thinking of God

prayer

Don’t we find ourselves at times spiritually plateaued in our journeys of faith?  And maybe not even plateaued, but rather, more like spiritually bankrupt?  What do we do when we begin to feel this way?  Maybe it’s found in the ebb and flow of faith.  Maybe it only characterizes a small portion of time.  Or maybe it is descript of decades.  Years of complacency.  No zeal.  No excitement.  No anticipation.  No experience of God.  What then?  What next?

In his book Attributes of God, AW Tozer writes, A local church will only be as great as its concept of God.  An individual Christian will be a success or failure (in the Kingdom) depending upon what he or she thinks of God.  It is critically important that we not only have a knowledge of the Holy One, but that we truly come to know Him in all His majesty and wonder.”

Maybe what we “think of God,” as Tozer puts it, is directly related to our being spiritually plateaued or bankrupt.

Do we think enough of God?  How much thought do we honestly give Him during the course of the day?  How often do you engage in silent conversation with Him if even for a brief moment?  How often do you pray?  I mean really, really pray?  Not as an aside.  But heart and mind, engaged in prayer with our Father.  How much time do you set aside in reading Scripture and being fed by God’s Word?  How often do you read what others have written to broaden your concept of God?  How many conversations do you have throughout the week with others who are seeking to be faithful to our Father as well?  Do you seek out Christian insight from others who have faith?  Because what we “think of God” is answered in questions such as these.

The Apostle Paul writes: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” – Ephesians 1:17

The question is: Do we really want to know Him better?

Somehow spiritual discipline has too often been divorced from faith.  Faith is too often seen as mental ascent rather than a life characterized by discipleship.  No wonder we find ourselves so often spiritually anemic.

Discipleship.  Living cognizant of the presence of God.  Spiritual discipline.  A life characterized by faith and faithfulness.  When our practice reflects our concept of God – it is then and only then that we will begin to know Him better.

Glory to God!

Jason

what we think of God

Lighthouse on a Hill Ministry Stock Photo

Don’t we find ourselves at times spiritually plateaued in our journeys of faith? And maybe not even plateaued, but rather, more like spiritually bankrupt? What do we do when we begin to feel this way? Maybe it’s found in the ebb and flow of faith. Maybe it only characterizes a small portion of time. Or maybe it is descript of decades. Years of complacency. No zeal. No excitement. No anticipation. No experience of God. What then? What next?

In his book Attributes of God, AW Tozer writes, A local church will only be as great as its concept of God. An individual Christian will be a success or failure (in the Kingdom) depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we not only have a knowledge of the Holy One, but that we truly come to know Him in all His majesty and wonder.”

Maybe what we “think of God,” as Tozer puts it, is directly related to our being spiritually plateaued or bankrupt.

Do we think enough of God? How much thought do we honestly give Him during the course of the day? How often do you engage in silent conversation with Him if even for a brief moment? How often do you pray? I mean really, really pray? Not as an aside. But heart and mind, engaged in prayer with our Father. How much time do you set aside in reading Scripture and being fed by God’s Word? How often do you read what others have written to broaden your concept of God? How many conversations do you have throughout the week with others who are seeking to be faithful to our Father as well? Do you seek out Christian insight from others who have faith? Because what we “think of God” is answered in questions such as these.

The Apostle Paul writes: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” – Ephesians 1:17

The question is: Do we really want to know Him better?

Somehow spiritual discipline has too often been divorced from faith. Faith is too often seen as mental ascent rather than a life characterized by discipleship. No wonder we find ourselves so often spiritually anemic.

Discipleship. Living cognizant of the presence of God. Spiritual discipline. A life characterized by faith and faithfulness. When our practice reflects our concept of God – it is then and only then that we will begin to know Him better.

Glory to God!

Jason

friendship day 2013

friendshipdaySLIDEFriendship Day will soon be here!  February 17th.  One week from Sunday.

Friendship Day generates an opportunity for us to invite and encourage others to come and worship with us at WE.  It provides an avenue that we might ask others to come and share the Lord with us.  It creates an atmosphere of energy as we are all striving together toward a common event and common goal.  And it uplifts us as God works in the hearts of those who call this church their “home” and as He ministers to the hearts of those who are visiting with us on the day.

On February 17th we will also unpack a vision for the West Erwin Church of Christ that we pray will grant us renewed focus as we each minister courageously and effectively in the Kingdom of God.

I ask you to continue to pray for our day together.  To pray that the goodness of God and wonder of His Kingdom would be evident in all that we are about on Friendship Day.  I ask that you encourage others to come and share in our worship, as we praise our Father together, and as we connect and fellowship with one another.

