Lord I want to want You

From A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God:
    O God, I have tasted Your goodness,
    and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
    I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.
    I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
    O God, the Triune God,
    I want to want You;
    I long to be filled with longing;
    I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
    Show me Your glory, I pray,
    so I may know You indeed.
    Begin in mercy a new work of love within me…
    Give me grace to rise and follow You up from this misty lowland
    where I have wandered so long.
    In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer as Answers to the Lord’s Questions

From J. I. Packer’s Praying the Lord’s Prayer:
    We need to see that the Lord’s Pray is offering us model answers to the series of questions God puts to us to shape our conversation with him. Thus:
    What do you take me for, and what am I to you?
    Our Father in heaven.
    That being so, what is it that you really want most?
    The hallowing of your name; the coming of your kingdom; to see your will known and done.
    So what are you asking for right now, as a means to that end?
    Provision, pardon, protection.
    How can you be so bold and confident in asking for these things?
    Because we know you can do it, and when you do it, it will bring you glory!

Invitation to the Pain of Learning
Mortimer J. Adler
(1941)
In Adler’s view of education, learning is not something one acquires externally like a new suit. It is, in his own words, “an interior transformation of a person’s mind and character, a transformation which can be effected only through his own activity.” It is as painful, but also as exhilarating, as any effort human beings make to make themselves better human beings, physically or mentally. The practices of educators, even if they are well-intentioned, who try to make learning less painful than it is, not only make it less exhilarating, but also weaken the will and minds of those on whom this fraud is perpetrated. The selling and buying of education all wrapped up in pretty packages is what is going on, but, Adler tells us, it is not the real thing. This essay was published in The Journal of Educational Sociology (February1941.)
G.V.D.
ON E of the reasons why the education given by our schools is so frothy and vapid is that the American people generally-the parent even more than the teacher-wish childhood to be unspoiled by pain. Childhood must be a period of delight, of gay indulgence in impulses. It must be given every avenue for unimpeded expression, which of course is pleasant; and it must not be made to suffer the impositions of discipline or the exactions of duty, which of course are painful. Childhood must be filled with as much play and as little work as possible. What cannot be accomplished educationally through elaborate schemes devised to make learning an exciting game must, of necessity, be forgone. Heaven forbid that learning should ever take on the character of a serious occupation-just as serious as earning money, and perhaps, much more laborious and painful.
The kindergarten spirit of playing at education pervades our colleges. Most college students get their first taste of studying as really hard work, requiring mental strain and continual labor, only when they enter law school or medical school. Those who do not enter the professions find out what working at anything really means only when they start to earn a living-that is, if four years of college has not softened them to the point which makes them unemployable. But even those who somehow recover from a college loaf and accept the responsibilities and obligations involved in earning a living-even those who may gradually come to realize the connection between work, pain, and earning-seldom if ever make a similar connection of pain and work with learning. “Learning” is what they did in college, and they know that that had very little to do with pain and work.
Now the attitude of the various agencies of adult education is even more softminded-not just softhearted-about the large public they face, a public which has had all sorts and amounts of schooling. The trouble is not simply that this large public has been spoiled by whatever schooling it has had-spoiled in the double sense that it is unprepared to carry on its own self-education in adult life and that it is disinclined to suffer pains for the sake of learning. The trouble also lies in the fact that agencies of adult education baby the public even more than the schools coddle the children. They have turned the whole nation-so far as education is concerned-into a kindergarten. It must all be fun. It must all be entertaining. Adult learning must be made as effortless as possible-painless, devoid of oppressive burdens and of irksome tasks. Adult men and women, because they are adult, can be expected to suffer pains of all sorts in the course of their daily occupations, whether domestic or commercial. We do not try to deny the fact that taking care of a household or holding down a job is necessarily burdensome, but we somehow still believe that the goods to be obtained, the worldly goods of wealth and comfort, are worth the effort. In any case, we know they cannot be obtained without effort. But we try to shut our eyes to the fact that improving one’s mind or enlarging one’s spirit is, if anything, more difficult than solving the problems of subsistence; or, maybe, we just do not believe that knowledge and wisdom are worth the effort.
We try to make adult education as exciting as a football game, as relaxing as a motion picture, and as easy on the mind as a quiz program. Otherwise, we will not be able to draw the big crowds, and the important thing is to draw large numbers of people into this educational game, even if after we get them there we leave them untransformed.
