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Epiphanies of the Ordinary: Encounters that change lives
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2013
This book has both inspired me as a Christian and is also leading on to a sermon series "Encounters with God". Cleverley's basic point is that the gate of heaven is open for those who trust in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. And the encounters with God that result are life changing when we recognise God's utter goodness and "everything changes forever into a life of love". Cleverley's text is structured in three sections, to Come to God, to Abide in his presence and to Go forth. Throughout, Cleverley illustrates his points with the recorded encounters with God in scripture as well as words of other Christian writers and his own experiences. The book is too full of insight to fully review, but I shall draw out some highlights from each section.

Come. God reveals himself to whom he chooses but we must be hungry for him too. Although God can meet with us at any time and under any circumstances, the disciplines of stillness and contemplative prayer can be helpful to an encounter "knocking daily on heaven's door". We must stop racing around as the modern world bids us to, keep our spiritual eyes open and listen hard to his voice as the disciples did on the Mount of Transfiguration, hearing "this is my son whom I love". Our challenge is to love him, not to be a "success" in the world's eyes. To accept that we may need to journey spiritually before an encounter, as the Magi and John the Baptist did.

Every book of the Bible includes a sighting of God. And yet we tend to downplay the possibility for the individual Christian. We tend to know his presence in theory but not the privilege we have of realisation (Tozer). We need to be like Moses who pressed for the presence of God although he already knew it; to see God's glory and to know his love. Or John in Revelation 1 for whom a vision of Christ in his heavenly glory made him from prisoner to prophet, calling churches to "return to their first love". Without that divine love how can we love our neighbour; how can "living water flow out from us"? That's why Jesus' key question for us is "do you love me? - feed my sheep".

Abide. Having seen, we are called to abide, seek intimacy, staying close to God in times of suffering and trial. Cleverley shows that abiding is the theme of the Song of Songs, viewed from a spiritual point of view. Indeed there are strong parallels between the bridegroom in Song 5 and the vision of Christ in Revelation 1, except the tone is one of affection and beauty of Christ rather than awe and reverence. We need to seek God's kiss "faith stands at a distance but love comes near. she must embrace". Indeed the Greek word for "worship" also means "come forward to kiss". That kiss transforms us and invites us to abide in our walk with God and love of Christ. That love will sustain us through the hard times of winter, night, desert and floods - all of which can be traced in the Song (as for example "many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away" (Song 8:7)).

A true Ephiphany will lead to us resting in the immensity of God's love. In that rest we are freed from drivenness, temptation and anxiety, we will love his Word and the people around us. We will live sacrificially, survive suffering and live prophetic and hopeful lives. As the "Freedom in Christ" course teaches, abiding in him leads to healing of past wounds and disposal of spiritual baggage. But for this healing to occur we need to accept his love (as for example Ephesians 1 sets out), and to realise care for ourselves is important (which is often hard for ministers). We will also find ourselves drawn to the place of prayer exemplified by Moses' requests in Exodus 33 "teach me your ways", "remember that this nation is your people", "let your Presence go with us" and "now show me your glory".

Go. An encounter with God will fill us with life and love so we may be a source of joy and delight to others. "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19). And Jesus calls us especially to meet the needs of the poor; serving them, we meet with him. That love will at times need to be sacrificial; the goal for an individual and a church must be that of a loving servant and not to be great in the world's eyes. Cleverley cites M-L King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Mother Teresa here. Like Jesus, like Joseph and David we are called to look for our brothers in the light of God's love. Look at people as Christ does. Seek the unity of the church and between churches. Overcome prejudices we may harbour; make the church a "house of prayer for all nations". Build the church Jesus wants as his bride, which bears the fruit of the Spirit. Finish well as did Simeon and Anna. "Go forth and set the world on fire" as Ignatius wrote!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2012
I really enjoyed this book. Charlie's mix of biblical characters and insight plus historical heroes of the faith makes this a deep and reassuring read. His personal candour about his own challenges and down to earth pastoral experience means this book is grounded aswell as heavenly. Some great quotes to tweet too!
by Mark Landreth-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2013
This is a book that can not be hurried but every page must be savoured. The author is an experienced guide to a journey that he has been travelling himself for a long time. It is a journey that takes you deeper into an experience of God's love. Very helpful and enlightening. To be recommended to all who are looking for such a guide
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2013
Wow, this is a fantastic book. I do not know the author but this is a dynamic book - easy to read but promotes deep thinking. I am sure, given time to study, will reap a rich reward. It may even change my life - for the better one hopes!
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on 4 August 2013
Charlie Cleverly's book 'Epiphanies of the Ordinary' looks at our encounters with God and how these shape and change our lives. Drawing on a range of Biblical mentors whose revelations of God changed them and their world, the author writes in an engaging and thought-provoking manner of the ways we are transformed through our encounters with God.
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on 31 August 2013
Still reading this one. So far it is very interesting in its exploration of different Epiphany moments. No, it is not only about then 'Wise Men' bringing their gifts to the newborn baby. Although this event is, of course, covered in the book. I am looking forward to finishing it as it is interesting and easy to read and understand.
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on 26 November 2014
This is an excellent book -very helpful and yet to be read over and again as it is so deep. I have sent it to 2 others.
Susan
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on 9 August 2013
The title is a bit off putting as we just do not understand it completely, but read it and it is a new world of love discovered.
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on 17 December 2013
I enjoyed this the first time through but now want to take it more slowly and re-read parts of it - much to ponder.
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on 23 January 2015
Challenging and yet uplifting and encouraging way of reviewing the important things in life. In summary trust God.
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