I’m finally getting around to reading Len Sweet’s book “So Beautiful.”
This amazing quote is pulled from the section on the missional life. The true nature of our missional life flows out of the nature of God. Sweet summarizes the nature of the God of mission so well, I had to share. Enjoy!
We don’t have a well behaved God, a polite God, a well-mannered God. God is not gentrified, made socially acceptable, or given to political correctness. The time until Jesus returns is not the time for long-range plans or for franchised dreams or for risk free strategies based on pre-approved to-do lists. This is the time to blaze new trails, to explore strange new lands, to build better spaces in which to live and love. If you want a quiet life, a life of peace and contentment, then don’t follow Jesus. If you want a safe life, a life of security and caution, then don’t follow Jesus. If you want a life that is all mapped out, a life you can plan and control, then don’t follow Jesus. Faith is the opposite of control.
[ Editor’s Note: This is the last post in a follow up to our 23 day journey in “The Knowledge of the Holy.” Please stick around all the way to the end of the article where I ask you to do something really scary.]
Last week I started doing some follow up on our 23-day “Knowledge of the Holy” series. We’ve already spent some time looking at other resources that are similar to “The Knowledge of the Holy” and looking at some of the comments posted in the final days of the series that I thought were important to highlight. I want to finish this “wrap-up” looking at one other important thing that happened during our series: we gained a bunch of new readers a long the way.
This is no small thing. My hope for this blog has been that it would develop into more than a place for me to post my thoughts online, but into a community of people devoted to Jesus who would encourage each other to be the church God is building. Now, don’t get me wrong–we’ve had followers before, but through the past month more regular readers have joined in than have joined in whole years operating this blog.
Can I just stop here, and say thanks? It means a lot that people of like hearts have started to read. I know there’s a lot to read out there. The fact that you stop by means a lot.
Now, here’s the scary part:
In order for some kind of community to form, we should know each other. Some of you I know because you stop by and comment regularly (I’m looking at you riversflowdown, David Bolton, and David) but some of you keep coming back and I’m not sure who you are (I’m looking at you Menlo Park, California, Ashburn Virginia, and Mountainview, California!). So help me out! In the comment section below, write me a little blurb about you. Nothing too specific, just answer the following questions:
- What is your first name?
- What originally brought you here?
- If you have a blog, tell us about it and give us the address so we can check it out.
- Where do you want your walk with Jesus to be in the next 12 months?
So, to make this less scary, I will post my response to these questions as the first comment. But you go do it, too! Again, thanks for taking this journey with me. It will be fun and scary at the same time, I promise! 🙂
If you’ve been following along, we just finished a 23-day series reading through A.W. Tozer’s book, “The Knowledge of the Holy.” I mentioned in the first follow up post that several readers wrote in during the last few days of the series with some comments that I thought were helpful follow ups to the journey we went on. My hope to day is to highlight a few of those comments that readers might not have seen if they aren’t “into” reading the comment section.
First up is “riversflowdown” who writes in and says: “My favorite thought in the book is not found in the chapters but the Preface. In the fourth paragraph is a statement that I have been pondering for about 4 months. “Be still, and know that I am God.” I have a thought that i will not quickly move from. Knowing God can never be grasped from any other position that that of being still!”
I love this comment and I think one of my mistakes I made as I did this series was I didn’t give a day to the preface. It was great and if you haven’t read it and get a chance to, you should go back and do it. Also, I know that the idea expressed here, that God can be known only as we quiet our hearts is true to Tozer’s experience (as well as Scripture) because Tozer was known for being a lover of the mystic writers (he quotes them a number of times in the book) and for having developed his own discipline of waiting on the Lord.
Next up is fellow blogger David Bolton who wrote in: “During this time I was also able to listen to the audiobook, A Passion for God – The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett. This was a great background read to this series. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about this profoundly spiritual, yet still very human, modern-day prophet.” If you’re interested in following up with David’s suggestion, you can find A Passion for God by clicking on the link.
