A Review for the Pure in Heart

March 1, 2010 at 1:47 am (Purity, The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , , )

the-book-shelfEmotional Purity:  An Affair of the Heart by Heather Arnel Paulsen

Book Type: Practical/godly living

Rating: 9 out of 10

Recommended? For every woman, especially for young Christian single women


Overview: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” says the wise king in Proverbs 4:23.  As I taught abstinence in the public schools, I found myself preaching and pleading for so much more than physical purity.  The intimacy progression chart we shared began with “hanging out”.  So few seem to connect the progression of intimacy so clearly–can broken hearts happen after hanging out?  I’ve known girls who are devastated by discovering that a “friend” doesn’t return their affection.  And then what?  It’s not even a break-up.  In her book, Heather talks about keeping your heart focused on Jesus, who is able to protect it from emotional damage.  I stand witness to the fact that abiding by rules like “no holding hands” or “no dating” or “I won’t kiss until my wedding day” still leaves many Christian girls with broken hearts and confused minds, asking “how did this happen?  How did I misunderstand?”  The secret lies in the blurred boundaries our society encourages between friendship and relationship.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

The ugly is that broken hearts happen.  The bad is that they happen to the best of us.  The good is that Heather has some excellent (and scripturally solid!) advice for protecting our minds and hearts from the emotional games and confusing friendships(?) that are so easy to walk right into.  She encourages keeping friendships family and group based, and for those who have been broken, there is hope in the Healer of souls.

Praises:

Reading “Emotional Purity” is like reading a letter from a good friend.  Heather’s style is simple, honest and humble–genuine with her sympathy and love.  She’s been there and, better yet, proven that you can have an emotionally pure relationship that leads to marriage!  Heather doesn’t just stop at “how to avoid a broken heart”, she also deals with heart issues like envy and discontent that encourage us to seek solace in a relationship when we should be seeking the Lord.  She encourages us to understand our feelings so that we may offer them to the Lord in worship.


Concerns:

Heather gives a couple of examples that were pure for her that I would have a hard time encouraging since they still could have been emotionally dangerous.  Her perspective is to help women guard their hearts and she doesn’t deal as much with seeking not to lead on a guy emotionally.  Of course, the standards and goals of not emotionally defrauding can and will be different for different girls–and in different relationships.  So read with an open heart to understand and seek emotional purity for the glory of God.


Tips for getting the most out of this book:

At the end of each chapter, Heather asks a few questions for you to meditate on.  I encourage you to get 41kuzlj1oil_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_out your journal and answer them honestly–evaluating your own life and habits in light of what she shares.  It’s difficult to change habits.  Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint particular areas of stumbling.  But it’s worth it!  If purity is important to you, then pour some time and effort into cultivating emotional purity–guarding the well-spring of your heart!

Buy Emotional Purity from Amazon

Read Heather’s Blog

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Lust is the Problem

February 19, 2010 at 1:46 am (Purity, The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris
Original Title: Not Even a Hint
Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 2003

Book Type: Christian Living, Purity

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? Absolutely, with parental guidance

Overview: Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, tackles the tough subject of lust in this concise and practical book. Mr. Harris helps his readers to understand the way God has made them as men and women, and how they can fight temptation and seek to live pure lives according to God’s standard. Full of insight and advice, this book is a must read for anyone who struggles with lust, offering encouragement and pointing to God’s word to find strength for the battle.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The only thing really ugly about this book is the subject matter: lust. That may be an uncomfortable subject for some, but it is handled in a very godly manner.

Praises: This book really does help. If taken to heart, it can provide a biblical perspective on lust (and sin in general), as well as give guidance to those willing to put that sin to death. Mr. Harris challenges us to examine our hearts and submit our thoughts in obedience to Christ, with the goal of there being “not even a hint” of sexual immorality in our lives.

Concerns: I liked the original title better. It was a bit more delicate and brought Ephesians 5:3 to mind. That said, this book is excellent no matter what you call it.

Tips for getting the most out of this book: Be prepared for serious heart-searching and confession. Sin is not to be dealt with lightly and this book will challenge you to fight it full-force. Have index cards ready to write out Scriptures to memorize, and journal about your struggles and victories if that helps. Above all, yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting as He calls you to “put off” your former lusts and “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ.


