Monthly Archives: August 2015

What Are You Doing with God’s Glory?

Whether we recognize it or not, we all have the glory of God in us. We are gloriously made in the image of God. Our human body, with all of its parts and a mind that combines instinct and rationality, is still not fully comprehended by medical science. We are made up of millions of cells that work in unity to give us eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to understand, along with coronary, respiratory and digestive systems to sustain us.

We are the top of the pyramid of God’s creation. The psalmist says, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14) Genesis tells us that we are made “to work and take care” of the garden of creation. (Gen. 2:15) The glory of our being combines with the glory of our mission.

Yet the psalmist also reminds us, “How long O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” (Psalm 4:2) St. Paul chastised the people of his day for exchanging the glory of God for images of mortal man and for exchanging the truth of God for a lie in how they lived. (Rom. 1:23, 25)

Do we recognize the glory of our being? Do we see the glory of working and taking care of the people and circumstances God has entrusted to us?

There have been times in my life when I have forgotten who I was and the important work God had given me. Early in my career I sought the false gods of recognition and position without regard to what God’s will was for me and my family. I didn’t recognize God’s glory in me as one of his created and I wasn’t asking him for guidance in what he wanted for me and the family he had given me.

By the grace of God, the example of my wife and the power of the Holy Spirit, God opened my eyes to see that I was wonderfully made in his image to work and take care of a piece of his creation that was all a part of something larger than myself.

It is part of God’s plan, also called natural law, that most of us become co-creators with him in bringing new life into this world, nurturing that life in the context of a family with a mother and a father, and teaching and demonstrating the truth of God’s word to the next generation.

We are also called to work and take care of our thread in the larger fabric of creation, whatever it may be, so that both civilization and God’s kingdom are moved forward on earth as it is in heaven.

Are we seeing God’s glory in our life and work? Remember, we are precious in the eyes of the Lord!

The Acts of the Apostles in Today’s World

Can we experience the acts of the apostles in our lives today?

Some scripture commentators refer to the Acts of the Apostles as a “testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit,” or “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” It begins with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5)

With the coming of the Holy Spirit, we see the apostles, who all ran at Jesus’ arrest, take on a new courage to witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus, proclaim the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven and perform miraculous works among the people just as Jesus did. The same Holy Spirit that empowered the early disciples to build God’s church in the first century is still present to all of us today as evident by the following story taken from Hope for the Workplace-Christ in You. (p. 107)

John was a county prosecutor in Minnesota, and worked with a detective sergeant named Eric, who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Eric was in his mid-thirties and married with two children. After a couple of months of chemotherapy, Eric lost his hair and was often too weak to come to work.

John could see that Eric was very ill, so he asked him if he could attend a Christian conference in Minneapolis in order to be prayed with for healing. John explained that the healing power of Jesus had been manifested at these conferences. Eric was open to going, but he had additional chemotherapy scheduled and was too weak to make the trip. John told him he would pray for him there.

In Acts 19:11-12, Luke reports, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured.” At the conference John stood in for Eric, as people gathered around him to pray that Eric’s cancer would be healed. Someone handed John a handkerchief that was prayed over to take back to Eric.

Upon returning home, John met Eric one day at the courthouse and invited him into his office. “I told him that we had prayed for his healing at the conference, and someone had given me a handkerchief, which we prayed over for him. I emphasized that I firmly believed in the healing power of Jesus Christ and that God could use the handkerchief as a sign of our faith to heal Eric just as had been done in biblical times. We placed the handkerchief on his chest and prayed that the healing power of Jesus Christ would remove the cancer from him.”

“He thanked me,” John said, “and told me he believed that he would be healed and would return the handkerchief after the doctors had confirmed that he no longer had cancer.” About a month later Eric informed John that the doctors had confirmed that he was cancer free. This took place in the fall of 2001. To this day, the cancer has not returned.

Sometimes our willingness to step out and do something that may seem to be foolish reflects the kind of faith on which God wishes to act. The most important lesson from this story is that God is still performing miracles today through the power of the Holy Spirit just as he did with Peter, Paul and the other disciples of the first century church.

The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

Do we see the goodness of the Lord in our daily lives?

In Psalm 27 we read, “I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (vs. 13) Psalm 27 is a beautiful psalm, full of hope, joy and confidence, even in times of difficulty. It begins by declaring, “The Lord is my light and salvation– whom shall I fear…the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

Through this “light” (knowledge of God and our existence), “salvation” (God’s saving grace) and “stronghold” (God’s protection), we will “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” This is a promise for this life, here and now. Whatever the challenge – a demanding boss, a difficult colleague, an unreasonable customer, the loss of a job, a personal illness, the suffering or loss of a loved one, God’s saving grace is available to us in the present moment.

Phillip Yancey in his book, What’s so Amazing about Grace, tells the story of a rock concert at Wembley Stadium in London in 1988, to celebrate the changes in South Africa. For some reason the promoters scheduled opera singer, Jessye Norman as the closing act to sing, Amazing Grace. For twelve hours various rock groups blasted the fans already high on booze and drugs.

Yancey reports, “Finally the time comes for her to sing. A single circle of light follows Norman, a majestic African-American woman wearing a flowing African dashiki, as she strolls on stage. No backup band, no musical instruments, just Jessye. The crowd stirs, restless. Few recognized the opera diva. A voice yells for more [rock music]. Others take up the cry. The scene is getting ugly.”

“Alone, a capella, Norman begins to sing, very slowly:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found–

Was blind, but now I see.

“A remarkable thing happens in Wembley Stadium that night. Seventy thousand raucous fans fall silent before her aria of grace. By the time Norman reaches the second verse, ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved…, the soprano has the crowd in her hands. By the time she reaches the third verse, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe this far, And grace will lead me home,’ several thousand fans are singing along.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.”

Jessye Norman later confessed she had no idea what power descended on Wembly Stadium that night. Yancey said, “I think I know. The world thirsts for grace. When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.”

The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

The Divine Power of Truth

Do we appreciate the power of truth?

St. Paul talks about truth having divine power when he says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

Truth, the knowledge of God, his word and work, has divine power. It demolishes lies, deception, and all manner of error. Since truth is from God, it is eternal and never fades or dies, in contrast to lies and deception which may last for a while, but are eventually discovered and proven false.

Truth on the other hand may lie dormant for a time, but is always discovered and demolishes the stronghold of lies. Examples in our world today include such questions as when life begins, and what constitutes marriage. If we discovered biological cells on another planet, the headlines would declare “Life Exists on Another Planet,” yet a human egg fertilized with a human sperm is not? Genesis and all of nature declare that marriage is between a “male and female” who become one to “be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it,” but the wisdom of this world through our highest court says it is not? Is our culture exchanging the “truth of God for a lie,” as Paul describes in Romans 1:25?

When Pilate was trying to determine who Jesus was and whether he was a king, Jesus said the reason he was born and came into the world “was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37) Pilate, like many of our leaders today, not recognizing the embodiment of truth standing before him, asked, “What is truth?”

History testifies to the power and lasting nature of truth. The Roman Empire oppressed and persecuted Christians for almost 300 years. Yet historian Will Durant, not necessarily a friend of the Christian faith, eloquently observes:

“There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.” (Caesar and Christ, p. 652)

In recent memory we have seen regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union seek to oppress and outlaw the truth of God, but instead the power and eternal nature of truth brought each of them crashing down.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” May we never lose confidence in the power and eternal nature of truth against the lies and deceptions of the world.