Book Notice: RESURRECTION LIFE IN A WORLD OF SUFFERING: 1 PETER (GOSPEL COALITION (WOMEN’S INITIATIVES)), by D. A. Carson and Kathleen Nielson

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“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

The book of 1 Peter offers a gospel perspective on our short lives. Originally written to Christians facing intense suffering, Peter’s message is one of hope and grace―all centered on the resurrected Christ. Featuring contributions from six popular Bible teachers, this volume will help you better understand the hope-filled message of the book of 1 Peter and experience the resurrection life Jesus offers us today.

Table of Contents

Preface
Kathleen Nielson 
Introduction
Peter the Expositor: The Apostle’s Use of Scripture in 1 Peter
Juan Sanchez

  1. Born Again to a Living Hope (1 Peter 1:1–12)
    Kathleen Nielson 
  2. Living Resurrection Life (1 Peter 1:13–2:3)
    Jen Wilkin
  3. Remember Who You Are! (1 Peter 2:4–10)
    Carrie Sandom
  4. Following Jesus Far from Home (1 Peter 2:11–3:12)
    Mary Willson
  5. Sharing Christ’s Sufferings, Showing His Glory (1 Peter 3:13–4:19)
    D. A. Carson
  6. A Shepherd and a Lion (1 Peter 5:1–14)
    John Piper

Conclusion: Help Me Teach 1 Peter
Nancy Guthrie and John Piper 
Contributors
General Index
Scripture Index

About the Authors

D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

Kathleen Nielson(PhD, Vanderbilt University) is an author and speaker who loves working with women in studying the Scriptures. After directing the Gospel Coalition’s women’s initiatives from 2010–2017, she now serves as senior adviser and book editor for TGC. She and her husband, Niel, make their home partly in Wheaton, Illinois, and partly in Jakarta, Indonesia. They have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and five granddaughters.

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the Gospel Coalition.

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring GodDon’t Waste Your LifeThis Momentary MarriageA Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies. During her seventeen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas.

Mary Willson (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) presently serves as the director of women’s initiatives at the Gospel Coalition, and will soon serve as the director of women in ministry for Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering: 1 Peter (Gospel Coalition (Women’s Initiatives))

2018 | 208 pages

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Book Notice: THE SUBVERSIVE PURITAN: ROGER WILLIAMS AND FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE, by Mostyn Roberts

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How shall we live together in the light of our very deep differences? Christian author Os Guinness has said this is the greatest problem facing the United States today and the same could be said for ‘the West’ as a whole. Can a seventeenth-century Calvinist contribute anything? In recent years a number of authors, popular and academic, Christian and secular, have found inspiration in Roger Williams, the rebel Puritan exiled from Massachusetts who founded Rhode Island. He made the new little state a haven for those ‘oppressed for conscience’ and wrenched church and state further apart than was anywhere known at that time. Its Charter was the first in the world to protect liberty of conscience. Williams is rewarded with a statue at the Reformation Wall in Geneva, yet he remains strangely unknown today, even by those who stand broadly in his religious heritage.

About the Author

Mostyn Roberts is the pastor of Welwyn Evangelical Church in Hertfordshire. After reading law at Pembroke College, Cambridge (where he was converted) he practised as a solicitor for seven years. He responded to the call to the ministry, taking a BA at Spurgeon’s College in London followed by the MTh at the University of London. After a pastorate in the north of England he came to Welwyn at the end of 1998. He has taught Systematic Theology at LTS since 2002.

Endorsements

Gary Williams, Director, The Pastors’ Academy, London:

…the story of Williams and his trials is itself fascinating and well- told: what an extraordinary challenge these people faced as they sought to construct societies from scratch on the other side of the world!

Michael A G Haykin, FRHistS, Chair and Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky:

This new biography of the key Puritan thinker Roger Williams is most welcome. … Drawing upon the latest research on the Puritan author, Roberts outlines the contours of his life with special focus on his thought about religious liberty and why it is so important today. An excellent and truly thoughtful volume.

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The Subversive Puritan: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience

Evangelical Press, 2019 | 258 pages

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Book Notice: DISCOVERING THE GOOD LIFE: THE SURPRISING RICHES AVAILABLE IN CHRIST, by Tim Savage

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We’re all searching for “the good life.”

Too often, however, we encounter discouragement, failure, broken relationships, guilt, and dashed dreams, all of which leave us yearning for more.

In this book, Tim Savage presents a renewed vision of life by examining the fullest life ever lived: the life of Jesus Christ. Savage invites us to tap into that life―and experience the riches of the joy, satisfaction, and purpose offered to us in Christ.

