I met the photographer/artist today as I strolled the nostalgic streets of Apalachicola, Florida. He was a pleasant gentlemen whose portfolio and resume was sure to impress. What impressed upon me about him was his story of how he has traveled the world on assignment with some of the most famous magazines and journalism publications, but yet he came on assignment to Apalach (for short per the locals) and he stayed. He, as have I, fell in love with a people, a true culture that is like walking back in time. Apalach is an old river town that empties into the bay made famous for its sought after oysters. The bay feeds the gulf and the spoils feed the economy. It has always had deep roots in seafood still caught the same way they have been for decades, but it wasn’t always this way. It once was a booming logging and cotton town, whose port was once one of the busiest in the gulf. Though some industries have left, the culture has not. Hard working, slow-paced, close-knit, caring and God-fearing people make up the culture of Apalach. Deep South still permeates the air along with its food, architecture, dialects and religion. The religion I speak of is one that overwhelms its inhabitants. It carries over into their public and private life and offers a true hope and forgiveness. One of the many examples is the local Soul Food restaurant I ate at where the namesake recently passed away. Many would cave, sweep the struggle under the rug and show obvious anxiety in the face of an uncertain future of the business, but this is how they respond:
We are in awe of God and we are forever grateful for your prayers. For all of you He had in the right place just at the right time, we thank you! To that awesome group of customers who were dining and came in the back to do CPR, how do we say thank you? Please let us know who you are and how we can contact you. To Officers Wesley Creamer and Carlos Hill, the Weem’s EMT’s, the Weem’s Emergency Staff, Life Flight Techs and all of you who God used to help in this miracle, thank you. To all of you who touched and agreed with us and bombarded Heaven with your prayers-thank you! We pray that God will bless you in a mighty way and that he return unto you that which you have given unto us. Today we are rejoicing and giving God praise! Stay tuned as we continue to bring the good news of Jesus!
The Word of God is revered and their faith and evidence of God’s life transforming grace is palatable. I love it here. When life is going too hard and too fast, this place, these people, this culture and landscape, is my escape where I rest and renew my heart, mind and soul to health. I immerse myself in prayer, Scripture and gaze at the endless wonders of our God and his Mighty acts of Creation. I relish in time with my family and savor slow conversations with strangers and new acquaintances. It allows me to truly “Be Still. So back to my photo. I purchased this from the photojournalist today and he told me how this little church, a traditionally black church, about 40 miles upriver, was preparing to baptize 3 new believers one day and he asked if he could observe and photograph. He described a scene that he said was truly awe-inspiring, and emotional and spiritual event where burdens were washed clean and praise and joy were sung in old spiritual songs in the same water and in the same way they have been since Cotton was king in these parts. After the lady in the photograph followed through with believer’s baptism she yelled “I have been baptized with my Lord in my river Jordan!” I plan to hang this in my office because what a great reminder of the Gospel and its timeless truth that is unchanging and compels its beneficiaries to cry of victory and relief from the depths of their soul. The Gospel, like Apalach, is like a time and place that seems too good to be true, but we all know unlike most things that are too good, Apalach is real and is still a dull and pale comparison to the wondrous gift of Grace in the Gospel.
Check his Page out or the book!
If you want a book that fundamentally explains a correct theology of suffering, that should renew your mind and therefore your heart and soul during the trials of this life, buy this book!
Before I get into the book itself I would like to give the appropriate disclosure that the book was provided by Mathias Media in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review. I intend to do just that, albeit briefly. So do this ministry a favor and if I intrigue you enough to purchase, do so from their website-click on the picture to the left, they are from my estimation a wonderful group of humble Christians who have done the Church a great service.
In order to set the stage for the book and my ability to review the material with any credible authority, I feel it is important for me to confess my exposure to suffering in general. One of the beautiful things about this book in comparison to its peers in the topic of suffering, is that it seems to speak more directly to the topic of suffering as a Christian in light of two things: 1) A modern worldview that if God is God and God is good, then why do his people suffer at all? and 2) Suffering for Christ’s sake, in other words, Christian persecution.
On that note, I cannot with any honesty confess that I have been persecuted directly for my faith in any manner similar to the Apostles or martyrs and historic heroes of the faith like Martin Luther, or even the Puritan Pilgrims who left England in pursuit of their compulsion to freely worship. So to that I will give little comment as I am not in a position to argue based on anything except history and the Scriptures.
