Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now (Paperback)

present perfectAuthor: Gregory A. Boyd

Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2010)

Topic: Spiritual Growth

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Summary: Present Perfect, by popular author and pastor Gregory Boyd, will help you experience true spiritual transformation. Invite God’s presence into your life, moment-by-moment. Boyd shows you how—simply and effectively—in this thoughtful and accessible book. Ponder the meditations. Consider the practical applications. Then embrace this discipline as the central goal of your life and discover its life-transforming significance!

Description: Experience true spiritual transformation: invite God’s presence into your life! Popular author, theologian, and pastor Gregory Boyd shows you how—simply, practically, and effectively—in this thoughtful and accessible book.

God is closer to you than the air you breathe. He is present in every given moment. Wake up to his presence! Turn off the mental chatter that keeps you from seeing his glory. Embrace the holy habit of inviting God’s presence into your life, and be transformed!

Wake Up to God’s Presence!

We long to be transformed. Yet our minds are filled with endless trivia and self-centered chatter. To-do lists. Worries about the past. Speculation about the future. We forget to live in the present moment … and to invite God to be with us there.

After reading classic contemplative authors Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and Frank Laubach, theologian and pastor Gregory Boyd longed to experience the presence of God for himself. For two decades, he’s attempted to implement the “practice of the presence of God” in his own life … sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. What he’s learned as a fellow pilgrim on his spiritual journey can help you find true spiritual transformation as you begin to practice the discipline of inviting God into every moment.

“I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence moment-by-moment is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus,” Boyd writes. “I’m convinced this challenge is implied in our commitment to surrender our life to Christ, for the only real life we have to surrender to him is the one we live moment-by-moment.”

Join Boyd on this transformational journey of a lifetime.

Greg’s story behind the writing of Present Perfect: “Practicing the presence of God” is a traditional spiritual discipline that involves trying to remain aware moment-by-moment that you’re perpetually enveloped in the loving presence of God. Its most famous advocate is a 17th century monk named “Brother Lawrence” who authored the book Practicing the Presence of God.  I’ve known about and sporadically practiced this discipline since the late 1980’s. While I’ve always found it beneficial, I also have consistently found it to be extremely challenging.  The fact that I have A.D.D. doesn’t help!  In the years leading up to 2004 I had all but forgotten the discipline.

Then I hit the proverbial wall.  For a variety of reasons, I flat-lined spiritually, to the point that I had to take an unplanned three-month sabbatical from ministry.  Among the things I did to rectify my stagnation was read once again Brother Lawrence’s wonderful book. On the recommendation of some friends, I also studied several other authors who advocated something like this discipline (Jean Pierre de Caussade, a 17th century priest, and Frank Laubach, a 20th century missionary).  As a result, I recommitted myself to cultivating a moment-by-moment awareness of God’s presence.  For whatever reasons, at this point in my life this discipline was not only beneficial: it was absolutely life-giving!  Indeed, it seemed to me at this time – and this has remained my conviction ever since — that practicing the presence is the single most foundational discipline a follower of Jesus could ever engage in.  In fact, for reasons that are made clear in Present Perfect, I believe remaining aware of, and surrendered to, God’s presence on a moment-by-moment basis is the very essence of discipleship. Living in the kingdom, I believe, is first and foremost about staying awake and surrendered to the reign of God.

I process ideas best through writing, so I naturally began to write out my thoughts about my new appreciation for this discipline during my sabbatical and for several months afterwards.  The result was a handful of essays reflecting on the profound importance of this long forgotten discipline as well as some observations on the profound significance it can have in a life.  I shared some of these essays with friends who thought I should get it published, but I decided against it.  The reason was that I felt I could not publish a book on a discipline I continue to find so challenging. Lawrence, de Caussade and Laubach all had “breakthrough” moments after which they claimed they could with little effort remain continually aware of God’s presence. I had (and have yet to have had) no such experience.  I continue to find this discipline to be extremely challenging.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I began to view my essays in a different light.  Zondervan Publishing House wanted to publish a book as a follow up to my book The Myth of a Christian Religion and it occurred to me that my collection of essays fit the bill nicely.  Even more importantly, I began to realize that I didn’t need to present myself as a “master” of practicing the presence in order to offer a book to help fellow pilgrims benefit from this practice.  In fact, being a fellow struggler had its distinct advantages in as much as it allowed me to always retain a very realistic perspective.  (When reading the three “masters” one can easily feel intimidated. Not so with my fellow-novice book).  So, I re-worked my essays and, together with Bob Hudson at Zondervan, put them in the form they now have in Present Perfect.

As for the title, I originally planned on calling this book This Sacred Moment.  The marketing people at Zondervan thought this title sounded to religious and fluffy.  They were right.  Someone on their team proposed Present Perfect as a clever way to capture my persistent emphasis on staying awake to the present moment while letting go of the past and future.  The minute I heard it I loved it.

My hope is that Present Perfect helps motivate readers to stay awake to the abiding presence of our loving Creator whose love envelops us each and every nanosecond of our lives.

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