About the Author

Tim Savage (PhD, University of Cambridge; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, international conference speaker, and founding council member of the Gospel Coalition. He has served in churches in Arizona, Great Britain, and Texas. He is married to Lesli and they have two adult sons, Matthew and Jonathan. Tim is the author of No Ordinary Marriage.

Endorsements

Timothy Keller, Founding Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City:

Tim Savage’s Discovering the Good Life is a real accomplishment. It begins with one of the most universal of questions: What is the good life? Then it answers it by taking us through the Bible, summarizing its whole story through the intercanonical theme of three trees―the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life, and the great Branch, the shoot from the Stump of Jesse―Jesus himself―who took our curse by dying on a tree. This volume is ultimately an apologetic for the Christian life in response to a culture dedicated to seeking personal fulfillment but finding that very thing more and more elusive.

Carson Palmer, all-pro NFL quarterback; Heisman Trophy winner (2002); first overall pick in the NFL draft (2003):

Discovering the Good Life is an extraordinary book by Tim Savage on how good life can be when Christ is the center of it. Savage always has an eloquent way of teaching the Bible and showing how full our lives can be in Christ. Christian or unbeliever, this book will illustrate how you can be transformed by the unconditional love of Christ.

Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio:

With one foot planted firmly in Scripture and the other in culture, Tim Savage unpacks the fullness of life that can be ours right now. If you have ever wondered what ‘abundant life’ should look like, here is the answer! Discovering the Good Life is poetic theology that teaches, refreshes, and, yes, surprises us with all that is available in Christ.

Melissa B. Kruger, Director of Women’s Content, The Gospel Coalition; author, In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy:

So often in our search for satisfaction, we’re like treasure hunters wandering without a map. We know what we want―joy, peace, goodness―but we seem to be searching in all the wrong places. In Discovering the Good Life, Tim Savage wisely explains the story of Scripture using three trees as guideposts. If you want to experience abundant life, this book faithfully leads you to the treasure of all treasures and the giver of all goodness: Jesus.

Jon Kyl, former United States senator (Arizona); former Senate Minority Whip:

In Discovering the Good Life, Tim Savage addresses the enduring question, How do we find fullness of life in a world full of trouble? The answer―as he shows through Scripture, stories, and practical examples―is that Christians who faithfully embrace Jesus Christ will find unbelievable fulfillment by reflecting Christ’s indwelling love in all they do. Savage’s message will inspire Christians wherever they are in their faith journey.

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Discovering the Good Life: The Surprising Riches Available in Christ

2019 | 176 pages

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Weekly Recap, April 13

Book Summary:

PREACHING THE NEW TESTAMENT, edited by Ian Paul and David Wenham

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By David Dickenson   Overview Preaching is important, for through the preaching of God’s Word the church is transformed and brought into the image of God’s Son. To preach faithfully is…

Author Interview:

Part 2 of an Interview with Matthew Barrett, author of THE DOCTRINE ON WHICH THE CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS: JUSTIFICATION IN BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL, AND PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE

An Author Interview from Books At a Glance   Greetings, and welcome again to an Author Interview here on Books At a Glance. I’m Fred Zaspel, and today we’re continuing our conversation with Dr. Matthew Barrett about his outstanding new…

Book Review:

REFORMED PREACHING: PROCLAIMING GOD’S WORD FROM THE HEART OF THE PREACHER TO THE HEART OF HIS PEOPLE, by Joel R. Beeke

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Ryan McGraw   Preaching is the primary means of grace. This means that preaching is the primary way that Christ speaks to us through his Word and Spirit so that we…

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Book Notice: DARK CLOUDS, DEEP MERCY: DISCOVERING THE GRACE OF LAMENT, by Mark Vroegop

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Lament is how you live between the poles of a hard life and trusting God’s goodness. Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God–but it is a neglected dimension…

Book Notice: I SAW THE LORD: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF VISION, by Abner Chou

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance Fred Zaspel   Someone just recently pointed me to this book – a delightful survey / synopsis of the visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul, and John.   Contents 1 Introduction…

Book Notice: UNTANGLING EMOTIONS: “GOD’S GIFT OF EMOTIONS,” by J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Our emotions are complex. Some of us seem able to ignore our feelings, while others feel controlled by them. But most of us would admit that we don’t always know…

Book Notice: ROMANS (ZONDERVAN EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT), by Frank S. Thielman

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   This series is designed for those who know biblical languages. It is written primarily for the pastor and Bible teacher, not for the scholar. That is, the aim is not…

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Book Notice: ROMANS (ZONDERVAN EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT), by Frank S. Thielman

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

This series is designed for those who know biblical languages. It is written primarily for the pastor and Bible teacher, not for the scholar. That is, the aim is not to review and offer a critique of every possible interpretation that has ever been given to a passage, but to exegete each passage of Scripture succinctly in its grammatical and historical context. Each passage is interpreted in the light of its biblical setting, with a view to grammatical detail, literary context, flow of biblical argument, and historical setting. While the focus will not be on application, it is expected that the authors will offer suggestions as to the direction in which application can flow.

