Posts Tagged ‘glory of God’

Can I say it? Can I look at my yesterdays, my now, and my tomorrow and say, “Hallelujah!” Can I speak it for my family, both here in the U.S. and elsewhere? Am I at peace with my life and my God? Am I convinced? Or, is there still a part of me a little disappointed, a tad resentful, a bit unyielding? Am I kicking at the goads of seeming unfairness?

Revelation 19:1b-2a
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,for true and just are his judgments.

I have been traveling for the last three weeks. It has been a glorious adventure that included several parts of Estonia, Latvia, and Germany. I was re-connecting with my extended family, the ones who, until 1991, were behind the barriers of the “iron curtain”, cement walls, and miles of barbed wire. It’s hard to believe that was twenty years ago. And yet, the remnants of that desolate time remain, both in the buildings and the hearts of the people, despite the outward signs of robustness: copious McDonalds, modern shopping centers, grocery stores, and, of course, tourists.

Somehow, we all arrive at today. Whether the march went through struggles caused by the power of governments and dictators or the addictions and violence within our immediate circle. Human continues. Often, the way is unclear until we can get a birds eye view, the hindsight look, the review of the paths that led to now in order to see the patterns of God’s making.

It could have been me. Only by the constant movement of my parents’ displaced persons camp did they end up in the American sector of Germany and that, coupled with the stubbornness of my mother who believed they could emigrate to somewhere, anywhere, but there. She would never speak of the divine during those years. But I know, serendipity is Spirit led. Chance is channeled.

God is sovereign.

For me, it has been one kind of a journey and for my family, another. For my adopted children, yet another. Each life is amalgamated by the choices and circumstances of “before.”

Justice and truth don’t necessarily manifest on my time table. This is the mystery. And so, it is faith that sustains us until they do. It is faith that believes evil will not overpower good. Not forever.

And for this reason, I must continue to say, “Hallelujah! Glory belongs to God, who is just and true and avenges the blood of his servants, the losses of the poor, and the sorrows of the fragile.”

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Photo by Marc Adamus

This is another one of the “in” phrases that really strikes hard on my heart. IN! On the inside! And that inside glory will manifest. And that’s amazing. I believe it. Jesus had that “in” stuff and that would make the most sense as to why people were drawn to Him. Light, love and glory.

II Thessalonians 1:10
When He comes to be glorified in His saints [on that day He will be made more glorious in His consecrated people], and [He will] be marveled at and admired [in His glory reflected] in all who have believed [who have adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Him], because our witnessing among you was confidently accepted and believed [and confirmed in your lives].

One of my favorite signs in American Sign Language is glory. One hand lies on top of the other and then is arced across the body with the fingers waving. It’s like a shimmering rainbow. I imagine that coming out of my own body one day.

I confess this is one of the reasons why I love reading fantasy fiction, stuff like that happens. Magic and wonder and light and transformation are commonplace. But things of the Spirit are no less fantastic and full of marvel. We’ve lost that in our faith. We’re all about justifying our faith, getting it to make sense, trying to convince others that God is real and Christ really did all those miracles, etc.

I’m all about the wonder right now and I’m all about the presence of the Holy Spirit within. And one day, there will be an outpouring of light from within.

That’s the “mark” I want everyone to see. People get entangled in their fears of the “mark of the beast” and forget about the other signs and wonders. What will the glory look like in me. . . in you?

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Where is this glory of the New Covenant? Some would say it is totally manifested in the Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s fine to say, but where is it today? I have heard others say, the glory is the character of Christ. Is that all there is to it? Really? Just a concept?

II Corinthians 3:7-8
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?

This scripture references the specific glory that was reflected in the face of Moses as a result of his time with God and the creation of the ten commandments. It wasn’t just his demeanor and it wasn’t the Holy Spirit shining out from within. But it was Light and it was Power and it was evident. And according to Paul, the glory of the New Covenant, the power and light of the law of Spirit written on the hearts of believers, that message is brighter and stronger.

I think the Light has been shuttered by unbelief.

There’s so much talk about “scriptura sola” (by scripture alone) and the inerrant Word of God and yet, some of the most potent statements are tamed: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” [John 14″12] or “. . . I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Matthew 17:20b]

Until we are operating in these arenas, we have not experienced the fullness of the New Covenant.

Until we are loving God and loving others fully, we are not functioning according to the truth of Christ.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is Light and power and strength. But the Holy Spirit will not do battle with us either. We must work together.

I’m still going “my own way.” I confess. I make a plan and constantly ask God to bless it (or fix it when things go badly). And, in His grace and patience, God waits for me to get it, to really let go.

Dying to self [John 12:23-25] is not be just some nice poetry. It is the true “way” to the out-flowing of power, the unshuttered Light, the glory.

But to die to myself is change like no other change I have ever known or seen. It’s a total unknown. What does that dying look like? What does that feel like? What do I say or do? Or not do or say?

Some people have sought out this place of Spirit flow . . . they’ve laughed themselves silly, they’ve twitched, they’ve dropped gold dust from their fingertips, and they’ve spoken in tongues for hours and hours. But until the Glory manifests through the presence and release of the Holy Spirit, these are interpretive manifestations.

I don’t have any answers at all, but I do sense a missing piece.

Like the Kingdom that is within so is the Glory. It’s there. It’s here. Holy, holy, holy.

