Several years ago, my mom, sister and I went through the book Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and the corresponding workbook Walking in the Truth. Later I summarized the book and my thoughts in a series of blog posts that can be seen here. I was interested in reading the updated version and was glad to obtain a copy on Kindle for review through Netgalley. The updated edition will be coming out in January 2018 and includes a new chapter on lies women believe about sexuality.
The book starts off with a reminder of how we get caught up in lies and that we must recognize these lies and replace them with the truth from God’s Word. Each chapter deals with specific lies that we often believe (even if we wouldn’t actually say it) and how God’s Word contradicts those lies. At the end of the chapter the lies are summarized along with the truth and Scripture references to combat the lies. What we believe affects how we live, and if we are believing lies about ourselves, God, marriage, etc. we will not be living in freedom.
While not every woman struggles with every lie in this book, we all struggle with some of them. This is a great resource to point us back to God’s Word to be the source of what we believe. This would be a helpful book to go through with other women, to gently correct and encourage each other to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word and not give in to the lies that subtly sneak their way into our lives in this world of sin that we live in.
*I received a copy of this book free on Kindle through Netgalley from the publisher Moody in exchange for my review.
One of the current trends in Christianity is this teaching of “easy-believism”, the idea that saying a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart saves you and secures a place for you in Heaven. From my blog post of June 19, 2011:
There are many people out there who think they are Christians, think they are going to heaven when they die because they said a prayer when they were a child or they responded to an altar call at church. But in reality they have really never turned their hearts to Christ. The Bible never teaches that to be saved we have to “ask Jesus into our heart”.
Luke 9:23 states, Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Luke 6:46 says – “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?”
The famous passage in Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved, through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (emphasis mine) We do not save ourselves – it is God who saves us.
The fruit of the Spirit is outlined in Galatians 5. Yet I see many professing Christians that don’t display these characteristics in their lives. Their lives are no different than others around them who aren’t believers. I challenge myself with these words. Is my life any different from the world around me? Can people look at me and see Jesus in my life?
My heart is burdened by what I see around me as “easy-believism”. But what I see in the Bible is a life called to sacrifice, to die to our own desires and to live for Christ. This article sums up what I’m trying to say much better than I can explain it: http://www.gotquestions.org/easy-believism.html
To grow as a disciple of Christ, first we need to make sure that we are one.
The gospel summarized:
“First, God’s holiness and justice require that rebellion against his perfect law be dealt with retributively, namely, in the suffering of both spiritual and physical death. Second, we humans can do nothing about this. We are helpless to atone for self and are thus wholly at a loss to escape the wrath of God that our sin has incurred. Third, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, has taken our place under judgment and received in himself the penalty that was our sentence, thereby laying the foundation for our pardon and immunity from divine prosecution. Fourth, each human must look in faith outside and away from self to Christ and his cross as the sole ground of forgiveness and future hope.” (Sam Storms, as written in Packer on the Christian Life)
Repent (turn away) from your sins and place your faith in Christ alone for salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
There are so many idols to distract us from God and His truth. This world has many temptations to entice us away. Our hearts are the real culprit however. Much of what we desire and long for can be classified as good desires and longings, yet how we seek to fill those desires and longings often leads us to idolatry.
But wait a minute! Idolatry? Most of us, particularly in the Western hemisphere, would say that we don’t practice idolatry. We don’t bow down to wooden or gold statues. We don’t offer sacrifices anymore. But idols aren’t necessarily something physical. Idols are anything that we look to for satisfaction. Idolatry is worshipping something or someone other than the true God. In this way, we can see multiple ways that we turn to idols to fill our desires rather than to God Himself.
The desire for close friendship is a valid desire. The desire to grow in knowledge and understanding is a valid desire. But if I sin in order to fill those desires, they have become idolatrous. When I scroll through my Facebook feed and get jealous seeing my friends hanging out with other people rather than me, I have turned that friendship into an idol. When my longing to learn and study leads to buying books that I cannot afford, I have turned my desire for knowledge into an idol.
