Book Review|The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

 

 

“We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urgent within us that spurs us to the pursuit.”

Containing ten short chapters, this book by A.W. Tozer is as relevant to believers today as it was when it was written. Practical and easy to read, The Pursuit of God is comforting and admonishing in turn

Tozer does not pull punches when addressing the church.  I was struck by how applicable Tozer’s writing is to the current issues we face in the church and in our individual lives. Whether we agree with all of his philosophy or not, The Pursuit of God is full of dateless advice for seekers.

There is a certain beauty in the straightforwardness  of Tozer’s prose. It is refreshing. Timeless exhortation and instruction rests between these pages. Plain speaking and simple, but at the same time profound, the writing contained in this small volume is well worth the read.

Each of the 10 chapters ends with a prayer.

This small volume is suitable for individual or group study.

An excellent book to write responses in a personal journal.

“The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect one. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.”

Project Gutenberg has this book, The Pursuit of God, free here.

Click here for a discussion guide for The Pursuit of God.

 

Book Review| A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald

George MacDonald was a poet, author, preacher, and a mentor of Lewis Carroll. He wrote A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul during his later years.

He wrote a poem a day for a year and the book is divided in such a manner. The poems are short. As I read, on occasion I would read ahead to see the conclusion of the days poem.

I thoroughly enjoyed the daily readings. This is a timeless classic and well worth the read.

A friend recommended this book to me and I am glad she did. I will be rereading this one.

You can download a free copy of A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul from many sites. I got mine from Amazon.com here.

To learn more about George MacDonald you can visit The George MacDonald Society’s website here.

 

Book Review|God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado

 

God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado is a short book, written in a down to earth style.

Lucado has a way of cutting through the rhetoric and allowing me to see the familiar through a different lens, like looking through a suddenly clear lens.

“As God’s story becomes yours, closed doors take on a new meaning. You no longer see them as interruptions of your plan but as indications of God’s plan.”

Sometimes I get used to how things look through my dirty eyeglass lenses without being aware of it until something draws attention to the fact. I clean my glasses and, suddenly, see things clearly. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see before. The daily dirt and grime had simply build up a bit by bit and I hadn’t noticed how it dulled my vision. Reading this book was like that for me.

“Your blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. Quite the opposite. It’s proof that He does.”

Lucado’s anecdotes give fresh meaning to phrases often used. Real life examples helped me understand Biblical truths in a new way. For example, he relates a story of a man who found himself in a situation where he had to actually fly blind. He had suffered a stroke and lost his vision while flying a plane. Unable to see, struck blind, he had to depend on the voice of another.

“Learn to wait, to be silent, to listen for his voice.”

Lucado is a gifted writer and paints vivid pictures to explain Biblical concepts in an easy to understand and personable style.

“Arm yourself with God’s word. Load your pistol with scriptures and keep a finger on the trigger.”

Every chapter gave me something to think about. I read one chapter a day, taking time to write a response in my journal.

There’s much wisdom in God’s Story, Your Story. am encouraged and blessed.

Relevant and applicable.

Recommended for individual or group study.

 

 

 

 

Why Look Beyond Labels?

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We love to label.

Disabled, Gifted, Conservative, Liberal,

The tendency to label is a natural one. It’s how we make sense of the world, but all too often we automatically stick people in the wrong category and leave them there.

It’s hard to love someone after they’ve been sealed into a box stamped with the label “undesirable”. There are so many ways to label people as unwanted, different, and somehow ‘less than’.

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If we could overcome our need to categorize and compartmentalize people long enough to find the person underneath, what would we see? People are more than the name tag they wear.

People are more than the labels they wear. (Tweet This)

We are supposed to be careful of what we let influence us, but avoiding destructive behaviors and thoughts are not the same thing as avoiding people in the not us camp.

We are to be salt and light, walking without fear. (Matthew 5:13-16) In the world, but not of it. (Romans 12:2)

What if we peeled back the labels?

