Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

Where do you turn when the dark clouds of pain, suffering, and loss roll into your life? In a broken world, difficult trials can lead quickly to discouragement and despair—even for Christians. But the Bible sets forth an oft-neglected practice for dealing with such trials: lament. To lament is to turn to God in honest, desperate prayer, giving voice to the reality of our emotions—as intense and tumultuous as they may be. Ultimately, lament is an expression of faith in the God who hears our cries and responds with mercy and grace. Drawing on examples from the Bible and his own story of loss, pastor Mark Vroegop walks through steps of lament (Turn, Complain, Ask, and Trust) to show what lament is, why it is important, and how to enter into it—helping readers learn to live between the poles of God’s goodness and a hard life.


Table of Contents:

Foreword: Joni Eareckson Tada

Introduction: Life in a Minor Key: A Personal Journey

Part 1: Learning to Lament

  • Keep Turning to Prayer | Psalm 77
  • Bring Your Complaints | Psalm 10
  • Ask Boldly | Psalm 22
  • Choose to Trust | Psalm 13

Part 2: Learning from Lament

  • A Broken World and a Holy God | Lamentations 1-2
  • Hope Springs from Truth Rehearsed | Lamentations 3
  • Unearthing Idols | Lamentations 4
  • A Roadmap to Grace | Lamentations 5

Part 3: Living with Lament

  • Making Lament Personal
  • Let Us Lament

Conclusion: Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy – The Journey Ahead

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15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me

March 2018


Some lessons can’t be learned in a classroom.

A seminary education is immensely valuable, offering theological preparation, spiritual formation, and wise mentoring. But many new pastors are discouraged when the realties of their first call don’t line up with what they came to expect from assigned readings and classroom discussions.

Bridging the gap between seminary training and real life in a local church, fifteen veteran pastors and ministry leaders offer advice and encouragement related to a host of real-world issues, such as leading congregations though seasons of suffering, handling conflict, accepting a call, leaving a church, and more.


  1.  Knowledge and Credentials Aren’t Enough – Jeff Robinson
  2.  What to Do When My Church Is Dying – Mark Vroegop
  3.  How to Shepherd My Wife – Daniel Akin
  4.  How to Pastor People Who Are Different from Me – Jeff Higbie
  5.  How to Follow My Lead Pastor When We Disagree – Matt Capps
  6.  How to Lead My Leaders – Juan Sanchez
  7.  How to Raise My Kids to Love the Church – Matt McCullough
  8.  How to Shepherd My Congregation Through Seasons of Suffering – John Onwuchekwa
  9.  When to Accept a Call or Leave My Church – Harry Reeder
  10.  How to Handle Conflict – Jay Thomas
  11.  The Need to Fight for My Relationship with God – Vermon Pierre
  12.  The Time it Takes to Become a Shepherd – Dale VanDyke
  13.  The Temptation to Make a Name for Myself – Scott Sauls
  14.  The Joy I Can Know Over a Long Tenure – Phil Newton
  15.  What to Do When No Church Hires Me – Collin Hansen

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5 Reasons You Should Preach Through Lamentations – 9 Marks Journal – November 2018

Civil Rights Trip: One Church’s Story – 9 Marks Journal – October 2018

How My Mega-Church Hasn’t Burnt Me Out –  9 Marks Journal – July 2018

To Big to Discipline? How a Mega-Church Practices Matthew 18 –  9Marks Journal – January 2018

Is Your Preaching Tone Deaf? – 9Marks Journal – June 2015

Be Wise When You Revitalize – The Gospel Coalition – September 2012

Humble Pie: 4 Lessons from a Bad Decision – Christianity Today – Spring 2006




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