Experiencing God

“If education clogs your spiritual sight, it’s a problem. You’re studying someone else’s stuff. It has to be first hand, or it’s just religion. The same information, but the light of God isn’t in it.” Gary Garner

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Revelation 3:17-18)

We confuse knowing facts with experiencing. We can read, listen, visualize, copy the actions of others, but experiencing it gives us new insight into it and ourselves. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

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Book Review: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith by Thomas Merton

(Four Stars)

“By the gift of faith you touch God.”

Thoughtful and thought-provoking.

“The only law we (student Communists) had to obey was our own ineffable little wills. And if, afterwards, we changed our minds–well, were we not our own gods?”

Hard to believe this book was so popular when published in 1948. Merton sounds like a man from a different century, if not a different planet. His generation may have been the last to routinely learn Latin. He touched all the best his world had to offer in Cambridge, Columbia and the fleshpots of New York City and, while still relatively young, he left it–converted to Catholicism and became a Trappist monk.

“I had been suddenly illuminated by being blinded by the manifestation of God’s presence. I had to be led by a way that I could not understand and I had to follow a path that was beyond my choosing.”

Many parallels with C. S. Lewis’ conversion at about the same time, as reported in Surprised by Joy. Many converted to Catholicism in mid-twentieth century. That the converts had good and sufficient reason Continue reading

Book Review: Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain; Finding Incredible Power by Levi Lusko

(Five Stars)

“Blessed are those who mourn.” (Matthew 5:4) “There are gifts you get from God in the midst of grief that you would never have had the bandwidth to receive if everything was going as planned.”

At first glance, this book is written for a narrow, specialized audience: Christians who have suffered a tragic loss. Actually, it is intended for those who have or will suffer a tragic loss: all of us. Lusko lost a kindergarten-aged child just before Christmas. Your loss may not be so dramatic as his, but you have or will suffer, too, and you will discover him to be a kindred soul.

“God made me stronger, so the pain is not always unbearable, but the weight hasn’t gotten any lighter.”

Non-Christian readers may struggle with the Biblical point of view and vocabulary, but many will find solace in these pages.

“He puts to use what he puts us through. Suffering isn’t an obstacle to being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before.”

Lusko is a preacher; it shows in his rhythms and alliterations, and his digressions. Forgive him and keep reading.

“When you live a life of faith, there are going to be questions that have no answers, because for there to be faith there has to be mystery.”

Book Review: The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray (Five Stars)

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Book Review: The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray

(Five Stars)

“The indwelling of the Holy Spirit must become the distinguishing feature of the Christian life. We must learn to wait more earnestly for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the selection of men and fields of labor.”

One of the best books on this vital and often controversial topic. (I may lower my ratings on other similar books because this is so much better.) If you only read one book about the theology and practice of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, read this one.

“Prayer teaches us that it is only to spiritual understanding that the knowledge of God’s will can be given. Spiritual understanding only comes with the growth of the spiritual man and the faithfulness to the spiritual life. The believer who wants the leading of the Spirit must Continue reading

Book Review: John G. Lake on Healing (Four Stars)

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Book Review: John G. Lake on Healing

(Four Stars)

“Spirit of God in you will go as far as your love reaches.”

An excellent modern compilation of teachings of this famous early twentieth century faith healer. He acknowledges the controversy, even among Christians, and addresses it head-on. He included many notarized testimonies and details so a reader of that day could verify his claims. (Apparently he was even investigated–and exonerated–by the Better Business Bureau.) Because it is drawn from sermons, articles and pamphlets from 1910 to 1930, it is inevitably repetitive.

“Love is the medium that conveys the Spirit of God to another soul anywhere in God’s world.”

Lake’s take on several Biblical text and scientific controversies have been overcome by a century of progress in both areas. Lake’s definition of scientific is how God does things, so the reader should not Continue reading

Book Review: The Grace Awakening by Charles R. Swindoll (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Grace Awakening: Believing in Grace Is One Thing. Living It Is Another by Charles R. Swindoll

Four Stars

“[The] moralizing and legalizing of the Gospel of God’s grace is a dull heresy peddled to disappointed people who are angry because they have not received what they had no reason to expect.” Richard J. Neuhaus

A rousing call to replace the Pharisee-ism of modern Christianity with the freely-given grace of God. Easy to read and understand.

“Love that goes up is worship; Love that goes outward is affection; Love that stoops is grace.” Donald Barnhouse

Filled with short, pithy thoughts to break our religious bonds and free us to love God and our neighbor.

“[Jesus] is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought … into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.” C. S. Lewis

Book Review: Hosting the Presence by Bill Johnson (Four Stars)

Book Review: Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda by Bill Johnson

Four Stars

“Someone who celebrates before the answer … is someone who is about to experience the answer. Faith looks ahead and lives accordingly.”

An excellent resource for Christian living. Johnson challenges believers to new levels of surrender and relationship with God.

“Light drives away darkness without a fight. I can’t afford to live in reaction to darkness. If I do, darkness has a role in setting the agenda for my life. The devil is not worthy of such influence, even in the negative. Jesus lived in response to the father. I must learn to do the same.”

Well presented. Logical and forceful. The second half lacked the punch of the first. It’s as if he ran out of message before he had filled the page goal but kept writing.

“So much of the increased favor we get from God is really according to what we’ve done with the favor we already have.”

Book Review: Apostolic Foundations by Art Katz (Five Stars)

Book Review: Apostolic Foundations by Art Katz

Five Stars out of Five.

“There is nothing more opposed to the purposes of God than the well-wishing intentions that men perpetuate out of their own human and religious zeal.”

Remember the “apostolic and universal” phrase in the old creeds? Well, it meant something. Katz explains what and challenges us to apostolic living. Prepare to see yourself, your pastor, your congregation in an unflattering mirror. Brutally honest, yet encouraging.

Well-written, if slightly archaic language. Katz died in 2007, but writes like people spoke fifty years ago.

As is true of the best books I’ve read, as soon as I finished it, I flipped back and started again (with highlighter in hand).

“God will not force upon us the perfect if we are satisfied with the counterfeit.”