There are cards available at the visitor’s center (please take as many as you’d like this Sunday) that provide the schedule of the day, as well as contact information.  Classes @ 9am.  Worship @ 10am.  Lunch provided in the Family Life Center immediately following worship.  No evening services.  Small groups meeting that evening.  All with the intentional goal in mind of revival and blessing.  Striving to live closer to our God.

I leave you with these words from AW Tozer, “Revival and blessing come to the Church when we stop looking at a picture of God and look at God Himself.  Revival comes when, no longer satisfied just to know about a God in history, we meet the conditions of finding Him in living, personal experience.”

Glory to God!

Jason

2012’s top five “best reads”

MP900438525

I went into 2012 with a focus on spiritual disciplines.  Striving to practice specific disciplines of faith so as to better facilitate spiritual formation in my own life.

For 12 weeks beginning in September, after seeking to be intentionally diligent with these practices all year, I unpacked a series of Sunday morning messages at WE in order to bring us to these fundamental Christian disciplines.  “Tuning in to God” was our theme.  For the first 2 weeks all I did was set up the reality that with all of the noise and static of our lives, the voice of God becomes drowned out.  As a result we find ourselves stretched so very thin, not doing anything (that matters) well, and spiritually depleted.  Then for the next 10 weeks, we considered the key spiritual practices of: prayer, study, fasting, silence, Christian community (both macro-Christian community, ie. communal worship and micro-Christian community, which we established as core discipleship), denying self, humility, compassion, simplicity, and contentment.

I’m still wrestling.  I’ve not mastered all of these disciplines!  But I firmly believe that the practice of these fundamental disciples facilitates our hearing the voice of God and being mastered by Him.

I say all of that because much of what I’ve been reading this year has centered upon spiritual formation and discipline.

The below listed five books are what I would affirm are indeed my “best reads” of 2012.

1) Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved, by Trevor Hudson

My friend, Jim Martin, gave this book to a discipleship group I was a part of in 2012 that met monthly in Waco.  It is a brilliant work centered upon living a holistic and holy life.  Knowledge of God.  Openness to God.  Practicing the presence of God.  All keys facets woven into the tapestry of the text.  While Hudson doesn’t have near the audience that the remaining authors do, if he keeps writing like this, he will!

2) Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, by Henri JM Nouwen

Anyone familiar with Nouwen knows the depth and quiet simplicity of his work.  In Reaching Out, Nouwen calls the disciple to a life encompassed in complete fidelity to God in Christ.  The three movements Nouwen pursues are 1) “From Loneliness to Solitude” (Reaching Out to Our Innermost Self), 2) “From Hostility to Hospitality” (Reaching out to Our Fellow Human Beings), and 3) “From Illusion to Prayer” (Reaching Out to Our God).  Brilliant!

3) The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, by Dallas Willard

Last Spring the boys came running into the house after going to a garage sale a few doors down from our house.  “Dad, dad, they’ve got books by guys you like!”  “Who?” I asked.  “Dallas somebody.”   “Dallas Willard?”  “Yes!”  “What book?”  “Spirit of the Disciples”?  “Spirit of the Disciplines”?  “That’s it!!!  And the other one is by the one who’s daily devotional you read!”   “AW Tozer?”  “Yea, that’s it!”  “Well go buy them!”  They came back grinning from ear to ear.

The Spirit of the Disciplines is vintage Willard.  Involved.  Detailed.  He covers a lot of ground in 260 pages.  What I love is how he sets up our need for solace and discipline and then proceeds to gently call the believer into allowing God to fill one’s life through spiritual practices.

4) The Knowledge of the Holy – The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life, by AW Tozer

The daily devotional the boys were talking about is Tozer on the Almighty God I read it every morning.  If you are looking for deeply spiritual devotional thoughts to start your day, you won’t be disappointed.

But the book that they came back with from the garage sale was Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.  And it’s a definite “best read.” 23 essays by Tozer.  All centered upon the nature of God.  All centered upon developing a greater understanding of who God is and what He is about.  All originating out of the desire to not merely know about God but to truly know Him.  To live in His presence.  Stand in awe of His holiness.  And bask in His wonder.

5) Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount, by Randy Harris (with Greg Taylor)

Anything that comes from Randy Harris is solid.  When I go to Summit I sit in on every session he shares, and I always leave saying, “That’s exactly what I needed.”  Living Jesus is Harris’ newest book.  He and Greg Taylor take the Sermon on the Mount and pursue each passage, bringing to life the spiritual formation to which we are called by our Savior at every turn.  The book opens with: Doing What Jesus Says, and closes with: Living the Sermon.  I read the book while preaching the messages focused upon spiritual discipline.  It’s amazing how the spiritual practices and the Sermon on the Mount fit so wonderfully together.  Perhaps a focus on Matthew 5-7 at WE will come about in 2013?