There were also a lot of good comments by others who shared their thoughts along the way. Feel free to look through the series and discover what others were saying. Tomorrow I’ll spend some time talking about how the series changed our readership a bit and try an exercise to get to know some of our new readers.
If you’ve been following along, you know we just concluded a 23 day series reading A.W. Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy. One of the things I’ve noticed on my journey has been that when believers take some concentrated time to study God’s attributes, they don’t like stopping. This can be good or bad, depending on what is going on in the heart of each individual believer.
“Bad? How can it be bad?” you ask. Well, the answer is that if all we ever do is study the attributes of God, we can slowly give our hearts over to the subtle lie that having more information is the same thing as knowing God. In our Western, consumer-driven, data-focused culture knowing the facts about God can pretty much convince most people that they actually have a relationship with Him.
The truth is, knowledge inflates us with pride, but love builds the church. If understanding God’s nature increases our love for Him, then our study is a success because the church is built up as individuals draw nearer to Christ. But if we grow in our head knowledge but never bend our knee, surrender our heart, or draw close to God’s burning heart, then we have only become more like the Pharisees. We must guard ourselves from these tendencies. And we have to ask ourselves, “How Much Input Do You Need?”
With that said, reading more than one book isn’t a bad thing. So for those of you who have enjoyed our study in “The Knowledge of the Holy,” I thought I would point you to a few more resources that I hope will be helpful if you find yourself wanting to go deeper in these areas.
This is a great study written by A.W. Pink (don’t ask me why two guys with the initials A.W. wrote books on the nature of God). Pink was a pastor and a theologian who wrote a number of books and claims Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones as one of the people who learned from him. While he wrote a number of books, this one in particular focuses in on the nature of God through the lens of His attributes in a very similar way as “The Knowledge of the Holy.”
This book is written by Stephen Charnock, a puritan who lived in 17th Century England. He was a minister who preached to several different congregations during his life. His claim to fame is this book, which was assembled from a series of addresses that were given prior to his death. Charnock was never able to finish the addresses, but what was completed can be found here. When people at my Bible college gained a hunger for knowing more of God from “The Knowledge of the Holy,” they inevitably bought a copy of this book. But I warn you: This book is a mammoth book and is not for the faint of heart.
I thought this book might be a good follow up, not because it covers the same ideas as “The Knowledge of the Holy,” but because it is Tozer writing about what is required of the man who wants to pursue God. In a way, for the person who is firm in God’s nature but wants to put into practice what he or she understands, The Pursuit of God is a practical help to encourage hearts to truly encounter Jesus. I would highly encourage you to pick this book up.
Also, remember, I don’t endorse everything I endorse….
Wow, we finally did it. If you haven’t been following along, “it” is finishing up with our journey through “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer. I’ve done one other long-term event on this blog but this one was a lot of fun and it definitely grew and engaged our readership. I’ve always thought of this blog as a community, and that in no way is going to change in the future. But because of the growth in people following the blog and the growth going on spiritually in individual people, I think it’s important to reflect on whats happened, what’s changed, and what the path is going forward.
First off, though, I just want to say thanks. Whether you have been a long term reader or you started along the way with us through this study, your participation and patience as I journaled through each chapter was greatly appreciated. I was talking with one of our readers the other day and mentioned that if no one else grew from this study, I definitely did. I needed to go through this book more than I was aware, so even if you just put up with me posting more than you wanted, thanks! But for those who did participate, for those who commented, and for those who shared, thank you so much. I would do this study with or without people showing up, but having people share and comment has certainly been an encouragement.
Secondly, in the coming days, I hope to provide some additional content for those who want to go deeper in the study. A common thing that happens when people really engage in who God is is they desire to understand more and there are definitely avenues for that. Also, the last two days of studying the book, a couple of our commenters posted some excellent ideas for follow up. I expect to put together a post that highlights those as well.
