Paraklesis. Contentment & Unlikely conversion

Dear friends and fellow-workers, I enjoy reading! And I read a lot! Here are some gems I have recently picked up from two authors. The first is the puritan Jeremiah Burroughs in his The rare jewel of Christian contentment, the second the wonderfully contemporary Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, in her striking account of her conversion, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.-

Peter Adam, July 2018


First, thoughts from Jeremiah Burroughs, the 17th century Puritan, from his wonderful book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. 

It is an extended meditation on words from St Paul:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know to abound … I can do all things through him who strengthens me … And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:11-13,19

There is great gain in godliness with contentment.

1 Timothy 6:6

He writes: 

Christian contentment is inward, quiet, a gracious attitude of spirit, it freely submits to God’s disposal, and it takes pleasure in God’s disposal, in every condition. 17-40.

[Christian contentment under affliction] is not opposed to make in an orderly manner our moan and complaint to God, and to our friends. Though a Christian ought to be quiet under God’s correcting hand, he may without breach of Christian contentment complain to God … Likewise he may communicate his sad condition to his Christian friends …that they may speak a word in season to his weary soul. 21,22.

[Christian contentment under affliction] is not opposed to all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances, nor to endeavouring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by lawful means … No, I may lay in provision for my deliverance and use God’s means, waiting on him because I do not know but that it may be his will to alter my condition. 22.

The soul that has learned this lesson looks up to God in all things. He does not look down at the instruments and means [that God uses], so as to say that such a man did it, that it was the unreasonableness of such and such instruments, and similar barbarous usage by such and such; but he looks up to God. A contended heart looks to God’s disposal, and submits to God’s disposal, that is he sees the wisdom of God in everything. In his submission [to God] he sees [God’s] sovereignty, but what makes him take pleasure [in submitting] is God’s wisdom. 35,36.

Many men and women will in general say that they must submit to God in affliction …but what if it is in this or that particular case which crosses you most? Then, anything but that! We are usually act to think that any condition is better than that condition in which God has placed us. 36.

Perhaps I could submit and be content … but this affliction has been on me a long time…my patience is worn out and broken’ … We must not be our own disposers for the time of deliverance any more than for the kind and way of deliverance. 37.

It is very rarely that one affliction comes alone; commonly, afflictions are not single things, but they come on upon the neck of another. 39.

If any good interpretation can he made of God’s ways towards you, make it. You think it much if you have a friend who always makes bad interpretations of your ways towards him; you would take that very badly … It is very tedious to the Spirit of God when we make bad interpretations of his ways towards us…Thus, when an affliction befalls you, many good senses may be made of God’s works towards you. You should think thus: it may be God intends only to try me by this. It may be, God saw my heart was too much set on the creature … It may be, God intends to prepare me for some great work which he has for me … But we, on the contrary, make bad interpretations of God thus dealing with us …. Just as they did in the wilderness: ‘God hath brought us hither to slay us’ ….And so, though ten interpretations might be presented to you …if one is good the nine are bad, you should take that one which is good, and leave the other nine 223,4.


Second, the wonderfully contemporary Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, in her striking account of her conversion, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.

The saving grace of salvation is located in a holy and electing God, and sacrificing, suffering and obedient Saviour. Stakes this high can never rest on my sincerity. 35.

The super-ego is our receptor site for people-pleasing. Even as a believer, it is easy to become people-pleasing instead of God-pleasing. 53.

How does a single and celibate person even know is she is healed sexually? What is sexual healing? And then if not healed, was I really converted? 57.

With a chill, I knew that if they were idols, then God would, in his love and mercy, destroy them and remove them from me. 63.

John 3:16 standing alone and without the theology of care offered in John 3:17 makes it harder to interpret. 67.

God’s providence was neither arbitrary nor fickle. God had allowed me to rise as high as I could and fall swiftly and publicly. Had my sin not preceded me in a public way and had my repentance not been my lifeboat, had I found myself neatly protected with the confines and choice-making of Christian family and community, I today would probably have been the greatest of all Pharisees. 71,72.

Healthy sex will not heal unhealthy sex. Healing to the sexual sinner is death to that sin, 83.

Hermeneutics focuses on the details: worldview takes the point of view of the frame. 87.

We in the church tend to be more fearful of the [perceived] sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. 115.

Both books highly recommended!

My recent postings on TGCA website:

The material you have already seen on Why and Who:

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/first-things-first/

Two posts on the love and wrath of God: 

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/wrath-love-important-questions

Another useful website:

www.livingout.org 

With warmest good wishes for your own lives and ministries,

Yours,

Peter