The Mystery of Providence: Your Thoughts (Open Thread)

Tim Brister —  February 28, 2008 — 35 Comments

Well, it’s hard to believe that we are at the close of the second month of the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge. This month’s book, The Mystery of Providence, has been an incredibly timely read given the recent events such as the tornadoes in the Southeast U.S. (Union University in particular) as well as other personal accounts. How has The Mystery of Providence impact your life or helped you in your relationship with God?

Please take a moment to share with others your observations, experiences, benefits, or uses this book as been for you over the past month.

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  • Just finished reading the last 20 pages last night. Very much enjoyed this. Was especially challenged regarding the duty we have as believers to keep before us a constant meditation and rehearsing of the providential works of God in our Life. Flavel said it was our duty to do so and would work greatly to praise, and comfort and the increase of Faith. As a result enjoyed some conversations with wife, daughters and brothers in Christ regarding some prominent providential works that come immediately to mind.

    Such as the means God used to first bring me to Faith. In fact means that could be traced over an extended period of time. And the amazing meshing of various events that I would meet, love and marry the beautiful woman I now call my wife.

    Even recollecting a remarkable answer to prayer that determined the vocation and career I was to follow while I was yet even unsaved. It took place in college and had to do with a problem in data structures that no matter how hard I tried I could not solve. I thought at that time that it must not be that I should pursue a career in computer science. I was brought so low in this that I thus prayed to God if this was indeed the path he had determined for me would he please enlighten me as to the solution of this difficult problem. Within in a moment the answer was clear I solved the problem and the path was set. Amazingly, I do not believe I was truly in saving faith at that time – why He answered me like that I don’t know. But when I came to saving faith this was a moment that I looked back upon as other events which eventually lead to my conversion with praise. Flavel gave me opportunity to offer up praise to God before my family and brothers in Christ regarding these things.

    Perhaps I will endeavor also to keep a “written memorial” of the providential works of God from henceforth. I am certainly convicted as to the value of this.


  • I have had to explain to a friend of mine that this book is intended to be read by believers. He did not like that Flavel defined Providence as being only for believers. So, a word of caution, a book has an intended audience; thus, defining certain terms is essential!

    As for the book impacting my life, I don’t know where to begin. It seems as though each book we are reading has a real life experience to coincide with my reading. I can’t wait to get to “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment!”

    A couple weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our third son. What we did not know is that he had a 99.6% chance of dying in the womb. What I had known was that I was feeling apprehensive about it and kept being driven to my knees in prayer. Once he was born, I knew why. He had a knot in his umbilical cord and had multible BMs in the womb. Because of both of those issues, his heart rate kept plummeting. On the day he was delivered, my wife’s BP skyrocketed to as high as 170/120.

    When it was all said and done, we knew we had a miracle (what baby is not a miracle?) and that God was certainly in control of all things whether we were aware of it or not. Now, Nathanael is at home and driving us nuts with his screams and we praise God every moment for that!

    With all that has happened this month, I am looking forward to going back and rereading this book in a year or so just to see how much it has impacted my life.

  • I could not think of a better way to end the book that by exhorting us to keep track of the ways we’ve seen God’s Providence in our lives. Write them down and go back to them often. As the author writes, the pain of today’s struggles will be diminished as we are able to look back and see that we’ve made it through in the past. In addition, today’s triumphs can be put in their proper perspective. Thanks again for the motivation, Timmy. On to the next one!

  • Well, I have to confess that I am still behind… I am finishing “The Bruised Reed” right now… but I am loving being a part of this. This has been so nourishing to my soul as a pastor! Thanks Again! Hopefully I can get caught up very soon.

  • I would say that the principal benefit of reading this book has been the fact that it has challenged me to examine and record the history of God’s providential care for my life. Most of my blogposts on this book have contained examples of the works of Providence. Some of these have been large life changing items, others (like the one that I posted in my concluding post yesterday) have been small. Yet, in all of these, I can see God’s hand at work. Sometimes He has chastened me, other times He has blessed me richly, but in all things He has been at work.

    I feel sorry for those who don’t hold to this understanding, and who think that God leaves us to our choices and actions. I think that i would go crazy if I thought that God stands on the sidelines, biting his nails, and wondering how it will all turn out in the end.

