July 27, 2011

Oswald Chambers

I tried to keep this post short but it was just impossible!...you don't come across to many people like Oswald Chambers. This biography, "Abandoned to God" by David McCasland, is a perfect title to describe the life of this man. I thought I'd share just a few things from the book that touched me.

A turning point in his life was when he was at a gathering where Hudson Taylor was speaking. Chambers writes in a letter to a friend:

"Hudson Taylor said last night that Our Lord's words 'Have faith in God' really mean 'Have faith in the faithfulness of God,' not in your own faithfulness. I am completely at rest now,...I feel God nearer to me than ever. I will wait on Him and He will open the way."

I love Chambers outlook on prayer, it has changed not only the way I think of prayer but the way I actually pray. Here's an excerpt:

"The purpose of prayer, in Chambers' mind, was to get into step with God, not to manipulate or coerce Him into blessing personal plans. He told his theology students in Cincinnati, 'Prayer is not a preparation for work, it is work. Prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle. Prayer is two-fold: definite asking and definite waiting to receive." 

And Chambers says of prayer here:


"Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness, with God. If the son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (Galatians 4:19) then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitudes about the things for which we pray."

In a letter to his sister he writes of his love of reading and books...something I can relate to and feel the same way!


"I have been having a reveling few days. My box has at last arrived. My books! I cannot tell you what they are to me-silent, wealthy, loyal lovers. To look at them, to handle them, and to re-read them! I do thank God for my books with every fibre of my being. Friends that are ever true and ever your own.

Why, I could have almost cried for excess of joy when I got hold of them again. I see them all just at my elbow now-Plato, Wordsworth, Myers, Bradley, Halyburton, St. Augustine, Browning, Tennyson, Amiel, etc. I know them, I wish you could see how they look at me, a quiet calm look of certain acquaintance."


Chambers kept a diary, here is an entry to ponder:


"I am more and more convinced that the personality of Jesus Christ is the Truth, and anything about Him that does not lead to Him is not the truth."

In a letter to encourage a bible student in answering questions about God he said:


"Be very patient and very confident in Him...God is not a fact of common sense but of revelation. Tell him God lives-evidenced to your heart when you abandoned your right to yourself and let Him take the rule."


Chambers strongly took the words of Christ literally. This brought criticism from family and friends. He believed when Jesus said, 'Give to everyone who asks' that He meant exactly that. This story tells of this faith:

"One evening, walking back to his lodgings after conducting a League meeting, he was accousted by a drunken man asking for money. Chambers listened intently to the man's story, then told him, 'Man, I believe your story is all lies, but my Master tells me to give to everyone that asks, so there is my last shilling.' After putting the coin into the man's hand, Chambers noticed that it was not a shilling but half a crown worth two and a half times more. It didn't matter. 'there you are' he told the man, 'the Lord bless you.' 

When Oswald's hostess heard this story, she chided him for being foolish.

'I believe beggars are sent to test our faith.' Chambers replied earnestly. 'My duty is plain-to obey the command of God and give to everyone that asks. What the recipient may do with it is not my concern.' As the woman shook her head in disbelief, Oswald added with a twinkle, 'Besides, the Lord always gives double for all I give away.' The next morning Chambers received a letter enclosing a gift from a person who was bedridden and could not come to hear him preach. The gift was three times what he had given the drunken man the night before."


In a letter from Ireland, to his soon to be wife, Biddy, he writes of the worldly compliance of the Christians there:


"There are aching lives here and He is working. Last night we had a glorious 'clash.' They did not know Him and I did. I told them that I know nothing of God apart from Jesus Christ. He was God to me; apart from Him, God was a mere mental abstraction. The hearts of these people are hungry, but their intellects seem satisfied with the worship of abstraction which is so modern, and to me so absurdly insufficient."

Chambers longed for one thing from his preaching:


"I speak and people get blessed. But I long to hear them say, 'He made me love Him better. It was through his sermon that my Lord Jesus became all in all to me.'"

