Christianity, Lifestyle & Culture, Society and Culture, Thank You, Uncategorized

So, I’m Thankful

Thankfulness?

I’ve devoted a lot of time to the new direction of TheTDarrisBlog, and I’ve decided that I should start back with one thing that I think about each day: thankfulness. You might wonder, “Why thankfulness?” Well, it seems that a thankful heart is generally a happy heart, or at least a content one. A thankful attitude seems to make complaining uncomfortable, and it seems that thankfulness is the one thing which helps to keep the mind thoughtful all while keeping one’s passions sober.

I’m not as thankful as I should be

A major reason why I’ve decided to blog about thankfulness is because as I read the Bible, I am regularly reminded that I should be thankful. The Bible has many stories in which people who endured some terrible circumstances were able to sincerely tell God, and others, “Thank you”— or, they expressed some sort of gratitude and appreciation either during, or after these hard times. And, they were sincere about it!

Were they thankful for the hard times they endured? I doubt it. But, there seems to be a pattern of thankfulness concerning the troubles they endured because these experiences prepared them for a new phase in their lives, and other times, thankfulness was expressed because these indiviudals knew that their situations could have been worse! Certainly, there are other reasons why people were thankful, but that’s not the focus of this post 🙂

I want to develop a thankful heart

I want to be sincerely thankful for my life, and the experiences, etc., which God sees fit for me to endure. This will require a lot of courage, and of course, trust in Him— but I’m okay with that. Two years ago, I made a daily commitment to find a reason to be thankful, and to express that thankfulness to God during daily prayer time, in addition to living out that thankfulness each day of my life— I’m not perfect, I only get it right on some days, and on other days…not so much.

Thankful people are free!

And, I want to be free! I want to be able to endure life’s ups and downs, and still be thankful! I want to always find and hold on to the good in any situation, and allow it to further teach and mold me into being the person I should be.

I could go on, and on, but I think you get the point: I am dedicating a portion of this blog to thankfulness. Maybe I’ll even post on different aspects of thankfulness, like “how to be thankful”, effects of thankfulness and the need for more gratitude in everyday life. But, all-in-all, I’ll be blogging about reasons why I am thankful.

Some of you might remember the “Thankfulness” blog posts I published two years ago. This is a [better] continuation of that. And for those of you who like to dig a little deeper and read more about thankfulness, I will be adding some links and higlights from other articles, videos, etc., on some aspect of thankfulness. I’ll start with Merriam-Webster’s definition of thankful, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s definition article, enttitled, “Thanksgiving“. I hope you find this informative and useful as I have: Thankful and Thanksgiving.

Right now

2016 has been a very difficult year for me, but I’ve learned that I can, and will, endure these challenges. And one day, I hope to look back with even more thankfulness in my heart, and insights to share with others who need them.

So, tell me— why are you thankful?

Bible, Book Reviews, Books & Reading, Christianity, Opinion & Commentary, Reviews, Society and Culture, Uncategorized

Book Review: “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit” by A.W. Tozer

61ltk5gsbel-_ux250_I received A.W. Tozer’s “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit” from Moody Publishers.

This book holds another poignant message which challenges the Christian to attend another meditative self-review of his, or her, innermost values, and desires, so that he, or she, may realize the degree of importance to which he, or she, holds the personal relationship to, and with, God. In the first chapter, entitled, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”, Tozer begins by first distinguishing the difference between the natural world and the spirit world.

Then, in chapter two (“The Promise of the Father”), Tozer provides a brief, but constructive, introduction to the Holy Spirit as he describes His origin, role, and purpose, as a member of the Holy Trinity (or, Godhead) and as God in the Christian’s life. Tozer is clear in his description of the Holy Spirit even as he establishes the fact that the Christian must depend totally upon the Holy Spirit in order to effectively live for Jesus Christ.

Next, in the third chapter, entitled, “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit”, Tozer explains how the Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit— but after he asks seven vital questions:

  1. Is the Spirit-filled life for you (pg. 40)?
  2. Can you believe this part (i.e., to be Spirit-filled) is part of God’s plan (pg. 41)?
  3. Can you believe the Spirit is loveable (pg. 42)?
  4. Can you believe this is scriptural (pg. 43)?
  5. Do you want to be filled (pg. 44)?
  6. Do you want Him to be Lord of your life (pg. 46)?
  7. Are you sure you need Him (pg. 48)?

It is after the position of these questions, and some insightful commentary, that Tozer explains how to receive the Holy Spirit by referencing the Holy Bible:

  1. Present you Body to Him (Romans 12:1 – 2).
  2. Ask to be filled (Luke 11:9 – 13 and Psalms 2:8).
  3. Obey the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).
  4. Have faith in God (Galatians 3:2).

