God Is Closer Than You Think: This Can Be the Greatest Moment of Your Life Because This Moment Is the Place Where You Can Meet God [NOOK Book]

Overview

There are two works of art that help me think about the presence of God. The first is the painting of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Apparently one of the messages that Michelangelo wanted to convey is God?s great desire to reach out to and be with the person he has created. If you look carefully at the painting, you notice that the figure of God is extended toward the man with great vigor. He twists his body to move it as close to the man as possible. His head is turned toward the man, and his gazed ...

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God Is Closer Than You Think: This Can Be the Greatest Moment of Your Life Because This Moment Is the Place Where You Can Meet God

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Overview

There are two works of art that help me think about the presence of God. The first is the painting of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Apparently one of the messages that Michelangelo wanted to convey is God’s great desire to reach out to and be with the person he has created. If you look carefully at the painting, you notice that the figure of God is extended toward the man with great vigor. He twists his body to move it as close to the man as possible. His head is turned toward the man, and his gazed is fixed on him. God’s arm is stretched out, his index finger is extended straight forward; every muscle is taut. It looks as if even in the midst of the splendor of all creation God’s entire being is wrapped up in his desire to touch this man. His hand comes within a hair’s breath of the hand of the man. God is as close as he can be. But having come that close, he allows just a little space, so that Adam can choose. He waits for Adam to make his move. Adam, for his part, reclines in a lazy pose, leaning backward as if he has no interest at all in making a connection. He doesn’t move forward, he doesn’t hold out his hand, he doesn’t lift a finger. He appears to be indifferent to or even unaware of the possibility of touching his Creator. All it would take is the slightest effort, the merest movement. This picture says that the great desire of God is to be with the human beings he has made in his own image. This picture reminds us—God is closer than we think. He is never farther than a prayer away. All it takes is the barest effort, the lift of a finger. But I also remember another, humbler work of art. It involves a series of books all centered around the question “Where’s Waldo?” Waldo will never make it to the Sistine Chapel. He looks nothing like the majestic deity of Michelangelo. He is a geeky-looking, glasses-wearing nerd with a striped shirt and goofy hat. Waldo is supposed to be on every page. Whoever writes the book claims that it is so. But you couldn’t prove it by me. He’s often hidden to the untrained eye. You have to be willing to look for him. When you find him, there is a sense of joy and accomplishment. “Surely Waldo was in the place, and I knew it not.” In fact, developing the capacity to track him down is part of the point of the book. If it was too easy—if every page consisted just of a giant picture of Waldo’s face—no one would ever buy it. The difficulty of the task is what increases the power of discernment. Part of what makes it hard to find Waldo is that he is so ordinary-looking. On some pages, he’s surrounded by hundreds of look-alikes; Waldo-wannabees. He just seems to just blend in. You can be looking right at him without even knowing it. Where’s Waldo? Why doesn’t he show himself plainly? Why does he hide his face? He may not be absent, but he is elusive. He is Waldus absconditus—the Waldo who hides himself. Let every day—every moment—of your life be another page. God is there, the Scriptures tell us—on every one of them. But the ease with which he may be found varies from one page to the next. So let’s explore the truth found in both of these works of art: God is closer than you think.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ortberg, megachurch pastor and author, bases this book on the belief that God is near and knowing him is possible for everyone who wants to feel his presence: "The teaching of Scripture is that God really is present right here, right now.... The Spirit of God is available to you and me: flowing all the time, welling up within us, quenching our unsatisfied desires, overflowing to refresh those around us." Ortberg's suggestions-to believe that God is in everything, to seek him in the daily and mundane, to learn to recognize and encourage God-inspired thoughts, to look for him in the people you meet and to obey his promptings-though not new, provide readers with a series of ideas and activities to begin to change the way they see God in their lives. Ortberg approaches this as a pastor teaching his flock, rather than as a fellow traveler recounting his own search for God; he shares little of his personal experience and is largely dependent on quotes from other contemporary Christian writers to make his main points. Also, the book's cover and chapter titles are quite complex. However, those looking for an approachable, quick read on a difficult subject will appreciate this guide, which alludes to the mysteries of God's intimacy with Christians, but doesn't get bogged down in too many details. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310565819
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 5/18/2009
  • Sold by: Zondervan Publishing
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 161,665
  • File size: 590 KB

Meet the Author

John Ortberg es el Pastor principal de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Menlo Park, en Menlo Park, California, con dependencias en Menlo Park, Mountain View y San Mateo. Ha escrito numerosas obras que han tenido una gran aceptacion, como La fe y la duda; El ser que quiero ser; Un amor mas alla de la razon; Cuando el juego termina, todo regresa a la caja; La mision fantasma; Dios esta mas cerca de lo que crees; Todos somos normales hasta que nos conocen; La vida que siempre has querido; Si quieres caminar sobre las aguas, tienes que salir de la barca; Vivamos divinamente la vida, y el plan de estudios multimedia Old Testament Challenge (con la colaboracion de Kevin Harney). John y su esposa Nancy tienen tres hijos.

