Light of Glory

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol opens by saying that Old Marley was dead as a doornail. And that nothing wonderful would come of the story unless that was first known. Well for my devotion tonight you must remember that God in all His glory has never been seen at any time. The wonder of this message depends on our understanding of that.

So what’s so glorious about this God? Is He really too great for our eyes to handle? Well He’s the one who speaks and atoms come into being, organized exactly as they need to be for all of them to coexist. He is the creator of light itself, which is the means by which His good and beautiful creation can be clearly seen. He is the origin story of the universe or multiverse or whatever. He is greater than our terrestrial minds can fathom. Darth Vader once said “Never underestimate the dark side.” Well the dark side’s got nothing on God and His light. We cannot help but underestimate his power. Look at every vision in the Bible about the throne room of God. You can tell by the descriptions that the prophets have no clue of what they are seeing. Their brains can’t cope with it and their bodies keel over like they’re dead.

But even so we long to comprehend it. We long to be in the light as he is in the light. Moses said to God “Show me your glory!” He wanted to be know who God is in a real, tangible way! When I first was getting to know my wife I lived in Florida and she lived in Virginia. Emails had been exchanged through her siblings and mother. As we corresponded I started to realize I was falling in love with her. But I needed more! I needed to see her! My friend and I scoured the internet looking for pictures. But I needed more than that. I longed to be with her and see her in real time. To hold her.

This is where things get even more amazing in our story. Because God provided a way … the only way … we could be close to Him and truly, intimately know Him. Jesus, enthroned in splendors unimaginable, Creator and sustainer of all things, was funneled into a human baby. Stop and think about that. I’m reminds of a line the genie says in Disney’s Aladdin. “Phenomenal cosmic powers … Ity bity living space.” Its unthinkable. But its true. Through Jesus the glorious light of God can actually be witnessed. John says he touched and handled the Word of Life. Seeing Jesus was seeing the Father, human edition. Think of Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent. It is mild mannered Clark with those unassuming glasses who is able to build relationships with the humans around him. And it is through a relationship with Jesus, the Son of Man, that a relationship with the Creator was possible. And through him, an enlightenment of truth and the concept of grace.

He bottled up all that glory so we can identify with him and he with us. His glory can now be revealed in a way that won’t kill us instantly. But our story doesn’t stop there. It gets even more wonderful. Because this galactically impressive power, through the work of the Holy Spirit, can now be inside us. The greatest intimacy with the Creator God, made possible by the coming of Jesus, is now within those who believe on Him.

Do you get the implications here? Do we recognize and live like we have the eternal power of the most high God burning hot inside us? That’s better that Darth Vader and Superman put together … inside us. That glorious light has the potential to shine through. We just have to let it. Matthew says “let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven.” Just let it. Just turn yourself off and get transparent, baby. Let Him do the rest.

But there’s one more place to follow the light. That is to the end. Revelation 22:4-5 says that in the end, when all evil is dealt with, those who are God’s will see His face. There will be no need for a sun because God will be their light.

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Show Me

One of the United States is called the Show Me state. I don’t know what that means in context but I’d like to think it has to do with demonstrating action. I like that idea.

Action is antequated these days. Why act when you can feel enough satisfaction winning a point on Facebook while driving your opponent into the digital mud? Now that’s satisfaction, right? Don’t deny it. We’ve all felt it, whether it’s the pride we have when a friend posts something to demolish another point of view or we do it ourselves.

But to quote the song, “I can’t get no satisfaction” from these wordy attacks. Not really. In fact, they only lead to a false view of Christianity from outside the church and divisiveness inside. So that satisfaction quickly turns to discouragement.

With that said, here’s my attempt to be exhorting instead of divisive on the issue of Syrian refugees. I’ll try to keep it short.