Finally, Tozer explains how to cultivate the Spirit’s companionship as he cites the scripture, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).” Perhaps Tozer’s statement (on page 56) not only summarizes Chapter 4 (i.e., “How to Cultivate the Spirit’s Companionship”), but it also harmonizes the message of this entire book:

“I don’t want to say this, but I think that some of you may not be ready for the message because you are more influenced by the world than you are by the New Testament. I am perfectly certain that I could rake up fifteen boxcar loads of fundamentalist Christians this hour in the city of Chicago who are more influenced in their whole outlook by Hollywood than they are by the Lord Jesus Christ. I am positive that much that passes for the [G]ospel in our day is very little more than a very mild case of orthodox religion grafted onto a heart that is sold out to the world in its pleasures and tastes and ambitions (1952).”

In this final chapter, Tozer also presents six important things which Christians must do in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit after he poses one important question (on page 54)— “Are you ready for this?”

After this question, Tozer enumerates some of the blessings and benefits of allowing the Holy Spirit to take on His rightful role in the Christian’s life. Then, Tozer lists the six important things which the Christian must either remember, or do, if he, or she, is ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit:

  1. The Holy Spirit is a living Person [therefore, the Christian must relate to the Holy Spirit as the Person He is] (pg. 57).
  2. Be engrossed with Jesus Christ (pg. 58).
  3. Walk in righteousness (pg. 59).
  4. Make your thoughts a clean sanctuary (pg. 60).
  5. Seek to know him in the Word (pg. 61).
  6. Cultivate the art of recognizing the presence of the Spirit (pg. 63).

So, to summarize this book, Tozer is explaining that while a Christian can have sincerely accepted and received the free gift of salvation offered to all by the Self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is also possible for that same Christian to not be filled by the Holy Spirit, and as a result, miss out on a very intimate, life-changing and wholesome experience with the One whom Jesus promised would be our “Comforter” , and the One who would teach us all that we would need to know after Jesus ascended to the Father in Heaven (John 16:7).

This is another one of Tozer’s works which I have added to my personal library, and I highly recommend that Christians who wish to know how they can live out their purpose read this book. Tozer’s message can help the seeking Christian to understand that the Christian already has a purpose (Isaiah 43:7)—- the Christian just needs to know God’s plan for his, or her, life so that living out that purpose can be done (Jeremiah 29:11 – 13). But, this is done by cultivating an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Tozer’s fearless assessment and rebuke of the modern Church’s seemingly mass abstention from the influence and leadership of the Holy Spirit, and its widely evident conformity to many of the world’s ways and attitudes, further encourages me to take greater critical self-assessment in order to truly understand my personal need for more of the Holy Spirit’s influence and leadership in my life, and I hope this book encourages other Christians to do the same.

Books & Reading, Essays and Articles, Uncategorized

2016 Summer Reading List

School’s out, it’s summer time, and it’s time to do some reading! In addition to my “required” readings for some publishing companies, I plan to read books by some highly respected authors, movers and shakers. For each book I read, I will write and publish a review. The following is a list of the authors and their works:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Strength to Love (1963)
  • Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958)
  • The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)
  • Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
  • Why We Can’t Wait (1963)

Why MLK, Jr.? Because anyone who can use Jesus’ teaching to lead a movement which impacted a nation and the world probably has some ideas and information which I need for myself in order to make me a better person in every way. To learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writings, see his bibliography on the King Center’s website at http://www.thekingcenter.org/books-bibliography#BookMLK

A.W. Tozer

  • God’s Pursuit of Man
  • How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit (currently reading)
  • Tozer for the Christian Leader
  • The Pursuit of God
  • Paths to Power
  • Prayer

In April 2016, I read A.W. Tozer’s book entitled, “Prayer”. This was the first book I’ve read by Tozer. You can read my summary of this book, and the impression it made on me by reading my book review here on the TDarris Blog, or by visiting Amazon.com.

Tozer’s ability to teach subjects with enough detail and concision to help the reader to get an informative introduction to a subject is one of the reasons why I’ve added A.W. Tozer to my 2016 Summer Reading List. Another major reason is because he teaches essential biblical concepts which seem to be missing from much of what is considered to be “Christian” teaching and preaching in today’s society. Morevoer, he teaches with the intent to inform, correct and influence people for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Robert Johnston

“Jesus Called – He Wants His Church Back: What Christians and the American Church are Missing”

I am reading this book for a publisher, and will post this book to my blog and on retailer websites. In the review, I will share my impressions of this book, in addition to an overall summary.

If I have the time (this summer) I want to read books by…

Robert Greene

During my days as an intern, a former co-worker introduced me to “Power” by Robert Greene. She explained to me that I should read it because the book highlighted and detailed some of the major characteristics, strategies and related works of some major historical figures and how their characteristics and strategies could be used in daily situations in career, education and other personal and professional pursuits. So, I did some research on Robert Greene and his popular book, and I discoverred that he had give books in which he explored similar topics. I’ve purchased “Power”, and after I finish that book, I plan to read his other four book. So, here Robert Greene’s books:

  • Power
  • Mastery
  • The Art of Seduction
  • The 33 Strategies of War
  • The 50th Law

This summer, I’ll be reading these books while I’m studying for my teacher certification exam, managing two organizations, researching, reading, writing, editing, narrating and publishing poetry and prose, exercising a whole lot (!), and studying dance amongst other things. So, I’m giving myself 12 weeks to completly read all of these books, and to write and publish a review for each one.

