Skip to comments.The God Chasers; The Shack; He Loves Me; Quix Commentary on 3 books
Posted on 07/14/2009 11:41:13 PM PDT by Quix
The God Chasers by Tommy Tenney Book Excerpt & Commentary
I recently finished THE SHACK by William P Young and HE LOVES ME by Wayne Jacobsen.
I found both of them deeply moving, Biblical, edifying and helpful in drawing me closer to God.
Subsequently, a Navy Friend/ Christian Bro of 30+ years read me the riot act about THE SHACK. I found his rants about heresy completely without substance. Turns out he had not read it. Sheesh. It is, after all, a NOVEL! And, I found it exceedingly Biblical.
Some important Biblical truths, doctrines are affirmed with a sentence and lain aside as the tale proceeds to illustrate particular aspects of our relationship with God and Gods character and priorities. However, having read it once, I cant recall a single thing that struck me as unBiblical.
HE LOVES ME is similarly impactful. The two of them are, to me, truly in a class with Bunyans: Pilgrims Progress in terms of spiritual import and potential spiritual growth thereby facilitated.
My current volume has been one Ive sought for some months. It was recommended by one of Gods Vagabond Prophet sorts of characters who knew that I have long sought a deeper, more intense relationship with God. Note: I added some extra paragraphing below.
WARNING regarding the following: It will be a test for many regarding their sensibilities, assumptions, biases, comfort zones, priorities, self-righteousness, smugness, attitudes, human understandings, !!!!TRADITIONS!!!!, customs, habits, idolatries, . . . The choice will be to lay all aside and choose whatever God is doing, wishes to do in each individuals life
The consequences of such a choice will be far from inconsequential.
Heres a good chunk from the first chapter:
Running hard after GodPs 63:8
We think we know where God lives.
We think we know what He likes, and we are sure KNOW WHAT He dislikes.
We have studied Gods Word and His old love letters to the churches so much that some of us claim to know all about God. But now people like you and me around the world are beginning to hear a voice speak to them with persistent but piercing repetition in the stillness of the night:
I thought I did. At one time I thought I had achieved a good measure of success in the ministry. After all, I had preached in some of the largest churches in America. I was involved in international outreach efforts with great men of God. I went to Russia numerous times and helped start many churches there. Ive done a lot of things for God because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
But on one autumn Sunday morning, something happened to change all that. It put all my ministerial accomplishments, credentials, and achievements in jeopardy. A long-time friend of mine . . . in Houston . . . had asked me to speak at his church. I somehow sensed that destiny was waiting. . . .
I am a fourth generation Spirit-filled Christian, three generations deep into ministry, but I must be honest with you: I was sick of church. I was just like most of the people we try to lure into our services every week. They wont come because they are sick of church too. But on the other hand, though most of the people who drive by our churches, . . . may be sick of church as well, theyre also hungry for God.
. . .
Ironically, as a minister I was suffering from the same hunger pangs as the people who had never met Jesus before! I just wasnt content to know about Jesus anymore.
. . .
Its simply not enough to know about God. We have churches filled with people who can win Bible trivia contests but who dont know Him. I am afraid that some of us have been side-tracked or entangled by everything from prosperity to poverty, and weve become such an ingrown society of the self-righteous that our desires and our wants and those of the Holy Spirit are two different matters.
If were not careful, we can become so interested in developing the cult of the comfortable with our comfortable pastor, our comfortable church building, and our comfortable circle of friends, that we forget about the thousands of discontented, wounded, and dying people who pass by our comfortable church every day! I cant help but think that if we fail to even try to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then He sure wasted a lot of blood on Calvary. Now that makes me uncomfortable.
There had to be more. I was desperate for a God encounter (of the closest kind).
I returned home after speaking at my friends church in Texas. . . . the pastor called again. He said, Tommy, weve been friends for years now. And I dont know that Ive ever asked anybody to come back for a second Sunday in a row but would you come back here next Sunday too? I agreed. We could tell that God was up to something. Was the pursuer now being pursued? We were about to be apprehended by that which we ourselves were chasing?
