Artificiality is a Disease of the Soul

I think that the thing that strikes me about Tozer is that his fifty year old writings are so applicable in our present day. How my heart beats with his in the desire and priority of Christ focus.

. . . Only engrossment with God can maintain perpetual spiritual enthusiasm because only God can supply everlasting novelty. In God every moment is new and nothing ever gets old. Of things religious we may become tired; even prayer may weary us; but God never. He can show a new aspect of His glory to us each day for all the days of eternity and still we shall have but begun to explore the depths of the riches of His infinite being

If we offer converts something beside Christ or something in addition to Christ we should not be disappointed if they do not run well or long. Novelty soon wears off everything, no matter how precious. When the interest begins to flag we try to recapture it by fiery exhortations. I for one admit that I am weary of the familiar religious pep talk. I am tired of being whipped into line, of being urged to work harder, to pray more, to give more generously, when the speaker does not show me Christ. This is sure to lead to a point of diminishing return and leave us exhausted and a little bored with it all. And from there we may easily grow backwards and become smaller and less fervent than when we were first converted.

I have spent many uncomfortable hours in prayer meetings listening to my brethren begging for blessings, but all prayer is comfortable when the heart is having fellowship with God and the inner eyes are looking upon His blessed face. I have suffered  through many a dull and tedious sermon, but no sermon is poor or long when the preacher is showing me the beauty of Jesus. A sight of His face will inspire love and zeal and a longing to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. . .

The Prayer of a Minor Prophet

The covenant and prayer of a preacher

This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him.

And he said: O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen. AMEN.

Written in 1950, this chapter has been reprinted many times and widely circulated.

Pictures of Old Bibles

I discovered a site today that has some beautiful high-res images of some old Bible translations. I have attached some smaller versions of a Scroll,  Wylcliffe’s translation (14th Century), Gutenburg(1455) and Tyndale’s  NT (1536)

O Lord, save Thy people from such a snare.

My eyes have finally decided that they are willing to start reading again after a series of eye surgeries. To give both of us a treat I have begun reading God Tells the Man Who Cares by A.W. Tozer. I hope to share some selections from this book over the next few days. Here is my first from the chapter titled “The Kingdoms of the World and the Glory of Them”:

The real peril today arises from within the fold of orthodox believers. It consists of an acceptance of the world’s values, a belief that the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them are valid prizes to be pursued by believing men and women. Blind leaders of blind souls are admitting that there is something to  said in favor of the world-glory after all; they insist that Christians should not cut themselves off from the pleasures of the world, except, of course, from those that are too degraded for respectable society. Everything else goes, and the very values that Christ scorned are now being used to attract people to the gospel.

Christ now stands in need of a patron, a celebrity who will sponsor Him before the world.  He looks weakly about for some well-known figure upon whose inside popularity He can ride forth as He once rode into Jerusalem on the back of an ass’s colt. His ability to draw men unto Him is frankly doubted, so He is provided with a gimmick to do the trick for Him. The cheap and tawdry glory which He once rejected is placed around His head as a crown. The crown they give Him is studded with paste imitations, all borrowed from the world: middle-class prosperity, success, fame, publicity, money, crowds, social acceptance, pomp, display, earthly honor. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life have all been Christianized (not by liberals, mind you, but  by the evangelicals) and are now offered along with Christ to everyone who will “believe.”

And on top of this we still pray for revival, with no awareness of our dark betrayal and no intention to repent. All such prayers are vain. We need only humble ourselves to obey the truth and the  true revival has already started. An emotional revival superimposed upon an evangelical religion hopelessly sold out to the glory of the world would but increase the confusion and confirm the deception.

O Lord, save Thy people from such a snare.

A.W. Tozer died in 1963.

A Faith of the Heart

J.C. Ryle in his Expository thoughts on the Gospel:

“Let us take heed that our faith be a faith of the heart as well as of the head. Let us see that our knowledge has a sanctifying influence on our affections and our lives. Let us not only know Christ but love Him, from a sense of actual benefit received from Him. Let us not only believe that He is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, but rejoice in Him, and cleave to Him with purpose of heart. Let us not only be acquainted with Him by the hearing of the ear, but by daily personal application to Him for mercy and grace. “The life of Christianity,” says Luther, “consists in possessive pronouns.” It is one thing to say “Christ is a Saviour.” It is quite another to say, “He is my Savior and my Lord.” The devil can say the first. The true Christian alone can say the second *”

Profession or Practice

An ancient inscription on the Cathedral in Lubeck, Germany, says:

Ye call me master, and obey me not.
Ye call me Light and seek me not.
Ye call me Way and walk me not.
Ye call me Wise and follow me not.
Ye call me Fair and love me not.
Ye call me Rich and ask me not.
Ye call me Eternal and seek me not.
Ye call me Gracious and trust me not.
Ye call me Noble and serve me not.
Ye call me Mighty and honor me not.
Ye call me Just and fear me not.
If I condemn you, blame me not.”