Tag Archives: Joy

It is only in Jesus

” We hold on to the things we should forget; and forget the things we ought to remember.” – Tim Keller

One of the hardest lessons I am learning, have learned, and am reminded of constantly is the need to dwell in Jesus on a minute to minute basis. Sometimes I am frustrated because this is one of the integral parts of walking with Christ, and yet I am ALWAYS, ALWAYS, forgetting it. It is especially apparent when I am having good days, not only good days where everything seems to be going great physically, but it is apparent when I’m having good days when everything seems to be going great spiritually. When I’m successfully overcoming sin, when my Bible memorization and Bible reading goes well, when prayer seems to go well, those are the times when things are going great for me spiritually. And I’ve been realizing that those are the times that I tend to forget to give credit and praise to the Holy Spirit for making things run smoothly. Especially overcoming sin. I forget that my righteousness comes from the shed blood on Calvary. I develop a swagger as if to say “Hey God, look at my own strength. See how I’ve been able to change myself for the better? Aren’t I amazing?” All the while not remembering, holding onto, giving thanks for, and continuing to press into the God who saved me, adopted me, forgave me and changes me.
It is during these times, where I get arrogant that I tend to stumble and fall flat on my face. My self-righteousness, my arrogance and pride kill me. But Thanks be to God for the Gospel of Christ because it is the restoration and rescuing of a rebellious sinners life. I am forever thankful for Christ, that He is still pursuing me and reminding me that the only way I am able to overcome, that I am able to ever truly change is through what He accomplished on the Cross. I am forever thankful that because of the Holy Spirit within me I am able to change through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I am thankful to God the Father because of His love and mercy towards someone like me. Who despite being weak and a coward, still is arrogant, prideful, and self-righteous enough to think that he can save himself.

I need you God. Because only in you am I truly free to overcome and change.
In your Son’s mighty name,
Amen.

Hansen

Let’s look at this all chronological and do the memorization thing.

As I prepare to embark into a new chapter of my life, away from friends and family and prepare to enter into a new land, new culture and new people. Dan, who I have the honour and privilege of calling a really good friend and brother in Christ proposed this challenge to me. Well, in a sense we proposed a challenge to each other.
His challenge to me was memorizing the book of Mark. And mine to him was reading the entire Bible in 90days or so. (although he had the idea of reading the Bible in chronological order, which we are doing)
In the end both of us have taken the challenges of memorizing the book of Mark and reading the Bible in chronological order.
I’ll be honest, I’m excited and ever so slightly (by a large margin) intimidated. I’m excited because I will be doing this with a dear friend and brother while in Korea. I’m intimidated because memorizing is not my forte, and reading the entire Bible in 52 weeks or so is daunting. so very very daunting. I’m excited because this is something that I have thought about doing for a while, but it is something I would rather do with someone else, as we spur each other on.
Even as I am excited to do both of these things, I know as well how easy it is to procrastinate, to give up, and to make excuses. I know that some days I just won’t want to do it. However it will be entirely necessary and worthwhile.
What am I expecting out of this? The main thing that I desire for both Dan and I is that as we really read and memorize God will just show us His magnificence. My hope is that as we plow through it, even on those days where it just seems slow, He will just show us more of who He is.
I’m looking forward to this. Not only at the end (getting more of Jesus) but also by the means in which we will be using. It’ll be difficult but it will be worth it. All for His Glory!

Hansen

Hands and Feet, Old and New.

