Tag Archives: books

Ch.2 The Paths and the By-Paths pt.1: Authentic Paths

I owe you all an apology. I know I said I had hoped to put this up in a few days (a few weeks ago) and I know it didn’t happen. It has been a rough few weeks for me spiritually. I honestly did want to put it up. But at some point of doing these chapter write-ups it had become a joyless, soulless chore that needed to get done, instead of a joy-driven, soulful, encouraging activity that I desired to do. The fact of the matter is that this heart issue stemmed from, not a lack of reading God’s word, but from a heart that begrudgingly read God’s word and begrudgingly prayed to Him. As if He (and I) would find pleasure and joy in me doing those things from a heart that desires not to. I believe that this begrudging submission would show through in my writing.  It was this past Sunday that the Holy Spirit gripped my heart again, and once more, reminded me that I get to pray to God, I get to understand God’s Word, and I get to walk with Christ because of what Christ did on the Cross. I don’t have to try to keep God’s moral law (which I will ultimately fail in keeping, and exhaust myself in doing so) but rather because of Christ (who fulfills the law), I desire to please God by following His commands. So thank you, dear readers (all 6 of you) for waiting patiently. Here is part 1 of Chapter 2 of “Praying” titled: The Paths and the By-paths.

J.I Packer starts out this chapter by talking about sheep farms in Britain. While describing these sheep farms he talks about how in the English countryside there will be two different kinds of paths. One of them will take you to a destination while the other will take you to a dead-end. The paths that lead to nowhere are in fact created by the sheep looking for food. By-paths can look like real paths or even shortcuts but in the end will not take you anywhere. J.I Packer then states that “as in walking trails, there are by-paths in life and in prayer, and some Christians get onto them and find themselves stuck. In this chapter we will take note of how that happens so that we may by God’s grace make sure that it doesn’t happen to us.”

To illustrate this point and show us how damaging it can be to follow a by-path to a Christian, J.I Packer uses a scene in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. In this scene Christian and Hopeful are walking along the path beside the river, drinking the water and eating the fruit from trees being watered by the river. After a moments rest they continue on the path, however the path soon diverges away from the river. This is how John Bunyan writes what happens next:

“The way from the river was rough, and their feet tender by reason of their travels; so the souls of the pilgrims were much discouraged because of the way (Num 21:4). Wherefore, still as they went on, they wished for a better way.
Now, a little before them, there was on the left hand of the road a meadow, and a stile to go over into it, and that meadow is called By-path meadow. Then said Christian to his fellow,
CHR. If this meadow lieth along by our wayside, let’s go over into it.
Then he wnt to the stile to see and, behold, a path lay along by the way on the other side of the fence.
CHR.It is according to my wish; here is the easiest going. Come, good Hopeful, and let’s go over.
When they were gone over, and were got into the path, they found it very easy for their feet…
[and so they went on for quite some time until] night came on, and it grew very dark…and now it began to rain, and thunder, and lightning in a most dreadful manner. And the wather rose amain. Then Hopeful groaned in himself saying:
HOPE. Oh, that I had kept on my way!
CHR. Who could have thought that this path should have led us out of the way?…
By this time the waters were greatly risen, by reason of which the way of going back was very dangerous. (Then I thought that it is easier going out of the way when we are in than going in when we are out.) Yet they adventured to go back;but it was so dark, and the flood was so high that in their going back they had like to have been drowned nine or ten times.
Neither could they, with all the skill they had, get again to the stile that night.”

J.I Packer warns us that we need to be wary of trails that lead us away from true praying, if we desire and struggle to become men and women of prayer. It is here that J.I Packer makes a fantastic point to end off the introduction to the chapter. Packer writes “True praying is an activity built on a theology, so we cannot look at either the work of prayer or the study of prayer in isolation from each other. We need to detect the ways and attitudes and beliefs in regard to prayer that undercut the reality of praying. Though praying ought to be a means of grace and of fulfillment to the heart, it doesn’t always operate as such. Why not? Perhaps because we’re doing it wrong.” As I was reading that closing statement I didn’t quite agree with everything that was written. However after reading it multiple times, I now understand what J.I Packer was saying. The point that J.I Packer was making was essentially a challenge to us to wrestle holistically with our prayer lives. If our prayers are dry, lifeless, and joyless,  if when we pray it feels more like a chore, maybe we should take an honest look at our attitudes and beliefs towards prayer. It maybe because our starting point or what we pray for is wrong. It is through this paragraph that Packer transitions into his first sub-topic: Authentic Paths.