  • Matt, you are not alone. I wasn’t able to finish the Mystery of Providence, but I am going to chip away at it, in the mist of all the other reads I have. I am looking forward to The Godly Man’s Picture. I have a feeling that this is going to be a fast read, but a good read.


  • I really struggled through the first half of this book. It wasn’t with the issue of God’s beneficial providence … but it seemed as if Flavel’s point was that his listeners were so much better off materially than the rest of the poor world. I kept trying to figure out who his audience was, and trying to understand why he was taking that tack.

    Somewhere around chapter 10, things improved GREATLY. I enjoyed the second half of the book, and like other commenters, was impressed with the need to record God’s providence to me. “God cannot be glorified for mercies we never noted.”

    I’m looking forward to the next book!

  • The main benefit, as others have pointed out, is the recording of God’s providences. We are not simply to remember them but see such importance in God’s working in our lives as to record them. The benefit of recording them is not simply for ourselves but also for the benefit of others. When comes to the recoding of God’s work I think this seems to be a mainstay of the Puritans as we find so many of them keeping record of God’s work in and around them. Thus even today we can benefit from how God has worked and still works

    For me this is a challenge because as often as I have attempted to start keeping a journal I have just as often failed. I think the proofs that Flavel gave that it is not simply an option to record God’s working but in reality is a duty we are called to leads me to see I need to seek out God’s help in this area so that I find delight in the duty of recording all that God does. I really found this book to be a good read that was not only practical but also enjoyable, even if at times challenging. I am looking forward to the others that are ahead.

  • Kenan

    I first read the book a little over four years ago and finished reading it again today for the Puritan Reading Challenge. The doctrine of God’s providence is a very comforting doctrine. God is in absolute control of every minute detail, working all things together after the counsel of His will. I was truly blessed to meditate upon the beauty of God’s power, wisdom, sovereignty, supremacy, and other wonderful excellencies of His glory. The title Puritan Reading Challenge I guess has a double meaning: 1) the challenge of reading through a Puritan work in a month and 2) the “preaching” of the books challenging our hearts to meditate and practice biblical truth. I was certainly challenged this month to meditate upon God’s providence throughout history and in my own life.

    One aspect of God’s providence of which I recently read concerns God’s providence in missions. William Carey was once asked by a Hindu man, skeptical about the gospel, “If what you are telling is true, why have I never heard about it until now? God needs to repent for not sending the gospel sooner.” Carey’s answer to such questions and accusations was the providence of God. He said that by the diffusion of gospel light, the wisdom, power, and grace of God will be more conspicuous in overcoming such deep-rooted idolatries, and in destroying all that darkness and vice which had so universally prevailed in this country, than they would have been if all had not been suffered to walk in their own ways for so many ages past. in other words, by allowing India to seek even deeper into corruption, the glory of its salvation from this greater darkness shines all the more brighter in the eyes of men and angels.

    Even the hard providence of hurricanes, tornados, terrorist bombing, cancer, war, and even the damnation of souls, even our dearest loved ones, is all for the glory of God. It is indeed a mystery. But we know that God is good, and we can trust in Him. In fact, if God were to catch us up into heaven and reveal to us the big picture of His workings in history and in our own lives, such would be the sense of awe and wonder at His wisdom in so ordering everything as He has done that we would not want anything to be done differently.

  • Dave Bignell

    …There are two sorts of comforts, natural and sensual, divine and spiritual. There is a time when it becomes Christians to exercise both (Est.9.22). And there is a time when the former is to be suspended and laid by (Ps. 137.2), but there is no season wherein spiritual joy and comfort in God is unseasonable (1 Thess. 5.16; Phil. 4.4). This spiritual joy or comfort is nothing else but the cheerfulness of our heart in God, and the sense of our interest in Him and in His promises. And it is sure that no providence can render this unseasonable to a Christian….

    I found myself usually in a very contemplative mood while reading through this book. I’ve had so many fond thoughts of God and the path He’s lead me on I can’t begin to say. It truly is peaceful to remain mindful of our Lord’s providences while going through the day. I think, for me, I marvel at all God’s efforts around and towards me; especially when I wasn’t following Him and steeped in sin. It certainly is heartening to sense the magnificence of God’s love in this way. As for Flavel, it is a mark of a true man of God that he continually endeavors to point others to Jesus Christ; and Flavel methinks desires to take you to Him personally. Thanks for the challenge, Timmy, its going to be a good year. And to everyone else; I find reading about everyone’s thoughts and experiences very edifying so I’d like to encourage everyone to participate. As the body of Christ, we give of ourselves, but we receive from everyone else; that’s God’s great economy for us.