About the Author

Frank Thielman (PhD, Duke University) is Presbyterian professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of Philippians in the NIV Application Commentary series.

About the Series

The aim of the series is not to review and critique every possible interpretation of a passage, but rather to exegete each passage of Scripture succinctly in its grammatical and historical context. Each passage is interpreted in the light of its biblical setting with attention to grammatical detail, literary context, flow of biblical argument, and historical setting. These texts are written primarily for pastors and Bible teachers, but its attention to contemporary issues in the church makes it a focused resource for anyone teaching, preaching, or studying these passages.

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Romans (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

Zondervan, 2018 | 816 pages

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Book Notice: I SAW THE LORD: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF VISION, by Abner Chou

Someone just recently pointed me to this book – a delightful survey / synopsis of the visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul, and John.

1 Introduction
2 Precedents for a Biblical Theology of Vision
3 Unity of Vision as Foundation for a Biblical Theology of Vision
4 Isaiah’s Vision: Vision of Salvation
5 Ezekiel’s Vision: Vision of Presence
6 Daniel’s Vision: Vision of King and Kingdom
7 Paul’s Vision: Vision of Inauguration and Anticipation
8 John’s Vision: Vision of the Culmination of History and Theology
9 Conclusion

Isaiah’s vision encompasses a theology of God’s sovereignty, glory, holiness, and salvation. God’s holiness will not only judge, but also transform. His glory will tear down competing idols in order to fill the cosmos with his presence alone. This will result in his sole and uncontested dominion over the entire cosmos as he reigns from Zion….

Ezekiel, in slight contrast, focuses upon the notion of God’s presence. His vision of the chariot-throne introduced us to the various dimensions of God’s glory. God intends for his glory to fill the entire cosmos. He also desires to display his majesty corporately and within individuals. In sum, the chariot-throne vision exhibits God’s agenda to fill the whole earth with glory from the inside out….

Daniel proclaims a message about God’s kingdom. The Lord has a plan for history and controls the events of this world from start to finish. That scheme is set to one end: the establishment of God’s sole dominion. No kingdom will succeed in thwarting that agenda. The statue will be crushed….

Paul, on the Damascus road, sees the resurrected Christ and understands the realities surrounding the church, salvation, sanctification, and glorification. On the Damascus road, Paul experienced salvation, the reception of the Spirit, as well as the understanding that all history related to Christ….

John’s vision provides a view of what is to come. God’s plan of history will unfold as he fulfills all things in Christ. God will judge the world, leading to the climax of history. God will also fulfill prophecies associated with the visionary event that leads to the climax of theology. All of that finds its telos in Christ, who is the fulfillment of history, theology, and vision….

[These diverse visions interconnect and unite] into a single storyline, part of God’s working in redemptive history…

In light of this, we can see how the interconnected theologies and the resulting story unfold. Isaiah begins this by acknowledging that though Israel will soon go into exile as an unholy people, God will one day reverse all of this through his saving work….

Ezekiel continues Isaiah’s work by explaining the significance of the throne in the heavenly court. He thereby expands upon Isaiah’s paradigm by explaining how God’s glory will fill the earth. God’s presence will go even into the heart of man and ultimately, make them a new, resurrected people….

Daniel integrates the visions and theologies of Isaiah and Ezekiel into his own. His vision includes the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne, as Isaiah saw, and specifically, Daniel portrays that God sits upon the chariot-throne as Ezekiel’s envisioned. If the reader did not understand that Isaiah and Ezekiel’s visions were directed towards the same eschatological moment, Daniel makes this clear. He explains that the vision pertains to the fulfillment of God’s kingdom….

This progresses to Paul, who, seeing Christ after his death and resurrection, understands that he sees the same glorious individual as his predecessors did in their visions and experiences the inauguration of those related theologies. Salvation has come in Christ, as Isaiah envisioned. The Spirit has come in Christ, as Ezekiel proclaimed. Jew and Gentile have come together in Christ, as Daniel saw in his vision. This understanding informs Paul’s mission to prepare the church to anticipate the consummation of the vision….

Such movement paves the way for John, who fills out the substance of that expectation. History will soon reach its climax, as Paul predicted. Daniel’s vision and theology will come to pass soon (pp.232-236).

A helpful synopsis of Scripture’s prophetic visions and contribution to the understanding of the Bible story and God’s saving purpose.

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Book Notice: UNTANGLING EMOTIONS: “GOD’S GIFT OF EMOTIONS,” by J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith

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Our emotions are complex. Some of us seem able to ignore our feelings, while others feel controlled by them. But most of us would admit that we don’t always know what to do with how we feel.

