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God’s Attributes Interview

October 12, 2012

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As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Brad Hambrick as he talks about his booklet, God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles, which is part of the Association of Biblical Counselors and P & R Publishing’s new booklet series: The Gospel for Real Life.

BCC: “What motivated you to write a booklet on how God’s attributes relate to our lives?”

BH: “I came home from church discouraged after hearing a great sermon. Sounds awkward, I know, but it felt even more awkward. I knew I shouldn’t feel that way. Hearing a clear presentation of who God is should have either brought conviction or motivation. But in this case, I was just discouraged. That led to some soul searching. I realized I was feeling pressure. I didn’t want to know ‘one more thing’ about God that I couldn’t do when I was still working on emulating what I did know. As I put this into words, I realized I needed to think differently about how I related to God.”

BCC: “And how did that realization impact your thinking?”

BH: “It led to three major insights that shaped this booklet. I’d word the first one like this:

I should seek to rest in any attribute of God (i.e., find comfort, trust, or security) before I try to emulate that attribute. Resting in God is what makes imitation a sustainable life of worship rather than a driven life of performance.

I had quit resting in God’s character. God was my benchmark more than He was my refuge. As this changed, I noticed how the Psalms—which frequently celebrate God as our rock, refuge, hiding place, etc.—came alive to me in fresh ways. That brought me to the second major insight of this booklet:

Our battle from and against suffering and sin is first and foremost a battle towards and for God.

My discouragement stemmed from the fact that I was battling alone. I was treating God as an observer of my battle from suffering and against in. I was living as if God was just there to be the standard against which I measured my efforts.

As that veil lifted, I came to the third and most soul-refreshing insight of this booklet:

If in our struggle to conquer sin and alleviate suffering we fail to learn and treasure God more, we have missed the most important thing God is doing in the midst of these experiences.

Doctrine was no longer mere doctrine. It was an invitation to a relationship. Performance was no longer strained moral effort, but the imitation of a child towards a good father. I was being drawn to someone who loved me. The journey was now part of the relationship.”

BCC: “What is unique about the style of writing of this booklet?”

BH: “The booklet is written as a devotional. Over the course of 4 weeks you are taken through 16 attributes of God. Each week you study four attributes.

  • Week 1: Attributes of Love — God is personal, God is grace, God is good, and God is patient.
  • Week 2: Attributes of Essence, — God is omnipresent, God is eternal and unchanging, God is beauty, and God is blessed.
  • Week 3: Attributes of Wisdom — God is omniscient, God is just, God is truth, and God is order and peace.
  • Week 4: Attributes of Power — God is wrath and jealous, God is sovereign, God is omnipotent, and God is free.

For each attribute your study will consist of four parts.

  1. Definition — This is a brief 4-6 sentence definition of each attribute to orient your devotional reflection.
  2. Scripture Passages — For each attribute 3-5 passages of Scripture are given that demonstrate this attribute of God.
  3. Rest Questions — A series of 4-6 questions are given to help you assess how well you are resting in this attribute of God.
  4. Emulation Questions — A series of 4-6 questions are given to help you assess how well you are emulating this attribute of God.”

BCC: “Can you provide a sample of what is in the booklet?”

BH: “Here’s a sample from the first day of study on ‘God is personal.’

GOD IS PERSONAL: God has the ability to relate interpersonally and does so. God is neither aloof nor disinterested in His creation. God is aware of and concerned about the details of our lives. God is able to sympathize with the struggles we face in a fallen world. It is God’s nature to be active and involved.

Passages Describing God as Personal – Matthew 10:28-31; Psalm 56:8-11; Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 4:14-16

Diagnose Resting in God as Personal – Do you struggle to believe that God cares for you personally? Do you believe God only loves you generically (because He loves everybody)?  Do you believe God is only concerned about the “big events” of your life, making the day-to-day choices drab or meaningless? Do you look for God in the small pleasantries of your day and express gratitude that He created a world with things that match your preferences and taste? What would life and faith be like if God were not personal?

Diagnose Emulating God as Personal – Do you avoid being vulnerable with others? When do you resist making yourself known because of a fear of rejection or giving others power over you? How does this reveal a desire to be approved by people (the fear of man) greater than a desire to be approved by God (the fear of the Lord)? Are you skilled at using self-disclosure to make others feel comfortable and more willing to be vulnerable with you? How does being personal open conversation towards God and the Gospel?

At the end of each week you are provided with a series of reflective questions to help you assess whether you have a balanced view of God. Too often we emphasize one attribute of God over the others (i.e., emphasizing God’s love over His power, or God’s wisdom over His presence, or some other combination).

The result is that we begin to live in response to a false view of God. Our emotions, relationships, and walk with God will be distorted to the degree we are wrong. For this reason, at the close of each week there are questions to help you ensure your understanding of each attribute is in balance with you understanding and emphasis of the other attributes.”

BCC: “Please introduce our readers to the titles and authors for the first six booklets released in The Gospel for Real Life series.”

BH: “In the first six booklets, we address the following subjects:

BCC: “Thank you, Brad, for introducing our readers to God’s Attributes.”

BCC Staff Note: For a BCC author interview with Brad providing a longer introduction to The Gospel for Real Life booklet series, click here

For a BCC author interview with Brad on his booklet in this series, Vulnerability: Blessing in the Beatitudes, click here

For a BCC author interview with Bob Kellemen on his booklet in this series, Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure, click here

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