I stumbled across this and it’s too good not to share. The reference is at the end. I did a little editing so it makes sense out of it’s original context but the meaning is intact.
Imagine that our Good, Good Father appears visibly among us this evening. How would we speak to him? Or to make it more personal, let us say that he is willing to meet us in our living room. As many of us as could, would go over there and gather around him, just as the crowds did around Jesus—Mary loved to sit there at his feet.
Now, as we walk into the room, we know that God is the all-powerful Creator of the whole vast universe. We know that the mighty angels, sinless as they are, stand overwhelmed with awe and wonder at the majesty and glory of our God. Yet, though that all be true, if we are afraid to go in, then God has failed to convince us of the truth about himself. And Jesus has failed to convince us, not just with his words, but with what he has demonstrated to be true when he was here, that God is infinitely powerful, but equally gracious, and there is no need to be afraid. How could we turn down what he has paid such a price to reveal?
God is seated there and we are gathered around him. What should we say? Should we be the first to speak? Once we have started speaking, would we talk all the time? Or would we let God speak for a while? Normally, when we pray we do all the talking, don’t we? And then we say Amen, and go about our business, or go to sleep. It would be like meeting in the room with our Heavenly Father, and talking to him incessantly for several minutes, and then saying, “Amen, thank you very much,” and then going home. It wouldn’t make sense, would it? It certainly wouldn’t be conversation as with a friend.
Supposing we should have the inestimable privilege of talking there freely with God the Father for a whole hour; would it be appropriate at the end for someone among us to arise and say, “This has been such a special occasion, don’t you think we ought to close this meeting with a word of prayer?” Or would it be correct to understand that talking, conversing, having conversation with our God as with a Friend for that whole hour actually is real prayer, and we have been praying the whole hour long?
Conversation means at least two people speaking. But how do we converse with God when we can’t see him just now, because of the present emergency? We all understand that emergency and why in mercy he does not reveal himself visibly to us at this moment. And so, the Bible is called the Word of God—God speaking to us. If we wish to hear God speak, except in most extraordinary occasions, God speaks to us through the Bible. We speak to him in prayer.
Truly, as someone has said, “We commune with God through the study of the Scriptures.” I certainly find prayer much more meaningful while reading the Bible. Have you ever had the experience of talking to God while reading certain parts of the Scriptures? Have you ever found yourself talking out loud, “That’s magnificent!”? Who are you talking to? But that’s real conversation. We read, we listen in that way. And then we talk back to God.
Graham Maxwell. Excerpt from the audio series, Conversations About God, #15, “Talking to God as a Friend” recorded May, 1984, Loma Linda, California.
Recently, Ty Gibson, a pretty awesome guy I follow on Twitter (@ or check out Digma) tweeted a sermon. Besides me thinking that tweeting a sermon is brilliant, his message was profound, transformational, a paradigm shift. So I asked him for permission to share it here so your mind can also be blown.
Sermon by Ty Gibson
I’ma preach a Twitter sermon this morning y’all. Opening prayer: Lord, wake us up to YOUR agenda. In the name of Jesus, Amen!
Scripture reading: Jesus said, “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness ABOUT ME.”
And Paul tells us precisely what the Spirit’s mission is: “GOD’S LOVE has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
Praying for the Spirit in “latter rain” power while fostering a dysfunctional spiritual environment is an exercise in “pagan” futility.
We have a fundamental content problem—not a power problem, a program problem, or a logistics problem. The WHAT must precede the HOW.
Will it ever occur to us that maybe God isn’t sending the Spirit upon us because we simply aren’t saying to the world what He wants said?
God won’t add supernatural power to the church until the gospel of His healing love defines our message & pervades our fellowship. Ouch!
We need to align ourselves with God’s agenda of non-condemning love (John 3:16-17) if we want God to take our voice viral.
So let’s pray for humility & repentance for making the church a place of controversy, argument, politics, personal agendas, and division.