Authentic Paths

J.I Packer starts out this topic by stating “Counterfeits are always best identified by comparison with the genuine article. So before we loook too closely at by-paths, we need to take a careful look at the authentic path of prayer.” Packer states that there are 3 points we must focus on:
The first point J.I Packer states is that authentic prayer follows teaching from the Scriptures. In Psalm 27:11 the psalmist writes “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path.” J.I Packer writes: “If we want to pray rightly, we must take instruction from God through his Word, the Scriptures. His path for us in prayer, as in the rest of our living, is not one we know by instinct but is a learned way, one he teaches. If  we want to walk the true path, we will diligently receive that instruction and heed it.” We must be taught how to pray rightly, just as we need to be instructed to live rightly. We learn to pray, as we learn how to live rightly, through His Word.

We learn how to pray correctly by the “Precepts and promises about praying” that “abound in both Testaments.” Much of the Psalms are models of praise and thanksgiving or of petitions and intercession or meditations. On this J.I Packer writes that the psalmist models “should lead straight into one of these modes of addressing God. But how many in our day have taken these prayer models seriously to heart?” J.I Packer then encourages us to use the Psalms as well as other prayers found within the Bible as a pattern for our own praying.

The second point of authentic prayer expresses a God-taught commitment to a way of life. What this statement, according to Packer, means is that “This is a way of living in accordance with the teaching that Scripture presents.” It is from the Scriptures that, we Christians, are taught and learn how to live Godly lives. Therefore, it is from the Scriptures that we are taught and learn how to pray correctly. J.I Packer states that the authentic path of prayer leads to “a happiness that I begin to enjoy from the time I take my first steps on that true path, by my personal repentance of sin and faith in Christ as my sin-bearing Savior. As the path to life is embracing God’s instruction, so the path of life is living according to that instruction…If our praying is authentic it will reflect throughout the fact that this is the constant direction of our life.” Packer then mentions that if our prayers are not learned through Scripture then it will be nothing more than by-path praying.

The final point of the Authentic path is that it requires a purity of heart. Packer begins by unpacking how the modern world views the word heart, as spoken in a metaphorical sense. He states that “In contemporary society, when we speak in the metaphorical sense…we are likely to be thinking of either a flood of emotions (I love you with all my heart) or a flow of robust enthusiasm (his heart is in what he is doing) and not of anything more.” However, Biblically, the word heart is used to indicate who we are “the deep source of our character and purposes, of our attitudes and responses, of our self-image and self-projection, in short, of the total human being that each of us is.” The God of the Bible looks at us from a unitary perspective, that is God looks at us from a holistic perspective (actions, thoughts, words, and motives) and Biblically we are judged by our heart. For it is from our heart that every thing flows. J.I Packer then describes the vast difference in how we look at others and how God looks at others. On this he writes “We today assess people from the outside in grading them mainly by their skills, and we label them good people, despite their moral lapses, as long as they use their skills to do what we recognize as a good job…God, however, assesses everyone from the inside out, measuring us entirely by the state of our hearts. It is with God’s method of assessment, which digs so much deeper than ours, that we must all finally come to terms…” To follow the “authentic path” of prayer, as J.I Packer labels it, our hearts MUST be assessed, not by human standards but by God’s. Which then of course leads to the question: if by God’s standards, we fail, how then can we pray? J.I Packer, and I believe this myself, that we first need to define what a pure heart is. Packer writes “If in everyday speech we refer to pure hearts, we are likely only to be identifying some people as not inclined, as others are, to sexual shenanigans or to the underhand exploitation of others for personal advancement or to cruel abuse of them fro some perverted self-gratification.” This is how we tend to define a pure heart, at least from a worldly perspective. However the Biblical definition of a pure heart is quite different. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Through this verse  as well as Matthew 5:8 in which Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” J.I Packer concludes that “Purity of heart is indeed a matter of willing one thing, namely to live every day of one’s life loving God.”

