What Is God Really Like?

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Overview

In conjunction with ONE PRAYER, a monthlong, multichurch campaign unifying churches around the world, this compilation book features reflections on what God is really like from these seventeen participating pastors: Mark Batterson, Rick Bezet, John Burke, Francis Chan, Wayne Cordiero, Jentezen Franklin, Steven Furtick, Craig Groeschel, Chris Hodges, Clark Mitchell, Perry Noble, Dino Rizzo, Gary Shiohama, Toby Slough, Andy Stanley, Greg Surratt, and Stovall Weems.

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Overview

In conjunction with ONE PRAYER, a monthlong, multichurch campaign unifying churches around the world, this compilation book features reflections on what God is really like from these seventeen participating pastors: Mark Batterson, Rick Bezet, John Burke, Francis Chan, Wayne Cordiero, Jentezen Franklin, Steven Furtick, Craig Groeschel, Chris Hodges, Clark Mitchell, Perry Noble, Dino Rizzo, Gary Shiohama, Toby Slough, Andy Stanley, Greg Surratt, and Stovall Weems.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310328339
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 5/10/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 938,314
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author, Craig Groeschel, is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multicampus church and creators of the popular and free YouVersion Bible App. He is the author of several books including Soul Detox, Weird, The Christian Atheist and It. Craig, his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, Oklahoma.
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Read an Excerpt

What Is God Really Like?


Zondervan

Copyright © 2010 Craig Groeschel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-32833-9


Chapter One

GOD IS STRONG Francis Chan

This one guy in my church is-literally-the strongest man on earth. I'm not exaggerating. He's actually appeared on ESPN. He bench presses something like 1,050 pounds. To baptize him, we had to turn him sideways because our baptismal couldn't hold him. He's huge, the kind of guy whose head extends straight up out of his torso, no neck.

His wife could beat me up . She bench presses over four hundred pounds. (I don't know if you know, but that's a lot for a girl.) I haven't met their children, but I'll bet they're pretty big. It would be really strange if they had scrawny little kids. That wouldn't make any sense.

We serve an all-powerful, amazing, strong God. But we don't focus enough on that aspect of him. Consequently, our churches are filled with people who are scared and weak. It doesn't look right for such a powerful God to have such weak children. Powerful is not an adjective I would use to describe most of the people filling churches today . We should talk about the strength of God. God is strong.

How many people would you describe as powerful? Probably not many. I think it's because we believers seldom think about this characteristic of God, so we become weak ourselves. The more I focus on God's strength and power, the more I find I have the courage to do and to say the things that he wants me to.

Those of us who grew up in church learned all the powerful Bible stories. As a kid, I went to Sunday school here and there, and I always looked forward to hearing about David and Goliath . I loved the way that this scrawny little guy called out Goliath: "By the power of my God, where is this uncircumcised Philistine?" I loved this guy who used God's power to take a giant down .

Strength has characterized the followers of God ever since the beginning of time. Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They said, "Go ahead, throw us in a fiery furnace. We're not afraid. We don't care. Our God can deliver us."

Daniel's God was powerful. He said, "Go ahead, throw me in a lion's den. What are lions going to do to me? I have God's strength. He's with me."

Elijah stood on Mount Carmel, facing off against 450 prophets of Baal. As they all danced around and screamed to their god, Elijah just mocked them. He knew what his God was about to do. When they finally finished, he got on his knees and showed them the power of God.

Caleb's story is one of my personal favorites . Caleb and Joshua were two of the twelve spies who went out to spy out Canaan. The spies went, and they realized, "Wow. These people are huge. They're massive . We can't conquer them."

But Caleb said, "Let me at them. Let's go. We can do this thing. God's on our side ." He demonstrated power and confidence. Joshua was the same way: "Caleb's right. With God with us, we can conquer any people. It doesn't matter how big they are." The other ten spies and the rest of the people were the cowards. But the believers were always distinguished by their power.

I also love that forty-five years later, in Joshua 14, when they were about to go into battle, eighty-five-year-old Caleb was saying, "I know it has been forty-five years. I know I'm old. But I'm just as strong as I used to be. Let me at them." Caleb was ready to just take charge. He was ready to do the same thing he would have done forty-five years earlier, because he never stopped believing in his God.