  • Jamison

    Both The Bruised Reed and the Mystery of Providence have been well timed (providentially, of course!) to events in my life and, the Mystery of Providence in particular. It’s hard to look at the ‘bad things’ in life and praise God for his work through them but Flavel had me prepared for it when the trial came. Not only is there providence in the trial, but a great provision through the course of my life to praise Him for. What a mighty God we serve!

    Now if I can just finish the second half of the book… I enjoyed the first half so I have high hopes for the second half.

  • Due to the baby, I’ve been behind all month and will be finishing the book over the weekend. But I’ve had ample opportunity to see this book play itself out in my life and ministry. Just this past week alone, I had the opportunity to use Flavel’s words to comfort a family friend whose brother was a terminal patient in the ICU.

    Flavel seems, in The Mystery of Providence, to exhort his listeners to realize that the workings of Providence — for good or for ill — are designed with a single goal in mind; namely to drive us to God for everything needed in each particular moment. Whether for confession and forgiveness, praise and glory, comfort and strength; Providence is intended to bring the Creature into close contact with the Creator.

    That is the gist of what I told my friend. God is doing what he is doing in order to bring you to him for the comfort you need. Praise him that he is bringing you and your brother to him! Hold fast to him in your time of need — that is exactly why you are having a time of need!

    My friend’s brother, sadly, passed away Wednesday night/Thursday morning. But he and his family were comforted with my relation to them of what I had learned from John Flavel. In fact, the prayer I wrote to them on the blog was called by my friend’s son (who is a couple years older than me) “the greatest prayer he’d ever read,” and he now wants to read Flavel for himself!

  • Karin Barry

    I echo what Jamison says . . .The Bruised Reed and the Mystery of Providence have been well timed to events in my life. Timely also that The Bruised Reed came first.

    I think that I wil print out what Flavel says on pages 158-159 where he lists the 5 things that belong to the praise of God. I think that having this listed and posted on my desk wil be extremely helpful because “God cannot be glorified for the mercies we never noted”.

    Timmy – it was providential that you are doing this Puritan Reading Challenge – look at the blessings that all of us are getting and how this will impact all of our lives. I spoke with the bookstore and they said they have sold over 200 sets of these books! Wow! A resurgence in the reading of these Puritan authors can only be a good thing. God is so good!

  • Will Bausch

    I just finished The Mystery of Providence and am amazed at its impact on my faith. Mulling over one aspect of God’s nature, his sovereignty and wisdom in ordering the events in my life, for an entire month has made the practice of providential thinking Flavel outlined in this book more of a second nature to me. A little over a week ago I found out that my grandfather had just died. It was rather unexpected. At the moment that I found out, I was incredibly grief-stricken, yet also comforted as God felt more present at that moment than he had in a while. I credit the work of the Holy Spirit, through my reading of the Mystery of Providence and through the scriptures I was driven to during the past month, for this peace. I prayed with confidence at the moment, knowing that Romans 8:28 was written for such a moment as this. I have very infrequently felt so small and known God to be so big. I was also able to speak to and pray with my grandmother following my grandfather’s death. She is a non-believer, and it is my prayer that she sees what a rock Christ is to me, even in moments when the flesh is tempted toward disbelief. Thank you for picking this book and your faithfulness in putting this challenge out there for the benefit of all believers.

  • Thank you all for sharing your thoughts! I am really enjoying reading the responses. Please keep them coming!

  • While I must confess I am still working on finishing the book, I have been amazed at how it has made me more aware and willing to acknowledge God’s providence throughout the day. For about two weeks now, it has been a joke with my wife that we hear of an event, look at each other and say, “See! Providence!”

    If there is one thing I could point to that has been consistent with my reading of the Puritans so far is the heightened awareness they have of the working of Christ daily in the life of the believer, both inwardly and outwardly. It is a contagious awareness.

