Chasing God

( 5 )

Overview


Maybe you’ve never asked the question out loud, but you’ve wondered. You do the things that look good on paper: read your Bible, pray, attend study groups and go to church on Sundays.
 
But you aren’t convinced you really know Him.
 
Angie Smith understands, because she had run circles around the...
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Chasing God

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Overview


Maybe you’ve never asked the question out loud, but you’ve wondered. You do the things that look good on paper: read your Bible, pray, attend study groups and go to church on Sundays.
 
But you aren’t convinced you really know Him.
 
Angie Smith understands, because she had run circles around the same paths searching for Him, frustrated at her lack of progress. And she probably would have continued to do so had it not been for one realization that changed everything.
 
She wasn’t following God; she was trying to catch up with Him. 
 
And without realizing it, you may be as well.
 
It’s a distinction that affects every aspect of our lives with Christ, and it begins with learning where we’ve relied more on man’s explanation of God than God Himself.
 
So many requirements, so many rules, and so much guilt where there is supposed to be freedom. It’s the reason you wonder if you’ve measured up, and the nagging voice that tells you you’re a failure as a Christian.
 
Three simple words changed everything for Angie, and she believes they can do the same for you.
 
Stop chasing God.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Christian author Angie Smith (Mended; I Will Carry You; What Women Fear) has always contended that God has beautiful ways to remind us to simple truths; truths that we somehow still manage to misread or ignore. Her instructive Chasing God tracks her own central misconception about interacting with the Lord and how a sudden realization provided a saving grace.

Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Concerned about the sincerity and strength of her Christian faith, Smith (Mended), the wife of Selah lead singer Todd Smith, feels like she's reaching out for a distant and unattainable relationship. She worries that she will never achieve the same closeness that she thinks other Christians to have with God; she's just "chasing God." The author, who is also a blogger and speaker, comes to some revelations and more realistic assessments of her situation in this conversational book geared toward people like her who doubt their faith because the expectations they hold themselves to are too lofty. Smith eventually discovers that it's not all about the Bible studies and prayer lists; it's more simple—she needs to stop trying so hard. Smith's conversational reflection offers Christian readers a respite from worrying so much about the depth of their faith and instead gives them the opportunity to make a "course correction" that gives them more faith in their faith and their God. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433676611
  • Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2014
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 152,952
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah), author of I Will Carry You, What Women Fear, and Mended. She is one of the most popular speakers and blog writers in the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN.
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Read an Excerpt

chasing GOD


By Angie Smith

B&H Publishing Group

Copyright © 2014 Angie Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4336-7661-1



CHAPTER 1

Monday

Ultimately the man who comes to obey God will love Him first ... Let us therefore learn that the love of God is the beginning of religion, for God will not have the forced obedience of men, but wishes their service to be free and spontaneous ... Lastly we learn that God does not linger over the outward sign of achievement but chiefly searches the inner disposition [motive], that from a good root good fruits may grow.

~ John Calvin


* * *

We lived at the top of a winding hill, and from the balcony off my bedroom I could see a good part of the city. Especially at night, when it was all lights and silence except for the occasional plane flying overhead.

I would stand with my toes between the metal bars and look down the streets and then out at the water in the distance. I would imagine that I was part of a grand adventure, and that my life was encapsulated in an epic story. It felt better than loneliness.

The truth was that none of the people in the houses I could see knew my name and they didn't speak the language I spoke. We were strangers in a foreign country, doing our best to blend into the Japanese culture with our bright red hair and awkward accents.

Our apartment building had only three floors, with one family on each. We were in the middle, right below Yenny and her family and right above another European family who we befriended mostly because their video game selection overshadowed their attitudes. We would play Lode Runner on the "Family Entertainment System" until my mother would phone down and tell us supper was ready. Aside from those two families, there was no one who spoke English within walking distance. During the daylight hours you could hear all the laughter and chatter of families while they strung up laundry and watched their kids play. They would nod and wave, and we would do the same, but we didn't know each other's names.

We bowed our heads and smiled, but we didn't share life.

So much kindness, but still a deep sense of "not belonging," and always wondering what everyone thought of the little American girls who stared off the balcony.

But Yenny was very nice. And I liked to go up to her floor on weekends when her parents would make pancakes and we would play "orphans" and hide under her bed. She had a lot more imagination than she did toys, and she was perfectly content with that.

