Practicing the Present

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this book from Moody  Publishers via NetGalley, this review is my personal opinion.

Practicing the present by John Koessler
This book took me by surprise, what a great book. John Koessler talks from his own experience about what means to live and practice the present. I found interesting what he said that must of all don’t like them now since we are so busy planning the future. And what he says about the goals and dreams in church, that's so true. I believe many can be related to that.
 
There are so many good things in this book, you have to take your time and re-read specific pages. For example, I have read Matthew 6: 34 many times. But I never understood that verse as he mentions in his book. Page 35 “ The admonition of take no thought of tomorrow” is an encouragement to practice the present. Our fears and anxiety holds us captive into fear and like say on page 35 “ We simply try to anticipate for what might happen to prepare for the worst”. And I must say that was me, what I found truly interesting about this book is how we can be living like that for many years and not even noticing it. 
 
I love this quote on page 41 “Living in the present is not flight from reality. Jesus does not teach us to dismiss the past or ignore the future. Practicing the present is not the habit of looking our lives through the rose glass of sentimentally. Neither is a careless disregard of the things that need to be done to prepare for the future. Instead, it is the practice of orienting ourselves in the present because it is the present that past and the future meet”. 
 
When I read this quote on page 46 “What our anxiety for the future amounts is a failed attempt to put ourselves in the places of God. We have been trying to control our destiny”. 
 
This quote was just wow!! “We do not need to attempt great things at all times. We do not need to make a great name for ourselves” 
 
I believe this is a must-read book because we live in a society that it's so busy for what's next, how to be more productive, be better;  I am not saying this book is magical. By no means, but I talk from my own experience since I start practicing what is on the book I see many things differently. It takes time, determination; but I believe that with the help of God we can live and enjoy practicing the present.  
 
Truly grateful to Moody Publishers for the ARC of this book.
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I am so thankful that I read Practicing the Presence by John Koessler.  I found quite a few helpful things in the book and found myself nodding “yes” as I read through it.  My ultimate favorite chapters were nine and ten.  As a person who enjoys time alone in His presence on a very regular basis, I found great connection to the author on this.  I’m always on the lookout for books in this area and I was not disappointed.  I’m about to embark on leading another 4-day silent retreat and I’m excited that I got to read this beforehand.  I did find the middle to be a bit dry or non-catching for me.  It might have been distractions at the time of reading.  
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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This is a book for pastors and church leaders, especially those who tend to live in the past or are obsessed with the future. Koessler attempts to put the present in its proper place, viewing present circumstances through the lens of the sacred.

Much of the material is not for laypeople but I, a layperson, found some parts of the book very helpful. I liked his teaching on how we worry about the past. We speculate about what we might have done and how it might have turned out. He encourages us to live in the truth that God has redeemed our past. I also liked his teaching on those of us experiencing anxiety about the future. He encourages us to understand God established the future by appointment. We brood about the past and fret about the future because we have lost sight of God. (522/2262)

I like his encouragement for clergy to reclaim Luther's vision of the sacred importance of the “secular.” We are to find the sacred value of ordinary life. “486/2262)

Koessler covers a number of other topics such as responsible eating, self awareness and contemplation, decision making (intuition, Holy Spirit leading, and collective discernment), and more.

This is a book for clergy who want to be reminded to pay attention to what God is doing right now. It is an encouragement to see the opportunities God is presenting to them right now. The appeal of this book for laypeople is very limited.

Food for thought: “Practicing the present will require us to reclaim a sense of the eternal significance of [the] mundane spaces in our lives.” (494/2262)

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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"Practicing the Present: The Neglected Art of Living in the Now" by John Koessler is written for pastors and other church leaders, but lay people can discover tips, too, that help us live each moment in the present. 

Practicing the present is about living for God by living with God in the real world. We can entrust our past to God and accept His present circumstances as divine assignments as we look forward to what He will do in and through and for us in the future. Likewise, we can trade a past that cannot be changed and a future that may never come to pass for an experience with God in the here and now.

In every chapter, I found nuggets of wisdom that will help me live contentedly here and now. Topics include tips for handling worries about the future, ways to process past pain, trauma and grief, ways to trust God for our daily needs, how to follow the Holy Spirit's lead, and the importance of developing spiritual practices that enable us to enjoy and fully live in each moment of the present. 

I want to reread this book every year - it's that important. And I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to live life fully each moment.
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This book is very practical and challenging. It's important for us to be focused on the now and what God is doing at this time. We tend to spend too much time in the past and future, they are important, but can cause us to discount what's going on now.
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In this new book from John Koessler, readers are encouraged and challenged to both practice the present and practice the presence. In other words, how do they see God at work in the here-and-now... not only at work in the past or in their dreams for the future.

There are many sentences, even entire paragraphs that I highlighted throughout the book. However, I didn't realize that the book is written specifically for pastors or those in church leadership positions. There is still much to be both encouraged and challenged by in this book even if you don't find yourself in either of those categories, but there will be examples and stories in each chapter that don't necessarily apply directly to your life (because they are specifically written for those who hold a leadership position in the church).

I do wish that marketing materials and the book description made this clear, as it may be a disappointment and frustration to readers who aren't expecting the book to be written specifically for this audience. Overall, it is an important message that we all need - whether we work in vocational ministry or not.
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