I’m not sure if I’ll get flack for this. The reason I type that is because I’ve grown up in and around Christian circles that, generally speaking, believe that being the hands and feet of Jesus is somehow more difficult, painful, and frightening than being pressed by Him. As if it takes a certain kind of courage to leave the comfort of our house and home and travel somewhere new, exotic…unreached.
Now of course, no one would outright say that. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe wholeheartedly that being the hands and feet of Jesus is difficult. It is painful. And it is certainly frightening. Especially when He calls you (generally speaking) out of the comfort of house and home and places you into a place that is new, exotic and unreached.
I believe, although I would never outright say it, that in the past, I held missions (being the hands and feet of Jesus) as the avenue in which the highest difficulty with following God lay.
And then I began attending the Gathering. I am fond of the Gathering. I love it. Through loving the Gathering, I understand why Jesus states that if I love Him, I will also love the Church. It is here that I began to have a paradigm shift. It is at the Gathering that I no longer viewed living out God’s mission, furthering His kingdom, as something incredibly frightening, that takes the greatest amount of courage. Part of reason is, I believe, that I was now surrounded by men and women who were willing and eager to go. and I was surrounded by men and women who have gone and have experienced the same fears of going and frustrations of coming back, and so I could talk to both groups. They were/are an encouragement. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that missions trips (no matter how big or small) do take a great amount of courage. It takes a willingness to obey God, and trust that He has something much bigger, much grander, much better than our mud pies.(this is a vague C.S Lewis reference)
Jesus has used the Gathering to press me in places I do not want to be pressed. And now I am just beginning to understand the terrifying nature of the prayer that I pray both for myself and others. The prayer that Jesus would press us.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I believe I am awesome. I don’t say it jokingly. Of course I wouldn’t say it out loud. But how I act, how I think, how I talk indicate at the very core of me, that there is a strong sense of selfishness, pride, arrogance and sense of entitlement. It is here that God has been cutting. It is here that God has been working. And it is here that I am terrified/unwilling to really go, and let go. It is at this place that those dangerous prayers (that Jesus would press me), and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are taking me. It is here that I know, I will see who I really am…in light of a mighty and Holy God. And it is here I am absolutely terrified to look. Terrified because I know what I will find. Terrified because I know that when I take a look, I will see something ugly. I am afraid to look because I will see that in front of a completely Holy Righteous God, all of me (good, bad, ugly) is nothing but filthy rags. And I know that the process of sanctification, the discipline of God is often times painful.
These are the moments that I need. I don’t need more knowledge about God. I will only know about Him. However, during these moments of sanctification, I will get to know Him. Not only His standards, but His love for me. I will come to understand that His discipline is because He understands that there is something much better if I follow His commands. He knows that it’s better for me in the end, if He holds off on answering certain prayers.
In the end, I find it slightly easier to go and serve than I do to have Jesus open me up. At least I don’t have to look at myself for who I really am. But even in the pain, I know that His Grace is sufficient for me. Even in that despair, I know I will be comforted because of His finished work on the Cross.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for the finished work on the Cross. Thank you for your promise that you will comfort those in distress. Not only over the loss of a loved one, but also for those that grieve over their own fallen, self-destructive sinfulness. Thank you for Your Grace. Thank you for everything. I ask that even as you bring me towards places I do not want to be, sanctify me in those places. Remind me that Your Cross has even paid for it, that I am no longer tethered by it, and I am free to let go. Thank you that because of what You did, because I am clothed in You, I am no longer who I was. But I am counted as righteous in Your sight.
In Your Amazing name,
Amen

Hansen

Biking + Worship + Praise

I don’t get it too often, but when I do get it. It hits. Hard.

What I’m talking about is an overwhelming paralyzing fear of an uncertain future. Uncertain for me at least. Don’t get me wrong, I find extreme comfort in the fact that God has a plan for me. But I have also learned to not try and guess and organize my life around what I think it is. Which at times brings me joy, calm and peace, and at other times makes me completely terrified.

Today was one of those days where the fear just absolutely pulverized me, to the point where I was beginning to hyperventilate. Was it because I didn’t trust God enough that He was still in control of my life? Perhaps. There are many possible reasons on why I would feel the way I did. I don’t want to coldly sweep them away by over-analyzing them, nor do I want to be consumed by the emotion of it all.

Before it could overtake me, I put on some music (Robbie Seay Band and Ascend the Hill) and began riding my bike around Peterborough. The intent was to make myself so tired that I wouldn’t be able to think about it, but before I knew it I began to pray. I wasn’t asking for anything like clarity, or peace or anything like that. What flowed out of my mouth was nothing by praise for my God. In that moment of biking, listening to old hymns and new p&w songs, and praise prayers, my worries and fears began to fade away. What a strong reminder to my soul that it is Jesus who is in control. Holy and mighty. What peace it brings to just praise Him.

I’m not saying that it’s a secret remedy to no longer worry or to not be frightened, but I recognize that at this exact moment this is what I needed. This is what my soul needed (before I realized that it was what I needed). And the Holy Spirit delivered, perfectly.

“It’s in times like this the world will come
Tempt me to just give You up
Oh but I’ve decided to trust
Completely in Your blood
I will run
Blindly, I’ll press into You ” – The Nehemiah Band “Press into You”

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for everything that you are. All you have done. Let the words that leave my mouth, whether in fear, anger, sorrow, joy, etc. be words of praise forever for You.

In your wonderful name,
Amen

Ch.2 The Paths and the By-Paths: The Hike

It has certainly been a long time since I last updated this chapter write up. If the previous section write up is a little fuzzy you can go here to give it a little bit of a refresher. Today we will be looking at what J.I Packer calls “The hike.”

In this section, Packer, equates the life of a Christian as a hike. The reason he does this is because, like a hike, our lives go through various stages and challenges. This section borrows heavily from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress. Rather, Packer references Pilgrims Progress quite a bit. Packer and Nystrom note that Christians (the character in Bunyan’s book) progress can be split into four parts.
1) In the first part Christian finds saving, converting Grace. He sees and believes the Cross and finds himself a new man and his burden gone.

2) The second part is conflict. This is where Christian fights the destroyer and ventures through the valley of the shadow of Death. Where thoughts of despair surround him

3) The third part is companionship. Christian sees Faithful and they swap stories. He will lose Faithful during his journey but be joined later on by Hopeful, where they will journey the rest of the way together.
– it is here that J.I Packer states, and I agree (after learning the hard way), that every believer needs another person where they can walk closely with.

