The favor you didn’t ask for but God gave you anyway

I was reading the blog of a friend who is living overseas and this story really struck me as some kind of providence that God had provided (although I don’t exactly know why, but that’s what it seemed like). Perhaps I could be accused of overspiritualizing everything, but I know that there are no such things as coincidences. It would be better that we teach ourselves not to shrug off every occurrence in our days and think about how God has his hand on every moment of our lives. How would your life change? How about your attitude?

Today, as I think about it, I would pray that my eyes be opened to see that God is working in the details of my life. When the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 16:9 that the Lord “run(s) to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” that encourages me. It is good to know that God is working in ways that I haven’t even thought of yet. So, it’s a good thing every once in awhile to stop and look around you. There are amazing things happening.

You want brooding literature? Put down Twilight and try The Brothers Karamazov

At one time in my life, I worked a temp job as a telemarketer. It was a great job because I didn’t have to sell anything but instead just took orders from people who were responding to a television commercial. What it meant was that I would sit in a room with lots of other “service reps” and wait for the phone to ring. You could tell when the commercial ran because there would be a wave of calls that would last for about 10-15 minutes. The rest of the time we sat and waited. For me, it was a fruitful time of reading because it helped the time pass.

It was during that time that I read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I have never considered myself a big book reader because I read so slowly. Certainly there are a lot of books out there (and many fewer good ones), so you can’t, or may not have time to, read them all. But Dostoesvky’s books are well worth it. For me, the hardest part about it other than the sheer length of the books was reading the Russian names and them keeping them all straight through the book. Once I determined to note them without devoting too much time to sounding them out, it got easier.

But, for those still daunted by the task yet still desiring to read a great piece of classic literature, there is hope. Christianaudio.com has for this month made The Brothers Karamazov the free audiobook download for December. All you need to do is go here and, when you check out, enter the promotion code DEC2009. So, you too can be an appreciator of great literature while not having to tackle how to say all those names. Here is some background about the book from Christianaudio.com:

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s crowning life work, The Brothers Karamazov, stands among the greatest novels in world literature. His exploration of faith, doubt, morality, and the place of suffering in life are equaled in no other work of literature, save the Bible.

The book explores the possible role of four brothers in the unresolved murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov. At the same, it carefully explores the personalities and inclinations of the brothers themselves. Their psyches together represent the full spectrum of human nature, and continuum of faith and doubt. Ultimately this novel seeks to understand the real meaning of existence and includes much beneficial philosophical and spiritual discussion that moves the reader towards faith.

This new abridgment done exclusively for Hovel Audio by Russian Studies scholar Thomas Beyer keeps the important religious themes of the novel intact. It is an excellent way for the admirer of Dostoevsky to refresh himself, or to introduce Dostoevsky to a friend who has yet to experience the joy of reading his works.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) writes with a passion and keen insight of biblical grace like no other modern novelist. His works Crime and Punishment and The Idiot testify to his great skill. The Brothers Karamazov has been hailed by readers for over a century as one of the finest achievements in all of western literature.

Thomas R. Beyer is Professor of Russian at Middlebury College in Vermont. He holds three degrees in Slavic Literature including a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. In his decades of teaching, Tom Beyer has read The Brothers Karamazov dozens of times. His abridgment of the novel for Hovel Audio shows his thorough knowledge of his subject.

Cancer and the Christian: There is no such thing as a divine accident

Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.

— John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Cancer

RachelBarkeyRachel Barkey is dying of cancer, and she knows it. She battled breast cancer for four-and-a-half years, but was recently diagnosed with terminal bone and liver cancer. On March 4, she spoke to a group of about 600 women in Richmond, British Columbia. “The gospel is not just a ticket to heaven. It is a whole way of living,” she told the women in attendance. And what does that mean? It means a woman who is coming to the unexpected end of her life and the imminent removal from the  family she loves can stand in front of hundreds of women (and thousands more via the Internet) and speak clearly about what faith really is and her confidence in God. What a beautiful testimony to a great God. This woman knows why she was put on her earth and, even in her illness, she is doing it. She is glorifying God. Please watch her talk or listen to it.

A call for endurance of the saints

A Call For the Endurance of the Saints" is a collection of messages from the 2007 Desiring God National Conference
"Stand: A Call For the Endurance of the Saints" is a collection of messages from the 2007 Desiring God National Conference.

As they have done in past years, the folks at Desiring God have collected the talks given at the national conference and put them in book form. The 2007 conference, Stand: A Call For the Endurance of the Faith, is now being offered as a book.

Here is what it says about the book from the DG site:

Many people seek to better their lives by leaving, changing, swapping, or modifying their commitments.  But God’s Word holds up a beautiful value that, while difficult, leads to deep satisfaction and great reward: endurance. Such long, steady, hold-the-course perseverance is especially needed within our vacillating generation.

This thoughtful series, taken from the Desiring God 2007 National Conference, not only elevates the virtue of godly endurance but bears witness to its power in the Christian life through the exhortations of John Piper, John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn and Helen Roseveare.  Each contributor represents a different kind of endurance: from MacArthur’s longtime, faithful shepherding of a church to Alcorn’s radical obedience in the culture wars, from Bridges’ unswerving patience through suffering to Roseveare’s courageous constancy on the war-torn mission field.

Stand will awaken and solidify rugged, Christ-exalting endurance in people who are weary in their faith journey or who simply long to remain firm to the end.  And for everyone who dreams of a Christian culture-shift from brief trial runs to lifelong commitments, this latest offering is a watershed that will serve to seal that vision in people’s minds and hearts.

You can order the book here or, if you want, you can go here to listen, view or download the messages. The topics include:

  • Certainties that Drive Enduring Ministry, Part 1 (John MacArthur)
  • A Conversation with John Piper and John MacArthur
  • Four Essentials to Finishing Well (Jerry Bridges)
  • Certainties That Drive Enduring Ministry, Part 2 (John MacArthur)
  • Today’s Decisions Determine Who You’ll Be Tomorrow (Randy Alcorn)
  • Speaker Panel Q&A (Various)
  • A Call for the Perseverance of the Saints (Helen Roseveare)
  • Getting Old for the Glory of God (John Piper)