From Glory To Glory: Pain In The Process

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…”

For followers of Jesus, I think that the verse quoted above (part of a verse actually) has to be one of the most exciting passages in scripture concerning glory. Here, the Apostle Paul brings us into direct contact with the glory of God. The glory which was veiled to the Israelites during the time of Moses and remains hidden to those not in relation with Jesus has now been revealed to those who have experienced the freedom of the Spirit.

BRIEF RABBITT TRAIL: It is not my intention to spend a lot of time quibbling over the correct translation of κατοπτριζόμενοι (beholding). It is a fact that the Greek word could mean seeing as in a mirror or reflecting as a mirror. I think we sometimes force ourselves into an “either, or” definition when in all actuality it could be both at the same time. If you asked me, “So, which is it, seeing as in a mirror or reflecting as a mirror?” My answer would be, “Yes.”

As we who are in Christ are experiencing the glory of God, both seeing it and reflecting it, we are told that we are also being transformed into that same image of glory (Jesus), from one degree to another. That sounds wonderfully awesome to me. But what in the world does it mean, and how is it accomplished? I’d like to discuss one aspect of this process with you. It’s something we all experience (go figure) and none of us enjoy. PAIN.

There are many who believe that upon coming to Christ we are to be completely delivered from all pain and suffering. All of our distress is attributed at once to the enemy. I fear that at times we may have been “rebuking the devil” when actually our discomfort has been part of our transformation into glory. We insist that we want to be like Jesus, that we truly desire his glory, but somehow we have forgotten that in bringing many sons and daughters to glory Jesus himself had to experience much suffering. Is a servant greater than his master, or a messenger than the one who sent him? Of course not. Then we would do well to understand that our participation in glory will hurt at times. It was Jesus’ assumption of humanity that required even the author of salvation to learn obedience through what he suffered. So it is that the recipients of salvation experience pain as we are transformed from glory to glory into the image of the Son.

Lastly, we must never forget that the Father disciplines those children that he loves. Our “Western mindset” seems to always possess connotations of punishment and anger when considering the “discipline of the Father.” But discipline does not necessarily imply that sin has been committed and that punishment is being meted out. No, like any good father, God sometimes trains us, molds, shapes, and directs us in what is painful that we might bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness, that we might share his holiness, that we might be transformed from one degree of glory to another into the image of Christ.

Be encouraged today!! As a follower of Jesus, your pain and suffering are not in vain. You are experiencing the glory of God, being transformed into the glorious image of him by whose stripes you have been healed.

“ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

 

Glory

“[Father,]the glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

I’ve been thinking about “glory” a lot lately. Whenever I’m in the Word it seems like I’m always being drawn to passages about glory. Or, I’ll go somewhere and someone is talking about glory. My wife & I led worship at a conference last Saturday evening, and guess what; yep, the message that night was about- glory. In the past, when I’ve contemplated glory it has had to do with God’s Shekinah Glory or “Christ in you the hope of glory” or “Man, we got on up in the glory today at church.” For me, glory has always been some illusive, intangible thing that God has, and every now and then we get a little taste of it. Then finally one day we’ll be with him and literally see his glory. It had never really dawned on me that, in Christ, we are partakers of glory. Not only later, but right now.

One of the wonders, and an “aspect” of the glory of the Triune God is the “agape-knowledge” shared by Father, Son, and Spirit. Within God there is complete disclosure, intimate knowledge, mutual adoration, and unified participation- God is love. And this love, this intimate knowledge, this glory has been given to us by God, in Jesus. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “In fact, it is this knowledge, this revelation of God through/in Christ that IS eternal life itself (John 17:3). Not only later, but right now.

This glory of the “agape-knowledge” of God does not exist merely for our personal benefit. Another aspect of the glory is that as the Son came to earth and glorified the Father through the manifestation of his name, we too as partakers of glory declare the reality of God in Jesus. As the world beheld the glory of God in the person of Jesus, so it is that we who are the fullness of him who fills all in all make known the manifold wisdom of God, the eternal purpose that has been realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not only later, but right now.

“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

 

Golden Years?

 “Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.’

” So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.”

One of the oldest tricks in the book is the consolidation of political power by manipulation of religious systems. And strangely enough, God’s people have fallen for it time and time again. I believe we are witnessing this same deception play out in American politics, and Christians are eating it up. We as followers of Jesus need to realize that while God most definitely works in and through the nations of this world, there is a danger that like ancient Israel, we too will find ourselves drawn away from following Jesus, going instead after “idols.”

I believe that the most dangerous form of politics is that which appears to shape its ideology around biblical theology. Christians have swallowed conservatism without even chewing it to see what it tastes like. And I wonder if many of us are not being deceived by those who hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power. We hate those accursed liberals, the baby killers, the gay rights activists, etc…, and we fear that they are destroying our nation. But I believe that it is the appearance of piety without true intimacy with Jesus which poses the more lethal threat. We must never forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against evil spiritual forces that disguise themselves as angels of light.

My dear brothers and sisters let us hold fast to our Lord Jesus. May we come to know that the answer we seek does not lie in any political ideology, but in the grace, mercy, and love of our God. We must be being continuously filled with his Spirit, asking for wisdom and discernment that we may rightly interpret national and global events. For the kingdom of this world (even America) will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. The Spirit and the Bride say come!

I Know A Man

I know a man who knew from the time he was a little boy that there was a God who loved him and that he was called to share His word.

I know a man who as a child experienced abuse and abandonment.

I know a man who as an adolescent began to turn from the Light and descend into darkness.

I know a man who abandoned his family, his mother, his brother, and his own children.

I know a man who was a thief.

I know a man who was a liar.

I know a man who was a murderer, taking the life of his own unborn child.

