Many of you already know that Tim Keller died Friday morning. How he was like a father to so many, including many here. Michael, his son, shared this:
He was alone with Kathy, his wife of 48 years. His son Michael tweeted that he kissed Kathy on the forehead and then breathed his last breath.
His final words were: “There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.”
When Dr. Keller announced his cancer diagnosis back in 2021, he said, “It is endlessly comforting to have a God who is both infinitely more wise and more loving than I am. He has plenty of good reasons for everything He does and allows that I cannot know, and therein is my hope and strength.”
How thankful we can be for the legacy he left. A Christ-like man who left us his free sermons and a model for us all.
This is our last week on this series, closing with one more week on Abba’s Child.
Last week we began looking at the “Imposter,” to whom we all have a propensity: concerned with our appearance more than our hearts, different in private than in public, craving the praise of man more than the praise of God.
(Image from Pixels)
This dishonesty keeps us from true intimacy with one another and with God.
The imposter is antsy in prayer. He hungers for excitement, craves some mood-altering experience. He is depressed when deprived of the spotlight….The false self is frustrated because he never hears God’s voice. He cannot, since God sees no one there.
Frankly, those words frightened me. I want God to see me. And indeed, I know He does, even though I can be an “imposter,” that is not who I am at heart, and I do repent when I glimpse the imposter in my. Yet she will be back, and will keep me from intimacy with others and my Father.
This then, from Manning, gave me hope:
The imposter must be called out of hiding, accepted, and embraced. He is an integral part of my total self. Whatever is denied cannot be healed. To acknowledge humbly that I often inhabit an unreal world, that I have trivialized my relationship with God, and that I am driven by vain ambition is the first blow in dismantling my glittering images.
What is the answer to rid our lives of the imposter? It is to recognize how loved we are by the Father so that we won’t so crave the praise of man.
In this Andrew Peterson song, written for his children, imagine your heavenly Father singing it to you, His beloved child, instead.
Sunday: God Hunt
1. What stands out to you from the opening and why? Where could you identify?
2. How have you experienced the Father’s love in the last week?
Monday: Be Kind To Yourself
While Peterson’s lyrics are not Scripture, I believe they are soundly supported by Scripture, which I will attempt to show. What I’d like you to do today is meditate first on lyrics from the song, then on the story of Leah, whom Tim Keller called “The Girl Nobody Wanted,” and answer the questions.
6. Meditate on the above from Peterson and share your thoughts and how you might apply them.
Tuesday: You Are His Beloved
Our own Rebecca shared that when doubts that God could love her assail her, she remembers that “for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) What was that joy? US!
Manning tells of the journey of one man, John Eagan, from imposter to beloved. Eagan was always looking at his faults and felt unlovable, inconsistent, irritable, and potbellied. Yet he came to realize his sins could not keep him from God for they had all been redeemed by the blood. In repentance, Eagan began living as a forgiven man. His spiritual advisor told him: John…make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth.
Eagan took this to heart writing: The basis of my personal worth is not my possessions, my talents, not the esteem of others ….I stand anchored now in God before I stand naked, this God who tells me, “You are my son, my beloved one.”
7. Meditate on the above. What thoughts do you have? How might you apply this?
8. What did God say to Jesus in Matthew 3:17?
9. How does God see you according to John 17:23?
10. How would you live today if you believed this was true — that the Father loves you even as He has loved Jesus?
Wednesday: Finding Him in Silence
Often it is contemplative believers like Nouwen, Manning, and Thomas Merton that write about the importance of silence in finding God, and who often go on silent retreats. They are on scriptural ground according to the above psalm.
Manning writes of Mike Yaconelli, the cofounder of Youth Specialties, going on a silent retreat at the L’Arche community in Canada. Yaconelli writes:
It took only a few hours of silence before I began to hear my soul speaking. It only took being alone for short period of time for me to discover I wasn’t alone…in the stillness and solitude, His whispers shouted from my soul, “Michael, I am here. I have been calling you, but you haven’t been listening. Can you hear me, Michael? I love you. I have always loved you. And I have been waiting for you to hear me say that to you. But you have been so busy trying to prove to yourself that you are loved…that you have not heard me.
11. Comments on the above? Have you ever experienced anything like this? If so, share.
12. What do you think God asks us to be still to know Him? How do you endeavor to do this?
I confess this is hard for me, but I want to learn from the contemplatives. I know we have one in our participating group (Susan) and very likely more. Would particularly love to hear from you.
Thursday: Close to the Brokenhearted
L’Arche is a community of mentally and physically handicapped individuals in Canada. It is where Michael went, and where Henri Nouwen spent a year to get in closer touch with God. Michael said he knew he was broken but was trying to never be broken again. (Is that you?( Here is what he learned:
At L’Arche, it became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. It was in the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with others’ brokenness.
13. Comments on the above?
14. I remember a message we did together from Michael Reeves differentiating good fear and bad fear of the Lord. Bad fear makes you back up from Him, and good fear drives you into His arms. With this in mind, read Psalm 34:1-11.
A. What is the condition of the psalmist here and what does he do? (1-3)
B. How does God respond? (4-7)
C. What promises are for those who have a “good” fear of the Lord? (8-10)
15. Tell us about a time when you experienced the presence of God in your brokenness. How did it show you that you were His beloved?
Friday: I Will Never Leave You
16. We will eventually have to part from everyone dear to us on earth, but God will never leave us. Find the promises in the following:
A. Isaiah 43:1
B. Isaiah 43:4
C. Isaiah 54:10
Manning closes this chapter with this:
Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.
17. This, from Manning: “Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you? …Could you say, “My Abba is very fond of me?”
17. What is your take-a-way and why?