In those verses it appears that Jesus is calling us to love God with everything that we are. Which essentially defines for us the purity of our hearts. Being pure in heart is desiring and valuing “fellowship….with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ”(1Jn1:3) more than I want or value anything else in this world…it is a matter of developing, as Jonathan Edwards developed, “a God-entranced vision of all things,” so that the thought of everything being God’s property and in God’s hands, and  of God as in reality doing all things well, despite short-term appearances, brings unending joy. And it is a matter of making knowing and loving and pleasing and praising God my life task, and of seeking to lead others into the same God-glorifying life pattern.” I think what Jonathan Edwards, as well as J.I Packer is getting at, to put it simply is that we must, I repeat, MUST take hold and press into the fact that what we were created for is worshiping God.If we grasp, desire and believe that, our lives will be forever joyful. It won’t always be happy, but Christ’s joy dwells deep. Or to use John Piper’s line “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” That is what brings us along onto the authentic path of prayer. So from this definition the answer to the question: how can we pray? is every single renewed Christian can pray. And here’s why: J.I Packer writes “For in the new birth God re-creates our disordered, egocentric anti-God, anti-moral hearts in such a way that the personal disposition we have described and which we see perfectly embodied and expressed in the Lord Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, has now become our personal disposition at the deepest level, natural and normal to us in the sense that we only know joy, peace and contentment as we act out what we now find our heart prompting us to do…To behave in a Christlike way, forming habits of loving and serving God and neighbor, and resisting the promptings of sin in our spiritual system…” Because of Christ, what He did on the Cross, we have now been given a new nature, a new heart. We have been changed deeply, and once when we would have pursued selfishly our own desires, if we are God’s our hearts will move us into pursuing what God desires so that He maybe glorified.

J.I Packer then makes a point that I don’t necessarily fully agree with, and I’ll explain why after I put the quote up. Packer writes “Many Christians, it seems, do not appreciate what has happened to them in their new birth and are careless about obeying and pleasing God; many more have desperate struggles against long-standing sinful habits that in effect have become addictions to unrighteousness, and they often lose the battles they fight, and there are many who evidently think it does not matter whether one strives to perfect holiness of life or not. But it does!-for without a purpose of holiness(purity of heart, that is!)-there can be no authentic praying.” Now I agree with much of this quote. I agree that many Christians (I include myself in this as well) have not, or even now, do not really care about knowing or understanding the cost of their salvation. In the same vein, because of that indifferent attitude, they also do not understand the incredible importance of pursuing a life of Biblical holiness. However, what I don’t necessarily agree with the implication that a Christian struggling with sin, and desperately wanting to be freed from sin isn’t serious about pursuing a life of holiness. I know, of course, that God looks at the heart of the Christian that struggles and sees far more than I do. And in that context, I agree and believe it to be true. If someone should read (like I did) that quote without the context of God looking at the heart of the person struggling with sin, the implication would be that the person struggling with sin cannot pray to God, at least authentically.  J.I Packer then makes a final few points before ending off this part. He says that authentic prayer comes from “an all-around commitment to Christian living” whereas by-path praying comes from a lack of understanding about this commitment.

Next we’ll be looking at our walk with the Triune God in our lives and in prayer entitled The Hike

Some points before ending off:

– What is our attitude and beliefs towards prayer? Do we find it a chore, something we begrudgingly do because we ought? Or is it something we desire to do because we get to communicate with our Saviour, Creator, King and Friend? Wrestle with these, in prayer and with Scripture.

– J.I Packer mentions that the pursuit of God in everything we do (praying definitely included) should be our greatest joy and our main goal. Where have we lost sight of that (in our day to day lives, in our praying)? What we maybe praying for maybe good, but apart from God, it will become a joyless, soulless endeavour. Continue to pursue “a God-entranced vision of all things.”

– Finally, God calls us to a very high standard. One that we will never be able to attain on our own merit and strength. But thank God for Jesus, and all that He did on the Cross.  Because of that we can be transformed to pursue a life of Godly holiness, not on our own strength but because of the Grace of God. Press into the Cross. Preach the Gospel to yourself everyday. We need the Gospel even now, to permeate our hearts and our lives. It is the only way we can pray rightly, and pursue God fully.

Advertisements

The God we pray to pt3: This is Your God pt1

In the last post, we ended off at the point where we would look at who God is through 8 truths. If you would like a refresher on all that was said you can look here.