I know a man who stayed locked in a room for days, staying high, drunk, ranting and raving like a madman.

I know a man who has participated in unspeakable acts of perversion.

I know a man who could not buy food to eat.

I know a man who sat in a parking lot for two days, with no money for a spare tire, until a stranger showed him kindness.

I know a man who in his brokenness was forsaken, written off, and left for dead…

BUT:                                                                              

I know a Man who is God.

I know a Man who bled and died.

I know a Man who is eternal life.

I know a Man who sought out the wanderer and cared for his wounds.

I know a Man who said to the forsaken, “I love you; you are Mine.”

I know a Man who forgave the liar, the thief, the murderer.

I know a Man who fed the hungry.

I know a Man who said to the immoral, “I don’t condemn you. I have come to set you free.”

I know a Man who said, “I will NEVER leave you, abuse you, or abandon you.”

I know a Man who heals broken families.

I know a Man who restores to the hardened the tenderness, awe, and wonder of a child-like heart.

I know a Man they call Jesus.

 

“Snips and Snails”

It’s not some new revelation or anything, but I was thinking today of how it can be extremely difficult for guys like me, who grew up without a father, to even know what it means to be a man. Many of us have no idea what it feels like to be loved by a dad. We weren’t taught how to do “guy things” or shown how it looks when a man truly loves a woman. We gained our understanding of what it means to be a man from television and guys we thought we looked up to. And some of us experienced abuse at the hands of a man (or men) in our lives which served to make our concept of manhood even more a mystery. I have to be honest, I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life without the slightest idea of what it means to be a man.

The Bible speaks of God being a “father to the fatherless,” and I can attest to the validity of this claim. He has been the only dad I’ve ever known. I have failed so miserably, so often, and he has never abandoned me. Quite the contrary. Like the wonderful Father he is, he has loved and taught and trained. I’ve learned that it is only through my union with him, in Jesus, that I can be who I was created to be. I see in Christ my example of true manliness. His indwelling Spirit has revealed (is revealing) the depths of his heart, in love poured out.

So it was today, that as I cut the grass, planted a few plants, folded a little laundry and emptied the dishwasher; my heart was full. I was near to my God, and I knew my wife would be surprised and happy. I felt like a man.

 

Don’t Freak Out

Something that’s on my mind a lot these days is the tendency Christians have of freaking out when the “world” behaves like the “world.” Why does it come as a surprise that those who don’t know Jesus reject the Truth, call right wrong and wrong right? I think we should remember that those who aren’t intimate with Jesus walk in darkness- it’s really as simple as that. We need to also keep in mind that there are those who know the truth, have been exposed to the Light, and have chosen darkness of their own free will. They see themselves as god, defining and redefining truth as they see fit. It does indeed get frustrating –especially when logic and any consistent standard of critical thinking have been abandoned- but we have to resist the temptation to freak out.

We, as lovers of Jesus, have not been asked (by God) to win “the argument.” We have not been asked to convince the world that we are right and they are wrong. (How could we do that anyway?) We have been called to love those who are in darkness, to offer Jesus, and live our lives in such a way that wherever we go, the Kingdom of God has come near. But instead, Christians are freaking out, and it honestly seems like many of us actually want to see people go to hell, as if that would somehow validate us, and we can say, “I told you so!” Have we forgotten that once we too walked in darkness and were by nature hostile towards God? Answer me this: was it some freaked out, mad at the world Christian that brought you to the Truth? Or was it the love, grace and mercy of God offered through the lives of those who had themselves encountered and been changed by Jesus?

Yes, as this age draws to an end, we as Christians will find ourselves diametrically opposed to much of what goes on around us, and we are supposed to speak the truth. I’m not at all saying that we are to turn a blind eye to the sin and brokenness that surrounds us. And folks need to know that God has indeed “fixed a day on which he will, through Jesus, judge the secrets of men’s hearts.” But while today is still called today, we do need to remember that Jesus really is the Truth. There really is freedom and healing in him. He really is the Light of life, and by his Spirit we can share Reality with those around us. Don’t freak out, reach out!

The Last Laugh

Greetings!! Man, it’s been a while since I’ve written. So much has happened, I really don’t know where to begin. I could sum it all up by simply saying, “God has been faithful, and my whole life HAS CHANGED!!” But that wouldn’t make much of an article, would it? So, I’ll begin by reminding you of something you already know: With God, all things are possible, so it’s best to never say never.thFDWHJS1P

I’ve always thought that Genesis 18: 10 – 19 is one of the coolest stories in the Bible. Remember…? The Lord had come to visit Abraham and told him, “About this time next year, I’ll come back to see you, and your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah had been listening to this conversation, and when she heard the Lord say she would have a son she laughed to herself as she thought, “I am old and worn out. How can I have a son?”

“Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and question whether or not she would really have a child. Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But the Lord said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’” I love that. I can imagine the Lord with an almost smirky disposition saying, “Oh, but you did laugh.”

The Bible (and our lives) are filled with examples of God accomplishing the impossible. How often have we laughed, like Sarah, and thought to ourselves, “That could never happen.”? And yet time and time again, God comes through (often, dramatically at the last moment), keeps his word or does the completely unexpected. The cool thing about it is that so much of the time we don’t even realize that He is working in our lives until the “big event” takes place. We lose hope, trudge through life with a blah, blah attitude and forget that He never stops working to bring about His glory- and our good! He promised us He would always do that, and unlike me, He is incapable of lying.

Listen, don’t forget that as a lover of Jesus, you have been adopted into the very family of God. And your DADDY loves you with the same love that he has loved Jesus (John 17:23). Don’t let life make you feel hopeless or cynical. Yes, we deal in reality, but don’t forget; Jesus IS reality. And oh yeah, don’t laugh at what God may speak to you because He always gets the last laugh.