Attempted Robbery

I’ve been reading AW Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy” and Jay AdamsThe Grand Demonstration.” I love reading and have listed some great books below if you are looking for a reading list. One thing I love about reading is gaining a perspective on something I never have thought of before. Like the new movie that is out right now about Saving Christmas with Kirk Cameron. The perspective shift is wonderful and helpful in defining or redefining our preconceived notions about Christmas and all its hoopla. With what I am learning from Tozer and Adams is that part of the major area of concern is the fact that we are at fault of “libel on His character” through our self-derived assumptions about who God is and that it is “in itself a monstrous sin” as stated by Tozer (see full excerpt below). Adams states “Speculation about the ways of God that He has not revealed to us is wrong. To do it is attempted robbery. If, as He says, unrevealed truths about Himself and His purposes “belong” to Him, and not to us, the attempt to pry those secrets from His hand by means of human reasoning is nothing less than attempted theft.”

“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is — in itself a monstrous sin — and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.” – A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

 

Alphabetized by Author’s First Name

A.W. Tozer
The Knowledge of the Holy

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

A.W. Tozer
Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit (Pure Gold Classics)

David Platt
Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live.

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

Francis Chan
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Gregory Koukl
Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Jay Adams
The Grand Demonstration

Kyle Idleman
Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart

Lee Strobel
The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus

Mike Fabarez
Getting It Right: The Real Problem and God’s Perfect Solution

Mike Fabarez
Why the Bible?

Robert E. Coleman
Master Plan of Evangelism, The

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Pulpit Puppet Theology

Many of you know my story (you can read my testimony here) and why my heart is so set on reaching out to people who identify with Christ but may not display characteristics of what the Bible says a follower of Jesus should look like. I identified with Christ fully and completely. I was on his team. I was a big BIG fan and was emotionally and physically involved in my relationship with him. That is why I am so passionate about this. Had you told me in 2012 that you thought I was not a Christian I would have laughed at you. But I wasn’t. Sure, I loved Jesus, and everything he stood for. Loved going to church. Loved singing praise to him. But I was not willing to do everything he asked of me in the Bible. I was what they call a cafeteria Christian, picking and choosing the theology that worked for me and placing the rest in a file I called “antiquated”.

Jump forward a year and a half later as a full-fledged, bonafide, all-in, do-what-the-Bible-says, newborn Christian and I can tell you something that only is clear to me now. As they say hindsight is 20-20. The biggest mistake I made as a “Christian” (placed in quotes because I was not a Christian) was in creating my own version of who God is. I was majorly guilty of boldly and arrogantly (and ignorantly) breaking the first and second commandments. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not worship idols. I was a god-creating idolator in the first degree. I placed the word ignorantly in parenthesis because, while I should not blame my own sin on anyone other than myself, I do know that the majority of my issue came from a product of poor theology and a low view of God directly from the pulpit. I was given a large dose of what I call “Pulpit Puppet Theology”; a watered-down, sugary, stage-show of a God that in reality if you came face to face with him would crush the very soul you cling so tightly to. A soul that you view as somewhat clean and acceptable, yet with just a glimpse of God you would see in yourself a grotesque and unspeakably ugly sinner.

If you are a Christian or perhaps an unknowing “Christian” I encourage you to do one thing over the next month, and hopefully from there for the rest of your life. Study who God is. Raise your view of him. Put him back in his high and lifted up place. Look at the throne-room of your heart and daily replace yourself on that throne with Christ. Visualize it. Pray for it. Study it. Research it. Dig deep. I heard someone say at a conference that the first time they went to Japan, they came back thinking they knew everything. The second time they went they came back realizing how much more they wanted to learn. The third time, the realized just how much there is to learn and that they only scratched the surface. As I sat there listening to this man talking about business, I thought, “that is so true about God”. The more you dig into understanding who he is, the more you will realize the magnitude of your original view and how far you are from reaching a truly correct view of him. Someday in Heaven we will have a better understanding, but for now, Christian, don’t assume you know.

OMG = NOK (Not OK)

“OMG.” You see it everywhere in hashtags, on billboards, in texts, even on TV show title sequences. Can I tell you something? It breaks my heart. Seriously. Every time I see it or hear it, my heart crushes into my chest a little deeper. There are variations too on the same thing: Oh Em Gee, Oh My Gosh, Oh my God, Jeez, Jesus, they all stem from the same deplorable thing: breaking the third commandment. This is not a joke. It is a serious thing. Taking the LORD’s name in vain should not be a product of the time we live in. Be clear on this, it is a product of the deceptive design of Satan.

