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Posts Tagged ‘Holiness’

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After more than a week of full-blown cold symptoms—painful sore throat, totally stuffed-up nose, throbbing headache, and complete lack of energy–I finally woke up feeling more like my old self.

Such euphoria!  I could swallow without pain, take in glorious gulps of air through my nose, and function without the tight hat of sinus pressure on my head or the virtual suit of heavy armor on my body.  Throat, nose, head, and limbs were once again operating in unified wholeness!

But what if I still carried deep heartache, suffered from depression, or continually dealt with on-going stress at work? Relief of cold symptoms would be a small matter by comparison.

Unified wholeness must include mind and spirit as well as body.

This was the kind of completeness Jesus was referring to when he told a healed leper, “Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole (Luke 17:19, King James 2000 Bible).

 

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You no doubt remember him, the one-out-of-ten healed lepers who took an extra step beyond healing, returned to Jesus, and expressed his gratitude.

Such effort demonstrated a spirit of humility and righteousness as he set aside his own agenda and did the right thing. His faith had impacted his body, yes, but also his mind and spirit.

The leper’s wholeness* manifested holiness—not perfection or proud piousness—but completeness and health of the total person as God fully intended.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) explained it like this:

“The old word for holy in the German language, heilig, also means healthy. And so Heilbronn means holy-well, or healthy-well. You could not get any better definition of what holy really is than healthy—completely healthy.”

Wholeness is holiness, and God is our example. He is the picture of complete perfection with the sum of his glorious attributes: love, joy, peace, wisdom, and more.

By contrast, we are pictures of imperfection, with our deficient condition and inability to perfect ourselves on our own.

Yet God comes to us, arms outstretched in welcome, and says, “Your faith can make you whole.” We can turn to him like that one leper did, and he will begin the work of making us like him.

 

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Oh, that sounds wonderful! Just as I desperately want to be made whole when a cold wreaks havoc in my body, so I want to be made whole as sin wreaks havoc in my spirit.

But such transformation involves choices.

During a cold, the choices of rest and plenty of fluids will speed the healing process toward wholeness.

My mental and spiritual wholeness this side of heaven will also require at least two choices:

 

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  1. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV).
  1. Distill the positive out of the negative—goodness out of evil, peace out of pain, joy out of sorrow.

 

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And from the fullness of Jesus’ grace we will receive one blessing after another (John 1:16)—beginning with his power and wisdom to make these sound choices toward wholeness.

 

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Oh Father, sound choices are easy to talk about, not so easy to live out. Remind me that from your wholeness, you provide grace upon grace—if only I look to you. Help me turn away from fear, self-pity, and anger, which lead to brokenness, not wholeness. How I praise you for your good will toward me and the good work of restoration you continue to develop within me!

 

*Synonyms from Webster’s New College Dictionary include: health, restoration, healing, and completeness.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.families.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com.)

 

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OK, I might as well admit it. I’m getting old. The debut of Mustangs and the Beatles, cassette tapes and word processors, microwaves and cell phones, have all happened in my lifetime. I have the wrinkles to prove it.

Ford Mustang

But let me tell you: there are advantages to getting older.

• The longer I live, the thicker the lenses become on my rose-colored glasses.
• The collection of memories to enjoy has grown large, and more precious.
• I appreciate other old people, especially saints who have stayed the course.  They demonstrate grace and integrity that have developed over time, through an ever-growing relationship with God.
• History takes on greater significance, and heroes of the faith from centuries past pique my interest.
A. W. Tozer

Today’s example of just such a saint is A.W. Tozer. Born in a small farming community of western Pennsylvania in 1897, he and his five siblings grew up in poverty, his formal education ending after eighth grade.

Then it happened.  At age seventeen, on his way home from work at a tire company, A.W. heard a street preacher say, “If you don’t know how to be saved…just call on God.” A.W. did, and his life took a new path.

Five years later Tozer accepted an offer to pastor a church. For the next forty-four years, he served God in the ministry, pastoring several different churches. His longest pastorate was in Chicago, where his reputation grew as a wise and godly man. He became well-known throughout the city.

As his sphere of influence increased, Tozer was invited to teach the  Bible on radio, and he wrote dozens of books which are read to this day. Some are considered classics.

How is it possible that a boy born into poverty, with no more than an eighth grade education could achieve such wisdom, such prominence, and such literary excellence? Yes, God gifted him, but Tozer made the effort to educate himself over years of diligent study.

And he prayed. Continually. Tozer asked God to:

• increase his desire for more of Him
• to give him spiritual understanding
• to purify his heart
• to make him passionate for holiness

They say he read on his knees, asking God to enlighten his understanding.

Yet this giant of Christendom, called a twentieth-century prophet even in his lifetime, also prayed with great honesty and humility:

“I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me
thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God. I want to want Thee; I
long to be filled with longing. I thirst to be made more thirsty still”
(The Pursuit of God, 1949).

Tozer’s life-choices backed up his words. He and his wife, Ada, lived simply, avoiding the materialism that consumes many Americans. They never owned a car, using public transportation instead. Even before becoming a well-known author, Tozer gave away much of his royalties to help those in need.

Cover of "The Pursuit of God"

Allow me to share a few examples of Tozer’s wisdom, God-given, but which became magnified through his. These all come from The Pursuit of God.

• The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.

• God formed us for His pleasure…He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile.

• God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.

• When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward becomes fixed within us, we shall be ushered onto a new level of spiritual life.

• Not perfection, but holy intention [makes] the difference.

One of my favorite Tozer-quotes points out the fascinating dichotomy of the Christian life:

“A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is pooorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge>”

I like being “an odd number” for God. I love the way A.W. Tozer renders it.

Thank you, Father, for giving us powerful examples like A.W. Tozer—who show us the way to humility, integrity, and faithfulness. May we embrace the wisdom they share and absorb the passion they emanate. May we also live up to the potential you’ve planted within each of us and manifest Your glory to those around us.

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