So how do we turn from idolatry to worshipping God? It all goes back to the heart. What am I looking to for satisfaction? Heart change takes time and involves a continual renewal of truth to remind ourselves that true satisfaction is found only in God, not in other people, knowledge, money, or power. They may temporarily satisfy, but will never really fill the longings we have within us. When I find myself longing for something, I need to examine why I am desiring that particular thing? Am I looking for it to fulfill me? Or is it something that God is using to bring Him more glory? Will this friendship help me to honor God with my actions and attitude? Or will it cause me to sin against Him? As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, we will struggle against idolatry. But that doesn’t mean we are defeated. Rather, God continues to renew His children and sanctify us with His truth. We go back to His Word to remind ourselves of His majesty and love. He is our only true Savior.
True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions by Carolyn Mahaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Often we look at our emotions and view them as bad. Yet emotions themselves are not bad, rather how we use them. Learning to recognize and control our emotions is a battle we all face. In this book, the authors provide some practical steps to better understand our emotions and learn to use them in a God-honoring way rather than in sinful patterns.
Emotions “tell us what we believe and value. We should listen to what they are telling us and evaluate our emotions in light of Scripture. Emotions also move. We should not try to deny their persuading power, but instead allow them to drive us to God.” When our emotions manifest themselves, we should evaluate what that particular emotion is revealing about what we believe and value. For example, anger at being cut off in traffic reveals that we value our safety. Or it may reveal that we want to be in control and have our drive go smoothly. Recognizing our underlying beliefs and values behind our emotions helps us to then respond according to what Scripture teaches rather than turning to a sinful response. If the beliefs or values that an emotion reveals is not Biblical, that emotion is an indication that we need to change our belief or value so that it lines up with Scripture.
This book provides great information for us to evaluate our emotions Biblically and some practical steps for moving forward. If you struggle with your emotions, this is a good read to provide hope and encouragement.
*I received a copy of this book free on Kindle from the publisher Crossway through Netgalley in exchange for my review.
Anger & Stress Management God’s Way by Wayne A. Mack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don’t know if I read this book years ago or not. Most of it seemed pretty familiar, but that could be due to the reading I’ve done regarding anger management and biblical counseling. Very simple and succinct, if you are not familiar with how biblical counseling addresses anger, this book is a good overview of recognizing anger, whether anger is sinful, and how to respond to it. We often get angry because of wrong expectations or a perceived violation of our “rights”. There are quite a few application questions throughout the book to ask ourselves so that we can properly deal with our anger.
The second half of the book deals with stress and how we cope with stress. A reminder is given of God’s sovereignty and how remembering that helps us in coping with the trials we face.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the book, but I don’t know if that was because I was already familiar with the material. It was a quick, easy read.
*I received a copy of this book free on Kindle through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my review.
12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, if you weren’t already convicted by how much time you spend on your smartphone, you will be after reading this book! The pros and cons of technology are discussed, particularly when it comes to our use of social media. The author asks some hard-hitting questions and talks about reasons we use our smartphones, things such as distraction and to avoid responsibility, for diversion, for affirmation and community.
“The question of this book is simple: What is the best use of my smartphone in the flourishing of my life? To that end, my aim is to avoid both extremes…” The author gives both downsides and upsides to our use of smartphones. It appears the intent of the book is to open our eyes to why we are using them and for what purposes. We need to be intentional in the decisions we make and the author reminds us that we will answer to God for our words and deeds. He does not tell us we shouldn’t use social media or smartphones, but rather to gauge our use and motivations for use and to be wise with our time and resources. “Before you text, tweet, or publish digital art online, honestly ask yourself: Will this ultimately glorify me or God?”
In a world that speeds by us, this book is a good reminder of what matters and to remember what is truly important. Are we living life for God’s purposes or our own?
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.
Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age by Erik Raymond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Discontentment seems to be an American or Western culture issue. With the rise of materialism and wealth, dissatisfaction has also grown. With so much available to us, we still struggle with being discontent with all that we have. There is a tendency to want “just a little bit more.” In this book, the author addresses this problem from a Biblical perspective.
This was a convicting book! It is so easy to fall into the sin of discontentment. We tend to worship the created things instead of the Creator. And this causes us to not be content with what we have or our current circumstances.
One of the chapters that stood out to me was the one on self-denial. In the Gospels, Jesus calls us to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him. When we deny ourselves, it is much easier to be content. Our focus is on serving God and others, rather than our own desires.
