The Christian Book of Mystical Verse: A Collection of Poems, Hymns, and Prayers for Devotional Reading (a review)

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse: A Collection of Poems, Hymns, and Prayers for Devotional ReadingThe Christian Book of Mystical Verse: A Collection of Poems, Hymns, and Prayers for Devotional Reading by A.W. Tozer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this
review.

Tozer introduces this slim volume as for the worshiper. I grew up on hymns and praise songs and since they dwell deep in my heart and memory, at any time that I desire to worship God in song, I am able to do so. Tozer rightly points out that over time we’ve lost our spiritual heritage of English language verse. It is his recommendation that the book be used as needed for private devotion, whether reading one selection or several.

I began by reading through the first section on the Adoration of the Godhead, and found quickly that I responded best to the writings by reading aloud. The selections are arranged topically and include among others “Penitential Reflections on our Sins”, “Rejoicing in Forgiveness and Justification”, and “The Prayer of Quiet”.

Tozer has selected verse that is sound in theology and is “mystical” – he define the mystic as one who is in “intimate fellowship with the Godhead”. I include the below description from the introduction because it really sets the tone of the book and subsequent personal worship:

“He [the mystic] differs from the orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the others do not. He exists in a world of spiritual reality. He is quietly, deeply, and sometimes almost ecstatically aware of the Presence of God in his own nature and in the world around him.”

I thought that the book would be helpful to me as a teacher and for those I consider students (Women’s Ministry) as I sometimes like to share selections for meditation or study. This book is not for that. However, I’ve already thought of those who might use the poems, hymns, and prayers Tozer has collected for their own private worship as I have. It is a gift to the heart that longs to cry out to God in a way that is beautiful.

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The Last Battle (review)

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7)The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the first book I’ve wished for a “re-read” option on goodreads. because I cannot stress enough how important I think it is for you to know I love it enough to frequently re-read it.

The final volume in the Chronicles of Narnia, we see the Eustace and Jill return to Narnia, only not as they are used to it. Animals are treated like animals – trees cut down without concern for their very real souls (remember it is fantasy). I loved the descriptions of the two worlds (ours and Narnia) and the idea that such a thing could be a reality isn’t so far-fetched as you might think, as Lewis helps us to see God as bigger than we’ve imagined.

The end perfectly captured the poignancy of leaving the earth for an unknown – and in faith in an extraordinary God.

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Thank God for Roller Coasters

Last week, following the first week of school, my mother and I took my two children to Knoebels Grove (you pronounce the “k”). For my children it was their third trip to the park this summer. For those of you unlucky enough to have never heard of such a place, you must know that it is a hidden paradise in Central Pennsylvania. It’s free to enter, free to park, and my six and three year old children rode a huge variety of children’s rides for $9 each. That’s right – unlimited amusement park fun for less than $20 for the four of us.

Anyway, before the night ended at 10:00PM, I indulged in one single, $1.50 roller coaster ride. I stood in line for about five minutes in the special line for those who like the very first car, and then entirely on my own, I went for a roller coaster ride on the Phoenix.

What is the Phoenix? A beautiful wooden roller coaster originally built in 1947 as “The Rocket” in a San Antonio amusement park and moved in 1985 to Knoebels, it is known for it’s airtime and the delicious sensation of a wooden structure that shakes, sways, and rattles.

The ride begins with a short ride through a tunnel, which at 9:45PM is pitch black. The night was cool. The sky was clear. As we made the ascension in the comparative light, I stared up at the dark night sky and I said “Thank you God, for roller coasters”. And then I held on.

It’s been a good summer. I have had much to be thankful for and I love expressing my gratitude to the Father for each wonderful moment. But on that last day of my summer, I felt His presence most at the top of a rickety wooden hill, and I smiled.

<image credit themeparkreview.com because I was afraid to photograph while riding>

 

the pursuit of you

This idea, that God pursues us, has been stuck in my heart and mind of late. It could be from the incredibly catchy TobyMac song Love Broke Thru, which is all over Christian radio right now. It could be that he started putting people I care about in front of me and saying “I love them. You love them. I want you to pursue them.”. And it could be knowing that God has created the desire to be pursued within our hearts. Mine. Yours. I know what it is to have the Holy Spirit calling out, to have God pursuing me. And better yet, to be caught.

So when my friend from high school, who has the greatest heart for reconciliation I have ever seen, started asking me how we could reach out to those people from our past, I realized that my unsaved friend was not only asking me to pursue her with the truth, but to come together and be reconciled with people we both care about so that we can pursue them with the truth as well. She is a dear friend and the one brilliant example of my desire and effort to pursue someone. I wronged her once upon a time and it took many attempts to receive forgiveness and reconciliation. She was worth it. Our friendship is worth it.

I know that my mission field is riddled with broken relationships and long forgotten friendships with people God still loves. People I still love. Hearts I must pursue. I’m grateful that when people see me, they see something different. Now I must prepare myself to give a reason for my hope.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:8-16 NIV

 

 

Heaven in Brunswick

How to make welcome new friends:

Greet them as they walk in your back door. (let them use your back door)

Include them in what you are doing, whatever it is.

Be yourself. Really.

Then those new friends will feel at home and included and at ease in falling right in love with you.

I found a little piece of heaven in Brunswick, MD this weekend at the First Baptist Church.

They greeted us as we came in the back door. (it was what their website said to do)

They brought us right into their morning. They made a spot on the couch for us. Literally.

And then they showed us their heart for Jesus.

I fell right in love.

Pastor Phil shared a message I suspect the Holy Spirit had been saving just for me. I’m probably not the only person that feels that way though. The message brought to mind this quote I can’t help sharing.

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”

First Baptist Church – your light is so lovely I have no doubt people will want to the know the source of it with all their hearts. Keep shining, my brilliant (new) friends.

 

Grace

I saw this great instagram post yesterday:

“when to give grace? i’d rather stand before God knowing i loved others too much than regretting that i judged too harshly.” – Lysa Terkeurst @lysaterkeurst

I see a lot of time and effort spent on correctly defining grace – what it means to love, when it is required to speak truth. Lots of great points are made. I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus wants us to speak truth – and he wants us to love each other. In fact, I believe that He shows us that love requires truth. I believe He also shows that truth requires love.

I know that it is very difficult to find someone to speak truth to you. First, you have to be looking. How many of us are really looking for honesty all the time? Then you have to find someone who is a little fearless (or crazy) and is willing to give it to you straight. They have to believe that love will keep hard truth from pushing us apart. You have to be willing to let love embrace the hurt that the truth may cause.

Most important to this discussion is the source of truth. It is not necessary for you to share the “truth” of your opinion. It is not necessary to share the “truth” of the internet variety either. Truth must come from a trusted source.

This seems to be the heart of most of the discussion on this point: we cannot ignore the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus knew all truth. He knew the darkest, ugliest truths of every moment, every person. He knows the horrors that are coming. He has seen all of our history and future and he knows how truly awful we can be.

But God – He loved us. Even knowing what He knows.

He expects us to acknowledge His truth. We are sinners. We are lost.

But God – He loves us. He knows His love can heal the hurt of that truth.

That’s what Easter is about. That’s Grace.

12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

Revelation 19:12-13 NIV

Revelation is always a little baffling to my human mind. I might be off the rails here, but I am reminded that the Word of God IS God. The truth. The life. The way. And Love.

Thank God for grace.