I am a Christian, and have been a Christian since I was a young child. But as the case with many, it was not always a perfect story; I didn’t simply nod as the preacher spoke and went on my merry way. I’ve wrestled with doubts, some as big as they come, and I have waded through despair, and misery, in my desperate search for Truth. I have cried tears of woe as I stared into the depths of my soul, seeking God’s guidance even when I was not sure if the God that I had always worshipped existed.
So when I am speaking with someone who does not believe in God, and when they may think that I have never thought about the hard questions, I can assure them that I have thought extensively about my doubts, and I have felt the dark of hopelessness wrap around my faith hanging by a thread. And that is why I want to tell them about the faith that I have revisited; a faith that has lasted throughout my lifetime amidst times when I doubted its substance. You can read about this time in my life Here, and my recovery, Here.
Although I have recovered from the specific doubts that I had at that time, it took me a long time to really sense God’s presence back in my life like I felt it at all of those youth events, retreats, and missions trips, or at times when I was simply at a “better place”. And it is still something that I pursue wholeheartedly; not that God has ever left me, for His Spirit abides in us throughout our life after our conversion, but that I had lost a Sense of His Presence, and that I always want to pursue Him.
How to regain that Sense of God’s Presence is what “The Pathway to God’s Presence” by Tom Elliff is written about. The book was published by CLC Publications in Ft. Washington, PA. Printed in the USA.
The title of the book reflects the theme; searching for God’s Presence. Elliff takes the reader through various stages of recognizing a lost sense of God’s presence, our reaction to that lost sense, and what we are to do to when we find ourselves there. The author illustrates his point through referencing the story of Moses speaking with God on the mountain, when at the same time, the people of Israel are making an idol out of Gold because they lost their sense of the True God’s presence.
Elliff makes several key points in his book about how to regain your sense of God’s Presence, and those are found in chapters 5 & 6 predominantly, starting with the importance of prayer, and going into three C’s: Communion, Conflict (wrestling with the Lord), and Conformity.
As someone who has struggled with doubt, and as someone who has been in tears, many times, wondering where my passion for the Lord, and my awareness of His Presence has gone, this book has renewed my mind with that fact that this walk of faith that we are all on needs our attention, and immediate action. When our lives are busy, and we can’t seem to find time to spend with the Lord, we need to realize that we DO have time, but we are not seeing spending time with the Lord as important enough to us. This NEEDS a change because He is the foundation of our being, and we are Called to seek Him, and Love others. But how can we do this if we tell God, “I’m too Busy, try tomorrow, next week, or even next month”? We NEED God, and we NEED a sense of His presence to guide us.
The positives that I see from this book is that the author really takes you on a practical walk through on how to notice and address the issue. He breaks a lot of his chapters down into sub-section lists that are very helpful for the organization of the book, as well as the reader’s thought process.
The negatives would be that by the way that the author words some of his points, it makes it seem like he is saying something that would not be accurate to his beliefs. For instance, on page 26, the author writes “The glory of God will be removed from your life any time you are unwilling to come to terms with Him regarding any known sin”. In that quote, it would seem that the author is suggesting that the Holy Spirit would remove himself from us based on our unfaithfulness; which we know is simply unorthodox (not within Church tradition). But we also know that this was not what the author was trying to say because on page 75, after he quotes Duncan Campbell, he explains the quote by saying, “it was not that he felt he had lost his salvation, but rather there was a dryness, a lost sense of the presence of God”.
To get a better sense on his intent, watch the book trailer by Clicking Here
That being said, I know what he was trying to say, but Semantics is a BIG deal when it comes to discussing theology. And so I would caution the author on that. The author also makes various points about God not using someone in unrepentant sin (pg. 26, 28). Though the Lord commands us to repent, the Lord can call anyone, and change their heart. However, I do not want to dock my rating of the book based on a different understanding of the Scriptures that is not a cut and dry issue on either side.
As far as the physical book quality: The binding is tight, no pages are loose, the cover is attractive, the pages are thick and are easy to flip through, and the book was published and printed in the USA. CLC Publications produces just as quality books as larger publishing houses do.
“If your attitude is that the presence of God should be sought after you have tended to an endless list of other responsibilities, Satan will insure that your list will grow increasingly longer. A lost sense of God’s presence signals that it is time for immediate action” – Pg. 67-68
A prayer that the author suggested praying to the Lord:
“Lord, I know I’ve lost the sense of Your presence. I can’t seem to will myself back into a more spiritual state. I’m both confused and helpless, and it’s in this state of distress that I call upon You” – Pg. 70
“Hours of study, doctrinal orthodoxy, feverish religious activity and compassionate ministry to others are each commendable, but they cannot take the place of knowing God” – Pg. 89
“It is the presence of God you should desire more than all else. It is worth searching for. It is worth staying in the search until you find it. And once God blesses you with the restoration of His glory, it is worth going on in such a fashion that you have both the vital and visible signs that He is with you”. – Pg. 133
Yes/No: Yes, it is a book that would help someone if they find themselves dealing with this issue.
For Who: Individuals. When you are dealing with these personal issues, although having a supportive and praying friend is helpful, as the book affirms, doing this book in a group setting would not be proper because those who deal with this issue will not receive the proper one-on-one attention that they would need from a mentor, or a good friend.
Ranking 1-10: 8
Explanation of ranking: Overall, the book is helpful, and it makes a lot of good points, but the wording is something that would be confusing to the reader, and it is possibly misrepresenting the author’s actual views, from what I can tell.
Right now, in the month of April 2014, this book is on sale for only $7.50, Plus shipping.
For $7.50, you can purchase a book that is written to address the issue of losing that “new” feeling of faith that may be lost.
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