“God himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for his wonder.” Thomas Kelly
Speaking of “wonder,” I wonder a lot––mostly about God. I used to wonder if he existed, but since I got that settled to my complete satisfaction forty-five years ago, my wonder is now of a different sort.
“Wonder” itself has a number of connotations. There’s the wonder that involves frustration, another is more of a curious sort, and then there’s the kind that connotes unreserved marvel. My wondering about God includes all three at different times. Continue reading →
“Knowing by faith that He is present to you and realizing the utter hopelessness of trying to think intelligibly about this immense reality and all that it can mean, you relax in a simple contemplative gaze that keeps your attention peacefully aware of Him hidden somewhere in this deep cloud into which you also feel yourself drawn to enter.”Thomas Merton
In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want
In Part 3 “Half Seeing” we talked about the inadequacy of a one-touch salvation our need to have our eyes opened wider so that we can see clearer.
Someone asked me what prompted me to write about this theme. If I’m honest, in some ways I’m sad about the glib expression of faith that I perceive in many of my contemporaries. Though I fear having judgmental spirit towards anyone, what I fear more are the consequences of a shallow spirituality going unchecked. We have so much more to get and so much more to give to emerging generations.
The Psalmist prayed: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71) Many of us are positioned to declare his power, when all we have are old testimonies of the good old days. We have the opportunity to invite someone younger to climb onto our shoulders so they can see further than we can and do more for Jesus than we could ever do. They deserve to inherit a deeper faith from us, yet many of us suffer from a “hardening of our categories,” and can’t seem to learn anything new or experience God in fresh ways. Continue reading →
Recently I’ve gotten back into the writings of A.W. Tozer. Back in the 1970s and 80s his books were a staple of my spiritual life. I highly recommend these in particular: The Knowledge of the Holy (my all time favorite of his), The Pursuit of God, The Root of the Righteous, Born After Midnight, That Incredible Christian, Man – The Dwelling Place of God. The following is a segment of a chapter from Man – The Dwelling Place of God. I hope it inspires you toward a more passionate pursuit of your own progress in Jesus!
How to Make Spiritual Progress
Should someone feel a desire to make definite progress in the life of Christ, what can he do to get on with it? Here are a few suggestions:
Strive to get beyond mere pensive longing. Set your face like a flint and begin to put your life in order. Every man is as holy as he really wants to be. But the want must be all-compelling.
Tie up the loose ends of your life. Begin to tithe; institute family prayer; pay up your debts as far as possible and make some kind of frank arrangement with every creditor you cannot pay immediately; make restitution as far as you can; set aside time to pray and search the Scriptures; surrender wholly to the will of God. You will be surprised and delighted with the results. Continue reading →
Now let’s look at how lamenting can actually bring us closer to God.
That’s what we’re seeking, after all, to be closer. How can that happen at the same time that we’re weeping? This objection is easier to answer, though not very pleasant in the doing. When we weep over the sins, sorrows, and sufferings of the world (along with some of our own, of course), we weep in the company of “the Man acquainted with grief.” If we want to be better acquainted with him we have to be acquainted with what he’s acquainted with. Continue reading →
I cry more than most people, men and women alike, more than some children. Lately I’ve been crying even more than I used to. It’s not senility… Umm, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I cry a lot. It seems like the only thing one can do about all the sin, sickness, and suffering in our world. Human history has probably always been this tragic and I just didn’t notice it before. To be honest, I didn’t really want to notice. It’s not that I’m depressed about it or thinking about leaving the faith or anything. I think something has begun to break loose inside, something good and maybe something bad. I have to say that in tandem with this sorrow, stemming from some deep place inside, there’s a joy and a trust that I can certainly take no credit for or attribute to employing some lost and recently found spiritual discipline. It just is, and I’m grateful for it.Not all tears are created equally. They come in an assortment of stripes and during a variety of situations. There are attention-getting tears and tears of self-pity, neither of which are the best of tears. I’ve cried enough of them myself to know that they don’t yield their desired results. Then there are tears of repentance and others of joy. I recommend both of those at their appropriate times. Still there others shed in grief, uncertainty, confusion, fear, and best of all, empathy. Though are clearly modeled and recommended by the biblical poets and prophets as both therapeutic and effectual. Continue reading →
Okay, I confess to a quasi-obsession with this topic which has taken me a lot longer than I expected to unpack. I can’t seem to get out of my craw that we’re strangers following a Stranger here with a strange message in a strange land among strange people who think we’re strange.
I can’t stop musing about the hoard of Scripture that makes so much more sense to me now in light of this exilic Christianity theme; especially the books of Jeremiah, Daniel, 1 Peter, and Revelation (chapters 17 and 18 in particular). Comparing these books with the subversive life and teachings of Jesus has been, and continues to be, a fascinating journey for me. I’ve been a pretty ardent Bible lover for many years and I’m happy to report that I’m still learning lots of stuff that I’ve never even thought about before. A.W. Tozer said, “Paul was a seeker and a finder and a seeker still. Some people seek and find and seek no more.” I’m still seeking. You?
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.Romans 11:33-36
This is my “conclusion” to my essay on What God Is Like (with two addenda to follow), but let’s be real, how does one conclude a conversation about what God is like? Trying to “finish” a study of the Infinite is like snorkeling to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – without fins or flashlight! Continue reading →