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A fresh look at Jesus’ most famous story

9781773028040

It finally happened! The book, “What Jesus Wished People Knew About God” has been launched and is now available on Amazon, Kobo, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, Apple ibooks, etc.

This book takes a close look at the stunning portrait Jesus painted of His Father in His famous Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus’ parable is loaded with spiritual dynamite that could seriously alter your concept of God. It may rearrange your theology. It may make your heart skip a beat. It may lead you to experience the extravagant embrace of the Father and bring you to a freedom and joy you have never known.

Find a comfortable spot, put your religious preconceptions on hold, and prepare for a heart-stopping journey into the heart of God.

What God is really like

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God’s Utterance

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Jesus of Nazareth is God’s utterance. He is the Word of God because no more thorough, personal, and beautiful revelation of God is possible.

He who is the perfect statement and rhetoric of the Father, the revealer of divinity, shows up in the form of a servant and sufferer and overturns our notions of deity. The One who is to be worshiped, exalted, and obeyed comes to serve and to give and to lay down His life for others. He unveils the essential truth and unsurpassing glory of the divine nature—a God who pulsates with goodness and power and love and beauty. Jesus reveals a God whose blessedness lies in giving rather than receiving, whose essence is an overflowing, unstoppable tsunami of grace. “Jesus Christ is the mercy of God,” wrote Karl Barth, “he is the love of God, he is the open heart of God.”

The Lord of glory has made Himself know in His Son—and He turns out to more wonderful than we ever imagined.

-J.O. Schulz

Living with a False View of God

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If we do not allow Jesus to recalibrate our image of God we are probably going to live with emptiness, guilt, suspicion, and fear. If we take spiritual matters seriously, we will likely be driven to religious activism to secure a place in God’s good books. We will function like servants and not like sons. Christian living will become dutiful, joyless, and burdensome. We may give it our best shot, but inside we’re running on empty. We may wear a smile, but our heart is struggling to keep going. A false view of God sabotages our spiritual life. Vital Christianity involves knowing that we have a Christlike God.

–Author unknown

When God Became Visible

christ-1e-copyNo one has ever seen God until they see Jesus. Every other portrait of God — from whatever source — is subordinate to the revelation of God given to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God, the Logos of God, the Logic of God in the form of human flesh. Christians are to believe in the perfect, infallible, inerrant Word of God — and his name is Jesus. Jesus is the icon of the invisible God.

–Brian Zahnd,
The Faceless White Giant,
http://brianzahnd.com/2016/06/the-faceless-white-giant/

What is God like?

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One of Gary Larson’s famous The Far Side cartoons depicts God sitting at his computer, on which is displayed an image of a man strolling innocently down the sidewalk. A grand piano hangs precariously over the fellow’s head, supported by slender ropes. God’s hand is hovering over the keyboard, His index finger about to strike the “SMITE” key.

Larson’s cartoon is funny, but also tragic. It reflects a notion in the minds of many of a God who takes delight in judging and smiting.

Most people have serious questions about the kind of God they’re dealing with. Sadly, many Christians cannot shake the notion that God is a stern celestial patriarch fussy, easily annoyed, demanding and reluctant to forgive. Our twisted ideas about God are deeply entrenched.

Popular notions of God tend to gravitate to two extremes: harsh impacable hostility or sappy doting benevolence. Omni-anger or omni-mush.

The God who exists is neither.

He is exactly like Jesus.

There is no ominous God who lurks behind Jesus. If we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father. Jesus is the final answer to the question, “What is God like?” We have a Christ-like God. Jesus is the truth about God.

God is neither a sadist judge, nor doting grandfather. He is a Calvary-like God. He is a turbulent, ardent, holy, fiery, awesome, passionate Lover. And He has set his affections on you.

That is the most staggering piece of news you will ever hear.

–J. O. Schulz

What God Does

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Jesus Christ is what God does,
and the cross is where God did it.
–Frederick Buechner

What is your picture of God?

