Tuesday, February 5, 2008

aaron's beard and the dew of zion

Today, I began a two-day prayer retreat with other Senior Pastors in the Arlington/Mansfield area. A few of us have been meeting together for the last 2 years, seeking to discover how we might be used together to impact our city. One of the pastors mentioned that he had been recently reading Jonathan Edwards and appreciated Edward's goal of "giving the world a right opinion of Jesus." That's it. We want to make God famous.

This evening, as 20 of us prayed together, no less than a million thoughts went through my head. I confess that I had a hard time making sense of how, what, when I should pray. But, one thing I came away from our time with was the joy of being with my ministry comrades. All of us share a similar calling and the same commitment. Psalm 133 declares, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" The next verses compare it to the annointing oil dripping from the high priest's beard and the refreshing dew falling in Mount Zion. Indeed. I'm not quite sure where this gathering will lead. But, just being here is a wonderful blessing! Imagine what our churches could accomplish if all of us pursued a common mission together!

13 comments:

Dr. George said...

When I was in Manchester, England a few years back, I noticed that many churches of various denominations had posted identical "One Faith, One Lord" signs.

My friend told me that the local churches were trying to emphasize their common faith rather than their differences in doctrine. They were intentionally projecting unity in Christ to the unchurched.

How much more would God bless evangelicals in the USA if we were to focus on our unity as the body of Christ on earth?

Krill said...

Daniels,

Rebecca and I wanted you and your family to know that God faithfully saw us through an entire year apart from one another, my deportation is officially over, and I'm finally back in Guadalajara as Rebecca plugs away with Medical School.

Who knows if our paths will ever cross again, but it really doesn't matter. I know if we're ever in the neighborhood your doors are always wide open, which is all that matters.

God bless my friend. Sorry this entry has nothing to do with your blog. -_- Well, God's answer to our prayers and a testimony to his faithfulness...so, it relates to your blog in a way.

John

David Daniels said...

Dr. George, I agree! When we finished our prayer retreat, we reflected on the fact that "unity" isn't simply NOT saying negeative things about one another. Unity is a proactive cooperation toward a common goal. God is at work in Arlington and the surrounding communities and I am excited about what is about to break through.

WesY said...

"We want to make God famous." Ever since I first heard that statement, I have struggled to understand what is meant by it.

According to Gallup "Roughly 9 in 10 Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, while fewer than 10% are firm in their belief that there is no God." http://www.gallup.com/poll/27877/Americans-More-Likely-Believe-God-Than-Devil-Heaven-More-Than-Hell.aspx
Using a standard definition that is the definition of famous ("widely known"), these numbers suggest that virtually everyone has heard of God and that he is, therefore, famous.

The dictionary also states "famous implies little more than the fact of being, sometimes briefly, widely and popularly known" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/famous). That is what I think of when I think of being famous - little more than widely and popularly known.

To a follower of Islam or a pantheist, they would have no problem with the phrase "making God famous". They have different (and incorrect) views of God. A Christian could view the phrase differently, but there is nothing distinctly Christian about it..

Romans 1:20 clearly states that God is famous: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." This states that God is known and clearly seen by all men; the truth of man's separation from God and Christ's atoning work on the cross is not known by all. To me that should be the focus.

What am I missing?

David Daniels said...

wesy, to "make God famous" is another way of charging people to glorify God, which the Bible clearly comands us to do [Rom. 15:6, Ps. 34:3, 1 Cor. 10:31]. So, I could ask the same question about "glorifying God" that you ask about Him being famous. Specifically, if I do not glorify God, isn't He still glorified? The answer is yes and no. I cannot change the unalterable and universal fact that God is ALWAYS glorified. It is part of His character and His plan to glorify Himself--with me or without me. Through the obedience of people [living lives that testify to the power of the cross and Christ's atoning work], God glorifies Himself. Yet, if we choose, NOT to honor God with our lives, He will still choose to glorify Himself through His mercy, His discipline, His wrath, etc. At the end of the day, no matter what, God is glorified.

Yet, glorifying God is a command that I can choose NOT to follow. And, when I live short of honoring Him, I neglect giving Him the glory. God will still choose to glorify Himself. But, He would prefer to be glorified with me rather than in spite if me.

