(Review) Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison

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Publisher and Publication Date: Crossway. August 31, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction, sexuality, abuse.
Pages: 128.
Source: Free ebook copy from Crossway.
Rating: Very good.

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David Powlison (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a teacher, a counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He is also the senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and the author of Seeing with New Eyes, Good & Angry, and Speaking Truth in Love.

Summary:

Contents:
Introduction
1. Getting Oriented
2. Making Renewal Personal
3. Renewing All That Darkens Sex
4. Renewal Is Lifelong
5. Renewal Is a Wider Battle
6. Renewal Is a Deeper Battle
7. Renewal Brings an Increasingly Subtle Struggle
8. Remembering the Goal of Renewal
9. Getting Down to Today’s Skirmish in the Great War
Notes
General Index
Scripture Index

In order to renew anything, we must have a vision for what it is intended to be, for what’s gone wrong, and for how to bring about transformation.

David Powlison addresses both men and women in regards to several issues. For example, victims and those who are predators; people who struggle with sexual impulses outside a marriage; people who view sex as an identity. In addition, patterns and motivation, self-condemnation, sanctification, and transformation and growth are all examined.
In 128 pages, Powlison covers a wide field of subtopics under the main topic of sexuality.

My Thoughts:
After reading Making All Things New, what resonates with me is Powlison does not promise we will be perfected in this life. Recovery and sanctification is a process, because we will not see complete healing on this earth. I dislike nonfiction books that make promises that cannot be attained. This life is a struggle. It is messy. On the other hand, we cannot give up and give in to temptation. In the last chapter, Powlison teaches several things that can help. My favorite suggestion,

Put trouble and God together by talking it out.

Talk to God about problems. This seems like such an easy statement to grasp, but for many people it is ignored.

I started this section of the review with the ending applications of the book. My point was to make sure the readers understood the book holds helpful truths to understand and apply.

An opening question in chapter 2 is a bold question: “Where do you struggle with sex?” This type of question is on point with the rest of the book. Making All Things New is a graphic topic many Christians won’t analyze. I’ve not heard a sermon or Bible study on this topic. It is rare for me to hear a sermon on marriage, but if I do, in the mix of the sermon will be a lesson about the beauty of sex in a marriage. Among my gal pals, sex problems are spoken about with embarrassment and shame. Ridicule, gossip, and judgement are given to those who betray a marriage, reveal a secret about sexual abuse, or those who admit they are gay or lesbian. I’ve learned listening is the best response to give another person. Listening is truly a gift to another.

Further reflections on what I love about this book:
1. Powlison addresses the reader with ease and a personal approach. He is comfortable and this makes me comfortable. He is quick to make points. He uses a few illustrations or examples of people to further explain ideas.
2. Quotes I love.
From chapter 4:

First, sanctification is a direction you are heading. Second, repentance is a lifestyle you are living.

This life is not righteous, but growth in righteousness; it is not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise; we are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished, but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road; all does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified. Martin Luther.

From chapter 7.

The more obviously destructive sins and sufferings can actually be easier to deal with. The subtler sins can be more stubborn, pervasive, sneaky, and delusive.

3. A few things I learned that I’d not considered before:

A. People act out sexually for a variety of reasons. For example, to feel loved or approved. Another reason is anger.

Sexual acting out can be a way to express anger.

B. The aftermath of an abuse victim. How they see themselves as a victim.

There is an eternity of difference between ‘I am a survivor’ and ‘I am beloved of Jesus and am finding refuge and hope in the Lord of life.’

Making All Things New is a brief overview of sexual sin. It does not cover extensively victims of sexual abuse. I feel the book is addressed more to those who struggle with sexual sin and not a book for those who are seeking information for victims of sexual abuse. I am a victim of sexual abuse. This book has been helpful but not extensive. Making All Things New is a tool for readers-it is a beginning point.

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(Review) Pierced & Embraced: Seven Life-Changing Encounters With The Love of Christ by Kelli Worrall

Pierced & Embraced

Publisher and Publication Date: Moody Publishers. August 1, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction, Christian women, religious life.
Pages: 224.
Source: Free copy from Moody Publishers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon

Summary:
In the opening chapter, the story Greenleaf is summarized. This story was written by Flannery O’Connor. In this story, a bull is terrorizing Mrs. May. He is methodically eating her farm and home. She finally makes the decision to have the farmhand shoot the menacing bull. Plans do not go as Mrs. May had liked. The bull charges her and pierces her heart. Kelli Worrall has used this short story to create a teaching point.

Believe it or not, the bull is the conduit of the grace of God. The bull is a type of Christ. Page 16.

Mrs. May had been trying to control every aspect of her life. The bull was interfering in the way she thought things needed to go. He was a menace and she was angry.
We too want to control our lives. We want things to go as we envision. The bull never gave up, he edged closer and closer to Mrs. May. He tried to get her attention. He pierced her heart so she would finally see.
Worrall explains that Jesus deals with women differently than men. She studied the book of John and saw how Jesus “patiently pursued” women’s hearts. The following chapters listed are the women from the Gospel of John that Worrall examines.

