Monday, January 25, 2016


What brings glory to God?  Or, better stated, what can we do to bring glory to God?

We could study God's Word.  And I do believe this does please God that we are interested in what He sent us through the patriarchs, the prophets, the wisdom authors, the Gospel writers, the historians and the letter writers of the New Testament.  It is all worth knowing and, I believe, essential to our foundation as Christians.  But Bible Study isn't enough.

We could do lots of things but I think Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, summed it up best "If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing."   

Paul had tried these things and found them wanting, not because they did not have virtue but because they are all empty without the one thing that gives them meaning, purpose and life.  We love ... God, people, ourselves.

Two witnesses show these kinds of love in The Revelation.  They express their love for God by 1) telling their world what God says, 2) suffering for their faith in the one true God, 3) following their God even unto death and 4) sharing in Jesus testimony, life, death and resurrection.  They express their love for people by giving their world the truth of God.  They express their love for themselves by accepting and living out the life of calling and witness God has given them.  They are symbols/images of our faithful witness of following God into whatever the world throws at us.

Our talk about God is fine in the midst of plenty, prosperity and security.  But our witness glorifies God most when our love for Him is shown in circumstances that challenge us and shake us to our very core.  In those places we come to really know our God, our neighbor and ourselves.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Active vs. Passive

Last night we watched the College Football National Championship Game played in Arizona.  Clemson and Alabama battled it out on TV and Alabama was crowned national champs.  The question I asked myself before, during and after the game was ... "What made these teams able to reach the pinnacle of their sport?"

The answer could be many things like recruiting, hard work in the weight room, learning solid fundamentals and great coaching.  But there is one factor that is indisputable.  The two teams that played were there because they were able to actively apply their craft in a real-game situation.  In fact, they did this so well they bested the field of all college football teams in their division to make the final game.

Jesus was all about this active application of what we call our faith.  He told a story about an act of great kindness that was perpetrated by an unlikely individual ... a lowly and hated Samaritan.  The Samaritan was kind to a Jew who had been robbed, beaten and left to die.  The Samaritan picked up the unclean/bloody man, carried him to shelter, paid for the cost of caring for him and assured the caregivers that he would pay any extra expenses that were incurred.  All of these actions were overt, unexpected, sacrificial and necessary to the goal of saving the Jew's life.

After the story was over (by the way ... Jesus is recruiting the crowd, coaching them, motivating them and teaching them fundamental beliefs) Jesus does something that we should both perceive, understand and apply.  He tells the crowd to "go and DO likewise."  Jesus understood that without active application of the coaching, potential, knowledge and belief, nothing good would result.  God's Word is application ... not just information.  So ... go and DO likewise!  Randy

Monday, January 4, 2016


OK ... I must admit that I (and probably you) have treated God and prayer like some kind of cosmic vending machine.  Put the prayer in and expect God to send out the result I want.  But that wouldn't be letting God be in control ... that is me in control.  That is not how prayer is intended to work.

Revelation 8 is an example of more accurate view of prayer.  In this view prayer is presented as an offering to God.  It is both an act of worship and an act of submission to God's will.  The prayer happens in front of the altar of incense and the image is of the prayers as a sweet fragrance wafting up to God.  In essence the prayer of "God's holy people" in Revelation is not an expression of something we do.  It is rather something we are.  It is a laying-bare of our lives, our joys, our hurts, our hopes, our fears, our inner self before a holy God and saying ... "Daddy ... you see me and all I am ... only you can make this good and right and only you can give hope, peace, healing and grace in the midst of a truly messed-up world."

The audience hearing John's message didn't have to look far to see that messed-up world.  Their country was under foreign control, they were oppressively taxed, their own leaders/shepherds had sold out the people for power, position, control and political voice.  Ezekiel (Ch. 34) had predicted both this selling out and God's solution of sending a shepherd that would rightly lead the people out of this darkness.

What can we learn?  When we pray we pray for God's will (note this is the entire focus of the Lord's Prayer).  When we pray we pray in submission to God's better knowledge and wisdom.  When we pray we lay ourselves bare and ask God, not our plans, to sort out our messed-up lives.  When we pray we ask God to consume (in us) what is not Christ-like (it is an offering/sacrifice).  When we pray we submit to God's use of us as the means by which God will lead this fallen world to Him and we ask, as intercessors, that God will use our prayer to use us and any other means within His will to make a difference for another person/situation.  Robert Mulholland (Revelation, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Tyndale:2011) writes ... "Then the disruptive, disturbing, troubling, transforming presence of God will become incarnate in and through our lives."

Isn't is wonderful and scary that the power of prayer is manifested through God's Church ... that's us!  Randy