This is part of what it means to be human. Unlike creation which cannot help but "declare the glory of God" [Ps 19:1], human beings have a choice. We can elect to make ourselves famous rather than have our lives reflect the glory/fame of our Creator [2 Cor 3:18]. No matter what, God always has the last word, but He'd much prefer to be made famous through our lives aligned with Him than be famous apart from us.

WesY said...

Thanks for your response.

glorify - "to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration b: to elevate to celestial glory".
1. to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent, etc., than would normally be considered.
2. to honor with praise, admiration, or worship; extol.
3. to make glorious; invest with glory.
4. to praise the glory of (God), esp. as an act of worship.

famous - "a: widely known b: honored for achievement".
1. having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated: a famous writer.
2. Informal. first-rate; excellent: The singer gave a famous performance.
3. notorious (used pejoratively).

To me, famous falls far, far short of glorify.

make -
1. to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc.
2. to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about
3. to cause to be or become; render

Based on the definitions above, when I read "we want to make God famous", I see it as "we want to cause God (to be) widely known", not as "we want to make God glorious by bestowing honor, praise, and admiration". Even "we want to honor God for achievement" seems less than "we want to elevate God to celestial glory".

Is there an instance in the Bible of God being referred to as famous or commanding us to "make Him famous" (using those words)? As you noted we are commanded to glorify Him, but to me, the casual listener is not going to instantly make that connection when they hear that phrase - instead they are going to interpret "make" and "famous" using their common definitions.

Thanks,
WesY

David Daniels said...

Numbers 14:15
Isaiah 66:19
Habakkuk 3:2

Brandon said...

I tend to like the way David uses "making God famous." Unfortunately, most people only see the word "glorify" as some spiritual jargon reserved for hymn writers. By using a word (famous) that is tangible to everyone in society, David helps hearers make a connection with what "glorify" truly means.

Here are some places "fame/famous" show up in a contemporary paraphrase, The Message.

1 Chronicles 16:28
Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples, in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo! Shout Bravo! to his famous Name, lift high an offering and enter his presence! Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness!

Job 5:8
"If I were in your shoes, I'd go straight to God, I'd throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he's famous for great and unexpected acts; there's no end to his surprises.

Isaiah 24:14
But there are some who will break into glad song. Out of the west they'll shout of God's majesty. Yes, from the east God's glory will ascend. Every island of the sea Will broadcast God's fame, the fame of the God of Israel. From the four winds and the seven seas we hear the singing: "All praise to the Righteous One!"

Isaiah 63:14
That's how you led your people! That's how you became so famous! Look down from heaven, look at us! Look out the window of your holy and magnificent house! Whatever happened to your passion, your famous mighty acts, Your heartfelt pity, your compassion? Why are you holding back? You are our Father. Abraham and Israel are long dead. They wouldn't know us from Adam. But you're our living Father, our Redeemer, famous from eternity!

Jeremiah 10:6
All this is nothing compared to you, O God. You're wondrously great, famously great. Who can fail to be impressed by you, King of the nations? It's your very nature to be worshiped! Look far and wide among the elite of the nations. The best they can come up with is nothing compared to you.

Psalm 5:11
But you'll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Let the party last all night! Stand guard over our celebration. You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.

Psalm 7:17
I'm thanking God, who makes things right. I'm singing the fame of heaven-high God.

Psalm 66:1
All together now—applause for God! Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise. Say of God, "We've never seen anything like him!" When your enemies see you in action, they slink off like scolded dogs. The whole earth falls to its knees— it worships you, sings to you, can't stop enjoying your name and fame.

Psalm 71:17
You got me when I was an unformed youth, God, and taught me everything I know. Now I'm telling the world your wonders; I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray. God, don't walk off and leave me until I get out the news Of your strong right arm to this world, news of your power to the world yet to come, Your famous and righteous ways, O God.

Psalm 72:15
And live! Oh, let him live! Deck him out in Sheba gold. Offer prayers unceasing to him, bless him from morning to night. Fields of golden grain in the land, cresting the mountains in wild exuberance, Cornucopias of praise, praises springing from the city like grass from the earth. May he never be forgotten, his fame shine on like sunshine. May all godless people enter his circle of blessing and bless the One who blessed them.

