This is one of the more important books I've read in a long time. We do hear about meditation, but it's not emphasized enough, and seems like it's cerThis is one of the more important books I've read in a long time. We do hear about meditation, but it's not emphasized enough, and seems like it's certainly not practiced enough. The author’s goal in writing this book is “to convince God’s people of the absolute necessity of personal meditation.” If you need any convincing of how important and beneficial meditation is, not to mention how it's commanded and practiced by many inspired writers and people of faith in Scripture, you will most likely be convinced after reading this book, unless you just don't care. The book also stresses that meditation is not for speculation or inquisitive thinking, but for practical matters and application to one's behavior, which is another part of why the reader is left with how important this Biblical practice is. There are numerous short quotes on every page from well-known and not so well-known Puritans. Every one of them stresses the importance of meditation, but also stresses that the privilege becomes an enjoyable habit that benefits us and honors God.
The author doesn't assume that everybody has a problem with meditating, which is refreshing. It bothers me when authors appear condescending when they assume that everybody has a problem with prayer, for example, when I know from experience that it isn't true. David Saxton describes people who do meditate and how it greatly benefits them. The book is very encouraging and positive, although you may know how strict the Puritans can be in their descriptions of who godly people are, and what they do and don't do.
Although it's only 138 pages long, the book is pretty comprehensive in its treatment of meditation. I would call this a popular level book that's easily understandable for anyone except a new believer. We learn about the unbiblical forms of meditation, which dispels any negative notions some may have when the word meditation is mentioned. Meditation is also called the doctrine of Biblical thinking, which may be a more helpful term for some people. Also written about are forms of meditation (like occasional and deliberate), types (Scripture, creature, and creation), reasons, benefits, difficulties and choosing what to meditate on.
One thing I didn't see is how to progressively get into meditation for those who haven't done this at all, similar to Nine Minutes With God - How to have a quiet time. Meditation has always been kind of an enigma for me, and Saxton provides the reader with many valuable methods and helps, but many of the Puritans mentioned 'an hour', which might be a little scary for most of us. A guide on how to first start out would have been nice, since there really isn't a lot of solid material out there on this subject.
I think the book could have been a little bit better organized and edited, but that doesn't take away from the content. I'm sure the author had his reasons for the way he ordered things. Many times there was repetition. A quote from Watson appears on page 12 and 22 for example. Other concepts were repeated and could have been consolidated. You'll find that chapter 9 is Reasons for Meditation, where I would have put it near the beginning. Types of meditation were near the beginning; I would have put them later on in the book. But it's still all there and repetition can't be that bad of a thing for learning.
There was almost no part of this book that left me uninterested (although I admit I skimmed the part about unbiblical meditation). It kept my interest the whole way through and has solid knowledge and wisdom throughout.
I would highly recommend this important book for anyone who isn't already greatly benefiting from meditation or anyone who would like more perspective on what the Puritans think about this subject.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an unbiased review. ...more
This isn't a review, but just a comment on "murmuring". This was a great book though.
This is a sin I haven’t really been aware of much lately. It isn’This isn't a review, but just a comment on "murmuring". This was a great book though.
This is a sin I haven’t really been aware of much lately. It isn’t talked about often. Thomas Watson writes about this in The Art of Divine Contentment. I’ve been making an effort to think more positively, or less negatively, but when he uses the word murmur and explains it like he does, it’s very convicting. I can see how this is subtly insidious, and the devil would love to see a lot of it, without our ever really realizing it as long as it stays under the radar, so to speak. I can also see how profitable this would be if it could be reduced by working on it with God’s grace.
"Thou that art a murmurer art in the account of God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that deals with the devil: this is a sin of the first magnitude. Murmuring oft ends in cursing: Micah’s mother fell to cursing when the talents of silver were taken away, (Judges 17:2) so doth the murmurer when a part of his estate is taken away. Our murmuring is the devil’s music; this is that sin which God cannot bear: “how long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?” (Num. 14:27) It is a sin which whets the sword against a people: it is a land-destroying sin; “neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10) It is a ripening sin this; without mercy it will hasten England’s funerals. O then how excellent is contentation, which prevents this sin! To be contented, and yet murmur is a solecism: a contented Christian doth acquiesce in his present condition, and doth not murmur, but admire. Herein appears the excellency of contentation; it is a spiritual antidote against sin." --Thomas Watson
I think that letting this is one go is a way that nice young people can become cranky old people. Not cranky like Carl Trueman, but truly mean and destructively negative people. But remember not to murmur about them. Some are in a lot of pain in one way or another, have systems in their brain or hormones that are out of whack, or who knows what. And some people have a heart of gold under that protective veneer.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Philippians 2:14 NIV ...more
I read that some people liked my review, but I didn't review it!
