, her power absent - yet she moves people; she has a certain degree of command that exceeds her legal responsibilities. Why is that?

Glory, and perhaps majesty, are what we are grasping at, rather vainly, trying to comprehend something that is beyond us. Royalty is tied to God, because He is the ultimate royalty. The rulers of this world - be they premiers or presidents or prime ministers - are rulers only because they have been granted authority by the ultimate King: the one that Scripture repeatedly calls the King of Kings, the one who rules over all the kings.

The tiny hints of splendor that we see in the high and dignified positions of those in command of the world (or at least, what ought to be high and dignified positions) are ultimately pointing us back to Adonai, to the Lord of Lords: because He is the source of glory, of majesty, of power, of splendor... How would it change us if we lived as though we were living for the God of glory?

That's the phrase I can't get over. Psalm 29:3 says, "The voice of the Lord is over the waters, / The God of glory thunders, / the Lord over many waters." As I studied this passage, I increasingly found myself compelled by that one phrase in the middle: "God of glory." Looking at the context, the implication is clear. David was writing in a time when people spoke of the god of the sun, the god of rain, the god of fertility, the god of the earth... and David's God - Jehovah, Adonai, Elohim - was (and is) the God of glory. I simply do not understand the depth and meaning of that. It compels me to seek more, to understand this notion of a God who is so intimately wrapped up with the notion of glory that He is the God of glory.

How might it affect our lives if we understood God's glory? How might we live differently if we lived for His glory - if we understood that we exist solely for His glory, that the very purpose of our lives is to bring Him glory, to increase the glory of His name in all the earth?

I think we might live very differently indeed.

That's why I can't stop studying this. Because I have come to love, passionately and deeply, God's glory - and my love only grows every day. So I challenge you: dare to think, to ponder, to meditate on - and then to live for - the glory of God.

It will transform you, because it will renew your mind. It will fundamentally alter your very notion of God.

Dare to gaze on His face and be remade.

- Chris