I’ve been sick and on vacation (what a combination!) this last week and re-read Harris’ book Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk  again (any book that’s worth reading is worth reading at least 3 times – I’ve probably read Soul Work 6 or 7).  Living Jesus is brilliant, powerful, humbling, encouraging, challenging stuff.  I’ll be coming back to it over and over again!

Well, there you have it!  2012’s top five “best reads.”

Glory to God!

Jason

our concept of God

Don’t we find ourselves at times spiritually plateaued in our journeys of faith?  And maybe not even plateaued, but rather, more like spiritually bankrupt?  What do we do when we begin to feel this way?  Maybe it’s found in the ebb and flow of faith.  Maybe it only characterizes a small portion of time.  Or maybe it is descript of decades.  Years of complacency.  No zeal.  No excitement.  No anticipation.  No experience of God.  What then?  What next?

In his book Attributes of God, AW Tozer writes, A local church will only be as great as its concept of God.  An individual Christian will be a success or failure (in the Kingdom) depending upon what he or she thinks of God.  It is critically important that we not only have a knowledge of the Holy One, but that we truly come to know Him in all His majesty and wonder.”

Maybe what we “think of God,” as Tozer puts it, is directly related to our being spiritually plateaued or bankrupt.

Do we think enough of God?  How much thought do we honestly give Him during the course of the day?  How often do you engage in silent conversation with Him if even for a brief moment?  How often do you pray?  I mean really, really pray?  Not as an aside.  But heart and mind, engaged in prayer with our Father.  How much time do you set aside in reading Scripture and being fed by God’s Word?  How often do you read what others have written to broaden your concept of God?  How many conversations do you have throughout the week with others who are seeking to be faithful to our Father as well?  Do you seek out Christian insight from others who have faith?  Because what we “think of God” is answered in questions such as these.

The Apostle Paul writes: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” – Ephesians 1:17

The question is: Do we really want to know Him better?

Somehow spiritual discipline has too often been divorced from faith.  Faith is too often seen as mental ascent rather than a life characterized by discipleship.  No wonder we find ourselves so often spiritually anemic.

Discipleship.  Living cognizant of the presence of God.  Spiritual discipline.  A life characterized by faith and faithfulness.  When our practice reflects our concept of God – it is then and only then that we will begin to know Him better.

Glory to God!

Jason

only love can grieve

“Because He is loving and kind the Holy Spirit of God may be grieved.  He can be grieved because He is loving, and there must be love present before there can be grief.

Suppose you had a seventeen year old son who began to go bad.  He rejected your counsel and wanted to take things into his own hands.  Suppose he joined up with a young stranger from another part of the city and they got into trouble.  You were called down to the police station.  Your boy and the other boy whom you’ve never seen before both sit there in handcuffs.  How would you feel inside?  You would be sorry for the other boy but you don’t love him because you don’t know him.  But with your own son your grief would penetrate to your heart like a sword.  Only love can grieve.

And if those two boys were sent off to prison you might pity the boy you didn’t know, but you would grieve over your own boy.  Why?  Because you love him.  A parent can grieve because they love.  If you do not love you cannot grieve.

When the Scripture says, ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:30) it is telling us that God loves us so much so that when we insult Him, He is grieved; when we ignore Him, He is grieved; when we resist Him, He is grieved; and when we doubt Him, He is grieved.”  – AW Tozer (The Counselor, p49).

Glory to God!

Jason

on our face listening

“Think about the reality of Abraham’s experience.  Abraham was consciously aware of God, His presence and His revelation.  He was aware that the Living God had stepped over the threshold into personal encounter with a man who found the desire within himself, to know God, to believe God, and to live for God.

Abraham, fell on his face as the Lord talked with him (Genesis 17:3).  Abraham was reverent and submissive.  Probably there is no better picture anywhere in the Bible of the right place for mankind and the right place for God.  God was on His throne speaking, and Abraham was on his face listening!” – AW Tozer, Men Who Met God – pp20-21

Glory to God!

Jason

our concept of God

“A local church will only be as great as its concept of God.  An individual Christian will be a success or failure in the Kingdom depending upon what he or she thinks of God.  It is critically important that we not only have a knowledge of the Holy One, but that we come to know Him in all His majesty and wonder.” – AW Tozer, Attributes of God

Glory to God!

Jason

instant Christianity

AW Tozer writes against what he calls “instant Christianity.”  An approach to faith that somehow negates discipleship, disconnects from relationship, and fails to see Christianity as a journey of life.

“Instant Christianity tends to make faith in Christ terminal and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance.  It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding.  It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth.  It does not consider that faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them….”

Glory to God!

Jason