The sumptuous burden of glorifying God

Garden

Lately the Holy Spirit has been prompting me to ask myself whether the things I do glorify God. In 1 Peter 4:10-11 we read

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.

In Colossians 3:17 it says

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

But I find Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 the most challenging:

 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

Because not only are we told to do everything that we do to the glory of God, we’re told to do it not just for own sake, or for God’s, but for the sake of other people.

This is a concept that I’ve had trouble with for a long time, this idea that we’re responsible to others. Oh, intellectually I know that we are called upon to spread the Good News, to be the salt and the light, to be a sort of God flavour to the masses. I’ve managed to avoid this responsibility (and it is a responsibility) of “not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” by saying well, you can be as fragrant a Christian as you want, but you can’t make people believe; that’s something between them, God and the Holy Spirit. It’s a sort of horse/water situation.

But you’ve still got the responsibility to try and lead people to the water, and we do that by dent of how we are living our lives–every aspect of our lives, not just the ones we want people to see, or the ones we take to church or put up on our Facebook.

Which brings us back to the question, Is what I’m doing glorifying God?

It’s a scary question to answer. I think that’s why I’ve been so reluctant to follow through on this prompting for such a long time, because when you ask yourself, Does this glorify God? and the answer is “no”, there’s really no excuse or reason to keep doing it, is there? So much of our lives are filled with these non-glorifying worldly fillers. Often they are small things, things you can “slip past” God, things you don’t even think about. But you’re used to them. You’ve attached some kind of value to them. Heck, you might even enjoy some of them. But if you sit yourself down and get honest, you know that they don’t serve any other purpose than to distract or distance you from your Lord.

It’s not a guilt thing, this question. The Holy Spirit isn’t standing there with a ruler, ready to whip out an admonishment. It’s gentle. It’s a mountain stream. It’s asked kindly, and it’s kindly meant. Worldly fillers are just that–worldly fillers. They have no eternal import. They don’t really matter. But the things that do glorify God? They glorify Him now; they glorify Him always. That’s the difference.

We need to be careful with this. A lot of us think the best way to answer this question–Does this glorify God?–is to cut out anything that might be fun. Our reasoning, whether we acknowledge it or not, is that we think God isn’t fun and therefore God hates fun; fun is sin. Which is ridiculous. You know what glorifies God? Laughter, enjoyment, love, care, hugs and kisses and giggles and enjoying His creation, whether that creation is a magnificent skyline or a magnificent meal. Glorifying God is consciously, continuously turning whatever activity you’re doing into an altar for Him. Yes, some activities won’t make the cut. You can’t glorify God and, say, gossip about someone simultaneously. But it’s probably less than you think, and eventually you won’t miss what you have had to sacrifice anyway because the reward is more of God. And if we accept that our Creator is a loving, caring Father, brother, and friend, we realise that more of God is more than enough.

So it is with confidence and faith and joy that I can ask you: Do the things you think, speak, and do glorify God?

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I am glad that Jesus spoke to a woman at a well

Jesus_and_woman_at_the_well

I am glad that Jesus spoke to a woman at a well

that a woman touched his cloak and was healed

that a girl sat up when he told her to

that stones fell from the hands of an angry, self-righteous crowd.

I am glad that a woman bent double, straightened up;

that one with a fever cooled down,

that to a mother a son was restored,

that a Canaanite woman refused to be ignored,

that Mary sat by him and learned

and that he told her sister, ‘Martha, Martha.’

I am glad for tears that fell on dirty feet,

for precious oil spilled like precious blood,

for a woman who lost a son to a cross;

for women who insisted, “He is not there.”

I am glad that these women wept for him, believed in him, followed him, fought with him, loved him more than they could put into words.

Most of all, I am glad for this man, this Jesus of Nazareth.

This man who cared so much that he cared little about convention; whose love was bigger than disapproving disciples and a sexist society.

This man who served a God who picks the most vulnerable from the ground and holds them close, like pearls in the palm of his hand.

This is the God that I serve.

*

Our reading in church today came from John 4 (Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well). It’s the same section we read a few weeks back for the Women’s World Day of Prayer event. John 4:27 especially tugged at something in my soul:  “Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman.” They marveled that he was talking with a woman. Marveled! I marvel at this man. At his love, his constancy, his fearlessness, his patience, his kindness. This Son of God, Son of Man.

