I’m Writing…I’m in a Store and I’m Writing…

Have you seen the movie, “Elf”?  There’s a scene where Buddy (the main character who is a human raised by elves – I know, rich plot line) is in a store and he starts singing because someone tells him that he can’t sing in a store.  His song goes something like this – “I’m in a store, and I’m singing, I’m singing in a store…”  I think itunes was immediately bombarded with requests for this one.

Anyway, I’m in a store (Brueggers to be precise) and I’m writing.  Why?  Because I think I should.  I guess I feel like keeping up this blog is something I should do.  It is a simply a choice of discipline which is something I’m really working on.  So here I am, in a store, and I’m writing….

See, this is my trouble with this whole blogging thing.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write, it’s just that I don’t see why anyone else should care.  Notice I don’t say that no one else does care – because I know that people care about me and that some actually like my writing (I had a good friend call me today and tell me that – thanks friend!).  I guess my struggle is similar to every time I step onto the stage at church and deliver a sermon – why should anyone care what I have to say.  I’m no one special.  I’m just me and I’m quite OK with that.  In fact, I think I’m awesome (in an appropriately humble sort of way, of course).  But I’m no more awesome than anyone else.

But here’s the thing about us regular people… God tends to like to work through us.  There’s a great passage in 2nd Corinthians that says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).  A simple glance through the Old Testament stories shows that God used a whole lot of very regular people – even a couple of total losers – to carry out his incredible plans.  Why, because by doing incredible things through regular people he gets all the glory and we get to enjoy being a part of what he’s doing.

And that’s kind of the whole point of life, isn’t it?  We exist to bring glory to God.  And wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, even though we screw up, make mistakes, and even make total fools out of ourselves, we serve a big God who keeps working through us so that he gets the glory.

So here I am, I’m writing…I’m in a store and I’m writing… for the glory of God.  What are you doing?


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Who was in the Manger?

Who was in the manger on Christmas morning?  Who is this baby of whom we sing about and celebrate?  Jesus is not just a cute baby in a manger.  He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:24).  This means that the hand that gripped Mary’s finger from the manger was the same hand of which we are told, “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:4-5).  The eyes that sparkled from the manger are the eyes of God that “are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).  The voice that cried from the manger is the same voice that sustains “all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).  This is the baby in the manger, but there is more…

The hands of this baby are the same hands that had nails driven through them to hold him on the cross where he paid the price for our sins.  The eyes of this baby are the same eyes that looked down from the cross at the crowd that gathered to watch him die.  The voice of this baby in the manger is the same voice that cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing!” and then cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” as our sins – your sins and mine – were put on him.  He died on the cross for our sins.  This is the baby in the manger, but there is more…
Those eyes, that voice, and those hands rose from the dead!  The baby in the manger conquered sin and death and promises eternal life to all who believe!  This is the baby who is in the manger.  This is GOD WITH US!  One day that baby stood before his followers, after he had risen from the dead, and he sent you and me on a mission to go and tell the whole world about this baby in the manger.  Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, left us with these words: “And surely I am with you always!”  The baby in the manger, Jesus Christ, is still “God with us”, and this makes all the difference in the world.

photo by Flickr user blahmni

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My Wife

I missed posting yesterday.  I was on the road for about 7 hours with my family for a quick three day trip.  We took the trip because my awesome wife was invited to speak at a gathering of mothers.  She is there now as I write this.

I am really proud of my wife.  She is is such a great woman of faith and a great example to others.  She is also a huge help to me both in my personal life and my ministry (which almost seems silly to write it that way because these are not really separate areas in our lives).  She has taught me so much about loving people and really listening to them.  She has taught me to smile more and criticize less.  She has seemingly limitless patience with our children.  She puts up with my quirks and flaws.  She works hard in the church and in helping so many people in so many ways.

So that’s why I’m writing this today – because I’m really proud of my wife!

Now I need to run to the car to go pick her up and hear about how God used her in another situation where she stepped out in faith and made herself available to be used by Him.

By the way, my wife has a blog at www.dayebydaye.com which is awesome!

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“The Universal Presence” – thoughts on chapter 5 of A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”.


“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7).

The truth  that God is present with us is called immanence.  As Tozer states, “It means simply that God is here” (62).  The fact of God’s existence and involved presence has sustained the people of God throughout Scripture and history.  Any sense of our being distant from God is not a matter of space but of awareness.  Tozer puts it this way: “If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His faith” (64).  Jesus said it even more succinctly: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

We are like the servant of Elisha.  We see and fear the things of this world, but we do not see the Presence and the Power of God that is at work all around us.  As Elisha prayed then, we too need to pray that God would open our eyes so that we may see (see 2 Kings 6:15-17).