  • Brennen

    Jack Bauer came close to preventing me from finishing this book on time. I bought Season Six a few days ago and as much as I hate to admit it, I hardly read anything until I had watched all 24 episodes. If I could ever be utterly arrested by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word as I am by a season of 24, that would be a wonderful thing. Can I get an amen?

    By His Grace, I finished the Flavel book about an hour ago. One of the motivating factors in finishing was to get to come here and read what everyone has written. I am so excited about this reading challenge this year.

    My favorite part of the book: the last section of chapter 10, “Finally, the consideration and study of Providence will be of singular use to us in a dying hour.” Truly beautiful, challenging, inspirational. Now that I have finished Flavel, I can’t wait to dive into Watson. This is just great stuff.

  • James

    I should finish the book tonight. However, I could not help but stop and thank God for his mercys. Throughout the book, I would stop and say “Praise God”. Oh I wish we had teachings like this today.

    My friends, just the thought that His providence has over us should humble us and cause us to be thankful in all things. It should cause us to be so grateful that He would choose us to be His when we do not deserve being His. Even when I think about how much His providence has bestowed grace on me, it just makes me say “why me Lord, why me?” I do not know why but I am grateful. I am grateful that He is my Savior and King.

  • Persis

    This book has been truly providential for me. In 2007, I experienced a devastating family trial that is still not over and the furnace seems to have gotten hotter this month. Many tried to comfort me with words like “God never intended this to happen. Of course, this wasn’t God’s will but He will work something out.” But if God is reacting to events out of His control that is hardly comfort at all! I was desperately trying to understand why the Lord was allowing this. However, I remember the exact moment in Nov. 2007 when (via a message by John Piper on Job) it dawned on my heart that God is fully behind everything, even the affliction and heartache, and totally in control.

    The revelation of God’s absolute sovereignty was an incredible turning point for me which is why this book has been such a blessing. Flavel’s encouragment to medidate on His providences have helped turn my gaze from my situation to beholding the Lord and all the good that has come out even in the furnace of affliction. I was lax in keeping a journal but have been encouraged to start one again to document God’s faithfulness. There are still moments when the “natural atheism”, as Flavel so aptly puts it, rises in my heart in the form of unbelief and fear but my prayer is that by His grace I would submit to His loving hand regardless of what kind of Providence He dispenses. My trial has not changed but I pray and trust that He will change me because of this trial to be more conformed to Christ.

    “Eye the all-sufficiency of God in the day of affliction. See enough in Him still, whatever is gone. Here is the fountain still as full as ever, though this or that pipe is cut off, which was wont to convey somewhat of it to me. O Christians, cannot you make up any loss this way? Cannot you see more in God than in any or all the creature-comforts you have lost? With whay eyes then do you look upon God?”

    “O what a difference we have seen between our afflictions at our first meeting with them, and our parting from them! We have entertained them with sighs and tears but parted from them with joy, blessing God for them, as the happy instruments of our good. Thus our fears and sorrows are turned into praises and songs of thanksgiving.”

    “However contrary the winds and tides of Providence at any time seem to us, yet nothing is more certain than that they all conspire to hasten sanctified souls to God and fit them for glory.”

  • Gino Curcuruto

    The Mystery of Providence has been used in a profound way for me this month too. Much like my brother Will, I have profited greatly from a month long meditation on providence. I have wondered afresh at the divine ordination of ever moment in my life – from the smallest detail to the seemingly largest life change (like moving across the country). God has shown, and Flavel seems to concur, that He is sovereign and He is good. What a glorious combination.

    Also like Will, my family experienced the unexpected loss of a loved one during the course of reading this book. A good friend of my wife’s committed suicide. It was shocking and painful but we have been able, by His grace, to rest confidently in God’s providence during this time of difficulty. Through meditating on the grace shown in providence, a death which initially seemed so pointless, is being used to magnify the name of Christ.

    Thank you for choosing this book and thanks be to God for providentially placing it my hands at this time!

  • Karin Barry

    Persis –

    Do you remember what page the quote “O what a difference we have seen between our afflictions at our first meeting with them, and our parting from them! We have entertained them with sighs and tears but parted from them with joy, blessing God for them, as the happy instruments of our good. Thus our fears and sorrows are turned into praises and songs of thanksgiving.” was on?

