A Review of The Pilgrim’s Progress

This is a personal review of the 1678 book The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

“The friends and the pleasures of which you speak cannot compare with the joys which I seek.” – Christianfullsizeoutput_11d4

Have you ever made a rich, creamy alfredo sauce from scratch and then dumped it over your favorite carb? Like tortellini? YUM! You eat a bowl, foil the rest, and the next day it seems like it tastes even better.

I don’t drink so I can’t compare Pilgrims Progress to fine wine, but I LOVE me some homemade alfredo sauce and it certainly gets better over time. That is how the Pilgrims Progress was to me. I don’t think this book is discussed enough, like so many books written long ago it’s been forgotten in most circles. Or the adaptations have been placed over the original…this is like comparing store bought to the real deal, from scratch, alfredo sauce. Please! Don’t get me started…

The Pilgrims Progress was written by a guy named John Bunyan and published way back in 1678 England. It follows a man who is dreaming, and in his dreams, sees the aptly named Christian who is fleeing the wrath to come. He has a heavy burden on his back, which he can’t seem to be rid of. His wife and children think he’s crazy, but he sets off on a pilgrimage anyway. What I love is that after it follows him to the end, it goes back and tells the story of his wife and kids! LOVE it! From beginning to end the depiction of true Christianity is summarized perfectly.

I’m not sure about 1678 Christians, but I can tell you that through the years this book has become precious. Like second-day chicken tortellini, The Pilgrims Progress is rich with age. When I first tried to read it, the adapted version, I was still just playing Christian. I thought reading something like it would help the persona. But I didn’t get through the first chapter.

After getting saved I found the original version and was so greatly blessed by the story I cherished the times I spent reading it with my daughter.IMG_3102 It was like reading my own story, I often checked to make sure it was really written so long ago! How could something is written in the 17th century be so closely linked to a 21st century Christian? I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and if you are a fan of the KJV style you’ll certainly appreciate The Pilgrim’s Progress. Skip the movie, like so frequently is the case, the book is better.

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This book is fit for my first book review (which I’ll try to do weekly) as it was the first Christian book I finished after getting saved. Like Johns gospel is often described, The Pilgrim’s Progress is deep enough for an elephant to wade through yet shallow enough for a child to play in.

 

It’s one of those books you’ll read repeatedly and never get tired of! Plus, it’s on Kindle, seriously? Yeah, I love technology too!

There are several different versions with illustrations, or the updated versions, most a buck or more. Here’s one example from Amazon. As far as book reviews go I doubt I’ll find one so well priced. Did I mention I love technology? I hope you all enjoy a trip through time in this classic!

https://www.amazon.com/Pilgrims-Progress-Illustrated-John-Bunyan-ebook/dp/B00OJXZPYU/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1492080178&sr=1-9&keywords=the+pilgrims+progress

(BTW I have no affiliations here, I just didn’t want anyone spending $15 at a book store when here it is for a dollar! Yay kindle!)

 

My Testimony: Why I stopped pretending to be a Christian

I spent so many years chained to sin, this is the way out. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is my testimony!

 

I think my testimony is the best place to start this blog because my life is now centered around God. Salvation was a turning point in my life, it was the moment the chains fell off, and it has had a resounding effect, a multifaceted change touching all that I am. It continues to change me, thankfully!

How did it all start? Growing up in the west I think we all have an assumption that most people grew up in the church. Some church, any church…take your pick there’s hundreds of them! Who doesn’t have a Sunday dinner at grandma’s house? However, that was not my childhood. In fact, the only time I was taken to church as a child was when I lived with my aunt and uncle (I badly wanted to insert in Bel Air here, now the song will be stuck in my head all day). At 6 my parents split, and by 8 my mom had to bring my sister and me to my aunt’s house so she could try and get clean. My aunt and uncle often times brought us to church on Sunday or Wednesday nights. After a couple of years, our mom came and got us, still struggling to get clean.

