Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shadows and Light

Light skitters across the ground, chasing shadows.
Or are the shadows chasing the light?
'Tis not of no import, who chases and who follows,
Though the two're not always distinguishable by sight.

Mirror images fight.

Meaning, there is, in the chase:
Meaning that truth is here to be found.
Dancing and mingling the twain, 'cross a child's face
An innocent child, or guilty, here's all fate bound.

Dichotomies abound.

Light could be the chaser and darkness the lead.
Or be darkness the follower, light e'er in front?
Difference is weighty, though oft hard to be seen,
And hope or despair seem to in equal parts come.

Hidden here a ransom.

Matters, it does, trivial seeming:
Matters of color and palettes and shading.
The play of the fire and thrill of its gleaming
Of just as great import: day's into night fading.

A line and a gating.

When mingling the two, which wins wins the day
Does shadow in mystery eliminate light?
Or does light in her glory destroy all the dark?

the twain never joined,
yet paired close indeed

Who sings this refrain?
What voice carries song?

What ray can this be
that splits night in two?

Now leaping the lame,
And blind see the dawn.

Light has been seen
and hopes all come true.

darkness is banished
shadows are vanished

Coming of day!
Rushing of gold!

Splendor and majesty!
Glory and might!

Voices are raised,
the timid made bold.

The grandest of amnesties,
Purchased by right.

'Tis darkness that follows, and night that's the lie,
In daybreak, in sunrise, is true truth proclaimed.
For shadows are vanquished and go now to die:
And true hearts forever are rightly enflamed.

Photo: this poem, transformed into visual form by wordle.net.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


God answers prayers.

A lot of people doubt that. A lot of people who claim to believe that, doubt it. It's hard to believe, in our post-Christian world, in our supremely secularist culture, that God really does interact with everyday life and engage with the prayers of His people. And it's difficult for people to believe - so they pray without faith, so their prayers are not answered, so it remains difficult for them to believe. And yet God invites us to come before Him with confidence, to bring before Him our petitions and our requests. He promises to give us all that we ask in His name.

What is it, then, that we are so afraid of? Is it that we will offend God by asking apart from His will? We offend Him at least that much all the time simply by living lives that are not surrendered to Him. A prayer asked in faith is at least believing that he is who He says that He is. Of course, a prayer asked only in selfishness has issues all its own, but without faith it is impossible to draw near to God. Impossible. That's a pretty strong statement, of course, yet Scripture makes it abundantly clear.

And I have seen direct answers to prayer. I have seen God respond to requests in ways that are not explicable in terms of natural phenomena. I have seen, even in the last few months, Him working people's hearts in ways that I prayed for but did not tell them - over and over again I have seen it. I see Him doing more than all we can ask or think. I see Him capable of so much more than we dare to ask of Him.

We are content asking for hard bread when he will give us a feast.

I am not saying that we should embrace some sort of "word of faith" idea that believes that if we just ask in faith, God will give us everything we want. To the contrary, I do not believe that God gives us everything we want - though I absolutely believe He supplies for all of our needs. But when things are clearly in His will, why do we not dare to pray for them with faith: the expectation of seeing them be?

I would posit that it is because we are afraid, or ashamed. Afraid of offending God, or ashamed because we feel unworthy of His answering our requests. We are unworthy: this is part of the greatness that is His. He nonetheless delights in giving us the things we ask for. he enjoys answering our prayers and our requests.

So when we pray, we may pray with confidence, with boldness, with assurance. Why pray so hesitantly? The Godly men and women of Scripture did not. They asked for God to act and move in their world in very real, very particular ways. And He answered. As I have done the same, He has answered. We have taken more away from Christ's prayer in Gethsemane - "Not my will be done but yours" - than from His answer of how we ought to pray. Ought we not pray as He did? Certainly, to a point. And I do believe we ought to pray, "Not my will be done but yours." Yet, at the same time, we must not be afraid to ask our hearts' desire. In that same passage, we see Jesus Christ pleading with the Father, "Please, let this cup pass from me! Yet not my will by yours be done" (emphasis added). He asks his desire, then recognizes the sovereignty and rightness of God's will. So we ought to do: pray for our desire and yet hold it with an open hand, gladly accepting whatever he chooses to give.

And in the so-called Lord's prayer (our prayer, for He never had sin to repent of), you will note no hint of pleading or begging, nor any reticence. It is filled with direct requests - all of which are focused on the glory of God, but many of which are also eminently practical. Why can we not pray thus?