However, I can speak for an eternity on the topic of personal suffering and experience of pain. I battle daily with pain from nerve damage. Even worse, I have been scared that my child possibly had a terminal illness, I have witnessed my wife being wheeled into the operating room in order to correct a heart malfunction that had already threatened to take her life several times before. I have witnessed an honest man be falsely accused and his family be torn to shreds by public mockery and I have uncovered the remains of fallen brothers in arms on the battlefield. I have as much reason to doubt the existence of a good God as anyone, but by the grace of God alone I do not. Paul Grimmond, in this work, does an outstanding job outlining why Christians across the globe and in centuries past have not as well.
In God’s kind providence, my church has been going through a series in Job this summer, we have seen some of the similar topics explained and exposited in scripture that Grimmond shows us. What makes Grimmond’s work exceptionally helpful is the careful attention he gives to a proper view of God, and a proper worldview as it pertains to the purpose of life, the standard of morality and thereby the problem of suffering as it is perceived by those with an incorrect view of God’s sovereign control and intent in suffering and by those who understand that God does allow suffering in order to draw his people closer to him in faith and dependence upon his providence in their lives.
He responds correctly and logically after illustrating the common flawed worldviews of humanist and atheist understandings of God and suffering with biblical illustrations that counter their views which aim to clarify the true purpose in Christian suffering.
We see in the third chapter several examples showing that in our suffering we have a prime opportunity to show the world how God is our source of all hope, power, perseverance and righteousness. In our suffering we have the glorious opportunity to be brought to our knees in worship and submission before the perfect justice of a holy Creator God so that we might have the opportunity to have our self righteousness and self sufficiency revealed for what it is, that is, a damnable verdict of pride and idolatry before our God, Creator and Judge before it is too late.
As we moved into the fourth chapter we start to really see the proposition of the biblical answer to suffering put together. I think this is where Grimmond goes in for the kill..driving his point home methodically. But Why? That is the nature of the chapter and he answers it just as God did in scripture. It is all for the glory of His name. I even love how he predicts the reader’s hesitation to accept that answer and then responds with scripture again…”but who are you o man…?” And then the final blow to the folly of human logic. God himself is not only involved in our suffering, but he himself suffered.
I could end the review here and be justified in saying the book is worth the read, unlike other books on the same topic, which i have read at least ten of them, Grimmond disassembles the worldview of the prideful enlightened man and juxtaposes with what I call “a biblical logical paradox”. It only makes sense in scripture, because the world is backwards, not scripture.
Now we have the remaining chapters which I foresee a some readers wanting to skip ahead towards. Those are the chapters on suffering in general as a Christian, the predictable surprise as a human in this fallen world, and the suffering as Christian for the fame of Christ’s name, which is persecution. These are identified separately, rightly so. As I mentioned above I don’t have much experience in the persecution for Christ, but general suffering I understood, so I was grateful for the differentiation, I think it was an important clarification to make.
I could go on more on the specific details of suffering in persecution as well as during pain and suffering in this life, but I think my review his home. If you want a book that fundamentally explains a correct theology of suffering, that should renew your mind and therefore your heart and soul during the trials of this life, buy this book! There is no greater read that is accessible to all reading levels that explains the correct approach to the bibles view of suffering and clarifies where the world has it all wrong.
An outstanding article by Paul Tripp.
…We tend to approach parenting with expectations as if we had hard-and-fast guarantees. We think that if we do our part, our children will become model citizens. We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right.
These assumptions pave the way for our identity to get wrapped up in our kids. We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success. We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures. We secretly want to display them on the mantels of our lives as visible testimonies to a job well done.
When they fail to live up to our expectations, we find ourselves not grieving for them and fighting for them, but angry at them, fighting against them, and, in fact, grieving for ourselves and our loss. We’re angry because they’ve taken something valuable away from us, something we’ve come to treasure, something that has come to rule our hearts: a reputation for success.
It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that these are God’s children. They don’t belong to us. They’re not given to bring us glory, but him. Our kids are from him, they exist through him, and the glory of their lives points to him. We’re only agents to accomplish his plans. We’re only instruments in his hands. Our identity is rooted in him and his call to us, not in our children and their performance.