It is not that God wants to remain hidden.  I believe it is exactly the opposite. The barrier between us and God is our creation – it is because of our sin.  All of Scripture is the record of God’s pounding on this barrier declaring His presence and His gift of salvation.  Scripture is full of people who saw God, walked with God, and heard God.  They were people to whom God declared, “I will be with you” and then He worked to show them His presence.  Fire by day, smoke by night, the Tabernacle, and the blessings of the Promised Land were all constant reminders of God’s presence with His people.  And when they chose to ignore this, He sent Himself – God the Son, Jesus – as Immanuel which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

So often we wait for the shining light to break into the darkness to prove to us that God is here, but Tozer says that this was not usually the way of those who lived with an awareness of God’s presence.  Instead, he says that “they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives.  They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it.  They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response” (67).

Listen to what he wrote in 1948 that I believe is still just as true today:

A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals.  We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God.  We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us:  Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in the gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit.  These and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.  (69)

He goes on to say that we have all done this.  We have all grown satisfied with this “average diet” or have “accepted one another’s notions, copied one another’s lives and made one another’s experiences the model for our own.  …we have made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed” (70).

But God IS present.  He IS here.  He is not far off and though we may wander aimlessly, He is present and longing for us to be aware of His presence.  Tozer states:

Any man who by repentance and a sincere return to God will break himself out of the mold in which he has been held, and will go to the Bible itself for his spiritual standards, will be delighted with what he finds there.  Let us say it again:  The universal Presence is a fact.  God is here.  The whole universe is alive with His life.  And He is no strange or foreign God, but the familiar Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whose love has for these thousands of years enfolded the sinful race of men.  And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us.  We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to His overtures. (And this we call pursuing God!)  We will know Him in increasing degree as our receptivity becomes more perfect by faith and love and practice. (71)

As always, Tozer ends this chapter with a powerful prayer:

O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things.  The world has been too much with me.  Thou hast been here and I knew it not.  I have been blind to Thy presence.  Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me.  For Christ’s name sake, Amen. (71)

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“Apprehending God” – thoughts on chapter 4 of A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”


“O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” – Psalm 34:8.

Short post today – you see in a few hours I am getting together with some guys to start the Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby and Claude King.  That study goes so well with this chapter in The Pursuit of God.

Tozer comments on the fact that there are so many verses telling us (challenging us – maybe even daring us?) to truly know God in our personal experience.  Phrases such as “taste and see” (Psalm 34:8), “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27), “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8) demonstrate that God can be, and wants to be, known by us.  He has created us with the faculties necessary to be able to know Him.

So why is it that so many Christ Followers so often do not have an ongoing, daily relationship with God?  Tozer states, “The answer is because of our chronic unbelief.  Faith enables our spiritual sense to function.  Where faith is defective the result will be inward insensibility and numbness toward spiritual things.  This is the condition of vast numbers of Christians today” (52).

Lot’s of people know things about God, but so few press on to actually know God.  We stand at a distance and study Him like a text book.  We add quips and quotes from Scripture into our repertoire of knowledge as if they were magnets to be put on a refrigerator instead of God’s Word that should shatter and rebuild our hearts.  We use truth like a toy for our own pleasure.  Tozer states:

The Christian is too sincere to play with ideas for their own sake.  He takes no pleasure in the mere spinning of gossamer webs for display.  All his beliefs are practical.  They are geared into his life.  By them he lives or dies, stands or falls for this world and for all time to come. (54)

But we get caught up too much in the immediate things that we see.  The things that clamor for our attention and scream for our affections.  And when we are faced with the possible silence where we just might be able to hear God speak, we quickly fill that time with another diversion.

The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime.  It is clamorous, insistent and self0demonstrating.  It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five sense, demanding to be accepted as real and final.  But sin has so clouded the lenses of our hearts that we cannot see that other reality, the City of God, shining around us.  The world of sense triumphs.  The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal.  That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam’s tragic race. (56)

Tozer says that we must “seek to be other-worldly” (57).  All true reality is God’s reality.  It is His world, His kingdom, and His truth.  If we want to know God and not just know about God then we must accept that there is so much more than what we see.  Tozer also points out that we can’t just think of this in the future sense – the coming kingdom.  It is true that we will know God perfectly in heaven, but we can and must know Him now.  He has given us everything we need to be able to know Him and to truly live in daily relation to Him, but we have grown weak in our exercise of these abilities and must recover strength in these areas.

