“God is holy and just. In all his deeds, God is true to himself and faithful to his promises. In contrast, we act in opposition to our true selves and break our covenant promises. Rather than acknowledging God’s gifts with grateful hearts, we take our lives for granted; or, even worse, we use them as if we had created ourselves. When we ought to honor God by conforming to his holiness and justice, we follow our own foolish inclinations and reject the divine wisdom embodied in God’s law.
“Even if we admit that God has bridged the gaps between being and nothingness, between meaning and meaninglessness, why should the righteous and holy God reach out to an arrogant and ungrateful sinner? That which is nothing might at least arouse pity, since its pitiful state is not its own doing. But the ungrateful lawbreaker who considers himself wiser than God clearly deserves the consequences of his actions. Divine righteousness on one side and human unrighteousness on the other, God’s holiness above and our unholiness beneath – how can God bridge such chasms? And why would he do so if he could?
“To our amazement, God wills to have fellowship with the unrighteous: he chooses to save sinners from the consequences of their actions. … Why does God forgive sinners and reconcile them to himself by taking on their sin? Because he loves us with a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3.19), and that provokes our wonder and amazement.”
(Ron Highfield, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God; pp. 175-176)
Who gives the ibis wisdom … ? (Job 38.36 NIV)
Apps, archaeology & children: Free App “Dig Quest: Israel” Teaches Children about Archaeology in Israel
“The app is in English and is available for download at the iTunes Store for iPhones and iPads. An Android version will be made available soon. The app features two simulated dig sites. One is based on the site of a Roman period mosaic at Lod and the other on the site associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.”
Beauty, creation, earth, environment, goodness & wonder: Creation Is a Many-Splendored Thing: Delighting in Creation’s Goodness
“… the psalmist praises God and relishes the vastness, complexity, and beneficence of God’s creation and the astonishing creatures who find a home there …”
Bible reading: Five Practices to Refresh Your Bible Reading [essential reading]
“1. Retell the passage from the perspective of the different characters. … 2. Interview each of the characters. … 3. Read the passage five times with each of the five senses in mind. … 4. Find the good news in the passage. … 5. Read the passage out loud.”
* “… racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.”
* “We remained either quiescent or ambivalent on race and violence, and then somehow manage to look at the images in Ferguson with shock and dismay.”
Food & recipes: Amazing Recipes from Chefs Who Feed the Homeless
“… here are a collection of holiday recipes we’ve culled from restaurants, shelters and churches that serve those in need, but also value nutrition and fine cooking.”
“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17.24 CEB)
Sharing what I know of God, through words and ways, is my great privilege and joy every day of the week. Bringing light into realms of darkness and helping add fuel to the lamps of others who burn for God, well, this is my bread and butter.
But what, pray tell, I ask, does it mean to “be” where Jesus is? Or to “see” Jesus’ “glory?” What on earth – or wherever Jesus is – is the glory the Father gave him “because” he loved” him? Do, please explain to me the glory our Father God gave his Son Jesus “before the creation of the world,” if you can.
I tell you, you can’t do it. And neither can I.
For to read and reflect and on these words sets our collective mind to reeling. Our brain goes on tilt. It’s as if we need someone to hit the reset button, for we don’t even begin to understand what all these words of our Lord must mean.
And that’s okay. Actually more than “okay” … glorious. Really.
For these words from our Lord were not recorded to give us greater clarity of knowledge about God, but to deliberately deepen the mystery that surrounds – indeed, is – our God, as well as our faith in him. They were not intended to answer our questions (as if we even naturally know what are the best questions to ask to begin with!), but rather to give rise to more and different questions in our heart. Truly, this is the purpose of these words from our Lord: to increase the volume of our wonder, not vaporize it.
What’s that you say? You ask, “Why is that?” Quite frankly, because we don’t need a god we can completely figure out.
Oh, we might think we want such a god, but a god who doesn’t transcend us is no brighter or greater than us and thereby, no god at all. Such a “god” would only be an extension of us or a projection of ourselves. Such a god would be a god far too small to be God. God knows this world has enough puny-pretend, lazy-and-lame gods already, thank you very much.
No, our deep need is a God we can’t get our arms completely around. Not even close. We need (and in our saner moments, we know we want) God to be a God who can – and always has, and always will – do far more than we can ever begin to even ask or imagine. We understand that what we want God to be is holy and wholly “other;” nothing but good and radically distinct from us. We need God not to be One who can be naturally understood by all, but supernatural in all his ways. A God who is far, far bigger than just what we know in this moment, but all of what is past and all of what is future, too.
Only such a God as this is truly “glorious” and can (and would) lovingly long to share his glorious presence with us.
And he has. His name is Jesus.
And he will. Through Jesus.
This he began before he created this world. As he works this still in his re-creation of things now. And he will still be doing it when he completely and gloriously brings heaven and earth together in his glory forever to come.
This is mind-blowing stuff that words alone are all too insufficient to convey! And so … like the One who interceded/intercedes for us … we should engage this mystery with the mystery that is p-r-a-y-e-r, and do so with his glory in view.
Father in heaven, hear this prayer of the One who intercedes for us. We echo his prayer and we mingle our prayers with his: bring us into his presence and Yours. Grant that we will be enabled to see your glory. The love and glory that alone is of you and has always been. So be it. Though we – gloriously – can’t begin to fully comprehend it.
Glory be to God!
When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made—the moon … that you set firmly in place—what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? (Psalm 8.3-4)
Abuse, atonement & God: Atonement and Divine Child Abuse
“About a decade ago it became avant garde theology to contend the classical Christian theory of atonement was nothing less than divine child abuse. That is, the image of a Father punishing a Son, or exacting retribution at the expense of his own Son, or punishing a Son for the good of others — each of these became a way of deconstructing classical atonement theory. … this approach … abuses the Bible’s image.”
Boredom, happiness, technology & wonder: Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy [required reading]
“Simply put, we bore easily. Once, when giving a radio address (an older technology which once seemed like magic), Albert Einstein looked straight into the muzzle of our dilemma: ‘Everybody should be ashamed who uses the wonders of science and engineering without thinking and having mentally realized not more of it than a cow realizes of the botany of the plants which it eats with pleasure.'”
Behavior & habits: 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits
“I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.”
Blessings, money, possession & prosperity: The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying
“So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living. No. My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us. And for this blessing, may our response always be, ‘Use me.'”
* “Reconciliation is what it means to be church; to go “to church.” It’s what Jesus intended our gatherings to be and to produce. I can’t be reconciled alone. I can worship alone, but I can’t do and be church alone. And I can’t be reconciled with people who are already just like me. Church is more than a gathering of my friends. It’s the differences, the tensions, the partisanship, the space between that creates the opportunity for God to transform my heart from what it is not to what God created it to be.”
* “Christianity is not about being better than someone else, it is among many things, the recognition that we are better than no one else. This is not a rhetorical move, it is reality.”
“Why the ‘Son of God’ film excludes Satan from the Christ story—and what’s at stake.”
Nationalism: Which Country Does God Really Love the Most?
“Sometimes we Americans think that God is an American and that He loves all the other countries, but just wishes they were like His special country!”
Parenting, technology & teens: Tips for Parenting Middle School Kids Using Texting and Social Media
“The biggest concern parents have is the undue influence texting and social media has on their children. The best way to counter undue influence is to provide quality attention and take an active interest in what is happening with your child (beyond sports and grades) and help them put the texting and social media apps in proper perspective for their lives.”
Politics & religious liberty: How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions
“… no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority.”