Tuesday, April 30, 2013

God Makes His Glory Known...

Over and over in the Old Testament, you can see statements made by God through His prophets like these...

"I will display My glory among the nations..." or "I will make My Name known..." or even, "I will not share my glory with another..."

It seems on the surface rather self-centered that our God's primary driving force is to make His Name known to all. We as followers of Christ are taught and value servant leadership. "The Son of Man did not come to be served but rather to serve..." And all of us have heard that, "...pride goes before destruction." So, why is our God so self-centered?

Here's the bottom line (to use a great western economics metaphor):

Whose glory would God promote if not His own? Who is there worthy other than He? Who is the One who created all, sustains all, moves and breathes in all? Or, even simpler, whose story is this world and all of life (and even eternity) about?

This life, everything we have, are or do, is really God's story, not ours. We somehow come to the self-delusion that the universe revolves around us, don't we? It is easy to fall into the trap of asking, "why did this happen to me?" or "why am I suffering" or worse. Things in our lives go so well that we pass the day or even days without a thought of the One who it is really all about.

God is a self-promoter. There is no one other worthy of promoting. There is no one or ones worthy of receiving our praise and honor other than God Himself. When we give glory, consciously or subconsciously, to anyone or anything else, we pervert and devalue the sole worthiness of God Himself. And to be honest, this is not to God's detriment as much as it is to our own.

God's plan is to make His Name known to all. In the end, His Name will be exalted, praised and worshipped above all. For one day, every knee shall bow and tongue confess. And on that day, every people, tongue, tribe and nation will be gathered around God's throne praising and honoring none other than Him.

So, God is self-centered. He calls us to be God focused and God-centered. Furthermore, all of history is moving towards this great and mighty worship of God when one day, He will receive His full glory.

I want to be a part of that, don't you?

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Ego Reminiscence Ratio...

Yesterday, I read a great thought from one of my favorite author's on community development named Robert Chambers. In a recent publication, he talked about the propensity of older people (like myself) to talk about things in the past by starting out conversations with, "I remember when..." or "When I was a kid..." It is basically what he calls the Ego Reminiscence Ratio (ERR) and is generally higher among men than women, increases with increased age, higher in the evening than in the morning and, according to Chambers, rises sharply with the consumption of alcohol. Since I meet all the criteria with the exception of one (alcohol consumption), I think I have experienced it.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about the past. I think about how good it was to be a newly arrived young person in the Philippines working with rural development. I think about those early days of raising our family in a rural, third-world village setting and how exciting it was to be doing "hands on" relief and development. I often find myself thinking, "those were the good days..."

However, I have to come back to the reality that all of us have seasons in life. Things happen for a time and God places us in in those locations and roles usually for a time as well. It doesn't mean that what we did years ago was good and what we do today is bad, it just means that as we grow, God tends to bring not only more responsibilities to our lives but also new opportunities. If we grow in Him, we tend to move from doers to disciplers, makers to mentors and technicians to teachers/trainers.

My mind is tempted to long for those days when I did less of the teaching and administrative things that I do today. I tell myself, "it was easier back then" or "it was more fulfilling." That's when my Ego Reminiscence Ratio is in high gear.

But then I get a whiff of the Spirit and He gently reminds me that...

"Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 4:12-13)


"...since we have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)


"So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up..."

I think it a bit ironic that the acronym for the Ego Reminiscence Ratio is "ERR". I pray that I do cherish and learn from past experiences. But I also pray that I do not "err" and become content with those or even hold them up as the perfect example of what life should be. I pray that I do not become weary in well doing and I pray that I forget those things behind and press on towards the only thing worth pressing on towards: the high calling of Christ in my life.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Profaning God's Name...by our actions?

I run in a small circle even though I work with a global organization. Most of my relationships are with godly people, lovers of Jesus Christ, who would never think of or ever utter a profane word against the name of Christ or God the Father. It is a small but good crowd.

However, as I was reading through the book of Jeremiah this morning, I read a passage that struck me. It is Jeremiah's warning to the king and nation of Judah just before their destruction. It is a reference to a promise that Judah had made to God. They had promised to live by His laws and decrees. They promised to do things such as freeing their fellow Israelites who had become bond slaves in their midst. They had promised right action towards their neighbors, brothers and sisters. But Jeremiah notes...

"But you have changed your minds and profaned My name...You have not obeyed Me by proclaiming freedom, each man for his brother and for his neighbor. I hereby proclaim freedom for you - to the sword, to plague, and to famine!....I will treat them like the calf they cut in two in order to pass between its pieces." (Jeremiah 34:16-18)

While pretty much everyone I know would be horrified to even think about profaning the name of God verbally, I wonder if our profanity of actions (or lack thereof) are any less of a profaning? Judah was cited for profanity in that they failed to do what they had promised to God. What about us?

* What about when we do not do the things we know are right?
* What about when we turn our backs on the homeless, hopeless and hurting?
* What about when we tread on God's grace by willful and conscious sin?
* What about when we have a chance to speak up for justice and remain silent?

I have never once (until today) thought about myself as a profaner of God's name. However, if our actions or lack of actions can be interpreted that way, I am walking a dangerous line. My mom (and yours probably as well) always said that our actions speak louder than our words.

I wonder what my actions say about my walk with God? I wonder even more what my actions say about my regard for His Holy Name?