When God’s Beauty Shone

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God is beauty, and nowhere is he lovelier
than in the winning tenderness
and the prevenient grace
which comes to meet us
in Christ.

–Jürgen Moltmann

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Made to Run on Divine Fuel

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God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.

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That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

–C. S. Lewis,
Mere Christianity

Missing God at every turn

181269953721781037_Dyq3asjQ_bO GOD, Immortal and Invisible, forgive the faltering faith of those whose dwelling is among the mortal and the seen. We have no sight for unseen things, and we may have missed Thee at every turn. Every common bush may flame with fire, but we have no time to turn aside, and our hardened feet do not apprehend the holy ground. The heavens may declare Thy glory, but our eyes are too earthbound to read their story of infinity and peace. Day unto day may utter speech, but our ears are deaf with inward strife, and we hearken not nor understand. We have brooded long on the pain and anguish of the world, but we can read no redemption in the cross to which humanity is nailed; we have looked into the faces of our fellows, but discern no divine impression there; we have found little to love in the brother whom we have seen, how can we hope to love the God whom we have not seen? And now the awful fear has crept upon us that we are blind.

O Lord, that we might receive our sight. Amen.

–W.E. Orchard

What makes God glorious?

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“Glory” is a timeworn, many-sided, vaguely understood term of rich significance. Most importantly it has to do with God, the source and sum of it. Glory is what inspires wonder and admiration. It is manifested excellence, the outward display of beauty and goodness, the visible demonstration of greatness.

The glory of God is when
God lets us see what He’s like.

It’s when His wonderfulness goes public, His awesomeness comes into view, His splendor is sighted.

We observe the glory of God in creation—an awe-inspiring, but limited view. We get a close-up view when we contemplate Jesus, the human life of God. The knowledge of the glory of God is seen partially in nature, but fully in the face of Jesus Christ.

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Great are the mysteries of creation. Greater still is the mystery of godliness, when the Architect of the galaxies was manifested in human form. The heavens display the greatness of God’s power. The Word made flesh displays the greatness of His love.

The heavens show us God’s hand;
Jesus shows us His heart.

The heavens declare the glory of God, but Jesus of Nazareth is the glory of God. He is the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person.

The heavens declare the glory of God in an impersonal, distant way. Jesus brings the glory of God near in a living, breathing, loving Person.

Jesus is the glory of God made human.

And never was He so glorious as when he became horribly inglorious. It happened on a cross—where the worst and the best, the highest and the lowest collided. The crucifixion of the incarnate God did not extinguish His glory, it expanded it. At Calvary the glory of God blazed forth in volcanic abundance.

It was in the moment of greatest ugliness that His beauty shone most brightly. It was in the place of utmost shame that His splendor burst forth. Violence brought virtue to light, as the crushing of a rose releases its fragrance.

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Glory was nailed to a cross and lifted up for all to see. The veil in the temple was ripped open—God’s glory had been revealed. It was the glory of His irrepressible, self-giving, self-sacrificing, redeeming, restoring love. It was the glory of His grace.

The heavens declare a piece of His glory.
The cross declares it all.

Here is the final unveiling of glory. It is a revelation, an earthquake, a feast, a waterfall, a love story, a symphony, a tsunami, a game changer, a thirst quencher, an explosion of hope, a healing balm for the wounds of our broken and flawed lives.

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“Cross” and “glory” are as far apart as two words can possibly be. They are polar opposites. Crucifixion was not just about torture—it was about shame. It was the ultimate disgrace. For Hebrews it meant being cursed. No one ever dreamed a Roman cross could be glorious.

Until God got on one.

He makes all things glorious.

Even a shameful cross.

Even unworthy sinners.

Such is the greatness of His glory.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

The secret of His beauty

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The triunity of God
is the secret
of his beauty.
If we deny this,
we have a God
without radiance,
without joy,
without humor.

–Karl Barth

God’s artistic style

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Glory is to God what style is to an artist. A painting by Vermeer, a sonnet by Donne, a Mozart aria—each is so rich with the style of the one who made it that to the connoisseur it couldn’t have been made by anybody else, and the effect is staggering. The style of artists brings you as close to the sound of their voices and the light in their eyes as it is possible to get this side of actually shaking hands with them.

