The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse (book review)

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. In this case, the writings A.W. Tozer collected between the covers of this book is exactly what the title says—The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse: A collection of poems, hymns, and prayers.

A.W. Tozer was a first-class scholar, but he didn’t stop with mere head knowledge. He loved plunging deep into the spiritual realms to let God touch his heart, mind and emotions. So we find among his extensive library, collections of poems and mystical writings to enliven the heart and mind.

Don’t get thrown by that word “mystical.” Tozer himself describes it this way—

The word ‘mystic’ as it occurs in the title of this book refers to that personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times and well known to multitudes of persons in the post-biblical era. I refer to the evangelical mystic who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead. His theology is no less and no more than is taught in the Christian Scriptures. … He differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the other does not. He exists in a world of spiritual reality. 

I have a natural bent to be more left-brained, logical, and fact-seeking. Years ago I discovered that poetry and other “mystical” writings unlocked my right-brain hemisphere with all its emotion and passion, and made the left-brained stuff so much more real. The collection of writings in this book “scratches an itch” unlike any academic book ever can.

Should you read The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse? I think so. Tozer said, “This is a book for the worshiper rather than for the student.” So if you are longing to worship God more deeply, this is a great book to dive into deeply.

I am a Moody Publisher book reviewer.

Poetry Saturday—The Thought Of God

clouds-and-waterThe thought of God is like the tree 
Beneath whose shade I lie, 
And watch the fleet of snowy clouds 
Sail o’er the silent sky.

‘Tis like that soft, invading light 
Which in all darkness shines, 
The thread that through life’s sombre web 
In golden pattern twines. 

It is a thought which ever makes 
Life’s sweetest smiles from tears 
It is a daybreak to our hopes 
A sunset to our fears. 

One while it bids the tears to flow, 
Then wipes them from the eyes, 
Most often fills our soul with joy, 
And always sanctifies. 

Within a thought so great, our souls 
Little and modest grow, 
And, by its vastness awed, we learn 
The art of walking slow. —Frederick William Faber

Poetry Saturday—The Praise Of God

FullSizeRenderSpeak, lips of mine! 
And tell abroad 
The praises of my God. 
Speak, stammering tongue! 
In gladdest tone, 
Make His high praises known. 
Speak, sea and earth! 
Heaven’s utmost star, 
Speak from your realms afar! 
Take up the note, 
And send it round 
Creation’s farthest bound. 
Speak, heaven of heavens! 
Wherein our God 
Has made His bright abode. 
Speak, angels, speak! 
In songs proclaim 
His everlasting name. 
Speak, son of dust! 
Thy flesh He took 
And heaven for thee forsook. 
Speak, child of death! 
Thy death He died, 
Bless thou the Crucified. —Horatius Bonar

Thursdays With Oswald—On Rituals And Vows To God

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

On Rituals And Vows To God

     There is a use for ritual in a man’s religious life. Because anything is necessary at one time of life, it does not follow that it is necessary all through. … When a man is in a right relationship to God ritual is an assistance; the place of worship in the atmosphere are both conducive to worship. …

     Any amount of futile religion is based on this line of things—“I have been eating too much, but now Lent has come and I will fast for a time.” There is nothing genuine in it, it has not the grip of God about it. When a man comes into the presence of God he refrains himself and remembers that he is not there to suffer from his own reactions, to get comfort for himself, to pray along the line of “O Lord, bless me.” He is there to refrain from his own personal needs and to get into the scope of God’s outlook. … 

     No man can keep himself a Christian, it is impossible; it is God Who keeps a man a Christian. … Jesus Christ came for the weak, for the ungodly and the sinful, and He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” not—“Blessed is the man who has the power to decide and to keep his vow.” Jesus Christ calls the man who says—“I cannot do it; others may have the strength, but I haven’t.” Jesus Christ says to such, “Blessed are you.” It is not our vows before God that tell, but our coming before God, exactly as we are in all our weakness, and being held and kept by God.

From Shade Of His Hand

These words from Oswald Chambers are his commentary on Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7. In this passage, Solomon warns against making hasty vows. Solomon says it’s better to remain silent than to make a vow and not follow through.

Chambers reminds us that it is impossible for us to keep a vow in our own strength. We don’t make vows to try to impress God, or as a part of a ritual, or because we think we need to do something special to “make up” for where we’ve fallen short. God wants us to come to Him in our weakness and say, “I can’t do this, but Christ in me can do this. I need Your help!” This is the posture and attitude that God honors and delights to help.

Book Reviews From 2016

The Tabernacle Of Israel (book review)

the-tabernacle-of-israelIf you have ever used the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, you are probably familiar with the work of Dr. James Strong. By the way, if you haven’t used this concordance, it is 1500+ pages listing every word in the Bible and their Hebrew or Greek word and definition. By contrast, Dr. Strong’s book on The Tabernacle Of Israel is only 170 pages, but it’s just as jam-packed with helpful information.

I was recently reading through the books of the Bible where God gives Moses highly specific instructions for the portable Tabernacle that is to be used for the Hebrews to conduct their worship services. This temporary Tabernacle not only served them while they sojourned in the wilderness for 40 years, but it became the pattern for the brick-and-mortar Temple that King Solomon built years later, and its pattern is referred to again in the New Testament book of Hebrews as being a pattern of the worship in heaven. Obviously this is a significant thing!

Dr. Strong uses his extraordinary skills to compile an easy-to-follow study of the design guidelines, building materials, and exact layout of this Tabernacle. He uses not only the biblical accounts, but also augments his work with extensive archeological discoveries.

Then to wrap up the book, Dr. Strong talks about the significance of the layout, colors, materials, and even mathematical significance of the Tabernacle’s design, showing how it still impacts the New Testament Christian to this day.

This is an academic book, but it is well worth your time if you would like to get a more in-depth knowledge of the Tabernacle which God commanded Moses to build.

T.M. Moore On Considering Jesus

T.M. Moore“We cannot follow what we do not know. And if we do not know Jesus, if our vision and understanding of Him are vague or merely general, following Him, in any sense, will be an act of self-deception. …

“The writer of Hebrews understood this. Twice in his epistle he instructs us to ‘consider Jesus.’ We must consider Jesus if we have any hope of persisting in the faith, no matter the struggle or threat that comes our way (Hebrews 3:1). And we must consider Jesus if we are to run our own particular race as fully and swiftly as possible (Hebrews 12:3). Following Jesus, it seems, means considering Him carefully. The writer uses two different words which we translate by the term consider.

“The first, in Hebrews 3:1, is the same word Jesus used to instruct us to consider the lilies of the field. It seems to have an aesthetic sense to it, implying wonder, admiration, mystery, and awe. To consider Jesus in this way is to wonder at His beauty, majesty, mystery, and power, and to delight in meditating on Him and lingering in His presence.

“The second use of consider, in Hebrews 12:3, encourages a more analytical, logical, and even theological consideration of Jesus Christ. We must study Jesus, think about all the implications of His life, death, and resurrection, and apply our minds to taking every thought captive for obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).” —T.M. Moore

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