JesusInCrowd3The foundation for . . . Christianity as a whole—is the claim that God looks like Jesus . . . Jesus spent his ministry freeing people from evil and misery. This is what God seeks to do. Jesus wars against spiritual forces that oppress people and resist God’s good purposes. This is what God does. Jesus loved people others rejected—even people who rejected him. This is how God loves. Jesus had nothing but compassion for people who were afflicted by sin, disease and tragedy. This is how God feels. And Jesus died on the cross of Calvary suffering in the place of sinful humanity, defeating sin and the devil, because he passionately loves people and wants to reconcile them to God. This is how God saves.

–Gregory Boyd
Is God to Blame?

God explained

blank squareChrist 25 copy Jesus is the exegesis,
the exposition,
the explanation of God.
We cannot know God
outside of Christ.
There IS no God
outside of Jesus.
He’s God enfleshed.
      –Frank Viola

The corrective to blurry vision

Christ A5BNo one in the Old Testament could claim to know the face of God. No one, in fact could survive a direct gaze. The few who caught a glimpse of God’s glory came away glowing like extraterrestiales, and all who saw them hid in fear. But Jesus offered a long, slow look a the face of God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” he said. What Jesus is, God is. As Michael Ramsey put it, “In God is no unChristlikeness at all.”

People grow up with all sorts of notions of what God is like. They may see God as an Enemy, or a Policeman, or even an Abusive Parent. Or perhaps they do not see God at all, and only hear his silence. Because of Jesus, however, we no longer have to wonder how God feels or what he is like. When in doubt, we can look at Jesus to correct our blurry vision.

–Philip Yancey
Disappointment with God

He is what God is like

Christ 38BLet us be rid of that horrid, sly idea that behind Jesus, the friend of sinners, there is some more sinister being, one thinner on compassion and grace. There cannot be! Jesus is the Word. He is one with is Father. He is the radiance, the glow, the glory of who his Father is.

–Michael Reeves
Rejoicing in Christ

Squarely in the center

Cleansing temple 7 copyJesus will break our idols, complicate our assumptions, overturn our tables and put himself squarely in the center of every question. He is the way, the truth, the life. He is the answer. He is the one way we think about, know, love, worship and relate to God.

–Michael Spencer
(1956 – 2010)

We can only point

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It is impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle. All-wise. All-powerful. All-loving. All knowing. We bore to death both God and ourselves with our chatter. God cannot be expressed but only experienced.

In the last analysis, you cannot pontificate but only point. A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, “I can’t prove a thing, but there is something about his eyes and his voice. There is something about the way he carries his head, his hands, the way he carries his cross—the way he carries me.”

–Frederick Buechner
Wishful Thinking

The cruciform God

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When the crucified
Jesus is called
“the image of the invisible God,”
the meaning is that
THIS is God, and
God is like THIS.

–Jürgen Moltmann

His passion is to share

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No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Mt. 11:27 NIV)

Jesus is not another in the long line of religious leaders dispensing divine advice and direction. What is unique about Jesus is his knowledge of the Father. I don’t mean mere intellectual or academic or theological knowledge. I mean personal, experiential, relational knowledge. He knows the Father. He sees the Father’s face. He lives in communion with the Father in the Spirit. The shocker about Jesus is that he has no interest whatever in hoarding his exclusive communion with His Father: His passion is sharing.

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Mark it well, Jesus crossed all worlds to come to us, and he did not come to give us a religious manual to follow, or to leave us with fresh insights about a distant God. He came to give himself to us, and all he has and knows.

He crossed all worlds to establish
a personal relationship with us,
to include us in his own relationship
with his Father and Spirit.

He came to share his soul with us, and thus his own knowledge of his Father, his own peace, his own assurance and hope and joy, so that we could know what he knows, so that we could taste and feel and experience the life he alone lives with his Father in the fellowship of the Spirit.

–C. Baxter Kruger
Across All Worlds

A Christlike God

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God is Christlike,
and in him is no
un-Christlikeness
at all.

