Part of the Family

A God, heaven

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners,
but . . . members of the household of God.
–Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV)

The home-life of the Triune God overflows with hospitality. A gracious host, God warmly invites us into his accepting presence. We are not rejected or ignored; we are welcomed and embraced. This divine welcome gives us freedom to express ourselves fully. It is life-giving and liberating.

God not only loves us; God likes us! Like all good families, our uniqueness is affirmed and embraced. We are appreciated, valued, cherished, prized, treasured, adored, and desired. We share fully in the love between Father and Son in the bond of the Spirit. We are called into this relationship. And when we enter it, we are home!

–Richard J. Vincent

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He still seeks

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As in paradise,
God walks in
the Holy Scriptures,
seeking man.

–St. Ambrose of Milan
(339 – 397)

Image: Lars van de Goor

Published in: on 11/12/2013 at 5:03  Leave a Comment  
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He still walks in the garden

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A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting himself whenever and wherever his people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.

–A. W. Tozer
(1897-1963)

Image: Thomas Kinkade

Looking for a Person

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I do not approach
the Scripture looking
for principles to practice.
I approach the Scriptures
looking for a Person to know,
a Lord to worship, and
a King to yield to.

–Stephen Crosby

Seeking God

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

–C. S. Lewis

The hierarchy of happiness

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If God is God – and so he is –
the hierarchy of happiness begins
with him, not from the other end.
The closer we are to God, the happier we are.
The further away from him, the poorer.
Sin, which is a flight from God, is no fun.
It gives no joy, fulfillment or peace,
and constantly betrays us.

–Carlo Carretto
I Sought and I Found

Published in: on 09/30/2013 at 4:39  Leave a Comment  
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Fellowship with God

LastSupper

Of communion with humans,
God can never have enough.

–Mechtild of Magdeburg
(1207-1282)

Published in: on 09/09/2013 at 3:11  Leave a Comment  
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We need higher relationships

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To save the world we need something more biblical than higher standards. We need higher relationships. We need less to be “true to our principles” and much more to be true to our relationships. To save the world we don’t need the courage of our convictions. We need the courage of our relationships . . . especially the courage of a right relationship with the Creator, the creation, and our fellow creatures.

Our problem in reaching the world
is that we’ve made rules more important
than relationship…

Over a two-thousand year period, but especially in the last two hundred years, we have jerked and tugged the Christian faith out of its original soil, its life-giving source, which is an honest relationship with God through Jesus the Christ. After uprooting the faith, we have entombed it in a declaration of adherence to a set of beliefs. The shift has left us with casual doctrinal assent that exists independent of a changed life.

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We have made the Cross into a crossword puzzle, spending our time diagramming byzantine theories of atonement. How did the beauty of Jesus’ atoning work get isolate from the wonder of restoring an authentic relationship between God and humanity?

Leonard Sweet
Out of the Question… Into the Mystery
(emphasis added)

Not just Father

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Our highest relationship 
with God is the relationship 
God had with God. 
What did incarnate God 
call unincarnate God? 
Not just “Father 
but “Abba.”

–Peter Kreeft
The Angel and the Ants

Friendship with God

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There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow-men do not see (and I am glad!), and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough).

There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.

–James I. Packer
Knowing God

Banqueting with the King

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The eternal purpose of the Father is to bring us into existence, and not just into existence but into His house. And not just into His house but to His table, and not just to his table but to His right hand. And not just to His right hand but into conversation with Him, and not just into conversation with Him, but into face-to-face fellowship with God the Father Himself.

–C. Baxter Kruger

Published in: on 07/24/2013 at 4:07  Leave a Comment  
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Listening for His voice

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The Christian’s interest in Scripture
has always been in hearing God speak,
not in analyzing moral memos.

–Eugene Peterson

Face-to-face fellowship

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The eternal purpose of the Father is to bring us into existence, and not just into existence but into His house. And not just into His house but to His table, and not just to his table but to His right hand. And not just to His right hand but into conversation with Him, and not just into conversation with Him, but into face-to-face fellowship with God the Father Himself.

–C. Baxter Kruger

Published in: on 06/07/2013 at 5:09  Leave a Comment  
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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

Praying with your heart

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The more that prayer
becomes the untrammelled,
free and natural expression
of the desires of our hearts,
the more real it becomes.

–Ole Hallesby
(1879 – 1961)

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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God at work

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Remember God is acting
on your soul all the time,
whether you have spiritual
sensations or not.