Let’s pray God liberates us from our deeply embedded theological pride, legalistic coldness, lack of love, and missional narrowness.
And then, when it is evident that our message is Christ and Christ and Christ in all His unparalleled beauty…
…and when, in the light of His love for us, it is evident that we love one another more than our opinions, positions, & power plays…
…then, and only then, will the Holy Spirit descend upon us with latter rain power & the whole world will be lightened with God’s glory.
Closing Prayer: God, forgive us for expecting You to empower our agenda. May we humbly align ourselves with Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
By Timothy Keller. Found this via Twitter at the NYPost (http://nypost.com/2016/12/24/christmas-is-the-most-unsentimental-way-of-looking-at-life/)
Christmas is the most unsentimental way of looking at life
Christmas is the only Christian holy day that is also a major secular holiday. This brings some discomfort on both sides. Many Christians can’t help but notice that more and more of the public festivities surrounding Christmas studiously avoid any references to its Christian origins. The background music in stores is moving from “Joy to the World” to “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”
On the other hand, nonreligious people can’t help but find that the older meaning of Christmas keeps intruding uninvited, for instance, through the music of traditional Christmas carols. It can be irritating to have to answer their child’s question, “What does that music mean —‘born to give them second birth’?”
Christmas does not say, ‘Cheer up! If we all pull together we can make the world a better place.’
As a Christian believer, I am glad to share the virtues of that day with the entirety of society. My fear is, however, that its true roots will become more and more hidden to most of the population.
The secular Christmas is a festival of lights, a time for family gatherings, and a season to generously give to those closest to us and to those in greatest need. These practices are genuinely congruent with the Christian origins of the celebration. The emphasis on light in darkness comes from the Christian belief that the world’s hope comes from outside of it. The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus’ act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls that the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race.
But the truth is that Christmas, like God himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than most understand.
Christmas is about receiving presents, but consider how challenging it is to receive certain kinds of gifts. Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend — and it’s a dieting book. Then you take off another ribbon and wrapper and you find it is another book from another friend, “Overcoming Selfishness.” If you say to them, “Thank you so much,” you are in a sense admitting, “For indeed, I am fat and obnoxious.”
In other words, some gifts are hard to receive, because to do so is to admit you have flaws and weaknesses and you need help. Perhaps on some occasion you had a friend who figured out you were in financial trouble and came to you and offered a large sum of money to get you out of your predicament. If that has ever happened to you, you probably found that to receive the gift meant swallowing your pride.
There has never been a gift offered that makes you swallow your pride to the depths that the gift of Jesus Christ requires us to do. Christmas means that we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God himself could save us. That means you are not somebody who can pull yourself together and live a moral and good life.
Christmas, therefore, is the most unsentimental, realistic way of looking at life. It does not say, “Cheer up! If we all pull together we can make the world a better place.” The Bible never counsels indifference to the forces of darkness, only resistance, but it supports no illusions that we can defeat them ourselves. Christianity does not agree with the optimistic thinkers who say, “We can fix things if we try hard enough.” Nor does it agree with the pessimists who see only a dystopian future.
The message of Christianity is, instead, “Things really are this bad, and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Things really are this dark — nevertheless, there is hope.” The Christmas message is that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Notice that it doesn’t say from the world a light has sprung, but upon the world a light has dawned. It has come from outside. There is light outside of this world, and Jesus has brought that light to save us; indeed, he is the Light.
Adapted from the book “Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ” by Timothy Keller (Viking). Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
Another out the park post from Beauty Beyond Bones.
If there’s on Olympic event that is simultaneously the most mesmerizing, and yet the most head-scrating thing ever, it’s…pole vaulting. No, not rhythmic gymnastics. Although, that’s a close second. Pole vaulting. I mean, I’d like to meet the guy who invented that event! Like, Okay, I’m going to willing catapult my body through the air, over a ridiculously high […]
Many times, I have conversations on the topic of salvation. My focus is always on God’s incredible love and grace that he demonstrated definitively at the cross.