–Andrew M. Ramsey

Redefining God

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Christmas calls 
for a total revolution 
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

Truth, Goodness & God

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All other teachers have pointed beyond themselves to truth. Jesus pointed to Himself and said: “I am the truth.” And somehow or other we believe it; for if we could sit down and try to imagine a perfect illustration of abstract truth translated into life and action, we could not think for the life of us of a better illustration than Jesus of Nazareth.

A man lived two thousand years ago; and now when I think of truth, I do not add truth to truth to get Truth—I think of Jesus. When I say Truth, I think of Jesus. When I say Goodness, I think of Jesus. And when I say God, I think of Jesus. If I don’t, I miss Truth; I miss Goodness; I miss God.

–E. Stanley Jones
Mastery

On the ground spirituality

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By accepting Jesus as the final and definitive revelation of God, the Christian church makes it impossible for us to make up our own customized variations of the spiritual life and get away with it. Not that we don’t try. But we can’t get around him or away from him: Jesus is the incarnation of God, God among and with us. Jesus gathered God’s words spoken to and through God’s people and given to us in our scriptures and spoke them personally to us. Jesus performed God’s works of healing and compassion, forgiveness and salvation, love and sacrifice among us, men and women with personal names, with personal histories.

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Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, gathered disciples in Galilee, ate meals in Bethany, went to a wedding in Cana, told stories in Jericho, prayed in Gethsemane, led a parade down the Mount of Olives, taught in the Jerusalem temple, was killed on the hill Golgotha, and three days later had supper with Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, none of us are free to make up our private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to scores of these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and inter-penetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says.

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Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air and trying to be someone else or somewhere else.

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unself-consciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Why Spirituality Needs Jesus

 

What is God like?

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If God isn’t like
Jesus Christ,
He ought to be.


–Lord Byron
(1788 – 1824)

God’s idea of God

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Our idea of God
is not God.
Instead, we ought
to begin with
God’s idea of God,
and God’s idea of God
is Christ.

–E. Stanley Jones

God, explain yourself

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How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song–all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.

We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God.

―Nicholas Wolterstorff
Lament for a Son

That is the God for me

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I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’

In the real world of pain,
how could one worship a God
who was immune to it?

I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.

That is the God for me!
He laid aside his immunity to pain.

He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.

 John R. W. Stott
The Cross of Christ

A God who stoops

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I search in vain through non-Christian systems for one authentic note of the self-giving, serving God. True, there is service as a royal dispenser of favors and benefits; but this is deeper, for here is service by a Servant.

He did not merely bend over to hand out,
he bent over to get under.

He stooped under the poverty and the toil, the sin and the shame, the troubles and the toil—under the very lives of fallen men, and when there was nothing left to get under, he got under the cross and bore that for them.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of Every Road

I don’t believe in him either

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“Describe the God
you rejected . . .
Describe the God
you don’t believe in . . .
Maybe I don’t believe in
that God either.”

–Tim Keller

God’s message to man

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Jesus is the Word of God.
He is not the best Word.
He is not the ultimate Word.
He is not the seal of series
of improving words.
He is the Word.

–Glen Scrivener

The starting point

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Our starting point is Jesus. But someone objects and says, “The Gospel begins with God.” No, for until Jesus came, there were views about God and there was news about God, but no Good News. Apart from Jesus we know little about God, and what little we know is not Good News. The conception of the character of God apart from Jesus is questionable. In Jesus our question marks about God turn into exclamation points.

In the face of Jesus we know what God is like
and what we must be like if we are to be good.

If God is other than Jesus, He is not good; if He is like Jesus, He is good. This is an astounding thing to say, yet when I say it, I hear the Ages give an resounding Amen. And it reverberates through all things.

–E. Stanley Jones

Sending a message

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If you want to get an idea across,
wrap it up in a person.

–Ralph Bunche (1904-1971)

Rethinking God

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Christmas calls for
a total revolution
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

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