    It is amazing what great “nuggets” of truths there are in both of these books – the kind that you can take, post to your dsk, and meditate upon. Dozens and dozens! This challenge was the “kick” I needed to start reading the Puritan authors, but I am certain that I will need to make it a point to continue reading more and re-reading these in the future. As Brennan said above “this is just great suff”.

    Timmy –

    Have you considered what books you will use for Year 2 of the Puritan Reading Challenge? Can’t stop here! Maybe next year you can strive for 500 taking on the challenge?! You are an instrument of God’s providence in this puritan reading resurgence.

  • Did someone say Puritan Challenge 2009? If that’s what Timmy decides to do, I’m in. Though I must admit I’m kinda looking forward to Edwards ’09. 😀

  • I’m not even sure I can put into words how much I have learned over this last month by reading Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence. God’s sovereignty and providence was my bedrock when our son passed away at the tender age of 2—–that whole situation 7 years ago was one testimony after another in providence (thankfully I have most of it recorded). The fact that Matthew’s death did not catch God by surprise brought great comfort to us and broke my heart that others viewed God with His hands tied.

    Flavel’s work has impacted me on a personal level by reminding me that it is my duty to record these mercies which I am extremely prone to forget. (and since I am new to Blogging I have decided to preserve them there under my meditations—–it is truly my desire to have a careful and thankful heart of praise)

    Another surprising nugget I have walked away from reading this book has been the fact that God placed each one of my children in our home. I ‘knew’ this already but I needed this timely reminder. Being a busy mom of 7 children (4 of whom are ages 5 and under) can leave me physically and mentally tired. However, God in His providence has placed them here with me as their mother. I have a great and high calling and my children are the recipients of His mercy and double stream of love as my husband and I raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! (nothing new here—-just a timely encouragement and reminder to my calling since giving birth to another child 3 months ago)

    Thank you for putting together this challenge. My life has been enriched. I was already in love with my Saviour but now I have been reminded again of the importance of ‘teaching’ and ‘recording’. Thank you Lord that you have preserved the godly words by people of long ago so that we too could benefit.
    And our friendship—–another merciful act of providence! 🙂 Thank you for intertwining my life with the lives of great puritans. I cannot wait to read the next book!
    Grace to you,

  • David Harris

    I finished Flavel this morning. I was deeply moved on Flavel’s observation that “no stroke of calamity upon the people of God can separate them from Christ.” Our family held tightly to the promises of God in Christ last year when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. We kept holding on during chemo and radiation. What a precious encouragement Flavel has been to us! What a blessing when he writes:

    “No stroke of calamity upon the people of God can separate them from Christ. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation?’ [Rom. 8.35]. There was a time when Job could call nothing in this world his own but trouble. He could not say, my estate, my honor, my health, my children, for all these werre gone; yet then he could say: ‘My Redeemer’ [19.25]. Well then there is no cause to sink while interest in Christ remains sure to us. All your calamities will have an end shortly. The longest days of the saints’ troubles has an end; and then no more troubles. The troubles of the wicked shall be to eternity, but you shall suffer but a while [I Peter. 5.10]. If a thousand troubles are appointed for you, they will come to one at last, and after that no more. Yea, and though ‘our light afflictions are but a moment,’ yet they work ‘for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ [2 Cor. 4.17]. Let that support your hearts under all your sufferings.”

    Thanks for introducing the plan. Several of my students are jumping in. Blessings “in Christ,” our exceeding great reward!

  • Persis


    The “O what a difference…” quote is at the bottom of page 149.

    I print out quotes like this and leave them above the kitchen sink and next to the bathroom mirror to remind myself of the truth. It is amazing that although these words were published 330 years ago, they are just as fresh and powerful today.

  • The Mystery of Providence has been a great encouragement. Even though I know and teach God’s sovereignty, it seems I need a constant reminder of God’s providence in all aspects of my life (family, job, finances, spiritual growth, direction and will for my life). So many times we think we are in control because we are making decisions daily but yet God already knows and leads our path. This book is an amazing biblical defense for God’s sovereignty. I appreciate Flavel’s pastoral guidance and teaching.

  • Pingback: T4G, Contest, Mark Dever, John Piper, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney | Said at Southern Seminary()

  • Carolyn Underwood

    Thank you for doing this challenge. I have always wanted to be a part of a book club that read the Puritan’s and the Reformation Preachers.

