Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Larry Tomczak – from New Wine Magazine – September 1986

I am so incredibly grateful to God for the service that the Charles Simpson Ministries are doing in preserving the New Wine Magazine and ensuring that it doesn't get lost in the dusty archives of history but is available here on their website for everyone to see and read. There is much awesome, anointed material that is in these pages! The collection isn't quite complete yet and I am waiting in anticipation for them to make the magazines after 1980 available. I read this one article by Larry Tomczak in the September 1986 edition and was so blessed by it and by the grace of God in which he writes. My dear friend Don Baker has always spoken so highly of Larry Tomczak and his apostolic gifting and in reading this article - I can see why. It is my hope to eventually track down audio tapes by Larry and articles - a project which Don and I are working together on.

For now - here is the article which I have typed up - you can sense the same "grace" and "vision" tones in which both Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus (my other heroes) speak and write;

“It’s Time to Fly – Practical Help for Achieving Your Calling”

God has a unique call and purpose for each of our lives. He wants us to break out of mediocrity, out of a dull and aimless existence, in order to step into a life of purpose and vision, fulfilling the assigned task He has set before us. He wants us to play a part in the restoration of His Church so He can effectively reach this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Well and good, you say. But how do we go about it? What can we actually do, in concrete, practical terms that will help us keep our divine appointment with destiny?

1. Appreciate Your Acceptance.

Each of us, all day every day, is fed a steady diet of lies about what it means to be an acceptable person. Our culture, especially through the media, bombards us continually with subtle and not-so-subtle messages that tear down our self-esteem. “You’ve got to be cool to be accepted”. “You’ve got to produce”. “You’ve got to measure up”. “You’ve got to use this product to be a real man (or woman)”. “Your skin is aging and your teeth are dingy. You don’t wear the right clothes, have the right car, or use the right cologne. You’re not thin enough either, and your hair is drab”.

The situation is compounded by the fact that our enemy, Satan, uses accusations as his number one weapon against us (see Revelation 12:10). He wants us to feel unworthy as individuals and especially as Christians. “Who are you trying to kid? You really expect God to forgive you, after all you’ve done?”. God wants us to be free from the lies of our culture and from the slanders of Satan. He wants to shatter worldly counterfeits and the bondage of legalism and to empower us to rise above Satan’s fiery darts.

He wants us to lay hold of this simple but revolutionary truth; that He loves us or accepts us, not because of what we do or don’t do but because of who we are – His children, saved by His grace, forgiven by His mercy, adopted into His family, being transformed into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

2. Celebrate Your Value.

We are constantly underselling ourselves because of imagined or self-imposed limitations. Sometimes we even blame God for our supposed shortcomings. “Why did you make me like this God? Is this really the best that you could do?”. God has a sobering word for us on that score:

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker … Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ … Do you question me about my children or give me orders about the work of my hands?” – Isaiah 45:9, 11.

The Lord is the Master Potter and we are the clay, moulded and formed by Him exactly the way He wants us to be. “We are God’s workmanship”, Paul declares (see Ephesians 2:10). The original language of Scripture implies that “we are continually his workmanship” – not a finished product but a magnificent work in progress. The word translated “workmanship” carries the sense of “creative masterpiece”. Did you realise that you are a masterpiece of the God of heaven?

3. Embrace Discipline.

In my Bible I have written the words, “Go for it!” above a passage that has inspired me for years.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” – (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The Greek word for “competes” is agonizomai from which we get our word “agonize”. It calls to mind the kind of training and discipline a champion athlete goes through in preparation for the Olympics. The point of the passage is that we must likewise embrace discipline in our spiritual life – learning to regulate our conduct by principle rather than by impulse. Of course by discipline I do not mean mere self-effort or willpower but rather the act of humbling ourselves to admit our inadequacy and to receive God’s grace so that we can go forward in “the strength of His might”. The passage also says “Run in such a way as to get the prize”, and points out that in an athletic competition there is only one prize and therefore only one winner. In our case, the emphasis is not so much on the singularity of the prize but on the attitude of the competitor. Launch out, not half-heartedly or with a loser’s mentality but as a winner, determined to please the Lord and accomplish God-given tasks for His glory.

