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Ice-cold lemonade. The laughter of children. College football. Scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. But what happens to these earthly pleasures when Jesus shows up? Do the things of earth grow strangely dim? Or does he shine in all that's fair? Living faithfully in a world full of gifts and blessings is no easy task.
In this book, Joe Rigney offers a breath of fresh air to Christians who are burdened by false standards, impossible expectations, and misguided notions of holiness. Steering a middle course between idolatry on the one hand and ingratitude on the other, this much-needed book reminds us that every good gift comes from the Father's hand, that God's blessings should drive us to worship and generosity, and that a passion for God's glory is as wide as the world.
Number of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 2015
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
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Helping readers walk the line between idolatry and ingratitude, this book emphasizes our responsibility to glorify God by joyfully embracing his good gifts without letting them become worldly distractions that steal our affection.
Joe Rigney (MA, Bethlehem College and Seminary) is assistant professor of theology and Christian worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in C.S. Lewiss Chronicles and The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God; Dont Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
We are probably familiar with the proverb about the overly pious fellow, the one who is so heavenly minded he is no earthly good. And we have seen the opposite so many times that we dont even need a proverb for it - the carnal thinker who is so earthly minded he is no heavenly good. And no earthly good either, as it turns out. The hardest thing to achieve on this subject is balance, but it is a difficult feat that Rigney has accomplished. Buy this book. Make it one of your earthly possessions. Read it to find out what that is supposed to mean.
Senior Fellow of Theology, New St. Andrews College; Pastor, Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho
Reading this will be a sweet moment of profound liberation for many. With wisdom and verve, Rigney shows how we can worship our creator through the enjoyment of his creation. This is going to make a lot of Christians happier in Christ - and more attractively Christlike.
Director of Union and Senior Lecturer, Wales Evangelical School of Theology
This book makes me want to watch the Olympics while eating a pumpkin crunch cake, rejoicing in the God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. But part of me is a little wary of the indulgent pecan crunchiness and astonishing athletic feats. What if my heart gets lost in these things? If you're familiar with that hesitation, this book is for you. We were made to take in all the fullness of the intergalactic glory of the triune God. This book is a trustworthy guide to help your gaze follow along the scattered beams up to the sun.
Pastor's wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai
I am always amazed at how God reveals his character to his children. This book has radically changed the way I view the Giver of every good and perfect gift. What's more, it has helped me to really enjoy him through the many blessings he has lavished on me.
singer/songwriter, Shane and Shane
It is not easy to understand how I can love God with all my heart, but also love the world he has made. God's Word encourages us to love the creation (Psalm 19), but also to love not the world (1 John 2:1517). Rigney is really helpful to those wrestling with this kind of question, and he helps us with a lively and engaging style. This book clarifies and builds upon John Piper's Christian Hedonism. I heartily recommend it.
-John M. Frame,
J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
Booklover105 Stars Out Of 5Full of wisdomMay 15, 2015Booklover10Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5When I read the back of this book, I couldn't wait to open it up and start reading it. I have long felt the conflict of loving the things God has provided because He is God and using it to bring glory to Him, to feeling guilty because I didn't want to make anything He gave me into an idol. It's was a toss up as to how I felt on different days and different times of my life. I wasn't certain that I quite understood it.
Joe Rigney does start out saying that he's a professor, so some of his wording can be a harder to read when you are tired. I felt like I needed to devote my full attention to what he was saying as I read, which is a good thing. I definitely understood it more than if he had used words that I didn't have to consider.
He starts the book by laying the foundation of who God is and what He has provided. If we don't understand that, we won't understand the main question of how to treasure God by enjoying His gifts. I appreciated that Rigney debated back and forth as to the flipside of the equation was when considering this question. It helped me to realize that I wasn't alone in my thought process and that it is okay to wrestle it out in my mind, even when it's hard to explain it.
Rigney constantly points the reader back to God. We enjoy God's gifts because we love Him and can use those gifts to bring Him glory. It's not necessarily bad to own a house or to have things. It's their use that makes it good or bad. Let me just say, reading this book has made shopping more interesting. I find myself pausing and actually thinking about the use of what I want, instead of whether it's a purchase for just me. It has helped in regards to my spending, too, because I'm checking my heart before I purchase.
If people are honest, I imagine many others wrestle with this topic of loving God and loving what He has given us. I learned a lot through this book and am thankful that it helped clarify some things for.me in Scripture.