This second Sunday was even more intense. No one wanted to leave the building after the Sunday night service. What should we do? my pastor friend asked. We should have a prayer meeting on Monday night, I said, with no other agenda. Lets gauge the hunger of the people and see whats happening. Four hundred people showed up that Monday for the prayer meeting, and all we did was seek the face of God. Something was definitely going on. A minuscule crack was appearing in the brass heavens over the city of Houston. Collective hunger was crying for a corporate visitation.
I went back home and by Wednesday the pastor was on the phone again . . . He is a fellow God chaser and we were in hot pursuit. His church had fueled a flaming hunger in me. They too had been preparing for pursuit. There was a sense that we were close to catching Him.
Thats an interesting phrase, isnt it? Catching Him. Really, its an impossible phrase. We can no more catch Him than the east can catch the west; theyre too far removed from each other. Its like playing chase with my daughter . . . When she comes and tries to catch me . . . I really dont have to run. I just artfully dodge . . . and she cant even touch me, because a six-year-old cant catch an adult. But thats not really the purpose of the game, because a few minutes into it, she laughingly says, Oh daddy, and its at that moment that she capturesmy heart, if not my presence or body. And then I turn and shes no longer chasing me, but Im chasing her, and I catch her and we tumble in the grass with hugs and kisses. The pursuer becomes the pursued.
So can we catch Him? Not really, but we can catch His heart. David did. And if we catch His heart, then He turn and chases us. Thats the beauty of being a God chaser. Youre chasing the impossible, knowing its possible.
This body of believers in Houston had two scheduled services on Sundays. The first morning service started at 8:30, and the second one followed and began at 11.
When I returned for the third weekend, while in the hotel, I sensed a heavy anointing of some kind, a brooding of the Spirit, and I literally wept and trembled.
The following morning, we walked into the building for the 8:30 Sunday service expecting to see the usual early morning first service sleepy crowd with their low-key worship.
As I walked in to sit down in the front row that morning, the presence of God was already in that place so heavily that the air was thick. You could barely breathe.
The musicians were clearly struggling to continue their ministry; their tears got in the way. Music became more difficult to play. Finally, the presence of God hovered so strongly that they couldnt sing or play any longer. The worship leader crumpled in sobs behind the keyboard.
If there was one good decision I made in life, it was made that day. I had never been this close to catching God, and I was not going to stop. So I spoke to my wife, Jeannie. You should go continue to lead people into the presence of God as a worshiper and intercessor. She quietly moved to the front and continued to facilitate the worship and ministry to the Lord. It wasnt anything fancy; it was just simple. That was the only appropriate response in that moment.
The atmosphere reminded me of the passage in Isaiah 6, something Id read about, and even dared dream I might experience myself. In this passage the glory of the Lord filled the temple. Id never understood what it meant for the glory of the Lord to fill a place. . . . God was there: of that there was no doubt. But more of Him kept coming in the place until, as in Isaiah, it literally filled the building. At times the air was so rarefied that it became almost unbreathable. Oxygen came in short gasps, seemingly. Muffled sobs broke through the room. In the midst of this, the pastor turned to me and asked me a question.
Tommy, are you ready to take the service? Pastor, Im just about half-afraid to step up there, because I sense that God is about to do something.
Tears were streaming down my face when I said that. I wasnt afraid that God was going to strike me down or that something bad was going to happen. I just didnt want to interfere and grieve the precious presence that was filling up that room!
For too long we humans have only allowed the Holy Spirit to take control up to a certain point. Basically, whenever it gets outside of our comfort zone or just a little beyond our control, we pull in the reins (the Bible calls it quenching the Spirit in First Thessalonians 5:19). We stop at the tabernacle veil too many times.
I feel like I should read Second Chronicles 7:14, and I have a word from the Lord, my pastor friend said.
With profuse tears I nodded assent and said, Go, go!