I would definitely recommend this book to challenge you in your Christian walk. It’s a quick, short read that packs a punch!
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway through Netgalley.com in exchange for my review.
Finding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The path out of loneliness begins by letting go of all our attempts to make life work on our own terms. It’s about taking up our cross and following Jesus.”
This book is not a “quick-fix” help to dealing with loneliness. Rather it goes to the heart of the matter, what is behind our loneliness, and the fact that we are not made for this world and loneliness will exist until the new heavens and new earth are ushered in. Having dealt personally with loneliness, the author can relate to this very human emotion that we all deal with at some point in our lives. Different chapters deal with different reasons for why we suffer with loneliness – for being different, in a difficult marriage, during grief, and in singleness. She talks about the wrong ways to deal with loneliness and points us back to Christ as the One we must turn to. This doesn’t mean the loneliness will go away, but He is with us during it. He also has borne our griefs and sorrows (see Isaiah 53). Each chapter ends with discussion questions, so this book could be used in a small group study or book club.
While not an in-depth look at this topic, this book can be an encouragement to those going through loneliness and also help us to realize that we are not alone in dealing with this issue.
*I received a copy of this book free on Kindle from the publisher Crossway through Netgalley.com in exchange for my review.
I love this time of the year, when the old year ends and the new begins. While it is an arbitrary point on a calendar, I like the idea of a fresh start, a new beginning and the start of a new year lends itself to this thinking.
I also love to make lists. So making a reading list for the new year is something I enjoy. Whether I actually stick to that list is another story. But the making of the list is fun, so I continue to do it, even if I don’t actually stick to it. Tim Challies’ 2017 Reading Challenge also provides an opportunity to make book lists.
I also find that the new year is a great time to make goals. I’ve learned to be more realistic in my goal-setting, yet still trying to stretch myself. But never accomplishing goals can be discouraging so I try to make goals that are somewhat attainable. However I do have some ambitious book goals for 2017. The last few years I have had the goal of reading 100 books. Once again I hope to read 100 books in 2017. But this year I have added the goal of trying to not buy any books during 2017. This is mostly to work on reading my own books and getting my to-be-read mountain lowered. I’m not sure I can go a whole year without buying any books. This should be interesting.
One of my other goals includes reading Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith. I love theology and have several monstrous tomes to read. Picking one to read each year should help me wade through them. Because I read so much and I love trying different Bible reading plans, in 2017 I plan to start an annual goal of reading through the Bible twice each year. For 2017 I plan to read through the NKJV Chronological Bible (which I’ve already started) and also read the Bible along with Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty book (there is a reading plan for reading the book along with the Bible).
I also have a Scripture memory goal that I’m working on and a health goal. Do you make goals for the new year? What about reading goals or lists?
Several women from our church are doing the True Woman 201 study this summer, which is basically a study of Titus 2:1, 3-5. Last night’s topic was on being reverent. This is an attitude, a character trait that is not cultivated in our culture these days. Being reverent, respectful, honoring… these are traits from the past that don’t have much place in a me-first, individualistic society. The holiness of God is an attribute that isn’t much talked about. We’d rather focus on God’s love than on His holiness.
The Bible resounds with the holiness of God. Some books in particular, such as Leviticus and Isaiah, shout with His majesty and holiness. In our attempts to be personal in our relationship with God, we’ve reduced Him to a buddy, a friend, and downplayed His holy, awe-inspiring character. While it is true that through Jesus Christ we can now have a relationship with God, we must never forget that He is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin. Like Isaiah in Isaiah 6, when shown the glory and majesty of Who God is, we should tremble and realize how sinful and wretched we are before Him. How much more beautiful is Christ’s death on our behalf in light of our sinfulness compared to God’s holiness?
This is an attribute of God that has been hitting home for me over the last couple of years. Does my lifestyle reflect holiness? What am I allowing myself to watch, to read, to listen to? Is it respectful and reverent toward God? Does it honor Him? Do my words, my actions display a reverence for God? This is a convicting subject and one we do well to ponder on. Who or what is foremost in our minds each day? What do we spend our time thinking and talking about?
This study has been good so far. And I just started the chapter on discipline/self-control. Oy! Talk about convicting! So many areas that God wants to grow us in, changing us to be more like Christ, to be His representatives in a culture that denies His existence.