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Ministry Leader Identifies Greatest Challenge as Knowing God, Not Recession

( [email protected] ) Oct 08, 2008 07:51 AM EDT

Far too many people do not understand the way God works, notes one of America’s most prominent pastors.

“The problem is, many of God’s people know about Him, but they do not have a personal relationship with Him,” writes Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries in his recently released book, In Step With God: Understanding His Ways and Plans for Your Life.

“And this is where we face our greatest challenge – knowing God and loving Him above all else,” he adds. “The bottom line to any relationship is this: if you want to know someone, you must know him or her intimately.”

Stanley’s book comes out as the United States is expected to slide into recession reflecting mounting damage from the most dangerous financial jolt in more than a half-century.

The financial crisis, which erupted in the United States in August 2007 and has quickly spread around the globe, entered a tumultuous new phase last month, badly shaking confidence in global financial institutions and markets, according to the International Monetary Fund, which released a World Economic Outlook Wednesday.

“Many have said, ‘If only I knew what He wanted me to do, I would do it,’” says Stanley as Americans face mounting job losses, shrinking paychecks, shriveling nest eggs and rising foreclosures. “Others have tried desperately to make sense out of tragic or challenging circumstances only to come away feeling more alone."

“God will reveal Himself to us, but before He does, we must come to a point where we surrender to Him,” he asserts. “This means that we desire to know Him more than we desire to have our own way.”

Throughout In Step With God, which released on Sept. 30, Stanley reminds readers of simple truths and characteristics of God, ultimately pointing them back to the Bible as he draws comparison to the lessons learned by Old Testament figures such as Moses, Jeremiah and Joseph.

“The heart of the book is simply this: that God has His ways, and His will, and His path, and His plan. And for us to be able to be pleasing and honorable to Him, and walk in obedience to Him, I have to understand that,” explains Stanley, who serves as pastor of the 17,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta and is president and founder of In Touch Ministries.

“And so, that means I have to understand something about what motivates Him. How does He think? Why does He think the way He thinks? And why does He do the things He does?” Stanley adds. “Because we’re so earthbound and so human, we’re prone to be influenced by the world and miss out on what God’s up to in our lives.”

In the first chapter of his new book, Stanley notes how the word “intimacy” over the years has been “redefined and misinterpreted by our morally out-of-step society.”

“Many people are satisfied with just knowing a few things about God but not knowing Him deeply. True, unbridled intimacy touches the soul and the hidden places of our hearts like nothing else can,” he argues.

“One of the greatest desires of God’s heart is that you and I would desire to know Him – not just give lip service to Him on Sundays but truly long to know Him and His ways. He wants to build an intimate relationship with us, but do we desire the same thing when it comes to Him? Do we want to know Him?” he asks.

Stanley reminds believers that the nearer they draw to the Lord, the more they will know about Him, His love for them, and His good plans and desire for their lives.

“By the end of this book, I believe your view of God will change. Your love for Him will grow deeper as you allow Him to teach you about who He is and not just who someone says He is,” he writes.

In addition to his current positions as church pastor and ministry leader, Charles Stanley has twice been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is known internationally from his radio and television program “In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley.” His many best-selling books include Landmines in the Path of the Believer, When the Enemy Strikes, Finding Peace, Seeking His Face, Success God’s Way, Enter His Gates, The Source of My Strength, and How to Listen to God.