A Piercing Embrace
Chapter 1. Called to Obey: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Chapter 2. Sought Out & Satisfied: The Woman at the Well
Chapter 3. Seen & Healed: The Woman with the Hemorrhage
Chapter 4. Forgiven & Set Free: The Woman Caught in Adultery
Chapter 5. Heard, Loved & Given Life: Mary and Martha
Chapter 6. Valued & Empowered to Serve: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar
Chapter 7. Chosen to Make Him Known: Mary Magdalene

My Thoughts:
I loved the opening chapter of the story of Mrs. May and the menacing bull. I loved the comparison between the persistent bull and God. It is a thinking story; and it’s not a story where at first reading I readily understood. I first read the chapter and said, “wait and minute, I need to read that chapter again.”
Worrall shared intimate circumstances in her life. Some examples are infertility, caring for aging parents, and adoption. By sharing these details, I was able to identify with her and the book personally spoke to me.
Two favorite chapters of mine explored the “call of God,” and child development and attachment.
From chapter one on obeying the call.

…hearing and heeding the call of God shouldn’t mean searching for something that is self-satisfying. Rather, it often means following His footsteps into the hard and even impossible places. It sometimes means being willing to stay in that space for as long as it takes-maybe even for a lifetime. Page 50.

From chapter three on insecure attachment.

All of us have emotional wounds that need to be healed. These wounds might come from obvious traumatic experiences-the death of someone close to us, an accident that took away our sense of safety, the divorce of our parents, some sort of abuse. But wounds can also occur more slowly and subtly. Wounds can even happen from seemingly small situations-especially, if, as a child, we aren’t afforded the help we need at the time to process these things…Sometimes we choose to ignore the pain, and we assume that time alone will take care of it. Sometimes we stuff or numb the pain because the thoughts of facing it head-on is too much to bear. Sometimes these old pains run so deep and, as adults, they are so much a part of who we are that we get used to them. Page 85-86.

Both of these chapters addressed problems I’ve struggled with. These topics are personal to me. The call of God is not necessarily a place I always want to be. But, it is the place where God has planted me. There are things that I can not see that needs work. And, I trust in Him to see me through. On the topic of stuffing emotions, I explain this as being numb. I lived this way for most of my life. I am not numb anymore. I will say that a deeper level of faith has developed, after I confronted and began to process the pain and suffering of the past.
Chapter five is on waiting and being patient. Worrall reminds me that modern life provides quick fixes and responses. The Bible reminds me that God often requires us to be patient. For example, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph.

God uses long periods of waiting to draw His people closer to Him, to increase their dependence, to reveal His glory. Page 152.

(Review) The Wisdom of God: Letting His Truth and the Goodness Direct Your Steps by A.W. Tozer, Compiled and Edited by James L. Snyder

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Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. July 4, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, wisdom, Christian living.
Pages: 192.
Source: Free paperback copy from Bethany House.
Rating: Good.

A.W. Tozer website

A.W. Tozer Classics

Amazon link

A.W. Tozer—Aiden William Tozer. 1897-1963.
A_W_TozerSummary:
The Wisdom of God is compiled from Tozer’s sermons on the subject of wisdom. This is the first time in print for Tozer’s topic of wisdom.
The book begins by teaching what the Hebrew’s understanding of wisdom was in the Old Testament books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. In addition, a portion about wisdom is included from The Wisdom of Solomon, one of the books of the Apocrypha.
In chapter two, the focus shifts away from the OT aspect of defining God’s wisdom to, “the truth that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God, the incarnate Word.”
Examples of further chapters: “Christianity Flows Out of God’s Wisdom,” “The True Essence of Divine Wisdom,” “The Benefits of Eternal Wisdom,” “Moral Wisdom vs. Divine Wisdom,” and “God’s Wisdom Is Absolute and Unqualified (Not Limited).”
Rev. James L. Snyder has been given permission by the estate of A.W. Tozer to write new books from the archive of Tozer’s sermons via audiotapes.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read a few of Tozer’s books before The Wisdom of God. These books are Tozer On The Almighty God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit, and The Pursuit of God.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading Tozer is he uses language that packs a punch. He has a way with illustrations that are vivid and speak loudly his message.

A Christian is not one who has a ticket to heaven as one might have a ticket to a ball game. A Christian is one who has sought to become a new person. He has found himself out and has learned what a scoundrel he is by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Page 139.

We put a price tag on everything from a human stand point, which is how our world works. We cannot, however, bring that over into our relationship with God. Our relationship with God must be based upon God’s ways and not our ways. Page 68.

Some Christians have not read a decent book in the last twenty years. They have grown physically, but spiritually they are still in the hospital ward. Page 55.

I love how the book began by defining wisdom, but my favorite part of the book is when Tozer explains repentance.
Hasn’t it become rare to hear the word repent? When I was a child growing up my pastor often spoke of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and God’s grace.

