Monday, November 25, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY by A.W. Tozer

My discussion group on Wednesday night at church is reading this book. We're meeting until the middle of December -- I just finished reading this. Always a smart idea to have actually read the chapters you're going to discuss in class that night before you get there.

This is definitely one of those books that should be read and re-read on a regular basis. Even though it's fairly small -- only 94 pages in my iBooks application -- there's a lot to think about, a lot to learn.

Knowledge of the Holy = understanding all the many facets of the character of God, and what they mean. Even more important, how those different aspects of God relate to those of us who claim to be His followers, and what that means in our lives. The closer we come to a better understanding of the God we claim we serve (yes, I keep saying "claim" because how many of us actually live up to what we say we are, what we say we do, what we say we believe? I mean, really?) the deeper the implications and the more imperative it is to live what we believe.

This book presents and defends the premise that what the modern Church thinks it knows about God ... ain't necessarily so. Even though this was written a number of decades ago, the truths it presents and the fallacies that the Church and so-called Christians and the disbelieving world in general supports about God are still applicable. We are just as guilty now as the people of Tozer's day were of painting a picture of God that diminishes His power and holiness, changing Him from the God to whom we owe everything, and who we should adore and love and fear, to essentially a big cuddly, slightly fuddled grandfather who just wants everyone to get along and lets us do our own will instead of His.

I'm going to make it a goal to try to read this book at least twice a year. Enough time for me to be able to look back and see if the last reading made any difference. Maybe something will strike me as new, or what has happened to me in the last six months will have an impact.

I highly recommend you get this book, and others by Tozer, and get reading. They'll make a difference. The man is easy to read, which means you'll spend more time thinking about what he said rather than trying to untangle HOW he said it, and that translates into having an impact sooner.

Monday, November 18, 2013

From the Bookshelf: RADICAL, by David Platt

We've been reading this book as a church the last month or so. Pastor Dan has been preaching based on the topics/chapters, and different small groups and classes have been independently studying the book.

The subtitle is: Taking back your faith from the American Dream.

Huh? Why would the American Dream imprison or threaten or steal our faith? How?

Essentially, we have so MUCH that it's slowing us down, clogging our minds, making us sleepy, blocking our vision. Do we ever stop to think why God has blessed us in this country with so much? Yes, I do mean the entire country. Because when you look at the statistics, a lot of people in this country who consider themselves living in poverty are rich, living in comfort, compared to most of the people in this world.

Makes you stop and think doesn't it? And that's the purpose of the book. Near the beginning of our study, one of the men in our class at church spoke up and asked, "Why are we reading this book, when we KNOW all this already?" Essentially, he was asking why we had to spend money on the books, and waste our time covering material we already know. Well, I think the answer is that we KNOW it, but we don't ACT on it. We agree, yes, God gave us wealth and abilities and resources to use them for His glory ... but how many of us take what God has entrusted to us, and gone out and USED it? (How many of those glitzy, slick preachers touting a Prosperity Gospel actually TELL their congregations that God wants them to be rich so they can WORK for Him? I'm afraid too many stop at "God wants you rich," but never tell anyone WHY God wants them rich. Yes, God loves us, but He's not the kind of parent who gives His kids anything they want just because they want it. Daddy gives you a car so you can drive others to school. Daddy gives you a toolbox to fix cars to help others, and build furniture for others, etc., etc.)

The book finishes with several challenges to endeavor to meet during the next year -- just a year of living radically, sacrificially, and thinking about others instead of our own wants and dreams. It's easy to finish a book like this and be all fired up to go out there and start living like a servant, a disciple, an apostle -- but how long will the "Yes Lord!" attitude really last? How long can we go before we start losing people from the ranks and commitments are canceled and the burden rests on fewer and fewer, who burn out faster, until nobody is being RADICAL any longer?

How many times will I need to re-read this book before it sticks?
Read it. You'll probably get very uncomfortable -- but maybe guilt is good for the soul. It might actually get you off your chair and out moving and doing ... for a while, anyway.
If you're not uncomfortable after reading this book ... I'd worry, if I were you.