On Christmas morning one year, I called her up to ask her what Santa had brought her. She explained that she had gotten a few good gifts and one "really special one."

I was expecting a new tape deck or "Teddy Ruxpin," but as soon as I asked her what it was, she said excitedly, "A BIBLE!"

I wrapped things up with her and hung up the phone, explaining to my family that evidently Yenny hadn't acted right this year because Santa had basically forgotten her.

My sister asked what she got, and I told her.

She shook her head sadly from side to side.

"That's it? A Bible? Awful ..."

"I know." I replied solemnly. "And she seems like such a good kid."

"Was she crying?" Jennifer asked.

"No." I shook my head, incredulous at the reality. "She was excited."

"Well don't tell her about our Cabbage Patch dolls."

"I won't. It'll be too much right now."

Later that night Yenny asked me to come up so we could show each other our gifts. I brought a board game and some candy from my stocking because there was no need to pour salt in the wound of her punishment. I mean, clearly Santa did love me the most, but I didn't want her to get all upset. There's always next year, you know?

"Come on in!" Her mother smiled, the door open wide. Yenny stood behind her and motioned for me to come in as she darted down the hallway to her room.

She asked me about my loot and I laid it out cautiously, downplaying the abundance of stuff I had left at home.

I cleared my throat.

"And what about you? You said you got some chocolate, right? And a, umm, a Bible?"

Her face lit up.

I can see her now, sitting with her back to the window and the city sparkling down below as she reached under her bed and pulled out a box with her name on it.

The wrapping was torn, but still covered a good bit of the gift, so I could tell she had saved every bit of it. I thought about the way we tore through ours like a hurricane, filling black trash bags and grabbing at whatever was left with our names on it.

She slid it out and opened the box, revealing a hardback Bible with images of different characters on the cover. She smiled and handed it to me. "Isn't it beautiful?"

It was beautiful. I mean, as beautiful as a Bible could be. Which was obviously not as beautiful as a doll that told you when she needed to nap and eat. But still, I wanted to be encouraging.

I opened the pages and scanned the stories, asking her to tell me what some of them were about. She obliged willingly, all the while reminding me it was the first one that was just hers.

I handed it back to her and watched her leaf through the pages slowly, taking it in again. I knew in that moment that Yenny didn't think she had gotten the short end of the stick. And I also started to realize she saw her gift as more than a pretty storybook.

After a few minutes she tucked it back in the box and we played the way we always did, but I was distracted by the memory of her staring at the words with life on her face. I wondered what she saw there, and why it made her so happy.

It was the first experience I can recall having with the Bible.

A little girl in a big city, clinging to the few people that God had put in her midst.

I wish I could go back for a moment and watch that little girl climb down the twenty-two stairs to her apartment after hugging her friend good-bye. I wish I could see her slide open the balcony door as she did every other night, but this time having a new question for the night.

"What makes her love that book?"

Because the truth of the matter is that the little redheaded girl would grow to be a woman who loved the same Lord, and who treasured His Word like the finest gift under any Christmas tree. And there's a part of me that would long to whisper to her as she looked as far as her eyes could see—to tell her all that she could see and all she would ever know in this great life was breathed by the One who spoke the words in the book just one floor above her.

And maybe she would know, even then, that the nights and the languages and the loneliness and misunderstandings were for her good. They would teach her things she would rely on later.

I would also tell her that the planes she counted every night carried people all over the world, and that one day she would take her seat on many of them. She would have cried from fear, but I would reassure her.

One day you'll know why she wrapped it up that way, and you will understand the tenderness of the pages turning. You'll find the refuge you've tried to create for yourself.

And one day, many years from now, He will be Your hope.

She would have seen the city differently—not just as a child, but for years to come.

I know the curiosity that burned in her, and it was only recently that I felt it again. I was taller, though not much, and my toes pressed into wet sand while waves kissed my feet and tugged me forward over and over.

I wasn't playing games about being an orphan or trying to beat a high score, but I was still on the second floor pretending instead of allowing the reality of God to be bigger than the dreaming of Him.

I was acting like a Christian, doing things Christians did, and generally succeeding at being "A Christian." At least, on paper.