Tozer in this chapter with this prayer:

O God, quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things.  Open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good.  Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.  Amen.




photo by Flickr user Peter Nijenhuis

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“Removing the Veil” – Thoughts on the 3rd chapter of A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”

All of Scripture rings with the idea that God wants to be with us.  God created a place, the Garden of Eden, where He could be with us and we could know Him.  Even after humanity walked away from God, God keeps reaching into our sinful world and calling people to be where He is and to live in relationship with Him.  In the Exodus the Presence of God was with His people in the Tabernacle – the King dwelling at the center of His people.  It is no accident that Christ is called “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.”  Even in the church Jesus promises “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).  In Acts, the Holy Spirit – the Presence of God – is poured out on His people who have been saved through Jesus.  Finally, at the end of time and the beginning of sinless eternity, the book of Revelation records, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away'” (Revelation 21:3-4).

Tozer writes that we were created to be in God’s Presence.  Every longing we ever have is in some fashion a longing for God.  Every sin is an attempt to fill the void that was left when we turned away from Him.  But the Old Testament Tabernacle stands as a reminder that there is a barrier between us and God.  There, in that structure that was a physical representation of  our relationship with God, the veil that separated the Presence of God from His people was a constant reminder of the sin that separates us from Him.  The thing that stands in the way from that for which we are created – to be in God’s presence worshiping Him forever.

How profound that when Christ died on the cross, the veil that hung in the more permanent Tabernacle – the Temple – tore in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).  The thing the veil represented had been defeated on the cross and the way was open for us to come, through Jesus Christ, into the very Presence of God.  But Tozer asks a good question, “With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus’ flesh, with nothing on God’s side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without?  Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God? … What hinders us?” (43).

Tozer goes on to describe that the veil was not just an external thing.  It is a symbol of the things we all hold on to that separate us from God.  It is the “veil in our hearts…. the veil of our fleshly, fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated” (44).  He goes on to say:

It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.  They are not something we DO, they are something we ARE, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.  

To be specific, the self sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.  They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them.  (45)

Because this “veil” is a part of us – our very nature – it’s removal is not easy nor is it painless:

There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free.  We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us.  We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. … To tear [the veil] away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed.  To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all.  It is never fun to die.  To rip through the dear and tender stuff for which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful.  Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. …God must do everything for us.  Our part is to yield and trust.  We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified. …The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective.  It does not keep its victim hanging there forever.  There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies.  After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God (46-47).

I remember reading this as a teenager and being cut to the core.  There were (and still are) so many things that I held on to and, though I wanted to “accept” Jesus as my savior, I did not want to give him everything of me.  There were parts I demanded be left untouched.  Salvation does not work this way.  We are not allowed to put up “keep out” signs when we invite Christ into our lives.  I have also learned since that there are the veils we see and know and cling to, and then there are the hidden veils that lie deeper in our lives and though they are real they are as yet unknown to us.

This is part of the wonderful gift of faith.  By faith we can ask God to show these things to us.  By faith we can, however painful it may be, repent of those things when they are shown and allow God to rip away that veil as well.  By faith we know that though the ripping hurts, God knows exactly what He is doing and we are safest when we are completely laid bare under His skillful hand.

Some of us have richly decorated our veils until they have become acceptable to us and their ripping is that much more difficult, but they must be torn down and we must come to God and ask Him to do it.

Tozer ends this chapter with the following prayer:

Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man.  Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life.  Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple.  we would draw near in full assurance of faith.  We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. (47)

Picture from Flickr user failafo0sa

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“The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing” – Thoughts on 2nd Chapter of A.W. Tozer’s “Pursuit of God”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3.

Is it wrong to have things?  Is it somehow anti-Christian to own stuff or to enjoy that stuff?  Some answer this question by saying that all stuff is evil and should be discarded.  Some say that all stuff is a blessing from God and you should get as much as possible.  Personally, I think they are both missing the point.

Chapter 2 of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God is called “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing”.  I remember reading this chapter and being struck by the thought that it is not so much about the stuff that you possess but rather the stuff that possesses you.  Anytime we hold on to something as being essential we are giving that thing a power over us – in seeking to possess that thing for ourselves we are also allowing that thing to possess us.  The problem with this is that we already belong to someone.  We were created for a relationship with God.  We are His and everything we do is to be an act of worship declaring that we are His and everything we have is His.

