Finding Out More about Intimacy with God:
There are many resources available to help you learn more and practice a greater intimacy with God. Among these are books, websites, blogs, CDs, DVDs, seminars, conferences, courses, forums, email groups, churches, worship opportunities, counsellors, and most importantly – people.
The necessity of a Relationship with the True God
Of course, the one essential resource for exploring intimacy with God is God himself. Wonder of wonders, He wants us to know Him and has revealed himself to us, His creatures. His promise to those who seek Him is that they will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Without a relationship with the Living God then any such attempt is fraught with risk that you will contact something else. This may sound like an odd thing to say, but throughout history people have sought union with a higher being than themselves, while at the same time denying the reality and supremacy of the true Living God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three – in – one. There are many books, videos, seminars, experts and “gurus” around today that advocate such things, and while they seem very attractive, and appear to use all the right words, they are not going to connect you with the one who loves you more than any other. Please be discerning.
This true Living God is foundationally three distinct Persons (not distinct beings) intimately bound into a relationship of such love that they are truly One, similar to the expressions of oneness found in the Bible, such as in Genesis 2:24 (refering to human marriage) and John 17 (referring to the oneness of the Father and Son into which we are invited by Jesus). It is the relationship (God IS love – 1 John 4:7-12) that defines “Godness”, not abstract ancient Greek concepts such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, etc. Such notions were developed by such as Plato and Aristotle (what did they know about the Living God) and imported straight into the church by church fathers such as Augustine and Aquinas. These distortions are still with us today.
Why should we be so particular about how we describe God? Because there is only one true God, and the others are either counterfeit or non-existent. For example, it is popular today for people, including many Christians, to say that the Gods of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are the same God. Let’s look first at the God of Judaism. Yes, the God described in the Old Testament is the same God as that in the New Testament. This is undoubtedly the Living, Trinitarian God, who called himself “Yahweh” and whom the English Bible translations generally call “LORD”. However, Judaism has not recognised their own God as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is their Messiah, but most of them do not recognise him (yet), even though he is even present in a careful reading of the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. Throughout their long history the Jewish people have misunderstood their own God, and consequently suffered at the hands of other gods because of their lack of an intimate relationship with him. This is sad, but one day it will come to an end, as their own Bible tells them. Many have already encountered him through Jesus, and we call them Messianic Jews.
What about Allah, the Islamic God. It is a shame that most Muslims, like many Christians, do not know their own history, either because it has been kept from them by their leaders, or they choose not to investigate it out of disinterest, or fear of their leaders or of Allah. A careful reading of their scriptures, especially the Koran, quickly shows that Allah would never choose to be identified with the God who is Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, nor with the Holy Spirit. Allah is untouchable, unchangeable, cannot have sons, cannot be moved, and could never come into an intimate relationship with any other person. This is not through any choice, but by the very self-definition of what Allah is. They constantly call him “The Merciful” as a kind of mantra, but his own words show him as detatched and unable to be caring of humans. Even after death, there is no indication that the martyred Muslims that are promised 70 virgins and many delights in Paradise will be in any close proximity to God.
Then there is the “God” of the Enlightenment and of Modernity. This “God”, who is highly visible in much of the church of today, and also outside of the church, looks more like Allah, the God of Judaism, and the ancient Greek “gods” than the true Trinitarian, Living God. Many even advocate that we humans are in reality the only gods, and that once the goal of human progress is inevitably realised, our godhood will be complete. This “progress” has not seemed to get us anywhere near godlike so far, the problems in the world that the “Enlightenment Project” is intended to overcome just seem to get bigger!
One reaction to the above is found in New Age thinking and its cousins. The idea that humans can become gods is taken even further, enmeshed with ideas from other religions, especially Buddhism, and bound up with ancient ideas that there are indeed higher beings, who are “ascended” humans – those who are truly “enlightened” and exist to help us lesser mortals up onto that higher plane. I find it interesting that the true goal of Buddhism is actually a form of annihilation, which could properly be described as an eternity without God. This doesn’t sound very attractive, nor intimate.
So much of what I have described above was accurately described in the New Testament by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 as “doctrines taught by demons”, and alluded to by Jesus in Revelation 9:20-21.
There is only One with whom you can ever hope to have an intimate relationship of perfect love, and that is the One who IS Love. He so loved you that he himself became human and died (yes, Jesus IS God – and was still in the Father and the Father in him – John 17 – when he was crucified) to enable you to come into relationship with him. And he rose again from death, as the Firstborn of many (including you), to send the Holy Spirit as the seal and cement of that relationship – the invitation to you to enter, along with many others, into the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit. This is true intimacy with God.
Resources for Exploring Intimacy with God
In our Resource section we list many books which are available about all aspects of this subject. Also the course bibliography and the sidebars of this site list more. These books cover the nature of God and humans, how to find intimacy, how to grow it, how to overcome obstacles to intimacy, how to live in intimacy, historical and contemporary approaches to intimacy with God, and more.
Apart from the Intimacy with God courseon this website, we run ocassional seminars on Intimacy with God. For news of when and where these are running check out our Beth Tephillah Ministry Centrewebsite. Beth Tephillah Ministries in conjunction with Roaring Mouse Counsellingrun this and other seminars, such as Hearing God’s Voice, Dealing with Dissociation, Introduction to Prayer Counselling, Generational Healing, Deliverance, and Living in the REAL Real World. Details of these seminars will also be found at Beth Tephillah. The teaching material for some of these is also available online from some of our websites mentioned below.
At Listening2god.com is a course designed to help people hear the voice of God and to learn to separate it from the many other voices we hear in the world. There is also a blog – the Listening to God Blog where learning to listen to God and to hear his voice clearly and accurately are discussed.
