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T.D. Higgins
May 15, 2021
In Book Club
This is the final paragraph from this week's reading in "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment:" "A new cart may creak and make a noise; but after it has been used a while, it will not do so. So when you are first a Christian, perhaps you make a noise and cannot bear affliction; but are you an old Christian and yet will you be a murmuring Christian? Oh, it is a shame for any who have been a long time in the school of Jesus Christ to have murmuring spirits." The last aggravation that Burroughs considered in this chapter, for me, hits home hard. I have been a believer since I was fourteen years old, and through all the afflictions the Lord has always been faithful. More than that, I can look back now and see how He has conformed me to the image of the Beloved Son. Yet even now, when new trials come, I am tempted to murmur. I can quote the Bible verses and sing the songs, but still my flesh wants to grumble. I see another law working in the members of my flesh, as Paul says in Romans 7. How slow we are to learn our lessons. Still, even in the midst of my conviction from reading this chapter, I was presented with hope. Hope not in myself, that I can pick myself up by my bootstraps, but hope in God the Father. I have been reading through Proverbs, and this morning came to this one: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Prov. 13:24). And of course this calls to mind Hebrews 12:7-8, "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." We get the point, right? Just as good earthly father will chastise his children to teach the path of life, so too does God chastise us, and this is one way we can have assurance of our adoption. And the great hope is this: though earthly fathers cannot affect change in their children, yet God the Father does affect change in His children. His chastisement not only teaches us the way of life, but actually fits us to walk in it. So then, let us strive to not murmur, but to trust in the Father who is working in us sanctification to manifest His glory in us. What were some of your thoughts on this week's reading?
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T.D. Higgins
May 08, 2021
In Book Club
The following quote stood out to me during this week's reading: "Your Maker has the absolute disposal of you: will you strive against Him?" It reminds me that the foundational relationship between God and myself is that of Creator and created. Not only did He create this physical life, but He also recreated (or regenerated) me in the Lord Jesus. He has every right to manifest His glory in my life in any way that He sees fit. That is a very easy statement to make during the good times. When the disposals of providence provide us with sunshine and roses, we find the idea of God's ownership over us easier to swallow. But when the clouds and the briars come, we find out the reality of our hearts. We are, as the old hymn says, prone to wander; and this wandering is not always into the pagan pastures of idolatry. Sometimes it is wandering into discontentment of the pastures with which we have been provided. We grumble and complain that the grass isn't green enough, or the water isn't clear enough. Yet, at its heart, discontentment really is idolatry. When we complain and murmur, we are actually striving with the One who made us. We are telling the Lord God of Heaven and Earth that He actually does not know what is best for us. We tell Him that we are far more capable of discerning our own good. When we murmur, we are telling God that He must abdicate His throne and surrender it to us. What horrid creatures we are! But, there is great mercy in Christ. How often it is that God uses the clouds and briars to show us the deceitfulness of our hearts and the emptiness of this world. Let us strive against the flesh, and not against our Maker. Let us rest in the wisdom and goodness of God, who works all things to the good of those that love Him, who are called according to His purpose. What were some of your thoughts on this week's reading?
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T.D. Higgins
May 01, 2021
In Book Club
This week, the following quote from Burroughs resonated with me: "Note this: In active obedience, we worship God by doing what pleases God; but by passive obedience, we do as well worship God by being pleased with what God does." Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing the mortification of sin; I know that for myself, a grave source of losing the battle to sin comes from a discontented heart. When I begin to grow discontent in the circumstances of my life, I find myself more easily succumbing to temptation. Why is this so? I believe it is due to the fact that, as Burroughs points out, contentment is an act of worship. The contented heart looks to God, whether in "good times" or "bad times." Just as our acts of giving, hearing the preaching of the Word, prayer, and singing are acts of active worship which center upon looking to Christ, so is our contentment a passive act of worship which centers upon looking to Christ. Remember that mortification of sin is only possible by looking to Christ, setting our minds on the things that are above. This is impossible in a heart that is not content. Do you find yourself struggling with sin? Perhaps it is because you are in some measure discontent. By its very nature, discontent takes our eyes away from Christ and places them on the things of this world. Our lives are to center around the worship of our God; and this is not just for a few hours during corporate worship on the Lord's Day. Our private life, our family life, and our public life is to be devoted to the worship of God. We cannot do that if we are discontented. As we learned last week, self-denial is the first lesson to learn contentment. We must see who we are before God in order to be content. We must see that we are nothing, and that we deserve nothing. Only then will we truly be able to rest in Christ. Those were some of my thoughts. What thoughts did y'all have from this week's reading?
