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God’s Glory AND Earth’s Peace:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

 

The Fact:

I remember being gripped by a life altering truth. The Reformers phrased it as, “Soli Deo Gloria!” – Glory to God alone. I had first been introduced to this phrase, not through church history, but through music. See, J. S. Bach would pen this Latin phrase at the beginning and end of each of his musical compositions (sometimes truncating it to “S.D.G”). As we all know from experience, grasping a fact and being gripped by that fact are two very different things. It wasn’t until after graduating from Bible college that God began to teach me what “Soli Deo Gloria” was. (Don’t think for one second that I think He’s done.. He’s not, it’s an ongoing journey. He is forever my Master and I am forever His “Padawan”.)

Fleshing out the Fact:

There is, however, a conjunction in the proclamation of the angels. They came proclaiming the arrival of The Messiah to God’s glory AND something else. It is the part after the “AND” that has been on my mind this Christmas season. (Actually, it’s been on my mind quite a bit before this month, but now is a convenient inroad to talking about it… and highly apropos as many will be singing it and hearing it in carols sung and played as well as reading it captioned on signs and billboards.) Grammatically, the “AND” is a coordinating conjunction; a word that joins two or more items (or phrases) of equal importance. So what the “AND” joins is just as important as the glory of God. This “AND” is a (dare I say “the”) primary way God’s Glory is fleshed out. This “AND” is the result of the coming of the long foretold Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 9:6). This “AND” is the result of the covenant faithfulness (righteousness) of God (Romans 3:21-26). This “AND” is the results fulfillment of the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15) – Where God promises to crush the head of the serpent. This “AND” is  the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). This “AND” is the job of all those who are children of God (Matthew 5:9) because it is the task He,Whom we are to image to the world, accomplished through the cross (Colossians 1:20).

 

Walking in the Flesh(ed out Fact):

Truth be told, we often times forget all about the “AND”. We chant with Paul, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God!”, but for some reason we tend to compartmentalize that “whatsoever” – and by restricting the whatsoever, it ceases to be whatsoever.

There is an expression that warns, “Be careful of being so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly good.” The whole of Scripture clearly destroys that little quip for it teaches that giving all glory to God fleshes itself out in a specific result among the children of men (reaching the rest of creation also). If one ever is said to be so heavenly minded he/she is of no use on earth then that individual has ceased to actually be heavenly minded. He/She may be some breed of hyper-spiritualist, but having the mind of the God is not their situation. Spend some time reading Matthew 6:9-13 to see how inextricably linked heaven and earth are to each other.

So what does this fleshed out fact look like? How are we supposed to live that out in our earthy, day-to-day lives? Well, I wish I had a simple one liner that fit every situation so one could blindly live by that mantra. Actually, No I don’t! While that would make it easy, at least at first, it would drive us from following the very One that we should be driven to follow – Jesus The Messiah. When He came, He didn’t just appear on the scene and die on a cross. He lived a life; a life that is an example for us. His example is so vital that we are told to follow it in wondering how to respond under the most extremely harsh circumstance (I Peter 2:21). We are instructed that we will imitate His works (John 14:12). So how this bringing-peace-on-earth-life looks is this – it looks exactly like Jesus.

The early Christians, before they were called Christians, we known as followers of The Way (Acts 24:14). Jesus shows us this way. So for the rest of my life, I will follow Jesus – my Lord and my God – ever learning to be more like Him; and by His grace, bringing peace to a world enraged by sin and death (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).

Will you?