In the book, this section of this chapter has 8 truths to it. However, for the sake of readability and to somewhat keep the length somewhat short, I have split “This is Your God” into two parts.

In the post prior to this one,I wrote that J.I Packer argues that we have problems praying correctly because we have an incorrect view of God. He argues that we give too much credence to our own opinions using phrases like “I like…” or “I think…” which, because of our sinfulness, will undoubtedly be wrong. He therefore invites us to move past our own opinions and theological guesswork and instead look at what the Bible says about the God of the Bible. So let us then take a look into what these 8 truths of God are.

Truth 1: God is personal

Though it may sound fine and dandy to make God sound impersonal. Something/Someone we can never reach or understand or really communicate with, impersonal ideas about God is not better than who He really is. To illustrate this point J.I Packer tells a story that C.S Lewis told ” of a young lady who was brought up by parents who saw themselves as exponents of advanced thought. They believed that the personal category was unworthy of God, and so they taught their daughter to think of him as ‘higher substance.'” Packer then says that when she got older and “unpacked the contents of her mind, she realized that all these years she had been thinking of God as an infinitely extended rice pudding. Since she wasn’t a devotee of rice pudding, it was not in fact at all a helpful idea.” Although a humorous story, I think that Packer (well in this case, C.S Lewis) makes an accurate point that sometimes in an effort to explain God in an “unoffensive” way, we strip Him of any personable attributes. Packer argues, and I would wholeheartedly agree, that a “Depersonalized deity is, thought wise, always a disaster.”

However, the God found in the Bible is a completely personal God. He addresses himself as “I” and us humans as “You.” God isn’t an object, he interacts and speaks to us in a personal way. On this point Packer writes “From Genesis to Revelation, not only do we find him speaking that way, but we see him relating to people, person to person, in a fully personal way. God is not an it, and we must not allow ourselves to think of God as an object, as if we could stand apart from him as observers watching him in the way that a biologist might watch the antics of a tadpole…God is always a subject, never a mere object…God presents himself to us in personal terms, and we must always think of him in personal terms as the God who is here and who confronts us and has his eye on us and takes an interest in us as persons just as we being persons ourselves, take a personal interest in each other.” What J.I Packer is saying is pretty straightforward. God isn’t an impersonal object, God isn’t an abstract force that has no personality. No, God is fully personal and He interacts with us. He is a being that is knowable. And the fact that it is one truth out of eight (instead of assumed) means that it is vitally important that we remember and believe it.

If God wasn’t personal, if He was an abstract force He would not be able to communicate with us by His word or by prayer. He would be, as C.S Lewis put it “an infinitely extended rice pudding.” And although I do enjoy rice pudding every once in a while (though not often), rice pudding makes one horrible god.

Truth 2: God is plural

The mystery of this notion is revealed to us in Gen1:26 when God states “Let us make man in our image.” Notice in this statement two important words the first one is “us” and then the second one is “our.” The plurality of God isn’t taken much farther after that but, Packer writes “…in the New Testament, God is revealed as truly and personally plural.” Of course we know this as the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). J.I Packer gives a beautiful explanation on what the Trinity is, not their roles, but who they are and what they do as a whole. He states that the Trinity is “three persons within the unity of God’s being, three persons who relate to each other as persons, and who operate as a team for the salvation of God’s people.” Meaning that the three persons of God (who are in perfect unity with each other) each have personalities, and each have a part to play (together, perfectly) in saving God’s people.

Although the word and concept of the Trinity wasn’t really developed until the later centuries, Packer states that “the reality was there ‘in solution’ all along…the three persons…are distinct in the New Testament, though it has no technical terms for expressing their shared life…when they say ‘God’ (in the Bible) they are usually, like Jesus, speaking of the Father rather than of the three together, but they make it very clear that the three are one in both being and purpose, and they work together for our salvation.” The nature of the Trinity is beyond our understanding, meaning that is a mystery. However this doesn’t mean that it isn’t a truth and a doctrine because the Trinity is clearly shown throughout the New Testament. It is here that J.I Packer unpacks the gospel in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity. He writes “The gospel is the good news of God the Father planning our salvation, God the Son, the Mediator, achieving it for us, and God the Holy Spirit applying it to us as the gracious, willing guest who indwells in us.” It is clear that God the Father, Son and Spirit works together to achieve and maintain our salvation. Denying the truth and reality of the Trinity will lead to everything else falling apart.