But my fingers didn't cling to the words the way hers did, and a good part of my mind wondered things I was scared to even say out loud. What if none of this is real? What if I'm not doing it right? What is it that makes faith look more like a treasured gift than a consolation prize? What makes this dance feel true to my spirit, and where do I look for the answers?

Others have met Him; they've been in His presence. They've been consumed by His love for them, and I don't know how.

It's not for lack of trying, either. If chasing God was an Olympic sport, I feel certain I would be on a Wheaties box within a matter of months. Effort. More effort. Doing. More doing. Trying. A little more trying. Have I mentioned trying? Okay, good.

Despite that, I hadn't grown closer to Him because I had a faulty understanding of my role and His. Truth be told, it's a pattern that would have continued were it not for the answer that came to me in a moment of desperation.

How do I find You, Lord?

I didn't hear His voice audibly, but I understood what He was saying and it rattled me deeply. Three words that would change my entire approach to Christianity, and would allow me to be His in the way He always intended for me to be.

Stop.

Chasing.

Me.

I didn't know for a long while what that meant or what it would look like, but I knew He had given me a song, and for the first time in my walk, I was more concerned with singing than I was the people who passed the harp around.

What seemed at first to be a case of semantics quickly proved to be the key that unlocked my faith.

We aren't supposed to chase Him.

The parts of our walk that feel like a hunt are the areas where we've confused man's idea of God with God Himself. They're the places where we've looked at the wrong measuring tool to tell us how we're doing, and then promote frustration and the sense that we're way behind the pack.

We're going to unpack this in the coming chapters, and I'm going to encourage you to just let the Lord speak as you read, showing you the ways you may have convinced yourself to pursue God without God actually asking you to do so. It's a new way of thinking about the journey, and in order to begin, we have to go all the way back to the start and see where we've allowed skewed interpretations to send us running after what we perceive to be the right goal.

Even the very concept of "salvation" might be a little muddy to many of us, so it's good to just take a step back and study what Scripture says about it. Maybe you're nothing like me in this area, but honestly, I didn't really get it at all. It felt a bit like a club where I had to learn a secret handshake and a password, and I was so confused about why that was the way the God of the universe had set things up.

I realized that even from the very beginning of my Christian life I was doing things that I thought I was supposed to, yet they weren't reassuring me or making me feel like I was a "member."

Trust me. By the end of this book, you'll understand how VERY confused I was about all the "Christianese," and how pitiful my attempts were to look like the rest of the bunch. But when I felt the Lord urging me to write this book, it was because I really understood what it was like to long for Him but not know Him.

And maybe (Maybe? Please?) you've wondered some of the same things.

He's God. Not a formula.

This book was inspired by my own bumbling attempts to understand what the Christian walk looked like. I was so concerned with fulfilling the requirements that I missed the heart of the gospel.

In other words, I used religion to fill in the gaps of my faith.

I was too tangled in the details to recognize the point, and it wasn't the way He intended our relationship to be.

Let's sit with the Word and ask the Lord to give us a fresh glimpse of His calling on our lives. And while we're at the beginning, let's also make a little commitment to each other. This isn't about denominations or legalism, it's about a genuine desire to know, understand, and obey the Bible. You might not agree with everything I'm going to present to you, and that's okay. You're allowed to be wrong.

Do tell me you're giggling and not grabbing that last paragraph to post online, completely out of context.

Because to take one sentence out of context and run with it would be irresponsible, wouldn't you agree? It renders the big picture irrelevant, and pits us against things we don't even have exposure to.

I've done it myself many times.

And so have you.

In fact (caution: sweeping, bold-worthy statement is about to be made), I think the church has done a pretty good job of taking things out of context at times. We love to quote verses but we don't necessarily know where or how they fit into the grand scheme of God's Word. We pick and choose and print them on our children's bedroom walls, but we can't say we've ever read that particular book of the Bible.

Obviously this is a huge generalization, but I've found myself doing this at times. Desiring truth but not really feeling like it's possible to attain it for myself. Yes, I can physically read the Bible, but how in the world am I supposed to understand what it says? There are smart people who can draw me pictures, right?

I'm asking the Lord to speak to you as you read. I hope the process of learning more about the true heart of God will bless you the way it has me, and I'm eager to walk alongside you in what I hope will be a fresh start in your faith.

With that said, I'm well aware that there's a lot of potential for confusion and questioning as we explore together what it means to have a relationship with God, so here's the heads-up before we start working our way through it all.