–Evelyn Underhill
(1875 – 1941)

Spirituality, intimacy and illusions

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Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God. That’s a naïve view of spirituality. What we’re talking about is the Christian life. It’s following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we’ve been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It’s just ordinary stuff.

This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it’s like any other intimacy; it’s part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don’t feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn’t primarily a mystical emotion. It’s a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency . . .

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It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, an acceptable sacrifice. We give up our lives. The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He’s healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: “Now that you’ve got a life, I’m going to show you how to give it up.” That’s the whole spiritual life. It’s learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.

–Eugene Peterson
Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons
Interview by Mark Galli, Christianity Today

Knock boldly

Gate to garden

When you stand before His gate, knock loudly and boldly. Do not knock as a beggar knocks, but as one who belongs to the house. Not as a vagabond, who is afraid of the police, but as a friend and an intimate acquaintance. Not as one who is apprehensive of being troublesome, or of coming at an improper time, but as a . . . [son] who may rest assured of a hearty welcome.

–F. W. Krummacher
(1796 – 1868)

 

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

Friendship with God

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Our union with God–his presence with us, in which our aloneness is banished and the meaning and full purpose of human existence is realized–consists chiefly in a conversational relationship with God while we are each consistently and deeply engaged as his friend and colaborer in the affairs of the kingdom of the heavens.

–Dallas Willard

One day we shall laugh

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You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passes knowledge. He is not afraid of your presump-tuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children. It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you.

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Our God, we will trust you. Shall we not find you equal to our faith? One day, we shall laugh ourselves to scorn that we looked for so little from you; for your giving will not be limited by our hoping.

–George MacDonald
The Higher Faith

Meeting the real God

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Only if God can say things
that make you struggle
will you know that you have met
a real God and not a figment
of your imagination.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 02/17/2013 at 4:25  Leave a Comment  
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Finding more than “principles”

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God tried sending His “principles” once. It didn’t work. He then sent a Son, not a book of principles. The book reveals the Son. If we have the principles, and miss the Person, we miss everything that matters.

–Stephen Crosby

Back to wholeness

God did not tell us to follow Him
because He needed our help,
but because He knew that loving Him
would make us whole.

–Irenaeus (ca. 125-202)

More than galaxies

It is a gracious thing
in our relationship
with the heavenly Father
to find that He loves us
for ourselves and
values our love more
than galaxies of
new created worlds.

–A. W. Tozer
(1897-1963)

An Audience with the King

by Jurgen Schulz

Many years ago, the citizens of a far away land lived under the rule of a most wonderful king. As might be expected, this monarch resided in a magnificent palace. It was a most impressive edifice with towers that stretched skyward, priceless paintings, gardens with fountains, busy butlers, crystal chandeliers. A place truly fit for a king.

Among the many palace workers was a team of royal gardeners. They were charged with the task of maintaining the hedges, flower-gardens, fountains, lawns and trees. These laborers went about their duties carefully following the established royal garden procedures. They were constantly trimming, watering, weeding and generally making the grounds look like a corner of paradise. On coffee break they would sit together and chat about their work or events in the community. Sometimes they would exchange words with one of the cooks or butlers.

Although the gardeners worked on the palace grounds they never actually saw the king. They knew he lived there. They understood that occasionally he would travel elsewhere, but not one of them had ever caught a glimpse of him. He never seemed to visit the garden. Occasionally the staff that worked inside the palace would share some interesting tidbit involving His Majesty’s activities. The gardeners always listened with fascination and envy. Seeing the king was a special honor they did not enjoy.

If the monarch was ever mentioned in the gardeners’ conversations, it was always second hand information gleaned from others or read in the local paper. Mostly they talked about the gardens, the affairs in the town, or the latest soccer match. They worked on the grounds around the palace, but they were not among the privileged “insiders” who had contact with the king. They had resigned themselves to the fact that gardeners don’t meet kings. And, with that understanding, they simply carried on with their work.

However, one day it happened. One of the new gardeners was over on the east side of the palace grounds trimming a bush, and there, beyond a row of trees, he caught a glimpse of him. Unmistakably, it was the king. For one fleeting moment he saw his majesty strolling in the garden. The gardener stood riveted. His Highness was everything he had imagined him to be and much more. A most extraordinary man. And, after a few seconds, he passed out of view. The gardener strained to catch sight of him again, but he was gone.

Hardly believing his good fortune, he turned back to his work. However, after having laid eyes on the king, it was most difficult to continue calmly trimming bushes. He had actually caught sight of him!

