Opening our eyes to the real world

Today I’ve been studying Daniel 10. It is an amazing chapter about the intersection of prayer, spiritual conflict and the advancement of God’s plans and purposes.

 

Two quotes that really help us grasp the impact of this chapter:

“If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there–that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.”

Abraham Kuper (1837-1920), journalist, theologian and prime minister of the Netherlands.

 

“Take the supernatural seriously and realize that we are in a warfare that cannot and should not be domesticated by reinterpreting everything in the biblical worldview so that it fits nicely with secular; naturalistic ways of thinking about the world. Be ready for the extraordinary as well as the ordinary ways that evil spirits work. Don’t be anxious, as though they were stronger than Jesus”

John Piper

What is controlling your meditation

In these unusual times, I thought it would be helpful to quote Paul David Tripp, on the importance of getting control of what you meditate on:

 

“What controls your meditation will control your thoughts about God, yourself, others, your situation, and even the nature of life itself. And as you mediate on what you are suffering, your joy wanes, your hope fades, and God seems increasingly distant. In the meantime, God hasn’t changed, his truth is still true, and what you’re acing hasn’t grown bigger, but it all seems bigger, darker, and more impossible. Your suffering has replaced God and his truth as the lens through which you look at and understand life.”

Suffering, Pg 60

Probably the best book on suffering I’ve ever read

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Today I’ve finished Paul David Tripp’s book titled ‘Suffering’. I think this is probably the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of Suffering. Yes, I’ve read the classic ‘Problem of Pain’ by C.S. Lewis and D.A Carson’s magnificent book called ‘How Long Oh Lord?’. However, both of those books try to address the subject of suffering from a Biblical /Philosophical perceptive. This book by Tripp, addresses suffering from a deeply pastoral perspective. I again and again felt like I was sitting on a sofa opposite Tripp and he was helping me to process the pains and disorientation that often comes with suffering. It is a truly wonderful book! Here is a quote from chapter 2:

“you never just suffer the thing that you’re suffering, but you always suffer the way that you’re suffering that thing. You and I never come to our suffering empty-handed. We always drag a bag full of experiences, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into our suffering. So our lives are shaped not just by what we suffer but by what we bring to our suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God, and others will profoundly affect the way you think about, interact with, and respond to the difficulty that come your way.”

Suffering is never neutral

Over christmas, I’ve been reading Paul David Tripp’s new-ish book called Suffering (Gospel hope when life doesn’t make sense). I’ve still got a few pages left but this is a book worth reading!

Written in a season of personal suffering and uncertainty, this is honest, personal, challenging and theolgically rich!

Here is just one small nugget to wet your appetite…

“I wish I could say that my expereince of suffering was neutral, but it wasn’t, and it isn’t for anybody else either. Here’s what every suffer needs to understand: you never just suffer the thing you’re suffering, but you always also suffer the way that you’re suffering that thing. You and I never come to our suffering empty-handed. We always drag a bag full of expereinces, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into our sufffering. So our lives are shaped not just by what we suffer but by what we bring to our suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God and others will profoundly affect the way you think about, interact with, and respond to the difficultly that comes your way.”

 

49 books I read in 2019

Here is a list of 49 books which I read in 2019. They are not in any particular order!

 

Here are my top three:

The return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)

As Kingfishers Catch Fire (Eugene Peterson)

The Apostles Creed (Albert Mohler) – not quite finished

___

1. The furious Longing of God (Brennan Manning)
2. The Church (Mark Dever)
3. Fathering Leaders and Motivating mission (David Devenish)
4. Paul’s missionary methods or ours (Roland Allan
5. the Compelling Community (Mark Dever)
6. Fearless (Joe Glickman) – Kayaking book
7. Evangelism (Mack Stiles)
8. Relational Mission (Mike Betts)
9. The return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)
10. Gagging Jesus (Phil Moore)
11. Less is more (Leo Babauta)
12. Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
13. Discipling (Mark Dever)
14. The Ragamuffin Gospel (Bennan Manning) – 3rd read
15. Christ-centred exposition of Galatians (David Platt & Tony Merida)
16. Church Membership (Jonathan Leeman)
17. The Freedom Of Self-forgetfulness (Tim Keller)
18. Spirit & Sacrament (Andrew Wilson)
19. Growing in Christ (J.I. Packer)
20. The Valley of Vision
21. Praying the Psalms (Eugene Peterson)
22. Real Change (Andrew Nicholls & Helen Thorne)
23. Prayer (John Onwuchekwa)
24. Amos (T.J. Betts)
25. As Kingfishers Catch Fire (Eugene Peterson)
26. Ecclesiastes (Daniel L. Akin)
27. To Kill the president (Sam Bourne) – Fiction
28. For the fame of God’s Name (Sam Storms)
29. Eighteen Acres (Nicolle Wallace) – Fiction
30. The President is Missing (Bill Clinton & James Patterson) – Fiction
31. The (unadjusted) gospel (Mark Dever)
32. The reckoning (John Grisham) – Fiction
33. 1 Peter (Edmund P. Clowney)
34. A model of Christian Maturity (D.A Carson)
35. The Busy Christian’s guide to busyness (Tim Chester)
36. Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes (Kenneth E. Bailey)
37. The Call (Os Guiness) – 2nd Read
38. The intraverted leader (Jennifer Kahnweiler) – 2nd read
39. Don’t fire your church members (Jonathan Leeman) – Not quite finished
40. The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis)
41. Feet in the clouds (Richard Askwith) – A book on fell running
42. The Apostles Creed (Albert Mohler) – not quite finished
43. Dare to Lead (Brene Brown)
44. Exodus (Platt)
45. The way of the heart (Henri Nouwen)
46. Philippians – Alec Motyer
47. Conversion – Michael Lawrence
48. Run with Horses – Eugene Peterson
49. Activate (Nelson Searcy)

I am in chains for Christ

In my morning devotions, I’m currently working my way through Philippians in the company of Alec Motyer (through his excellent commentary). In Chapter 1:13-14, Paul is explaining how his suffering is advantageous for the advance of the gospel. Listen to how Alec Motyer unpacks this:

“He [Paul] did not see his suffering as an act of divine forgetfulness )’Why did God let this happen to me?’), nor as a dismissal from service (‘I was looking forward to years of usefulness, and look at me!’), nor as the work of Satan (‘I am afraid the devil has had his way this time’), but as the place of duty, the setting for service, the task appointed. When the solider came ‘on duty’ to guard Paul, did the apostle smile secretly and say to himself, ‘But he doesn’t know that I am here to guard him — for Christ’?”