So pray thus! Be bold as you come before the throne of grace! Know that your Father loves you and delights in giving you the desires of your heart - and that He is good, and so when He does not, that it is truly for our good.

In short, to pray effectively, as in all things in this life, we ned only one thing.

We must know God.

- Chris

Friday, June 20, 2008


The political arena, though we should not abandon it, will never be a source of salvation. Nor will we ever make a Christian nation by means of politics. Christianity will influence America only when we make Christ first, and never when we seek to advance His goals by political, rather than spiritual, means.


If the goal of Christians active in the political arena is to prevent Christians in America from suffering persecution, then, in the inimitable words of internet slang: "Ur doin it wrong." We are not to run from persecution, ever, and while we are not to seek it, either, we ought to gladly embrace the opportunity to suffer for the cause of Christ. He promised that if we follow Him, we will have persecution; the apostles made it very clear that opposition and persecution are normal and indeed normative parts of the Christian life. So if we are striving to avoid persecution, we are striving away from what Christ has promised.


On the note of suffering, if Christ said that those who suffer for His name's sake are blessed, why be so bothered by it? And why reject something so fundamental to our growth, our sanctification, our ultimate glorification. Anyone who has lived any length of time knows it to be true that our greatest growth is nearly always in our deepest valleys, and that God is most readily apparent in our lives when we are most dependent on Him - typically when things are at their worst.


We do not value all labor as we ought. We think things are beneath us. And that's sad. The fact that we would elevate the work of the academician over the work of the carpenter is a tragedy. The fact that we have culturally come to believe that people without a college education are somehow less worthy is a horrifying state of affairs. How many parents have said - either directly or implicitly - to their children that the career choice they have in mind "just isn't good enough"?

And why have we embraced this mentality? Because our culture places a higher value on intellectual work than on physical labor. Personally, I think that's folly. I understand that many people's decisions now come out of the simple economics of the situation - but those economics are themselves only a reflection of cultural mentalities: that working with one's hands is somehow less than working with one's mind.

Jesus was a carpenter by vocation, not a philosopher or even a priest. Chew on that for a minute, and maybe rethink the way you see the world.


Racism goes all ways, and all its ways are ugly. It's a vile sin, a stain and a blight on humanity, and I wish it were gone. I wish Americans as a whole were not so xenophobic - and that many of the ones who aren't would exercise some common sense.


Why is it that we think things are one-or-the-other in every circumstance: the rule of law or mercy, for example? Why not both?


Humility is a misunderstood and highly lacking virtue in our society. Misunderstood, because most people don't think it's a virtue and the few who do tend to think it's nothing but constant self-abasement, rather than quiet and simple recognition of who one actually is, and who God actually is. The talented think themselves greater than they are. The untalented do the same. And the ones who think humility important pretend they do not think themselves greater than they are - but they think it all the same.


Sanctification isn't something you or I can manage. All our effort will take us precisely as far in growing in holiness as it will in bringing us salvation: namely, not at all. The only effective agent of setting apart for God in our lives is the grace of God.


We ought to be sanctifying our minds, not just our deeds. That's more than just not watching bad movies: it's watching good ones. It's more than not just reading bad novels: it's reading good ones. It is more than merely the rejection of bad ideas in culture: it is creating good ideas in culture. It is more than simply decrying the woes of politics: it is to work toward just laws.

It is more than seeing a fallen world. It is seeing the King and Savior who is making it more than not-fallen: good.


Grace and peace be with you. Worship God!

- Chris

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I really do want to write every day. I do much better at posting meaningfully on a more regular basis when I'm posting on a more regular basis (and I mean that in a sense of proportion, not merely the obvious: a greater percentage of my posts are well-written and meaningful when I'm writing more than otherwise).

I've been thinking a lot, these last few days, about the brain. My research project is in computational neuroscience - in particular, in modeling memory in terms of the dynamics of small world networks. That's probably gibberish to most of you (as it was for me three weeks ago).

Most of you have probably heard of the Kevin Bacon Game. You try to find the shortest path any actor in Hollywood (sometimes, any famous figure at all) has to get back to Kevin Bacon. The same principle underlies the commonly repeated notion that there are only six degrees of freedom between you and anyone else in the world. While neither is quite true - it's actually been Rod Steiger, Donald Sutherland, and Dennis Hopper at various times in the last ten years, and Kevin Bacon has never cracked the top 1000; and the number is a bit higher than six on average - these get at a fundamental principle.