I don't have all the answers.

God does.

He gave us some of them.

Those are the ones we need to spend our lives studying.

The rest are for Him to reveal when He chooses, if at all.

But He has given us what we need to rest and we should not be nearly as unsettled in the mystery as we are settled in the promises.

Here are three words you are going to have to get used to saying if you're going to follow Jesus: I don't know.

I realize that's uncomfortable. In a few paragraphs, you'll see I'm the one who knocked everyone else down to get to the front of the "I need more information" line.

I'm seriously obsessed with checklists and the feeling of accomplishment and completion. I'm relatively intelligent according to standardized testing, and I think diagramming sentences is fun. I read a lot of books written by dead people (they were not in that state when said books were written), and I hold a Master's degree in developmental psychology.

In addition, I can solve the puzzle before the Wheel of Fortune contestants at least 60 percent of the time.

I'm a thinker. A learner. An evaluator.

In other words, I'm a likely candidate to chase God.

I'm one of those people who want to wrestle it to the ground until it submits in all its clarity. If I were being honest with you, I would say that I'm surprised I've ended up where I have with a God who leaves so much gray.

Ultimately, what I found was that the gray only hovers in the secondary issues, and I can live with that because what matters is in solid black and white.

But it wasn't always this way; in fact, up until the last several years I was doing a much better job imitating other Christians than I was God, and it wasn't working.

I read a lot of books about spiritual disciplines and I decided I was going to live them out as best I could. I tried to be creative with it because I didn't want to be one of those boring rule-keepers, so I bought leather-bound journals and colorful markers. I made lists of behaviors I wanted to change, complete with Bible verses expounding on the reasoning.

I would pick a virtue for the day and focus on living it out. At the end of the day I would write down my successes and failures, and would make a plan for how to do better the next day. I know what you're thinking, and I assure you I had the same question.

How could this possibly go wrong?

(Note: Reader, meet sarcasm. She is a friend of mine, and she likes to jump in periodically. I hope you'll love her like I do.)

It was an intense amount of work, that's for sure. But it wasn't getting me anywhere. Still, I kept at it because I was sure I just hadn't found the right method.

Maybe it was the fact that I didn't have post-it notes with Bible verses on my mirror. Could be because I listened to secular radio on the way to work. Noted.

Tuesday will be better, I kept telling myself.

But Tuesday never came.

My faith was a perpetual Monday.

Get filled up at church on Sunday, figure out how to try and apply what I learned to my own life, and then spend a full day failing. Really? This is the goal? Because it feels like prison.

A prison I could escape from if only I could find the right key ... surely there's a way ...

In case you haven't picked up on this, I'm what you might call "determined." Or at least I like to say it that way because it sounds much more lovable than it's abrasive synonyms, "stubborn" and "prideful."

I would scribble notes to myself during church because half the time I didn't understand what the lesson was about and I knew I needed to do some digging in my own time.

I laughed when the congregation laughed, and I nodded when they nodded. I wanted to be like God, and I figured they were what that looked like in the flesh.

My motives weren't bad; they just weren't right.

Just tell me what I need to do, here, and I'll do my best.

More post-its, more nodding, and more Mondays.

A lot of Christians live this way, but not a lot will say so because it means they are risking their status as good students.

Which, unfortunately, is the heart of the problem.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from chasing GOD by Angie Smith. Copyright © 2014 Angie Smith. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: Caedmon, 1,
Chapter 1: Monday, 9,
Chapter 2: Called, 35,
Chapter 3: Undone, 53,
Chapter 4: An Affair of the Will, 77,
Chapter 5: Platitudes and Lace, 93,
Chapter 6: Our Father, 111,
Chapter 7: The Binder, 135,
Chapter 8: Name This Place, 155,
Chapter 9: The Ink, 171,
Chapter 10: 8 Days, 189,
Notes, 205,

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2014

    Do I really know God? And why don¿t I? Angie Smith is a popular

    Do I really know God? And why don’t I?

    Angie Smith is a popular blogger, writer and speaker and she takes on this huge challenging question borne out of her own struggles to
    do this 'Christian life' right. She uses many scripture examples to show us the easy, true and rewarding way to live this life ... stop
    chasing Him.