My friend is not a man given to any kind of outward demonstration; he is essentially a man of even emotions. But when he got up to walk to the platform, he appeared visibly shaky. At this point I so sensed something was about to happen, that I walked all the way from the front row to the back of the room to stand by the sound booth. I knew God was going to do something; I just didnt know where. I was on the front row and it could happen behind me or to the side of me. I was so desperate to catch Him that I got up and publicly walked back to the sound booth as the pastor walked up to the pulpit to speak, so I could see whatever happened. . . . God I want to be able to see whatever it is You are about to do.
My pastor friend stepped up to the clear pulpit in the center of the platform, opened the Bible and quietly read the gripping passage from Second Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Then he closed his Bible, gripped the edges of the pulpit with trembling hands, and said, The word of the Lord to us is to stop seeking His benefits and seek Him. We are not to seek His hands any longer, but seek His face.
In that instant, I heard what sounded like a thunderclap echo through the building, and the pastor was literally picked up and thrown backwards about ten feet, effectively separating him from the pulpit. When he went backward, the pulpit fell forward. The beautiful flower arrangement positioned in front of it fell to the ground, but by the time the pulpit hit the ground, it was already in two pieces. It had split into two pieces almost as if lightening had hit it [it was evidently a clear, thick walled, Lucite type plastic see through pulpit]! At that instant the tangible terror of the presence of God filled that room.
I quickly stepped to the microphone from the back of the room and said, In case you arent aware of it, God has just moved into this place. The pastor is fine. [It was two and a half hourse before he could even get up, thoughand even then the ushers had to carry him. Only his hand trembled slightly to give proof of life.] Hes going to be fine.
While all of this happened, the ushers quickly ran to the front to check on the pastor and to pick up the two pieces of the split pulpit. No one really paid much attention to the split pulpit; we were too occupied with the torn heavenlies.
The presence of God had hit that place like some kind of bomb. People began to weep and to wail. I said, If youre not where you need to be, this is a good time to get right with God. Ive never seen such an altar call. It was pure pandemonium. People shoved one another out of the way. They wouldnt wait for the aisles to clear; they climbed over pews, businessmen tore their ties off, and they were literally stacked on top of one another, in the most horribly harmonious sound of repentance you ever heard. Just the thought of it still sends chills down my back.
When I gave the altar call then for the 8:30 a.m service, I had no idea that it would be but the first of seven altar calls that day.
When it was time for the 11:00 service to begin, nobody had left the building. The people were still on their faces and, even though there was hardly any musiuc being played at this point, worship was rampant and uninhibited. Grown men were ballet dancing; little children were weeping in repentance. People were on their faces, on their feet, on their knees, but mostly in His presence.
There was so much of the presence and the power of God there that people began to feel an urgent need to be baptized. I watched people walk through the doors of repentance, and one after another experienced the glory and the presence of God as He came near.
Then they wanted baptized, and I was in a quandary about what to do. The pastor was still unavailable on the floor. Prominent people walked up to me and stated, Ive got to be baptized. Somebody tell me what to do. . . .
Two and a half hours had passed, and since the pastor had only managed to wiggle one finger at that point to call the elders to him, the ushers had carried him to his office. Meanwhile, all these people were asking me (or anyone else they could find) if they could be baptized. As a visiting minister at the church, I didnt want to assume the authority to tell anyone to baptize these folks, so I sent people back to the pastors office to see if he would authorize the water baptisms.
I gave one altar call after another, and hundreds of people were coming forward. As more and more people came to me asking about water baptism, I noticed that no one I had sent to the pastors office had returned.
Finally I sent a senior assistant pastor back there and told him, Please find out what Pastor wants to do about the water baptismsnobody has come back to tell me yet. The man stuck his head in the pastors office, and to his shock, he saw the pastor still lying before the Lord, and everyone I had sent there was sprawled on the floor too, just weeping and repenting before God. He hurried back to tell me what he had seen and added, Ill go ask him, but if I go in that office I may not be back either.
I shrugged my shoulders and agreed with the associate pastor, I guess its alright to baptize them. So we began to baptize people as a physical sign of their repentance before the Lord, and we ended up baptizing people for hours.
More and more people kept pouring in, and since the people from the early service were still there, there were cars parked everywhere outside the church building. A big open-air ball field next to the building was filled with cars parked every which way.