Truth 3: God is perfect

What this truth means is that God isn’t lacking in anything or needing improvement. Meaning that He is beyond all that because, as Packer puts it “he is already and eternally perfect, of his own kind, which is a kind that is unique to himself.” Meaning that he (God) is the only one that is perfect in the eternal sense. In Biblical culture, a name was incredibly important. It showed the nature of the person. In Exodus we see instances where God shows himself to Moses and states his name. The first is at the burning bush, where God commands Moses to go back to Egypt and free His people. Moses asks God what name to give the Israelites if they ask him who sent him. To this God replies “I AM WHO I AM” which becomes Yahweh, translated to I AM. The question that Packer then proposes is “What is going on here?” Why did God give Moses that name to say, instead of another? J.I Packer then says that it is “the covenant name God gives Himself to express His commitment to His people.” He continues, “In that far-off world, God would not be your God if he did not give you his name. For God’s people to know his name was thus the sign and proof of his bonding with them, and by telling them God’s name, Moses would be confirming that fact.” This means that, Biblically, if we were in that culture, this is the way that we would know that we belonged to God.  His name can also be translated to “I AM WHAT I AM” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” which then answers the question of “How does God exist?” Meaning that He exists as the “God of eternal and self-sustaining self-determination. He simply is and always was and ever will be, working out his will in sovereignty over his world. He is the God who is there, who is everywhere present and everywhere in control. He ordained what is now and ordains what will be.” Simply put, He perfectly exists, and He always has, and He always will. He sees and works His will over the world that He has created. He has seen and allowed what is present and what will happen in the future.

The next question that is then posed for us is “How does he behave?” We find the answer in Exodus 34. The two verses from that chapter that J.I Packer highlights are verses six and seven. “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” Here we see that God will be merciful and show grace to humans. But we also see that God is Holy and Just. J.I Packer puts it well when he states “he [God] acts toward humans in grace and mercy, which they need, yet also in holiness that will express itself in retribution toward those who do not take him seriously and do not responds in penitence for sin to his overtures of love…The purity that sees lawless, self-aggrandizing action and loveless, self-seeking motivation as polluting defilements is integral to his perfection, and makes his grace to sinners endlessly amazing in the eyes of all who receive it.” God’s perfection is necessary, for God to be God. The purity of God sees us, truthfully, as who we really are: rebellious creations who would rather seek praise for ourselves rather than seek God. This nature conflicts with Gods perfect nature and therefore must be dealt with. If not for Jesus we would all be doomed.

Packer ends this truth with two beautiful sentences that are encouraging and, at least for me, stirred within my heart a desire to just praise Him:

“Yes, God is good, God is great, and all that he does is worthy of praise. God is perfect in every way.”

Our final truth for this post is Truth 4: God is powerful

This truth is pretty straight forward. In truth, theologians have used the word omnipotent to describe this truth. They describe God as omnipotent because He is able to do what He chooses to do. They also use the word omnipresent to also press home this truth. Meaning that God, as J.I Packer would put it, “permeates every bit of his world, all the time…” The final word that theologians use is omniscient, meaning that He knows everything. Past, present and future, and He knows us through and through. That is how theologians describe Him.

In the Bible, J.I Packer lists off several Psalms that state that God reigns. It is through these passages that shows that God is King. These Psalms are: 93, 95:3, 96:10, 97, 98:6, and 99. In the ancient world, Kings were considered absolute monarchs. Meaning that they completely controlled and were fully in charge of all that was within their kingdom. J.I Packer explains that these psalms “are saying that God is that sort of king-and to a degree of absoluteness that no earthly monarch ever could match. He is always and everywhere on top; he is absolute master in his own universe…Nothing escapes his cognizance and his control. This is a constantly stabilizing thought for the people of God.” What I find interesting is Packer’s sentence “He is always and everywhere on top”. This means that no one, no matter their accomplishments nor fame, will not and cannot be as powerful as God. Even if we deny His presence and existence, He is still perfectly in control and He has not dropped the ball on ANYTHING. Even if we can`t see the purpose for it all.