Other books I want to read this fall:

  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • The World As I See It by Albert Einstein
  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
  • Gandhi: An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiements with Truth
  • The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois
  • Narrative of the Life and Works of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
  • The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

What’s on your summer reading list? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments section, or let me know on Instagram or Twitter @TDarris.

Book Reviews, Christianity, Opinion & Commentary, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: “Paths to Power” by A.W. Tozer

I’ve received A.W. Tozer’s Paths to Power from Moody Publishers. Although short in length, the stimulating message in this book encourages the Christian to honestly, and thoroughly, examine his, or her, life so that the Christian can truly understand, and  live out (or, should I say, “obey”) the Word of God.

Tozer’s argument is brief, poignant, insightful, and hard-hitting, but encouraging. And, he presents seven major positions which he has carefully identifies as hindrances to the modern Church’s ability to function effectively as the First Church did. These are:

  1. The modern Church’s general lack of understanding, focus and commitment to its God-given mission, purpose, and work in the earth.
  2. Man’s failure to identify and carry-out his earthly duties, versus God’s duties.
  3. To carry out the instructions for godly living which God carefully provided in the Holy Bible.
  4. The lack of productivity in the modern Church, and resulting inability to demonstrate the fruits of God’s Word.
  5. The easily observable phenomenon that the lifestyles of many modern Christian’s looks more similar to that of their non-Christian counterparts than those of the early Church.
  6. The lack of outpourings of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the modern Christian Church, and some of the unscriptural teachings and beliefs concerning it which are held by many modern Christians.
  7. The lack of unity which is very evident and widespread in the modern Church.

Although this book was first published in the 1940s, its description of a modern Church which (1) fails to demonstrate the power of God, and (2) to take full responsibility for its own sinful actions, (3) confuses the Bible’s teachings on such foundational teachings as atonement, redemption, salvation, justification and grace, in order to justify a life which exhibits questionable morals, (4) and over-emphasizes the “grace” of God, (5) the lack of spiritual unity which is still widespread throughout the modern Church, and a plethora of other serious matters which ultimately result in  the generally, “powerless” modern Christianity which we can easily see, today— one that is in great contrast to the Christianity of the First Church.

“Paths to Power” is the first book by A.W. Tozer that I’ve read, and now, I expect to include his works in my home library because his approach to teaching biblical concepts seems to be simple, straightforward, and heartfelt. His passion for the Christian to truly know God is evident from the beginning to the end of this book. Moreover, his usage of plain and clear language makes this book usable and enjoyable for the serious student of the Bible, and for the person who is simply curious to know more about the Christian life.

I highly recommend this book to every member of every church, and to every Christian— especially to those who are members of, or are influenced by Western Christianity, because, with this book, Tozer is challenging and encouraging every person who considers himself, or herself, to be a Christian to undergo self-evaluation and to compare his, or her, life to the teachings of the Bible, and to make the changes in the areas of that life, as needed.

Poetry and Prose, Uncategorized

A Pretty Poem

A Pretty Poem by Teyuna T. Darris

Bible, Bible verses, Christianity, Lifestyle & Culture, Society and Culture, Thank You, Uncategorized

I’m thankful for the Resurrection

I’m continuing my “thankfulness” posts on Easter 2016 because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the existence of my faith, redemption and salvation. I’m grateful for the life which Jesus lived on this earth in order to make it possible for all humanity to be able to experience peace and atonement with God, the Father.

Continue reading “I’m thankful for the Resurrection”

Bible, Christianity, Lifestyle & Culture, Society and Culture

Those Christians & Stuff

I often come across YouTube videos and Internet articles through which people of different ages, and backgrounds, ask questions about Jesus Christ, Christianity, Christians, the Bible, the Church, church culture, etc., and other topics, as it pertains to these. It’s been on my heart to answer the questions through my blog, for now.

No, I’m not a pastor, or a clergymember. I am a Christian who studies the Bible and seeks to do what it says— and sometimes I get it right, and other times, I don’t, just like the Bible said would happen.

So, feel free to send any questions you may have on any of these, and other topics, and what the Bible says about them, and I will do my best to answer you. Also, I may have guest bloggers to respond to some of your questions, too— sometimes, they do a better job at explaining things than I do. Either way, we’ll post the responses to your questions on this blog.

The purpose of this page is just to help others to get a better understanding of Jesus Christ and Christianity and what the Bible says about them, and other things we deal with in life. Both Christians and non-Christians are welcome to post questions on this page.

You can send your questions to me at teyunatdarris@gmail.com, or post them in the comments section of this page. You are welcome to send your questions anonymously, if you’d like.

Check out this video, called, “What in the World is a Christian?” by Impact Videos Productions. Their YouTube Channel can be found here.