    I really enjoyed the book, but I confess I got about three chapters in and then I had to look up a definition for Providence. I was confusing Providence with Sovereignty. I started over and read the book and listened to the commentary from the Stillwater Presbyterian Church that you had listed on your “Flavel on the Web” post.

    I gain a lot from reading your comments and postings. I thank God that he allowed me to find these great works and writings, and has placed in my heart the desire to dig my way through them.

  • Karin Barry

    Persis –

    Thanks. I am running out of room for things hanging. I have things on my bathroom. Sometimes I take the business card template from Word Perfect and print out a sheet of “busniness cards” and punch them out. Those are nice and small and easy to put everywhere. I am thinknig of adding my car steering wheel and dashboard to the list – is that safe? 🙂

    Anyone else convicted to printi out some quotes by these Puritan authors?

  • Karin Barry

    I meant I ALSO have things hanging in the bathroom! LOL!

  • Oh, I really hate to be the first to say this…I wasn’t a huge fan of The Mystery of Providence. I can see that it is very helpful and a quite needed work, yet could have standed to be shorter. I love longer books. I love reading. But I really get bored reading the same points over and over again. I felt like I was doing this at times in this work. This book has encouraged me to start journaling again, and perhaps that will be a huge benefit. Yet, I must say this did not do nearly as much in my life as The Bruised Reed. But who knows what seeds were planted, and maybe this was not the season that I needed this. Nonetheless, I have been able to interact with almost ever chapter thus far. I should finish up the book on Tuesday. You can read my thoughts here. Check out the sidebar.

    Thanks again for offering this great challenge Timmy!

  • As others have already confessed, I too am behind in finishing this marvelous book. I do intend to finish because it is digging deeper wells of insight into what, as a Reformed Christian, I am already supposed to know. Knowing that God is Sovereign, and meditating on how each and every instance of my life is shaped purposefully for my good and His glory are entirely different things. Surely I’ve known and accepted that the “big things” are providentially ordained, but the “little things” too?

    I’ve had opportunities to discuss God’s providence with my children that I would have missed were I not immersed in this reading. The idea of reading the Puritans will keep these wells of thought open and running free for further conversations as the year progresses. Just being in the habit of thinking these thoughts as I go about my day has been life changing- and I’ve only been participating for one week!

    Thanks for the challenge and the discussions.

  • Dave H.

    I just finished Flavel’s “The Mystery of Providence” and all I can say is this: WOW!
    This book blew me away by magnifying and glorifying God for all that He is and does and will do. I was humbled by recalling God’s providential working in my own life and challenged to record and document all of these various works of providence for God-glorifying posterity. I also often wondered while reading this book if today’s open theists have ever read Flavel’s treatment of providence and if so, had they ever responded to some of its claims and challenges? The book and its convincing arguments made it hard for me disagree with.

    Thank you Timmy for choosing this book for us to read during the second month of the Puritan Reading Challenge. I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and never realized the precious truths contained within.

  • Jen Greer

    Spoiler Alert:
    God did it!

    It’s funny how much impact a book can have even when you already agree doctrinally with its main point. No surprises, but a great meditation on God’s sovereignty in our lives for the good of His children and for His glory.

    We face such uncertainty in our lives and our own souls as frail people whose lives are but a vapor. Yet when we we stand on the Rock that is Christ, we have no reason to grumble about today nor fear for tomorrow. I’m especially thankful for Flavel’s reminders of the tremendous value in meditating on Who God is and what He has done in our lives as an encouragement to give Him the glory and trust in Him for His future mercies.

    We bought 37 puritan paperbacks and are enjoying them so much through this challenge that I’m planning to add them to my children’s curriculum. Every Christian should read this stuff!

  • Patrick Whitchurch

    Still haven’t quite finished the book – have about 40 pages left. The most significant things for me have been the exhortation to record the instances of God’s providence in my life, and also to look specifically at how God’s providence lines up with His Word. To see God’s work flowing out of specific promises and truths from scripture is something I have a much greater desire to do as a result of this!

    I do have to say that I had some of the same issues with the first part of the book as Carolyn in how Flavel emphasized the material benefits enjoyed by the readers/hearers in comparison to other parts of the world. It seems that his calls for us to look at God’s blessings in comparison to what we deserve is of much greater benefit.