 

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Christian Life, Church, Culture

 

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A Wonderful Christmas Time

It’s during this time we hear songs such as:
“A wonderful Christmas time!”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
“God rest ye Merry Gentlemen”
“Joy to the World”
Etc.
During this time of year, people are generally more giving, friendly, and all-round pleasant. Those who aren’t in the “Christmas spirit” (which happens to be the general attitude of the mass populous for the other 11 months out of the year) are labeled a Scrooge. It’s this time of year that we celebrate the spirit of giving. We purchase gifts for those we love (and occasionally an obligatory gift here and there to keep feelings from being crushed for those we don’t particularly love). We send cards to all our friends and family wishing them a wonderful Christmas, most of the time including pictures of our family because this is the only time we really establish any sort of contact with many of them. Families are brought together, and we overlook differences, as is expected of us, for the sake of unity. There is just an overwhelming attitude of thinking of others; for example, this is the one time of year where people see things at the store and think of someone else who would enjoy that item other than themselves. We speak of the Christmas spirit as if it’s a wave of emotion that just irresistibly comes upon us at this time of year, which I find quite amusing.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas (hence the name “Christmas”), and even those who are not Christian will sing songs of The Savior during this time of year as it’s part of the atmosphere. I know that the winter solstice was celebrated by non-Christians around the world before The Son of God was made flesh, and we have adopted some of their traditions and filled them with new meaning. I don’t necessarily think this is always a bad thing either, seeing as that’s essentially what has been done in choosing the date, and most of the Christmas traditions we have. There are many things we have done this to, and I think redeeming the culture and traditions is a good thing – a Kingdom thing, if you will.

Although the birth of Christ does not seem to be celebrated by the early New Testament church; and although it is highly doubtful that Jesus was actually born on December 25th, I’m not against celebrating Christmas and en-grafting these causes into it. It is a time that we can make a connection with unbelievers and use the day they emphasize giving to others to tell them of how God has given to them. It’s a time when people are more naturally in the “spirit of giving” and thoughtfulness that The Spirit of God can work through us to show how The Father has given humanity His Son. It’s a time where we can proclaim (through word, song, and action) the birth of the Savior of the world.

So we can sing with the rest of the population that this is the most wonderful time of the year, for men are in a spirit of otherness and love towards each other. We can sing how we are simply having a wonderful Christmas time enjoying each other company and such. Yet we also unashamedly proclaim the first advent of our LORD. Just as the “Christmas spirit” is contagious this time of year, may our proclamation of Jesus’ advent be also. May our actions, songs, and attitudes this time of year be so pregnant with the proclamation of the new born King of Kings that the attitude of praise and adoration for Jesus is even more contagious.


 
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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in Christian Life, Family, Jesus Christ

 

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Give Me A Commercial Break!

It’s the day before Thanks Giving – the holiday that was originated as a day where people made a definite point to express gratitude to God for the provisions they experience and enjoy. Yet if one watches more than 15 minutes of TV they are inundated with commercials of all the great deals they can take advantage of in order to buy that one (or one hundred) thing(s) they don’t have. The prophets and preachers of materialism are inundating us with their pre, mid, and post- Thank Giving sale propaganda and we’re gobbling it up. America need s a commercial break!

We sit on our couches to corporately worship the god of materialism from the comfort of our own home. We receive materialism bibles in the mail that help us give to our deity through online “donations” in the form of purchases. Stores are staying open Thanks Giving day so as to ensure we will be able to obtain all the hottest toys for our children; although they don’t have anymore room in their toy boxes to store them. We crave to have every bit of this god we can get and will sacrifice our children, spouses, and selves in order to posses it.

We are so enthralled with this god that on the one day a year we set aside to express gratitude to the One True God, we are planning how early we’re going to get up so we can worship materialism. We have tasted of the god’s “Turkish Delight” and have developed an insatiable desire for more – more stuff. Stuff that has ears, but can’t really hear; stuff that promises satisfaction, but leaves a void, stuff that is increasingly worth less with time, STUFF! And our lives have become just as shallow as the things we are worshiping, just as fleeting as the joys they bring, just as superficial as the simulated environments, and just as worthless as the income they will bring at next summer’s yard sale. But God has told us that this is the curse for idolatry “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18)

Artist's rendition of the god of materialism and it's worshippers

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Christian Life, Culture, Family

 

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