At some point, someone will say, “God’s grace provided salvation but in order to be saved, we need to accept it.”A variation on this is when someone says, “You have to trust in Jesus to be saved.” Or “We are saved by faith and not works.”
To me, what I see the bible saying over and over, is that there is an infinitely important distinction between salvation by grace and any other statement made about having faith, trust, or belief.
To illustrate what I mean, please consider the following two sentences and ask yourself which one brings you the greatest level of peace:
I have salvation because I have accepted God’s love and grace.
God has saved me because of his love and grace and I accept that.
I follow a page on Facebook called “Hebrew for Christians.” Here’s a recent post that is just amazing; a fantastic reminder.
There are moments – dark, gnawing, raw – when you may lose sight of hope, when you might even fear that you have lost your faith – not in God or his promises – but rather in yourself, in your own strength to continue, to stay focused, to keep pressing on “hope against hope…” The remedy here is always the same: to remember that within you – that is, in your flesh – “there is no good thing” and that the miracle of salvation is made secure by God’s passion for you, not your own power or desire. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts.” We don’t trust in ourselves nor in the strength of our inner resolve, but solely in the power of God to make the way. We must turn away from ourselves to regain the message of God’s unfailing love; only when we lose sight of ourselves do we find ourselves. God redeems you from your lost estate and touches you in your uncleanness; He clothes himself in your pain so that you may be clothed in his love. That never changes, despite dark moments, and to that we must always return.
I have a distinct memory from when I was in my religious studies classes (not like it was decades ago – I was a mature student). One of my professors said, with great disdain, that many of the modern Christian songs sound like a love song couples might sing to each other. A few people gave an amen. A few chuckled. But I started pondering…
Of all the metaphors God gives for our relationship with him, the most intimate is that of husband and bride. I believe that God meets us where we are with the metaphor that best speaks to us but then moves us to greater and greater intimacy with him – to the marriage metaphor. When he returns the major imagery is a groom coming for his bride and when we are all reunited it’s called the wedding supper of the lamb.
I like songs about God – his majesty, salvation, and comfort but maybe it’s a good thing that many newer Christian songs are singing to God; like love songs that a couple might sing to each other.
Now, how about this: what if God was to sing songs to us? What would they sound like? He would have to put them into ways we will understand; an unfiltered God song would be beyond what we can imagine. Sometimes, I hear God singing to us in love songs. Today, I again heard John Legend’s “All of Me.” It occurred to me that it could easily be God singing to you and me, his beloved bride to be. Check out some of the lyrics:
How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you
Check out Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
And to me, the chorus sounds like the cross:
‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you.
What songs remind you of God’s love for you and his desire for you to be his forever bride?
Wow! This is an awesome post. Well worth the time.
Well, in case you didn’t know, it’s “Body Positivity Week.” Yep, thanks to BuzzFeed, we’re being bombarded with full-frontal content about Forget-You-I-Love-My-Curves, and NGAFudge-ing about what anyone thinks about our cellulite, and Dag-Nabit I’m wearing a bikini if I want to, and how dare you body shame me. It’s actually kind of ironic how it’s […]
Recently, I was with a group of young people and we were talking about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. I asked them what is the take away from this story – what do we need to learn? They responded with the common things I have heard from many others: Jesus was showing us we can overcome temptation like he did, the devil is a liar, faith in God protects us from Satan; we need to know scripture so we are not deceived, and so on.
Those thoughts are not necessarily wrong or bad but something triggered in my mind. The Bible is the revelation of God; every story whispers Jesus name. Unfortunately, we often make the story all about us and from there we tend towards moralizing and even salvation and righteousness by works.
What if the story is all about Jesus and only there to tell us about him? If so, what does this story tell us about Jesus? As I look at the text through Jesus, what I discover is, it’s not about my abilities or overcoming, or my faith.
To me, it’s about Jesus, God with us, who was willing to do whatever it takes, to endure everything that can be thrown at him, so that he can set us free and bring us home.
What do you see in this Jesus story?