I received this book free from Crossway in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.
contemplativereflections4 Stars Out Of 5Book Review: The Things of EarthMarch 19, 2015contemplativereflectionsIn "The Things of Earth," Joe Rigney attempts to provide Christians with a more robust understanding of what John Piper has called "Christian Hedonism." As Piper's pupil, Rigney's thought process is very much akin to Piper and his understanding of fully enjoying God in all things. Rigney's book aim to show that enjoying the things of earth is both God-ordained and God-glorifying. He points out that many Christians tend to either uphold a wartime-like behavior thereby casting off all pleasures or end up embracing pleasures so much that the view of the Creator is vastly dimmed. In the first half of the book, Rigney asserts that God, out of the perfect love in the Trinity, has created all things to communicate His love and glory to mankind. Thus by learning to steward and enjoy all the intricacies of life, we draw closer and comprehend more of the vastness and majesty of the Triune God. Utilizing the insights of C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and Douglas Wilson, Rigney aims to illustrate that God delights in the fact that we treasure His gifts and in turn praise the great Giver of all things. In the second half of the book, Rigney leans heavily on personal reflections, observations, and Scripture to display the practical implications of living a God-ward life in the midst of God's gifts.
I enjoyed this book very much because Rigney's style is easy to follow and replete with thought-provoking examples. He does well in not getting bogged down by the many different trajectories that tackling such a broad subject can bring. In confronting a topic that is so integral to everyday Christian living, it is tempting to either dig deep and end up losing the reader or not go deep enough and leave the reader unsatisfied. However, Rigney is careful to maintain a proper balance and never strays from his premise throughout the book. Furthermore, I appreciate Rigney's humility and pastoral wisdom in not trying to provide detailed instructions on how to use God's gifts but instead draw the reader's attention to God as the ultimate Giver. I would recommend this book to Christians in all walks of life as Rigney's advice on stewarding and enjoying God's creation is much needed today.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Better, Brighter, and More PotentJanuary 30, 2015Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5By nature, I have a war-time mentality. I wish I could attribute it to a white-hot gospel fire in my bones, but it probably has more to do with seeing President Gerald Ford wearing a sweater and urging us to turn our thermostats back to sixty-two degrees when I was in elementary school. I could easily justify feeding my family beans and rice, rice and beans so that we could give more to missions. I would happily go on wearing my 1980s-era black dress until Jesus comes and forego family vacations in favor of a bigger emergency fund in the bank. Fortunately, I had the good sense to marry a man with a much more balanced view of life. (Apparently, he missed President Fords speech.) Thanks to his influence, we eat a wide variety of food, my shoulder pads dont get stuck in the door, and we go to fun places and do fun things with our children. However, even with nearly twenty-five years of his sensible voice in my ear, I really needed to read The Things of Earth.
Thoughtful Christians walk a tightrope when it comes to possessions, wealth, and all the good things that God has made. If we fall off the tightrope on one side, we realize that we are, in the words of Tim Keller, making good things into ultimate things by idolizing Gods gifts. If we fall off the other side, we are subject to the alienating guilt or self-reproach of trying to define just exactly where the line is between excessive and appropriate. Joe Rigney carefully lays a biblical foundation for his thesis, which is based in Christian hedonism, that knowing God makes his gifts brighter and better and more potent. The truth that God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him is rooted deeply in Gods triune nature. As a relational being, He has made all things in order to extend and to communicate his fullness and as an invitation into his own triune life. Therefore, as creatures, we should not only view the whole creation as a revelation of God, but also rejoice in the wisdom of Gods provision for us in this world.
The richness of all this theological truth comprises the first four chapters of the book, and, quite honestly, is sufficient reason to read the book, even if Rigney had nowhere else to go with it. However, he pushes into the hard territory of practical application. Given all that we know about God, how do all his magnificent gifts fit into a God-centered life? Are possessions, comforts, and wealth tools to be used for his glory, or are they obstacles to the radical Christian life? What is the difference between strategic self-denial and the tragic loss of good gifts, and just exactly how does the demonstration of the fact that our treasure is in heaven and not on earth relate to the Great Commission?
Scholarly and richly researched, The Things of Earth is a challenging read, and will likely yield a few opportunities for the reader to delight in God through Rigneys fresh descriptions and vocabulary. Even so, this is no ivory tower project, because the thesis of the book has been hammered out in real life through the authors own relationships and through some wrong turns he has made along the way. And speaking of real life, why was the recipe for pumpkin crunch cake not given in the foot notes of chapter five? Seriously.
Although I pushed through this book like a seeker, my plan now is to live with it over a period of time. I want to ponder it as I hold my sweet grandson, or as I play Scattergories with my two youngest boys. I plan to let its words echo behind the sound of the Pemaquid bell as it carols the approach of a nor-easter and to feel the gracious provision of God in the steam on my face rising from that perfect cup of morning tea. For me, the things of earth might just be growing brighter, seen in the full light of Glory.
Disclosure: This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my unbiased review.