“I have literally felt Satan attempting to thwart the purpose of God. I have felt I was in raw contact with hell.” A. W. Tozer
Pastor Tozer said this to his congregation in Chicago during the 1940’s before he began a series of 12 sermons which he felt to be the most important ones he delivered in his entire ministry. As I introduce you to my mentors (in no particular order) and some of their wisdom this summer, Tozer is one of my oldest and dearest. I’ve been reading and pondering the spiritual depths of this brother for thirty years and he remains significant to me to this day. If you’ve never read any books by this prophet pastor, now’s the time to start.
Of his thirty-four publications, “I Talk Back to the Devil,” is my favorite. Comprised of the 12 above mentioned sermons, it’s loaded with confrontive statements and prophetic warnings concerning the state of the church. Their timelessness and pertinence for us today are astounding with an overall theme of revival and renewal. With titles like, “You Can’t Be a Baby All Your Life,” and “Don’t Throw Your Head Away – You’ll Need It,” Tozer’s fearlessness and plain talk in addressing areas where he observed ungodly behavior in the church, is astonishing. I wonder if he received some snarky letters?
Do you want to be challenged to come up higher in your Christian walk? This book pokes at fleshy, religious behavior repeatedly. I’ve been to the woodshed with Pastor Tozer many times and come out contrite, humbled and eager to obey God at any cost. Here’s a quote from one of the chapters that I found so especially convicting.
“I believe we cannot experience that which we have not believed. This is the reason why many Christians remain about where they are, day after day, year after year. Time moves along, and special revival speakers come and go. As a result, we have little spells in which we hope to do better. But if we are honest, we must admit that most Christians stay mired down right where they are. “
I encourage you to buy this book (available el cheapo, used, on Amazon) and find a quiet place every couple day, to read a chapter. Let it marinate in your soul and pass your life through it’s filters of correction and wisdom.
My second, featured book today is “Abiding in Christ” by Andrew Murray, published in 1895.
“Abide in Christ! This is the Father’s object in sending the trial. In a storm, the tree puts down deeper roots into the soil; in a hurricane, the inhabitants of the house stay inside and rejoice in its shelter. Through suffering, the Father leads us to enter more deeply into the love of Christ.” A. Murray
The heart of this piece is teaching the fundamental truths of what God meant when He said He is the vine and we are the branches. Murray wrote it to be a thirty-day devotional. The trick for our 21st century attention spans is to accept the fact that these are not two-minute readings. Each day’s writing will require at least 20 minutes to half an hour as they are packed with profound truths, one simply cannot comprehend it in less time. Think of it this way; sometimes life demands the convenience of fast food but even those living under rocks now know that a steady diet of McDonalds and Dairy Queen is not healthy, long term. The same is true of devotional readings.
If your daily devotions remain consistently in the two-minute range, don’t expect to experience the deeper truths of the kingdom in real time, powerful ways. Without the distractions of so many forms of media, reading and conversation used to be the cornerstones of down time for our spiritual ancestors. Half an hour didn’t seem like a huge time commitment to them, like it does to us. If you’re like me, there’s something about summer that makes me want to back down from so many commitments rather than adding more. That’s fine for the outer spheres of your life but I urge you not to do that to your inner life, your private time with God.
Daily devotionals are not something on my to do list, they are my quality time with God. He is intimately with us every moment, yet he desires time with us where he is not sharing our minds and energies with anything or anyone else. Learning the secrets of abiding in Christ brings spiritual maturity. We can navigate the storms, irritations and conflicts of life with peace, confidence and joy because we are receiving high quality nutrition from the main vine. Give Brother Murray the opportunity to teach you how to live a more fruitful and fulfilling life.
More and more, Ken and I are discovering that reading quality books is more relaxing and soul refreshing than just vegging out on TV or other media. Many books are also available in audio form including both mentioned here. You can tote books to the beach, stick them in your backpack, tuck them in your boat or camper; just take them along and let the words of the wise challenge and change you.