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I Am: The Unveiling of God is a breath of fresh air in the devotional literature market. Taken from true stories, these forty honest, wonderfully crafted insights will allow the reader to gaze upon the inexpressible beauty of God while discovering a personal connection to a God who desires to be our all in all. Each essay in turn explores a different facet of God and how it plays into our relationship with Him. Bite-sized chapters end with a candid prayer followed by questions to spur further meditation on an ...
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I Am: The Unveiling of God is a breath of fresh air in the devotional literature market. Taken from true stories, these forty honest, wonderfully crafted insights will allow the reader to gaze upon the inexpressible beauty of God while discovering a personal connection to a God who desires to be our all in all. Each essay in turn explores a different facet of God and how it plays into our relationship with Him. Bite-sized chapters end with a candid prayer followed by questions to spur further meditation on an attribute of God. I Am is a rare gem that deserves to be on every reader's bookshelf.
About the Author:
Steve Fry is a popular conference speaker and has recorded four Christian music albums, including the Dove Award nominated We Are Called. He is the founder of Steve Fry Ministries and Messenger Fellowship, a missions resource agency that equips local churches for world evangelism. Steve and his wife, Nancy, have three children and live in Brentwood, Tennessee.
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Revelation 4:8
Some years ago, a pastor in whose church I was to speak met me at the local airport. As we pulled away from the terminal, he began talking a mile a minute, waving his hands and tapping my arm. Clearly he was excited about something. His sense of enthusiasm was contagious. What had captivated him were some recent spiritual discoveries. It was refreshing to listen to someone who was excited-not about his plans, or his church programs, but by what he'd learned about God.
"Over the past year, I have been transformed," he said. "I never knew God could be so fascinating. Yet it seems the more I discover about him, the more I realize I don't know. Have you ever felt that way, Steve?"
I assured him I had.
"For months and months now, I've just been riveted to this whole pursuit of knowing God. The funny thing is that as I have shared some of my most exciting discoveries with my colleagues, their responses have been so casual, almost flippant. I would tell them things I was finding out about God, and they would say, 'Oh, we learned that in seminary.' Here I am pressing into God for all I'm worth-and they seem so indifferent."
Sadly, such tepid responses are all too common, I thought.
"Well, I went to God the other day," he went on, "and said, 'God, here I am pressing right into your heart, and I hardly feel that I know you at all. And these other guys seem to have you all figured out, but they're so complacent about it.' Then this thought popped into my head-I believe it was God-Anyone can think they see all of me-from a distance."
His statement hit me like the jolt of a stun gun. How true it was! Sometimes our spiritual placidity is mere smugness. We coast along, and over time we lose that sense of wonder that would surely grip us if we spent time looking into the depths of God, especially at his love toward us and his healing touch for those whom life has harmed.
For many of us, getting to know God sounds like tedious business -the domain of dour theologians pouring over dusty manuscripts. For others of us, time seems to slip so quickly through our fingers that we never quite get around to spending it with God, reading his Word, and reflecting on his goodness. This sounds rather boring to a lot of people. Quiet time with God often runs a distant second to an exciting movie on TV. Then again, many of us want quality time with God, but are uneasy with the solitude, for there we face our unanswered questions, our unresolved hurts, our unbridled drivenness, and, yes, our unconfessed sin. To us God is not the source of delightful fascination, but the reminder of our faults.
The book of Revelation is a keyhole through which we can peek at the wonders to come. Angelic hosts surround heaven's regal throne, exclaiming the majesty of God:
sounds never heard by human ear reverberating through eternity,
peel after peel of praise thundering God's majesty;
the hushed whispers of reverent awe;
the crescendo of song,
each melody building on the last;
chords colliding in ecstatic harmonies,
intensifying with each modulation,
moving from the serene to the sublime;
every note resonating the wonder of God!
These creatures are permanently caught in a transfiguration, utterly mesmerized by the one they worship. For time beyond time, they have been worshiping God with no apparent concern for their own existence, enraptured in the pull of divine fascination. That these beings never seem to think of themselves, but are singularly focused in their adoration of God, says something about God.
What kind of a God do we serve who can so totally empty these angels of all self-interest and hold them in rapt attention? He must be so incredibly absorbing, so uniquely satisfying that they give no thought to themselves, but are content to ceaselessly praise him.
How embarrassing, by comparison, is my self-centeredness.
As I reflected on my own worship experiences, I doubted that I could have repeated "Holy, Holy, Holy" for more than an hour. I would consider myself extremely spiritual if I could keep it up for two hours. Yet these creatures have never ceased to praise him-for millennia beyond counting! How can they possess that capacity? I wondered.
Reflecting on this Scripture makes me wonder if each time these creatures cry "Holy," God is moved to reveal a facet of his character they have never seen. For as the apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:10, God's wisdom is manifold. And every revelation of God makes them shout "Holy" all the more-which moves God to reveal even more of himself. And this has been going on for millennia -this amazing interplay of worship and revelation.
