a w tozer
[image found here – also linked to imag]
Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.
Tozer hailed from a tiny farming community in western La Jose, Pennsylvania. He converted to Christianity as a teenager, in Akron, Ohio; while on his way home from work at a tire company, he overheard a street preacher say, “If you don’t know how to be saved … just call on God, saying, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.'” Upon returning home, he climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher’s advice.
In 1919, five years after his conversion and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to serve as pastor of his first church. That began 44 years of ministry, associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), a Protestant Evangelicaldenomination, 33 served as a pastor in a number of churches. His first pastorate was in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Tozer also served as pastor for 30 years at Southside Alliance Church, in Chicago (1928 to 1959), and the final years of his life were spent as pastor of Avenue Road Church, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In observing contemporary Christian living, he felt the church was on a dangerous course toward compromising with “worldly” concerns.
Born into poverty, Tozer was self-educated and taught himself what he missed in high school and college
Among the more than 60 books that bear his name, most of which were compiled after his death from sermons he preached and articles he wrote, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. Many of his books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God.
Tozer had seven children: six boys and one girl. Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.
Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. “His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life,” comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. “He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them,” writes Snyder.
intro’d via han – reading pursuit of god first:
preface – to great sections of the church the art of worship has been lost entirely, an din its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program’
it is not mere words that nourish he soul, but god himself, and unless and until the hearers find god in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth
1 – following hard after god
how tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by out teachers..
everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ christ (a term incidentally which is not found in the bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of god to our souls.
the experiential heart theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to augustine rutherford brainerd
2 – the blessedness of possessing nothing
things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended..
there is w/in each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril.. its chief characteristic is its possessiveness: the words ‘gain’ and ‘profit’ suggest this..
he blessed ones.. have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.. no longer slaves to the tyranny of things.. though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things.
let me exhort you to take this seriously. it is not to be understood as mere bible teaching to be stored away in the mind along w an inert mass of other doctrines
he had everything but he possessed nothing.. there is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation. the books on systematic theology overlook this, but the wise will understand
there can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life. because it is so natural it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is;
3 – removing the veil
i speak to thirsty hearts whose longings have been wakened by the touch of god w/in them, and such as they need no reasoned proof. their restless hearts furnish all the proof they need
ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the holy of holies.. god wills that we should push on into his presence and live our whole lives there.. this is to be known to us in conscious experience. it is more than a doctrine to be held.. it is a life to be enjoyed eery moment of every day
ignoble contentment takes the place of burning zeal. we are satisfied to rest in our judicial possessions and form the most part we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience
the world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of god and the church is famishing for want of his presence..
really? – i’m thinking ‘knowledge’ of god is what’s gotten us into this mess
spinoza wrote of the intellectual love of god, and he had a measure of truth there; but the highest love of god is not intellectual, it is spiritual..
yeah .. that
men of breaking hearts had a quality about them not know n to or understood by common men..thy habitually spake w spiritual authority.. they had been in presence of god and reported what they saw there.. prophets not scribed.. for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen..
promoting self under the guise of promoting christ is currently so common as to excite little notice
4 – apprehending god
but the very ransomed children of god themselves: why do they know so little of that habitual conscious communion w god which the scriptures seem to offer? the answer is 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. no proof is necessary to support that statement. we have but to converse w the first christian we meet or enter the first church we find open to acquire all the proof we need.
reality: that which has existence apart from any idea any mind may have of it, and which would exist if there were no mind anywhere to entertain a thought of it. that which is real has being in itself.. it does not depend upon the observer for its validity
i am aware that there are those who love to poke fun at the plain man’s idea of reality. they are the idealists who spin endless proofs that nothing is real outside of the mind. they are the relativists who like to show that there are no fixed points in the universe from which we can measure anything. they smile down upon us from their lofty intellectual peaks and settle us to their own satisfaction by fastening upon reproachful term ‘absolutist’.. he can smile right back at them.. but he knows also that absolute one has made this word for man’s uses, and while there is nothing fixed or real in the last meaning of the words (the meaning as applied to god) for every purpose of human life we are permitted to act as if there were.
and every man does act thus except the mentally sick. these unfortunates also have trouble w reality, but they are consistent; they insist upon living in accordance w their ideas of things. they are honest, and it is their very honesty that constitutes them a social problem..
the idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. they prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there…
imagination is not faith. . imagination projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them. faith creates nothing; it simply reckons upon that which is already there.
our trouble is that we have established bad thought habits. we habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other.
the world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime. it is clamorous, insistent and self demonstrating. it does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final.. the visible becomes the enemy of the invisible.. the temporal of the eternal..
the object of the christian’s faith is unseen reality.. at the root of the christian life lies belief in the invisible..the spiritual is real
so too is the imaginary..
we must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen
we must avoid the common fault of pushing the ‘other world’ into the future. it is not future, but present.
the soul has eyes w which to see and ears w which to hear.. feeble they may be from long disuse, but ..capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing..
