Archive for Magnificent God

Knowing the Transcendent God: My Personal Story 4

As we begin looking at our magnificent, transcendent God, I am reflecting on how He has patiently drawn me toward Himself. Here is the last of four major turning points.

On February 20, 2015, our thirty-eight-year-old son, David, took his own life. I will not recount the shock and trauma and the depths of grief that have gripped our lives in the aftermath. But within months, I began trying to process my struggle the way I had always processed my struggles: by writing about them. But as I wrote about my grief, I found myself overwhelmed. The river of sorrow that normally flows quietly within me would overflow and flood my heart. Writing about my grief proved counterproductive. It dragged me down. It only made my grief worse.

The Lord then told me that instead of focusing on my grief, I should focus on my joy in Him. Instead of dwelling on my loss, I should dwell on all that is mine in Him – permanently, completely, joyfully, irrevocably. I should fix my eyes on Him. He is the joy that never changes.

Each day as I began to pray “Our Father in heaven,” I found myself hungry to see Him and know Him again. I needed to fix my eyes on Him again. I craved it the way I crave a refreshing morning shower. Only by refocusing on Him could I regain a true perspective. Only by seeing Him could I see everything else clearly (Psalm 36:9).

Over the years I have become increasingly aware that being a Christian is not obeying a set of rules. It is living as Jesus lived: in loving, wholehearted response to the Father. Our son’s death brought this need into focus. As I remember who God is, I remember who I am. Only then can I live in response to Him – simply and naturally, in humility, trust, and joy. Only then can I live in that ongoing connection with Him that Jesus enjoyed, and that I deeply desire more than anything else in heaven or earth.

Each and every day I want to walk in the full light of all He is. Each and every day I need to connect with the Transcendent God.

That is why all the reflections that follow were written. I want to draw you and myself to the Magnificent God who longs for us to know Him, love Him, trust Him completely, and walk in Him forever.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Need You, Holy God
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Knowing the Transcendent God: My Personal Story 3

As we begin looking at our magnificent, transcendent God, I am reflecting on how He has patiently drawn me toward Himself. Here is the third of four major turning points.

In my mid-forties, God challenged me to begin spending more time with Him in prayer. He specifically asked me to begin using the Lord’s Prayer as the pattern for my praying. I had heard speakers suggest that before, and it had struck me as artificial. So when God asked me to do it, it took me by surprise. But I began to obey.

Then a few years later, in 1998, I reduced my work load to half-time in order to have more time to write. That schedule change took away my long-established means of daily exercise, so I found myself looking for another exercise routine. In early 1999, at age 49, I began taking long daily walks – an hour or more every weekday. Those walks soon became my prayer time.

Those extended prayer times have done more to enrich my life and my relationship with the Living God than anything else. The first half of the Lord’s Prayer, applied to my daily situation and prayed from the heart, has been deeply formative in the way I think of God and relate to Him.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)

In the early years of those walks, I usually walked outside, alone, in nature. Spending all that time speaking with God the way Jesus taught us to pray, while immersed in His creation, continued God’s process of drawing me into Himself.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: As I Pray
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Knowing the Transcendent God: My Personal Story 2

As we begin looking at our magnificent, transcendent God, I am reflecting on how He has patiently drawn me toward Himself. Here is the second of four major turning points.

In my early-to-mid-twenties, as I was entering adulthood, I longed to be all God wanted me to be. But I didn’t really know how, despite a thorough grounding in the Church’s teachings. I tried self-discipline, thinking that it held the answer to a productive and fruitful life. I tried in-depth Bible study, suspecting that somewhere in its pages were hidden secrets that only the astute could discover. Both self-discipline and Bible study are important, but neither proved to be the answer I was seeking.

Over time I realized that God doesn’t reserve His blessings only for the spiritual elite. In fact, I learned the opposite. God graciously showed me that the secret to a satisfying life was the simple truth I had learned as a young child in Sunday School: God is a real Being, and He is constantly, personally with us. What’s more, what He wants from us is amazingly, stunningly simple: He only asks that we trust Him, one step at a time.

Even as I say this now, the words seem so plain. But the personal realization of an ever-present God and a relationship of simple faith began to change me.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: You Are Near, O Lord
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Knowing the Transcendent God: My Personal Story 1

On Fridays during the coming months, I will be blogging reflections on the transcendent God. To begin, let me reflect on my personal journey toward Him.

All my life God has been drawing me toward Himself. He has been working to help me know Him and trust Him and walk constantly with Him. But as I look back over the years, several key turning points stand out. Here is the first.

I became a Christian at age 10 and was active in my faith throughout my public school years. But about the time I started at the University of Cincinnati, I began to doubt. Were all the Bible’s fantastic stories really true? During my first two years in college, I was a sincere atheist, though I continued to attend church.

However, I came to realize that in my human limitations, I could not rationally know whether there was a God or not. The human mind, the human perspective is far too limited. Without even knowing the word, I wrestled with His transcendence and came to admit that He was beyond me.

But when my reasoning reached its limits, the living witness of God’s people took over. I became firmly convinced that God was real because He was real in the lives of my parents and the people in my home church.

There was no emotional crisis moment when I returned to God. His Spirit spoke to me quietly, personally, and I responded in faith. I decided to believe in Him. It was that simple. I decided to trust Him, and my life changed forever. I’ve never looked back.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Simple Faith
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