The shape (in more technical terms, the topology) of a network influences the way its members are connected. Social networks tend to be highly clustered - people form groups of friends and acquaintances, which often largely overlap with their friends' circles of friends and acquaintances. Shortcuts exist, however, between these groups, and the net result is that the number of people between you and anyone else, thanks to these connections, is surprisingly low, especially compared to the population size.

Now you're wondering what that has to do with the brain, in all likelihood. Neurons in your brain link to each other in networks, and research done in the last ten years has shown rather conclusively that these neural networks have many of the same properties as social networks of the sort described of. In short, your brain is a small world, after all, too. Out of this realization has been born all sorts of wonderful research into how the networks in your brain function, and how that relates to various questions - from the source of diseases like epilepsy, to how learning occurs.

It's also where my research comes in. I'm looking at what memory is, and that's a very difficult question to answer. I've a few hypotheses, and I'm curious to see where they lead. First, however, I have a great deal of work to do on understanding how to construct models of small-world networks and then applying that knowledge to modeling neural networks in particular. From there, I might be able to start moving toward developing and testing these ideas.

This is probably the most fun project I've ever worked on in my life. The brain is fascinating, and incredibly mysterious: it's one of the greatest mysteries in all of science at this point, and the little I understand of it amazes me. We see here the glory of God revealed in remarkable ways. I am also amazed that He has given us brains capable of understanding brains, minds capable of pondering what it is to have a mind, spirits capable of meditating on spiritual things.

There are glimpses of the glory and splendor and majesty of God in the brain that are visible nowhere else in all creation. Incredible!

- Chris

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

hear and Obey

We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

I spoke to my dear friend Jamin this past week while driving to Ft. Worth, and - as is ever the case with us - we found ourselves amazed at how God was working the very same things in our hearts and our lives. It has been thus as long as I can recall, even in times of conflict. Such a friend - such intimacy and fellowship - is a rare blessing. And we both have been pondering things we see in the church: needs, flaws, brokenness. We spoke about fellowship - and about fruitful fellowship. We spoke of prayer - and of effective prayer. We spoke on evangelism - and on evangelism not as conversionism but as disciple-making.

And then we spoke on something just as important as all of these. It is important to strive for a vision of all that God is calling us to: excellence and Christ-likeness not only as individuals but corporately. But it is not enough to identify the places we are failing, nor even to recognize what needs to be done. We may stand about and analyze the problems and solutions all day. But if we do not act on the vision that God has given us, we are nothing. And, like a thunderstorm without rain, Christians who are all flash and talk but no fruit are a terrible thing: how great our frustration when the storm does not deliver on its promise! And how much greater the disillusionment of a world that sees us time and again make noises about the problems in the church but fail to ourselves actualize those changes!

Effecting change is difficult, of course. One must have a clear vision of the goal - and, more importantly, of the purpose of that goal. But one must also have the support and cooperation of others - including leaders, if one is a layperson, and including one's fellow leaders if one is in a position of authority. Beyond this, change requires patience and diligence, and it requires a deep and immense dedication to prayer: both for the seeking of God's will and direction, and to importune Him to bring about heart change. Without heart change, all the external changes in the world are meaningless.

And so we come to it: the great burden and great joy of our service in this life. We are called to execute the changes that the body of Christ requires. The call is on us to stop sitting and to go and be obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit as He in His grace opens our eyes to truth. If you see a need, perhaps it is time to stop complaining about it and to start filling it. If there is a lack in the body, perhaps it is you who is to meet it. If there are problems, perhaps it is your responsibility to step up and by the grace of God help fix them. Instead of throwing down a gauntlet and pointing the accusing finger, perhaps if one has vision that his brethren lack he simply ought to begin walking and let the results speak for themselves.

I am not saying that there is no place for conversation or contemplation. I am saying that faith without works is dead and that even if we accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God, it would be worthless if not done in love and grace. When we see a brother - or a congregation - struggling, we ought to simply dive in, get our hands dirty, and work - all the while, praying fervently and with passion for God to move. What right have we to criticize so angrily who will not ourselves set our hands to the plow and toil for the good of the Church and the glory of Christ Jesus? Do we really live to serve and obey Him whom we proclaim as not only Savior but also Lord?

His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. Let us follow Him. Let us be known by our love for one another. Let us be like Him: serving where there is a need.