Imagine exploring the wonders of undersea mountains, volcanic fissures, and coral reefs of the Pacific. Or the autumnal colors of a New England wood. Or the vast Serengeti in Africa. Or the immensity of China's Great Wall. God is wonderful beyond all this.
God is inexhaustible in his wonder!
There is a restlessness in all of us that prods us to seek God. We try to sedate that restlessness with a myriad of pleasures; we try to silence that restlessness through hours of labor; we try to ignore that restlessness and pretend that we are in fact quite at home in this material world. C. S. Lewis once asked this question:
Do fish complain at the sea for being wet? If they did, would the fact not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? If you are really a product of the material universe, how is it that you don't feel at home here?
The sea creatures don't complain, for they are in their element. The fact that we complain-the fact that we're restless-betrays just how ill at ease we are in a material universe apart from a relationship with the God who made it.
If you have lost your desire to worship God, perhaps you need to meet him in new facets of his personality and nature. Have you lost peace, happiness, and meaning? Allowing the wonder of God to flood your soul can restore to you the essence of life itself and give you strength for your spiritual journey.
Having eternal life means more than living forever: Jesus said eternal life is knowing God. It is what G. K. Chesterton called life's practical romance-the view of things that combines "an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." That's the romance we can know of God-awed by his wonder and secure in his welcome! That is why again and again, the apostle Paul prayed that the churches would be blessed with the Spirit of revelation, wisdom, and understanding (Ephesians 1:17, 18).
Angela of Foligna, a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi, once said, "The first step to be taken by the soul who desires to draw near to God, is to learn to know God in very truth, and not only outwardly as though by the color of the writing. For as we know, so do we love; therefore if we know but little and darkly, if we reflect and meditate on Him only superficially and pleadingly, we shall in consequence love Him but little."
* * *
Lord, my heart does not always sing out in praise, for it is often choked with disappointment. My heart is not always tender to your overtures of love because it is often hardened by angers big and small. My heart is not always turned toward you, for I fear that to really embrace you is to see not your glory, but my destitution. Oh, God, restore to me the joy of knowing you. I open my heart to you now. Create in me a hunger for you like I've never known, so that my heart can sing, can listen, and can embrace you once again.
Questions to Ponder:
1. Have you ever thought of God as fascinating?
2. Have you found your wonder at the person of God waning? Why or why not?
3. What factors could distract you in your pursuit of God?
4. What steps could you take to reignite your love for and wonder of God?
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3
In the Hollywood musical Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Present invites the old miser to a sumptuous Christmas feast. As Scrooge imbibes and gorges himself, the ghost, appearing as a jovial Father Christmas, sings a rousing song:
I like life; Life likes me; Life and I fairly fully agree.
For a brief moment, Scrooge is transformed from the humbug curmudgeon to a rollicking merrymaker, caught up in the celebration of life as it was meant to be lived.
Life. The thrill of skiing down a freshly powdered slope. The sweetness of a summer snooze in a hammock. The laughter of friends. The satisfaction of a job well done. Life:
where reality lives up to our expectations;
where we find a satisfying rhythm between what we are and what we do;
where we find a sense of fulfillment and genuine happiness;
where integrity is enjoyable and relationships are satisfying.
We all want a good life. But John took note of the way Jesus defined real living-and what our Lord promises is something more than we can imagine. The most satisfying images we could conjure up don't begin to compare with what God has given us, and that is eternal life. That's far more than simply living forever-it's living a fulfilled forever. The emphasis here is not just eternity, but life-a life that begins the moment you and I meet Jesus.
Life is all that death is not. Death suggests isolation and loneliness, something that is cold and unfeeling, cut off from all that is energetic and vibrant, where anxiety robs us of peace, and anger robs us of joy. Life is goodness in abundance.
At least that was what God intended.
Sadly, many people live large parts of their lives in a state of death-lonely, feeling rejected and uncared for, suspicious of intimacy, even hardened in their hearts. Death in this context is not the cessation of biological functions; it is the loss of joy and innocence. When we place our trust in a close friend, and that person betrays us, something in us dies. Or when it becomes apparent that we will never realize the dream to which we aspired, again, something in us dies. Death is the promotion never received, the confidence betrayed, the callousness of a son or daughter, or the agony of a missed opportunity that causes us to die a hundred times inside.
If offered a chance to escape from the misery of a meaningless existence, most of us would jump at it and ask, "What can I do? How much can I pay? Where can I sign on the dotted line? How can I really live?" The answer is not found in a sense of liberated personhood, in human friendship, in personal accomplishment, in retreating to some exotic vacation spot, or in receiving a lavish inheritance.