We are nearing our final part of chapter 1. In the next few days, we will look at the final 4 truths of God. And as we shall see, these 8 truths are extremely vital for our prayer life, indeed for our entire Christian life.

Some thoughts before I end this post:

– The first four truths, God is personal, plural, perfect and powerful build and flow into each other (just like the eight in its entirety flow and build into each other). If we lose the specifics of one, I believe we lose the specifics of the rest. So I encourage you, dear readers, to take these amazing truths to heart. Grasp them, lean on them, believe them for these claims that God makes about Himself are truthful and incredibly vital for a vibrant Christian life.

– “Yes, God is good, God is great, and all that he does is worthy of praise. God is perfect in every way.” This sentence by J.I Packer, though found in Truth 3, permeates every other truth. In what ways have you and I, short-changed our view of God? I encourage you to ask yourself this question (in prayer) and let the Holy Spirit convict us, and move us to a deeper, more satisfying relationship with Himself.

Hansen

The God we pray to pt 2: The Struggle of praying

In the previous post we looked at the difficulty we have (as believers) in praying and the dangers (and benefits) of routine prayer. For those of you, dear readers, that need a refresher, or have just joined us you can click here.

Today, in continuation of this chapter, we will look at what J.I Packer and Carolyn Nystrom have to say about “The Struggle of Praying.” If you recall with the previous post Packer states that routine prayer can be beneficial, but it isn’t a cure-all technique. If we were to be honest, most of us would admit to struggling with prayer on a day-to-day basis.

The struggle of prayer is very real. The struggle we have in speaking and listening to God in prayer is also important to understand. J.I Packer quotes an Anglican bishop named John Charles Ryle, who notes the importance of but also the struggle of praying. I will not put the entire excerpt (because it is long!) but I will put the parts that I believe are important. Ryle writes (as quoted by Packer):
“I ask…whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is on of the surest marks of a true Christian…Just as the first sign of life in an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying…It is as much a part of their new nature to pray as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I ask whether you pray because there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer…Words said without heart are as utterly useless to our souls as the drumbeating of the poor heathen before their idols. Where there is no heart, there may be lip-work and tongue-work, but there is nothing that God listens to; there is no prayer…

Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this. I look at men’s lives. I believe that few pray. I ask whether you pray, because diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness…I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.

There are few children of God who do not often find the season of prayer a season of conflict…

It is essential to your soul’s health to make praying a part of the business of every twenty-four hours of your life…Whatever else you make a business of, make a business of prayer.

…A Christian never finds he is a loser, in the long run, by persevering in prayer.

Tell me what a man’s prayers are, and I will soon tell you the state of his soul. Prayer is the spiritual pulse. By this the spiritual health may be tested…Oh, let us keep an eye continually upon our private devotions.”

Ryle encourages us that praying well isn’t an impossibility. He is certain, positively so, that the problems we have with praying are not impossible to solve. However he is also honest to the fact that while prayer is important, we, as Christians, do struggle with it.

For this, J.I Packer writes “that the key to heartfelt, meaningful, enriching realism in our prayers” have three points:

1) Clear realization of the reality of God: this only can come from knowing the facts about Him that come from the Scriptures.

2) Continual practices of the presence of God: This comes from the awareness that one is always under God’s eye and in His hands. And also, as a Christian, we are in the in intimate company of God. It is here that J.I Packer paints a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Triune God.

J.I Packer writes” Everybody’s life on this earth is like a hike through scenic open country, which with its ups and downs, smooth places and rough places, sets both difficulties and delights before each person who travels through it. The Christians life has in it the same ups and downs that mark the lives of other people, but Christians hike in company with friends: and we are not thinking here of human friends, though ordinarily they are there too, but of these three divine Friends, who never leave one’s side. As with human friends who come along with you when you go hiking, you rejoice in the fellowship of the holy Three and in what they bring that will help you along. You are glad of their company, and you do not forget for a single moment that they are there, which is what the practice of God’s presence basically means.” So then, the practice of the presence of God is remembering and enjoying the fact that every single moment you go through life, through all it’s highs, lows, smooth plateaus and uneven ground, walking along side the Trinity. You get walk alongside them, in their presence, participating in what they do, but more (I would argue, most) importantly you can talk directly to them, listen to what they have to say, and be encouraged and just enjoy being within their presence.