You Need This Book: A Review of Contentment, Prosperity and God’s Glory by Jeremiah Burroughs @CF_Reviews @RHB_Books
I am not sure I am either qualified to review or whether the book itself should be subjected to the likes of me for review. Who are we in the great scheme of God’s church throughout time to review, analyze or critique a truly tested, timeless prophet of the Gospel like Jeremiah Burroughs? Nevertheless, I will, in whatever feeble means I am able as I have been so richly blessed by his other work Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment during a season of my life where God, in his grace, saw it fit to ruin my desire for contentment over His glory, but that is different post. During that season of my life I was helped by a book of essays and excerpts on the topic of suffering which consisted of authors from Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Burroughs, Jonathan Edwards, to modern prophetic voices like R.C. Sproul and John Piper among others. It has now been some time since I read most works on the topic during my dark night of the soul and of all the authors I have read to help me discern why I was so tainted with a thirst to be healed of my ailments, only Burroughs still remains clear in my memory. So when I saw the opportunity to review a book that succeeds his work I already benefited from so greatly I could not pass it up, even if it meant setting aside my other reading.
Burroughs has a way of demolishing any ability to hold on to one’s carnal desires and claim to be a faithful follower of Christ. He does so swiftly and without prejudice and then once the reader is at his weakest, he let’s the light of the glory of the God of our Gospel begin to saturate the room so that once shone through, its grandeur is unsurpassed and as C.S. Lewis similarly phrased, we will no longer be so easily amused (or amazed may be a more appropriate term) by anything else.
In Contentment, Prosperity and God’s Glory (CPGG), he makes his case from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and does so with both doctrinal prudence and exegetical care. He goes on to show in the introduction chapter Paul’s character as it has been molded and shaped by the Glory of God and the grace of the Gospel. He humbles the reader by showing us Paul’s gratitude and humility towards others alike even as he suffered imprisonment, and other repercussions of His faith. It is humbling because by this point in the book, if like me, you have already complained about something of no eternal value or lusted over something that will decay, rust or be eaten by moths over eternity. This is all done to show the reader that the true Christian is content, that is made to abound, in the knowledge of and union with Jesus Christ regardless of the circumstances. It is truly a grace to be content. To be content is to know Christ, the ultimate manifestation of God’s overpowering grace toward a rebellious sinful world.
I could go on about the various chapters and details therein, but what I want to layout is his thesis as it relates to the Gospel. See Paul also lays out for us in Philippians a point that Burroughs picks up with pastoral wisdom and drives home. When we are content, praise God for his grace, and furthermore, any contentment we have worldly things must serve to point us to The glorious God from whom all blessings flow! Amen and Amen, I say. I have been blessed beyond comprehension and I pray that God keeps pointing me to him when I stare at my beautiful healthy children, a loving wife, a warm home, a meal and a loving church family where we are able to freely worship our Savior.
Further and maybe even more importantly there is the point that must adjoin this one and needs to be learned by all Christians to “Be Full” regardless, even when we are abased. Wisely, Burroughs shows us Paul. When all comforts were gone, when life was becoming unbearable Paul was able to continue in rejoicing that he was content because he was full of the one thing that could not be removed. The glorious Grace of God’s indwelling presence and the promises of eternal riches and true prosperity as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
At approximately 115 pages and 10 chapters, Jeremiah Burroughs is the one source as a pastor I point people to apart from the Scriptures to show them the riches of His glorious grace when life seems grand according to worldly standards or the world around us is crumbling beneath our feet. I leave you with a quote that I believe is the crucial message you need to take away from the book.
Always be the same.
So in a constant way, whether in prosperity or adversity, the gracious man will still respond consistently before God. If God brings illness upon him, he rejoices in God and blesses Him; you will find pleasant and spiritual things coming from him even then. And if God delivers him and he comes into prosperity, there you will find that his heart still remains heavenly. It remains gracious, spiritual, and raised above created things, no matter which condition he is put into (116).
I cringe to think of How Jeremiah Burroughs might address the world we live in today. We have certainly seen the perpetuation of the carnal inclination to worship the created things instead of the Creator and in so doing, we have worshiped ourselves and our circumstances.
Let us all see the things we have and our circumstances as they are. Sign glory. Sign glory is meant to be just that, a sign pointing us to greater things and an even greater God.
As a truthful disclaimer, I read this book in a hammock overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, but had I read it in a hospital bed I would recommend it just the same. So, whatever your circumstance, prosperity or adversity, I don’t merely recommend this book. I say you NEED this book.
This book was provided for an honest review by Cross Focused Reviews, a positive review was not required but the book certainly warranted it.