Psalm 78:1
[ An Asaph Psalm ] Listen, dear friends, to God's truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I'll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother's knee. We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation— God's fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.

Psalm 145:7
The fame of your goodness spreads across the country; your righteousness is on everyone's lips.

David Daniels said...

Brandon,

thanks! Great citations!

Anonymous said...

I do understand what Wesy is saying...that "making God famous" has caused me to wonder if I can buy in to that thought. I do understand what Pastor Daniels means (his heart intent) but Brandon...the verses you gave have the word "fame" in them...they don't say anything about us sinners having the power or ability to make Jesus famous.
He is famous already. The only part we have in Jesus..is reflecting HIS glory...HIS love. You see Jesus is "I AM"...HE is our all in all. Exodus 3:14 says "I Am the One who always is..." then there are verses like Jn.4:26, Jn 8:12, Jn 10:11, Jn.11:25, etc. HE is complete...we just get the privilege to glorify HIM by praising HIM, honoring HIM, and worshiping HIM...in other words ...we cannot "make" JESUS "be" anything if we really want to be correct...like our friend Wesy is trying to convey. Our FATHER doesn't "need" us to "make" Him anything...He wants our devotion..our love and us to honor and glorify HIM so that others will see the FAME that already exists in the mountains, oceans, Grand Canyon, lightening, birth of a baby, death and resurrection on the cross, walking on water...etc. HE is I AM. We are just supposed to be "Imitators of Christ" Eph. 5:1..."reflectors"/ glorifiers of HIM...which in turn makes HIS fame that already exists to be "seen" by others...noticed by the "blind" in this world.
HE is the creator...we are HIS creation...HE is complete with or w/o me...so we are just ones who "reflect" HIM and some of HIS attibutes. I do understand Pastor Daniels heart on this matter about mere man making the King of Kings "famous"...... Wesy has a valid thought...in my opinion...a thought that others may have as well.

David Daniels said...

Anonymous, You are right. And I appreciate your thoughts. We cannot "make" God what he is not already. He IS glorious/famous! But, if God is glorious, why does the Bible command us to "glorify the Lord" [see Ps 34:3; 2 Thess 1:12; 1 Cor 10:31]? The reason is, while we cannot change what is forever true about the NATUREi of God, we do have a choice in making that nature known in the world. You rightly use the word "reflect." That's a human choice...to reflect God's glory or not. So, I am not at all suggesting that we can make up something that is lacking in God. I am pointing to the call we have as transformed people to "declare the excellencies" [i.e., make famous, cf. 2 Peter 2:9] of God who is already excellent!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Daniels...you and I agree..but what I think (could be totally wrong on this)is that Wesy is saying for those who will glance at that "make" word and think it another way (but that can be said of anything we proclaim)...I am just "understanding" Wesy to a great degree because we(human beings) have a tendency to put "we/self" on a pedestal or "self-centered" mode (my rights...my way) and so we think as immature Christians need mere man/us! When in fact we are "invited" or for a better word "privileged" to serve HIM..to be HIS friend (Jn.15:15)..."privileged" to tell others about HIM.
BUT I honestly understand where you are going with this statement and hearing your sermons...your heart does often times diplay that "privilege" in the way you speak. I just think for the "beginner" (in CHRIST) that I was...I truly thought GOD was all about me..to make me "happy" to be my heavenly "Santa Clause"...(NOW you know why i am ANNOMOUS!) So for me to think that I could "make" GOD anything is futile! But to be "privileged" to be invited to the "party" of reflecting HIM...telling others about my best Friend JESUS...has truly nothing to do with me except that I am honored to do that for what HE has done for me.
Wow! What a rambling i have done!
Sorry! But Pastor Daniels...you statement is clear...especially when one gets to hear your heart in a sermon. Thank you and just wanted Wesy to know I understand "why" he is pondering that statement w/"make" in it.
Am thankful for HIS grace on me.

David Daniels said...

anonymous, well said. Gracious, insightful and sensitive. Thanks for staying in the conversaiton. I agree with you AND wesy! --blessings