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What a Surprise

• Greg Boyd

This is the first message in the Animate series which focuses on making ourselves free and available to commune with God. Transformation comes from spending time in the presence and glory of God.

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This sermon was part of our Animate adventure series that ran from April 19 to June 14, 2009.

The supplemental content that accompanied the series was designed to be gone through in groups.

You can download the entire booklet here.

Greg opened by raising the question of why the typical Christian’s experience doesn’t seem to be as transformative and powerful as what we read about in the Bible. Specifically, he wondered, “Why doesn’t it all feel more REAL?”

Three approaches are common, but not particularly helpful:

  1. The “try harder” solution. While there is effort required, our effort alone will not get us to transformation.
  2. The “just wait on God” solution. Yes, we need God to work in us and through us, but we also have to cooperate with God in this.
  3. The “need more information” solution. While information can be good and helpful, it doesn’t lead to transformation simply by acquiring it.

Greg pointed us to 2 Corinthians to see another way forward. When we turn to the Lord, there is a “veil” that is removed and we are able to experience God in new ways. We are able to see the light of God, experience the glory of God in new and transforming ways.

Some may be concerned that this way of experiencing God with the use of our imaginations seems like a New Age practice. The fact is, using all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is exactly what Scripture calls us to do. Using our whole selves to behold the glory of God includes using our imagination.

Greg encouraged us to locate a meeting place in our mind/imagination where we can connect with God more concretely. This starts by submitting our whole selves to God and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to a place that would serve us well for this purpose. Once that place becomes clear, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see or sense the presence of Jesus in that place with you. Greg encouraged us not to try to “do” anything, but rather, just be present with Jesus in that holy place that God draws you to.

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Topics: Imagination, Prayer, Transformation

Sermon Series: Animate

Downloads & Resources

Audio File

Focus Scripture:

  • 2 Corinthians 3:14-18

    14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

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9 thoughts on “What a Surprise

  1. Mary Bailey says:

    I’ve been listening to your podcasts for almost two years can’t tell you how it has changed my life and blessed me as well……

  2. Thanks Mary — it’s always great to hear from someone who’s been impacted by the podcasts! 🙂

  3. kevin says:

    so i’m revisiting this message again and still i am perplexed. if i’m understanding correctly, transformation only comes if we use our imaginations, yeah? Also, if it is true, as you say, that some people are wired to be blessed in worship and in prayer and some, like me, are not so wired, then does that just leave me out of the transformation process altogether? Must i ‘somehow’ develop an imagination?

  4. kevin says:

    If i simply believe God and if i trust Him and have faith that what He says about me is true and if i hang onto that in faith, won’t transformation come? even though i can enter in to the meditation at the end, it doesn’t seem helpful.

  5. Wes Johnson says:

    Dr. B mentioned a workbook or booklet for the animate emphasis. Can I still get one?

    1. Amanda Churchill says:

      Hello Wes, thanks for your question! You can find the booklet in PDF form by following this link:

  6. Nathan says:

    Is the music that was created for this series available? How would I get a hold of it?


    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Hey Nathan,
      We post our worship sets on Spotify!
      Here’s a link to find them: http://whchurch.org/watchlisten/spotify/


  7. Jerry says:


    Just finished this series!

    You need to work it backwards, this being the 1st in series!

    Extremely helpful!

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