Little One Lost
Summary: Our society has effectively silenced the cries of our littlest ones. Miscarriage is rarely mentioned, abortion is rampant and still borns are only briefly acknowledged. Every little soul has been created by God and thus bears His image. Every death, including the loss of our little ones, deserves acknowledgement and an appropriate time of grief. The loss of little ones is personified by the inclusion of personal stories of parents who have experienced the pain and grief through the death of their children. Mathes goes on to offer comfort to parents by enlarging God's covenant promises which are sure in Christ. Godly parents do grieve, but they do not grieve without hope, for He who creates also holds the power to keep and preserve.
Personal Thoughts: I was surprised at the thoroughness of this topic. At the outset I expected to read about miscarriage and still borns. Yes, these topic were wonderfully expounded, but so was abortion, infertility and adoption. And that's exactly what the author intended to do--to bring awareness to the many types of loss parents experience. I love how she pointed out that entire families grieve the loss of a little one, not just the mother. Part 6 is probably the most powerful section in the book which is entitled 'Healing our Pain.' Included in the final part of the book is chapter 26 which talks about compassionate care; there's a chapter that ought to be reprinted in many a church article and bulletin. Do you know how to comfort those who are grieving the loss of an infant? Do you know the words to offer that will begin a process of healing? Tolle lege--pick up and read!
Quote: "The littlest lambs are not lost. The Good Shepherd gathers them in His arms and gently leads their parents beside peaceful still waters into hopeful green pastures. Christians should not be afraid to call a baby a baby. Let's recognize that a child at any point in the pregnancy is a creation of God. Let's not fall prey to a pro-abortion mindset that minimizes pre-term loss. Let's reach out to dads, siblings and grandparents as well as moms in acknowledging their losses. Let's continue ministering to our hurting sisters and brothers long after the initial pain. And let's humbly realize the reason why God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to end a life before it really begins is beyond our finite understanding." --pg, 133,134
Getting Back in the Race
Summary: We're in a war. Some days we make headway. Other times we find ourselves falling back. What does this look like spiritually? Well, first of all, it's called backsliding. Do you recognize the signs? Perhaps coldness in prayer, or a decreased love for the saints. Maybe it's indifference under the Word or a critical spirit towards godly intentions. Worst of all, we often feel no guilt about it at all. Oh, we may complain about spiritual dryness, but where is our repentance? This book has 4 chapters: Runners Stumbling, Runners Returning, Runners Receiving and Runners Recovering. Beeke teaches us the dangers of backsliding and graciously shows us the way back to spiritual health through Christ, the Great Physician.
Personal Thoughts: This book was convicting. When I first read it, I was not in a backslidden state, but I noticed a few areas in my life that were not as they should be. This book is short and to the point. Read it and be ready for correction. But also realize that Dr. Beeke cares very deeply for souls. He writes to strengthen you in your walk. He is kind and gentle when probing for error. He is loving and understanding when he speaks to the convicted backslider. He is right and confident when he speaks about the perseverance of the saints and points you to a crucified Christ. I loved this book enough to buy it for my own library. I've now read it several times and each time I am convinced for the need of self-examination.
Quote: Haven't you, too, discovered that in some ways that it can be harder to go on believing as a Christian than to become one in the first place? Haven't you, too, found it hard to persevere in faith when trouble or opposition arises, or when faced with the demands of daily life in such a world as this one? Every Christian faces numerous discouragements in striving to follow Christ. Our knees go weak and our hands hang down when we face personal failure, when others let us down, or when providence denies our desires. Disappointment can lead to discouragement, and discouragement may end in doubt, fear, and even despair. We feel weak and tired, emotionally and spiritually, and we are tempted to throw in the towel. Why should we persist in confessing a faith that is despised and hated in the world? It all seems pointless and hopeless. We say with Asaph, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain." (Ps. 73:13). --pg 9
All Things For Good
Summary: A beautiful discourse on Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to His purpose." The best things work for good to the godly. The worst things work for good to the godly. Why? Because the Lord has made a covenant with His people. 'I am thy God.' He is our God, Physician, Father and Friend. How can we do anything but love Him and worship Him in response?
Personal Thoughts: I picked up this book thinking it would be about God upholding us during trials. But in true Puritanical fashion, it was SO much more than that. Yes, it started with speaking of trials in a believer's life, but also within these pages there is a beautiful piece that encouraged Christians to grow in love to God. Watson so patiently and helpfully explains what that love to God looks like in a believer's life and why it needs to be cultivated continually. The author also delved into a believer finding immense joy and humility in the fact that God called us. If that were not enough, Watson packs a little more into this short 127 page treatise. He finishes by teaching his readers about assurance and how to know they are of God.
