Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Eccl 7:2). If you’re not that familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, you might read that along with author’s other statements about the “vanity” of life and walk away concluding that life in this world is futile, frustrating, and honestly quite depressing. Thank God we have eternity to look forward to, right?
David Gibson’s book, “Living Life Backward,” is an exposition of the book of Ecclesiastes, and his big idea is that death isn’t just about what comes afterwards for us as Christians, but a helpful teacher for informing how we should live wisely right now. As he puts it, “Living in light of your death will help you to live wisely and freely and generously. It will give you a big heart and open hands, and enable you to relish all the small things of life in deeply profound ways” (11).
Gibson interprets the word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes not as meaningless or futile, but more like a breath that comes and goes quickly. Life cannot be grasped or manipulated. The wisdom ofEcclesiastes reminds us that we can’t tell the future or guarantee success no matter how much knowledge we have or planning we do. But when we are mindful of that reality and when we keep death in view, then we can live wisely and still enjoy the life that God has given us.
One of the more memorable lines from the book was “Life in God’s world is gift, not gain” (37). Gibson’s insight made me think about all of the ways that we spend our lives trying to control our lives in order to gain or get ahead that we miss out on enjoying the gifts right in front of us. Rather than seeing relationships or resources or money as a stepping stone to something else, Ecclesiastes teaches us that those things are meant for us to cherish and enjoy as gifts themselves. Truly understanding that makes us more content, generous, joyful, and ready to share.
It’s interesting to think about how the message of this book might apply to our current season. Instead of looking forward to when things might return to normal, where we hope we will be, and what we would like to be doing, how can our destination inform the way that we live now? How can this season be a time of joyfully living within our limitations? Read this book for more insightful wisdom, but here are some quotes for now:
- “The universe you inhabit and the life you have today come from God’s hand as something you do not deserve. Your life is on loan for a short while, and one day God will call time and take it back, just like the library will recall that overdue book on your shelf. So embrace life for what it is rather than what you’d like it to be. Live it before God with reverence and obedience. This is the pathway to joy.” (67)
- “Ecclesiastes-type wisdom, Christlike wisdom, grows believers who spend their life on living in the world rather than on living in the world so as not to die” (126).
Troubling times surface the sins residing within our hearts. Here’s an excellent article with a lot of wisdom on how we need to evaluate our assumptions. Let’s seek to be loving and gracious in our pursuits of what is right and just.
In a day and age where we’re looking to get an edge or for the fastest solution, there’s no way to expedite our spiritual maturity. When we search for means to microwave our faith, we lose sight that Jesus is the end.
Perhaps this season of quarantine has forced us to enjoy creation, to be reminded of our smallness and God’s bigness. With such an influx of social media, it might serve us to unplug to observe and appreciate God’s sovereignty and wisdom.
Discontentment is something we’re more likely to wrestle with right now. Erik Raymond suggests ways we can combat this struggle and cultivate contentment.
It is good to know we have a God who is not distant and apathetic to us and our plights. In fact, emotions are designed by God to enable us to engage with Him, with our world, and with each other.
Here are ten ways we may be distorting the free gift of salvation and be trying to earn it. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to recognize these aberrations and to grow in our love for Christ that our obedience follows.
Since we’re on lockdown, we may falsely assume we’re excused from proclaiming the good news. But the hope we’re afforded in and through Christ is never meant to be hoarded, but shared. The circumstances may change, but the command doesn’t.
What a joy and comfort to know we worship a God who not only beckons to come, but pursues us even when we flee.
In a time where we’re sequestered in our own homes, it’s always encouraging to see and hear ways we can praise God together. Here’s a rendition of “Blessing,” put on by JEMS. Plus, you might see some familiar faces from our church.
We all struggle with the assurance of our salvation at one point or another. John MacArthur provides the metric for how we should evaluate the authenticity of our salvation.
A brief yet helpful explanation of what it means when we are commanded to be holy as God is holy.
The Trinity has baffled Christians of all ages and of all eras. Fred Sanders encourages us with the simplest way to grasp this seemingly difficult doctrine.
Expanding on the Sunday sermon and the previous resource, here’s another video that seeks to break down the Trinity in the most accessible way possible.