Glory in the common

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When fascinated
with the spectacular,
we will miss glory
in the common.
A stable in Bethlehem
is not exactly
a flashy venue.

–Stephen Crosby

 

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Published in: on 11/30/2015 at 17:02  Leave a Comment  
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The power of weakness

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The omnipotence of God

is shown in the fact
that he can assume
the form of human
impotence and
can triumph
in this form.

–Karl Barth

 

The potency of thankfulness

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THANKFULNESS takes the sting out of adversity. That is why we should give thanks in everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: We give thanks (regardless of our feelings), and God gives us Joy (regardless of circumstances). This is an act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know God intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Him for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Him in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to God’s Presence and your thoughts to His thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling us to see from His perspective. It it this Light of His Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

–Adapted from Jesus is Calling

Published in: on 11/27/2015 at 13:15  Leave a Comment  
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Uncommon coronation

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WHEN Christ uttered, in the judgment hall of Pilate, the remarkable words—”I am king,” he pronounced a sentiment fraught with unspeakable dignity and power. His enemies might deride his pretensions and express their mockery of his claim, by presenting him with a crown of thorns, a reed and a purple robe, and nailing him to the cross; but . . . [a] higher power presided over that derisive ceremony, and converted it into a real coronation. That crown of thorns was indeed the diadem of empire; that purple robe was the badge of royalty; that fragile reed was the symbol of unbounded power; and that cross the throne of dominion which shall never end.

–J. L. Reynolds

 

God is no unfeeling force

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blank squareI cannot think that God would be content
To view unmoved the toiling and the strain,
The groaning of the ages, sick and spent,
The whole creation travailing in pain.

The suffering God is no vast cosmic force,
That by some blind, unthinking, loveless power
blank squareKeeps stars and atoms swinging in their course,
And reckons naught of men in this grim hour.

Nor is the suffering God a fair ideal
Engendered in the questioning hearts of men,
A figment of the mind to help me steel
My soul to rude realities I ken.

blank squareGod suffers with a love that cleanses dross;
A God like that, I see upon a cross.

blank square–Georgia Harkness
          (1891-1974)

Published in: on 11/19/2015 at 15:32  Leave a Comment  
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What makes God glorious?

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“Glory” is a timeworn, many-sided, vaguely understood term of rich significance. Most importantly it has to do with God, the source and sum of it. Glory is what inspires wonder and admiration. It is manifested excellence, the outward display of beauty and goodness, the visible demonstration of greatness.

The glory of God is when
God lets us see what He’s like.

It’s when His wonderfulness goes public, His awesomeness comes into view, His splendor is sighted.

We observe the glory of God in creation—an awe-inspiring, but limited view. We get a close-up view when we contemplate Jesus, the human life of God. The knowledge of the glory of God is seen partially in nature, but fully in the face of Jesus Christ.

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Great are the mysteries of creation. Greater still is the mystery of godliness, when the Architect of the galaxies was manifested in human form. The heavens display the greatness of God’s power. The Word made flesh displays the greatness of His love.

The heavens show us God’s hand;
Jesus shows us His heart.

The heavens declare the glory of God, but Jesus of Nazareth is the glory of God. He is the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person.

The heavens declare the glory of God in an impersonal, distant way. Jesus brings the glory of God near in a living, breathing, loving Person.

Jesus is the glory of God made human.

And never was He so glorious as when he became horribly inglorious. It happened on a cross—where the worst and the best, the highest and the lowest collided. The crucifixion of the incarnate God did not extinguish His glory, it expanded it. At Calvary the glory of God blazed forth in volcanic abundance.

It was in the moment of greatest ugliness that His beauty shone most brightly. It was in the place of utmost shame that His splendor burst forth. Violence brought virtue to light, as the crushing of a rose releases its fragrance.

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Glory was nailed to a cross and lifted up for all to see. The veil in the temple was ripped open—God’s glory had been revealed. It was the glory of His irrepressible, self-giving, self-sacrificing, redeeming, restoring love. It was the glory of His grace.

The heavens declare a piece of His glory.
The cross declares it all.

Here is the final unveiling of glory. It is a revelation, an earthquake, a feast, a waterfall, a love story, a symphony, a tsunami, a game changer, a thirst quencher, an explosion of hope, a healing balm for the wounds of our broken and flawed lives.

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“Cross” and “glory” are as far apart as two words can possibly be. They are polar opposites. Crucifixion was not just about torture—it was about shame. It was the ultimate disgrace. For Hebrews it meant being cursed. No one ever dreamed a Roman cross could be glorious.

Until God got on one.

He makes all things glorious.

Even a shameful cross.

Even unworthy sinners.

Such is the greatness of His glory.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Lacking wonder

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We are perishing
for want of wonder,
not for want
of wonders.

–G. K. Chesterton

Not certainty, but trust

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When we get our spiritual house in order, we’ll be dead. This goes on. You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in darkness. Don’t expect faith to clear up things for you. It is trust, not certainty.

–Flannery O’Connor

Published in: on 11/08/2015 at 11:38  Leave a Comment  
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A time to kill

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“For everything there is a season, and a time
for every purpose under heaven
. . . a time to kill” (Ec. 3:1,3).

“Thou shalt not kill” clearly puts murder out of bounds for everyone. It’s Command #6 of the Big Ten.

End of discussion.

However, there is one important exception, and it comes straight from the apostle Paul. “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13 NIV).

There’s a death warrant out for the “misdeeds of the body,” and we are authorized—yea, commanded—to kill. Every last one of them is to be put to the sword. We are to listen to no pleas for mercy. Not one is to be spared.

Why such drastic action? Is this not an extreme measure?

The apostle pulls no punches. His argument is simple and strong—if you don’t put them to death, they will put you to death. Somebody is going to die, it’s either you or them. There’s a battle going on. Your life is on the line.

We are to soften the sentence for none of these fiends.

To “live according to the flesh” looks most attractive. Its forbidden pleasures are tantalizing—but make no mistake. They’re out to kill. Your soul is at stake.

Death and life are before you. The Spirit is willing.

You choose.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

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