I believe his longings were fulfilled, over and over again. :)


Chambers loved the ocean, he reflected on it in this way:


"In it all, he saw a picture of life. no matter how strong the winds or how high the waves on the surface, far below lay the great mysterious deeps with their strong currents and untouched calm. A man who would live for Christ in a turbulent world must draw his life from the depths of God himself, not from the froth and foam of surface experience."


Chambers loved children:

"Oswald's relationship with children is one of the most revealing aspects of his character. In a day when society believed they were to be 'seen and not heard,' he listened to them, loved them, and gave them a place of honor. Had he wished to be alone and undisturbed to prepare his messages, his host families would have made sure the children never bothered him. Instead, he sought them out."

When his own daughter was born:

"Oswald was ecstatic. His previous love for children offered no preparation for the feelings he had for this small person who was a miraculous combination of himself and the woman he loved."

The last part of his life, was spent in Egypt during World War I. He worked for the Y.M.C.A. an organization which looked very different back then:

"But the Y.M.C.A. had a deeper motive than mere social service. Its three-fold emphasis of Body, Mind, and Spirit was centered on bringing men to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. From its beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the Young Men's Christian Association firmly held a two-fold purpose:
'To unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Savior according to the Holy Scripture, desire to be His disciples in their doctrine and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of His Kingdom among young men.(Y.M.C.A. Paris Resolution, 1855)"

Chambers took this statement of faith seriously and led many men to Christ.


After serving here for several years Chambers became ill and had an emergency appendectomy which they thought was successful. But because he waited so long to go to the hospital (he didn't want to take a bed from a soldier) he suffered complications and succumb to them and passed away several days later. He was 43.

The announcement of his death read.. 'OSWALD IN HIS PRESENCE'

His wife Biddy wrote to her sister after his death:

"Living with Oswald and seeing his faith in God and knowing that 'by his faithfulness he is speaking to us still' is the secret of life these days, and I feel as if it will be overwhelming to one day see what God has wrought, and one will only be sorry not to have trusted more utterly. So just go on praying and believing and we will surely find that God is doing His wondrous things all the time."


Biddy went on to spend the next years of her life recording Chambers sermons into books. The most famous being 'His Utmost for His Highest' which is a compilation from many different sermons:

"She needed 365 portions, each on a single theme, each complete in itself and not more than 500 words long. Before she could make the selections, there were hundreds of talks she must transform from verbatim shorthand notes into typed copy...

After nearly three years of painstaking work in moments stolen from her lodging-house duties, Biddy had compiled the book of daily readings. There seemed only one title appropriate for it, one of Oswald's most repeated watchwords-My Utmost for His Hightest...

Nowhere in the book did it mention her name or her work of taking shorthand notes, typing the talks, and often merging paragraphs from three different messages into a coherent reading for a single day. Without her work, Oswald's words would never have existed on paper or in published form. Even so, she put Oswald's name on the cover. she was herself as a channel through which his words conveyed to others. That was her way...

Before she died in 1966, fifty books bearing her husband's name had been published, along with scores of booklets, seed thought calenders, and leaflet sermons. Every morning, people around the world opened a small book they called My Utmost for His Highest to help set their sights on God for that day."


I can't tell you what a blessing this book, My Utmost for His Highest,  has been to me. God had a plan and he always goes through with his plans. :) In Chambers words:

"In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance."

There is so much more I'd love to share. If you would like to get to know about Oswald Chambers...this is a great book to start with. I'll leave with one of my favorite encouraging quotes from him:

"You can be much more for Him than ever you know by just being yourself and relying on Him...keep praying and playing and being yourself."




July 22, 2011

Fade to Blue and Hearst Castle

I just finished reading "Fade to Blue" by Julie Carobini.  I really enjoyed this book. It's set on the coast of California with the back drop of Hearst Castle. Suz, a single mom, lives in the small seaside town of Otter Bay and restores artifacts for the castle.