This guy! :)

Something to think about

Being a Christian is neither here nor there. Christians are a dime a dozen. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.

(Adapted from Matthew 3:7-10 Msg)

Reblog: Teaching children the Bible | The Resurgence

When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done.

via Teaching children the Bible | The Resurgence.

Prayer Monday July 8, 2013

Stream

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

(Psalm 51: 10-13 NIV)

Praying from the Bible has the advantage of cutting through all the hooha and getting to the kind of prayers God most wants us to pray.  Check out these articles and blog posts if you need some inspiration:

Have a great Monday!

Reblog: The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself – Zach Hunt – Red Letter Christians

This is where faith comes in. Faith forces us to rely upon and put our trust in God. Without the need for faith, there is no real need for God, at least not this side of eternity. When Paul spoke of seeing through a mirror dimly, it was a statement of faith that even though his knowledge was only in part and wasn’t perfect, it was sufficient for his salvation, sufficient enough to see him through until Christ’s return. When we take the path of inerrancy the space for this sort of humble faith evaporates and is replaced with an arrogance that claims more certainty than even the Biblical writers themselves were willing to affirm.

Which means when we affirm inerrancy, we reject the need for faith.

When we affirm inerrancy, we ascribe perfection to the creation rather that to the Creator.

When we affirm inerrancy, we create an idol fashioned out of the same need for certainty and control that drove Adam and Eve to snatch divinity away from God.

Simply put, Biblical inerrancy isn’t Biblical.

via The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself – Zach Hunt – Red Letter Christians.

A few days ago Peter Enns asked his readers what the biggest obstacles to their faith were. My response to that was “the belief in biblical inerrancy”. I felt a little ashamed admitting it, because people tend to question your faith when you question the Bible (whose bright idea was that?) This article put into words what I couldn’t. Great read.

Reblog: #Hashtag Christianity – Stephen Mattson | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners

Hashtag Christianity isn’t necessarily bad, but it can cause self-righteousness and provide a false sense of spirituality. It has the danger of making us believe we’re living out our faith without really doing anything.

Can you relate? I know I can: Hashtag Christianity – Stephen Mattson | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

Reblog: When we weep {And then there are no more tears} | acupofbliss

You see, one can choose to die of a broken heart or one can choose to be reborn out of the shattered pain. Choose to live again. Choose to beat in tempo with the ebb and flow of the stream of days.

Yet, when this type of transformation is made, it is not our heart that beats again, but rather HIS. You see, when the heart has felt so much grief, then it can’t just resurrect itself again. It’s lost its rhythm. It’s lost its timing. It’s forgotten the pulse of life, of hope, of joy.

I think that is when the Creator of the Universe leans down, wraps His arms around His child, and breathes once again into his mouth. Returns the air that was so cruelly sucked out. I believe He presses down on the panting heart and pulses with it until it can once again operate on its own. All the while, He holds and rocks. Rocks and holds. Whispers words of Love. Sings over His dying child until the child remembers his own song. The words of joy that lilt and skip over the mundane moments.

There are no words for how true and painful and beautiful this is. Thank you, Lauren. Read the whole post: When we weep {And then there are no more tears} | acupofbliss.

Prayer Monday, April 15 2013

Ocean

If, like me, your words have run out, let the present pray for you:

“If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He [the Holy Spirit] does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves… and keeps us present before God.” (Romans 8:26-28 Msg)

Two things about these verses:

1. He knows us far better than we know ourselves…so there’s no point in either feeling ashamed by the whole truth of who we are or trying to hide it.

2. He keeps us present to God. The only distance between ourselves and God is what we put there. God is waiting at the edge of every absence, ready to welcome us back, happy to welcome us back.

As a lady at one of our church courses said, when you are struggling to pray: look at him look at you, and “Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” (Paul Tillich)

Easter

Easter eggs

In my Bible, up to about chapter twenty-six of Matthew, there’s a lot of underlining and many brackets and hearts and crosses and sticky notes in the margins. But from chapter twenty-six till the end the pages are bare, like they’ve been struck dumb by the words on them. Here is no pithy wisdom to highlight. Here are no neat parables to break into smaller pieces, intending to chew at them throughout the day. These last few chapters are the brutal, beautiful climax in a story that was eternity in the making.

And it’s a love story.

Have a blessed Easter,

Liana xx