The Attributes of God, volume 1. By A.W. Tozer

Sometimes I pick up the work of Tozer simply to remind myself that the investigation of God’s character is the single most awe inspiring activity that a Christian can undergo.  His challenging analysis of deep topics is immersed in a pastoral tone that allows the reader to be led to worship at the throne room of God.

For Tozer, all of God’s attributes stream from the idea that God is infinite.  An infinite God cannot fit into a box or a definition. Yet, infinity does not deny the ability to investigate. And so Tozer plumbs the depths of God in such a way as to draw the reader deeper into a worship of the most high that one cannot help but enjoy thinking about the great nature of God.

If you’re scared of deep theology, you shouldn’t be. But, if you are, Tozer may be a welcome introduction for you.  His concern is primarily pastoral in nature.  Tozer wants people to know the Living God! As a result he goes to great lengths to accomplish this task.  I hope that you will read this book.  If you read nothing else, read the Bible… if you will read only one more, make it “The Road to Reality,” by KP Yohannon.  BUT!  If you want to worship, read Tozer’s Attributes of God volume 1. I cried, laughed, and felt as though I walked with Christ as I read this work. It is excellent and challenging. Read it.

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Confrontation at the Shoe Shine Stand.

“My childhood was stolen from me” she said. “I was 8years old when my uncle raped me.” I sat in stunned silence as the 50 year old woman whipped the cloth across the leather of my boots. Without looking up she persisted, “I hope he’s in Hell.” Shocked, I simply muttered, “I’m sorry.”
“Pastor, why something like that happen to an 8 year old girl.” I looked at her and quietly said, “sin.” Confident my one word answer was inadequate, I attempted to elucidate. “You see, mankind has chosen to shake his first in the face of an Almighty God and has chosen the way of wickedness over the way of truth. I’m sorry, it is sin that makes men do such horrific things.” We talked at length about the wickedness in this world and the righteousness of Christ. Finally I felt the need to say, “mam, there is no answer I can give you that will satisfy your heart. The only thing we can be sure of is that God is just and good, Jesus can restore, and God will do justice. Trust Him… He is good and he can heal your heart. He will be a Father to you.”

This world is so dark.

In “The Attributes of God” by A. W. Tozer, he recounts a story of a starving 60 year old man and is starving 6 year old child. The pair walk into an orphanage. Upon entrance the man said to the attendant, “I want you to take my child.” The worker told the man as kindly as he could that, because of the enormous amount of orphans they cannot take children whose parents are still alive. The father looked at the attendant and said, “you mean if I were dead, you’d feed and cloth my girl.” The attendant said, “yes sir.” The father then knelt down and hugged his daughter, kissed her face. He rose to his feet took the hand of his daughter and placed it into the hand of the attendant and said, “I’ll take care of that, you take care of her.” He turned around and left the building and committed suicide to save the life of his daughter

This world is so dark.

The Father of Heaven and Earth has seen the darkness in this world and is answering in the name of Jesus Christ. There is restoration in the Kingdom of God for the broken, there is justice for the victim, there is life for the dead. There is life because God has taken care of the debt required to to clothe and shelter us. There is hope because God has redeemed all who would believe. The light will one day resolve all injustice and even now is overcoming the darkness. On that day, we will find the joy of The Lord. Darkness will be gone, wrongs forgotten, justice will be done, and mercy will be given.

I never really know how to answer these direct questions. Most of the time I remain silent. (some of you probably think I should have done so at the shoe shine booth.) My theological answers conflict with my pastoral heart. I find myself wanting to hug the person and to tell them everything will be ok while simultaneously wanting to show them the truth about theology, confident that the knowledge of God brings greater comfort than a hug. So I stagger about trying to offer some sort of combined answer that will provide the comfort necessary to ease the pain and the theology necessary to process it. Mostly I feel inadequate. But, God is never inadequate and He knows how to answer us in the deepest hurts we can imagine. So rest in the truth that God goes before you and He can take your flawed answers and move the souls of men.

Leadership 101 By John C. Maxwell

Leadership 101 by John C Maxwell.

A Good Book on Leadership

Maxwell is a leadership guru.  His work has been on the New York Times best sellers list, in the wall street journal, and is getting to be required reading for pretty much every leadership course offered in business or ministry.  Maxwell is an easy read.  His books are filled with stories that inspire the heart of men through the examples of great leadership throughout history.  Stories about athletes conquering devastating injuries to return to greatness intertwine with stories of titans of business who rose from nothing to the most successful business men of their day.  On cannot read Maxwell without feeling inspired to be great.  Whether it is the stories he tells or the applications he draws, you will feel like you are suddenly able to conquer any leadership challenges with the practical and strategic method he lays out for the reader.