As people drove onto the parking lot, they sensed the presence of God so strongly that some began to weep uncontrollably. They just found themselves driving up onto the parking lot or into the grass not knowing what was going on. Some started to get out of their cars and barely managed to stagger across the parking lot. Some came inside the building only to fall to the floor just inside the doors. The hard-pressed ushers had to literally pull the helpless people away from the doors and stack them up along the walls of the hallways to clear the entrance. Others managed to make it part way down the hallways, and some made it to the foyer before they fell on their faces in repentance.
Some actually made it inside the auditorium, but most of them didnt bother to find seats. They just made for the altar. . . . it wasnt long before they began to weep and repent. . . .there wasnt any preaching. There wasnt even any music part of the time. Primarily one thing happened that day: The presence of God showing up.
When that happens, the first thing you do is the same thing Isaiah did when he saw the Lord high and lifted up. He cried out from the depths of his soul:
Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 6:5)
You see, the instant Isaiah the prophet, the chosen servant of God, saw the King of glory, what he used to think was clean and holy now looked like filthy rags. He was thinking, I thought I knew God, but I didnt know this much of God! That Sunday we seemed to come so close; we almost caught Him. Now I know its possible.
People just kept filling the auditorium again and again . . . We didnt have to announce our plans for Monday evening. Everybody already knew. Frankly, there would have been a meeting whether we announced it or not. The people simply went home to get some sleep or do the things they had to do, and then they came right back for more--not for more of men and their programs, but for God and His presence.
Night after night, the pastor and I would come in and say, What are we going to do?
What we meant was, I dont know what to do. What does He want to do?
Sometimes wed go in and start trying to have church, but the crying hunger of the people would quickly draw in the presence of God and suddenly God had us!
Listen, my friend, God doesnt care about your music, your midget steeples, and your flesh-impressive buildings. Your church carpet doesnt impress HimHe carpets the fields. God doesnt really care about anything you can do for Him; He only cares about your answer to one question: Do you want Me?
We have programmed our church services so tightly that we really dont leave room for the Holy Spirit. Oh, we might let God speak prophetically to us a little, but we get nervous if He tries to break out of our schedules. We cant let God out of the box too much because He can ruin everything. (That has become my prayer: Break out of our boxes, Lord, and ruin everything that isnt of You!)
Let me ask you a question: How long has it been since you came to church and said, We are going to wait on the Lord? I think we are afraid to wait on Him because were afraid He wont show up. I have a promise for you: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength (Is 40:31a).
Do you want to know why weve lived in weakness as Christians and have not had all that God wanted for us? Do you want to know why we have lived beneath our privilege and have not had the strength to overcome our own carnality? Maybe its because we havent waited on Him to show up to empower us, and were trying to do too much in the power of our own soulish realm.
. . .
. . . .
As far as I can tell, there is only one thing that stops Him. He is not going to pour out His Spirit where He doesnt find hunger. He looks for the hungry. Hunger means youre dissatisfied with the way it has been because it forced you to live without Him in His fullness. He only comes when you are ready to turn it all over to Him. God is coming back to repossess His Church, but you have to be hungry.
He wants to reveal Himself among us. He wants to come ever stronger, and stronger, and stronger, and stronger until your flesh wont be able to stand it. The beauty of it is this: neither will the unsaved driving by be able to resist. Its beginning to happen. I have seen the day when sinners veer off the highway when they drive by places of an open heaven. They pull into parking lots with puzzled looks, and they knock on the doors and say, Please, theres something here Ive got to have it.
Arent you tired o trying to pass out tracts, knock on doors, and make things happen? Weve been trying to make things happen for a long time. Now He wants to make it happen! Why dont you find out what Hes doing and join in? Thats what Jesus did. He said, Father, what are You doing? Thats what Ill do.
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD
May you prayerfully ponder the above narrative and seek God's Face for HIS preferred response on your part.
END TIMES LIST PING
Forgot to ping y’all.
Forgot to ping y’all.
