All posts by: Anthony Stephens

To say that I am a fan of A.W. Tozer’s writings would be an understatement.  I have read many of his works that has been published over the years.  I appreciate his style and approach to topics of the faith.  When I got the opportunity to read a “never before published” work of his, I was a little excited.  The work that I am talking about is The Wisdom of God.

The Wisdom of God is a collection of sermons and thoughts from sermons that has been compiled by James L. Snyder.  This is an important thing to remember as you read this book because you will find that there are topics and statements that are repeated often in various chapters.  At first, it was a little annoying reading the same thing over and over and over, but once I got my brain wrapped around that these were different sermons compiled together into a book, it helped.

Snyder shows how Tozer reveals what the wisdom of God is all about.  As the book cover shares, “wisdom is more than just a list of instructions – it is a part of God’s character, inseparable from His love and grace.”  The book is broken up into twenty-three chapters covering the topic of the wisdom of God and how it applies in different situations.

I would say that this was a different read that the normal Tozer work.  The compilation of various sermons into a book was sometimes repetitive, but the meat of what is shared is still inspiring and causes the reader to look at this topic that plays such a big role in the Bible in a fresh manner.

Recommendation

I would recommend this to anyone looking to get a fresh look at what the wisdom of God is about.  I would remind the reader that this is a compilation of sermons and materials so do not be surprised when certain things are often repeated and when the chapters do not necessarily flow into one another.  Otherwise, it is a good read.

This week my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the SEND Conference that was hosted by the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was a great time as my wife and I got away and experienced God in a mighty way. I thought that I would share a couple of things that stood out to me from this week.

Great Host

The SEND Conference was hosted by First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida. I had heard many great things about this church, and this week just solidified what I thought. This church has so many things going on, but they gave their campus over for a week so that people from all over the world could worship together and be encouraged.

Diversity

One of the first things that we noticed about the SEND Conference was the diversity of people that were present. There were people from all generations present. There were people from different languages, cultures, and ethnicities present.

This was a breath of fresh air. Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention has been seen as a denomination of old white people by many. I know that there were people of younger generations and other ethnicities in our denomination, but it is easy to see the stereotype when you look into some of our meetings.

The SEND Conference was a picture of heaven, at least according to Revelation 7:9-10. There were men and women, boys and girls, various languages and ethnicities… it was a beautiful sight. It really showed me that there is a future for the Southern Baptist Convention.

Amazing Worship

The musical worship for the SEND Conference was led by the Austin Stone worship team. Oh my goodness… I have heard some of their music before, but I have never seen them lead worship before. It was something special.

The one thing that I appreciated most about the worship team was that they were not just up front playing music for others to sing along to. They truly took a pastoral role and led each person in the room to the throne of grace. They took time to explain lyrics and used both older hymns of the faith and contemporary songs. It was truly something for all present.

Gospel and Great Commission Focus

The main thing of the SEND Conference was undoubtedly the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His church. While there were multiple sessions and many different breakout sessions, each and every one had the gospel and the Great Commission at the heart of them. I loved how each of the breakouts and main session speakers clearly tied things back to the gospel and did not have to stretch it to make it happen. They showed that the gospel truly does apply to any topic.

Meeting New People

I always like to meet new people and hear their stories. This week provided a great opportunity to meet people from all over and hear about what God is doing in and through their lives. It was also good to see a few people that I haven't seen in a while. It was so good to refresh the connection.

I will be grateful for some time to the North American Mission Board for contacting and providing complimentary tickets to the conference in Orlando. It was a much needed break from the norm and time to refocus. I am definitely looking forward to 2020 when they will do it again in Atlanta.

“Patience is a virtue.”

This is a true statement in many ways. Patience is something that many have little of these days. We live in a “Burger King society”: have it your way, right away. While that may be a reasonable expectation of a food establishment, it is not the best expectation from God. There is a tendency to let this mentality seep into our walk with God… to expect Him to get on our timetable and agenda. 

