The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy - eBookAndrew M. DavisBaker Books / 2019 / ePub$9.04 Retail:4.5 Stars Out Of 5 8 Reviews
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Academy2525 Stars Out Of 5An excellent resource for the Christian LifeJune 13, 2019Academy252Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Andrew Davis is a pastor in a church in North Carolina. He has done some research into a book that was published in 1643 entitled The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. Davis has taken the time to share some great wisdom from this book with us. He has also done a ton of research from the Bible and shares quotes from other sources to guide us in our journey toward joy and contentment in Christ. These are things that are truly needed in the midst of a world full of people struggling to find peace in their lives.
The book contains 12 packed chapters. Davis opens by introducing us to Burroughs' book and quickly jumps into the life of Paul to show us the secret of Contentment. He draws us in with the definition of contentment and shows us how to find real contentment in the second section. The third section shows us the value of contentment and the final section teaches us how to continue in contentment throughout our lives.
The most powerful chapter for me was chapter 8: The Evils and Excuses of a Complaining Heart. It was so convicting my mind has been dwelling on it since I read it. I am now trying to find more ways in my daily walk to focus on praising God in all things instead of continually complaining. It is a big challenge!
As Davis talks about in the final two chapters, we must be diligent to practice contentment and keep it as a focus in our walk with Christ. It is a daily battle to hold onto it. We can never focus on thanking God and trusting Him in everything even on days we don't understand what is happening in our lives.
If you truly want contentment in your life this is an excellent resource to guide you in that direction. I believe every Christian would benefit from reading this book.
CowboyTacos5 Stars Out Of 5The Power Of Christian ContentmentMay 31, 2019CowboyTacosQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Drawing heavily from the 17th century book "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment", by Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs, author Andrew Davis touches on a subject that is almost never mentioned: contentment. He covers this topic in 12 chapters such as: "A Rare Jewel in a Discontented World", "Contentment in Suffering", "Contentment in Prosperity", and "Contentment and Providence." Although I disagree with the author's views about predestination, I would still highly recommend this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5The Secret to Contentment in a Discontented WorldMay 23, 2019Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Secrets have a way of grabbing our attention, particularly if the secret comes with a promise of something good. If I claimed to know the secret location of a buried treasure or to possess the secret for permanent and effortless weight loss, the world would beat a path to my door.
Paul claimed to know a secret of even greater value:
"In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content . . ."
(Philippians 4:12 CSB)
In 1643, Jeremiah Burroughs unearthed Paul's secret in great detail in The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment. Pastor and author Andrew M. Davis revisits the classic work, providing updated illustrations and a fresh look at Burrough's wise counsel:
"To be well schooled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian." (40)
The Power of Christian Contentment begins by documenting Paul's credentials for his claim, reminding readers that, while Paul tested the limits of extreme discipleship, contentment was not something he was born with or that came to him on the Damascus Road.
A Secret to Be Learned
Christian contentment is a secret to be learned. When Paul wrote about contentment, he used a Greek word whose simplest translation is "self-sufficient." He wanted to communicate his freedom from dependence on any created thing, and this is crucial because, while believers are not invited to share God's incommunicable attribute of self-existence, there is a sense in which, at least spiritually, our contentment in Christ is a dim shadow of God's self-existence (or "aseity").
As usual, C.S. Lewis says it succinctly and distinctly:
"He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God alone." (33)
If contentment is a secret to be learned, it is important to define what Paul meant. Davis unpacks Burroughs's very thorough description:
"Christian contentment is the sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition." (40)
It is imperative to note that contentment does NOT excuse complacency, nor does it mean putting up with injustice or passively accepting circumstances that should be changed and set to rights. Paul set the example by speaking out against injustice and held the magistrate's officers' feet to the fire when he and Silas were mistreated in Philippi.
What is the Secret?
Fortunately, Paul was not stingy with his secret, for he was quick to reveal his Source of contentment:
"I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being contentwhether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)
Contentment comes from valuing Christ above all other possessions and relationships, above all other sources of strength and encouragement. It is a supernatural weapon in the trusting believer's arsenal. Since God has commanded us to be content, he has also provided the means.
The Miracle of Subtraction
When I read Burroughs's work several years ago, this wisdom stuck like a burr:
"Contentment comes, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction."
Rather than adding to our possessions in hope that the pile will one day satisfy, biblical contentment carves down our desires until they "equal what our loving heavenly Father chooses to provide." (70) This, to me, seems to be the most difficult and yet most indispensable understanding of what it means to delight in the Lord without making an idol of his gifts.
Finding contentment in prosperity can be as challenging as finding contentment in suffering, and there is never a season of life in which we're not tempted to complainand then to make excuses for it. Davis offers boots-on-the-ground advice for combating a spirit of entitlement which includes:
studying the lives of biblical and historical figures who persevered with a spirit of contentment;
learning about the persecuted church;
becoming sacrificially involved in missions;
fasting periodically from comforts that have become idols;
getting involved in volunteer activities that are hidden and thankless;
giving freely and extravagantly from your wealth;
praying fervently for growth in contentment and setting the example for your family;
reading deeply and widely from resources about seeking pleasure in God alone;
practicing vigilance in your entertainment and social media exposure.
