Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Divine Embrace: An Invitation to the dance of intimacy with Christ. One exhilarating, ennobling, uncertain step at a time.

The Divine EmbraceThe Divine Embrace by Ken Gire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I have read by Ken Gire. He is a gifted writer, a former editor for Chuck Swindoll's  Insight for Living. In this book Ken compares the intimate relationship with Christ as a dance. I have several quotes below that spoke to my heart. I trust they will also speak to your heart.

. . . the Christian life is about intimacy, not technique.  p. 7
Before Jesus called the disciples to ministry, he called them to intimacy. Following came first, fishing came later. Before he called them to represent him he called them to be with him. Jesus appointed the twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority over demons (see Mark 3:14-15). Before he sent them out, he drew them closer. He went out with the publically so they could hear him teach and see him heal the sick and cast out demons (see Luke 9:10).  Even as he was leaving the earth, he promised he would always be with them (see Matthew 28:20). And later, Luke tells us, the credential by which the disciples were recognized was that of “having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). p. 24
In the last words of that prayer, Jesus, speaking to his Father, asks “that the love you have for me may be in them” (John 17:26, NIV). p. 28
Duty destroys relationships, because duty reduces relationships to a to-do list. p. 38
Duty also destroys joy. Whatever joy we may derive from our duties is related to a performance, not a person. If our performance is the source of our joy, it will also be the source of our pride, which in the end will undo us. p. 38
Our activity for Christ should grow out of our intimacy with Him. If we are near Him, continually beholding Him, He will tell us what He wants from the kitchen and when he wants it. pp. 38-39
Being useless and silent in the presence of our God belongs to the core of all prayer in the beginning we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is a times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us. ~Henri Nouwen pp. 39-40
We are not transformed by a curriculum; we are transformed by a person. And we are transformed not by studying that person but by beholding him. p. 54
Love changes us in ways that law cannot. Spiritual formation, a term used to describe the process of being changed into the image of Christ, doesn’t happen by following disciplines. It happens by falling in love. When we fall in love with Jesus, all the other loves in our life fall into place. And those that once competed with Christ now subordinate themselves to him. Everything in our life finds its proper value once we have properly valued him. p. 54
That is why busyness is lethal – it keeps us from beholding the face of Jesus. And that is why stillness is essential – to get the best possible look at his face, for the longest possible time. p. 55
“To be loved by God,” said C.S. Lewis, “not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible,” but that is the picture of God we see in the Scriptures. If that’s the picture we have, it will change not only the way we see ourselves, it will change the way we see everything. Including the Scriptures. Now as I read them, I try not only to hear what the people heard but to see what they saw. p. 73
The Christian life is about us following Christ’s lead, not about him following ours. He doesn’t ask us to write the notes to the music or choreograph the steps to the dance. He asks us merely to take his hand and follow him. To move when he moves.  To speed up when he speeds up.  To slow down when he slows down.  And to stop when he stops. p. 89
He comes in such a way that we can always turn him down, . . . comes to us in the hungry man we do not have to feed, comes to us in the lonely man we do not have to comfort, comes to us in all the desperate human need of people everywhere that we are always free to turn our backs upon.  ~ Frederick Buechner pp. 94-95
The Father never measured his Son by how successful he was, only by how faithful. p. 97
It seemed to me then, and seems to me still, that if God speaks to us at all in this world, if God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks.  ~Frederick Buechner  p. 105
C. S. Lewis once wrote that a doctrine never looked so threadbare as the one he had just successfully defended. One can defend a fortress, he explained, but not a landscape. When we reduce our faith to arguments, it becomes a fortress of manageable and therefore defensible size. But our faith is not a fortress. It is a sprawling landscape of rolling hills and pathless woods, rutted with steep and sometimes shadowy ravines. There are shimmering moments of wonder. There are also terrifying moments of wandering in the dark woods of our most looming, moss-covered fears. pp.  110-111
A Russian writer, whose name escapes me now, once said: “I don’t know the heart of an evil man, but I know the heart of a good man . . .  and it’s bad.” p. 111
Our work is not about trying to find movements that are uniquely our own and finding innovative ways to express them. It’s about trying to find movements that are uniquely His own and simply following them. p. 140
The dance we have been invited to participate in is not about the realization of the self but rather the relinquishment of the self. Surrendering Himself is the way Jesus lived his life, from the day of His birth to the day of His death. Each and every day He was faced with the temptations to live for Himself – to defend Himself, advance Himself, exalt Himself. Yet each and every day He resisted them. pp. 140-141
The fear of criticism is silenced by falling in love, If we fall in love with Jesus, not only will nothing on this earth attract us, nothing on this earth will intimidate us. p. 177
I wonder myself sometimes. And I wonder if Jesus were to come back, would He be as impressed with all that goes on at church as we sometimes are? The New Testament uses different metaphors to describe the church and how it was meant to operate. A family is one of them. And a body, another.  But a business?  Never. Yet the way the church has evolved, it seems closer to the image of a business than to a body or a family. p. 187
Our responsibility is to surrender. The result of our surrender is not our responsibility. p. 207
Not only are the days of our lives in God’s hands, but also the shaping of our lives. All these incremental surrenderings of self are part of the process God uses in shaping us into the image of His son. Jesus was a man of sorrows, we are told. That was part of His beauty. Our sorrows acquaint us with His sorrows. Apart from suffering, there is a part of Jesus we cannot know. If there is a part of Him we cannot know, there is a part of Him we cannot love. And if there is a part of Him we cannot love, there is a part of us that can never be beautiful. p. 208
Jesus says: “The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time, of Bible study and prayers, as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to Me also. Remember, I love you. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value your fellowship. Just to have you look up into My face warms My heart. Don’t neglect this hour if only for My sake. Whether or not you want to be with Me, remember I want to be with you. I really love you.  ~Robert Boyd Munger p. 219

If you are interested in being inspired to having more of an intimate relationship with Christ then this book is for you!

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