Buy the book on Amazon.com

Visit Josh Harris’ Blog

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A Review for Gospel-Believers

December 11, 2008 at 7:29 am (The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent

Book Type: Theological meets practical, Christian Living

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? For every believer


Overview:

I was wallowing in a pit of despair one evening, feeling completely helpless, useless and unholy. I’m a self-punisher, so to make up for the lack of results I was seeing in my life and family/discipleship relationships, I gave myself the stern order “Tonight you are going to sit down and read the book of Romans.” Overwhelmed at first by the feeling of being lost, I forced myself on through the end–the glorious end when the gospel comes to life full of hope. And I wept because, once again, I was overwhelmed my my own unworthiness and God’ abundant mercy. The next night I finished “A Gospel Primer”–and read Milton’s recap of the gospel. All his reasons for rehearsing the gospel had been encouraging, but I’d thought I was already doing it on my own. I realized I’d become despairing because my understanding often passed over an important gospel truth–“There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”


Mr. Vincent carefully proves from scripture the need for Christians to hear the gospel. The gospel is a means of salvation, but salvation doesn’t end at justification. Then he provides two gospel narratives–prose and poetry–which clearly and concisely lay out the truth of Jesus’ work on our behalf and the results of justification. He winds up with his own gospel story–how the full gospel set him free from guilt and anxiety regarding his salvation.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

I’ve rarely seen a handbook more thoroughly annotated. Each page is nearly half full of footnotes–all straight scripture to back up Milton’s statements. If a good teacher opens up the scriptures to his readers, then I’d have to call this “good”. And surprisingly, I lost sight of how bad and ugly I am in light of the glory of God’s grace–which is the truly important thing.


Praises:

It’s clear, concise and broken in to brief, easy-to-read portions. The flow is smooth, logical and comfortable. I appreciated the two gospel narratives–as examples that simply proved that retelling needn’t always be the same. In an age where a man-centered gospel has produced deceivers and deceived, Milton brings us back the the gospel truth–the good news is Jesus! For those who truly desire to serve and love God, the truth breaks the bonds of slavery to a law of righteousness, and brings the liberty to be satisfied in Jesus, knowing that, through Him, God is satisfied with us.


Concerns:

Can produce hyper-activity, if you’re of a similar temperament to mine. I walked around singing and bouncing off of furniture the next day. Scripture says good news is like cold water to the thirsty–for me, it’s more like espresso.


Tips for getting the most out of this book:

Read slowly. It’s a small book, but it ought to take you a while. Get out your Bible and backcheck all the references–read them in context. Don’t be afraid to reread. Highlight the parts that speak to your specific struggles so you can come back to them! Pencil in any references you can think of. Read the gospel narratives, read Romans straight through, write your own narratives, pray your own narratives, thank God for the gospel (all of it!) and then share it every chance you get! Not because you have to, or because it will earn you anything, but because it’s the most amazing story in the world!

gospel-primer

Download the PDF from Cornerstone Bible Church (Milton’s home church).

Buy from Cornerstone Bible Church.


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A Review for Treasure Seekers

October 12, 2008 at 7:27 am (The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Book Type: Financial, Motivational, Christian Living

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? For everyone who loves Jesus and desires to be a good steward

Overview: Most of us realize the truth of the statement, “You can’t take it with you.”  Few understand the impact of the truth:  “BUT you CAN send it on ahead.”  There’s nothing wrong with storing up treasure–as long as our investment is an eternal one.  From Jesus’ simple command to store up treasure in heaven, Randy takes us through six scriptural principles to guide our giving.  Forget the Old Testament notion of the tithe–as if only ten percent belongs to God!  Randy reminds us that EVERYTHING belongs to God and we are only His managers.  We should understand how our Boss wants us using His money.  God Himself proved Himself to be the greatest giver of all–first giving us life, then giving us His Son, and also giving us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness. God loves a cheerful giver!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

This book is brief, to the point and jam packed with gospel truth.  For me the only bad and ugly I discovered lay in my own heart, riddled with greed.