Also, I think it will be good for us to talk about who has joined us in this process. There have been about forty or so new followers for this last month. I don’t know how many of them are legit (WordPress has some kinda spammy tendencies once in awhile, so it’s hard to be exact) but I know a majority of them are. And I’m excited about that and the ability to grow in the discussion we’ve already been having. However, our content is probably different enough pre this series compared to the series itself, that I think it’s important to talk about where we go from here.
So again, thanks for sticking around. I hope the next few days are helpful and can focus us on growing in our knowledge of God and what’s doing in the body of Christ.
[Editor’s Note: This is a 23-Day Series exploring different aspects of God’s nature and personality, using Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy” as a discussion starter. You can read the introduction of the series here.]
How do you wrap up a study like this? So far we’ve talked about the knowledge of God, why the pursuit of it is necessary and possible, and looked at no less than nineteen attributes of God among many more. Where do we go from here? The answer is, we launch out from this foundation into our own personal journey. Knowing God at a deep level has immense implications and must be walked out, not just contemplated in order for us to be effective.
The critical need of this hour of history, just as when Tozer first penned the words we’re reading, is for the church to become what she’s been destined to be. And the only way for the church to come to life like she needs to is she must know God. This is not some kind of casual knowing like the way you know your accountant. The church must know her God in a way that transforms her from the inside out.
The difficulty comes in the fact that knowing God does not come from study alone. As much as I’d like to think this reading, blogging, and study has been helpful, it will only be profitable if we take what we’ve learned and apply it to our lives. Obeying and walking out these truths is the highest form of learning.
Tozer calls this the pursuit of the open secret. It’s a mystery so deep that it has eluded scholars, wise men, and the mystics of the ages. Yet, God hid this secret right out in the open for all to see. Tozer also calls the pursuit of the knowledge of God the easiest and hardest thing we’ll ever do with our lives. It’s the easiest because God’s word is a fountain of revelation and He is more than willing to shower the riches of Kingdom on anyone who asks (Isaiah 55:1). But it’s the hardest because our nature resists pursuing Jesus and we must discipline ourselves for this pursuit of knowing God.
Tozer gives us six key take aways that we must commit to if we want to grow in our knowledge of Jesus. To be clear, these are only positioning ourselves, they do not earn us privilege with God. But if our hearts have been struck by this journey and wish to go farther, we must do the following:
- We must forsake our sins. Everything that hates religiousness in us will resist this step. But Tozer quotes Jesus who clearly says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, ” (Matthew 5:8).
- We must utterly commit our whole life to Christ in faith. Tozer quickly adds what this looks like: “keep His commandments, carry our cross, and love God and our fellow men.”
- We must welcome the inflow of the Holy Spirit. This can’t be said enough times and since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of [God] (Ephesians 1:17), then it only makes sense that this step is crucial.
- We must hate the world and it’s values. This doesn’t mean we hate the people of the world, but that we count as worthless the value system this world holds so that we can pursue what God values. If we become a friend of the world, we make ourselves God’s enemy (James 4:4) and that will not aid us in knowing Him more intimately.
- We must practice long and loving meditation on the majesty of God. And while this can look very pious and religious, at the end of the day, we need to train our minds to think about Him (Colossians 3:1-2). As we do, our hearts will grow in the ability to look on Him with wonder.
- All of these things combined and an increase in our true knowledge of God should cause us to serve those around us with more love. If we don’t, not only will we not be profitable, but our actual knowledge of God will be suspect.
I don’t have much to add other than this process is important. As I said when I first announced this journey, this book and the truths inside have had a profound impact on me and many others. Because the truths contained are from the Bible, they have great power to stabilize and equip believers who put these words to use. And it’s only in putting them to use that we truly show we have understood them.
The same leader who introduced me to this book also went on this pursuit many years ago. I listened to him speak once and he shared how he had come to understand Proverbs 2:1-5 as a pattern for growing in the knowledge of God. So I’ll end with by quoting that scripture:
My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
That’s my final takeaway of this journey. What’s yours? Leave a comment so we can all grow together!