"In the mean time he will enable you to sow the seed in patience, leaving the event in his hands. Though it does not spring up visibly at once, it will not be lost. I think He would not have sent you if He had not a people there to call; but they can only come forth to view as He is pleased to bring them. Satan will try to hinder and disturb you; but he is in a chain which he cannot break, nor go a step farther than he is permitted. And if you have been instrumental to the conversion of but a few, in those few you have an ample reward already for all the difficulties you have or can meet with. It is more honourable and important to be an instrument of saving one soul, than to rescue a whole kingdom from temporal ruin. Let us therefore, while we earnestly desire to be more useful, not forget to be thankful for what the Lord has been pleased already to do for us; and let us expect, knowing whose servants we are, and what a Gospel we preach, to see some new miracles wrought from day to day: for indeed every real conversion may be accounted miraculous, being no less than an immediate exertion of that power which made the heavens, and commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Your little telescope is safe. I wish I had more of that clear air and sunshine you speak of, that with you I might have more distinct views of the land of promise. I cannot say my prospect is greatly clouded by doubts of my reaching it at last; but then there is such a languor and deadness hangs upon my mind, that it is almost amazing to me how I can entertain any hopes at all. It seems, if doubting could ever be reasonable, there is no one who has greater reason for doubting than myself. But I know not how to doubt, when I consider the faithfulness, grace, and compassion of Him who has promised. If it could be proved that Christ had not died, or that he did not speak the words which are ascribed to him in the Gospel, or that he is not able to make them good, or that his word cannot safely be taken; in any of these cases I should doubt to purpose, and lie down in despair."
-John Newton , The Works of John Newton: Volume 1 (pages 698-699)
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Every Christian will, inevitably, feel like God has gone missing for a season.
For some, the season is a matter of days or weeks. For others, a matter of months and years. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), experienced seasons of spiritual dryness so intense that He asked of God, “Why have you forgotten me?” (Ps. 42:9).
The question is not if we will experience times of spiritual dryness, but what will we do in times of spiritual dryness. The Bible’s short answer: seek Him (Ps. 42, Jer. 29:13, Zec. 1:3, Matt. 5:6).
The question is not if we will experience times of spiritual dryness, but what will we do in times of spiritual dryness.
In the Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has the senior devil explaining to the junior devil that a Christian’s persistent pursuit of God in spite of feeling like God is missing is the tempter’s greatest defeat:
Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. . . . It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it (the Christian) is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please him best. . . . Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, still obeys.
Can’t feel God? Seek Him. For “he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).
In his book, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, David Mikics writes, “The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives.”
No doubt, we all feel this constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content (i.e., books, audio resources, etc.) and meaningless consumption of media. Each day we live in what Mikics calls a “digital hurricane” — a constant swirl of information beckoning for our attention and focus.
How do we fight this hurricane? Through intentional, directed consumption of meaningful content that contributes to the building of self (for more on this topic, I suggest Andy Crouch’s excellent book).
"We all feel the constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content and meaningless consumption of media."
I do this, in part, by choosing specific categories to learn in. I then find content in these areas and consume written, audio, and video content based on my predetermined plan. The categories I use are the following:
Once again, this isn’t limited to books. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and videos about these topics on a weekly basis. I have found time and time again that categorical content consumption helps me live intentionally about my learning and whole-self-development. I recommend it to you.
We are needy people.
Think of all the things that we need for survival: food, water, oxygen, sleep, and, depending on who you’re talking to, coffee. But God is not so. This is what is known as God’s “aseity”—the fact that God derives all that He needs from Himself. There are many passages in the Bible that speak to this, but I want to highlight two:
R.C. Sproul expounds on God’s aseity when he writes, "If we go a few days without water or a few minutes without oxygen, we die. Likewise, human life is susceptible to all kinds of diseases that can destroy it. But God cannot die. God is not dependent on anything for His being. He has the very power of being in and of Himself… This is the supreme difference between God and us; God has no such dependence upon anything outside of Himself.”
Why does this matter, you ask? Because it is easy to forget we need God and easy to believe God needs us. A.W. Tozer wrote about this in his book, Knowledge of the Holy, where he writes, “Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, (needy) God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God, that is precisely what we see. Twentieth Century Christianity has put God on (a leash). So, lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, (even) enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God."
We don't worship God because He's needy, but because He's worthy.
But the truth is this: God does not need us.
God is not a divine egomaniac in need of his ego being stroked by finite man. No, He is an infinitely glorious God who is in need of nothing we have to offer. We do not come to church to worship because he needs it. We don’t worship God because He's needy, but because He’s worthy! And He is worthy because “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36) therefore, we lay down our lives and lift up our voices again and again and again because He is worthy of it all. Whereas we are finite and frail creatures in constant need, God needs nothing because He has all that He needs in and of Himself. And that, my friends, is a reason to worship.
I recently finished a stack of books I had been reading through over the past several weeks. I hope you'll find something helpful in this list of recent reads.