You’re exceedingly welcome.
Have a blessed Wed and weekend IN THE LORD and with those you love.
I loved the shack. Some people just don’t get the point of the book.
I think you’re right.
Also, I think some folks are far too prissy, and soooo narrow as to be UNBiblical in their theology and doctrines.
They try and package God in a microscopic box of their own construction.
Anyway—THE SHACK was moving and helped deepen my VERY BIBLICAL understanding and appreciation for THE FATHER and THE TRINITY.
Thanks for your kind reply.
I’ve read the Shack. Do you all think he actually made it back to the shack and had the conversation with God while Mack was in his physical body or was he there in spirit?
I ask because I thought he went there in spirit because of him being hit by the drunk driver. I thought he was in a coma and had a choice to make whether to go and be with Missy or return to his family.
Writing in all bold characters makes it very difficult to read.
I’ve read The Chasers. What happens when the tinglies wear off and its time for these folks to pick up their Cross? Are they chasing God or a feeling?
The Shack I read until sirens went off. It may be a novel, dear FRiend, but it addresses spiritual things. I couldn’t possibly recommend it.
Haven’t read the third.
“Ruin Everything That Isnt of You, Lord!”
I have to wonder at this wording. Although that sham in Lakeland is now over, thank the Lord.
It’s written as a novel.
I don’t know how much of it was a true experience, if any of it.
It’s written, imho, as though he really went through those experiences in his body.
Otherwise, he’d not have been able to take sheriff etc. to the cave.
Sorry that’s a problem for you.
My screen is 3-4 feet from my aging eyes.
It’s a LOT easier for me.
I know folks who just keep burrowing deeper into God and God into them—year after year.
Music minister at my church is one of them.
God does things His ways according to His schedule.
However, I’m convinced He’s sick of playing church etc., too.
HE LOVES ME also makes it very clear that God LOVES US and want’s a VERY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.
Been looking for that level and quality of relationship with God for most of my 62 years. Getting closer.
Yes, THE CROSS is a very real part of such a life.
What troubled you about THE SHACK?
Perhaps you’re still too in charge for God to give you His best.
If you can’t understand God delighting in and acting on that kind of a prayer . . . I certainly don’t know . . . but perhaps there’s some brokenness left to be experienced.
Scripture makes clear the MORE OF YOU, LORD, LESS OF ME prayer is of God.
The above prayer is essentially the same one.
Loved ‘The Shack’
Not only was it a truly inspirational book, it has the added benefit of being a near perfect litmus test or identifying the self righteous, the arrogant, the people who believe that God should fit neatly inside their theology.
I’ll look up the other two books based on your comments.
INDEED! I'm finding it that way too!
identifying the self righteous, the arrogant, the people who believe that God should fit neatly inside their theology. . . . AND the PRISSY.
My beloved Navy Friend, Christian Bro is an engineer. Very exacting. Studies everything to the nth degree. Usually does back flips insuring that he's absolutely right about something. Then, he communicates in a way that is extremely difficult to dialogue with--kind of like trying to have a friendly water pistol mock fight with water from a fire hose in terms of the 'soul-force pressure' and wording, attitude involved.
Such ended his marriage decades ago. Wife ended up abandoning Christianity.
The son that lives in the same area seems to struggle with not having a robust self-respect, self-esteem. It seems to me that it's largely because Dad has always been such a hard act to follow and that it's always been so hard to really feel Dad's approval.
I think Dad probably feels somewhat similarly vis a vis Father God . . . though He'd probably intellectually disagree and cite a list of Scriptures to the contrary . . . he still seems to spend a lot of energy striving to please God. I sure know what that's like.
Maybe God needs to turn him every which way but loose . . . again.
I hope to post some from HE LOVES ME when I get back from the family reunion above Montrose Colo.
BTW, ANY FREEPERS IN WESTERN HALF OF COLO WHO'D ENJOY A VISIT OVER COFFEE? Going up Thursday early and will be heading back South Sunday.
Ahhhhhh . . . a visit from an old friend.
I’ll check out the Colson link. I like Colson a lot.