Monday, March 1, 2021

It will have to wait...


It will have to wait until tomorrow, but Chapter 42 is so contemporary and timely that it is as if Tozer were living amongst us, watching us, even condemning our "cancel culture" itself, and yet he passed the way of all mortal flesh almost 58 years ago...

Just a brief quote to make my point:

"It can only be a cause for deep regret that the fear of offending has silenced the voices of so many men of discernment and put Bible Christianity as the mercy of the undiscerning..."

Friday, February 26, 2021

Questions

 Strength from the Indwelling Spirit       Chapter 41


1.  In what ways has fatigue been a sign that I have been working in my own strength?

 

2.  In what ways has the Spirit of the Lord refreshed me or kept me from fatigue?

 

3.  In what ways do I find rest in the Spirit?

 

4.  How does my spiritual life reflect the truths I am learning this year?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Busy doing nothing...

We live in a world that believes busy is better; where too many people waste their lives making a living and never make a life. Having sat at the bed of many a dying person, I've never once heard someone say they wished they had spent more time at their place of employment, more time working, more time being busy.

And yet we chastise those who sit on their porch in rocking chairs watching the traffic go by.  We hasten to condemn those who sit by the sea and watch the ocean liners come and go from port or just fish from the dock. We judge those with little ambition to become the best, the most, the first...those who are content.

I'm struck by this week's Tozer reading that reminds us of the peace Jesus had, the unhurriedness of his life.  At the same time I'm hearing from people that they didn't have enough time to attend a Bible Study, they had deadlines to meet, employers to please...

And I am thankful for my early retirement. It has meant living more simply and adjusting our lives to that.  Sometimes I feel like I am not busy doing Kingdom work.  But as I reflect on that I experience great peace in knowing that there is joy in simply being still and knowing that He is Lord. That in itself is Kingdom work.

I feel bad for those who are still so driven by worry about COVID19, whose lives are governed by deadlines, whose identity is found in what they do rather than who they are in Him, who don't see the wonderful opportunities afforded them in the simpler life of prayer and contemplation, in quietness and contentment.

So many fear they wouldn't be able to survive on less. So many worry that disaster may come and they might be unprepared.  So many lack the peace that allows them to be still and KNOW that the Lord is God.  We fail to realize that He would sometimes rather sit with us in the hospital during our COVID19 experience, or our cancer surgery/treatment, or embrace us as we grieve, than to save us from that experience or take a back seat to our own selfish pursuit of life.

All of our anxiety around this COVID19 issue seems to emanate from our inability to be still, to purposefully do nothing to enjoy being stuck, alone, with out thoughts...

We really need to take far more seriously Jesus' encouragement to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us.  Seriously, so what if we get COVID?  So what if we experience the debilitating life of terminal cancer?  So what if we suffer financial ruin?  So what if we lose a loved one? So what? We are promised an eternal life of glory.  This momentary fragment of life we now live is but a hint of the joyful life to come.  It is in the very experiences of this life, which challenge us most, that we find the most grace, if we will but be still and know that He is Lord and that He works ALL things together for the good of those of us who love Him.

Peace... Be still...



Friday, February 19, 2021

Questions

 Root Out of a Dry Ground                      Chapter 40


1.  In what ways is my faith fragile in a harsh world?

 

2.  What do I need to do to strengthen my faith today?

 

3.  In what ways do I refresh myself with the Living Water?

 

4.  How can I help someone else to experience the refreshing qualities of the Living Water?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Ficus Tree

We have a Ficus Tree in our home.  We bought it as an end of season, left over, half dead, runt of a sapling.  It wasn't more than 8-10" high and sickly as you could imagine.  It was a give away price at a local garden store and I couldn't resist.