4) In the fourth part, Hopeful and Christian explores moral and spiritual compromise through a meeting with a man named By-ends and also by another man named Demas. They escape those two men but are later locked up in Doubting Castle.

Packer notes that through Bunyan’s writing, we can see that if we are not faithful, we will undoubtedly lose our assurance of salvation. Before I go on, I would like to state that Packer doesn’t seem to be implying that we will lose our salvation. It seems that Packer is saying that we will lose our confidence that we are saved, we will call into question whether or not the Gospel changed us. We will question whether or not we are playing church rather than living a Gospel-driven life. And in our doubts, not only will we lose our assurance of salvation (though not necessarily our salvation. It is vitally important to remember that) but also the Truth of the Gospel.

Packer then states that the authentic Christian life is a many sided affair if it is viewed from the outside. However, from the inside of this life it is just a quest for more of God and more of life both here and later.

The way that Bunyan describes trials, truimphs ditches and deliverance essentially describes the path that Christians walk in which so many by-paths seem to call. These by-paths MUST be resisted if we are not to go astray.

Packer and Nystom want to paint the Christian life in three stages. Of course, like all analogies it isn’t perfect, but I do believe it does paint a fairly accurate picture.
Like a painter who lays down first the green and blue hues, then red and gold and finally the pinks and oranges. The hike is just like the green and blue. Next is God is with us in faithfulness which is like the reds and golds. and finally to finish off the painting, the love of our “best friend” Jesus, who is always beside us is the pinks and oranges. Using all three hues completes the picture that is the Christian life.

This one was a relatively short section. However our next one combines the section entitled “The good companions” and “Hiking with Jesus Christ.”

Some things to remember before ending this entry:

– Packer notes that when we do not press into Jesus (through prayer, reading meditation etc) we, not only lose our assurance of salvation but also the truth of the Gospel. Losing the truth of the Gospel is very much tied to losing our assurance of salvation. Let me be clear, I do not necessarily believe you will lose your salvation. However you will very much lose the confidence that you are saved by Jesus, and in all honesty, you may very well not be. It is during these storms of doubt that we find out whether the Cross of Christ has made us alive, or if we have been playing religion for most of our lives.  Press in, wrestle, Study the Word, Pray and Seek.

– Our lives are very much like a picture. Just as a painting loses some of it’s beauty when one or more colour is missing, so too, does our lives. If we forget about the faithfulness of God and/or forget that Jesus is always beside us, our lives do lose it’s beauty. again Press in, Wrestle, Study, Pray and Seek.

Hansen

Why so heavy O’ my soul?

At the Gathering today, a dear brother (in Christ) of mine spoke. What he spoke about wasn’t anything new, as if he found the secret of the Bible. He didn’t speak as if he had a new interpretation. In fact what he spoke about wasn’t definitely new news, in fact it’s old news. And yet, this old news is good news. It is news that when heard the first time, it’s like music to the ears and life to the heart. It is news that when heard again and again, it is as if there, at some level, are floodgates reopening for the first time in a long time.

I am speaking of course about the Gospel. The good news that is both old and new, and forever beautiful. The fact that the Gospel is central, the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection is necessary, still amazes, convicts and brings me deep joy.

I have been dwelling upon Psalm 42:5,6 recently. In these particular verses of this particular Psalm, the author writes

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within
me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise
him,
my salvation and my God.”

As I was dwelling on this it suddenly clicked (after the message today) that the reason why it resonated with me so much, especially recently, and the reason why I have been thinking about so much is because the author of this Psalm is preaching the Gospel to himself. He is reminding his soul to hope. Hope in what? Actually, better question is hope in who? The psalmist answers hope in God, because He is our salvation. He is our God. We get God, and that is amazing. We get a God who loves us enough to pursue us, to rescue us.

The Psalmist is reminding his very soul that he should not be in turmoil because he gets God. Not in a fully understanding kind of way. But he gets God. He gets to walk with Him, talk with Him, spend time with Him. He gets God. In those 6 lines, the author preaches to himself the Gospel. God is OUR Hope and OUR Salvation. Our soul has no reason to be in turmoil.

And yet, it is. I know often times mine is. There are times where the dwelling upon my sin overtakes it. There are times when I don’t even know the cause of why I feel the way I feel. I just do. I forget that my sin is no longer where my identity lies. And still, even though my heart is a fickle beast, forgetting about a Shepherd Warrior King, Jesus loves me still. And is continually, albeit slowly changing me. And so like the Psalmist, like my dear brother, it is an absolute necessity to preach the Gospel to myself. In times of turmoil, and even, no especially in times when everything seems alright.

It is interesting to note that the author writes the exact same phrase two other times. He writes it once more in verse 11 of ch.42 and then once again in ch.43 in verse 5. The psalmist understood it, we must preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. When everything seems to be going wrong and when everything seems to be going right. We MUST preach the Gospel to ourselves as a reminder that it is not because of us that we are good and righteous. But it is because of Jesus, and only Him that we can, and are, good and righteous.

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.