What lies behind my remark is a distinction between two views of education. In one view, education is something externally added to a person, as his clothing and other accoutrements. We cajole him into standing there willingly while we fit him; and in doing this we must be guided by his likes and dislikes, by his own notion of what enhances his appearance. In the other view, education is an interior transformation of a person’s mind and character. He is plastic material to be improved not according to his inclinations, but according to what is good for him. But because he is a living thing, and not dead clay, the transformation can be effected only through his own activity. Teachers of every sort can help, but they can only help in the process of learning that must be dominated at every moment by the activity of the learner. And the fundamental activity that is involved in every kind of genuine learning is intellectual activity, the activity generally known as thinking. Any learning which takes place without thinking is necessarily of the sort I have called external and additive-learning passively acquired, for which the common name is “information.” Without thinking, the kind of learning which transforms a mind, gives it new insights, enlightens it, deepens understanding, elevates the spirit simply cannot occur.
Anyone who has done any thinking, even a little bit, knows that it is painful. It is hard work-in fact the very hardest that human beings are ever called upon to do. It is fatiguing, not refreshing. If allowed to follow the path of least resistance, no one would ever think. To make boys and girls, or men and women, think-and through thinking really undergo the transformation of learning-educational agencies of every sort must work against the grain, not with it. Far from trying to make the whole process painless from beginning to end, we must promise them the pleasure of achievement as a reward to be reached only through travail. I am not here concerned with the oratory that may have to be employed to persuade Americans that wisdom is a greater good than wealth, and hence worthy of greater effort. I am only insisting that there is no royal road, and that our present educational policies, in adult education especially, are fraudulent. We are pretending to give  them something which is described in the advertising as very valuable, but which we promise they can get at almost no expense to them.
Not only must we honestly announce that pain and work are the irremovable and irreducible accompaniments of genuine learning, not only must we leave entertainment to the entertainers and make education a task and not a game, but we must have no fears about what is “over the public’s head.” Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head; and that elevation is not accomplished by capillary attraction, but only by the hard work of climbing up the ropes, with sore hands and aching muscles. The school system which caters to the median child, or worse, to the lower half of the class; the lecturer before adults-and they are legion-who talks down to his audience; the radio or television program which tries to hit the lowest common denominator of popular receptivity-all these defeat the prime purpose of education by taking people as they are and leaving them just there.
The best adult education program that has ever existed in this country was one which endured for a short time under the auspices of the People’s Institute in New York, when Everett Dean Martin was its director, and Scott Buchanan his assistant. It had two parts: one consisted of lectures which, so far as possible, were always aimed over the heads of the audience; the other consisted of seminars in which adults were helped in the reading of great books-the books that are over everyone’s head. The latter part of the program is still being carried on by the staff of St. John’s College in the cities near Annapolis; and we are conducting four such groups in the downtown college of the University of Chicago. I say that this is the only adult education that is genuinely educative simply because it is the only kind that requires activity, makes no pretense about avoiding pain and work, and is always working with materials well over everybody’s head.
I do not know whether radio or television will ever be able to do anything genuinely educative. I am sure it serves the public in two ways: by giving them amusement and by giving them information. It may even, as in the case of its very best “educational” programs, stimulate some persons to do something about their minds by pursuing knowledge and wisdom in the only way possible-the hard way. But what I do not know is whether it can ever do what the best teachers have always done and must now be doing; namely, to present programs which are genuinely educative, as opposed to merely stimulating, in the sense that following them requires the listener to be active not passive, to think rather than remember, and to suffer all the pains of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps. Certainly so long as the so called educational directors of our leading networks continue to operate on their present false principles, we can expect nothing. So long as they confuse education and entertainment, so long as they suppose that learning can be accomplished without pain, so long as they persist in bringing everything and everybody down to the lowest level on which the largest audience can be reached, the educational programs offered on the air will remain what they are today-shams and delusions.
It may be, of course, that the radio and television, for economic reasons must, like the motion picture, reach with certainty so large an audience that the networks cannot afford even to experiment with pro grams which make no pretense to be more palatable and pleasurable than real education can be. It may be that the radio and television cannot be expected to take a sounder view of education and to undertake more substantial programs than now prevail among the country’s official leaders in education-the heads of our school system, of our colleges, of our adult education associations. But, in either case, let us not fool ourselves about what we are doing. “Education” all wrapped up in attractive tissue is the gold brick that is being sold in America today on every street corner. Everyone is selling it, everyone is buying it, but no one is giving or getting the real thing because the real thing is always hard to give or get. Yet the real thing can be made generally available if the obstacles to its distribution are honestly recognized. Unless we acknowledge that every invitation to learning can promise pleasure only as the result of pain, can offer achievement only at the expense of work, all of our invitations to learning, in school and out, whether by books, lectures, or radio and television programs will be as much buncombe as the worst patent medicine advertising, or the campaign pledge to put two chickens in every pot.