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T.D. Higgins
Apr 24, 2021
In Book Club
This week, I'd like to consider the following quote from Burroughs: "This is the first lesson that Christ teaches any soul: self-denial, which brings contentment, which brings down and softens a man’s heart." I have also been reading a book by Thomas Manton entitled "A Treatise on Self-Denial," and I cannot help but to think, firstly, of the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul, in laying forth the necessity of preaching only Christ and him crucified, tells us that God turns the wisdom of the world on its head in order to destroy any boasting ability in men. How true is this in regards to contentment. The world would have us believe that contentment is the product of self-fulfillment. Let me but fill my desires, and I shall be content. I simply need more "me time" to turn my mood around. But as Burroughs rightly points out, the root of discontentment is actually self-fulfillment. We are discontent in this world because we consider ourselves as more than we are, and believe that our desires are required to be met. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. As Burroughs said, we are in fact worse than nothing; we are not simply devoid of any goodness, but we are filled with sin. The first lesson of contentment is self-denial. It is easy to be content when we realize that our life is not about us. When we cast aside the desires and aspirations we have for ourselves and instead devote ourselves to the will of God like a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), it is no large thing to be content in the direst of circumstances. It is simple to say that, and to know it doctrinally. But applying it is the battle. Are you discontent in your marriage? With your kids? With your job? With your finances? It is because you are not denying yourself. Let us strive to put on this mindset, which the Lord Jesus had (Phil. 2)! What were some of your thoughts on our reading this week?
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T.D. Higgins
Apr 16, 2021
In Book Club
I am creating this week's discussion post a day early because tomorrow is going to be a busy day for some of us. Consider the following quote from Burroughs: "A carnal heart has no contentment from what he sees before him in this world, but a godly heart has contentment from what he sees laid up for him in the highest heavens." Earlier, Burroughs had made the point that Christian contentment is a mysterious paradox: the godly man is the most contented man in the world, and the most unsatisfied man in the world. Whatever his circumstances in this life, he rests content, and yet he is never content merely with his circumstances. But the contentment of the godly man rests in God alone, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 73:25, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." This is what is "laid up" for us in the highest heaven: an eternal Day in the presence of our Creator. This is why the carnal heart (the fleshly, worldly heart) cannot have contentment. This though reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes. Life under the sun (life lived focused merely on this life) is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit. This is why the existentialists pined away about the absurdity of human existence. They are without God and without hope in the world. I also see this quote as a sort of barometer for our spiritual health. Do I find contentment in my circumstances by looking forward to the great hope that lies before me? Or does my "contentment" ebb and flow with the current of life's sea? Is my heart carnal, set upon this world; or is my heart godly, set upon Christ? Is it true of my heart that I cannot be satisfied by anything (or anyone) besides the Lord my God? What were some of your thoughts regarding this week's reading?
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T.D. Higgins
Apr 10, 2021
In Book Club
Consider the following quote from Burroughs: "Where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God!" The conception of contentment with which I grew up was a sort of Stoic impassivity, putting on a good face and suppressing emotions. It was merely bracing yourself against the storms and tempests of afflictions that confront us. Yet, if we look to the Scriptures, we see that is not the biblical meaning of contentment; as Burroughs points out, contentment borne of grace is not satisfied to merely survive through afflictions, but to glorify God by active service in them. We need only look to Paul for evidence of this (though we could look at every apostolic example in the New Testament). Paul went from city to city, oftentimes suffering physical violence at the hands of those to whom he preached. Yet, he never shrunk from his service to God. Even when he was jailed, he continued diligently in that service by writing letters to the churches which he planted and ministering to his persecutors. The one who was taught to be content in all circumstances was by no means a Stoic! But he used his afflictions as opportunities to further serve the Master. Let this be an example to us. When we are under the gloomy clouds of dark providences, let us remember to serve our Master; to seek first his kingdom. Rather than asking, "How long must I bear this burden," let us ask instead: "Lord, how would you use me in this affliction?" This is how we submit to the wise disposal of God in all things. What were some of your thoughts?
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T.D. Higgins
Mar 30, 2021
In Book Club
I apologize in the delay in getting the question up for this week's book discussion. Last week was a bit hectic for me. Anyways. This quote from chapter three of "The Wisdom of God in the Mystery of Redemption" struck me as I read it: "Something new is necessary for our happiness; and were it possible for the grand theme provided by God for ensuring the felicity of His creatures to be exhausted, their enjoyment would immediately terminate. But since God has condescended to dwell with men on the earth, and has purchased the church with His own blood, provision is made, ample and inexhaustible provision, for the growing enjoyment of men and angels forever." It seems like there are so many people trying to chase after the "deep things" of theology and philosophy as if the deepest of all possible thought is not presented to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In comparison to the Incarnation, thoughts of angels are underwhelming. In light of the atonement of Christ, speculation regarding the problem of evil is silly. This desire to chase after other thoughts is rooted in pride and unbelief. Pride, because we think that we need something more to stimulate our minds, and unbelief, because we do not believe that God has provided sufficient material to exhaust our feeble minds for all eternity. And that is a staggering thought. Eternity is the absence of time. And for that entire "time" our minds will still be staggering to plumb the depths of the seas of the gospel. And therein will our joy be found. Eternal life is knowing God. Those were some of my thoughts. What thoughts did you all have?
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T.D. Higgins

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