…prophecy something more than bar, undisciplined skill in expounding single passages, turning them to a certain preconceived account, more than acquired gift for atomistic scholarly exegesis; it requires that much rarer gift of sufficient historic sense to transport oneself into the consciousness of the nascent church of the New Testament and to gather from its sense of living halfway in the fulfillment and out of the fulfillment the knowledge of prophecy, if it was intended to fit into this fulfillment must have really meant e mente Dei (“from the mind of God”). This is a method of sounding the deep waters of the prophecy and bringing up from this depth the kernel-treasures of its original divine conception….Jeremiah 30:24.
Geerhardus Vos, p. 145 The Eschatology of the Old Testament, Ed. James T. Dennison Jr.
At The Gospel Coalition national conference in Chicago, IL, BibleMesh conducted three panel discussions. Above is the final of the three, entitled “How to Teach Children and Youth the Gospel Story,” which was held at 12:30pm on Thursday, April 14 in Chicago. Greg Thornbury of BibleMesh led the discussion, which featured panelists Russell Moore, David Helm, and Kimberly Thornbury.
The discussion ranged from particular obstacles that pop up in teaching our children the gospel, how to teach parents to understand the Bible in order to teach their children, and helpful resources. Below are some of the resources mentioned:
Kimberly Thornbury mentioned Ethel Barrett books that are out of print, but can be easily found used. A good example is Barrett’s Abraham: God’s Faithful Pilgrim (Great Heroes of the Bible Series).
David Helm, Big Picture Story Bible (Crossway)
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (Zondervan)
Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people's notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.
I love you but I’m not in love with you…
That little line has been heard by lovers, husbands and wives among others for years. It does seem if one says I love you but I’m not in love with you means that although you acknowledge their existence you do not care about them enough that you desire any part of your life to be devoted to them, in other words, the way the person has or has not changed your life hasn’t exactly impacted you much.
If we call ourselves Christians, born of the new birth, that implies we desire Christ and desire God’s will for our lives. It implies we want to get to know the person and have a relationship. With God we do this in prayer, and studying his Word which is our only means of communicating with the person we claim to love.
Lastly, when we have a relationship and desire to please someone we tell others about the beauty of the relationship, the greatness of the person and desire that they experience the same unequivocal joy.
So, Christian, I think we both know we have a hard time defending any claim that we would desire to do any of this for a person that we barely are acquainted with.
He came on to the scene rather unremarkable, and then in veiled commentary to the unsuspecting onlooker,
brought to fruition the hope of mankind ever since God promised to bruise the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15).
Within the book, the reader will quickly sense a progressive tempo that points forward toward a definite climax in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, the moment where the final destructive blow to the evil one will be dealt. As the reader progresses, he is instructed in truth and witnesses mercy, compassion, love,obedience, and compassion (Matt 5-7) along with awe-inspiring miracles evidencing the extraordinary power of this seemingly ordinary man, Jesus (Matt 14-15). As Matthew began to reveal more and more of what the future holds (Matt 20-25,and moving toward the crescendo of Jesus’ life and ministry (Matt 26-27), we see a pattern of humble service,teaching, and subversive activities that seem to quell any surface level inclination that he is indeed the promised Messiah (Matt 27:54). Moreover, everything recorded about his life in this gospel from the perspective of the Jewish onlooker appeared to be antithetical to this promised Danielic King, who would radiate in glory and majesty. But that all changed in Matthew 25:31-46.
Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, the promised Suffering Servant and Conquering Son of Man. He has fulfilled all requisite duties to satisfy the will of God on earth. Through his death, resurrection, ascension and bestowed Holy Spirit upon his covenant people, he has inaugurated the beginning of the end….Without notice, he will finish what he began on Calvary, ridding the land of its rebels, crushing the ruler of the present evil age forever and leading his people out of exile into the Promised Land. Be ready.
Read the entire paper here: Thy Kingdom Come
Christian, do you see God’s grace blanketing your suffering? Only through grace-filled eyes can one see and rejoice that their affliction, however minuscule or massive, has been permitted as a divine scene in the drama of our Redeemer’s sovereign story of grace-filled redemption of His people through His Son, for His glory.
Knowing that even this temporary affliction is ultimately for your good and His glory, I pray you rejoice in your trials today, praise Him with your suffering heart as Christ did all the way to Golgotha.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(1 Corinthians 16:23-24 ESV)