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In the words of Psalm 19:1, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” It is the same thing. To the connoisseur, not just sunsets and starry nights, but dust storms, rain forests, garter snakes, and the human face are all unmistakably the work of a single hand. Glory is the outward manifestation of that hand in its handiwork just as holiness is the inward. To behold God’s glory, to sense God’s style, is the closest you can get to God this side of paradise, just as to read King Lear is the closest you can get to Shakespeare.

Glory is what God looks like
when for the time being
all you have to look at him with
is a pair of eyes.

~Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 10/12/2014 at 5:33  Leave a Comment  
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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

Reasons of the heart

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The heart has its reasons
of which the reason knows nothing….
It is the heart which perceives God
and not the reason.
That is what faith is:
God perceived by the heart,
not by the reason.

–Blaise Pascal
(1623 – 1662)

Published in: on 06/12/2014 at 7:23  Leave a Comment  
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We change, He is the same

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The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends. He is the same, but we have changed, between our opening lines and our final page.

― N. D. Wilson 
Death By Living

Published in: on 05/14/2014 at 19:03  Leave a Comment  
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No such thing as atheism

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In the day to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is: what to worship. And a compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual type thing to worship . . . is that anything pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

–David Foster Wallace

Published in: on 04/28/2014 at 5:53  Leave a Comment  
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Easy to live with

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Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom . . . Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people, and they attribute the singing and shouting to sheer fanaticism. Unhappy sods, these, doomed to go heavily on their melancholy way, grimly determined to do right if the heavens fall and to be on the winning side in the day of judgment.

How good it would be if we could learn
that God is easy to live with.

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

–A. W. Tozer
The Root of the Righteous

The shocking affirmation

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Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 12/27/2013 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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He seeks to be found

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The reason we can hope to find God is that He is here, engaged all the time in finding us.

Every gleam of beauty
is a pull toward Him.

Every pulse of love is a tendril that draws us in His direction. Every verification of truth links the finite mind up into a Foundational Mind that undergirds us. Every deed of good will points toward a consummate Goodness which fulfills all our tiny adventures in faith. We can find Him because in Him we live and move and have our being.

–Rufus M. Jones
(1863-1948)

Known by name

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He calls each
and every star by name.
It’s not likely that
He’s forgotten yours.

–Louie Giglio

Image: David Nunuk

Published in: on 10/25/2013 at 8:16  Leave a Comment  
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No illusions

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God is not
disillusioned with us.
He never had any illusions
to begin with.

–Luis Palau

Nothing can take His place

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If you put anything
in the middle of a place
that is meant for God,
it will be too small.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 10/20/2013 at 5:31  Leave a Comment  
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Seeking God

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Continue seeking God
with seriousness.
Unless He wanted you,
you would not be
wanting Him.

–C. S. Lewis

On our side

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The God of the universe
who made the stars
with a whisper of His breath,
who holds the oceans in His palm,
who fashioned redwood trees,
He is for us, on our side.

–Mary DeMuth

Never what you expect

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God is never what Pharaoh, Ahab, and Herod expect. There is a shocking, almost comic quality about the annunciations one finds in Scripture. Angels announce to shepherds standing in a field of sheep dung the birth of a king clothed in rags. A figure clad in white announces to John of the Apocalypse the majestic Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but when he turns to look there’s only a slain and bloody lamb (Rev. 5:5,6). In biblical experience, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. This is the mystery of God as Deus absconditus.

–Belden C. Lane
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

Published in: on 08/21/2013 at 5:08  Leave a Comment  
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The God of many colors

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God does not work
by only one method,
paint in only one color,
play in only one key,
nor does He make only one star
shine onto the earth.

–Eberhard Arnold

Published in: on 07/27/2013 at 21:48  Leave a Comment  
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Everyone surrenders

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If you don’t surrender to God,
don’t think you don’t surrender.
Everybody surrenders— 
to something.