4. Break Out of the Routine.

God is a God of newness. Scripture speaks of the new covenant, of new wine, of a new and living way, of a new song and so on and so on. “Forget the former things” God tells us through the prophet Isaiah. “Do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” – (Isaiah 43:18-19). What about you? If you are going to rise above mediocrity and be used by God, you must not be content to drift through life on the river of a routine. For a start ask God to instil in you a pioneering spirit. Then look for opportunity to get “out of the rut” you may have inadvertently slipped into.

By books, tapes or conferences expose yourself to the exciting things God is doing in the world today. Resist sitting in the same seat all the time or travelling the same familiar path. Reach out in love to some new people. Pray and then involve yourself in a sphere of service you have thought about but never done. Rather than ordering “the usual” for lunch, try something you have never eaten before. Doing new and different things – or even doing familiar things in a new and different way – can give fresh perspective and help you cultivate a more adventurous and flexible way of life. Wait on God and then open your eyes to the vast world of opportunity surrounding you.

5. Learn How to Fail.

It may be obvious that if we are going to try new things, we are occasionally going to experience failures. “The righteous man falls seven times”, the Scripture promises, “yet he rises again” – (Proverbs 24:16).

I am convinced that God is more pleased with those who step out and fail than those who sit back and do nothing out of fear of failure.

God can vindicate our mistakes and bring good out of our failure. The ability to handle failure in a positive, productive way is crucial if we are to make progress in pursuing our divine appointment. Remember the stories of Peter, David, Moses and other heroes of our Christian faith. They had enough faith to risk failure.

Don’t let failure make you fearful of trying again. Turn your trials into triumphs, your stumbling blocks into stepping stones, your tests into testimonies. Follow Paul’s example;

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heaven-ward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things” – (Phil 3:13-15).

6. Draw Inspiration from Others.

“Iron sharpens iron”, Scripture teaches, “and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). And again, “He who walks with wise men becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Putting ourselves in touch with wise, stimulating, faith-building people who help us move ahead in our own Christian life. Some of the people who can inspire us most are those zealous Christians in our sphere of life whose examples of character, not personality, we are to emulate. We need to make it a point to follow their example in Christ so that their faith and zeal can “rub off” on us. Scripture warns us that bad company corrupts good morals so we must carefully chose the company we keep. Fortunately this principle also works the other way around; good company strengthens us in our walk with the Lord.

7. Discover Your Gifts.

The value of your life as a Christian will be determined by the degree to which you use what God has given you. Stated differently; “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift back to God”. How are we to discover our unique God-given gifts? Of course the first step is to seek God for His will. But we also need the confirmation and assistance of others in exercising the gifts. This is why we need to be a vital part of a body of Christians who believe in, teach on, and give opportunities for meaningful development and expression of spiritual gifts.

Moreover though we know that intellectual or academic achievement is not the same as holiness, we also know that God gave us our intelligence as a powerful tool to be used in his service. As good stewards it is right for us to keep our minds sharp and alert, able to process new information and make decisions and form value judgements crisply and clearly. Maintaining a program of inspirational and devotional reading is one way to do this. Another is to enhance our abilities in evangelizing, child-rearing, counselling and other areas through seminars, conferences and tapes. Interestingly enough, one thing that brings many people a greater self-confidence is learning how to speak in front of an audience. You don’t need to become an electrifying orator but learning how to express your ideas and speak on your feet can be a tremendous boost to your self-confidence. How are we going to preach the gospel to all nations if we can’t explain it to our next-door neighbour or make a simple presentation to our class? Nervousness is natural. But we can overcome it with practice and with faith in the enabling power of God.

8. Give Yourself to Others.

We must be careful not to focus so intently on “what I can do to pursue my unique calling in life” that we forget that the whole point of the Christian life is serving others. We live in a self, materialistic culture which emphasizes the importance of “looking out for number one”. But Jesus declared, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). He also said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

John D Rockefeller Sr, drove himself hard to be a success. He became a millionaire by age twenty three and in twenty years was the richest man on earth. One night as he fell asleep he came to his senses as he realised his “house of cards” was tumbling down around him. He realised he could take nothing with him beyond the grave. The next day he embarked on a new way of living. Rather than hoarding money and possessions he began to give them away to those in need. Establishing the Rockefeller Foundation, he channelled his fortune into hospitals, research and missions work and gave away a portion of his riches to scores. His contributions eventually led to the discovery of penicillin. Cures for malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria also resulted from his giving. At the age of 53 John D Rockefeller seemed destined for imminent death. The resolution to “give rather than get” altered his life so dramatically that he eventually lived to the ripe old age of ninety eight! Jesus put it this way, “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).