This short, easy read is intended to be read in one sitting.  I did this, it was fun and easy to digest.  I think that it’s a good exercise.  If you ever want to grasp the flow of a book, sit down and read it all at once.  Try it!  It’s easier than you think.

Maxwell divides his work into three sections. The Development of a Leader, The Traits of a Leader, and The Impact of a Leader.  I would rephrase them this way: Why should I lead and how, What I should look like as a leader, and What will be the results if I actually do this?  If you’ve ever read a Maxwell Book, you know every page is filled with useful tips on bettering yourself as a leader.  This work is no exception.  In fact, most of this work is a compressed version of several other works he has written on the subject.

What was helpful:  Maxwell’s work is compelling and sometimes challenging.  The illustrations make you feel as though you could just tweak a few things in your life and you’ll be able to conquer the world!  Further, Maxwell has a naturally encouraging tone.  When reading you feel as though your grandfather is cheering you on as you play tee ball and occasionally giving pointers that can change the shape of your career.

What was troubling: 1) Maxwell knows leadership, but he is a self confessed poor practitioner.  Maxwell has studied leadership for years, and yet at the beginning of almost every book he writes on the subject he tells you he is not good at it.  But, consider Maxwell.  He runs a tremendous organization and has tons of experience leading.  I think he is probably trying to set the reader at ease and explain that he was not naturally a good leader.  But he is certainly a good one.  2) There is next to no scripture used.  Maxwell draws his life lessons from illustrations from American Capitalism and Athletes.  While these are tremendously encouraging and engaging, there are seldom stories taken from Scripture.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this is still a worthy book to add to your collection, I would simply add a few more that talk about scriptural leadership as well.

In truth, there are no formulas to make you a better leader… I see my friends grab on to principles of leadership constantly.  The oldest truths described in the newest ways.  As leaders we latch on to these kinds of books for a time and we drum up a great deal of excitement in our lives for a time.  Quickly though, it becomes evident: only discipline, fervent faith in Christ Jesus, and hard work will accomplish the life change needed to lead well.  Maxwell agrees.  So read the book, love Jesus more than the advice in the book, and work hard.

Touching Godliness through Submission! a fantastic book!

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve been challenged by this year.

Touching Godliness through submission.

I read this book once all the way through and was so moved that I am going back through it slowly so that I can absorb everything in it.  K.P. Yohannon is one of the most Godly men I have met in my life and also one of the most human.  One of my dreams was fulfilled this past spring when I was privileged to sit across from him at lunch. His brilliance and Godly character are only exceeded by his humility, simplicity, and love. He would probably chide me for complementing him so and say something like, “I’m just a hamburger and french fries guy!”  But, sitting with him for a few moments, was a wonderful experience I will not forget.  He is the founder of Gospel for Asia, a missions organization my wife and I support and you should too.

In his book he delves through scripture to teach the reader truths about Godliness that can only be learned when learning submission.  It is a difficult read and it is not always fun.  Since reading this book I have called and apologized to several leaders who I served poorly and with an unsubmissive spirit in my life.  This book will change the way you look at the leaders around you!  You should read every word!

This work flies in the face of the American independent spirit.  We don’t submit! We acquiesce, we allow, we permit, we agree, but NEVER submission!  As Americans we see submission as something someone who is weak does toward someone who is strong.  But we are STRONG!!!  No…  KP wisely shows us, God is strong… we are pitiful.  Through this book I have been on a journey to learn that submission is not a weakness, but is Godly.  Think about it: everything submits to authority except sinful man.  Even Jesus submitted to the pole tax, the Pharisees, and the Roman governor! Seriously, it’s some crazy deep submission Jesus gets into…  read Philippians 2! Through understanding submission and what that looks like when we are living it out, we can begin to grasp who God is and we will be blessed to know Him more fully.

KP begins by defining Submission and explaining what is at the core of submission.  Through Scripture he defends God’s design for submitting to authority and expounds on what it means to submit.  I was so convicted by this that I have even attempted to change the way I dress when I am in the presence of an authority.  Establishing where authority comes from, KP establishes where rebellion comes from.  That is, rebellion comes from sin and our sinful rejection of God.  A warning is fired across the reader explaining that rebellious people are not children of God, but children of the devil.  Through a series of Biblical examination and a smattering of personal anecdotes from his experience as a missionary, KP challenges the way we conceive of authority and Submission to that Authority.  I promise you…  if you read this carefully, you will know Jesus better. This book is fantastic!  Go buy it now or download it for free here: http://www.gfa.org/resource/books/