Discontentment is an insidious evil, easy to overlook and hard to uproot. A mindset that views every single circumstance as a gift from God's good hand is a frame of mind and heart that requires supernatural help and continual vigilance. By grace, growth in Christian contentment will lead to a deeper fulfillment in the following life and a richer experience of gospel truth.
Many thanks to Baker Books for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female2 Stars Out Of 5The lifelong chase of Christian contentmentApril 26, 2019ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 2Meets Expectations: 2Inspired by the religious text The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment written by Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs in 1643 (published posthumously), Andrew Davis rolls out this new book as a platform to share his own thoughts on the subject of overall life contentment.
An NC pastor and theology professor himself, Andrew Davis references portions of Burroughs' text to illustrate how the struggle with discontentment is still very much alive in present day, afflicting Christians and non-Christians alike. Davis points out how even with all the modern advancements in technology, science, medicine, arts and literature, all of it... humans collectively still seem to struggle to find satisfaction with their lives. Some might argue that if anything we might be more miserable than ever. There's a noticeable hike in various mental illness diagnoses. Advances in technology (especially when it comes to smartphones) has made us more immediately aware of daily stories of suffering all over the world. So many out there struggle with anxiety surrounding the feeling that their life lacks true meaning or purpose. So what can we do about it?
Davis offers a number of pointers on how to approach and tackle general discontentment in one's life. Just a few:
* Develop an appreciation for quiet, slow moments. Don't feel the need to fill every silence.
* Intentionally "seek out avenues of service that are thankless."
* Offer help to the disabled, elderly, sick or dying. Offer comfort to the bereaved.
* If you come into an unexpected financial windfall, "share more than ever".
* Limit internet time. Instead, seek out books on the subject of contentment to keep you motivated / inspired.
* Remember, this is a lifetime process.
In a nutshell, Davis' stance on the subject of contentment boils down to 1) living a life that is not financially or otherwise materialistically driven 2) developing a cheerful demeanor, or at least a generally positive mindset in the face of struggle or disappointment 3) acceptance of the concept "His ways are not our ways", allowing things to happen on God's time, trusting his methods.
A couple of his points I didn't entirely agree on:
"Christian contentment is not rebellious." -- I don't know, I personally think a little rebellion can be a healthy thing sometimes. I know plenty of happy rebels. Hehe.
"Christian contentment is not a stoic acceptance of hardships in the world, as though we are denying that we are in pain or that anything could be done about it." --- Okay, well I'd argue that a certain level of contentment CAN come from "stoic acceptance". Also, acceptance denial. Not necessarily.
When it comes to supporting texts to back up his talking points, Davis does pull primarily from the Bible itself, namely from the story of Paul. However, he also uses select passages from classics such as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, and Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
Davis's choices for biblical text support are well thought out, but I had hoped to see a stronger presence of more tangible, modern examples of people who had successfully discovered and maintained lifelong contentment in the face of persistent strife. Modern examples are offered within this text, but they are few and far between and not as impactful as I was hoping for.
Though he makes some fair points, and adds in some interesting historical tidbits along the way, the overall reading experience of the text was a bit of a chore. Some of Davis' metaphors landed somewhat awkwardly and the writing style was, for the most part, awfully dry. There's definitely a heavy academic tone. In fact, much of this book read more like a college paper than a nonfiction book by someone with years of experience in the field. In the first chapter he even uses the exact words "my thesis is _________, my goal is ______________". So the reading of this work most certainly has its educational opportunities, but for the average reader I suspect it'll come off a bit of a bore, at least in parts.
FTC DISCLAIMER: Baker Books kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Kendra5 Stars Out Of 5well-written and deeply convictingApril 25, 2019KendraDrawing from a book written by Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs in 1643, Andrew Davis applies Burroughs' message to modern day believers. Davis uses Scripture and various illustrations to unpack Burroughs' definition of contentment ("...that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.")
At the core of this contentment is belief in the doctrine of God's providence: "the direct activity of God toward the universe he created, moment by moment sustaining its existence and overruling its events to cause the unfolding story of history to occur according to his will" (pg 57). From there, Davis looks at Christ's example of contentment, the value of contentment, the evils of complaining, contentment in suffering and in prosperity, and how to attain and protect contentment. He also includes a chapter clarifying the difference between contentment and complacency.
Davis is blunt in calling out complaining as sin, and I was deeply challenged by the chapter about the evils of complaining. It is so easy to excuse complaining, and not consider it as it really is--rebellion against God. Another thing that stood out to me was the determined warfare we must wage for contentment. Davis offers practical counsel for "training our arms for war" (Ps. 18:34). This book is well-written, easy to read, and profoundly convicting.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Baker) in exchange for my review.