- Chris

Thursday, June 12, 2008


A few thoughts I'll leave you with before what is likely to be a three day absence, as I'm taking a trip to Ft. Worth to visit Jaimie and her family (huzzah!).

It is good to discipline our bodies: to work at being in good shape, to spend time exercising. The exercise of our body is good for our mind, as well.

It is good to exercise our minds in ways that are perhaps not as natural as once they were. An essay on The Atlantic commented at some length on the ways in which the Internet is changing not only how we function externally in relation to information, but how it affects even the way our minds think and work. It's an important piece of writing; I recommend that you take the time to read through all of it.

I also recommend that you then take time to read at least one truly good book this summer: a great work of literature, or one of the classics of the Christian faith. You can draw on any you like, but a good place to start might be The Point's 2008 Summer Reading List. Books that challenge you, build up your mind, and force you to think are good for you, and we don't read enough of them. More than that: set aside time to work on whatever book you're reading in great big chunks, and take time to think about it. Letting a work of literature percolate through your mind is nearly as important as the reading itself is.

Swordfighting is good exercise.

The pursuit of God is the pursuit of the greatest joy and glory conceivable.

There are few things in this world fighting for. A life with purpose and meaning is one of them. A life with joy and passion, too. None of the things worth fighting for can be found without God.

Take some time to actively listen to some good music this summer: not merely to hear it as you do something else, but to sit quietly and listen to music. Learn to appreciate classical music: it's an acquired skill, not something that comes naturally to everyone, but well worth your time. I highly recommend the works of Arvo Pärt if you want God-glorifying modern classical music. Again, it may take some effort to appreciate, but it's well worth your time.

As I've written before: beauty requires work, both in creation and appreciation. But all good things in life are thus; why should beauty be any different?

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ comfort, sustain, and uphold you; may the glory of His name consume you!

- Chris

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Proverbs 28:9

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination. (ESV)

If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,
even his prayers are detestable. (NIV)

A sobering thought, and a caution: do not turn away your heart from Scripture and expect God to still respond to your prayers.

- Chris

Monday, June 9, 2008


Birdsong is always in harmony. Have you ever noticed? No matter how many birds are singing, it is never a cacophony, never a ruckus, never a massive discord. Of course, birds can make plenty of unpleasant noises. But when they're singing, it somehow always ends up being complementary. You can have a dozen different kinds of birds, singing their own unique songs - and they never clash.

Incredible. The hand of the Great Artist, the true Creator, from whom all creativity flows. I am amazed when I notice such things. We usually don't. Notice them, I mean: we usually miss them, because they're commonplace or "ordinary" - yet there is nothing ordinary about the fact that birdsong is beautiful, nor about the fact that birdsong is harmonious. It is, in fact, quite an extraordinary thing that the human ear and mind are even capable of recognizing combinations of sound as beauty in the first place - but it is even more extraordinary that the musical ears of humanity can so readily dismiss the remarkable beauty inherent in the songs present in nature. And the existence of such beauty all around us too often goes unremarked in our minds: we miss the marvelous things that God has made because we are become accustomed to them. What a tragedy!

We must learn to live with beauty in our minds. We must have our ways of thinking and understanding sanctified if we are to have our ways of living sanctified, and this requires more than merely learning to assent to what God says about our actions. It means having our every way of comprehending and analyzing submitted to Him for retraining. We must learn to enjoy living the lives that the Great God has given to us. We must learn that the world is a beautiful place still, for all its fallenness, and to revel in the marvelous things that God has made. We must learn to "stop and smell the roses," so to speak: to appreciate the many multivaried good things in this world - trees, and squirrels, and birdsong, and sunrises and sunsets, and long days of rain, and summer winds, and mountains and lakes, and oceans and beaches, and windswept plains, and sandy deserts: so much that the Word spoke into being and sustains every moment. The functioning of the brain, the beating of the heart, the twitch of fingers across a guitar's frets, the meeting of lips in a kiss, the clenching of muscles in a race: marvelous things indeed.

And we miss them. We don't even see them, because we are too consumed with other, often lesser, things.

And yet these are the things which themselves are shouting "Glory!" to their creator, as we ought to be doing with our every breath, every thought, every word and deed. How can we, however, if we have not had our imaginations and our observations sanctified? Make no mistake: those two are not so far apart as we have sadly been led to believe. No, the imagination and the observation are very close companions indeed: if we cannot imagine the impossible, we will fail to observe it when it happens - and happen it does, every day, every moment. That we draw breath is a miracle; that we think an even greater one. We must learn to live our lives in light of the empty tomb: an utter impossibility that, in its becoming possible, has made clear how possible all impossibilities are: for God is not so small as we have made Him to be.