The Bible teaches us that our emotions are an indispensable part of what makes us human―and play a crucial role in our relationships with God and others. Exploring how God designed emotions for our good, this book shows us how to properly engage with our emotions―even the more difficult ones like fear, anger, shame, guilt, and sorrow―so we can better understand what they reveal about our hearts and handle them wisely in everyday moments.

About the Authors

J. Alasdair Groves (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the executive director for the New England branch of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is also the director of CCEF’s School of Biblical Counseling.

Winston T. Smith (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the rector at Saint Anne’s Church in Abington, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Marriage Matters.

Endorsements

Ed Welch, Faculty and Counselor, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation:

You might not put a book on emotions at the top of your reading list, but given how everyday life is crammed with our emotions and those of our families, friends, and enemies, the topic is highly important. This book will lead you to engage with emotions in good and fruitful ways.

John M. Frame, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary:

Theologians and philosophers have often given highly oversimplified advice to people about emotions: Subordinate them to the intellect! Welcome good emotions (joy, peace) and suppress bad (fear, anger)! Such oversimplifications are not true to Scripture, and they hurt those who are struggling with difficult situations. Here Groves and Smith help us enormously as they untangle things, relieve confusion, and help us think through these issues in a serious way. We’re enabled to see that in Scripture every emotion (whether we think of it as good or bad) has right uses and wrong ones. There is good anger and bad anger, good fear and bad fear. We’re shown how to engage our emotions and how to act (or not act) on them. The authors have a deep understanding both of Scripture and of human experience, and they have put their insights into a strikingly well-written book, dealing with difficult questions through vivid metaphors, illustrations, and stories. Most importantly, this book is God-centered. It even contains an appendix showing us the senses in which God does and does not have feelings. I recommend this book to people who are struggling to understand their own feelings and to help others deal with theirs.

Tremper Longman III, Distinguished Scholar of Biblical Studies, Westmont College:

God made us emotional beings. We love and we hate. We rejoice and we lament. We experience guilt and shame. Sometimes, maybe often, we struggle with unwanted emotions. Groves and Smith bring their considerable wisdom as counselors and students of the Bible to bear on the subject of our emotions, helping us to understand and engage our emotions and enabling us to move closer to God.

Jeremy Pierre, Dean of Students, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky:

When it comes to navigating personal emotions, Groves and Smith are like river guides on a rafting trip. They understand the currents and get you where you need to go. Particularly helpful is their recognition of the link between what we feel and what we value. In my experience, that link has often been the key to unlocking complex emotions for the people I care for.

Michael R. Emlet, Faculty Member, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation; author, CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet and Descriptions and Prescriptions:

Steering a wise middle course between exalting and ignoring our emotions, Alasdair Groves and Winston Smith develop a biblically rich understanding of emotions as a gift from God, an essential aspect of our image bearing. But they don’t stop there. With practical insight and winsome examples, they demonstrate how to evaluate and direct your emotions in ways that deepen love for God and others. If you have questions about the role of emotions in the Christian life, or if you sometimes wonder why you feel too much―or too little―of a given emotion, you will profit immensely by reading this book.

Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; author, The Pastor and Counseling and She’s Got the Wrong Guy:

I’ve been a counselor for twenty years, and I still don’t get emotions. I need help to figure them out, and I’m sure you do, too. Untangling Emotions is now my go-to guide on emotions. It packs a lot into one book, and page after page honors Christ.

Thad Rockwell Barnum, Assisting Bishop, Diocese of the Carolinas:

Grab this book. Dig deep. Let the Lord have your heart, for Groves and Smith are spot on: it’s time we engage our emotions. Isn’t it obvious that times are changing? The danger we face― Christians and pastors alike―is that we follow culture and let the love in our hearts ‘grow cold’ (Matt. 24:12). But this book leads us to Jesus. Its life-giving counsel―rooted in Scripture, reliant on the Lord―helps us deal with our most difficult emotions. Read this book. Embrace the process. Live it loud so we can help others―including those lost without Jesus―do the same.

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Untangling Emotions: “God’s Gift of Emotions”

2019 | 240 pages

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On My Shelf: Life and Books with Rebecca McLaughlin

On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.

I asked Rebecca McLaughlin—regular contributor for The Gospel Coalition and author of Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Crossway/TGC)—about what’s on her nightstand, her favorite fiction, books that have most influenced her thinking about apologetics, and more.


What books are on your nightstand?

I tend to read dead people. There are upsides to this! It weeds out the flimsy literature that won’t survive beyond its cultural moment, and it reveals what in the human condition is perennial. But for the last year, I’ve committed to giving authors with a pulse a chance.

