Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
Ok, I won’t! Read More
As a recovering addict of overstatement, I want to be careful in the words I choose to warn fellow ministers about the danger of reductionism in our preaching and teaching. Dictionary.com defines reductionism as: “The practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.” Read More
Random thoughts (no doubt related to conscious thoughts) are constantly in a pastor’s mind. What do I think about that? How should I handle this? Which approach is most Christ-honoring, most helpful, most impactful? Read More
Ok, here’s the truth. I was a really skinny kid. To look at me now you wouldn’t know it, but my arms were like pipe cleaners and my legs like pick-up sticks. Really. I was embarrassed at swimming parties and felt ashamed to wear my basketball jersey ‘cause my shoulders could barely keep the straps up. Read More
Dear Pastors and Ministry Leaders:
What are you working on today? What are you striving after? Grieving over? Burdened about?
Let’s keep our focus: We are not important. We are unprofitable servants on our best days. We have a King—and it is His glory we seek.
John 2:11 says, “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.”
It didn’t take long for Jesus to get the lid off His total identity, and glory started flowing out of Him like a river. He thought differently than humans think. He spoke in a way that made everyone hush to hear. He loved in a way that no one had a category for. And His miracles were to manifest His glory . . .
Where Jesus Christ is at work, things are happening that cannot be explained by rational categories. We understand them rationally, but cannot elucidate their means or replicate them ourselves. John’s two words to describe the purpose of the miracles Jesus did were manifest and glory. It’s what God gives to satisfy the longing He has placed in every human heart, and it’s the only “product” the church has to offer.
When every pastor in North America gets hold of the reality that we are providers of nothing, but are facilitators of glory—that we are just channels through whom Christ can reveal Himself—churches will have returned to their created purpose, and God will begin to move in power to display that glory.
In John 5:41, Jesus discloses the true purpose for His glory, saying “I do not receive glory from people.” The word order is emphatic: “Glory from men, I receive not.” I can hear the disciples asking Why, Jesus, why do you not receive glory from people? Answer: Mountains do not receive glory from dirt piles. Do you understand? Oceans do not receive glory from birdbaths. Redwoods do not receive glory from shrubbery, and Jesus Christ does not receive glory from people.
Then why are we exhorted to glorify God? The answer, to be sure, is that God is lovingly leading us onto the path of our greatest joy, the truest alignment with the divine nature that in Christ we are made partakers of (2 Peter 1:3-4). Let us be done once for all with the illusion that God needs or is validated in our glorifying. We alone are the beneficiaries whenever the glory of Christ is manifested.
Glory is a two-way street—vertically. It flows in two directions, not four. Glory goes up from the created world in a whisper and from the redeemed world in a shout. And when that happens, glory comes down as manifest presence in the church. In John 5:44, Jesus continued: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” I was so arrested by that verse in my quiet time recently that I wrote it out in my neatest script and posted it on the bulletin board behind my computer. Read it again. Wow, that verse lays me out.
I have always understood that taking glory belonging to God is sinful—and, in fact, taking glory is stealing because it is never rightly ours. I get it—“Deflect glory, it’s not yours. You’re just the messenger. Give it to God.” What I didn’t get is that failing to do so restricts my ability to believe and receive the glory God wants to pour down. God’s glory is such that it will not displace human praise; it will not wash away our preoccupation with exalting one another. If we allow the culture’s compulsion for celebrating celebrity to carry the day in our churches, we inhibit the glory our people desperately need.
Ephesians 3:21—“To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.”