We have watered and cared for it over the years. It has been moved from PA to NC and from one home in NC to another.  It has ridden in the back of  pick-up truck at high speeds losing most of it's leaves along the way.  It has endured overwatering and drougtht conditions. And today it stands 7' tall and has a crown of 4' in diameter. We have even taken a cutting and started a second tree which itself is now 5' tall with a crown of 3' in diameter.

Several times we have thought we had lost both of them.

My spiritual life seems like that some times.  I sometimes feel like I am in the back of a pick up truck running down a highway losing my leaves, being blown and shaken and bumped around. Sometimes I seem to be drenched in God's grace but selfishly keep it to myself not allowing in to pour forth into other people's lives, such that I begin to drown.  Grace received without praise given and blessings shared can do that.

And there are other times when I am parched.  I am thirsting for good news, for deliverance from the heat of contention, hatred, anger, and frustration such that I feel I can no longer go on.  I simply don't have the reserves from which to draw.

If you have ever felt like that, you are not alone.  People of faith ride the waves of theSpirit which blows where and when it will. The Lord does test us to see just how deep our love is, how well developed our roots are.  The Lord does bless us abundantly to see what we will do with those blessings. And sometimes, the Lord allows us to suffer the neglect of those around us who are supposed to nourish and nurture us.  It is all apart of the spiritual life.  But our needs are always met, just as He knows them to be.  And not as we imagine them to be.

Over time we grow. Hopefully we reproduce.And through it all we continue to abide in Him who abides in us.  

There is a principle in evolutionary studies called punctuated equlibrium.  It is the idea that life goes on. We experience steady, gradual, but small changes, and then suddenly that change is punctuated by rapid development. Something grand and glorious happens to radicallly shift things for us and the change is significant.  

Our spiritual lives are a lot like that too.  I'm currently in a season of abiding.  I've been through the drought.  I'm experiencing steady supplies of nourishment, but I sense something big is on the horizon.  The maintenance, the slow but steady growth, is only preparation.

As we move to the end of this 43 weeks of Tozer's collection of editorials, I pray that you have been fed and watered sufficiently for what may lay ahead. It may be spectacular.  It may be a period of refreshment or just abiding. It may even be a season of drought which lies yet ahead. None of us knows.

But we do know this, it is only the Lord's work within us that will eventually produce the growth we need. 



Friday, February 12, 2021

Questions

Chapter 39: Not Peace, But a Sword? 


1.  In what ways have I compromised my faith in order to keep peace in my family?

 

2.  In what other ways have I compromised the integrity of my faith?

 

3.  In what ways have I responded faithfully when it cost me friends, family or something else?

 

4.  What steps can I take today to ensure I am more ready to “bear the cross”?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Questions

 

Not Peace, But a Sword?                        Chapter 39


1.  In what ways have I compromised my faith in order to keep peace in my family?

 

2.  In what other ways have I compromised the integrity of my faith?

 

3.  In what ways have I responded faithfully when it cost me friends, family or something else?

 

4.  What steps can I take today to ensure I am more ready to “bear the cross”?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Monday, February 1, 2021

Christ and/or family...

If this week's reading doesn't elicit a hardy AMEN! then one must begin to ask about the depth of one's commitment to Christ as Lord not just Savior. Some one-liner quotes to get our blood circulating:

  • "...the Church is a divine family and...its loyalties sometimes cut sharply across the ties that bind earthly families together."
  • "For a man to cast in his lot with Christ often means that he will be opposed by his blood relatives and will find his true family ties only in the community of regenerated souls."

  • "The idea that Christ always brings peace and patches up differences is found nowhere in his own teachings."
  • "The weakness of much that passes for Christian faith these days is seen in the readiness of many professed followers to make any concessions in order to get along with people, especially with relatives and inlaws."
  •  "No one has understood the meaning of the cross who puts blood ties alongside the ties of the Spirit."

  • "For the true disciple it is Christ before family, Christ before country, Christ before life itself."