3) Constant endeavor to please God: Which comes from love to God, which comes from seeing His creation, but more importantly by the power of redemption. We know the love of the God the Father because even though, he knew full well that we could not and would not love him on our own, He still loved us enough to send his Son to be the propitiation (essentially payment) for our sins (1Jn4:10). We know that Jesus loves us because he gave himself for us (Gal2:20). And we know the love of the Spirit because, he has given us a new heart, one that comes from Christ. And the Spirit is in us that that we can be more like Jesus (in mind, heart, thoughts, words, actions). He (the Spirit) is also grieved when we move from the path of holiness (Eph4:30).  For this endeavor J.I Packer argues that when we realize “the love of the holy Three, who in the unity of their being are the ‘Lord my God’ to each of us, we are motivated supremely by what Isaac Watts called ‘the debt of love I owe’ to love of the Three-in-One in response, and we find ourselves saying-praying!-with William Cowper:

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more!”

Packer, makes three great points. Although it is implied within the book, I do not believe I have really made it clear while talking about those three points, so I would like to point out that those three points can only work together. In fact they most certainly build upon each other. If we were trying to do one or two of them, but we do not include the rest, everything falls apart. All three of the points work hand in hand, but cannot work separately.

We finally come to the final point. With the final point, Packer makes a very telling observation on why we struggle to pray, however, this observation doesn’t just fit into the category of prayer but it affects everything in the Christians life. And his point is our loss of the proper view of God is due to our very own Biblical illiteracy. On this point J.I Packer writes “Our first move must be to clear the ground by putting out of our minds the fantasies about God that the human imagination so readily comes up with. We hear people say, ‘I like to think of God in such-and-such a way…’ Let it be said, loud and clear, that this ‘I like’ mindset guarantees that all concepts of God that we form by our speculation and wishful thinking will be seriously wrong. Sin, the anti-God syndrome in our mental, moral and spiritual system, ensures that this will be so. Such ideas in fact lead only to a bottom line of uncertainty, so that people end up confused and bewildered about the God who is supposed to be the focus of their lives.” It is here that he invites us along with him to explore the character of the God of the Bible through 8 truths (which will be revealed in the next 2 posts). He asks us to make a conscious decision to get away from theological guesswork, dreams and our opinions and just look at the Bible and what God has to say about Himself through his living Word.

So join back with me (and J.I Packer) within the next few days as we look at the 3rd part of “The God we Pray to” and part 1 of “This is your God”

Some thoughts before finishing this post:

1) Clear realization of the Reality of God, Continual practice of the Presence of God, and the Constant endeavor to please God. Can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this only happens when we have an understanding and life-changing belief of the Gospel. Let me be clear, the three points that J.I Packer argues for, only work together with the Gospel at the center of it all. Those three points, when centered in the Gospel will naturally flow into and work with one another within our lives. We come to understand the reality of God because of the Cross, and because of that realization we want to constantly be in His presence. This can only come because of the Cross. and because of those two points we desire to please God. This can only come because of the Cross. Remove the Cross and those three points will not function and will fall apart.

2)Bishop Ryle argues that “Prayer is the spiritual pulse” of the Christians life. In some sense I do agree. The time we spend with God in heartfelt, prayer can be an indication of our spiritual health, not just once in the morning, once at night and before and after we read our Bible. But also throughout the day as we go about our business. Ryle encourages us to make prayer our business. So I will too. However, I also offer the warning, not to make daily consistent prayer your goal, but rather remember that it is the means that God uses to bring us into a closer, deeper, relationship with Himself.

3) Finally, read and study the Bible. So that you can know the God of the Bible, what He says, who He is, what He does and will do, and what He promises. To understand the God of the Bible, we must spend time with Him in His word and in prayer. Not just us speaking, but also letting the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) speak into our lives.

Hansen

Come along with me on a journey….

This is inspired by my friend, Ben Peltz.

I am currently reading four books at once. (Spiritual Maturity, Kingdom Ethics, With Christ in the School of Prayer, and Prayer) now reading all four at once has been rather difficult. It has been encouraging, exciting, challenging, and convicting. So I am inviting all those that read this to journey along with me in one of these books….Not Spiritual maturity because I’m one chapter away from finishing. Nor “With Christ…” because I am halfway through it. I want to leave it up to you, dear readers, on which journey you want to partake with me. Or maybe you want to journey with me on both, Kingdom Ethics and Prayer. I will leave that up to you.