No, indeed: God is great, and mighty, and awesome. He holds the entirety of the universe in the span of His hand: how vast and unlimited His greatness, His might, His mercy and love!

Dream! Dream and ponder and dare to wonder anew. Be as a child, fascinated once more with the tips of your fingers and the curl of your mother's hair. Dare to see the world fresh again and recognize, as if for the first time, how magnificent are all God's many deeds!

- Chris

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Good grief!

I slept till noon today. That's weird. I've only done that maybe four times in my entire life. Clearly my body is pretty tired; why, I'm not entirely sure. Hopefully I will be able to stabilize and regularize my sleep schedule over the next week or so. Hopefully. It's very disconcerting to expect to naturally wake up a bit before 9 am, as one normally does when sleeping in, and instead to wake up a little before 12 pm...

Long post in the works!

- Chris


Note: to fully understand this, it is essential, not merely optional, to read the Scriptues linked throughout the post below.


A friend set me an impossible task in a message he sent me this morning. He asked me to define the glory of God. (I'm honored that he would think me worth asking, but, bluntly, I'm not up to the task. Nonetheless, I shall give it a go, and in so doing hopefully demonstrate, through my own inability to convey the truth of the concept, its fantastical greatness.)

The phrase, "glory of God," tossed about as commonly as it is in our Christian circles, certainly bears more reflection than we often give it. Given the number of times variations on the phrase occur throughout Scripture, we ought to be giving it considerable attention simply on its own merit, and when one expands to consider variations on the phrase - "God of glory," "the Glory of Israel," and so on (try just searching for glory and glorious if you really want to see how important the term is in scripture) - the sheer quantity of references is astounding. This demands closer attention.

One of those phrases - God of glory - is particularly interesting, though it occurs only twice in the body of Scripture (at least so far as I can find): in Psalm 29:3, and in Acts 7:2. These two passages seem to speak rather uniquely to the notion of God's glory, and in manner rather different one from another. From these two passages, as well as what I have gained from my study over nearly a year, I hope to paint something of a picture of what Scripture means by the glory of God.

The 29th Psalm is one of praise and adulation. It opens with an exhortation to the heavenly host to worship God. The particular exhortation in this case is to ascribe to Him all that He is due: glory and strength, the glory due His name. The word glory appears once in each of the three verses, which is significant given that there are only eleven verses in the Psalm. I want to particularly draw your attention to verse 3, the first appearance in Scripture of the phrase "God of glory."

In a Psalm reflecting on the attributes of God - in particular, elucidating His supreme power and worthiness of praise - it is suggestive that David chose to use the phrase "of glory" to describe the God who is "over the waters" (v. 3). The contrast to other gods is, in my opinion, strongly implied in the passage. Every thing that other gods of other tribes would have been doing - natural events like earthquakes, fertility, and so on - is explicitly declared to be under the control of David's - and our - God. But unlike all the other gods, He is not merely the god of the water or the god of fertility or the god of the earth: He is God of glory.

In Acts 7, we have the conclusion of the story of the first known martyr of the Christian believers: Stephen. In verse 2 he begins his monologue declaring the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, lumping them in with the consistent pattern of unbelief that had characterized the Jews over their long history, and thus quietly proclaiming that in rejecting Christ, they were rejecting God. That he opens this speech with reference to the God of glory as the one who revealed Himself to Abraham indicates that it is this attribute Stephen has in mind and wants the Pharisees to have in mind as he recounts their history. That He is the God of glory is central to an understanding of this passage.

These passages in particular, and many others related to them, raise two significant questions. First, what is the glory of God, and second, what does it mean to be the God of glory?

Let us begin by addressing the former question and then from that see if we can understand somewhat the latter question. Glory is a difficult word to define, because it is a word we still have in our language but which concept has slowly faded from our minds. It has become a small, a light thing, when it is used at all.

The American Heritage dictionary's relevant definitions are:
1. Great honor, praise, or distinction accorded by common consent; renown.
3. A highly praiseworthy asset: Your wit is your crowning glory.
4. Adoration, praise, and thanksgiving offered in worship.
5. Majestic beauty and splendor, resplendence: The sun set in a blaze of glory.
6. The splendor and bliss of heaven; perfect happiness.