Currently, my nightstand features Sam Allberry’s excellent new book, 7 Myths about Singleness, as well as Sight, a debut novel about birth, death, grief, and scientific discovery by British author Jesse Greengrass.

I’m also halfway through Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It is highly traumatic. I’m having to read it in stages, with space in between to lament. But as a white person living in America, I must confront the horror of slavery at an emotional level, and Morrison’s extraordinary writing gives me access to that.

What are your favorite fiction books?

As a child, The Lord of the Rings shaped me more than any other book. I’ve returned to it every few years since, waiting to forget enough to enjoy it afresh. Right now, I’m reading it to my 8-year-old daughter—much to our mutual delight! Tolkien’s grasp of joy and lament and the depth of non-erotic love have always appealed to me. The moment when Eowyn defeats the Witch King of Angmar, and the scene when Sam sings to his imprisoned master to let Frodo know he’s there, exemplify these themes. At a holistic level, the possibility of an even more magical world than Tolkien’s actually existing is one of the reasons I find Christianity so compelling. We who believe in the resurrection have that hope!

As a child, The Lord of the Rings shaped me more than any other book.

Jane Austen’s last completed book, Persuasion, is my favorite novel. It is, at heart, a tender love story. But it is a hard-won love, increased by disappointment. Austen was a serious Christian, and the book starts with a brilliant depiction of idolatry as she describes the heroine’s father, Sir Walter Elliot. Like someone given to extreme piety, Sir Walter is a one-book man. But his book is not the Bible. It’s the Baronetage—the yearbook of the British aristocracy—which includes a page about him that he paws over repeatedly. Two of his daughters have imbibed his self-obsession. But his middle daughter, Anne, is self-forgetful. She is Austen’s heroine.

You studied poetry for many years. Are there particular poets you’d recommend?

Yes! Much as I love prose, I managed to navigate my way through three English literature degrees on an almost exclusive diet of poetry. Shakespeare was my focus. He is the English poet par excellence, and lines from his plays play around my mind on an almost daily basis. But two more recent poets I’d recommend are the 19th-century Anglo-Italian poet Christina Rossetti and the early 20th-century Anglo-American poet T. S. Elliot. Both were deeply shaped by faith. Rossetti is most known today for the Christmas carol “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Her work treads the line between pain and ecstasy, and we meet Christ in that margin in her poems. If you want a taste of that, try “A Better Resurrection.” It begins, “I have no wit, no words, no tears; / My heart within me like a stone / Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears”—and brings us around to union with Christ.

T. S. Eliot’s poetry is also explicitly Christian at times. Like Rossettii’s, Eliot’s best-known Christian-focused poem is connected to Christmas: “Journey of the Magi.” But most of his poems function more like the Book of Ecclesiastes, exposing life’s futility and making us long for more. Eliot dismissed his most famous poem, “The Wasteland,” as “just a piece of rhythmical grumbling,” and, despite years of analytical training, I would honestly have a hard time explaining to anyone who wasn’t gripped by it why it’s compelling. But the grip is there. Indeed, for all Eliot’s checkered history and mixed-up life, a friend of mine came to Christ while he was a student at Oxford simply from studying Eliot’s works.

Which childhood books stick with you most?

I can’t read Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant without crying. I’ve tried. Multiple times! It’s an intensely beautiful children’s story about a giant whose selfishness keeps the spring away from his castle, until he learns to love. At the end, we find he has met Christ. It moves me partly because of Wilde’s deeply conflicted relationship with Christianity.

This comes out in a brilliant scene in his most famous novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. After years of cruel debauchery, committed only to beauty and pleasure, Dorian’s decadent mentor, Lord Henry, poses this question: “By the way, Dorian . . . what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose—how does the quotation run?—his own soul?”

Though a far less sophisticated tale, The Selfish Giant weds beauty to redemptive love. Both stories start with sin and end with death, but only one protagonist finds redemption.

What books have most influenced your thinking about apologetics and Christianity’s claims?

We all suffer from confirmation bias, which makes us liable to accept weak arguments for our beliefs. To compensate for this, I try to major on books by non-Christians that engage apologetic questions from the other side—either with a perspective that is hostile to Christianity, or with a somewhat neutral lens, looking at potentially relevant data without a Christian rinse. This helps me figure out what is and isn’t defensible and where the pressure points are—both for Christianity and also for alternative belief systems. As someone who is trying to address non-Christians and equip believers, I don’t want to add my bias to that of another Christian author and produce something with two layers of Christian veneer that would need to be scraped off to get to the facts.

The further I go on in life, the more I find the things the Bible says to be actually true.

