I very much appreciate Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas Schreiner, as it is a quick and easy introduction to the covenants of the Bible. Each covenant is given its own chapter, and they are organized as you would expect them to be:
The Covenant of Creation
The Covenant with Noah
The Covenant with Abraham
The Covenant with Israel
The Covenant with David
The New Covenant
Schreiner did a thorough job of introducing the concept of a covenant (versus a contract) and illustrating how each of these interactions did, in fact, produce a covenant. He takes special pains to show how each covenant relates to the one(s) that precede it, emphasizing continuity and discontinuity when necessary (which is often). Reading the final chapter on the New Covenant felt like the dramatic end of a great story, and my faith was bolstered by the promises kept and the hope that remains. Schreiner did an excellent job of leading the reader to the climax of redemption in Jesus.
This book has earned a permanent place on our shelf!
*I received an ARC of this book from Crossway.
Being an extremely decisive person, it is uncommon for me to go very long without forming an opinion about something–particularly a book. It bothers me loads when this happens. I realized today that, sometimes, worldviews are slightly varied such that I can’t fully reject what an author is saying, but I also can’t agree with everything the book says. That’s where I’ve landed with Still Waiting by Ann Swindell.
I googled Ann to learn a little more about her; she seems like a fabulous gal! I believe that she loves the Lord and His Word. I believe she wants to apply it to her life in the most honest way possible. She has struggled for decades with trichotillomania, which is “a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.” (Mayo Clinic). I can completely understand why she would seek deliverance from this issue, though the reasons are likely different from why I would seek to be rid, once and for all, of Lyme disease. Both circumstances offer their own set of life challenges.
But, out of the gate, I think we are coming from two different angles.
While I suspect the author would agree that God is the great (and only) Heart-Changer, the majority of the book focuses on her desire for two things: relief from the desire to pull (behavioral change) and physical healing. She mentions very early in the book that anxiety was the onset cause of her trichotillomania. Anxiety . . . a heart issue, not a physical issue. (One could argue that a predisposition to anxiety is genetic, which could be true; but I would counter by wondering, if one predisposed to anxiety were removed from the environment containing the pre-exisiting anxiety, would he still struggle with anxiety? Is it nature or nurture that brings anxiety bubbling to the surface?)
I waited and waited for the chapter that told about the author’s experience in repenting of this anxiety (with which she continues to struggle) and finding freedom to live within the freedom that comes from that (even if she still pulled). But it never came.
Please don’t read that I am judging her heart; that’s not my place. I don’t know her and can’t know what she is thinking and feeling, aside from what I just read. She probably has asked the Lord to relieve her anxiety. But since that one chapter (an important one, in my mind) is missing from this book, I can’t fathom giving it to someone who struggles with anxiety and has claimed it as her identity (e.g., “I just have an anxious personality.”). I wouldn’t feel right having someone come away from a book without being encouraged to address the root of the issue. In my experience, when I am anxious it is because I have stopped trusting the Lord for some reason or another. There is no permanent, medical solution for anxiety; but there is a God who is able and trustworthy, and Who commands us not to be anxious.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6)
Again, I think we’re just coming at this topic from different perspectives. With that issue out of the way, I can say that I did find valuable truths in these pages. It certainly encouraged my heart many times, with regard to waiting. (We’re doing a bunch of waiting these days!) I just can’t get super excited about this book.
So . . . I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I recommend reading it less as a self-help book (that’s not what it is), but with an eye for the truths about God that will encourage the soul.
Soli Deo gloria,
Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
I am excited to share this book with you! It is not infrequent that I hear remarks that the Old Testament isn’t relevant, or that it is boring. This makes my heart sad, because the Old Testament points to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! The Old Testament is a dramatic story of God’s mercy and grace, and it should not be avoided. In my personal experience, I’ve found that reading and studying the Old Testament makes the New Testament even more alive for me. I am thankful that Nancy Guthrie wrote this little book, called Seeing Jesus: Seeking and Finding Him in the Scriptures, to clarify for the reader how we see Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures.
This book is a collection of sixty short devotionals, ones that are ripe with content yet brief enough to consume in a matter of minutes (even if you’re not rushing). Each devotional is arranged as such:
- a title (captures the main theme of the entry)
- a Scripture passage from the Old Testament
- a connecting passage from the New Testament
- a thesis statement
- ~2 page devotional that proves the thesis from Scripture
- a brief prayer
I very much enjoyed reading every one of these pages! I don’t suggest reading multiple entries at a time, or even really one per day. Each entry portrays a beautiful characteristic of our Lord, and reserving time to process what you’ve read and meditate on the truths learned is imperative, in my opinion. Savor it!
Soli Deo gloria,
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House.