All of these, with some modification, are part and parcel of the glory which we ascribe to God. On the first count, the honor, praise, or distinction is deserved regardless of whether it is accorded (and to not accord it is thus a wrong done); and the deserving is by dint of the very nature of who God is, not by any assent to His worth by others: He is, by His very nature, utterly deserving of honor, praise, and distinction. The sixth is of course relevant because glory in this sense is then our partaking of perfect fellowship with God.

Of all of these, the third and fifth definitions are most significant for our discussion. The fifth definition gives us both an image of the glory of God revealed in nature - consider the comparisons given in Psalm 19, for example - and a notion of what glory is: majesty, resplendence, and beauty! So in this sense, we may say that God's glory can be defined as His utter and consummate majesty and beauty: greater by an infinite amount than anything of majesty or beauty in this world. And we may also say, in the sense of the third definition, that all His attributes are His glory, for none among them is chief, but all are part and parcel together. His majesty and beauty derive from the sum total of everything about Him: from His perfect love to HIs righteous judgment in wrath, which are but two parts of the same thing: His glory.

And this drives us further, to a deeper and hopefully truer definition. If we look at the word "glory" in the sense in which it is used in Hebrew, it carries two further meanings with it that are somewhat lost in English. The first is the great sense of weight associated with the glory of God: it is a great and terrible and heavy thing: and not only metaphorically. In one of my favorite passages about His glory, at the dedication of the first temple, God's glory falls on the temple, and the priests cannot even enter the temple, because it was full of the glory of God. There are a couple of interesting points to note from this: the first is the sheer present-ness (if you'll allow me the word) of the glory of God. It was Immanent in a way that we typically do not associate with God at all, much less a supposedly abstract concept like His glory. And furthermore, the implication of the passage is that this was the very presence of God, in which case to say that His glory fell is to say that He, in some way beyond us, made Himself present in that location in a way He was not ordinarily physically present.

An extremely important aside here is to note a few things about this presence and immanence. When it left the temple, it broke the prophet's heart - and when it was prophesied to return, it gave him great joy. (The whole book of Ezekiel is essentially focused on God's glory and the temple in the context of man's sinfulness.) The presence of the glory of God is not a small thing. So it is that when the very radiance of the glory of God appears in the person of Christ, this is a most incredible and remarkable event! It is beyond compare! He, the very image of the invisible God (stop and think about that!), appeared to make His glory known to us, and to invite us to once again be perfect reflections of that glory. Ah! I do not have the words to communicate the depth, the urgency, the profundity and meaning in this: that we are given the opportunity to be the ambassadors of Christ in this world, and thus of the glory of God in this world! This is beyond anything in all the world for incredibility.

Returning from that aside to continue our defining, we examine a second point raised by the Hebrew meaning, and related to our expansion of the third definition above. Glory in the Scriptures also means the fullness or totality of something, a complete and total whole. The glory of God, then, is the totality of all He is, a grand whole that is greater than the infinity of each of its parts or even their infinite sum. His glory is the true reality, the grand totality of who He is: His every attribute in perfect harmony and fullness! It is this that is radiant, beautiful, and majestic: and those very attributes are themselves only a part of His glory, parts that make up that transcendent whole.

It is difficult to convey glory in mere words. Think of the most radiant sunset you have ever seen, and all that made it beautiful: impossible to describe, yet knowable nonetheless. Ponder on the most beautiful music you've ever heard, and try for a moment to grasp what made it so compelling: impossible to verbalize, but capable of being experienced. So it is with the glory of God: only infinitely more so, for His nature and character are infinite, and His glory is infinitely infinite. You see? My words fail. Yet I know, in some small part, the glory of God our Father: because I know Him, more deeply and truly every day.

This brings us to our final question: What does it mean that our God is the God of glory? I think that we first must be cautioned that we can never fully describe God Almighty: if even the concept of His glory is beyond our ability to verbalize, how much more so He himself, the God of glory? Then, second, we may grapple with this notion. When other gods are gods of fertility, of water, of sun and moon and stars, even of higher things like righteous anger or love, and ours is the God of glory, this speaks to the reality of who He is. He is not a God created by human hands, nor a construction of feeble human minds. We might be able to conceive of a God whose primary attribute is love - but a God whose love is but a part of a more perfect whole, whose love is a part of glory? This is a God beyond any of us to conceive of, a God whose very nature is beyond understand, but whose glory is reflected just as much in His revealing Himself to us and calling us to comprehend as it is in being so utterly beyond our comprehension.