Convict, Leader, Homeless, Executive,

What if we ignored societal convention and followed Jesus’ example?

Tax Collector, Fisherman, Prostitute,

What if we opened our eyes and saw the human being underneath the designations that society has slapped on them?

Human Being.

As long as we give our attention to labels we allow our opinion to be colored by it. We limit our view of the person and who they can become.

Before anything else, God values people for who they are, not what they do or believe.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5 :8 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

What if we took a look under our own labels, the ones we so proudly wear? Without our protective labels firmly stuck in place, are we brave enough to relate person to person?

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How to Be Ridiculously Blessed

How to Be Ridiculously Blessed

 

 

 

 

 

To get we have to give. If we want to be blessed, then we bless others. If we want to be ridiculously blessed, then we need to get ready to dig deep.

We have to be brave. We have to be willing to look silly or awkward. Many times God will nudge us to get outside our box, but the idea of doing something unexpected or different causes a freeze up. Don’t worry about how you appear. Once I sent a simple note to a lady who I had barely spoken to before. She was much older than I, a fixture in the church I grew up in. I took a little blue flowered note card out of its package and wrote her. I told her how she encouraged me by always faithfully showing up. It may have been three lines, if that. The next time I saw her she cried and told me how she had been thinking of leaving the church.

Don’t ignore those nudges. They are there for a reason, of importance and significance.

Another time I got a message for someone I had briefly met the week before. Since I did not know her and had not even had a conversation of any substance with her, I was apprehensive about delivering this message but forged ahead. When I gave her the sheet of paper she grabbed me so hard she scared me. It was exactly what she needed to hear and her reaction demonstrated that fact. I asked her if it was all right to share the piece and she said yes. You can read it here.

Being allowed to deliver God’s personal love letters is one of the most exquisite blessings. It’s not something I am willing to give up. The risk of feeling silly is a small price to pay, and you know what? Never has anyone rejected a kind word. We are all at one time or another walking wounded in need of balm. It is our rightful blessing to claim the occupation of helper to our fellow travelers.

Be extravagant. Not necessarily with money, but with whatever is available. It could be money. Buy a struggling family Christmas. Oh, now THAT is something that will bless all parties involved. If money is lacking, there are other ways to over-the-top bless someone. Years ago during mom to toddlers days, my friend was having one of those hard, hard days. We talked on the phone for a long time, but it did not seem to help. I called my husband and had him come watch the kids while they napped. I wanted to surprise her with a delivery of something to cheer her. I brought her chocolate shakes. Yes, that is plural. One didn’t seem to be enough. Neither she nor I have forgotten my extravagant impulse to over-provide chocolate on that particular blues and laughter filled day.

Put some thought into it. There are things that hold special meaning to people in our lives. With a little thought, we know how to reach hearts. Yesterday my daughter made a bottle for her friend who is moving away. The idea of a message in a bottle (cue the waterworks) is special to them and holds particular memories. The bottle is stuffed with many affirming and precious notes written from my daughter to her friend. Just looking at this gift of love and care from one friend to another makes you want to  go grab a Kleenex, doesn’t it?

messages in a decorated bottle

There are so many ways to claim our blessings by being a blessing.

Do you have any ideas on how to be a ridiculous, brave, extravagant, thoughtful blessing today?

While I'm Waiting...

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing Weary?

Do not grow weary.

I get weary. Who doesn’t? But lately I have been pondering growing weary. Not being weary, but growing it.

To grow something you have to feed it. Good or bad, growing things must have a source of light, water, and food. Conditions have to be right. Shelter from predators and inclement conditions must be provided.

I never considered the concept of growing weary like I grow other things like faith and patience. I can see how a person could feed weariness. Negative thoughts, listening to wrong people, forgetting Who is really in charge here, neglecting to recharge and encourage ourselves; all of these things help weariness thrive.

Our souls will always filled by something. Even when we say we are empty we are speaking of a feeling of darkness, despondency, or negativity. Our world is designed with no gaps, the spaces filling up as soon as there is an inch of available space. Something pushes in. Something grows.