I can't help wondering, Where are the eighty-five-year-olds today who think that way? Where are the forty-year-olds who are living with that type of confidence, boldness, and strength? We should evaluate ourselves. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul tells Timothy, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

A few months ago, I was doing one of those sermons where I try to teach through the whole Bible on one Sunday. (I skipped some things, but I wanted to get through the whole story.) I was making some of it up as I went along, because I've read this thing before. In Revelation, I was reading how great it is for those who conquer. Suddenly in Revelation 21, the conviction hit, because those who wouldn't back down to the mark of the beast said, "No! I'm not taking that mark. You can torture me, starve me to death. I'm not taking it." The end of Revelation 21:7 says, "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son."

Then verse 8 says, "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." As I was reading, it dawned on me: the first people on that list are cowards. Cowards? I can think of so many times when I was scared-when I knew God wanted me to say something and I didn't, when I knew he wanted me to talk to someone and I didn't. Sometimes in my prayer time with God, I'll read his Word and think, This says what it says. I just have to go for it. I have to do it. But then I'll let people talk me out of it. Or I'll talk myself out of it. There are so many things I feel I should do, but then I just walk away.

And yet, when I read this passage about these conquerors, I realize that's what believers, followers of God, should be known for. We should be strong because our God is strong. But we're not known for that. Often, we're scared; we're cowards. It doesn't make sense. If that huge couple had scrawny kids, it would just be weird. In the same way, the Bible portrays followers of this mighty, all-powerful God as fearless conquerors. Winners. The other side-without the Spirit of God-were cowards. Do people see you as powerful? If someone were to describe you, is that a word they would use? Do you have that kind of confidence in your God? Are you that sure of what he's able to do through you?

The pastor in me gets so concerned because we have people in our church who supposedly have the Spirit of the living God-the same one who raised Christ from the dead-living in them. We have more resources and more education than any generation before us. Through podcasts, we have every sermon, every commentary, at our fingertips. We have every tool we could possibly need, and yet we say, "I can't go talk to my neighbor. That would be weird."

In Scripture, I read about David going after Goliath. Joshua and Caleb. Elijah. Paul. Peter. Uneducated fishermen took on the whole world. We have so much given to us, and we're like, "What? Walk across the street and start a relationship with them? Tell them about Jesus? That's too much. Maybe I'll bring them to church, where someone else can tell them about Jesus." People can be Christians for decades and still feel unequipped to disciple others. They're afraid to tell someone, "Follow my example, even as I follow Christ's." And yet that's precisely what Jesus told us he wants us to do. Couples who have been married for fifteen, twenty, thirty years say, "Oh, I don't know if I could do premarital counseling. A guy in my church has a PhD in Biblical Counseling . He should do it." How could what we have still not be enough? Years of experience and the Holy Spirit, plus every sermon in the world at our fingertips?

I believe we're simply scared-myself included. What's crazy is that it seems like the longer I'm in church settings, the more scared I become. I think it's because we meet people who are so gifted, and we think, He's so good; I could never do it like him. Rather than looking to God's Holy Spirit for inspiration, we instead compare ourselves with others. David could have said, "Those guys are so much bigger than I am." Everyone in Scripture could have done that. We need to remember who we worship. God is the Creator, and he's on our side.

I was playing golf with a buddy of mine, and we joined up with this other twosome. These guys were really good. They parred the first two holes. (I don't do that.) On the next hole, a par three, one of these guys hit it into the sand. I remember thinking, Oh, good. He made a mistake. Now I'm not so embarrassed. Then he chipped it out of the sand-into the hole, for a birdie.

I stood there for a second, dumbfounded. Then I said, "Okay, what's going on? I've played with good guys. But you guys are really good."

He kind of chuckled. "Yeah, I was on the tour for a while. Like, seven, eight years."

I knew I couldn't beat him because he'd been a tour player, so I figured I'd just outdrive him instead. Because that's what matters. I'd swing as hard as I could, and after a while, I finally started out-driving him on a few holes. As we were nearing the end, I was out-driving him by twenty or thirty yards. (Sure, he was seventy-three years old, but he still hit it far.)

Of course we visited as we played, and I tried sharing my faith with him. I figured, he's seventy-three; I have to share with him. What if he doesn't make it to the end of this hole? I didn't want that on my conscience.

I asked, "So, do you believe in God?"