And because He is the God of glory, with all that this entails, there can be no higher calling in this life, no greater pleasure or joy in this life, than to surrender utterly and completely to His glory as our chief and supreme end, to which all other goals must be subservient or put completely aside. His glory is the only thing worth living for, the only real purpose in this world: for all this is for Him and by Him, and all this is to the glory of Christ. How great an honor we are given to be His image-bearers, to carry in us a small part of the glory of God reflected so that the world may know Him! And how great the promise of Heaven, where we shall each of us perfectly reflect the aspect of His glory we were designed for, and all of us together shall be a shining mirror of the great and terrible glory that He is.

May the glory of the God of glory consume us all!

- Chris

Friday, June 6, 2008


For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (Deuteronomy 10:17)


How far have the mighty fallen! How deeply marred these gods: these beings on whom is laid the image of the Great One! These who were unlike any others made: meant to carry the very reflection of their Creator. Not just a likeness: in some incomprehensible way, the very same nature in smaller part, designed to be a perfect transposition of the nature of the Mighty One. And they broke it.

Do you understand how tragic this is, my friend? I have pondered, these many millennia, and I only began to understand when the Awesome One revealed to us how He would accomplish his purposes as he did it. We were confused - you remember - as he took the first step. He explained enough for us to understand a fraction, and we rejoiced. We were honored to be heralds of the plan for those who would listen - and we were honored to be his heralds when he made that fearful descent.

I still cannot understand what happened in that moment. Eternity merging with temporality. Utter transcendence meeting the most immanent thing that is. I shake my head still in awe. It's been two thousand years of their time since that happened, an eon of warfare. But oh how that battle has changed! There is something, don't you think, in knowing the means of your enemy's defeat, of seeing as he cannot see just how sure his downfall?

I remember that night. Appearing in the sky to frightened shepherds who the Glorious One had chosen to fill the role that men would have deemed only the highest of kings worthy of. Shepherds! And he had good reason, too. The kings saw nothing but their own power at stake. They wanted nothing more than to keep him from unseating them. It did no good, of course, because ultimately every one of the kingdoms that fought him succumbed. He didn't come the way they expected. They expected him to show up with us at his back, destroying enemies. And in a way, they had it right... but they got the enemy wrong, and they got the timing wrong. That's still to come.

That first victory... oh, how I remember it! The demons didn't know what to do that night, and it took them half a decade to even recover from the shock. The Enemy was beside himself when he finally figured out what was going on, and he had no idea how to respond. Nothing he did accomplished anything. Armies? Joseph and Mary were already gone by the time they got there. I sigh as I remember, though, what that army accomplished. Sometimes I do not understand all that the King allows to happen, but I've seen him turn good out of evil enough times to trust it anyway.

And then as he grew up... the times that the Enemy would try things. It's almost funny, because he grew so frustrated. He couldn't touch the boy. And when he went into the desert for a head-on battle with temptation, the Enemy was ready for him. The only problem for the Enemy was that, as with every other step along the way, the Word was ready for him: filled with the word. I laugh to recall the quiet mockery that was heaped on the Enemy. He offered to give Christ what was already his! And quietly but so firmly, he simply quoted the truth that he had given to men. It was, like so many other moments, a delightful paradox. And the Enemy could do nothing.

That sort of futility is all that there is for the fallen ones - whether angel or man. It's the second greatest tragedy of their condition. The first, of course, is that they're apart from the Everlasting Light. But after that, is that all they do comes to naught.

And from that moment forward, the coming of the Kingdom! It caught a lot of men by surprise - all of them, I suspect, except a few who had been waiting for it, who had read and been given to understand the Scriptures. But those mighty ones who are fallen so far did not understand what - who - had come to them, and fear ruled them. The Enemy used that fear to twist them to his purposes. And in a moment that I know I shall never understand, all those plans were turned completely on their heads. The moment of the Enemy's greatest triumph was the moment when his defeat was accomplished. It is beyond me.

