A Right Conception of God

I firmly believe that there is an inseparable connection between right doctrine and right practice — or in the theological terms one of my pastors uses, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. One of the biggest examples of this in my own life was during one period when I was particularly defensive, angry, critical, and unforgiving. While I’m sure I was NOT very pleasant to be around, the real problem was not my attitude or behavior toward my coworkers. Those were only symptoms of a much deeper issue: my theology. I completely misunderstood God’s grace, and as a result I could neither accept it from God nor extend it to others.

I love how A. W. Tozer expresses this link between right thinking and right living in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy. In the first chapter, he says this:

A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

The real kicker is this quote from the Preface:

It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.

When I learned that lesson about God’s grace, the result was more than just smooth relationships with my coworkers. It was, as Tozer puts it, “spiritual power.” I began to see God use me in ways I had never seen before, ways that I knew had nothing to do with my abilities, because my abilities hadn’t changed. I had simply begun, in Tozer’s words, “to think of God more nearly as He is”, and God did the rest.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

– 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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May the Lord fill you with joy as you celebrate His blessings!

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…” Philippians 1:3-5 (NIV)

Praise and Thanksgiving

It has been too long since I posted an excerpt! In light of that, this week’s will be longer. This is another prayer from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. When I read this, I thought it would be particularly appropriate for the Thanksgiving season.

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
   my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
   for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
   and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
      in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
   ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
   ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
   ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
   crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
   for adorning it, sanctifying it,
      though it is fixed in barren soil;
   for the body thou hast given me,
   for preserving its strength and vigor,
   for providing senses to enjoy delights,
   for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
   for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
   for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
   for a full table and overflowing cup,
   for appetite, taste, sweetness,
   for social joys of relatives and friends,
   for ability to serve others,
   for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
   for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
   for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
   for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
   for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express,
   for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
   
- Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision.
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