    Angie Smith's book is written in a very casual, friendly manner. She uses sarcasm and witty banter and of course a real bare-hearted
    approach to teaching. It was a fun and inspiring read.

    If you are looking for a book that will take a microscopic look at our feeble attempts and inevitable failures this is it. Not as an attack on
    how we are failing, but as a reminder that we are simply focusing in the wrong direction. Our human perspective is not cutting it.

    Smith strips our purpose down to the basics of reading scripture and clinging to the simplicity of it. The whole Christian life isn't about
    striving for anything! It is about following, obeying, surrendering and resting in Him. 

    The best part of the book for me was the way Angie Smith spoke in an intelligent, gentle and humorous way, as a friend who has been
    there, done that. She opened my eyes to areas where I'd been chasing God instead of loving God. Overall I highly recommend this book.
    There was no down side for me at all. 

    So, grab a copy of Angie's book. Grab a coffee and a comfortable chair. Don't forget your pencil, Bible and extra paper because this
    book will change the way you do life.

    Thanks to the author and Icon Media Group for a chance to review this book free of charge. This is my honest opinion. I was not
    required to review it favorably.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Pros: Excellent insight, Easygoing tone,  Cons: Some parts w

    Pros: Excellent insight, Easygoing tone, 




    Cons: Some parts were a little too "chatty"




    "Chasing God", to me, provides of the most clearest piece of literature on one of the toughest (and most confusing) aspect of Christianity, grace. Written in a very (emphasis on the very) conversational style of Angie Smith, the book opened my eyes to greater insights about grace.After reading this, I became, really aware of how much of my faith is about control, rather than acceptance. So much of what I have read, my own personality, and what I believe in focus is centered around "being good" and "appearing faithful' even I know and believe that faith is made available through grace  Angie Smith deals with this tough subject in a way that is comfortable and reassuring. Having a sense of humor also made this subject easier to understand.  




    The author provided some really great insights on topics that I really thought had already been explained. She also infused Scriptures that I had read over and over again with a new perspective and energy. This coupled with the author's really laid back, conversational tone made it an easy and interesting read. At the end of the book I felt like I had been on a new journey through the territory of grace.




    The only problems I had with the book was the conversational tone in some areas. While it helped make the book lighthearted and inviting (especially with such a serious topic as grace), it was also confusing some areas. Some sections (small though they were) seem too ramble a little longer than I expected.In fairness, the author does mention that she loves to talk.




    Regardless of that, this was a great book and I am especially grateful that I was able to read this book. I was provided a perspective that I would never have came across before. That perspective is something I know I will need in my continued journey in this life. If you are a person who wants to understand more about grace, faith, and how to just be in the moment, this book is definitely for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is an amazing book. When we think we have everything figure

    This is an amazing book. When we think we have everything figured out, we realize that we really do not know Him. And Angie open our eyes for that fact, using a very colloquial language, very simple and easy to understand. She proves to us that we are using the wrong approach to reach God. Many different aspects touched me deeply in this book, while I was reading it. The more we want to be close to God, the more we chase Him e the more we get frustrated for not sensing that communion we seek. But as she stated clearly, "we can't comprehend the truth in all it's wild simplicity, so we create a version of Christianity that appeals more to our sensibilities". How deep this sentence goes. Like herself, I am also a very intuitive person, so I have exactly the same feeling that I did not try hard enough to achieve my intimacy with God. And the capstone came in the form "When we spend more of our time searching for assurance than we do acting our of belief, we are chasing God". How true that thought is! So I start having the feeling that the author had some points on her assessments, and I was identifying myself very much with her thoughts. And when she gave suggestions on how not to chase God, I was devouring the book like it was my last supper. "Don't wait for the miracle you think will make it clear. Confess your belief and then act out of that determination". And every page I turned I read more advises that at the end I was astonished on how far away I was going on my approach to know God.
    If you really want to know your God, I recommend you read this book on how to reach him and not incur in the same mistakes I did. Like the author,  "I don't want to run anymore. I want to kneel".
    Excellent reading, I recommend this book to the permanent library of any serious Christian who wants to improve his relationship with our God, that loves us so much!

    This book was written by Angie Smith and published on December 2013 and I received a copy for reviewing from the author (through Icon Media Group (Thanks, Kelsey)). I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 17, 2014

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    Posted June 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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