When I was a junior in college one of my good friends from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and I decided that we would meet one afternoon each week at a different residence hall on campus and find a quiet place in the lobby to pray for the students who lived there. After we prayed, we generally sat together for an hour or more talking. We talked about school, sports, girls, what we wanted to do in the future - typical stuff for 21-year-old boys. However, we also spent time challenging one another in the faith. We attended a state university, therefore, the world and all of its temptations and challenges were before us for the taking. We prayed for one another, counseled one another, confessed to one another, and encouraged one another. It was a great year of fellowship.
My friend (Ben) was, to the best of my recollection, the first person in my life to encourage me to read books that were a stretch for me spiritually and intellectually. I am indebted to him for playing a major role in strengthening my Christian faith from an intellectual standpoint. The first author he encouraged me to read was a nerdy looking guy I had never heard of, a man by the name of A.W. Tozer. Tozer was a life-long pastor without formal seminary training in the Missionary Alliance Church. However, he was an intellectual giant, receiving two honorary doctorates for his work as a magazine editor and author. He and his wife never owned a car, and he gave away the vast majority of the royalties he earned from his substantial book sales. He is buried under a marker with a simple epitaph: "A.W. Tozer - A Man of God."
The first book of Tozer's that I read was The Knowledge of the Holy. It challenged me, but I had to read it twice to get the gist of it. The second book I tackled was a life-changer. He called it The Pursuit of God, and it convicted me and made me want to pursue God with all my heart. By the time I read the book, Tozer had been dead and enjoying the blessings of heaven for twenty-four years. I know that because after I read it, I wanted to contact him to tell him how much it affected me, only to find out that it would be a long distance call...very long distance.
Each summer since arriving at LifePoint, I have taken a month or so to do a summer book study. So far, those who have attended have studied J.I. Packer's Knowing God, C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, and Tozer’s Pursuit of God. This summer we will tackle another favorite author of mine, the British pastor and scholar John R.W. Stott. We will look at his short, yet tightly packed, The Radical Disciple. Stott served as a pastor in the heart of London for over 30 years, carrying on a writing ministry the whole time, and in the process, becoming a genuine Bible scholar. His writing is crisp, lucid, and challenging. He pulls no punches. A significant departure from much of the vapid and inane ramblings we hear on our television and radio airwaves today.
You can sign up for the book discussion by calling the church office (317-881-4010). We start on Tuesday, May 23. If you need a copy of his book, please stop by the church office. You can also download an e-book version at Amazon.com. If you choose to join us, please read the preface and chapters one and two for our opening discussion. We meet from 6:30-7:30am (yep, that’s early) so that those who work can still attend and get to work on time. Hope to see you there.
Grace and peace,