9. One Step at a Time.

God tells us in His Word not to “despise the day of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10). Many times people set goals that are unrealistically ambitious and their enthusiasm quickly fades. An old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. As you seek the Lord concerning some of the challenges that lie before you, remember to move forward one step at a time. As you make steady progress, your confidence will be bolstered and you will be able to pick up the pace. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you set appropriate goals and then to help you meet them.

An old story tells of a young boy who thought he had found a way to trick the village wise man. He caught a bird and held it in his cupped hands. Then he asked the village wise man, “Is the bird alive or dead?”. The old man realised that if he answered, “It is alive”, the boy would crush the bird between his hands and kill it and if he answered, “It is dead”, the boy would simply open his hands and let the bird fly away. So he looked the young man in the face and said, “My son, the answer to that question is in your hands”.

As we seek to fulfil our divine appointment in life, we too need to recognise the extent of what God has placed in our hands. He has given us His Holy Spirit, His Word, His Call, and His Power. He says to us this day, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life” (Deut 30:19). “He is at work in us for His good pleasure” and He challenges us today by saying, “In your hands you hold the seeds of failure or the potential for greatness”. It is my conviction that in this hour of church restoration to reach a lost and hurting world, we can rise up and claim our divine appointment and so fulfil our unique destiny as the people of God.

How about it? Will you “go for it”?


Don said...

Classic Larry! What a gift of exhortation and encouragement he's been given. Thanks for this, Dan!

Dan Bowen said...

I knew you would like it! I particularly was moved to my core by his teaching on "Acceptance". If there is one thing that I am envious of my dear friend Scotts testimony - it is that he stands in a position free of the religious legalistic baggage that I have inherited from my last two churches. Don't get me wrong I am grateful for much that I received from my home church in Dunstable (not least Ern Baxter!) - but I love talking to Scott and hearing his fresh, legalistic-free ideas and concepts of his relationship with God.

Whereas I incredibly on the other hand still struggle with the concept that there is absolutely NOTHING that I have done, am doing or will do that will affect God's view of me and His acceptance of me in His precious Son Jesus Christ! To be sure my last two churches taught that. But I am realising that there is a big big difference between teaching the concepts and living the life.

Oh the glorious freedom of grace! Better late than never I guess! So don't forget our email Don! Keep digging out that Larry material for me!! :)

Peter Day said...

What a glorious article!

janelle said...

Wow, I can't believe you are writing this. It's hilarious...my family was really good friends with the Tomzaks. We called him Uncle Larry...pretty crazy, huh?

Dan Bowen said...

Aww that's so cool Janelle! Well I haven't read or heard much of Larry but from what I've seen so far he seems like an amazing guy!

janelle said...

Yes, he is amazing. He's written a few books too.

Anonymous said...

Larry was such an encourager! I loved listening to him at the Celebration conferences that we had in Indiana, PA. It was so refreshing to hear him say things like this:

"He wants us to lay hold of this simple but revolutionary truth; that He loves us or accepts us, not because of what we do or don’t do but because of who we are – His children, saved by His grace, forgiven by His mercy, adopted into His family, being transformed into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ."

Oh, how much we need to hear those words of truth once again at the SG church I am at presently. Somehow, though grace is talked about, it doesn't seem to translate on a practical level like it did back when Larry was around. It makes me sad that all traces of his presence were wiped out including his books and no mention of his name is ever made within SG.


Dan Bowen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Bowen said...

Hey Ellie!

Thanks for your comment - it's really great to hear personal testimonies and stories of how men of God have blessed mightily and brought vision and encouragement.

I do know what you mean about traces of presence being wiped out. In my home church there was a move to erase all teaching tapes that were over 10 years old because that was when our church stopped being charismatic. I hadn't realised Larry had suffered the same fate - that is sad. Whatever has happened in the past, it doesn't wipe out the anointing of God on a man's life and I think Christian leaders have found out to their cost that they can't alter history or erase it.

Hold on to his awesome teaching! Don't forget it! Because I know from experience how so easy it is to forget what we once heard.