Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.

27Jun/08

Spiritual Receptivity

I am a little over halfway through A.W. Tozer's classic The Pursuit of God (also available to read online).  This is my first read of the book, and, despite the language being just a bit old-fashioned (it was written around the middle of the 1900s), he is an amazing man of God with a lot of interesting things to say.  I just read one portion tonight that struck me as something that I need to keep in mind, now more than ever, in my position working at a church (but, really, to a certain degree, these are thoughts that everyone should think though).

Failure to ... [be spiritually receptive] ... is the cause of a very serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism. ... The tragic results of this spirit are all around us: Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in 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.

Strong words, eh?  I'm just fascinated by how relevant those words are, even today.  "The preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings" - how did he know we'd be more interested in exciting music and cool slideshows than strong teaching of the Word?  "The mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit" - I know some preachers who are not the most elegant with words, but have an amazingly Godly spirit and a servant's heart.  Tozer warns that these misguided desires are "symptoms of an evil disease" - harsh, perhaps, but true.  Let us pray that our church cannot be described with any of these symptoms of a "deep and serious malady of the soul."

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20Oct/06

How Does One Love The World?

The following was written by a guy I don't know, but his name is Adam Schultz. I want to just copy and paste it here (from a CRU listserve email sent by Steve Van Elk), and then I'll discuss it a bit at the end.

A guy I mentor in highschool asked me the other day how he can love the world. I sat and pondered and this is what God put in/on my heart. Mind you, it is not complete, there are so many others ways to love, just I felt that I should post this. These are not my words, but God's. Give all the glory to Him!!

A. Accept people for who they are, exactly how they are.
B. Befriend them, not just to "save them from Hell" but for actually being a person that God created and loves. This is called being genuine and is a large part of integrity.
C. Love people with pure motives. Don't have a hidden agenda as to why you want to get to know them.
D. Be generous to them with everything you have. Whether it is money, your time, books, games, food..etc. when we give of ourselves to others without any expections of getting anything in return, this is real love.
E. Watch your words, actions, and thoughts. I'm not saying you have to walk on egg shells all day, but you are showing who Jesus is to people whether you believe it or not. Sometimes people don't become a follower of Jesus because some yahoo who claims to be a Christian is not loving people and is dishonoring the name of Jesus.
F. Spend time with people. When you are with them, value them and the time you have with them. Don't be thinking about what else you could be doing. You are there and God has you there.
G. Don't retaliate when people wrong you. To steal a few words from Jesus/Bible: "love your neighbor", "turn the other cheek", "be QUICK to listen, SLOW to speak, and SLOW to become angry". Bascially, watch how you respeond to what people say.
H. Pray for the people who you don't like, who treat you like crap, who hate you etc. and let God transform you heart to love them.
I. A short story..... Mother Teresa was once asked how she could help so many people who were sick, dying, had aids, STD's, infections etc. She looked up at the man who asked and simply said, "I see them as Jesus. When I take care of someone or help them, I am actually doing this to Jesus."
J. View everyone as Jesus and treat them the same way you would treat Jesus, especially of they don't know His love for them yet.
*Check out Matt 25:31-46--this is huge for us who are Chrisitians.

Do 3 things to start:
1. Love God.
2. Love people.
3. Ask God to help you love Him and others.

I like this list. As 'simple' as it is, sometimes I wonder if I am capable of coming up with stuff like this. I am glad that Adam did; part of why I'm posting this is in hopes that more people can read it. Despite being a 'simple,' 'introductory' guide, I think these suggestions are all suggestions that we can all use.

I think item letter C is one of the toughest to do. In reality, we have many different reasons why were first talk to someone. They're cute; they are in our major; they are older; they hold positions of leadership; we would like them to hold positions of leadership; and the list goes on. Now, none of these are inherently wrong; but, as Adam is suggesting, we really need to talk to people, show interest, love them from the get-go for no 'reason.' We need to love them because they are. Because they exist. Because they were created by God.

Loving people, truly loving in a Christ-like way is hard. That list is a great "Quick Reference" of how to go about loving people. As Adam stated, it is by no means exhaustive. But I think it's worth a read every now and then. Goodnight and God Bless!

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16Oct/06

Keep On Shinin’

So I've decided life is hard. Okay, I suppose this is no huge revelation to most people. But seriously. I've attempted to help a couple friends deal with some stuff this weekend, and I dealt with some personally too, and sometimes life sucks.

You know what's amazing? God is good. God is great. God is God. I don't always remember (or even immediately believe!) this when stuff's all going wrong. And man it can be hard to convince others of this fact.

Look around. See all those blessings? No, I'm not just referring to the "stuff" in your room (but that too). An friend of mine who has a heart and mind for God bigger than I think I can even understand has been going through a lot of stuff lately. Just today she posted a note in which she described her feelings. But then she decided to list the blessings in her life: college, nature, friends, hugs, Starbucks, prayer, music, and the Bible, among others. We all need to do this more. When things aren't going "right" (at least according to our limited-scope perspective on our lives), we don't often remember the good things. God has blessed us with everything, starting with our very lives! And if the fact that we have breath isn't enough, his ultimate depicion of his love on the cross oughta do it.

Guys, God's love is amazing. Unbelievable. Phenomenal. Indescribable. When life's got you down, stop. Pray. Remember God's grace. Ask for help. Take comfort in his love. There, it's my new acronym - PRAT.

I leave you tonight with lyrics from Third Day's newest album (Wherever You Are). The song is titled Keep On Shinin'. If we have received God's grace and love, then we need to share it with others! This song encourages a continued outpouring of his light. (More on continuous outpouring in another post.) Goodnight, and God bless.

Keep On Shinin'

It feels like forever since I can remember
It seems like it's always been this way
Keep the good news to ourselves, like a secret we'll never tell
I don't know why we've been so ashamed

But changes are in the air, sparks are starting everywhere
And oh, what a sweet, sweet sound
With millions of voices, singing new choruses
Leading the way to higher ground

Keep on, keep on shinin'
Wherever you may be
Keep on, keep on shinin'
For all the world to see

Having faith in the long run is easier said than done
It's hard to live out in the light of day
You're bruised and you're battered, your dreams have been shattered
Your best laid plans scattered over the place

Despite all your tendencies, God sees it differently
Your struggle's a time to grow
And you, you're a miracle, anything but typical
It's time for the whole wide world to know

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