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I was going to review some of the current exegesis on hair & head coverings for women and/or men and how it’s applicable today. Forget that. It’s massive and contradictory. So what is my “take away” today? Where is the nugget that will have meaning and application for me?

I Corinthians 11:2, 7
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God . . . A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

With just a little reading about these passages, it’s clear to me that a great number of the verses are grounded in the culture of the day. There are modern day examples of coverings like the burqas of the Middle East, the “caps” worn by Mennonite and Amish women, or the veils worn by women in various high church services and masses. Some of these traditions have morphed into the custom of wearing hats in church, a practice still prevalent among many African American churches or seasonally in a variety of churches, like Easter Sunday.

But here’s the truth of it: I don’t wear head coverings. I don’t wear them to church (unless I am visiting a church where this is expected) and I don’t wear them to pray, sing, or worship. About the only time I wear a hat is to shield my face from the sun at the beach.

If I weigh the controversy over head coverings with the Jesus Creed, to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul & strength and to love my neighbor as myself, could it possibly matter? Does God love me less? Do I cut myself off from the blessings of God?

Now, what about the sister verses that are slipped in between the head covering ones? That “man” is the image & glory of God while woman is the glory of man or that Christ is the head of man while man is the head of woman. Hiccup. Hiccup. I need to take a breath here.

All right, I can work through the headship scenario: since Christ is the head of man, well, then Christ is ultimately the head of woman too (If A=B and B=C, then A=C). That was easy.

But what about the glory piece? Am I the light of “man?” Do I, woman, reflect the character of “man” by who I am, what I do, and what I say? Do the men I know reflect the character of God in Christ?

If my previous post about the default of glory being both male and female believers reflecting the glory of God, then, wouldn’t we be the glory for one another, whether male or female. It’s about relationships, to God and to each other. If I am not in community with men and women, there is no reflecting going on anyway. I cannot be the glory for any person without being in relationship with him or her. I cannot sustain the light of Christ if I am not in relationship there either.

I’m sure there is plenty of room for debate about these verses and the “roles” of men and women, but I’m not going to spend more time trying to justify my stance. If I can be the light and glory of Christ in the world, then the rest will work out the way it is supposed to work out. If I love as Christ loved, then glory abounds. If I learn and practice authentic humility, then both man and woman are lifted up. This I believe.

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Sometimes I hear people say they are doing this or that “for the glory of God” and I wonder, exactly, what does that mean? How can my puny acts glorify the King of the universe? Do I really have anything to offer?

I Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

As I considered this idea today, I decided it’s not so much that I’m doing one thing or another, but it’s all of me.

Some years ago, I got very interested in deaf ministry. I wanted learn American Sign Language and I wanted to learn how to sign worship songs. I studied for about two years and although I was never very good in basic conversations, I did learn a large body of songs. One of my favorite signs is “glory.” The arm is carried up and across the body and the fingers flutter like twinkling. And so, I think of the Glory of God, light that washes across the world.

As a believer, I have asked for the presence of Christ within me. This supernatural, mystical experience manifests in light–God’s Light. My transparency adds light to the glory. When I am in God’s will, when I am loving, when I am manifesting any and all of the fruits of the spirit, I am light as well. I am adding light to the glory light of God. I can be bright or I can be dim.

I dim the light when I go my own way, when I choose to act selfishly.

Let me say it again, more simply still. I am part of the light, by default, as a believer. Instead of thinking that I must do something for the glory of God this day, I need to realize that I am part of the glory of God. That is, until I choose unwisely or willfully sin or hurt another person. Then my light is shuttered like a theater lamp, the beam is narrowed.

For years, I have felt guilty that I wasn’t consciously saying, “This is for the glory of God” each time I started a project or left the house or taught a class or wrote an essay. It’s all for the glory.

And instead, I ask God to forgive me for the shallow times, for the shuttered times, for the sins.

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Our human nature tends to put emphasis on the differences. That person is not like me. Another person is intolerable. Another is irredeemable. This is where grace must step in.

Romans 3:22b-24
For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, . . .

It’s a good thing God doesn’t depend on me for this grace business because I’m not very good at it. I try to keep my eye on the heart of the “sacred other” but I’m always thrown off by the words, the actions, the sounds: all those 3D things. I am particularly rough on my own family. Everything seems to be wrapped up in expectations.

People are constantly making mistakes. Some are trying harder than others to avoid or fix their errors, but still, the mistakes come. I am doing the same thing. I am tripping up all the time but my errors may be more covered up. I am a good chameleon. So, why am I so hard on others?

Some of this stems from a life-long struggle with “performance orientation.” I grew up in a household where my performance was constantly judged and compared to my sibling or others around me. Love was attached to performance. I was lovable if I was good or capable or smart. And as much as I know this about myself and my history, the same standards creep in as I deal with myself and others around me.

Stop! I really want to stop that. I want to become an instrument of grace.

I remember, I once worked in a temp job as a secretary for a man who was quite the perfectionist. He even made me re-do postage stamps if they weren’t completely aligned and perpendicular to the corner of the envelope. It was crazy-making. But so is my version of perfectionism and performance-based assessments.

Everyone has the potential and desire to love and be loved. Everyone can enter the glory of God through faith in the Christ, who God provided as a way. This is not about religion. This is about relationship. This is about sacredness within. This is the story of grace.

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