When God does not get in our timetable and agenda (which is perfectly fine because He alone is God), it rattles us and makes us wonder what is going on. We may ask questions like: “Did I miss something?” “Why isn’t God doing anything?”

There is a reason that God waits. We may not see it at the moment, but there is a reason.  We may not like the reason, but there is a reason. Will we wait and see the reason, or will we throw aside the opportunity to see something greater? 

In John 11, there is a desperate situation. A dear friend of Jesus, Lazarus, had fallen sick. This was not a casual sickness. Lazarus is on his deathbed. As Jesus heard about the news of his friend and his sickness, He talks about God receiving glory for this event (John 11:4).

As John continues sharing about the events, he is careful to mention how Jesus loved this family (John 11:5). Martha. Mary, and Lazarus were very close to Jesus. They were near and dear to His heart. This would make the very next verse sound so strange: 

So when [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (John 11:6 CSB)

Why in the world would Jesus stay where He was instead of going to the rescue of His dear friend? From how the Bible continues this story, I can imagine that Martha and Mary were asking the same thing. While the waiting that Jesus does here in John 11:6 seems strange and out of place, it is exactly what Jesus should have done. 

The very first word in John 11:6 is the word that is commonly translated in English texts as “so.”  This is a reference word. It lets us know what is coming next is tied to what has just been said.  John 11:5 tells us that Jesus loves this family dearly. It is for that reason that Jesus waits holds His ground for two whole days. I imagine that those days felt like an eternity.

Jesus looked past the opportunity to do just another healing… He looked for the way to demonstrate the fullness of His love. Jesus looked to defeat death. Healing from a bad sickness is one thing, but bringing someone back from the grave is a whole other thing. 

The why behind Jesus’ wait in John 11 was love. God’s heart reaching out to show this love in the clearest and strongest manner possible. What is more powerful and definite than death? The love that God has towards those who follow Him is greater. Jesus had to wait in order to make this statement loud and clear: Jesus is Lord over all (even death) and He loves you greatly.

If Jesus had run to the rescue and healed Lazarus from this dreaded sickness, it would have been great. But to have Jesus say, “Ain’t no grave keeping you from me!” Now that is something worth waiting for. 

You may find yourself in a position where you are wondering what n the world is God up to. You may be thinking that He has forgotten you or worse, He is just ignoring you. Know this: He has not forgotten you… He’s not ignoring you… He may just be working something out that you have no clue about. Trust Him and see what He does. The wait is always worth it. 

The 4th of July is a day of celebration. We celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as citizens of the United States. If there is anything that is worth celebrating, few things are greater than freedom. 

It is why on this day of freedom celebration that I am choosing to share about a book that I recently read. The book is The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money by Art Rainer. 

There are few things that shackle people in bondage – even in the land of the free – more than money and poor financial choices. Art Rainer has given us a straightforward and practical book that will help any person that takes the time to read this little book. 

I really like how Rainer has illustrated the main points of this book with a continuing story of a young lady who is struggling g to get out of the grip of financial woe. The story makes the points a little more “personal” and not just a checklist of things to work through. 

Many of the things that are shared by Rainer in the 30 “money challenges” are successful tools that have been compiled by Rainer from other sources. Rainer has gathered some very helpful resources and tools and built them together to help the reader find victory in their finances. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is looking to take control of their finances. You may not be in “trouble” yet, but this book and its steps will help put/keep you on the right track. Even if you are in “trouble,” this book will point you in the right direction to finding freedom. 

As we celebrate our country’s independence from tyranny today, may many more find the financial freedom that is available in doing finances God’s way. The Money Challenge by Art Rainer is a great tool to help with that. 


Happy Father’s Day wishes to all the men out there who have one of the toughest yet most rewarding tasks out in the world: being a Dad. May God richly bless you as you follow His lead & lead your family well!