5 – the universal presence
no point is nearer to god than any other point.. it is exactly s near to god from any place as it is from any other place..no one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to god than any other person is..
the approach of god to the soul or o the soul to god is not to be thought of in spatial terms at all. there is no idea of physical distance involved in the concept. it is not a matter of miles but of experience.
we need never shout across the spaces to an absent god. he is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts
why do some persons ‘find’ god in away that others do not? why does god manifest his presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along i the half light of imperfect christian experience.? of course the will of god is the same for all. he has no favorite w/in his household. all he has ever done for any of his children he will do for all of his children. the diff lies not w god but w us..
6 – the speaking voice
god is referring here not to his written word, but to his speaking voice.. that voice which has not been silent since the dawn of creation, but is sounding still throughout the full far reaches of the universe
god did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds. he spoke a book and lives in his spoken words, constantly speaking his words and causing the power of them to persist across the years.
even those persons who have never heard of the bible have still been preached to w sufficient clarity to remove every excuse form their hearts forever. ‘which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while either accusing or else excusing one another’. ‘ for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, ..
the tragedy is that our eternal welfare depends upon our hearing, and we have trained our ears not to hear
the believing man does not claim to understand.. he falls to his knees and whispers.. ‘god’
the man of earth kneels also, but not to worship. he kneels to examine, to search, to find the cause and the how of things..
we are more likely to explain than to adore .. ‘it thundered’ we exclaim, and go our earthly way. but still the voice sounds and searches.. the order and life of the world depend upon that voice, but men are mostly too busy or too stubborn to give attention
everyone of us has had experiences which we have not been able to explain: a sudden sense of loneliness, or a feeling of wonder or awe in the face of the universal vastness.. or we have had a fleeing visitation of light like an illumination from some other sun, giving us in a quick flash an assurance that we are from another world, that our origins are divine. what we saw there, or felt, or heard, may have been contrary to all that we had been taught in the schools and at wide variance w all our former beliefs and opinions.. we were forced to suspend our acquired doubts while, for a moment, the clouds were rolled back and we saw and heard for ourselves..
explain such things as we will, i think we have not been fair to the facts until we allow at least the possibility that such experiences may arise from the presence of god in the world and his persistent effort to communicate w mankind. let us not dismiss such an hypothesis too flippantly
it is my own belief.. (and here i shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin blocked response to he creative voice sounding over the earth
the moral philosophers who dreamed their high dreams of virtue, the religious thinkers who speculated about god an immortality, the poets/artists who created out of common stuff pure and lasting beauty: how can we explain them? it is not enough to say simply, ‘it was genius’ .. wha then is genius? could it be that a genius is a man haunted by the speaking voice, laboring and striving like one possessed to achieve ends which he only vaguely understands? that the great man may have missed god in his labors, that he may even have spoken/written against god does not destroy the ida i am advancing..
‘be still and know that i am god’.. as if he means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence..
it is important that we get still.. and best that we get alone
the bible will never be a living book to us until we are convinced that god is articulate in his universe..
7 – the gaze of the soul
8 – restoring the creator-creature relation
if i understand this correctly christ taught that the desire for honor among men made belief impossible.. is this sin at the root of religious unbelief could it be that those ‘intellectual difficulties’ which men blame for their inability to believe are but smoke screens to conceal the real cause that lies behind them? was it this greedy desire for honor from man that made men into pharisees and pharisees into deicides? is this the secret back of religious self righteousness and empty worship? i believe it may be.. the whole course of the life is upset by failure to put god where he belongs. we exalt ourselves instead of god and the curse follows
in speaking i have one fear; it is that i may convince the mind before god can win the heart.
pride, arrogance, resentfulness, evil imaginings, malice, greed: these are the sources of more human pain than all the diseases that ever afflicted mortal flesh
then also he will get deliverance form the burden of pretense. by this i mean not hypocrisy,, but the common human desier to put the best foot forward and hide from the world our real inward poverty.. for sin has played many evil tricks upon us, an done has been the infusing into us a false sense of shame. there is hardly a ma/woman who dares to be just wha the/she is w/o doctoring up the impression
10 – the sacrament of living
he lived in that body here among men and never once performed a non sacred act.. his presence in the human flesh sweeps away forever the evil notion that there is ab out the human body something innately offensive to the deity.. god created our bodies and we do not offend him by placing the responsibility where it belongs.. he is not ashamed of the work of his own hands..
to say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and urn the whole life into a sacrament
if a sacrament is an external expression of an inward grace.. we need no more be ashamed of our body.. the fleshly servant that carries us thru life
the old painful duality will go down before a restful unity of life. the knowledge that we are all god’s, that he has received all and rejected nothing, will unify our inner lives and make everything sacred to us
in order that i may be understood and not be misunderstood i would throw into relief the practical implications of the teaching for which i have been arguing, ie: the sacramental quality of every day living
it does not mean that every man is as useful as every other man.. fights differ.. the service of the less gifted brother is as pure as that of the more gifted..
it is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred/secular, it is why he does it.. the motive is everything