I want to do it this way because both (well technically all four) of those books are jam-packed with so much application and content that it would be a shame not to share it with any of you….plus this will get me to really read the chapters and take notes in great detail, not only for you, but also for me for later times.

So feel free to vote on the poll below.

Whatever choice you make, I am hoping this journey is a challenge and encouragement to you as well. And may God use this for His glory.

Hansen

Day 06 – 30 interesting facts about yourself

alright here goes. Hopefully I can come up with 30.

30) I was born in Hong Kong
29) I came to Canada when I was 4
28) I have been to Kazakhstan
27) I tried fermented horse milk (it is gross, an interesting thing to try, but ew)
26) I have eaten horse meat
25) I have tried a chocolate covered cricket
24) I have tried a chocolate covered meal worm
23) I have tried a deep fried scorpion
22) I have tried a deep fried pupa
21) I have tried a deep fried grasshopper
20) I have been to China and Hong Kong
19) I worked at a fish plant in PEI
18) I enjoy cooking…even though I’m not that great at it
17) I played piano, but i haven’t played in 10 years
16) I do not have an attention span that allows me to play video games for long periods of time
15) I love to travel, but I tend to get airsick really really easily
14) I traveled to England
13) I traveled to Malaysia and Singapore
12) I want to try a raw, freshly chopped octopus
11) I am applying to go teach English in Korea
10) I have tried donkey meat (it was really good :D)
9) I tried Kvass while in Kazakhstan (its a drink made by fermenting bread….I really enjoyed it)
8) I laugh loud enough that most people can hear me across a large room, or in another room altogether
7) I still enjoy reading comic books (my favourite superheroes being Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash)
6) I want to get into ministry (still don’t know in what capacity, but we shall see)
5) Apparently I like to not like music everyone else likes but instead I look for artists that aren’t that well known and then get everyone else hooked on them (D.Choi 😀 )
4) I worked at a restaurant in England where the owners tried to get me drunk because after work the beer would be free for the employees (I gained so much weight that summer 😛 )
3) I was a security guard at one point
2) I often have dreams where I get superpowers or am a superhero…but I always wake up before the vanquishing of the evil foe is complete
1) I also make youtube videos (although that has been put on a hiatus while this 30 day blog challenge is going on). And they really aren’t that good.

Wow, just realized that much of my 30 facts involve food. oh well, I enjoy food, eating it and making it 🙂

Hansen

Geekin’ it

One of my favourite comic series to read has been the DC elseworld comic “Kingdom Come”. I love, not only the storyline, but most importantly I love the artwork.

first the storyline:

It is essentially set in a future where the DC heroes that we grew up with (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc.) have grown older. The world that they were used to have changed. Whereas, before the heroes would apprehend the bad guys, the world began to accept a more violent type of hero. One that took life rather than preserved it. Essentially the heroes of old come out of “retirement” to deal with the new heroes when a catastrophe happens. It is a clash of different heroic cultures that eventually breaks out into all-out war.

Of course my summary is very brief because I didn’t want to give away too much of the story. I love the character development of each of the heroes as the story progresses.

Now for the artwork. In all honesty, even before I read the comic it was the artwork of Alex Ross that drew me in. Most artists that draw for comics, draw them in a pretty cartoony way. But Alex Ross adds so much realism to it. In all honesty the way that he draws the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonderman) is simply epic. But me talking about it really doesn’t do it justice, so instead here is a drawing he did with the Kingdom Come characters:

Alex Ross by far has to be my favourite comic book artist out there. Every single one of his drawings have so much depth and character to it. He even makes Gatchaman look awesome as a more realistic looking character and less anime-y

Yeah, so this post was pretty geeky, oh well.

Hansen

I love old books or the procrastinating post

So this is totally unscripted and filmed completely on the fly with no editing. so I would like to point out some of the mistakes right now. First off I meant to say 5-7 pages but instead said 5-7 books. That is not true. Also “The Burning of Bridget Cleary” was printed in 1999 not in the 1970’s as I stated in my video. Because of the smell I got slightly confused.

Now back to typing!

Hansen