I am going to bring up something now that might be controversial. I will not apologize. I love you too much for that and too much is at stake. You may have been a Christian for a while and gotten desensitized to this. It is possible that this is not an issue for you because it never occurred to you that it is considered a sin (one of the top 3 by the way). But maybe, just maybe you are not fully saved. OK, now before you get defensive consider this: I spent 25 years thinking I was saved. On this topic I pretty much steered clear of saying “Oh my God” but occasionally I’d say it. Jeez was a regular statement for me. Then, I actually got saved. I was 39. Instantly my spirit was crushed every time I heard or saw any of the phrases taking the LORD’s name in vain. It was like the moment you decide you want to have a baby all you see are babies everywhere. It was all I could do to stop my ears. No one told me this, it was the Spirit inside me that was grieving what my own spirit never grieved before.

I am not saying that you personally are not saved if you say or use any of those statements, however I kind of am. Check yourself. While I am not God and I clearly do not have it all worked out I do know the God’s law is written on my heart and without any warning or theological training, this specific thing was so palpable written on my heart when I got saved and still is that I cannot help but think it should at least be viewed as a red flag and worth digging deeper to see if you are truly saved.

Humilty and Holiness

There have been two things I have been working on lately: humility and holiness. Humility seems somehow unattainable while holiness seems completely, unrealistically unattainable. The thing that keeps us from humility is our very palpable pride. The thing that keeps us from holiness is our very selfish self. The thing they both have in common is the Holy Spirit. None can be attained without Him.

Andrew Murray in his book “Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness” states, “The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility.” To fully understand humility we only have to look to its source: Jesus. To fully understand holiness we only have to give up everything to that Source.

Murray goes on to say “Jesus the Holy One is the humble One: the holiest will always be the humblest. There is none holy but God: we have as much holiness as we have God. And according to what we have of God will be our real humility, because humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”

Resolve to be holy. Resolve to be humble. Find humility and you will find holiness. Give everything everything everything to God today and spend as much time as you can with the Source.

The Fear of Hopeful Hope

Jen O'Sullivan with Renee Strauss

A very blond version of me at a white party I hosted to self-promote. With celebrity Renee Strauss of hit TLC show “Brides of Beverly Hills.”

Life was never promised to be easy for us as Christians or anyone for that matter. In fact, life will be hard. Sometimes really hard. Here in the United States, especially in Southern California, and even more so in South Orange County life is easy. The complaints I hear most are things like, “I have too much going on, my schedule is so overwhelmed that I can never find any time to do anything for myself.” “I’m so tired all the time and have no patience for my kids. All I do is yell at them constantly.” These comments are from us stay-at-home-moms who realistically should have considerably the best life on the planet. People are worn out wherever they live and whatever circumstances they live under. The big difference I find is in hope. Christians have a sure and firm hope. Even though things are bad here and we go through trials we still have assurance. People who have a hopeful hope are the ones I fear for the most.

When I look back at my pre-salvific life, I see a life full of abundance and things going my way. Even though when I was living those moments I thought things were hard and I had to work really really hard to get ahead but ahead I always got and my life was filled with things of this world that were dazzling both in relationships and objects. Now, post-salvation, my life is way harder than I would have ever thought possible. Things no longer “come easy” and trials and tests seem to be around every corner. God is sharpening, pruning, and disciplining me week after week. It is a brutal but necessary part of being a child of God.

Sharpening hurts. There is heat and sparks that fly but in the end I am becoming more and more sharp in my walk with God. The searing pain of learning how to speak with more mercy and grace. I am sharpened. The pride-crushing agony of learning to submit to my authorities and leaders. I am sharpened. The singe of realizing the amount of work it is to be an ambassador and not wanting to give up. I am sharpened.

Pruning is painful. Clip clip clip goes this and that in my life. Things I did not even consider a barrier to loving God is now a full blown assault on my walk. The daily barrage on my spirit with the conflict of TV. I am pruned. The struggle in giving up certain foods that God revealed to me are emotionally damaging fire-hoses. I am pruned. The true sadness in loosing friends and a career over following Jesus. I am pruned.

Discipline is hard. When a child that is not my own does something wrong I don’t discipline him. If my own child does something wrong I am all over him. Discipline is for his own good. I want him to succeed so in my love for him I must discipline him. The same is true for you and God if you are his child. The immature idea that it is ok to not claim cash on your taxes because everyone else does it and getting audited the first year of becoming a Christian. I am disciplined. The fit throwing tantrums that lead to stubbornly not studying the Bible and watching TV instead, our jealous God slammed me to the ground and hit me with the flu keeping me from going to multiple social gatherings I was so looking forward to. I am disciplined. The arrogant, self-serving, do-it-on-my-own mentality that used to serve me so well in my previous life now gets me a firm slap of humility when I stumble and trip in areas I used to glide through with ease. I am disciplined.