1. If you feel convicted to help these particular refugees, go and do it. Or at the very least dig into your wallets and send money to those who are helping.
2. Remember to separate government and personal service. For those calling on the government to bring in refugees, this, according to FBI, CIA, and many other officials, increases risks of attacks on this homeland from the inside. If you promote bringing them here, remember that you are not only putting your own life at risk, but those of all Americans. I’m not saying its right or wrong, just saying to be ready to live with that.
3. Remember that whether refugees come here or not or where they go is largely out of our control as citizens. So all of our shouting does not do a lot to change things. What does change things is each one of us answering the specific call God has given us. We can’t tell every Christian to be the same. Some are missionaries to Mexico. Some to the Philippines. Some to the old lady next door. That’s awesome. That’s how everyone can be reached, because we all have convictions to different people and groups.

So in conclusion, saying what you believe is good. Even saying it boldly as long as it is in love. But make sure that whatever level you are using to preach on social media, you are matching that with corresponding actions. It’s a tough challenge. And I have failed it many times. But when I envision all the posts people are sharing about providing help to these refugees and then think of each one of these people actually DOING something about these refugees, then I think …. Wow! If all the tweets became real people going and doing and sharing the gospel with the refugees I think the world would be blown away by the glory of God.

(Update. Source: http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/missouri/state-nickname/show-me-state: )

Missouri’s nickname is┬áThe Show Me State. There are several stories concerning the origin of the “Show Me” slogan. The most widely known story gives credit to Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver for coining the phrase in 1899. During a speech in Philadelphia, he said:

“I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

The phrase is now used to describe the character of Missourians – not gullible – conservative and unwilling to believe without adequate evidence.

The Night Before Equality

Twas the night before veterans day and all through Mizzou,
Not a minority was stirring, not even a Jew.
We were all snuggled in safe healing places with mace at our sides,
Calling Reverend Jackson on our cell phones to come save our hides.
An oversized pickup had roared right down the street
With their racist flags flapping, we knew we were dead meat.
We had visions of white boys in big pointy hats;
The privileged in shadows shouting “We’ll get you and that’s that!”
“We’ll oppress all your hopes and cut minimum wage.”
“We’ll take your insurance as we burn with white rage.”
It doesn’t matter they were figments of our imagination.
The point is the threat is quite real even if confabulation.
But no one will take away what we deserve.
If they think they’ll get our handouts then they’ve got to have nerve.
So on Sharpton, on Wright, on Obama, on Lynch
On Holder and Hillary, to make a big stench.
We’ll whine and we’ll cry until the rich are all poor
And everything’s free at Big Al’s department store.
We’ll get A’s just for breathing the stifling air.
We won’t rest until everything’s ten thousand times fair.
Until then we’ll lament and tweet all our woes
With a powerful whimper we’ll defeat our white foes.

Banning Humanity

Everywhere you go there’s a call for something to be banned or boycotted. Take Starbucks red cups, for example. As far as I have scoured social media, maybe two people in America are offended by these cups, but we all believe the hype because its just like something Americans would do. We protest things. Mizzou has taught us that we protest having to pay our bills. We protest being afraid. We protest that there are white people. We protest that there are black people. We protest that they are separated. We protest they are together.

We have gotten into the habit of walking around with, not just a chip on our shoulder, but a whole truckload of mulch. Just taking a step will make one fall. “Who put that step there?! I almost tripped!”

Every offense is immediately attacked by an army of hashtags like white blood cells. They don’t always end up destroying the offensive material, but they certainly nag it to shame (nag being a sexist word soon to be protested.) #nagisbad

But what does this mean? Why do we let it bother us so much when someone flies a flag we don’t approve of? I think deep down its because we’re looking for perfection. The problem is that humanity is imperfect. The things we ban and protest are simply part of being human. But somehow we think that if we can just shave off all the rough bits of society we can all live in peace. What we’ve found, though, is that shaving off the rough bits just makes us all weak and fearful and mean.

We aren’t going to change society by banning humanity.

But we can change lives by transforming humans. That doesn’t start with taking the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. It starts with realizing that, under all those chips on your shoulder is someone who’s just as bad as the rest of humanity. Someone who has already been banned from God’s presence because of a diseased, rotten, reprobate heart. Your sin against Him is the most offensive thing in the world. Because he made us and then we rejected Him and His plan for us. The difference is that God isn’t making mean hashtags about you. He doesn’t want you banned. He wants you transformed into His image. #armsopenwide