That said, I’ve benefited greatly from books by Christian academics. Two recent reads that stand out for me are Peter Williams’s Can We Trust the Gospels? and Christian Smith’s Atheist Overreach: What Atheism Can’t Deliver. Williams offers a timely and accessible briefing on the best arguments (old and new) for the authenticity of the Gospels. Smith evaluates whether prominent atheist intellectuals make a credible case that atheism supports their moral ideals. His conclusions are devastating. It’s a hard read if you’re not academically minded, but it’s worth the effort. The idea that our commitment to universal human rights and sacrificial care for the global poor are better grounded by atheism than Christianity gets ripped apart. But there is no bravado. Smith calmly dismantles the claim, from a purely academic point of view.

What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

The further I go on in life, the more I find the things the Bible says to be actually true. It’s not always a pleasant discovery! Paul prayed three times for the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh. God’s answer was no, no, no: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). In the past few years, I’ve been learning again and again that God doesn’t need my strength, but graciously uses my weakness. This isn’t an excuse for us to wallow in sin or self-doubt. Quite the opposite. It means we can stop agonizing over whether we have what it takes (we don’t), or whether people will think well of us (they won’t), or why we don’t seem to be able to make it without help (we can’t)—and so give our weak selves to the work God has given to us.

God has knocked the stuffing out of me multiple times in the past few years, but that’s okay. I don’t need to be filled with stuffing to serve him; I need to be filled with his grace.

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Book Notice: DARK CLOUDS, DEEP MERCY: DISCOVERING THE GRACE OF LAMENT, by Mark Vroegop

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Lament is how you live between the poles of a hard life and trusting God’s goodness.

Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God–but it is a neglected dimension of the Christian life for many Christians today. We need to recover the practice of honest spiritual struggle that gives us permission to vocalize our pain and wrestle with our sorrow. Lament avoids trite answers and quick solutions, progressively moving us toward deeper worship and trust.

Exploring how the Bible–through the psalms of lament and the book of Lamentations–gives voice to our pain, this book invites us to grieve, struggle, and tap into the rich reservoir of grace and mercy God offers in the darkest moments of our lives.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Joni Eareckson Tada
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Life in a Minor Key | A Personal Journey

Part 1: Learning to Lament | Psalms of Lament

Keep Turning to Prayer | Psalm 77
Bring Your Complaints | Psalm 10
Ask Boldly | Psalm 22
Choose to Trust | Psalm 13

Part 2: Learning from Lament | Lamentations

A Broken World and a Holy God | Lamentations 1-2
Hope Springs from Truth Rehearsed | Lamentations 3
Unearthing Idols | Lamentations 4
A Roadmap to Grace | Lamentations 5

Part 3: Living with Lament | Personal and Community Applications

Making Lament Personal
Let Us Lament

Conclusion: Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy | The Journey Ahead
Appendix 1 Twenty Complaints
Appendix 2 Psalms of Lament
Appendix 3 Learning-to-Lament Worksheet Appendix 4 But, Yet, And
Bibliography
General Index
Scripture Index

About the Author

Mark Vroegop (MDiv, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is the lead pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a conference speaker, a council member with the Gospel Coalition, a trustee of Cedarville University, and the author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy. Mark blogs at markvroegop.com.

Endorsements

Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary:

I had never read a book like this before. If you are hurting or trying to help someone who is, or if you are attempting to lead your church to recover and experience what God’s Word teaches about lament, this is a book you will want to read.

M. Daniel Carroll R., Blanchard Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College:

Born in a father’s grief and marked with a pastor’s wisdom, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy teaches each of us and the church how to pray along the journey of loss and despair. Vroegop presents biblical guidelines for bringing honest complaint and bold petition before God and for choosing to steadfastly trust in the One whose mercies never end.

Brian Croft, Senior Pastor, Auburndale Baptist Church, Louisville; Founder, Practical Shepherding; Senior Fellow, Church Revitalization, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Too often Christians feel the pressure to pretend the gospel diminishes pain, while others lament their pain void of biblical truth and hope. I have longed for years for a book to demonstrate a balance on this issue. Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy captures beautifully the unique and powerful grace of the gospel in Christian lament. The book is well written, winsome, and refreshingly transparent. I wept as I read it.

Abigail Dodds, author, (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ:

Lament is the language of exiles and aliens, of the suffering and downcast. But it is also the language of a people who know how the story ends. This book teaches us that pouring out our complaint to God is an act of faith and hope. In a world where sorrow has been politicized and death hidden away, let Mark Vroegop teach you the Christian language of lament that gives voice to our sadness and our desperate need for God.

Courtney Reissig, author, Glory in the Ordinary:

Mark Vroegop has written a book that is a gift to the church―both to the one suffering and to the one who wants to help the sufferer. Through his own personal loss and practice of lament, he helpfully guides us in lament, showing us that to lament is Christian and to lament is to find hope even in the greatest pain.