She is divorced and unexpectedly runs into an old flame, but when her ex comes back into the picture, after being released from jail and claiming to have changed, she has some hard choices to make.

The author deals with these delicate issues very well and also did a wonderful job with all the details in this book. I loved the way she describes this little town, the castle, and the landscape around it. It brought back memories.

About five years ago my husband and I took our kids to Hearst Castle on one of our family vacations. I remember it was a hot August day and the long  bus ride up the hill (with no air conditioning) was hard on them. Once we got to the top, the first thing we saw was the inviting Neptune pool and we all literally wanted to jump in!

There is so much to take in at the castle, its overwhelming, especially if you are interested in history and art. You could spend all day in just one room learning the history of each piece of furniture and each piece of art.

And oh what a view! I could sit up there on the balcony reading a book all day. :) Here are a few pictures of my favorite places on... "The Enchanted Hill"












July 19, 2011

Redeeming Love

One of my favorite novels is "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. This is the one novel I really wanted  my daughters to read. :) But, they both didn't want to because... "the cover is so cheesy mom!" (Lets just say they aren't into romance novels)

Eventually my older daughter read it and now its one of her favorite books. :) My younger daughter is in the middle of it and just told me today that she is loving it and how she sees how the author is using the characters to teach about our relationship with the Lord.

It is based on the story of Hosea and Gomer from the Old Testament. Hosea was a godly man who God commanded to marry a prostitute. Gomer, who becomes his wife, continually runs away and goes back to her old life of prostitution.

But God continually tells Hosea to go get her and love her and so he does. Its a beautiful love story and Francine Rivers recaptures it so well in her novel. I love how Hosea represents Christ in this story and we, are his bride. It teaches that when we are saved by His grace  no matter how far we fall, He will always come and pick us up and love us. He will never leave His bride or forsake her. Oh how He loves us!


"I will heal there waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them." Hosea 14:4




July 14, 2011

To Win Her Heart


"To Win Her Heart" is Karen Witemeyer's third book and I believe her best yet. I'm really enjoying her writing style and stories. There are certain things that I think make good christian fiction...a great storyline, christian values, clean respectful romance, descriptive details and that it honors the Lord and Scripture.

This book does all that! I loved these characters. Eden a librarian, and Levi a blacksmith and ex-prizefighter with a past. I loved this part where Levi is struggling with his past and being good enough:

"The words of the Prodigal son came back to haunt him. 'I am no more worthy to be called thy son" Levi bent his head, unable to look in heaven's direction. Why did he even try to change? He'd never be good enough.

As the thought formed in his head, a barrage of Scripture hit him as if some unseen angel had reached into his seed bag, grabbed a handful, and flung it at him. 

'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace...'

'A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ...'

'For I will be merciful...and their iniquities will I remember no more.'

'If we confess our sins, he is faithful...to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'

'There is therefore now no condemnation...'

Levi trembled as those seeds took root in his soul. Grace. Cleansing. Forgiveness. No condemnation.

No condemnation--with all he had done? The prison chaplain had made him memorize these verses, but never before had they penetrated his heart to such an extent. They were meant for other Christians, those who didn't have blood on their hands, those who hadn't betrayed their families and their God with such flagrant selfishness. No, he was the unworthy prodigal, hanging his head in shame, trying to make up for all his past mistakes to earn back his Father's love.

'But you don't want me to earn it, do you?' Levi whispered as his gaze climbed back up to the night sky, truth resonating in his soul. 'I can't earn it. I can only accept it. Your gift.'

Levi raised a shaking hand to his face and scrubbed away the moisture that pooled in his eyes.
I understand now. Thank you."


"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1....so comforting.

This part of the book reminded me of a line from a song called "Love is the reversal" from the band Starfield..."Grace reclaims, what the world disowns." How great is that. :)




July 8, 2011

5 books on my future reading list

We Shall See God

First of all I found a new devotional and excited for it to come in the mail! It's called "We shall see God: Charles Spurgeons classic devotional thoughts on heaven" compiled by Randy Alcorn.