At coffee break, he excitedly broke the remarkable news to his colleagues. However, the response was not at all favorable. His co-workers scoffed and told him “to get real”. They dismissed the idea as absurd, and went back to discussing the affairs of the garden.

It was all very puzzling to the new gardener. How could they have worked here so long without ever catching sight of the king? And why would they not believe his story? Did they think the ruler of the land was just an idea, a theory, a topic of discussion? The gardener quietly withdrew from the group. After having seen His Highness, garden-talk failed to captivate his interest. As a matter of fact, everything else had become strangely uninteresting.

In the weeks that followed he sighted the king on several occasions. Each time it was a fleeting glimpse, a momentary sighting, but it left him more and more intrigued with His Royal Majesty. The gardener’s whole outlook changed. He no longer came to the palace grounds to tend a garden; he came to look for the king.

The gardener came to realize that, contrary to the opinion of his colleagues, if you remained vigilant, you might just spot Him among the trees of the garden. It was hard for him to understand how some of his friends had worked there for so many years and had never caught sight of Him. They simply tended gardens; he was on the look-out for His Majesty.

For a few weeks, things in the royal grounds continued in a normal fashion. Then something unthinkable occurred. One of the butlers appeared in the garden and made a startling announcement to the new gardener, “The king requires your presence. He wants to see you right away in the drawing room.” The worker was dumbfounded. Could this really be true?

He quickly washed his hands and, straightening his hair, he nervously walked along behind the butler. Why would the king want to see him? With his heart pounding, he followed the man into the palace, through several passageways, and up two flights of stairs. An oak door was opened and he was ushered into the stately room where the king sat expecting him.

Hat in hand, the gardener bowed. The king smiled. The laborer had never seen a face so kind and so wise. His Majesty was evidently very pleased to see him and motioned him to an armchair.

Never had he spoken face to face with royalty. He was at a loss for words, but the king very quickly put him at ease. He was so friendly, so courteous, so gracious. He inquired about the gardener’s wife and children. He knew them all by name, and was immensely interested in each one. It was almost like conversing with a old friend. No one had ever made him feel so special.

The king walked over to the window and gazed out. “I often stand here and watch as you work,” he commented. “And I am most grateful for your diligent labor in the gardens.” The laborer was astonished. He had never dreamed that the king might be observing him from afar. He managed to stammer, “It is a great privilege to work here, your Highness.” This was amazing! The king had been looking his way and appreciated his work!

The wonder-struck gardener felt a gladness surge within him that went beyond anything he had ever known. It was like some extravagant joy that he had never thought possible. Delight and amazement flooded over him like waves. Never had he met someone who evoked such deep pleasure and satisfaction.

Finally, after about an hour (that seemed like five minutes), the remarkable visit came to an end. The gardener withdrew from the king’s presence, and returned to his work in the garden, dumbfounded at what had taken place. One of the palace cooks commented to the others that he was sure he had seen one of the gardeners pass by dancing across the grass.

Sighting one of his co-workers, the new gardener sauntered over and declared, “You’re never going to believe this, but I have just been in the palace conversing with the king.” His co-worker threw his head back and roared with laughter. “Do you expect me to believe that?” he mocked. Not for a moment did the man consider it to be true. Gardeners don’t meet with royalty. Evidently this new worker had much to learn about affairs in the palace grounds. Those who had been here for years had never known such a thing to happen. Obviously the newcomer was making this up.

Admittedly it was hard to believe. Kings are not in the habit of fraternizing with gardeners. Everybody knows that. But this had actually taken place!

By coffee break time, the rest of the crew had heard the story and took to ridiculing the new gardener. He became the laughing stock of the palace grounds. Some were sure that the new worker was having hallucinations. Others concluded that people like him should not be working in the royal gardens. None gave credence to his story.

But the garden worker knew that it was true! He had talked face to face with the king! His colleagues turned to arguing about some policy in the Royal Procedures Manual, but the new gardener could not stop pondering his encounter with the king.

He continued to attend to his daily responsibilities in the palace gardens. He did so to the best of his abilities, but somehow everything was different. He had become acquainted with His Majesty! The king had become his friend! The excitement of it all took his breath away and made his heart take flight. Every once in a while he could be seen throwing a glance at the windows on the second floor of the palace.

His co-workers were intent on following the Royal Manual, he was interested in knowing His Royal Highness. Some people just dream about this sort of thing. But this wasn’t a dream! It was unmistakably real.

And he was certain that life could never be the same.

Published in: on 10/23/2012 at 6:46  Leave a Comment  
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