  • When we take up the cross, we become expendable, along with all naural relationships and all previous loyalties, and Christ becomes all in all.           .
And his concluding lines sum up the matter for us:  

In these days of sweet and easy Christianity, it requires inward illumination to see this truth and real faith to accept it. We had better pray for both before time runs out on us.

May theLord our God, abundantly bless us, this week, as we consider some of these final thoughts to this study.



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Questions

 

Thankful? Yes, But to Whom? Chapter 38


1.  A time when I failed to express proper gratitude to God for his wonderful provision was…

 

2.  A time when my thanksgiving to God almost overwhelmed me was…

 

3.  A contemporary area in which I need to be more thankful to God is…

 

4.  A significant way in which I can thank God today is….


5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Friday, January 29, 2021

Thursday, January 29, 1981...


It was cold, maybe 15-20 degrees.  There was a foot of snow on the ground.  I had just come in from jogging around the trailer park in which I found myself living. (You could still call it that back then.)

I was finally divorced, legally delivered from my drug-fueled, pleasure-seeking, godless marriage. I had been discharged (honorably) from the U.S. Navy and was serving in the active reserves. I had returned to college only to revisit the old ways from which I had sought escape. In fact, this was my third college in less than two years.

And here, in a singlewide trailer, with only heat and no running water, I found my first love – Jesus. 

Coming in from jogging and chugging down my three raw eggs with o.j. and a touch of powdered sugar, I sat back to roll a joint.  As I lifted the lighter to this perfectly rolled wonder that would relieve me of all my anxieties, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had made a mess of my life.

Many of my classmates envied me, I was living independently. I was free. I was pursuing my goal of earning my first million dollars.  I had made enough money to stop working and to pay for college, support my drinking, pot smoking, and miscellaneous drug enhancing lifestyle.  My car was paid for. All was right with the world.  But nothing was right with me.

I can’t explain it but remorse, guilt, and terror filled my soul and burst forth in tears. “My God, what am I to do?  What do you want of me? I’ve tried and tried but I keep coming back to this same situation.”

Something in me snapped.  I flushed the pot down the toilet. I dumped all the beer and vodka down the kitchen sink. And I threw myself on my bed.  And there it was. The Bible that had been given to me from my pastor on His last Children’s Sunday with us at the Grosse Pointe Woods Presbyterian Church.  I hadn’t seen it in years.  Not when I moved to Mississippi, or when I moved to San Diego or Washington, or back to San Diego; not when I returned to college a year before, nor when I moved back home for a few months, nor did I remember packing it when I moved to Weidman, MI. But there it was. And as I picked it up it fell open, yes, it fell open to Zechariah – and the words leapt off the page:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan sanding at his right side to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan" The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" Now, Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.  The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes.:  Then he said to Joshua, "See I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you."  They I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.  The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: "If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among those standing here. [Zech 3:1-7]

In that moment I was born again.  I was washed clean. My sins were forever forgiven.  And I was called to ministry.

Now there is more to the story. There were, and continue to this day to be, challenges, temptations, and even accusations. (n.b. the Word Satan comes to us from the Hebrew Ha-Satan meaning the accuser.)

But I stand firm in my resolve to walk in obedience the to Lord and to keep His requirements.

Based on His grace, His faithfulness, and His Word, I have never doubted His love, His protection, His faithfulness to me.  I often question my ability to comprehend the mysteries of faith or just why he seems to trust me with such matters, but that is a struggle common to those who call themselves by His name “Christ-ian”.

Today, is my birthday.  40 years ago today, in a snowbound trailer in rural Weidman, Michigan, a life tattered and in ruins was saved, snatched from the fire. A soul was added to the ranks of glory. 

With David, I still ask, “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

But so too, with every ounce of my being do I dare to declare, with the rest of that Psalm:

O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger…O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! [Psalm 8]



 

It will have to wait...

It will have to wait until tomorrow, but Chapter 42 is so contemporary and timely that it is as if Tozer were living amongst us, watching us...