A Full Encounter

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is duffer. This is a noun, meaning, “a peddler especially of cheap flashy articles,” “something counterfeit or worthless,” or, “an incompetent, ineffectual, or clumsy person; especially : a mediocre golfer.” Hopefully, this blog entry will not be a duffer.

Today is Pandemonium Day. I’ve always liked that word, pandemonium. “Embrace the pandemonium, and do something crazy!”

I wound up working an hour late, yesterday, as we were a bit short-handed. It seems like we are that way every day, these days. Oh, and we also had our monthly waste of time “Town Hall Meeting.” That was forty minutes when we could have been doing something productive. Otherwise, Monday was pretty unremarkable.

Todd Frazier, of the hometown Cincinnati Reds, won the Home Run Derby last night. I have to say that I really like the new format for the HRD. Instead of just letting eight guys hit forever until they make ten “outs,” they had a bracket tournament, with a four-minute timer for each batter. Each batter was allowed a 45-second time-out during the round, and, if they hit a home run more than 425 feet, they got a 30-second bonus round. I think this made it much more exciting and dramatic. Oddly, in almost every round, the second batter won, either in the first round or the bonus time. This new format also keeps the competition down to a more reasonable time frame.

Tonight is Huddle night. Hopefully, I won’t be needed to work late, and will be able to make it. I wouldn’t be watching the All-Star game, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads.
They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones.
They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”

Psalm 83:1-4

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In pages 46-48, Timothy Keller continues this idea of prayer being a conversation with God. “All prayer is responding to God.” This is actually a very important statement, short as it is. The key word in the sentence is “responding.” Let us not think that we ever initiate the conversation with God. “In all cases God is the initiator–‘hearing’ always precedes asking. God comes to us first or we would never reach out to him.” Even in the case of those “instinctive prayers” that we talked about in the previous section, God always initiates. But not all prayers are the same. “The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers.”

“Prayer as a spiritual gift is a genuine, personal conversation in reply to God’s specific, verbal revelation.”

Consider many of the conversations that we have with other people in our lives. Most of them are pretty superficial, aren’t they? And many of them could barely even qualify as “conversation.” We can also exchange information without a lot of self-disclosure. “Some conversations, however, go deep and we sense that both of us are revealing not just information but our very selves.” This conversation has become “a personal encounter, a true connection.”

Galatians 4:9 says, But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Both of these verses speak of our “relationship with God as knowing and being known.” We are not just sharing ideas, but sharing ourselves. “Communication can lead to two-way personal revelation that produces what can only be called a dynamic experience.”

Consider the words of J.I. Packer, in his work Knowing God:

Knowing God is a matter of personal dealing. . . . Knowing God is more than knowing about him; it is a matter of dealing with him as he opens up to you, and being dealt with by him. . . . Friends . . . open their hearts to each other by what they say and do. . . . We must not lose sight of the fact that knowing god is an emotional relationship, as well as an intellectual and volitional one, and could not indeed be a deep relationship between persons if it were not so.

So we come to another definition of prayer. “Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has stated through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.”

Father, thank you for starting this conversation with me. I acknowledge that I never would have sought you, had you not initiated this encounter. I desire the fullest encounter possible with you. Yet my flesh would distract me from this encounter. I pray for a deeper understanding of who you are, that this “conversation” might truly become a personal “encounter.” I pray for revelation from you as I share myself with you. I understand that you know me far better than I know myself, so I pray for revelation, not only about you, but about me, as well. I dare not cry out to you, “Why have you made me thus?” But I would certainly like to understand myself a little better. I would also desire to understand you better, as well. Help me to, as Paul prayed in Ephesians, “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and back will be safe and smooth. I pray for our work day, that it will go well for us, and that we might find ourselves, somehow, sharing your kingdom. I pray that this would be more natural for us, to simply respond to circumstances in a way that displays your kingdom and its values. I pray that you would shine your light on Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, today. May they know you as they are known.

Your grace is sufficient.

God has begun this conversation. How do we respond?

Grace and peace, friends.

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