Today there is so much talk of heaven, some biblical and some not so biblical. So I'm looking forward to studying with Charles Spurgeon and Randy Alcorn, two men I trust on the subject of heaven. This book has just come out.






 

The Messenger

Secondly, I'm looking forward to reading "The Messenger" by Siri Mitchell. Siri is one of my favorite christian fiction authors and her books can't come out fast enough! She writes like no one else. Her style is unique and sometimes takes a bit of time to get use to, but so worth it.

This book is about a Quaker girl who is put in a situation that could compromise her faith. It comes out in March 2012.








The Discovery

Thirdly, I'm excited to read "The Discovery" by Dan Walsh. I have never read anything by him and love to find new authors. The story line and cover of this book got me interested.

It's about a writer who passes away and leaves his grandson, who is also a writer, his estate. He discovers a manuscript written about Nazi spies and sabotage, but as he continues to read he sees its also a love story. The cover of this book is so beautiful. I'll have to wait till Apr. 2012 though.






 
Love on the Line

Fourthly, I can't wait to read Deeanne Gist new book, "Love on the Line" She is one of those writers who's books I love from the first page to the last and have a hard time putting down.

I love the historical details and humor in her books. This one looks like another good one. It comes out in October.



A Passion for God

Lastly I'd love to read "A passion for God: the spiritual journey of A. W. Tozer" by Lyle Dorsett. This biography looks good and a quick read, under 200 pages. I've only read one of Tozer's books, 'The Pursuit of God', which Tozer describes as...

"a modest attempt to aid God's hungry children so to find Him. Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame."

The Pursuit of God was a wonderful book and I'm looking forward to reading more about him in this one. It was released back in 2008.

July 4, 2011

Knowing God

It's a sad thing in our world today...that most people don't believe they can know God.  


I've been slowly reading a book called "Knowing God" by J. I. Packer. I must admit it is slow going. Not because its boring, but quite the opposite, it's giving me so much to absorb. Chapter 3 is called, 'Knowing and being known.' He starts out with some big questions, and then answers them with God's Word:

"What were we made for? ...To know God. 

What aim should we set ourselves in life? ...To know God.

What is the "eternal life" that Jesus gives? ...Knowledge of God. 

"This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Jn. 17:3

What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight and contentment than anything else? ...Knowledge of God.

This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me.' Jer. 9:23-24

What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives God most pleasure? ...Knowledge of himself. "I desired...the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." says God. Hos. 6:6"

In the second half of the chapter he talks about being known by God. And that: "...all my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me." He goes on to say:

"I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters."

When you really think about this, its mind boggling and humbling. It's also very comforting. He ends the chapter with these words:

"There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.

There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough).  

There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. We cannot work these thoughts out here, but merely to mention them is enough to show how much it means to know not merely that we know God, but that he knows us."

I wholeheartedly agree and feel truly thankful and blessed to know and be known by God. :)

"If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:3-5





July 1, 2011

Unbroken

This Father's Day, I bought my dad a book called "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand. I had recently read it and loved it. He's loving it too. :)


It follows the life story of Louie Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. This is a very inspirational read. That he survived being lost at sea, and then the horrific things he goes through while in Japanese prison camps, seem not only unbelievable, but unthinkable.

He comes home hateful and vengeful, but God has other plans for this man and during a Billy Graham meeting his life is changed. I highly recommend this book even if you don't usually read biographies. It will  move you.

side note: I just found out Universal  Pictures has bought the rights to this book and is making it into a movie! I really hope they stay true to the book and Zamperini's life that has glorified and honored the Lord.

*December 2014 - I have now seen the movie and thought it was really well done, though it does leave the last part of the book out. Hopefully many will be encouraged to read the book after seeing the movie. I know many gasped in our theater when the afterwards stated Louis choose forgiveness over revenge.




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