To raise something we want, we cultivate, preparing the soil and digging as deep as future roots require. No shallow scraping out of a handful of dirt, the shovel digs deep. If the earth resists, we dampen with water, forcing softness out of stubbornness. We do this without taking affront. It is the nature of things.

It is also the nature within us that prompts us to prepare for a large thing, a deep thing. This is faith.

We loosen the earth, raking, grabbing handfuls of dirt and squeezing, breaking, understanding that the goodness will not give itself up to those who refuse to work. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You have to be willing to have faith.

Your faith must be large enough that you feed and water the plants and protect them constantly. Unguarded and neglected, they rarely produce. Even the strong, well established plants are no match for a sudden frost, or hungry caterpillars.

Except of course, for the never ending weeds. This is the battle. Plants that give us life, and plants that choke out those that give us sustenance.

We choose what we will grow.

Death and life. Build or destroy.

It is very easy to grow weariness if we succumb. It is a natural thing, like weeds. Something is going to flourish in every gap we leave open. There is no empty space.

No one intends to propagate weeds. They creep in when attention is elsewhere, taking advantage of every opportunity. Before you know it, they are tall and strong, arrogantly taking over the place if we let them.

A garden needs regular tending. A calling needs feeding.

Do not grow weary.

 

Watering Can A garden ... Do not grow weary quote donnastone,me

 

Today I will feed my soul with Truth and not grow weary. If I keep my focus on the tending of my destiny, refusing negative thoughts, weariness will have a much harder time taking hold.

Time to get my hands grit-under-the-nails dirty.

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Open |Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday. One word. Five minutes. No edits.

Come and join us over at Kate Motaung’s site for FMF.

Open

I know God wants me to be open. To Him, to His people, to His way.

Open is what I am not. Long ago I learned not to be.

To be open was to be hurt. So I wrapped that little girl up, winding layers around her, swaddling her. I thought it would stop the bleeding and it did. I wrapped her so tightly I could not hear her cries and feel her struggle. She was quietened.

But sometimes the tears break through and the wounds still hurt. To be open would expose things. To be open would be to heal, but what would it cost?

Jesus has loosened the bonds, a bit. Only as much as I allow.  I pretend I am open, but I’m not. I think I am until old tender places are trespassed upon and I run back to hide under my wrappings.

Jesus is ever patient, and the wailing does not deter Him. He is a patient Healer. One day all the layers upon layers will be peeled away, when I can bear it. When I can bear to come into the light and let my tightly wrapped armor fall away.

 

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The Last Chocolate

Ever felt like the last chocolate left in the box? You know, the one that’s been picked up and put back until smudgy fingerprints decorate the sides. Maybe someone took a little corner off, then changed their mind after that one small bite. Ouch.

I’ve felt like that last lonely chocolate rattling around in the box. The most popular ones are snatched up first, then the next favorites. In the case of a variety box of chocolate, the best is not usually saved for last.

I read an article recently giving the writer’s opinion that companies should do away with the less popular selections. People responded. Oddly enough, not everyone has the same favorite! Even the candies that none of my friends or family gobble up are someone else’s prize. Preferences are a matter of personal taste.

box of valentine chocolates

Maybe it’s the heart shaped box, or the variety, or the fact that everyone has an opinion about which chocolates are the most desirable, but a valentine variety box reminds me of the body of Christ.

Each comes in its own little wrapper and each is unique. They were all put there on purpose. Not a single one snuck in by mistake. You can’t always tell from appearances which one contains the caramel, or where the nuts are hiding. Surprises abound.

All wrapped up and given with love by Love to someone who is loved.

Something to remember the next time I am passed over or suffer a few bite marks before being tossed back.

And then I think maybe I should consider the little bits of sweetness I tend to leave behind, even if I don’t mean to, simply because I prefer another.

There is a reason they are someone else’s favorite. Maybe I should find out why that is.

1 Corinthians 12

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