So how can we possess stuff, but not allow the stuff to possess us?  Tozer calls this “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing” – I like to think of it as living life with an open hand.  Everything we have ultimately belongs to God and is to be used for His glory.  At any time He has the right in His wisdom to remove anything in our lives if He thinks it is best.  If we are living life with a closed hand and seeking to hold on to everything for ourselves (and therefore being “possessed” by those things), God still can (and will) remove those things if He so chooses – but it will hurt.

When a child takes something he or she should not have and the parent asks for it to be returned, there are two options – the easy way or the hard way.  The easy way is the child recognizing that what they did was wrong and offering the object to the parent freely.  The hard way (and by far more common way!) is for the parent to ask over, and over, and over again until finally the parent must grab the hand of the child and take that thing out of his or her hand.  This can be painful, and not just physically.  When the child holds on to that object and refuses to let go, he or she is asserting their own power, their own authority, their own control.  When the parent reaches in and takes the object away it is a not-so-gentle reminder that the child is not as in control as he or she thought.

It is the same way with us and God.  We like to think we are in control.  We like to think that if we just clench our fist a little tighter then we will never lose what is in our hand…but it is a lie.  We are not nearly as strong as we think we are.

Living life with open hands means that we may have something in our hand (in our life) but we are not seeking to hold on to it.  We know that it all belongs to God and that He has the right to give and to remove things at His will and according to His wisdom.  We understand that when we hold these things with an open hand, it is difficult if they are taken away, but God does not have to pry them out of our hands to do so – they are freely given.

Tozer cites Abraham as a great example of this idea in Scripture.  He had a great deal.  He had a son who was a miraculous gift from God.  But when God asked him to sacrifice that son, he didn’t seek to hold on tighter.  He understood that Isaac belonged to God, not him.  Abraham showed this by being willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice and God stepped in and stopped him from following through.  Now Abraham was holding Isaac with an open hand.  A constant, living sacrifice to God rather than a possession of Abraham’s.  Tozer writes:

I have said that Abraham possessed nothing.  Yet was not this poor man rich?  Everything he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every sort.  He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side.  He had everything, but he possessed nothing.  There is the spiritual secret.  There is the sweet theology of heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation.  (27)

Well-meaning followers of Jesus Christ will often talk about needing to “give something to God.”  I would respectfully suggest that we should instead realize and admit that it is already God’s.  Living life with an open hand is a constant admission that all we have and all we are belong to God.  It is His to give and take as He pleases for His glory which is also always what is best for us.

I’ll leave you with Tozer’s prayer at the end of this chapter:

Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys.  I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.  I come trembling, but I do come.  Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.  Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious.  Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  (31)

photo by Fickr user moominmolly
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“Following Hard after God” – Quotes from chapter 1 of A.W. Tozer’s “Pursuit of God”

One of the books that has had the greatest impact on my life (other than the Bible!) is The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.  When I was a Junior in High School I received a large envelope in the mail from someone I had never met.  It was a man in my church that said he had been talking to the Youth Pastor and my name had come up as someone who was really growing in their faith.  He sent me the letter and a gift to encourage me to keep on growing and following Christ.  The gift was a copy of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. It was not a book I would normally have read as a High School student, but a statement in the preface really caught my attention.  It said that Tozer would read all sorts of things “on his knees, asking God to help him understand their meaning.”  This really challenged me and I decided to do this with The Pursuit of God.  This book was a tool used by God at just the right time in my life to help me down the path of following Him.  In fact, this book was an important part of my decision to become a pastor.  It continues to be a challenge and a reminder to me today of not being complacent in my following of God.

Over the next few weeks I will periodically share with you some of the quotes and ideas that have really stayed with me from this book.  It is not Scripture, to be sure, but I have found that the best books, speakers, music, churches, etc, have driven me to Scripture rather than served as a substitute.  Hopefully I can do the same for anyone reading this blog.

The first chapter of The Pursuit of God is called, “Following Hard after God” and explains what it means to pursue God.  Here are some challenging quotes:

Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him. … We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit (11).

All the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “Thy right hand upholdeth me.”  In this divine “upholding” and human “following” there is no contradiction. … God is always previous.  In practice, however, (that is, where God’s previous working meets man’s present response) man must pursue God (12).

To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart (15).

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.  They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking (15).

In the midst of this great chill there are some, I rejoice to acknowledge, who will not be content with shallow logic.  They will admit the force of the argument, and then turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, “O God, show me thy glory.”  They want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.  I want to deliberately encourage this mighty longing after God.  The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate.  The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire.  Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.  Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.  He waits to be wanted.  Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain (17).