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Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments...9
1. God’s Great Desire...11
2. Where’s Waldo?...27
3. Life with God...45
4. The Greatest Moment of Your Life...61
5. A Beautiful Mind...77
6. Waldo Junior...95
7. Spiritual Pathways...109
8. “As You Wish”...125
9. When God Seems Absent...139
10. The Hedge...155
Scripture Versions...169
Sources...171

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First Chapter

God Is Closer Than You Think Copyright © 2005 by John Ortberg This title is also available as a Zondervan ebook product.
Visit www.zondervan.com/ebooks for more information.
This title is also available as a Zondervan audio product.
Visit www.zondervan.com/audiopages for more information.
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ortberg, John.
God is closer than you think / John Ortberg. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-10: 0-310-25349-7 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25349-5 (hardcover)
1. Presence of God. 2. Christian life — Presbyterian authors. I. Title.
BV4509.5.O78 2005
248.4 — dc22
2004024716
This edition printed on acid-free paper.
Some names and details have been changed in order to protect the privacy of people involved in true stories told in this book.
The Scripture versions used in this book are listed on page 169, which hereby becomes a part of this copyright page. Italics in quotations of Scripture have been added by the author for emphasis.
The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Interior design by Michelle Espinoza Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 08 09 10 11 • 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3

Chapter 1
God’s Great Desire For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living. . . .
Thomas Kelly During the first year of our marriage, Nancy and I spent two months traveling around Europe. We lived on a budget of
$13.50 per day for food, lodging, and entertainment. We breakfasted every morning on bread and cheese. We lodged in accommodations compared with which the Bates Motel in the movie Psycho would be an upgrade. Entertainment on that budget consisted of buying Time magazine once a week and ripping it in half so we could both read it at the same time.
We splurged in Italy, where we blew one whole day’s allowance on a single meal and spent money we could not afford to look at the treasures of Western art. The highlight of the day came after standing in line for hours at the Vatican to view Michelangelo Buonarroti’s brilliant painting of God and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
His masterpiece is one of two works of art that serve as touchstones for this book. (I’m saving the other one for the next chapter.) If you look carefully at the painting, you notice that the figure of God is extended toward the man with great vigor. He twists his body to move it as close to the man as possible. His head is turned toward the man, and his gaze is fixed on him. God’s arm is stretched out, his index finger extended straight forward; every muscle is taut.
Before Michelangelo, art scholars say, the standard paintings of creation showed God standing on the ground, in effect helping Adam to his feet. Not here. This God is rushing toward Adam on a cloud,
one of the “chariots of heaven,” propelled by the angels. (In our day they don’t look quite aerobicized enough to move really fast, but in Michelangelo’s day the angels suggested power and swiftness.) It is as if even in the midst of the splendor of all creation, God’s entire being is wrapped up in his impatient desire to close the gap between himself and this man. He can’t wait. His hand comes within a hairbreadth of the man’s hand.
The painting is traditionally called The Creation of Adam, but some scholars say it should be called The Endowment of Adam. Adam has already been given physical life — his eyes are open, and he is conscious. What is happening is that he is being offered life with God.
“All of man’s potential, physical and spiritual, is contained in this one timeless moment,” writes one art critic.
Apparently one of the messages that Michelangelo wanted to convey is God’s implacable determination to reach out to and be with the person he has created. God is as close as he can be. But having come that close, he allows just a little space, so that Adam can choose. He waits for Adam to make his move.
Adam is more difficult to interpret. His arm is partially extended toward God, but his body reclines in a lazy pose, leaning backward as if he has no interest at all in making a connection. Maybe he assumes that God, having come this far, will close the gap. Maybe he is indifferent to the possibility of touching his creator. Maybe he lacks the strength. All he would have to do is lift a finger.
The fresco took Michelangelo four years of intense labor. The physical demands of standing on a scaffold painting above his head were torture. (“I have my beard turned to the ceiling, my head bent back on my shoulders, my chest arched like that of a Harpy; my brush drips on to my face and makes me look like a decorated pavement. . . . I am bent taut like a Syrian bow.”) Because he was forced to look upwards for hours while painting, he eventually could only read a letter if he held it at arm’s length above his head. One night, exhausted by his work,
alone with his doubts, discouraged by a project that was too great for him, he wrote in his journal a single sentence: “I am no painter.”
Yet for nearly half a millennium this picture has spoken of God’s great desire to be with the human beings he has made in his own image. Perhaps Michelangelo was not alone in his work after all. Perhaps the God who was so near to Adam was near to Michelangelo as well — at work in his mind and his eye and his brushes.
The “Everywhereness” of God This picture reminds us: God is closer than we think. He is never farther than a prayer away. All it takes is the barest effort, the lift of a finger. Every moment — this moment right now, as you read these words — is the “one timeless moment” of divine endowment, of life with God.
“This is my Father’s world,” an old song says. “He shines in all that’s fair. . . . In the rustling grass I hear him pass, he speaks to me everywhere.” The Scriptures are full of what might be called the everywhereness of God’s speaking. “The heavens are telling the glory of God; . . . day to day pours forth speech.”
He talks through burning bushes and braying donkeys; he sends messages through storms and rainbows and earthquakes and dreams,
he whispers in a still small voice. He speaks (in the words of Garrison Keillor) in “ordinary things like cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music, and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through.”
God’s Great Desire The story of the Bible isn’t primarily about the desire of people o be with God; it’s the desire of God to be with people.
One day I was sitting on a plane next to a businessman. The screen saver on his computer was the picture of a towheaded little boy taking what looked like his first shaky step. “Is that your son?” I asked. Big mistake.
Yes, that was the man’s son, his only child. Let’s say his name was Adam. The picture on the computer was taken three months earlier,
when Adam was eleven months old. The man told me about his son’s first step and first word with a sense of wonder, as if Adam had invented locomotion and speech. There was a more recent picture of Adam on the man’s palm pilot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    John Ortberg is outstanding--excellent!

    This is a wonderful, wonderful DVD. John Ortberg is excellent and delivers a warm and clear message. I can't recommend this enough. The messages are positive and motivational, and appropriate for everyone--regardless of their 'spiritual' experience. Our small group loved it, and I am purchasing my own copy just to share with my 21- year-old son who needs to hear the message as well.

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