Quote: Christ is not content till the saints are in His arms. This prayer, which He made on earth (John 17) is the copy and pattern of His prayer in heaven. What a comfort is this; when Satan is tempting, Christ is praying! This works for good. --pg 23
Christians Get Depressed Too
Summary: In a clear, concise, winning book, Dr. Murray destroys the stigma that sadly runs rampant through churches. You have all heard that stigma--that Christians are a happy people and that it is wrong, nay even a sin that they should succumb to depression. This book has 6 chapters. They are entitled, 'The Crisis, The Complexity, The Condition, The Causes, The Cures and The Caregivers.' This book has freed many Christian sufferers from the guilt and shame of depression and has helped them to understand that depression is often a physical ailment.
Personal Thoughts: Dr. Murray is so compassionate, so kind and so RIGHT! I've read this book several times now and I am always refreshed and encouraged again after reading it. He remembers that depressed people don't have the ability to read lengthy, theologically laden material. He knows that depressed people are quick to heap guilt on themselves. He knows that the church has not always been kind to sufferers. This book is short and so simple. But in this little volume Dr. Murray gives a good look at what depression looks like. He tackles negative thought patterns so well. He doesn't spit out a fix-it-all cure. He acknowledges that healing takes time. I think his last two chapters are just excellent and something that many books on depression never tackle--the critical role of caregivers and how the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture fits into a depressed person's life. If you are depressed, this is definitely the book you need to start with. It has done wonders for me.
Quote: If we come to the point that our default position in dealing with the causes of depression is that it is sin until proven otherwise, we are getting painfully close to the disciples' position: "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents?" (John 9:2). It is also a position that is somewhat akin to the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, in which the diagnosis for trials is personal sin and the prescription is more repentance and faith.
I was a pastor for 12 years on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. Sadly, that beautiful area has one of the highest rates of depression in the Western world, and I dealt with many Christians who endured years of mental suffering and spiritual darkness. Although initially, in my youthful zeal, I probed for the underlying 'sin' or 'issues' because I did not just want to alleviate 'symptoms.' I came to realize that I was often (though not always) dealing with people whose problem was not "issues of meaning or relationship." As I got to know them, I came to see that what they were living for and how they were living was not the problem; they were unquestionably living for and like Christ. In fact, they were among the godliest Christians I have ever met. The Lord was everything to them, and they would not let go of him despite everything screaming from within and without, "There is no God!" Their problem was a sick brain, often suffering from the effects of long winter months with limited daylight hours. --pg 65,66
Torn to Heal
Summary: Not dualism. Not stoicism. These two reactions to suffering are both common and wrong. The Bible is very realistic and sympathetic when it comes to our pain and struggles. But know also, that God indeed has a plan through it all.
Personal Thoughts: I loved this book. Short. Readable. Rich. Christ-centered. It doesn't have a quick answer approach to trials. It is so compassionate to sufferers and leads them ever so gently to a kind and loving Christ.
Quote: The Bible acknowledges our suffering, fully and completely, without ever minimizing the present reality and pain, and without ever giving an inch to the powers of darkness that ever strive but ever fail to defeat God's children. Indeed, the Scriptures present suffering as a painful yet merciful tool in the hands of a loving God. He will tear us for the sake of healing us, and He will do it in love, for His eternal glory and our eternal good." --excerpt from page 86.
The Mourner's Comforter
C. H. Spurgeon
Summary: "Heavy heart, this book is for you." And with this Spurgeon begins this wonderful book based on Isaiah 61:1-3. The Lord Jesus Christ came to preach to the broken, the afflicted and to those who mourn. He takes our ashes and gives us beauty. He trades the oil of joy for our mourning. See the preciousness of our Lord as He stoops to heal our brokenness. He clads us in garments of praise and plants us as trees of righteousness.
Personal Thoughts: Oh book of all books! Spurgeon is such a son of consolation. He gives the words for brokenness perfectly. He bandages bleeding wounds. He understands those who weep perfectly. And he immerses the broken into a fountain overflowing with the compassion of a Christ who dearly loves His children.
Quote: At such times, we have felt that if there was any prayer in us it was only a prayer to be helped to pray, or to
be helped to mourn that we could not pray--Truly some of God's best servants have been most often through the furnace, and have been so long in the heat that strength fails them, and hope nearly expires. They cry to God
for patience to endure all His holy will, yet they feel that their own power is as much spent as if they were burnt to nothing but ash, and there was nothing more left of them upon which the fire could kindle. Is it not a mercy that
the Lord looks upon such as these--the utterly spent ones who are ready to be blown away and to perish, even as smoke and dry ashes are borne away by the wind and lost?
You who are at ease in Zion know little about these terrible feelings. You should be grateful to God and sympathize with those who are more exposed to tribulation than you are. Join them in magnifying the Lord because he promises beauty instead of these ashes of the furnace. --pg 86-87