He glared at me, kind of awkwardly. He said, "You don't bring up God. You don't bring up religion. Don't bring up politics, and don't bring up religion. Don't you know that?"

I didn't.

I'm glad I asked anyway, because apparently making him mad threw off his game. Then I couldn't let it go. Not because it was affecting his game but because, "So you don't believe in God?"

He just stood there, staring me down.

I said, "No, honestly, I want to know. I mean, if you don't believe, then where did all this come from?" I gestured around us.

He said, "What are you talking about?"

I said, "You know. The trees, the grass."

"Gardeners," he answered curtly.

But I'm stubborn. "You know what I mean: this whole world. Seriously. Like, there was nothing, and then boom! All of this is here?"

He said, "Fine. Maybe there's a Creator."

That satisfied me ... for a few minutes.

We played a few more holes and I said, "So, what do you think about the Bible?"

He smirked. "You actually believe in the Bible? That thing's so full of contradictions."

I said, "Tell me one."

He thought for a few seconds. "Okay. Do you really believe in Noah's ark? You honestly believe Noah got two camels to walk onto the ark, then two cows behind them, and two little ants? Did he talk to the ants?" He mocked, like he was Noah saying it: "Come on, little ants!"

I can't report that I had great success with this guy, but he reminds me how so many of us who are Christians say we believe but act as if it's all a big myth. A nice story, this Bible stuff, but come on ... And that's why we are so powerless. Our lack of strength comes from our lack of certainty that we serve a God who can do anything. We become stronger when we fully understand how strong and powerful God is.

I'll admit it's hard to believe. All of it. Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Moses making the sun stand still. The Noah story. How would you get a couple of ants onto a boat? And fruit flies? And of course it was a wooden boat, so a couple of termites seem like a bad idea. How would you get them on there? On the other hand, if you believe in a Creator, then it's not so far-fetched. You and I couldn't pull it off. But if a Creator can make two ants, couldn't he also get them to walk onto a boat?

I know that may be difficult to understand. I can't create. You can't either. Try it! Not one molecule, not a single atom. And yet, when we're talking about God speaking our world into existence, it's not hard to realize that these stories in the Bible actually could happen. If God is the Creator, and he made this world, then obviously he can make anything happen upon this earth. His earth.

We have to understand: if in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, then what can't he do? Psalm 115:3 says it so clearly: "Our God is in the heavens . He does all that he pleases." God does whatever he wants. The Bible says he's not like us. I could desire to do something, but that doesn't mean I can pull it off. But there is a being who does whatever he desires. In Daniel 4:34-35, King Nebuchadnezzar says about God, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'"

The Bible says that in heaven, there's a being who, if you could gather every single person on the earth together into one spot, that would be as nothing to him. Who can hold back his hand? Who could say to him, "Who do you think you are? You can't tell me what to do"? Because we don't talk enough about the power of God, we live in a generation of arrogant people who think they don't answer to anyone. But we have to consider the difference between a creator and his created being.

Let's say I could make a little human being right now out of thin air. I could hold him in my hand. I would be his creator, and he would be my creation. Now imagine I'm holding him in my palm, admiring my work, and he says to me, "You don't own me! I can do what I want. Who do you think you are?" There's a huge gap between the created thing and the creator. Like the Scripture says, how could the tiny man hold back his creator's hand? This is why you could gather together millions of these tiny people, and they'd appear as nothing before their creator. God is that Creator. God is that Maker . No one can say to him, "What have you done?"

And yet we do it all the time. We question him: "Why did you do that this way? Why didn't you do what I wanted?" The answer is because he wants to. He's God, he's in heaven, and he can do whatever he wants. He doesn't need your permission . He doesn't need anyone's permission. God is allowed to do things even if you don't understand them. We don't think about that enough. When God does something, that makes it right. That makes it just. God doesn't do things because they're just. They are just because it's him doing them. I can't say to God, "Here are the rules. Here's what's fair. You have to stay within these parameters." No, he sets the parameters.

I heard one of my favorite quotes, ever, probably fifteen to twenty years ago. I was driving in my car, listening to this old preacher, J. Vernon McGee, on the radio. He's long since passed away, but he was this old-timey pastor with kind of a high-pitched, "old man" voice that I just loved listening to. I'll never forget what he said:

"This is God's universe, and God does things his way . You may have a better way, but you don't have a universe ."