We are not like men, my friend. They are broken, and can be restored. Our fallen brethren are completely destroyed by their rebellion. And man, I thought originally, would be likewise. But no! Though even more greatly fallen than those who left our great host to follow the Enemy, these men still bear that imago dei. Yes, I use their Latin tongue; the words capture the idea rather well. These men, they have an ability to echo the Incomparable One in ways that still astound. Language, and creativity, and music! And they can be redeemed, and returned to how they were meant to be. The sad thing is, I suspect that even those who he gave new life to often don't recognize the magnitude of that change. It is no small thing for them to be so dead and then to live anew!

The cross... the turning point of all their history. For that matter, of ours. Before that, it was very different. The Sovereign was of course never out of control. But we did not understand, did not see, just how the final outcome would be accomplished. Many wondered what it was about these beings that was worth the ever-ongoing battle. Now we see, a little, I think. Though they are frail, and brief in their earth-bound days, they are incredible. They set up great kingdoms and topple them again; they destroy great works of art only to turn around and learn anew how to create. They love as only those with the image of the Trinity upon them could love when they truly love; and they hate as only the Enemy can hate when they hate.

And their love is growing. Certainly, many are growing dim and falling away, losing sight of what they have been given, abandoning their great God for little gods of things. But so it has ever been. And now at last, we see hope of the final battle. In a few generations, I suspect, at most, we will see them finally accomplish the great task they were given. And he promised that when they had done that - when that good news has been taken to every last corner of the earth - we will see this war ended, and we shall see evil banished once and for all.

So yes, they have fallen far. But they are going to be raised up again, be made mighty again, to the glory of their King. And I think, my friend, that we shall be learning as much from them as they will be from us. Do not look so puzzled. You've met John, have you not? The Holy Breath and he together wrote that when they see him they will be like him, simply because they will see him as he is. Quite the promise, yes? But given that and our many differences, the coming aeons will be a rather interesting adventure.

Finally we shall be about the business with them of making great the Lord of lords, the God of gods, the great, the mighty, and the awesome one.


And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-3)

- Chris

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tonight, sleep

Tonight, sleep is more important than posting. Tomorrow will be a better day for writing.

- Chris

Monday, June 2, 2008

Neuroscience, and Esther

I'm feeling rather tired... not sure why. I suspect allergies or a sinus infection; neither is exactly preferable.

Research is fun. I'm enjoying it, even if I'm mildly frustrated by the approaches that biologists take - so very different from the way physicists approach questions. Not necessarily bad, but different, and slightly frustrating. The material is fascinating, in any case, and that helps more than a little.

I wrote a journal entry yesterday on some of my thoughts on philosophy as it relates to language and culture... hopefully I can expand on them and post them here tomorrow.

I'm reading Daniel, now; I read Esther last weekend and very much enjoyed it. It's a glorious picture of God's sovereignty and His hand working even in ways that are a bit unexpected - through harems, for example. When was the last time you thought about that particular instance, eh? That God used a single, primarily sexual, encounter (and if you think I'm crazy, go reread the text) to save all of Israel... doesn't really fit in our box of how God should work. It's fascinating to see how very free God is, how thoroughly in control He is. It's freeing.

For now, I am going to fold laundry. Hopefully tomorrow will see a deeper post.

- Chris

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Godly woman

So you may have noticed that I didn't post at all on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, breaking a rather long streak of having posted every day.

This is because my girlfriend, Jaimie, was in town visiting, and I simply spent a sufficiently high volume of time with her as to have no non-sleep time available for blogging. (We had not seen each other in three weeks... which felt more like three years.)

We had a great time, of course, and continued to grow in our friendship and our relationship. Hearing her heart is always a blessing to me - she loves God so deeply, and so very differently from how I do.

I've pondered before that women relate to God rather differently than men do, and this is more apparent to me all the time. Exactly what that difference is, I'm unable to say at this point (thoughts from people older, more experienced, and wiser than I would be thoroughly welcomed in the comments section!). I simply know that I am learning to see God differently by seeing glimpses of Him through her eyes as well as my own - and that challenges me, stretches me, causes me to go back to the Word and look at things as she looks at them: and then to grow in my knowledge of Christ, in my walk with Him. That, above all else, is why I love her: she loves Jesus Christ deeply and passionately, and is committed to following Him far more than she is to anything else in this world. And that is beautiful indeed.

Over these next few days, I'm going to try to post some less "my life" posts and begin really working on writing here: growing and learning as a writer, attempting say more than "This is what happened to me and here's what I thought about it."

And for now, I'm going to go play a videogame for a little bit.

May the inestimable and glorious grace of our Almighty God, the Father of all, fill you and control you this day. Be blessed!

- Chris