Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Glory of God

2 Corinthians, Chapter 3 talks about Christ being the New Covenant, the covenant of life, while the law - the Torah - was the Old. Particularly, in light of Christmas, verses 7-11 stood out.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

When God came down to the mountain to give Moses the law, the Israelites were terrified by how mighty all God's works were. The mountain shook, there was thunder and lightning and smoke, and the people could not even touch or come close to the mountain. This was just the glory surrounding the arrival, the announcement of the coming First Covenant.

The arrival of Jesus, the coming of the Second Covenant, was different. Instead of coming down in fire and cloud on a mountain, God came as an infant. He arrived not among grand expectation, but in a stable and spent his first hours in a feeding trough. Yet even in such humble beginnings, God received the glory. The infant Jesus was serenaded by the hosts of heaven, honored by shepherds, and later on given gifts by the wise men.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Picturing the angels in the sky, the Glory of God shining around them, is remarkable. It is a birth welcome that would more than honor any infant prince or prophet. It is truly beyond glorious.

But this was God come to earth, not a mere human, not a prophet. The infant lying there, helpless, vulnerable, that was literally God. And he was only acknowledged by shepherds and angels and the wise men. God deserves all the glory. All of it. He deserves for the very stones to cry out in worship of Him, as Luke 19:40 tells us they would if the people of Earth ceased to glorify Him.

And yet, that is not how Christ arrived. He arrived as a lowly infant in a not-so-well-off family to unwed parents. Really, it is mind boggling to think of that, to try and wrap your mind around God - THE God, Creator of the Universe God - choosing to come to earth as a baby. Why? Why would God bring Himself to such a low level as that?

Simply, because He loves us that much. His love for us knows no bounds. And so, because in our flawed and stubborn state, we could not get to Him, He came to us. He bridged the gap between the heavens and the earth so that we could be with Him forever. That kind of love is beyond comprehension.

It is beyond all the glory we can give Him.

And so back to 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. The passage states that the glory surrounding Christ will be far more incredibly glorious than that which surrounded the giving of the law and Moses. Far more glory than Christ received at His birth. Far more than He ever got in life, in death, or in resurrection. Far more than we humans have given in the 2000 or so years since. No, God deserves all the glory. And that glory? It is to come.

That is what Christ's birth symbolizes: the remarkable, unfathomable coming glory.

And with that, O God, thank you, for hope and knowledge that greater things are yet to come.

And to all of you, dear friends, Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wherein I Don't Study Calculus

I should be studying right now. But, clearly, I'm not. For whatever reason (drinking coffee at 10pm), my mind is ON. As in, thinking about a great many distinctly non-Calculus related things. I'm particularly fighting an urge to go find a few dozen new fonts.

Also, I'm thinking a lot about the subject of tonight's Intervarsity (on campus Christian group) meeting. Prayer. Thankfulness. God. And this post from Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. By the way, if you have never read her blog - you need to. This woman has taught me so much over the years. You have no idea.

But about the message. I'm kind of in a mind blown state over the magnitude of God and His plans. Really, we should probably all be in this state of mind all the time, except if we even began to truly comprehend Him, we would probably beyond functioning. He is just so overwhelmingly...GOD.

Life has not always been smooth, and I know I will encounter rough patches in the future. The sort of things that from my perspective just seem purely bad. But from God's point of view, amazing things come from the dark spots. When I reflect on my life, I am so glad I listened to God when I did, and gave in to plans that were not at all what I thought was good for me. Surely, if you look at your life, you will see the ways in which God worked His God-ness and made your life turn out better than you could have dreamed. Isn't he incredible that way?

Just thinking about the physical size of the universe - how are huge planet is really smaller than a speck compared to the entirety of it all - even that doesn't begin to touch on God's magnitude. Not only can we go infinitely big, but we can go infinitely smaller. And God made all of that. He is God enough to think of everything and plan out everything and create every single rule of how the world works. This calculus stuff I'm hoping I understand enough for the final? He invented how that works. I'm so glad He is God, and I'm not. I can't even imagine that disaster....

Now, this post is a lot shorter than normal, and maybe not so profound. A bit more stream-of-consciousness style than I already write. But these thoughts are swirling in my head, and I wanted to get them out.

And now, as much as I don't particularly want to. I definitely need to get back to studying Riemann Sums. Until next time, friends.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


God is kind.

Those words jumped out to me the other day as I was scrolling through Instagram. They aren't words seen together often, but why? After all, "God is good" and "God is just" and "God is love" are heard so much as to become trite. But kind? Certainly not. And I think I get why. I mean, look at the world. Look at any one person's life - your own life. It is a far cry from perfect. And when things aren't perfect it's hard to say that the One looking over us all is "kind."

However, I still think He is. To me, those three words - God is kind - are beautiful. Because even though life is hard and the world often appears to be coming apart at the seams, I know that isn't God. Us people make the world go haywire, and God helps patch it up.

I know not everyone feels the same. Really, I get it. I so get that. But God has been kind to me. He has loved me and shown me such grace and blessed me so much. This chapter of my life - college - is the sheer proof of that. Earlier this year I wrote about not really knowing where life was heading. I didn't know which university I would end up at or who I would meet or any of that. Now I'm here at UTD and I know without a shadow of a doubt God meant for me to be here.

I haven't written about these last few months really. Well, I have - but I kept starting posts and not finishing. I think part of that has just been savoring all of the experiences. Holy cow. I love it here. I have met so many truly amazing people. I've made such wonderful friends; I really could not ask for better. I know that was all God. He put the people I needed in my life in ways that I could have never dreamed up on my own. The sort of friends who do little things totally unexpectedly to let me know they care. The sort that it seems I've known for years and years. So yes, I sure think God is kind.

But what about the times when life isn't all peachy? When things go terribly, horribly wrong? How can I say God is kind then?

Well, I still do. A perfect life is not the only way to see God's kindness (and I am certainly not saying I have a perfect life). God shows through even brighter because of the hard times. Because life isn't perfect, because sometimes life plain sucks, and because, as my friend jokingly says, the struggle is real. Because of all of that the beauty of life can be seen as the beauty that it is. After all, a gem would not be precious if the world was filled with them everywhere a person turns. No, a gem is only precious and valued because it is rare, and when you receive one it is seen as a treasured gift. Life is just the same. The dark makes the light even brighter and the hard times make the joyous moments all the more glorious.

Right now I feel like I am in one of the happiest times yet. I feel so tremendously blessed and I want to savor every single drop of it. Even the frustrating calculus assignments and the tedious studying. All of that is part of college and learning and it means that I'm here, in the moment, right where God put me.

God has shown me His kindness. He has put exactly the people I need in my life. He has given me every opportunity I need scholastically to do well and study what I love. He has taken me through trials to strengthen me and turn me into the person I am. He has given me peace.

So thank you. To God, thank you for everything you have given me, good and bad. To everyone in my life, thank you for being a part of my life and being exactly who you are. You're kind of really awesome.