That's so perfect. It just sums it all up, doesn't it? Maybe you think it's not fair that God created hell, a place of punishment. Maybe you think he shouldn't have made it eternal. Maybe you've thought, You can't give me desires and then tell me not to do those things. We all have different ideas of what God ought to do. You think you know what you'd do if you were God. J. Vernon says, "Great! When you get a universe, do it your way. But for now, this is God's universe. And no one holds back his hand."

We have to accept that God does what he wants. We need to have a sense of reverence for his power. In 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Paul reminds Timothy, "He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen."

Only one being is like that. None of us have control. Only one has absolute control: the King of kings and Lord of lords. It doesn't matter how successful or powerful you think you are. He's the king over you, the one lord, no matter who you are. He's the only sovereign.

He alone holds immortality. I can take a breath only because he lets me. He controls this thing called life. He determines whether you'll walk out of the room you're in right now. Only he can give life. He's the only one who takes it away. Everything's up to him. Do you understand that Satan is alive only because God allows him to be? One being possesses all power, all life. Every demon would die the moment he chooses to take their life away. He alone is immortal.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from What Is God Really Like? Copyright © 2010 by Craig Groeschel. 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.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: God Is Craig Groeschel 7

1 God is Strong Francis Chan 11

2 God is Here Dino Rizzo 23

3 God is Incomparable Mark Batterson 31

4 God is Reconciler Clark Mitchell 39

5 God is Certain Andy Stanley 47

6 God is Encouraging Rick Bezet 55

7 God is for You John Burke 61

8 God is Present Perry Noble 73

9 God is Able Jentezen Franklin 79

10 God is in Control Greg Surratt 89

11 God is Merciful Stovall Weems 97

12 God is Close Wayne Cordeiro 103

13 God is Not Steven Furtick 113

14 God is Big Gary Shiohama 121

15 God is not like Me Toby Slough 127

16 God is More Chris Hodges 137

17 God is Father Craig Groeschel 147

Contributors 157

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Amazing

    Outstanding perspectives from multiple authors that will shake your believes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 3, 2010

    Encouraging Reminder of God's MANY attributes!

    I don't know why God continues to amaze me after all these years - but He does! Tuesday evening, after my car stopped, about mid-way home (while I was STILL driving), approximately 60 mph down interstate 64 at 6:45 pm. After calling my bestie for the Preacher's phone number (he includes the name of an amazing mechanical at our Church in his sermons from time to time), I was able to reach him and get verbal HELP! When the tow truck left "the site" and I headed home - it was about 10:00 pm! Upon entering the front door, I found this amazing book in the mail box. It came as an unexpected gift - at the PERFECT TIME! (Do YOU think God watches over us? I do!)
    This book is a compilation of numerous pastor's one word definitions of what God is really like. I am a reader that LOVES to read books out of order...I check out the Table of Contents and read the titles that interest me most (unless, of course, it's a novel - you just have to read every single page from cover to cover, IN ORDER). I started with Chapter 1 - one of my many favorite pastors: Francis Chan. His one word for God was STRONG. He quotes Isaiah 45:22-23 and Joshua 1:6-9 - BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! He says, "I don't know many believers who gather together and encourage each other to be strong. Peter and John astonished people with their boldness, and yet when they got our of jail, they prayed for more boldness! The body of Christ needs once again to lay hands on each other, praying for boldness and strength."
    This morning, prior to picking up my repaired car, I read Mark Batterson's chapter - word of choice for God: Incomparable
    He quotes Ephesians 1:18-19: ...the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. "We sprinkle a little bit of prayer and the Bible and Church on our lives and hope. Hope is good, but expectation is better. When you believe in God's incomparable power, your hopes change to great expectations." AMEN Mark!
    Finally, running out of time, I finished with Andy Stanley - word of choice for God: Certain
    "The question for us is, will we maintain our faith when we can't see His hand? Even though Scripture doesn't change anything in "our" circumstances, it does allow us to embrae uncertainty knowing that God is still in control, that although life is uncertain, and the world may seem uncertain, God is not."
    You may wonder about the last words I read before heading out to PAY for this massive repair; THIS is fabulous: "He still has your family, your personal finances, and all the things that are worrying you to death in his hands. He still has your whole world in His hands. Of that you can be certain."
    My friends, GOD IS REAL and He LOVES us!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2011

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