Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: Delighting in God

Delighting in God. A.W. Tozer. 2015. Bethany House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Ever since reading A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy, I've been a big fan of A.W. Tozer. "Big fan" might be an understatement. I've read and reviewed a little over twenty of his books since 2012!*

It isn't that I always, always agree with him theologically or doctrinally. In fact, I like to play a little game called True or False with Tozer. I play it not because I dislike Tozer and want to be mean. Far from it. Tozer was an engaging writer/speaker, and, it's because I find his works so fascinating, so compelling that I keep reading! When I agree with him, I agree wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. But when I disagree with him, well, it's just as emphatic!

Delighting in God is a NEW Tozer book. The sermons within were preached by Tozer soon after the publication of Knowledge of the Holy (1961). In many ways, these sermons do act as a sequel--or follow up--to Knowledge of the Holy.

The book is about God, about the church's perception of God, about society's perception of God, and, even more importantly perhaps, OUR personal perception of God. Tozer challenges readers to stop and consider how they perceive God. Do their daily actions--what they say, what they do, what they think--line up with the creeds that they claim to believe?

From the introduction,
I believe what Tozer wants to get across in this book is simply that your passion for God will determine your lifestyle. You cannot say you believe in God and then exhibit behaviors that are in conflict with the holy character and nature of God. Those two do not go together. If there is anything unholy in you, then there is nothing truly holy about you. Christianity is not a religion where you adhere to certain rules, regulations, and rituals. Christianity is a passion for God that can only be satisfied as we come to Jesus Christ. ~ James Snyder
If the messages were preached in the early 1960s, are the messages still relevant--relevant to readers, relevant to pastors and song leaders? I would say mostly so. But times have changed. And it's important to keep that in mind when you find a passage that you react to strongly. For example, Tozer spends a LOT of time talking about worship music in churches and Christian entertainment. Tozer never heard "Awesome God" or "10,000 Reasons." Tozer doesn't have an opinion on Chris Tomlin and Michael W. Smith.

If Tozer is intense and strong in his opinions, if he is offensive and off-putting, it is because, in my opinion, his love and zeal and passion for the Lord was so vibrant, so undeniable. Sin isn't something easily dismissed in his opinion. And Tozer felt some within the church and definitely those within society were too relaxed and casual and dismissive of God. Tozer wanted to wake up the lazy, relaxed church. And so reading Tozer is sometimes like getting slapped or punched. But Tozer often makes really good points. What Tozer wants you to think about, to reflect on, IS worth thinking about, talking about. He IS worth reading.

I personally LOVE reading Tozer. Yes, I admit Tozer uses "the church" in a very general way. Because it is often both critical and general, it can sometimes not match up with readers' own experiences, and, it may come across as very harsh and not always all that true. But sometimes the message he has for 'the general' church is very true and necessary to say in order to correct or chasten. What we actually believe matters just as much if not MORE than what we say we believe. Sometimes what you want to hear isn't what you need to hear.

Cover to cover, Delighting in God gives readers something to THINK about.

The chapter titles:

  • The Reality of Our Perception of God
  • The Basis of Our Perception of God
  • Our Perception of God and The Church
  • A Defective Perception of God
  • Restoring Our Perception of God
  • Reasons for a Faulty Perception of God
  • The Perception of Our Relationship with God
  • Our Perception of God Determines Everything
  • Our Perception of God Determines Our Fellowship with God
  • Our Perception of God's Perfection
  • Our Perception of God's Grace
  • Our Perception of God's Mercy
  • Our Perception of God's Goodness
  • A High and Lofty Perception of God
  • The Effect of Our Perception of God
  • Our Perception of God Navigates Our Prayer Life
  • Our Perception of God in Creation
  • The Perception of Our Fullness in Jesus Christ

Some of my favorite quotes:
To truly know God as He desires and deserves to be known is not a casual thing, but a lifelong pursuit that ends only when we see Him face-to-face. 
The important thing to keep in mind is that whatever keeps me away from God is my enemy, and only the power of God can overcome it. The trouble today is that we do not recognize the enemy, and in some cases, have even drawn him out to be a friend. 
God created us with a passion for himself, and it was the fall of man in the garden of Eden that hijacked that passion and brought man down to the level we find him today. Only through redemption--accomplished by Christ dying on the cross and rising the third day--can we be brought back to that place of fellowship with God, which is the passion of every human being. 
It is my contention that everything we do in some way reflects our perception of God… I believe that it is crucial that our perception of God be worthy of God and that it reflect the truth revealed to us about the God of the Word. 
I do not believe we can ever regain our lost perception of God until we are brought to consider once again the perfection of God. 
You cannot reach the world by becoming like the world. The only way to reach the world is to become something altogether other than the world. That is what we have in Christianity. 
Each day as I walk with God and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to me who God really is, the more my capacity grows in worshiping and adoring this God. What this means is that my worship grows and grows as my perception of God grows. God cannot grow. My perception of God grows as I experience Him day after day. I should be more capable of worshiping God today than I was ten or twenty years ago. As I move toward God, my capacity to understand God grows deeper and deeper. Of course, the opposite is also true. As I move away from God, my capacity begins to shrink. How many Christians are experiencing a shrinking capacity to worship God? Perhaps that is the reason why our music today is so superficial.
We must warn people today that if they have an imaginary Christ and are satisfied with an imaginary Christ, then they must be satisfied with an imaginary salvation.
I do not believe that any man is able to love until he is able to hate. I do not think any can love God unless he hates the devil. I do not think he can love righteousness unless he hates sin.
If after reading and meditating on the Bible, I have not encountered the Living Word, I have truly read in vain. In my reading of God's Word, I need to persist until I pierce the darkness and come into the light of His presence.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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