Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers” by Dane Ortlund
Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow
It was the book’s subtitle and its language of “sinners” and “sufferers” that first caught my attention for how this might be a helpful and relevant resources, especially for ministry at Lighthouse. Ortlund’s book was exactly that—not just for ministry to others, but for my own heart as well. Pastor Kim has often encouraged us to “fuel our faith” with truth about God. How can we expect to trust a God who we don’t really know? There’s a world of difference between knowing facts, for example, about your spouse versus knowing your spouse’s heart in relationship (an illustration that Ortlund apparently stole from Pastor Kim in the book).
Ortlund’s goal is to show us “the heart of Christ. Who is he? Who is he really? What is most natural to him? What ignites within him most immediately as he moves towards sinners and sufferers? What flows out most freely, most instinctively, Who is he?” (pg. 1). He does that by meditating in each chapter on a passage of Scripture or some teaching from the Puritans on what is said about Christ’s heart for us. (Discovering some of the quotes and works from Puritans like Goodwin, Sibbes, and Bunyan might be worth the price of the book alone!) The title, “Gentle and Lowly,” comes from Matthew 11:29, which Ortlund points out is the only place in the gospel accounts that Jesus tells us about his own heart.
One of the things that I appreciated most about this book was Ortlund’s ability to move beyond just “doctrine” to what that teaches us about the heart of Christ. For example, I am aware of biblical truths such as the fact that Jesus is our intercessor and advocate or that we as believers can call Him friend. But the book skillfully presents those ideas in a way that shows us Jesus’ heart and makes us run back to Him. Ortlund understands that it’s our natural sinful desire to believe otherwise (chapter 20 is titled “Our Law-ish Hearts, His Lavish Heart”), and so it’s especially necessary to refresh our understanding of Jesus’ heart for us from Scripture. On top of that, Ortlund is a gifted writer, as I found myself highlighting and underlining quotes that I’m sure I’ll return to later on.
Read this book! I’m confident that it will warm your love for Christ, whois gentle and lowly in heart. Here are some quotes for now:
- “Every human friend has a limit. If we offend enough, if a relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up. With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resume items that qualify us to approach him. Nothing but coming to him is required—first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with him upon death.” (pg. 64)
- “For those united to him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence. You are not a tenant; you are a child. His heart is not a ticking time bomb; his heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of his presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments. It is who he is.” (pg. 66)
News of SIP being extended can be deflating and discouraging. The novelty of working from home has worn off. Many of us are itching for our society’s reopening. We can feel very strongly on how this should take place. Let us heed the wise counsel to consider our convictions and those of others with grace.
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Josh Garrels released a new album focusing on encountering and rejoicing in the peace of Christ. There are few truths we need more than to cling to God’s goodness and sovereignty during these times of uncertainty.
Like many artists, the Gray Havens played an online concert a couple weeks ago. Give it a listen and consider the biblical truths beautifully nested within their lyrics.
In addition to pastor Francis’s endorsement, here’s another review on the book recommendation if you remain stubbornly unconvinced.
T4G has flung wide open their doors. All resources from T4G20 are now available online. You can listen to a sermon or panel discussion while going about your day.
If you missed the opportunity to sign up for Christianity Explored, here’s good news. They have made the video sessions available free on YouTube through June 30th because of COVID-19.
Tim Challies is hosting a study of Galatians along with Tom Schreiner that began on May 11th. Check out all the details in the Facebook group.