This particular Sunday, with my wife and one-year-old son, I awoke at 4:00am and was on the road by 5:00am to make the three-hour drive across state lines in an unfamiliar area to attend church. Few preachers are so used of God to compel me to do this, but the opportunity to hear Alistair Begg in his own church was an opportunity we may never have again, so we did it (1). His writings and teachings are deserving of attention by Christians.
Many years ago, Alistair Begg wrote Made For His Pleasure a book examining a variety of facets of the Christian life from the vantage point of pleasing God. Today, that book is published anew by Moody Publishers. With each chapter, Begg explores how Christians are made for God’s glory, not man’s and in doing so he examines areas such as one’s prayer life, vocational life, intellectual life, evangelism, sacrifice, etc.
The book has much to offer for Christians to be encouraged to think deeply about what it means to claim “I am a Christian.” The chapters stand independently and so for Christians who are discouraged or struggling in a particular area, they could easily look jump to that particular chapter as Begg examines God’s commands through Scripture. The topic is broad, after all, the Lord says to glorify him in whatever we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), therefore the book is not comprehensive. However, the author does a great job of hitting the most relevant life disciplines common to all Christians.
The book is written with Alistair Begg’s gift for mild-temperament while challenging Christians on very difficult topics. At the same time, his clarity and depth serve to convict readers and compel them towards their Lord and Savior. As a result of that, combined with the nature of the book, it is relevant to the Christian life. Furthermore, the author’s style serves up many quotes. Simply consider two quotes from the introduction:
“If we are going to discover what it means to please God, we must come to a knowledge of God’s majesty and man’s misery.”
“We will never come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as a reality until we see him as a necessity.”
Those two quotes alone capture the profundity of the book.
Perhaps the greatest area of difficulty in the book is an area that I have myself struggle with. The book comes across as a ‘we need to do this’ or ‘we must do this’ because God requires it. Writing and preaching can easily follow down this path and I find myself often doing the same, so I understand very much this inclination. Yet, it would serve a greater purpose if the book contained more heart behind the application. There are points when this comes across in the book and those familiar with Alistair Begg already have the expectation that when he teaches, preaches, writes, etc. he does so from a foundation of immense love for God. I simply desire that it came across more in the book.
This small point hardly takes away from the book. In a culture that seeks its own priorities and pleasure, the book fills a great need to the reorientation of a generation fo believers who lack heavenly mindedness (Colossians 3:1). Therefore, this is a great book, especially for those who may be struggling with their Christian walk. Depending on the circumstance and situation though, I would probably recommend other resources first and follow them up with this one. Not because it is less important, less profound, or less biblical, but because those other resources may deal more with a specific area that a Christian is struggling and therefore be directed towards the heart of the issue (whereas this book is simply a fly-by view, covering so much in a short amount of time). It’s a great book and I would recommend it, but don’t feel like you’ve missed out if there are other books that have captured your attention first.
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.Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of the book.
(1) For the fun of it, we continued on that day through Pennsylvania and New York to visit Jamestown and Niagara Falls, before returning back to Detroit. It ended up being 24 hours from the time we left our hotel until we returned, but it was time well-spent since we never knew if we would make it to that area again.