Friday, October 31, 2008

Best Book Ever! (well almost)

I just can't say enough about A.W. Tozer's book, "The Knowledge of the Holy." I've read it at least four times, and every time I pick it up God continues to speak to me through it. Aside from the Bible of course, I think this is the best bok I've ever read! Why is it so great, you might ask? Because it's all about GOD! Tozer had a gift from God for putting into words concepts that are beyond comprehension, let alone expression. In brief chapters he explains such wonderful truths as God's eternality, self-existence, soveriegnty, etc.
Unfortunately fallen human beings are completely and totally self-centered. All of our problems and sin come back to that one issue. This book, unlike any other I've read, not only describes who God is in detail with wonder and awe, but also shows how that knowledge should affect our lives. Through reading (and rereading) this book, my concept of God has been expanded beyond anything I ever expected. As my thoughts & focus have been more and more on God, I've seen Him at work transforming me to be more and more God-centered.
If I had unlimited wealth I would buy a thousand copies of this book and give it to every person I know, encouraging them to read it at least twice a year with an ever-growing hunger to truly KNOW our God. (As it is, I've already passed out several copies.) =) I agree with Tozer's message in his itnroduction:
"The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is."
I think he wrote this book in the '60's, but its message is still appropriate for us today. The writer of Proverbs knew what He was talking about when he said, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Prov. 9:10)
May we seek to truly know and understand the Holy One so He can transform our lives to be more and more GOD-centered.
To God be the glory!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Confessions of a Contrite Constituent

I don't want to talk about politics on this blog, but I would like to talk about what God has been teaching me during this season of politcal upheaval. I have been surprised by my own attitudes and responses to the people & issues. I have this terrible tendency to think I'm always right (ouch). This past week has been very humbling as, thankfully, the Lord has been faithful to convict me. I have a few things to confess:

1) I have not been blameless in what I've said.
James wrote, "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2b) I don't think any politician in this country could claim to 'never be at fault' in what they say. However, neither can the rest of us say that about ourselves (any of you perfect people out there can feel free to contradict me). =) James also said "We all stumble in many ways." (3:2a) Lest I think I'm better than those who are often at fault in what they say...I too cannot control my tongue perfectly. In fact, I can't control it all - apart from the power of the Holy Spirit working in me. This applies to every day and every situation, not just when talking about politics. Somehow it seems more important in that arena, but in reality I should be a person of pure speech at all times.
Lord, may I continually rely on you to set a door over my mouth and to give me compassion and grace for those who are also at fault in what they say.

2) I have not sought truth as I should.
With the media, the adds, the contradictions in statements, etc. it has been very hard to find the truth about politicians and issues. I confess, I got tired of it. I only wanted enough truth to make a decision and be done with it. I didn't want to keep seeking and digging until I knew all the facts about every person & issue. "Proverbs 2:3-5 says, "and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." Seeking truth and understanding takes effort and hard work, but it is worth more than earthly treasure.
How easy it is to be content with only a small measure of truth. I may think that's enough, that's all I need, when in reality I may be missing vital information, opening myself up to being easily deceived. Jesus said, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) Without truth I am walking in darkness. Without a growing pursuit and understanding of truth, I might be easily led astray in many wrong directions.
Seeking truth about politics is important, seeking truth about life and godliness is even more important.
Lord, give me a heart that is passionate for Truth in every context, keep me from being content and complacent with the measure of truth I have, and strengthen me to continually pursue to know and live by the truth, your Truth.

3) I have at times not acted lovingly toward my "enemies" or my fellow believers.
Jesus said, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." (Luke 6:27) I admit I have a hard time loving people who support actions and policies that I know gireve the heart of God. But how can I deny Jesus' words? He loved me when I was His enemy. Now it's my turn to love those enemies, perhaps by praying for them and not having anger or hatred in my heart toward them. Only a perfect God can love like that and give me His love for them.
I think even worse than not loving my enemies has been my lack of loving words to other believers who have different opinions than me. Oh how sad and humbled I have been to see my selfish & fleshly response at times. Praise God for His forgiveness and His grace in others to forgive me.
I believe it is important to stand up for the truth, but it is equally important to walk in love. Paul addressed this issue in Ephesians. "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ." (Eph. 4:14-15)
This world is in depserate need of truth, but truth without love will have little or no effect.
Lord, teach me to love as You love, both my enemies and my brothers & sisters in Christ. Shine through me that others might see your love in me and be hungry to hear the truth you want me to share.

I don't like talking about politics, never have, probably never will. What is it about politics that can bring out so much ugliness in me? I'm not sure. But I believe that even politics falls under God's promise - "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him..." (Rom. 8:28) He can use it to remind me that I am just a sinner, saved by grace; that apart from God's grace and the power of Christ's life in me, I can do nothing good; and that politicians, no matter how good or bad, cannot save or destroy my soul. Jesus alone is able to save and transform me so that a watching world might see His love and grace displayed.

Thus ends my confessions.
Praise God for His greatness!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marvelous Grace

God has been teaching me so much about His GRACE! I just finished an excellent book by Jerry Bridges called "Transforming Grace." I highly recomend it! It's about how we are not only saved by Grace, but we must also live by Grace every moment. He brought up a lot of areas where we subconciously live with a 'works' mentality instead of being mindful of Grace. I was surprised how many of them I could relate to in my own life. It was so encouraging to meditate on all the ways God shows His grace...forgiving my sins day after day, giving me opportunities to minister, empowering me to minister by the power of His Spirit, extending kindness that I could never deserve...the list goes on & on. It's like a whole new world opening up, seeing the wonders of God's Grace and all it means in my life!
Wayne Watson has a song called "Grace" that kind of sums it up simply.
"Grace keeps giving me things I don't deserve,
Mercy keeps withholding things I do.
Words that seldom fail me
Leave me looking for the words
To express my gratitude..."
Those words have been playing over & over in my mind ever since I first heard the song, and it's a refrain I think I'll carry with me til I meet Jesus face to face and am transformed to perfection by His GRACE! Halelujah! =)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

one more time...

Well, tomorrow I'm going to yet another new doctor! I heard about this one from someone at the allergy-safe housing in Melbourne. I had a free 10 minute phone consultation with the doctor last week, and he sounded pretty good. So tomorrow we're diving to Sebastian (haven't been to a doctor there yet) to try one more time to find a good doctor. We'll see how it goes. I keep praying God is going to give me a doctor who can really help. Maybe this will be the one.
I've felt pretty awful for the last 2 weeks. It's hard to feel worse again after doing better for a bit, but I am very thankful for the short time of feeling better. Maybe it will come back around again soon. =) I think going to the beach really is a necessary health treatment for me. Strange, but that's what a lot of people with chemical allergies say - live at the beach! I guess it's detoxifying somehow with all that clean salt air. I guess it's a good thing I don't live in Kansas. =)
It's nice to know that God knows exactly what He's doing.
"The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD is on His heavenly throne." (Ps. 11:4a)