So, in thanks for the people who saw my rating (?) I'd like to do a quick overview.
TheI read that some people liked my review, but I didn't review it!
So, in thanks for the people who saw my rating (?) I'd like to do a quick overview.
The book is a very good mixture of very brief biography of a Reformer or Puritan, commentary by the author (Joel Beeke and others) and quotes from the Puritan that they're writing about. Each chapter is about a different aspect of prayer, like Perkins on the The Lord's prayer and Perkins on the Holy Spirit in prayer etc. This makes it a very well rounded book on prayer in addition to what the Reformers (Calvin and Luther, who were very similar) and Puritans perspectives were on those specific subjects.
I bought it mainly to hone my prayer life. A side benefit is getting some familiarity with some of the Puritans I'm not yet familiar with. I did in fact get more ideas for prayer, like praying more of God's promises as an example--promises that are God's will as they are in Scripture, not in one of those promise books that lists individual verses that might be out of context.
The last chapter was strange. Joel Beeke assumed that everyone has problems with praying and gave advice on how to rectify that. I think it's not only insulting to some readers, but it diminishes the work of the Holy Spirit in strengthening some people to be able to pray well. If you do have a problem with prayer, that chapter may be helpful.
Thanks for reading. Sorry for the quick and dirty review....more
I look forward to anything by Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. II look forward to anything by Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. I call him the busiest man in Christian publishing because he is authoring and editing so many new books each year and has resurrected so much Puritan material.
In the Preface, the author writes, "Learning the reasons for Christ's advent will help us more deeply celebrate His birth, allow us to see more clearly how it is connected with the rest of His ministry, and help us understand its importance for our lives." I think the book succeeds very well in this objective.
However, I was rather taken aback by what he writes soon after, lamenting the general lack of knowledge and apologetics: "Suppose someone asked you, 'Why did Jesus come to earth?' You could probably come up with one or two reasons." If you want to offend some of the readers, even if it's a minority, that's a pretty good way to do it. I read this paragraph a few times, hoping I was misunderstanding. That sounds very condescending to me. As an exercise, without having seen the table of contents yet, I thought of six major reasons Christ came. When I saw that some of the chapters were narrower in scope, I could come up with 6-10 more. One of my pet peeves is when authors make broad assumptions about the reader.
Thankfully that was an aberration--the only one that I saw. The whole book is very positive in tone and links why Christ came to how that affects our lives in a personal way.
Each chapter is about three pages long and is titled "To...", stating a purpose, with a verse or passage of Scripture, sometimes two, as a heading. The content of each chapter is topical, based on the chapter title. It's meaty material. It would be difficult to write fluff based on Why Christ Came, but I'm sure there are plenty up to the task (down to the task?). But not here. There are a few anecdotes sprinkled in, but not as much as you would find in most devotional material. There are also some quotes from Reformed theologians from the past, the Heidelberg Catechism, and often a versification of part of a Psalm at the end of a chapter. And there is a lot of Scripture. Everything written is backed up by the Bible.
There are a few end notes, but they are only for sources of quotes. All Scripture references and quote authors are noted in the text of the chapter.
There are only other two other very minor negatives or things I would change based on my preferences. First of all, using the KJV. I have no problem with the translation. It's wonderful. But some of the verses quoted in key areas were totally lost on those not well versed (get it?) in 17th century English, like "sore amazed", quoting Mark 14:33 on pg 3. One of these centuries, I think we're going to have to get past this. The other is that some of the chapter's content will wander from the title, even within the three pages. I don't think this is really a problem, since the book most likely won't be used as reference material. It would seem a bit more organized and focused if the author kept the material closer to the title or used a different title.
But that was a long paragraph on a couple of tiny nitpicks. This is an unusual devotional in that it teaches the reader so much and pulls together so much Scripture in only three pages for each subject. I hope people don't think of this as a "Christmas Devotional", because it's something that should be meditated on all the time and can also be kept for when wanting to read something short. It's one that could always be left on the coffee table or nightstand.
This book was provided by Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a fair review.