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

Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense – Paul David Tripp (2018)

tripp 2Paul David Tripp, Suffering (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 210 pp.

C.S. wrote, “If I knew a way of escape I would crawl through the sewers to escape the pain.” Whether a person agrees with Lewis’s radical conclusion or not is a matter of personal opinion. However, the problem of suffering is a universal dilemma that every person must face. How we respond to suffering reveals the strength of our Christian resolve and character.

Paul David Tripp’s recent book, Suffering explores a weighty subject and invites readers onto a personal journey that will encourage deep humility and personal growth. Speaking personally, Dr. Tripp’s book took my breath away. The author’s transparency and humble approach spoke deeply to my heart and lifted my spirit.

In the final analysis, this book has less to do with coping with suffering and more to do with how suffering can supernaturally transform the lives of God’s people. Listen to Tripp’s meditations and allow his words to sink in deeply:

“Suffering has the power to turn your timidity into courage and your doubt into surety. Hardship can turn envy into contentment and complaint into praise. It has the power to make you tender and approachable, to replace subtle rebellion with joyful surrender. Suffering has the power to form beautiful things in your heart that reform the way you live your life. It has incredible power to be a tool of transforming grace.”

Suffering in many ways is like pouring ice-cold water on an unsuspecting victim; a battering ram that brings even the most powerful to a place of humility and surrender. This volume is quick to remind us that all those who suffer are in desperate need of grace. Tripp adds, “This physical travail, in the hands of my Savior, is a tool used to drive me away from self-sufficiency and into a deeper dependency on God and his people.” Therefore, suffering is greatly used by God to propel his people to a place they never would have reached apart from suffering.

This fundamental message of transformation stands at the heart of Tripp’s book and has the power in itself to encourage and equip a lot of people in God’s kingdom.

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

BOOK REVIEWS

Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense – Paul David Tripp (2018)

tripp 2Paul David Tripp, Suffering (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 210 pp.

C.S. wrote, “If I knew a way of escape I would crawl through the sewers to escape the pain.” Whether a person agrees with Lewis’s radical conclusion or not is a matter of personal opinion. However, the problem of suffering is a universal dilemma that every person must face. How we respond to suffering reveals the strength of our Christian resolve and character.

Paul David Tripp’s recent book, Suffering explores a weighty subject and invites readers onto a personal journey that will encourage deep humility and personal growth. Speaking personally, Dr. Tripp’s book took my breath away. The author’s transparency and humble approach spoke deeply to my heart and lifted my spirit.

In the final analysis, this book has less to do with coping with suffering and more to do with how suffering can supernaturally transform the lives of God’s people. Listen to Tripp’s meditations and allow his words to sink in deeply:

“Suffering has the power to turn your timidity into courage and your doubt into surety. Hardship can turn envy into contentment and complaint into praise. It has the power to make you tender and approachable, to replace subtle rebellion with joyful surrender. Suffering has the power to form beautiful things in your heart that reform the way you live your life. It has incredible power to be a tool of transforming grace.”

Suffering in many ways is like pouring ice-cold water on an unsuspecting victim; a battering ram that brings even the most powerful to a place of humility and surrender. This volume is quick to remind us that all those who suffer are in desperate need of grace. Tripp adds, “This physical travail, in the hands of my Savior, is a tool used to drive me away from self-sufficiency and into a deeper dependency on God and his people.” Therefore, suffering is greatly used by God to propel his people to a place they never would have reached apart from suffering.

This fundamental message of transformation stands at the heart of Tripp’s book and has the power in itself to encourage and equip a lot of people in God’s kingdom.

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.

BOOK REVIEWS · Mending the Achilles Heel: A Biblical Response to the Problem of Evil · Theology · VERITAS FELLOWSHIP

SUFFERING AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD – John Piper and Justin Taylor, Ed (2006)

The only one who has taught me more about the sovereignty of God than John Piper is Jonathan Edwards.  Dr. Piper does not disappoint in this edited work.  The chapters are compiled in a series of transcripts from the 2005 Desiring God Conference, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.  This review serves as a summary of some noteworthy chapters.

Piper’s opening chapter unfolds ten aspects of God’s sovereignty over suffering and Satan’s role in it.  He points the reader to the eternal and infinite God; a God who stands in sharp contrast to the finite and contingent creature.  The insight that Piper offers in this chapter are simply breathtaking.

Dr. Mark Talbot pens one of the most helpful and beneficial chapters on compatibalism to date.  The doctrine affirms that God ordains everything that comes to pass and also affirms that agents make free, responsible choices.  God never does evil, but he does in fact ordain or decree evil.  Talbot’s explanations are philosophically and theologically satisfying and are expressed with warm pastoral concern.  Pretty good work for a philosophy professor!  Dr. Talbot’s chapter is worth the price of the book.

Steve Saint poignantly describes the murder of his father, Nate Saint and shares his personal pain as a child and the events that God used to soften his heart and make him usable vessel in God’s kingdom.

There are so many rich nuggets in this volume.  Read it and be prepared for the difficult days ahead. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God is a welcome addition to students taking the Veritas course, Mending the Achilles Heel: A Biblical Response to the Problem of Evil.

4.5 stars

TOLLE LEGE

THE REASON FOR SUFFERING

“The ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering.  The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be.”

– John Piper, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway Books, 2006), p. 82

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

TRUSTING GOD – Jerry Bridges (1988)


 

This week I re-read Jerry Bridges excellent book, Trusting God.   I had no idea what I was getting myself involved with when I first opened this book over twenty years ago.  Three years of Bible College had somehow blinded me to the precious reality of the sovereignty of God in all things.  Truth be known, my education can not be blamed for my ignorance concerning God’s sovereignty.  Rather, my pride got in the way of truth and hijacked one of the most incredible maxims in Scripture.

The author provides an “accessible gateway” for learning the doctrines of grace.  Admittedly, this gateway seems simple enough to begin with.  But by the end of Trusting God the reader is  launched to into the thin air of Mt. Everest!  Bridges introduces readers to the breathtaking doctrines of God’s decrees, providence, and his comprehensive sovereignty.  Thoughtful readers will linger at the summit longer than a climber on the real mountain.  And passionate Christ-followers  purpose to stay at 29,045 feet for the rest of their lives trusting in a God who promises to work for them (Isa. 64:4).

4 stars