We must simplify our approach to Him.  We must strip down to the essentials (18).

And lastly, at the end of each chapter Tozer writes a prayer:

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.  I am ashamed of my lack of desire.  O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed.  Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.  Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”  Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. (20)

I highly recommend this book as a catalyst to faith and spending time with God.  You can buy it here or download a copy from Project Gutenberg here (various formats).

Bibliography on my copy:  Tozer, A.W., The Pursuit of God. Christian Publications, Inc.: Camp Hill, PA, 1982.

 Image by Ernst Vikne on Flickr under Creative Commons License.  Found ohttp://www.thedailyspurgeon.com/.


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Next Steps – Trusting God Every Step of the Way

I often get overwhelmed by large projects or ideas.  This is particularly problematic for me because I often have big ideas and like to plan large projects!  It can be crippling to look at all the things that have to be done to accomplish a particular goal.  Too often my response can simply be, “why bother?”  Since I can’t possibly accomplish it all there is no reason to even start.

But every journey begins – and continues – with one step.  We don’t have to figure out how to get from one place to another, we just have to take one step in the right direction.  Just tackle one thing that moves you along that journey toward that goal.  You can’t change everyone’s lives at once, but pick up the phone and call one person.  You can’t study the entire bible at once, but pick it up and read a chapter or pick one book and just start reading it (I recommend the book of John!).  You may not be able to fix your marriage or your relationship with your children all at once, but take one step in that direction.

These aren’t just steps to accomplish these things – they are steps of faith.  They are a recognition that we can’t accomplish these things but that God is already at work and holds the destination and the journey in his hands.

I have found that I don’t have to think about accomplishing the “grand plan” – that’s God’s job!  I just have to take a next step of faith in the direction that God is leading and watch what he does.  I am amazed at how much God can do through us when we simply take a next step for him.

Sometimes God doesn’t reveal the path ahead, he just shows you that next step.  What is a next step that God is putting in front of you?

photo by flickr user rofanator

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10 Things About Me

Since I’m kind of the new guy and some of you are still getting to know me, I thought I’d give you a hand and make a list of 10 things you might not know about me. These are in no particular order.

1.  I love building things with wood and I have a dream to build my own guitar some day.  I’ve done a bit of research and it doesn’t look too hard.  The only big obstacle is that the supplies are expensive!

2. I was Bible Quizzer and coached a Bible Quizzing team.  This required studying and even memorizing sections of Scripture and then answering questions in a Jeopardy like competition.  At one time I had about half of the book of Matthew memorized word for word (other quizzers memorized the whole thing!).  It was a great experience.

3. I did a lot of Drama in Jr. High.  Acting was one of my favorite things and I think God used it in my life to help me be comfortable in front of large crowds.

4. I have an interesting physical condition known as Spontaneous Pneumothorax.  This basically means my lungs can collapse at any time for no reason whatsoever.  For many people with this condition it is very serious and life threatening.  So far for me it has just been very painful.  Someday I’ll probably write more about this but it’s on my mind right now because my left lung gave me a not-so-gentle reminder of this yesterday morning and I’m still feeling a bit sore.

5. I went skydiving in college.  This was great fun.  Unfortunately it turns out that this is one of the things people with Spontaneous Pneumothorax are not supposed to do (along with mountain climbing and scuba diving).  Oh well, ignorance is bliss and it was a great experience.  It was a static line jump over Wisconsin during the winter.  Quite cold but I could see for miles!

6. I like being near large bodies of water.  Oceans, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, etc. – I find them all very inspiring!  Looking out over a large body of water helps me put life in perspective.

7. I am not athletic.  This is partially due to #4 (I quit doing gym class in school after my Freshman year of High School and had to write a report each week on some sport – this was not fun).  I like doing some athletic things but I’m definitely not an athlete.

8. I know how to knit.  Actually I should say I knew how to knit and have since forgotten.  My wife bought a beginners knitting kit for our oldest daughter and neither one of us could figure out how to do it.  Never one to back down from a challenge, I started researching and eventually ended up knitting my daughter a purse that I think she still has.

9. I love to cook.  Especially anything on the grill!

10. I do many of my own car repairs (I figure I have to round out the knitting and cooking).  I change the oil, brakes, rotors, I’ve done control arms and hubs, I’ve replaced sensors and mufflers and many other things.  I have had a lot of help over the years and learned a lot of things from various people (thanks to everyone who has ever helped me fix my cars!).

Well there you go.  A few random things about me.  What are some things about you that others might not know?

photo by flickr user paurian

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