Another site that will interest you is A Reasonable Mystic. Mysticism has had a bad press in the modern church, partly because of the modern’s distrust of anything “subjective”, but also because mysticism, even so-called Christian mysticism, has sometimes gone down unhealthy paths. However, if we come back to the roots and the goal of mysticism we find a desire to know and to have an intimate relationship with the true God. This is still a valid pursuit, provided we understand who it is we are seeking. In A Reasonable Mysticwe try to discover a form of mysticism that pursues union with the true Living God, and to understand him better in his full Trinitarian nature. And we do this without the need to throw our reason out of the window. There is much that some of the old Christian mystics can teach us about this. There has also been a rebirth of interest in true mysticism among God’s people today, as evidenced by the many books and conferences being produced.
Many of those involved in ministry using spiritual gifts and relying on listening to God soon discover that they have a natural, God-given ability to receive things not just from God but also from the human spirit, mind and emotions. This is often mistaken for ESP or some form of psychic ability (which it can also be), but is often what has come to be called Burden Bearing. In The Burden Bearer we explore the nature of this gift, its use and misuse, and how to learn to minister in this way without causing harm to yourself or others. People with this gift are often introverted and highly sensitive people from birth, prone to being scapegoated by others. There are many ways in which such a gift needs to be trained, refined and redeemed.
A concept, often closely related to burden bearering, but also connected to burnout and depression, and to the pursuit of intimacy with God, is the Dark Night of the Soul. This is an idea popularised in the 16th century by the Spanish poet and mystic John of the Cross. In Dark Night of the Soul we examine this phenomenon, outlining its relationship to depression and burnout, and the purposes for which God might use it in the maturing of a believer.
Most of the websites discussed here refer frequently to spiritual gifts. One of the gifts most often argued about and misunderstood within the church and elsewhere is the gift of speaking in tongues, and its accompanying gift interpretation of tongues. In Speaking in Tongues we discuss this gift, technically called glossolalia. It is sad that the bad teaching and example of some, plus controversy and fear have disuaded many Christians from exploring this gift. Paul the Apostle did not emphasise its importance for the sustaining of the believer and its place in receiving revelation from God for nothing.
These gifted people, and others, are themselves a gift and resource to the Body of Christ, because they will often be The Intercessor in any group – those praying for change.
One of the resources God has created in the universe to serve God, and to assist humans in the journey towards becoming overcomers and to enter into complete intimacy with God, is the angels. One of the major obstacles to these goals are the demons, probably fallen angels. Despite their fallen nature, they still (unwillingly) have to serve God, and therefore the followers of Jesus. Overcoming their opposition is part of our perfecting and becoming more like Jesus. In angels-and-demons.net we discuss these issues.
Similarly, there are many other issues that cause arguments within and without the church. many of them are important for an accurate understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. In A Controversial Christianwe provide an examination of many of these issues and try to discover the truth.
In Adventurous Spirit we plan to explore the depths of what God has created in his own image – the human soul. This is the greatest possible adventure.
I mentioned above how the Enlightenment has not done the search for the truth about God many favours. One of the arenas where this has taken place is in the relationship between the search for truth by science and that of religion. The “fight” is often a nonsense for numerous reasons, not least that Christianity is not (or should not be but frequently is) a religion. There have been many attempts to bridge this artificial divide, some more successful than others. In Godly Science we examine these searches for truth in the light of the fact that there can only be one truth, and that is what God has made. There is no war between science and Christianity, only between people who hold different beliefs about the world and the nature of knowledge. In Awakening the West we will explore how the dominant culture of the West may be changed by our participating in a Second Reformation of the Church, which we believe is presently under way.
A crucial part of this Reformation is a major change in the way we think about the nature of the Church, how it is structured and led, what its purpose is, and how this, The Great Commission might really be achieved. Thes issues are addressed in The Starfish Network – a website about simple, organic, multiplying through every-person discipleship churches, networked together in unity, with apostolic-prophetic, non-hierarchical leadersgip bands, just like in the Book of Acts.
A key to such networks and their biblical leadership model is the realisation that The Church is Flat. In other words, everybody is equal and Jesus is the only Head! The ways of transitioning the church back to such a structure are explored in The Long Tail of the Church (Note: this is not a misspelling). The future of the church is in doing much more of less!
When people pursue intimacy with God, among the things that happen is that they encounter obstacles within themselves to that search, or they discover disturbing things about themselves or the things that have happened to them. At such time it can be helpful to recieve either instruction, support, or even counselling. The Prayer Counselling website discusses these issues and outlines some of the help that is available.
For those who discover a need for counselling, and in particular prayer counselling or prayer ministry, there are numerous resources available. One source of information about what prayer counselling is and where such ministry may be obtained in Australia is the Healing Prayer Ministries Network. This presently lists some of the ministries available around Melbourne and in Regional Victoria.
One of the greatest resources, closely related to how the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit act within themselves, is that of unity. If you would like to see how the followers of Jesus in one city are trying to bring this about, check out Hobsons Bay Churches. For this to come about, we need some changes within ourselves. In Ezekiel 36:26 God said:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.
Explore this at New Spirit.
When all other things have been considered, we must not forget the greatest gift and resource of all – that God Loves Us!
Many of the above sites also have blogs associated with them, such as:
A news blog associated with Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre and Williamstown Baptist Church is Beth Tephillah News.
Also associated with Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre and Williamstown Baptist Church is one of my personal blogs Mal’s Meanderings, where I discuss the above issues of intimacy with God, hearing God’s voice, being a counsellor, teacher, burden bearer and prophet, along with many other things related to my journey as a follower of Jesus.
The Healing Prayer Ministry Blog is a blog associated with the Healing Prayer Ministries Network. Here you will find news about new prayer ministry and counselling centres and ministries, seminars, courses, conferences, books and other resources related to counselling and ministry.