Good booksIssler, Klaus (2001). Wasting Time With God: 
A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God. 
Illinois: InterVarsity Press. 296 pp.

Dr. Issler begins with a testimony of his personal spiritual journey of knowing God.  He can sense that he is much closer to God than before and his understanding of God has been “stretched beyond comparison with former ways of thinking” (p.14).  He finds himself the joy of engaging in deep conversation with God, expending more effort to know Him deeper and feeling more connected with the Triune God.  He attributes his closer walk with God to “Wasting Time with God.”

The book is the author’s invitation to believers of the Christian Faith to accept the invitation of God to deepen their friendship with Him and to sense His presence more deeply, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).  The book is not a record of subjective experiences with God. It is based on a “serious study of the doctrine of God with the pursuit of a vibrant and soul-satisfying relationship with God.” It is a recognition that “sound theology must inform our own conceptions of who God is, yet without experiencing such truths in daily life, the ultimate purpose of systematic theology is aborted” (p. 23).  To experience the doctrine of God in daily life demands the spiritual discipline of  “Wasting Time with God.”   In contrast with the general understanding of wasting time, "Wasting time with God” is important for Christians to search their private life to become aware of what is driving or directing their life. Practicing the discipline is to follow the example of Jesus because He exemplifies the importance of attending to one’s private life (p. 31),

Yet the news about [Jesus] spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sickness. But  Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:15-16).

Klaus asks a soul searching question, “Yet, do we wish to emulate Jesus’ public life of ministry without attending to his private life that provided the foundation for his public ministry? (p. 30)

Wasting time with God calls for more than an expression of a desire to know God.  It must come both with a will and readiness to befriend God (chapters 2-4). In chapter 2, the issue of friendship is discussed with the focus to linking believers’ capacities to cultivate human relationships with their growing relationship with God because “by improving and deepening our human relationships, we make more room for friendship with God” (p. 66). The second component essential for knowing God is learning humility through practice of confession and service to others (chapter 3). To welcome God into one’s daily experience, the believer must have faith that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient to draw implications for “the present life” and “the life to come” (chapter 4).

The quest to experience interactive relationship and conversation with God is presented in chapters 5 and 6. Klaus reminds believers that a “deep walk with God will never occur until we invest more effort to learn how to seek God with all of our heart” (p. 124). He recommends “Wasting Time with God” through personal retreat and journaling especially during “spiritual dry seasons” or when God seems to withhold his communication.  In chapter 6, believers are assured of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in them to guide and enable their experience of the presence of God. They can become more sensitive to the Spirit’s presence through prayer, the art of listening and working with a spiritual mentor.

The sixth component essential for developing a deeper relationship with God is “yielding to the God who disciplines” (p.183). Questions such as “Why does God allow suffering?” and “Why does God allow evil to exist?” are addressed in chapter 7.  Believers may be comforted to understand suffering from God’s perspective by examining the five benefits of suffering listed by the author.  It is also an emotional experience to learn and empathize with actual case studies of Christians who triumph from suffering to comprehend how “God has permitted evil in the world to bring about good for his kingdom program and for us” (p. .212).

In the final chapter, Klaus shares his insights on spiritual growth through partnership with God in prayer. Different aspects of prayer are examined followed by guidelines regarding the practice of prayer. The main message of the chapter is, “Prayer does change things.”

Reading the book may appear to be a “waste of time” to readers who are familiar with the content discussed in each chapter. But, knowing the content alone is not an assurance of a closer walk with God if they do not “carry out [their] plans to ‘waste time with God,’ [their] relationship will languish” (p.29). Busy people may claim they do not have the ”time to waste” to read the book. But, “if we are going to make more room for God in our lives, we must move beyond our busyness and our preoccupation with lesser matters” (p. 132). 

The book serves as a reminder to those who desire to know God that

Seeking God is not just a one-time affair; it must become a continuing lifestyle if believers want to deepen a friendship with him…. The need to seek God does not end when we are transferred into God’s kingdom and family. Believers must continue to be seekers of God; it is our life purpose and brings to fulfillment our potential for living” (p. 16).

(Reviewed by Dr. Ng Peh Cheng)

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel last Wednesday was taken by Peter Lim, a full-time student at BGST who plans to work amongst the visually handicapped in East Malaysia.

Peter began with a reading of II Timothy 4:1-5.  He went on to comment on how we can be educated, yet spiritually bankrupt.  Even in ministry, we can move from obeying the Word to merely delivering goods and services as demanded by clients.

Hence Peter sees part of his calling to “guard the truth.”  He feels strongly about how preachers sometimes need to be challenged.  Otherwise the gospel would only continue to be diluted.  He sees professional Christian works living in danger of muting the Word on account of being “under employment.”

Peter ended his message with a call to be true to God’s Word, even at the expense of persecution or ridicule.  At a personal level, we were exhorted to follow the example of the Berean Christians in the Book of Acts, searching the Word daily to see if what we have heard preached were indeed in accordance with the truth.

Chapel next week on 10th December will be led by Dr John Lim.

NEWS BITS

  1. Public Lecture ‘Knowing God - Really?’ by Prof. Paul Stevens on 11 Dec. We hope you can attend this public lecture which will be held at the Sanctuary, Zion BP Church, from 7.30-10.30pm. Admission is free! 
    Prof Stevens will also be conducting the following courses:

  • The Christian Life (11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 & 21 Dec, 7.30-10.30pm)

  • Marketplace Ministries Seminar (13 & 20 Dec, 2.00 -9.00pm)

Call 63538071 to register or by email: bgst@pacific.net.sg

  1. BGST Library will close at 6.00pm on 11 Dec in preparation for the Public Lecture by Prof. Stevens.

  2. AWAY ON LEAVE. Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be on leave from 9-22 Dec and 26-31 Dec. If you need any assistance, kindly refer to Serene.

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A BLESSED 
BIRTHDAY TO ...

 

Mr Daniel Ng  2/12

Mr Bernard Chaing  2/12

Mrs Loo Hoi Loon  3/12

Mr Leong Yeng Wai  3/12

Mr Lai Pak Wah  4/12

Mr Chan Kum Soon  4/12

Mr Leong Kok Weng  5/12

Mr Aaron Low Kim Leng  5/12

 

Mr Daniel Lee Meng Kuan  5/12

Mr Shin Jung Kwan  5/12

Mr Choo Leng Jan  5/12

Mr Paul Ng  5/12

Mr Kevin Chan  7/12

Mr Caleb Kang Il  7/12

Mr Timothy Lim Teck Ngern  7/12

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