From there she moved into paganism and I grew up in a house full of Wiccan books, drinking, and promiscuity.   I don’t want it to seem as though everyone who had Sunday dinner after the church had it good, and my childhood was the only bad one. In fact, I’ve spoken to many people who grew up in ‘church going families’ who saw a great deal of abuse. Either way, it began to change by the time I was 14.

At 12 a friend of mine invited me to her church because there were cute boys teaching the youths class. My mom and her mom became friends, and she started taking me to church. She got saved, baptized, and never struggled with meth again. She was finally free of what she will tell anyone who listens is the worst thing ever created.

At this point, I was also baptized and claimed saved. I had, after all, said the sinner’s prayer. I spent the next decade trying to look like, talk like, and act like other Christians. I cleaned the outside of the cup, but on the inside was dry bones. I was filled on the inside with secret sin, lustful, prideful, selfish thoughts. I didn’t hate my sin, although I knew I was sinning, I loved my sin. I loved the darkness. Any opportunity to gossip about someone else was sought out, it momentarily filled the deep loathing I had for myself. There were worse people, right? I wasn’t so bad compared to them.

I got married at 20, and by 22 my beautiful daughter was born. She changed everything.

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My husband was not so readily appeased by the sinner’s prayer as I was. Once our daughter came along he became uneasy, listless, and deeply frustrated. I can remember him time after time pointing to my bible and telling me “If anyone believed what was written in there they would be living radically different lives!” I didn’t know what to say to him, and eventually, after trying church after church in states all around the country he said enough was enough. After a particularly painful Easter Sunday service he told me to stop asking him to take us to church.

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The Painful Easter Sunday

I think, as devastated as I was to hear that (mostly because my idea of holiness was devotion to a church, any church as if simply going made me a Christian) he was more devastated to say it. I had no idea the depth of his pain. I didn’t think I needed a Savior, I had saved myself! I had sinner’s prayer. That wasn’t enough for him, like Christian in Pilgrims Progress, he was fleeing the wrath to come whether I came with him or not. Still, it was another couple years before we would find an answer.

Those two years were spent traveling, homeschooling, and filling my days with as much distraction as I possibly could. Then, I heard a sermon clip online. (I couldn’t find the actual clip but here is a similar one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMlv21zGARM&list=PLDCB8223C25C1B136) For the first time I heard the gospel preached and sin renounced. The preacher explained that for the Christian sin was like vomit. I knew, if that was the case, I was no Christian. He continued, even specifically calling out the sinners prayer, and with many scriptures he laid out the truth. Christ, and Christ alone, saves. When my husband came home from work I played the clip for him. When it was over he played another one, then another one. After a couple hours, he looked at me and said “This is what I’ve been looking for.” And as I got ready for bed I said “Honey, I don’t think I’m saved.” He laughed, looked me in the eyes and said “I know I’m not.”

I can tell you that we went to sleep that night with certain peace. I don’t know when he cried out, but I can tell you when I did. As soon as he answered me, I went to the bathroom, shut the door, and cried out to God. It was so much worse then I could have known, I had created a god in my own image and worshiped it. He was like a santa clause god, or a genie god. I didn’t know the God of the Bible, or as Leonard Ravenhill once said I knew ‘the Word of the Author, but not the Author of the Word’. The next day I woke up and the chains that had once bound me to sin were gone. I spent my first day in freedom, July 5th 2015. For more then a year afterwards I would have nightmares that my salvation was false and my sin still bound me. I would often times wake up crying out, and find peace once more in the knowledge that Christ had saved me.

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Philippians 2:12 instructs us to work through our salvation with fear and trembling. That doesn’t sound anything like bowing our heads and raising our hands while no one is looking. Or repeating a prayer. I said that prayer hundreds of times, every time someone said to, I repeated it. It never saved me. It can’t save anyone. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Son. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Friends, don’t pretend any longer like I did. If you love your sins, flee from the wrath to come. For the wages of sin IS death, but the gift of God is eternal life. I can’t promise you wealth or healing, but what I can promise you is that he who the Son sets free is free indeed!