When asked the question "Do you really want to live?" we race to the counter with all our hidden desires of wealth, pleasure, and prestige-only to hear Jesus' response: "This is life-that you know God." When we hear this, we stop dead in our tracks. Somehow God and life don't seem to belong together; they're not part of the same song. "God" suggests everything that is wrong with me; even worse, "God" sometimes suggests why I'm so miserable.
We want life, but sometimes we are not willing to make the journey that will get us to real life. The truth is that many of us don't really want to get that close to God. For some, it is because they are afraid of him. They remember all their broken promises to him to do better and the times they failed over and over again. Or perhaps they recall images of a vindictive God scoping the earth for someone to judge, and that stirs uneasy feelings of shame lurking in the shadows of their souls. Uncertain about where they stand with God, they keep a healthy distance between themselves and him. To suggest that knowing God is synonymous with satisfying living is beyond their comprehension. How can one who evokes such feelings of dread be the source of my fulfillment? they wonder. To them God may be a Father, but he is a stern one who must always be appeased.
For others, the problem isn't fear, but anger-some unanswered prayer, unresolved hurt, or the loss of someone they held dear. They hold God responsible for these things and become resentful, even bitter-bitter at the injustice they have suffered, bitter at the opportunities they feel they've never had, bitter at the seemingly unrelenting hardships they go through without receiving a satisfying answer from God. Again, to suggest that knowing God is life in its most fulfilled form only irritates them more. How can a God who has allowed me to go through so much pain be the source of my happiness? they fume.
There are still others who know enough of God to be secure in his Fatherhood and in the knowledge that they have eternal life, but who simply have grown weary with life here and now. Those who have labored for fruit still unseen; those who have persevered without reward; those who are subject to the harassment of the enemy and the rejection of people; those who have learned the art of enduring, but have not known the thrill of overcoming-to them the idea that knowing God is the key to a deeply satisfying life now sounds good, but it is no longer believable. They endeavor to serve him, but have lost their ability to enjoy him. How can I return to the place where the joy of the Lord is my strength? they ask.
It is these people-the fearful, the angry, the weary-to whom I want to speak: to those riddled with disappointment; to those who love God, but have lost the passion for his purpose; and to those whose lives are simply out of focus.
It is not so much that Jesus Christ gives us the answers-he is the answer. We who believe that life will be wonderful if we can just solve our problems and eliminate our hassles may not realize that cultivating friendship with God is actually the way to have the kind of life we crave.
Only when we set aside our fears, resentments, and even fatigue and strive to know him and seek him simply for the wonder of who he is-not to get answers, or meet our needs, or receive strength-will we suddenly find our fears, anger, and weariness subsumed by the deluge of joy that comes from discovering God.
Excerpted from I Am by STEVE FRY Copyright © 2000 by Steve Fry. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|1.||The Wonders of God||21|
|2.||He Gives Eternal Life||27|
|3.||The Boundless Grace of God||33|
|4.||He's the Heartmender||39|
|5.||Free to Change||44|
|6.||He Frees Us from Guilt||51|
|7.||A God of Forgiveness||57|
|8.||A Giving God||62|
|9.||God Was One of Us||67|
|10.||When He Became Sin||73|
|11.||A God Who Grieves||79|
|12.||The Anger of God||87|
|14.||God: A True Friend||99|
|15.||Our Righteous Judge||104|
|16.||A God Who Struggles||109|
|17.||Facing a Jealous God||114|
|18.||A God of Holiness||119|
|19.||He Calls Us "Holy"||129|
|20.||The Bearer of Our Burdens||134|
|21.||When God Is Silent||142|
|22.||God: Our Great Contentment||148|
|23.||The Redeemer of Our Pain||153|
|24.||God Works through Our Weakness||159|
|25.||Blessings in the Darkness||164|
|26.||The Measure of His Power||171|
|27.||He Restores Our Innocence||178|
|28.||A God in Whom We May Rest||183|
|30.||He's the Center of Our Lives||196|
|31.||A God Who Celebrates||201|
|32.||God at War--from a Seated Position||207|
|33.||His Call to Worship||213|
|34.||He's Worthy of Glory||218|
|35.||He Meets Our Needs--and More||224|
|36.||God, Our Pleasure||233|
|37.||He Pours Out His Mercy||237|
|38.||A God Who Satisfies the Mind||243|
|39.||God's Call to Dependence||249|
|40.||Face-to-Face with God||255|
Posted July 5, 2004
To those whose desire is to know and better understand the God who formed them, this book is a must. It not only renewed my deisre to know God more fully, but also fed that desire with the turn of every page. If God seems distant or you feel like you 'know it all' about God, this volume will change your mind - and your heart as well!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2002
This book makes you think. Each essay is well written from a heart that has sought hard to know a living God who wants us all to succeed in a relationship with Him. Fry then asks questions so you can draw yourself closer to God. Great for groups and group discussions! A classic book I will be rereading for a very long time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.