Time Well Spent, BY R.C Sproul

Time Well Spent (excerpt)
By R.C. Sproul
Time is the great leveler. It is one resource that is allocated in absolute egalitarian terms. Every living person has the same number of hours to use in every day. Busy people are not given a special bonus added on to the hours of the day. The clock plays no favorites.
We all have an equal measure of time in every day. Where we differ from one another is in how we redeem the time allotted. When something is redeemed it is rescued or purchased from some negative condition. The basic negative condition we are concerned with is the condition of waste. To waste time is to spend it on that which has little or no value.
I am a time waster. When I think of the time I have wasted over the course of my life, I am hounded by remorse. This guilt is not a false one fostered by an overactive work ethic. The guilt is real because the time I have wasted is real time.
The late Vince Lombardi introduced the adage, “I never lost a game, I just ran out of time.” This explanation points to one of the most dramatic elements of sports—the race against the clock. The team that is most productive in the allotted time is the team that wins the game. Of course, in sports, unlike life, there are provisions for calling time-out. The clock in a sports contest can be temporarily halted. But in real life there are no timeouts…
Given my propensity to waste time, I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to some of you.
First, I realize that all of my time is God’s time and all of my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc. But it is time for which I must give an account.
Second, time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, day-dreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.
Third, the mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.
Fourth, use your leisure time for pursuits that are life enriching. Leisure time is often spent on avocations. Reading is a valuable use of time. It enriches life to read outside of your major field or area of expertise. Augustine once advised believers to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching include the arts. I like to study the piano and I dabble in painting. No one will ever mistake me for a serious musician or an accomplished artist. But these avocations open up the world of beauty to me that enhances my view of God and His manifold perfections. I also enjoy working cross-word puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and to expand my vista of verbal expression.
Fifth, find ways to cheat the “Sand Man.” Several years ago I had an epiphany about time management. Though my life-long pattern had been to stay up late at night I realized that for me, the hours between 9–12 p.m. were not very productive. I reasoned that if I used those hours to sleep I might secure more time for more productive things. Since then my habit has been to retire between 8–9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has effected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are a time free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer….
Sixth, use drive-time for learning. Driving a car is another mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of audio tape can be put to great use during these times. I can listen to lectures and instructional tapes while driving, thereby redeeming the time.
Finally, in most cases a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. I find it freeing in that the schedule can include time for leisure, recreation, and avocation. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying productive life.
———–
[The article “Time Well Spent: Right Now Counts Forever” was written by Dr. R.C. Sproul and published in Tabletalk magazine (September 1997, pp. 4–7). This excerpt is reprinted by the kind permission of Ligonier Ministries.]

Busyness is not equal to Productivity

I just read this quote from CJ Mahaney in an email from a friend and

 found it really helpful, I hope you enjoy it and be transformed by it.


“I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the

realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could be a

hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a

life-altering and work-altering insight. What I learned is that:

Busyness does not mean I am diligent

Busyness does not mean I am faithful

Busyness does not mean I am fruitful

Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition to

include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The sluggard

can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking 

out a to-do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.

When considering our schedules, we have endless options. But there are a few

clear priorities and projects, derived from my God-assigned roles, that

should occupy the majority of my time during a given week. And there are a

thousand tasks of secondary importance that tempt us to devote a

disproportionate amount of time to completing an endless to-do list. And if

we are lazy, we will neglect the important for the urgent.” C.J. Mahaney

CHRIST OR SELF

One of the greatest sins of this age is pride. We try to magnify ourselves above others. This inclination to pride is displayed the most when we see someone displaying the same kinds of things that make us proud. What pride hates the most is pride in others because their pride competes with its own self-worth. Pride also manifests itself in self-sufficiency, and in exaggerated ideas of one’s own virtues, abilities or importance. We creatures even magnify ourselves above our Creator, making ourselves supreme (or the end goal) in our thoughts, affections, goals etc…
The down side to pride is that God detests the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Thus, for us to receive grace from our grace-supplying God, we must be humble. Martin Luther said, “We were made out of nothing, we must remain nothing and God will make something out of us.”
We must always remember that once we were not a people and God made us his own, we were dead in our trespasses and sin and God made us alive (1Pet 2:10; Eph 2:1). The meaning of the passive verb “made” in this last sentence is to silence our prideful hearts. Only God should boast about who we are because he made us who we are. “What do you have that you did not receive, and if then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1Cor 4:7). Christ and self cannot be exalted in the same individual; one must be exalted and the other debased. Let us learn from John, who after confessing that, “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27), resolves that “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).