Repentance is to seek to become a new person, to open the heart to the incoming of moral wisdom, to seek to be like that most excellent wisdom. It is to seek to live and have an affinity toward Jesus Christ the Lord. The idea that Christ reaches out to you with a lifeboat and pulls you aboard without changing you or identifying himself with you or you with Christ is a modern heresy that ought to be set aside until the Lord comes, or until men learn better. Page 140.

To be repentant means to come to Christ self-accusing and without defense. Page 142.

A second reason I love reading Tozer is he asks questions that make me think. And, I am compelled to answer them.

How do we recognize the fool? The wisdom books of the Old Testament are full of examples of foolishness, but in Proverbs 12:15, it tells us that “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes,” which is one of the marks of the fool. Page 107.

The Wisdom of God is not one of my favorites of Tozer’s adaptions from sermons. The book did not compare strongly against the other Tozer books I’ve read. The Wisdom of God is missing something. Possibly a stronger and clearer direction for each chapter’s interpretation. The points are not a clear picture of what is being stated. However, this does not take away from Tozer’s message of God’s wisdom.

My favorite quote, from page 180.

Either I do believe in God or I do not. Either I hold God to be wise altogether, or I do not. Either I believe that He is, or I doubt Him. Either I believe that He is the only wise God our Savior, or I do not. Everything lies here: destiny, death, life, heaven, and hell, and the Christian has an answer for the doubter.

(Review) She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams

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Publisher and Publication Date: B&H Publishing Group. 2016.
Genre: Christian Living.
Pages: 224.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Twitter: Amanda Bible Williams @biblewilliams

Twitter: Raechel Myers @raechelmyers

Amazon

Community: Webster’s New World Dictionary. “All the people living in a particular district, city etc. A group of people forming a smaller social unit within a larger one, and sharing common interests, work, identity, location, etc.”

It is explained in the opening pages, “She Reads Truth was a community long before it was a book.” She Reads Truth is a website with the focus of encouraging women to read Scripture.  The She Reads Truth community has grown and branched out to Bible studies, an app, a Bible, and books. She Reads Truth is women encouraging other women to read and study God’s Word. The current study is hymns: Go Tell It On The Mountain. They just finished a study of Romans.

Summary:
She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away 
is memoirs of the two founding women of She Reads Truth; and answers the foundational questions of why God’s Truth matters and how God’s Truth transforms us. God’s Truth-God’s Word does not change. The world changes. Our lives change. We change. But God’s Word does not change.

“Introduction: Passing Away”—Amanda
“ONE: What’s in Your Cup?”—Raechel
“TWO: The Stack”—Amanda
“THREE: Remember Whose You Are”—Amanda
“FOUR: A Blue-Ribbon Girl”—Raechel
“FIVE: Exquisite Mercy”—Raechel
“SIX: Fresh Out of Hope”—Raechel
“SEVEN: Take a Seat”—Amanda
“EIGHT: Truth in the Dark”—Amanda
“NINE: Decaying Treasures”—Raechel
“TEN: She Is Me”—Amanda

We cannot know the eternal weight of this temporary life we’ve been given unless we understand that it is, indeed, temporary…But God and His Word will never pass away (Matt. 24:35). He is the one permanent thing we find when we frantically grasp in the dark of our doubt and fear. He is the perfection we long for in the midst of our suffering and brokenness. He is the one sure thing we seek in our uncertainty. God is our only immovable mountain, and we can find Him in His Word. Pages 6-7.

My Thoughts:
The above quotation is beautiful. And I say loudly and with great expression, Amen!

Myers and Williams have shared their life stories but with deep insight and reflection. They know God has been at work, through their pain, sadness, uncertainty, and insecurity God has remained constant. God has not faltered or changed. Several ideas are examined in the book:
1. Praising God during the hard times.
2. Only God’s promise to us is important. Any promises we make to God does not compel Him.
3. Legalism.
4. To accept what God has placed in our cups, whether it is sour or honeyed .
5. True contentment despite what is going on in our lives.
6. We are not in control.
7. “Faith is a gift.”
8. The things that are permanent.
9. Jesus is our answer-not something or someone else.

If anything, our own ever-changing journey of joy and sorrow has made plain the unchanging steadfastness of our God. It’s as if a time lapse of our lives is the only way to truly see all that is always changing, and the One who was permanent all along. That is our hope. Not that things will work out for our benefit. Not that our lives will look the way we wanted them to. And not that we would be spared from suffering. Our hope is in the One who has never failed to fulfill His promises to us. We hope in the One who has only ever been faithful in our own lives, and since the beginning of time. Our hope is in God alone. Page 102-103.

She Reads Truth has been one of my favorite reads this year. This book spoke to my heart. Myers and Williams shared parts of their lives that are relatable. When women open up and then relate to one another a trust and comradeship develops. The feeling of isolation disappears. That is community!

She Reads Truth is a perfect book for a women’s book club.