Donald S. Whitney, Associate Dean and Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Lifeand Praying the Bible:

I am intensely grateful for Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy and would place it among the most important and influential books I’ve read in the past few years. If you are going through hard times, this book may provide more insight and comfort than any other book except for the Bible. If you are in ministry, please allow Vroegop to help you discover how ‘the grace of lament’ can serve the many hurting people in your congregation.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author, Adorned; Teacher and Host, Revive Our Hearts:

I have watched as Mark Vroegop and his wife have navigated the difficult journey of loss, and I have witnessed in their lives the sweet fruit of godly lament. Vroegop provides a hope-filled guide to experiencing the mercy of God in the darkest nights, through the vital, healing grace of lament.

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Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

Crossway, 2019 | 224 pages

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Weekly Recap, April 6

Book Summary:

SCIENTISM AND SECULARISM: LEARNING TO RESPOND TO A DANGEROUS IDEOLOGY, by J. P. Moreland

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Steve West   About the Author J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University. He is an author of, contributor to, or editor…

Author Interview:

Interview with Matthew Barrett, author of THE DOCTRINE ON WHICH THE CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS: JUSTIFICATION IN BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL, AND PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE

An Author Interview from Books At a Glance   The contemporary challenge of the “new perspectives” on Paul and the recent five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation have fueled a growing interest in the doctrine of justification by faith,…

Book Review:

FINDING FAVOUR IN THE SIGHT OF GOD: A THEOLOGY OF WISDOM LITERATURE, by Richard P. Belcher, Jr.

A Book Review from Books At a Glance Reviewed by William C. Pohl IV   Introduction Richard P. Belcher, Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, continues his work in the wisdom literature…

Kids & Moms:

GOD’S LITTLE GUIDEBOOK, by Hazel Scrimshire

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Kristin Stiles   Even young children are fascinated by mirrors. They enjoy looking at themselves and making funny faces and seeing that reflection show them how they appear. The Bible tells…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: INDISPENSABLE: THE BASICS OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF, by David P. Cassidy

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   The Christian faith involves many different elements: a breathtaking sacrifice, an unshakable hope, a daily fight—and more. Each is critical to our salvation and essential to the shape and purpose…

Book Notice: WORK: ITS PURPOSE, DIGNITY, AND TRANSFORMATION, by Daniel M. Doriani

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Whether you’re teaching children in a preschool, operating a cash register at a fast-food restaurant, or performing complex surgeries in emergency situations, you have the power to change the world.…

Book Notice: HOW SHALL THEY HEAR? WHY NON-PREACHERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT PREACHING IS, by Ryan M. McGraw

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   The author s aim in this book is to reach non-preachers with a message about the importance of preaching, but in doing so he has written a book which will…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

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Book Notice: HOW SHALL THEY HEAR? WHY NON-PREACHERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT PREACHING IS, by Ryan M. McGraw

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

The author s aim in this book is to reach non-preachers with a message about the importance of preaching, but in doing so he has written a book which will also be invaluable to preachers. His desire is that the people of God should hear biblically faithful, doctrinally accurate Christ-centred preaching: what could be more needed in our day?

From the Introduction:

This book is a hard sell. Preaching is the primary means of grace, yet most Christians do not spend much time studying it. Many preachers do so only to know how to prepare sermons. Those who don t preach would rather study something else that they participate in, such as the sacraments. Some believers study how to preach, most don t study preaching at all, and very few study the theology of preaching. The result is that preachers often preach without asking how the Bible defines preaching, what agenda it sets for preaching, and what preaching should look like in light of these deeper questions. Likewise, non-preachers sit under the primary means of grace every week without understanding why it is the primary means of grace and why they should expect to hear Christ s voice through it. This book is important. Through preaching, Christ speaks to his church by his Word and Spirit today. In order to recover the power of preaching in the church and the world, preachers and hearers alike need to ask in light of Scripture, What is preaching? This book aims to help all Christians answer this question. It is not so much a homiletical manual for pastors as it is a guide to believers, preachers and listeners alike. All of the chapters are short and many of them revolve around specific passages in the New Testament, seeking to help all who preach and who hear sermons to hear Jesus calling them to his Father by his Word and Spirit.

About the Author

Ryan M. McGraw is Morton H. Smith Professor of Systematic Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Doctoral Studies at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is married to Krista and they have four children. He has written many books and articles. He served in pastoral ministry in a Baptist church and he pastored churches in the PCA and the OPC. He also teaches a homiletics course at GPTS.

Buy the books

How Shall They Hear? Why Non-preachers Need to Know What Preaching Is

EP Books, 2019 | 150 pages

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Book Notice: INDISPENSABLE: THE BASICS OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF, by David P. Cassidy

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

The Christian faith involves many different elements: a breathtaking sacrifice, an unshakable hope, a daily fight—and more. Each is critical to our salvation and essential to the shape and purpose of our daily lives. Yet some have become so familiar to us that we miss their importance . . . and others may not feel familiar at all.

