BOOK REVIEWS

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy – Mark Vroegop

darkMark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019), 211 pp.

Life is a series of events that is filled with moments of intense joy and seasons of pain and suffering. Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop is concerned with the later. The author is acutely aware that people who live in a fallen world will inevitably face what William Cowper refers to as the “dark clouds of Providence.”

There have been a few notable contributions in recent days that address the subject of suffering. Tim Keller’s, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering and Paul David Tripp’s, Suffering are two examples of books that tackle the subject of suffering that are faithful to Scripture and offer readers a glimpse of hope through the prism of Scripture. Like the aforementioned books, Vroegrop wrestles with subject. But Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy is unique in that is focuses on the subject of lament.

“The aim of this book,” writes Vroegrop, “is to help you discover the grace of lament – to encourage you to find deep mercy in the dark clouds.” His mission is accomplished in three parts:

Part 1: Learning to Lament/Psalms of Lament

Part 2: Learning from Lament: Lamentations

Part 3: Living with Lament: Personal and Community Applications

The author defines lament as “a prayer that leads to trust.” Such a prayer leads to two crucial questions:

  • “Where are you, God?”
  • “If you love me, why is this happening?”

Lament, then, is “the transition between pain and promise.”

With this solid foundation, the author shows how Christians are both commended and commanded to make lament to God.

Ultimately, painful seasons of life can be “platforms for worship.” These seasons lead the people of God to trust him fully and deeply. “Trust,” writes Vroegop, “is believing what you know to be true even though the facts of suffering might call that belief into question. Lament keeps us turning toward trust by giving us language to step into the wilderness between our painful reality and our hopeful longings.”

I found Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy to be an immensely helpful and practical book. This book gives believers permission to grieve – even wail and mourn. But after grief comes another day, which leads to worship.

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy is intimately tied to the Word of God and directs the people of God to the pathway that leads to him. Indeed, as the author notes, “Lament is the language of those stumbling in their journey to find mercy in dark clouds.”

Five takeaways are offered as a means of encouragement:

  • “Lament is how we tunnel our way to truth.”
  • “Lament is how we experience grace no matter what we face.”
  • “Lament gives us hope because it gives us a glimpse of truth.”
  • “Lament vocalizes a desire for justice that is unfulfilled.”
  • “In dark clouds, there is deep mercy as we discover the grace of lament.”

Readers will truly discover how to apply the grace of God in this well-written and deeply God-honoring book.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

Kiss the Wave – Dave Furman

waveDave Furman, Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials Wheaton: Crossway, 2018, 159 pp $14.99

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages,” said the British preacher, C.H. Spurgeon. Embracing trials in a God-honoring way is the theme of Dave Furman’s new book, Kiss the Wave.

The author does not write in an ivory tower. Nor does he write as a mere spectator. Rather, Furman writes as one who has been tormented by depression and pummeled by physical adversity. Inspired by the godly example of Spurgeon, Pastor Furman speaks candidly about the hurts, trials, persecutions, and ailments that Christians face in a fallen world. His biography is a fitting backdrop to the finer arguments that emerge in the pages of this book.

Furman writes as a seasoned pastor. His counsel, encouragement, and admonition is laced with grace and sensitivity and offers hope to people who are walking through a season of bitter providence.

A few outstanding features of the book will attract a host of readers and invite many more to study these pages and walk away encouraged.

First, this is a personal book. Furman is candid about his battle with a debilitating nerve ailment and the corresponding depression that goes along with it. Frankly, he admits some struggles that most pastors would never dream of sharing. This makes Kiss the Wave deeply enduring and helpful.

Second, this is a practical book. Nothing is theoretical or cliche. Furman offers real help and encouragement for soldiers trapped in the “foxhole.”

Third, this book is propelled by the gospel. Readers looking for a quick fix or self-help solutions should look elsewhere. Here, we find the exaltation of the gospel which delivers sinners from the penalty of sin and power of sin. The promises of God shine in Kiss the Wave and beckon readers to cling to Christ.

Finally, this book offers a much-need perspective. Dave Furman admonishes readers who are plodding on a nomadic journey to the Celestial City: “This land is not our home. As Christians, we are all expatriates, passing through this earth, holding a passport and citizenship to another place. Be encouraged to take the long view in your suffering. This life is a blip on the radar of eternity. It’s a small knot in an infinitely long rope.” Such is the perspective of a God-centered author. And such is the perspective of a reader who is captivated by the Savior and strengthened by his gospel.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS · Culture · Discipleship

THE GRAND WEAVER – Ravi Zacharias (2007)

Our culture has for the most part been washed ashore on a beach littered with relativism and0310324955_b pragmatism.  Anyone who aspires or seeks refuge in something larger than him or herself is caught on the horns of a dilemma – either admit the hopelessness of such a pursuit or embrace transcendent truth that derives from the absolute-personal God which leaves the well-meaning pilgrim in a posture of responsibility and accountability before Him.  Ravi Zacharias addresses these concerns in his notable work, The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives.

The author sets out to demonstrate why life matters, how life matters, and how a sense of purpose ultimately rests in the hands of a sovereign God.  Zacharias discusses important themes such as calling, morality, spirituality, freewill, worship, and destiny.  He vividly shows readers how God designs the events of our lives, like a weaver who forms a beautiful tapestry.

Ravi Zacharias never ceases to amaze me with his ability to not only analyze culture but also probe the depth of the human heart.  His blending of theology, apologetics, and philosophy is deeply encouraging and valuable.   Interestingly enough, the one who is so good at encouraging people also infuriates some who are committed to atheism, agnosticism, or radical postmodernism.  When I finish a book by Dr. Zacharias, I generally think to myself, “I’m glad this guy is on our team!”

4 stars