These pains and struggles, tests and trials are real and palpable. When God chooses you and you respond rightly by giving your life to Him, your life here on this earth will not get easier, nor will it stay the same. You are going to encounter troubles and pain and heartache like you never thought possible. But, the silver lining is that it is ALL for the glory of God, and as a true Christian you will deeply desire the glory of God. You are guaranteed through the sealing of the Holy Spirit an inheritance that you can’t even imaging. The angels in Heaven must look at us all the time shaking their heads and saying to each other “if they only knew the half of it.”

My hearts desire is for you to take a good hard look at your life. I came to Christ in true repentance and faith 25 years after I fully thought I was already saved! Believe me, it can happen, and looking back I know for sure, without a doubt, that I was not saved back then, but I definitely thought I was. Think about your life for a bit longer than a moment. Has it been hard and full of lessons and trials and tests and yes discipline from God or has it been a relatively easy life where things tend to go your way? Read 1 John. All of it. If you feel convicted in any way at all, start praying. Pray as much as you can for God to reveal himself to you. Question everything. Work out your salvation with intense effort. Think of a few friends that you have always respected their Christianity. Reach out to them. Ask them to meet with you and talk through your life. If you can’t think of anyone, please reach out to me. I would love to help you work out your salvation. Let’s audit yourself and know for sure. Find a sure and firm hope in your salvation. It is the most important thing you will ever tackle in your life.

Text me if you want to talk or I’d be happy to take you through a one-on-one discipleship program so we can work out your salvation now. 949-282-9745

 

Reposted with permission from:
LinkedCyclingWomen.com

Humility

What does it look like to be humble? All I know is I am the opposite of humility. I grew up with a mom who was a product of the Women’s Liberation Movement and a divorce which forced her to rely on only herself and teach her two girls the same. So, I in turn am my mother’s daughter and every word that describes what it means to be humble and have humility is not me. Meek, lowly, selfless, forgiving, merciful, gracious, un-entitled, a servant. Yet here I sit a servant to Christ. I am asked over and over again to be holy. I am asked over and over again to let go of my pride. I am asked over and over again to put on Christ.

I struggle with this every day. I see my child who is 6 resolve to give up his iPad for the next day at bedtime only to justify his need to be on it the very moment he wakes up. I think “wow, I am so like him with my issues and resolves to God.” Weak. So very weak. Humility is my goal. Even though it is foreign to me now, I will make every effort to study it in the life of Christ. I will make every effort to apply my studies to my own life. I will make every effort to do all of this by the strength of the Holy Spirit in prayer and supplication for humility. I am resolved to put on humility.

I can’t feel my toes and my head is spinning

I sit here in full astonishment wondering how I managed to let this happen again. Candy Coma. Full, complete, debilitating candy coma. It’s a few days after Halloween and each day I have tried a different tactic to help control my total lack of self control over Halloween chocolate. Day 1, Halloween Day: Buy all the bags of chocolate that I love and promise that I won’t eat any. Proceed to the car, place bags in car, and promptly pull out a piece. Just one. By the time I make it home (5 minutes later) I have eaten 4 more. By the time my son gets home from school (30 minutes later) there are only 7 left in the first large bag of peanut butter cups. This is not an exaggeration but the actual truth. I tell myself, just today. Tomorrow I will go on a juice fast. Day 2: Full just fast starting at 8am. Break Juice Fast at 9:30am. Don’t all those phytonutrients counteract peanut butter cups? Ok, so I’ll skip lunch. Day 3: Getting tons of work done on my iPad with my son’s rapidly declining bag of candy within arms length. My plan of action: eat it all because the quickest way to rid yourself of food that is bad for you is to eat it, right? or does the saying go “throw it down the garbage disposal”? …
anyhow, I can’t remember so I’m going for the former.

So, I have candy coma. I don’t think I can feel my toes at the moment and my head is spinning and I’ve totally done this to myself. So, what does this have to do with God? I am going to pay for my massive candy ingestion with a week full of addictive cravings to chocolate and migraine headaches that I will have to manage with small doses of caffeine. Why is this a problem? Why is anything we eat a problem? For me, if it causes me to have a lack of motivation, lack of focus, and lack of confidence, then that all translates into me being a tool God won’t use. He has a benched player that has sidelined herself. I am an ambassador that is unable to do her job. What we eat plays such an important role in our attitude and energy level that I wonder why we no longer take seriously the act of fasting. Fasting helps us to focus on God and not our bodily needs. It reminds us that when we feel the pangs of hunger that God is in control and we are not. It helps our mind to tell our body that God is more important. However from a nutritional standpoint, fasting is also a way of cleaning out our physical vessel. It is self-discipline in an effort to correct sin behavior. Take a moment to look at your own food portfolio and consider cleaning out both your pantry and your body of the things that take you out of the game and away from the goals of Christ.