Pastor David Cassidy’s engaging look at these essentials of the Christian faith helps us to understand their disruptive power in a dark world. We’re living in an in-between time, positioned between Jesus’s death on the cross and his final return. What if we caught hold of the indispensable things and held them close?

About the Author

David Cassidy is the lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He has been communicating the essentials of the Christian faith in England and the United States for nearly forty years.

Endorsements

Nancy Guthrie, Bible Teacher; Author, Seeing Jesus:

What a great resource! . . . Provide[s] clarity to individual readers, as well as creating a foundation for good discussion when studied in a group setting.

Steve Brown, Author, How to Talk So People Will Listen; Founder, Key Life Network:

[Presents] the eternal verities of the Christian faith in a clear and conversational style, without theological jargon or any ifs, ands, or buts. Indispensable is just that—both indispensable and a treasure.

Ray Ortlund, President, Renewal Ministries:

The voice of a seasoned pastor who gently guides us into green pastures and beside still waters. . . . I wish everyone . . . would read this book!

Buy the books

Indispensable: The Basics of Christian Belief

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 240 pages

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Book Notice: WORK: ITS PURPOSE, DIGNITY, AND TRANSFORMATION, by Daniel M. Doriani

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Whether you’re teaching children in a preschool, operating a cash register at a fast-food restaurant, or performing complex surgeries in emergency situations, you have the power to change the world. God knows the good you do when you serve him faithfully at work, even if you don’t see it yourself.

The product of twenty years of thought, Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation ennobles and motivates men and women in their labors. Providing historical background and inspiring stories of God-honoring workers, Daniel Doriani explains the Bible’s teaching on the nature, glory, misery, and eventual restoration of work. You will learn what it means to be faithful at work, even in risky places, and what steps you can take to transform your workplace and the world through the reformation of work.

About the Author

Daniel M. Doriani is vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology at Covenant Theological Seminary. Previously he was senior pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton, Missouri.

Endorsements

Timothy Keller:

An important contribution. . . . Provocative and helpful.

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

The last few years have witnessed a flurry of books that treat a Christian view of work. This is the best of them. Well written, historically comprehensive, theologically informed, exegetically sensitive, this is now the ‘must read’ volume on the subject.

Scotty Smith, Pastor Emeritus, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee:

With a high view of creation, a great love for the gospel, and the hope of Christ’s kingdom stirring in his heart, Dan has given us a wonderful introduction to a biblical theology of work. It is accessible, practical, and brimming with Dan’s wonderful personality.

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Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation

P&R Publishing, 2016 | 248 pages

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Weekly Recap, March 30

Book Summary:

THE MISSION OF GOD: UNLOCKING THE BIBLE’S GRAND NARRATIVE, by Christopher J. H. Wright

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Steve West   Introduction The Mission of God is regarded as a magisterial work. Wright carefully reads the Bible’s narrative through the lens of missiology, demonstrating how the idea of…

Author Interview:

Interview with Matthew Barrett, author of NONE GREATER: THE UNDOMESTICATED ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

An Author Interview from Books At a Glance   Okay, if we’re going to explore the question, “What is God like?” we must be prepared to go in way over our heads. And once we do, we find our hearts…

Book Review:

HENRY CHADWICK: SELECTED WRITINGS, edited by William G. Rusch

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Michael A. G. Haykin   When I was studying early Christianity at the University of Toronto in the late seventies and early eighties, the doyen of Anglophone Patristic studies was undoubtedly…

Kids & Moms:

GOD IS BETTER THAN PRINCESSES, by Sarah Reju

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Kristin Stiles   Disney has inundated us with princesses. They capture the imagination of young girls who aspire to be just like these fairy tale icons. Sarah Reju makes a bold…

Our Blog:

Book Notice: IF GOD IS SO GOOD, WHY ARE THINGS SO BAD?, by Melvin Tinker

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   As Tim Chester says in the Foreword: Melvin Tinker invites us to walk with Job through the confusion sufferings creates. If God is so good why are things so Bad…

Book Notice: THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM, by Kevin Bidwell

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   The Westminster Standards are more than 370 years old, and yet they are undiminished in their importance for the people of God. Why this separate issue of the Shorter Catechism? It…

Book Notice: REMAINING FAITHFUL IN MINISTRY: 9 ESSENTIAL CONVICTIONS FOR EVERY PASTOR, by John MacArthur

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Perhaps no one else has ever faced as much hardship, opposition, or relentless suffering as the apostle Paul. And yet, through it all, Paul stood firm in Christ and remained…

~ The Books At a Glance Team

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