“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18).
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (I Chron. 16:34).
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 92:1).
November is the month of Thanksgiving and along with many other Facebook users, I’ve been making daily posts of things that I’m thankful for during the entire month. I really believe giving thanks to God for His goodness and many blessings is a helpful remedy for discontentment. Whenever I find myself starting to complain about something, or being discontent in my circumstances, I try to stop myself and turn my complaint into thanks, or to look for something within the situation to thank God for. Or simply thank God for His attributes which never change.
If I’m discontent, I’m basically saying to God that I am not pleased with how He has ordained my circumstances, that He is either not being wise or not being good to me in some way. How arrogant, and ungrateful! Even in the difficult times, I must remind myself that, “All the days ordained for me were written in [God’s] book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:16).
Something I am thankful to God for this month is my new job, which I started just a week and a half ago. This change has drastically altered my schedule and is diverting time away that I previously had for reading and writing. That being said and in light of the season, I thought it would be appropriate to bring Jeremiah Burroughs’ book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment to your attention, in case you missed it when I first shared it here. I hope you’ll take a moment to acquaint yourself with this blessed work, a book that I intend to reread sometime:
Introductory Essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by J. I. Packer
“…we speak of God’s love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence “at the door of our hearts” for us to let them in…this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel.” – Packer
I’ve heard it said that the works of Puritan pastor and theologian John Owen need to be read aloud or standing up in order to avoid falling asleep! It’s not so much that the material is boring per se, but that Owen’s writing style is difficult to wade through and the effort, while worth it, can be mentally taxing. Owen’s classic work, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, published in 1648, biblically explores the subject of the atonement — that is, the purpose and effect of Christ’s death in carrying out God’s plan of redemption. Owen’s purpose was to show “that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive to the gospel.” He discusses in depth the question, “For whom did Christ suffer and die?” with three possible answers: 1) All of the sins of all men; 2) Some of the sins of all men; or 3) All of the sin of some men. Of course, only one of these can be the true answer, and the answer must come from Scripture, not from one’s preconceived notions, opinions, or feelings. Continue reading “Christ’s Death: For All, Some or None?”→
“A picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed between God and my soul before I could subject my will to Jesus, my Master.” – George Herbert
I discovered the poetry of George Herbert in a university British literature class, and it was a delightful discovery. George Herbert (1593-1633) was an Anglican clergyman who wrote metaphysical poetry – poems that address the mind and stimulate the imagination. Herbert’s poems, often written in first person, focus on his devotion to and relationship with God and are very personal and reflective in nature. It is as if Herbert is baring his soul, revealing his spiritual thoughts and emotions, even struggles, about God and his relationship with Him. Continue reading “An Anglican Minister Bares His Soul: George Herbert”→
“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, it seemed this would be an appropriate book to highlight. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (1648) was very profitable and helpful to me in this day of materialism, covetousness, and greed. Even though I have a very comfortable life, I still find myself complaining and worrying – whether outwardly or in my heart – about trivial matters, and this book really helped put everything into proper perspective.
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,
They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.
– Anne Bradstreet, “Prologue”
Anne Bradstreet originally intended to share her verses only with her family and close friends. Without her prior permission, her brother-in-law John Woodbridge took them to England and published them in 1650 under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America. Apparently, Mrs. Bradstreet anticipated the skepticism with which her poetry might be received. In her Prologue (above), she apologizes for her lowly attempts and begs the reader to forgive her for her simple verses. While she admits her poems cannot compare with those of the Greeks or other great poets, she humbly asks to receive due credit for her efforts. I imagine Mrs. Bradstreet would be amazed to know that her humble expressions of devotion for her family and her God are still read and admired today, since she didn’t initially intend to publish them at all. Continue reading “Puritan Poetess: Anne Bradstreet”→