–E. Stanley Jones

What God is like

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Luke 15:11-32

This story is about who God is and what God is actually like. It is about the way God thinks, how He thinks. It is about the way God acts towards us. It is about the Father’s heart and joy. It is a story of a God we can believe in–a parable of the dancing God.

Jesus picks the worst person that he can possibly find and he has the Father running after him. This most pitiful excuse of a son, Jesus tells us, is the object of the Father’s intense longing and passion and affection. He is the object of the Father’s care and unconditional no-strings-attached forgiveness.

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Jesus paints a picture of God standing on the balcony of heaven, watching, searching the horizon for the least inkling of a shadow of His son’s return. And once He sees him, this son, Jesus has the Father running and embracing him and commanding a great party to be thrown on his behalf.

What a picture of God! I tell you there is no greater statement about God in the whole Bible than verse 20: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed and kissed and kissed him” (NASB). He was absolutely thrilled to see him.

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The first question for all of us, and maybe the only question, is this: Have we met this Father? Have we met the God of this parable? Do we know Him?

Can you not feel Jesus’ heart here? Can you not see, written all over his face, the words, “You have just got to meet the real God”? Can you not feel Jesus struggling with the whole wrongheadedness of the prevailing conception of God around him? Can you not hear him saying to himself, “If they could just meet Him and know Him, it would change everything”?

–C. Baxter Kruger
The Parable of the Dancing God

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

True love involves anger

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One wants to have love alone, not seeing that by denying God’s holiness and wrath, God’s love is deprived of its true depth and meaning. Is it not so even in human experience?

The man who cannot become angry,
cannot truly love.

The man who passes over treachery, infidelity, breach of confidence as if it were nothing, cannot be a true friend and cannot be faithful himself. It is here that a decision of the first order takes place: he who refuses to hear of God’s wrath, judgment and condemnation, will never understand Jesus Christ. The living God is the God whose love is united with holiness.

This paradox of holiness and mercy is . . .
the essence of the biblical doctrine of God.

–Emil Brunner
The Scandal of Christianity

Squirrels, dungeons and freedom

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We say, not lightly but very literally, that the truth has made us free. They [the denouncers of dogma] say that it makes us so free that it cannot be the truth.

To them it is like believing in fairyland
to believe in such freedom as we enjoy . . .

It is like accepting a fable about a squirrel in conversation with a mountain to believe in a man who is free to ask or a God who is free to answer. This is a manly and a rational negation, for which I for one shall always show respect. But I decline to show any respect for those who first of all clip the wings and cage the squirrel, rivet the chains and refuse the freedom, close all the doors of the cosmic prison on us with a clang of eternal iron, tell us that our emancipation is a dream and our dungeon a necessity; and then calmly turn round and tell us they have a freer thought and a more liberal theology.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

Conquered by Goodness

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We might well pray for God to invade and conquer us, for until He does, we remain in peril from a thousand foes.

We bear within us the seeds
of our own disintegration…

The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees… So He conquers us and by that benign conquest saves us for Himself.

–A. W. Tozer
(1897 – 1963)

The misery and the marvel

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God is right here in the thick
of our day-by-day lives . . .
trying to get messages
through our blindness
as we move around down here
knee-deep in the fragrant muck
and misery and marvel
of the world.

–Frederick Buechner
The Magnificent Defeat

Image by Vivienne Gucwa

He walks everywhere

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We may ignore, but we can’t
evade the presence of God.
The world is crowded with Him.
He walks everywhere
incognito.

–C. S. Lewis

Image: Ramunas

Published in: on 02/25/2013 at 3:41  Leave a Comment  
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Infinite attention

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God has infinite attention
to spare for each one of us.
You are as much alone with Him
as if you were the only being
He had ever created.

–C. S. Lewis

Finding freedom

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Freedom comes when we encounter God . . . Knowing God, His character, how much He loves us, how trustworthy He is, causes us to worship and take pleasure in Him. We’re now forgiven and can draw near to God. We’re new creations whose core identity is no longer sinner but saint. We have a new appetite within us, a desire for God that is stronger than every other desire, waiting to be discovered and nourished.

–Larry Crabb
Shattered Dreams

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