Praises:

Randy writes about what he knows personally.  After being taken to court over his pro-life literature and being told all his income exceeding a certain amount would go to support pro-choice organizations, he made a radical decision–took a minimum wage job and set up all of his writing profits to go directly to the Lord’s work.  After reading “The Treasure Principle” several years ago, I wrote in my journal, “As children of the King, we are not to live like princes, but to give like princes.”  It’s a challenge!  But the results are enormous joy–and peace in a secure investment.  Paul thanked the Macedonians for their gift, “Not because I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that increases to your account!”  Randy does an excellent job of realigning our financial understanding with scripture.

Concerns:

Rarely do I recommend a book this highly.  No concerns.

Tips for getting the most out of this book:

At a time when the United States is facing a financial crisis, at a record low and politicians are sweating

and debating about ways to bail out Wall Street, we find ourselves reassessing our pocket books.  In the midst of tightening our belts and budgeting, don’t be quick to nip and tuck your giving!  Get out your Bible, get out your bank statements and a pen and paper and check your priorities against God’s Word.  Where is your treasure?  Where is your heart?

Visit Eternal Perspective Ministries, home of Randy Alcorn.

Buy the Treasure Principle at Amazon.com–it’s a worthwhile investment.

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A Review for Chosen Brides

August 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm (The Book Shelf) (, , , , )

His Chosen Bride by Jennifer Lamp (now Neef)

Book Type: Teen/young woman, singleness/relationships, godly living

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? Especially for single girls, age 13 and up

Overview:

At the time of this writing, Jennifer was a single lady approaching thirty, living with her parents and sister and serving women through a ministry called Grace Works. A short time later she began serving a family who had just lost the mother to cancer and wound up stepping in as a new mother and wife—marrying an entire family! In her book Jennifer speaks as a friend, exhorting young women to seize the season of singleness to serve the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:34). She leads through an in-depth look at the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, unveiling the beauty of character and devotion and challenging single women to live out these qualities to delight their Divine Bridegroom.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

Nothing offensive, requiring “maturity” or parental caution. Of course, if you’re like me, you might have preferred something other than a pink cover. 😉

Praises:

Through her humble and friendly style, Jennifer proves herself to be teaching only what she has striven to master. So much more than pat answers, scripture slinging or lofty observations, this book is chock-full of practical advice for applying scripture, inspiring examples of women who have been “His chosen bride” and thought-provoking questions for further study and personal evaluation.

Concerns:

Why would I be concerned about a book that refocuses our hearts on our Divine Lover?

Tips for getting the most out of this book:

Grab your Bible, a pen and a notebook and study the scriptures, scribble evaluations and get involved. There are plenty of activities! When you come to a tough spot, stop and work on implementing what you’re learning. Be sure to check out some of Jennifer’s suggested resources. Challenge yourself to practice the character of the Proverbs 31 woman, diligently working because she “fears the Lord.” Don’t forget, a bride spends time just being with her groom, as well as busily serving Him.

Visit Grace Works

Buy the Book from Amazon

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Hard Things and Me

July 5, 2008 at 8:44 am (The Book Shelf) (, , )

I recently posted a review of the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. This was a great read and I would like to share, in addition to the review, some of what I have taken away from this book.

I remember back in my late teen years sitting in the dentist’s office one day while the assistant was preparing to do X-rays. “Are you pregnant?” She asked me. “No,” I said calmly. This was routine. They always asked that question. But this time she probed. “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” she asked again with an accusing glance. My eyebrows arched and I said with a very emphatic look on my face, though trying to hide my shock, “There is NOT a CHANCE that I am pregnant.”

Later, when the dentist walked in, he asked how I was enjoying my first year at college. I said it was great. Then he and the assistant proceeded to joke about college students drinking and messing around. I felt rather disgusted, and maybe even made a face, but said nothing.

I know all too well the statistics of teen pregnancies and drug and alcohol abuse. But these adults—professing Christians—assumed that everyone my age was involved in that stuff. No doubt they were sending the message that they expected teens to get into trouble. And if you said that you didn’t, they didn’t really believe you. No wonder teens in the church are statistically no different than teens outside the church—even many Christian adults don’t expect better from them. My parents had high expectations for me, and that made all the difference in the world.

I walked out of the dentist’s office that day rather perturbed, wishing adults would expect more out of my generation. If they expected more from us, they might find that kids would at least try to live up to their expectations!

So when I first heard about the book Do Hard Things, it struck a chord in me that hadn’t sounded for quite a few years. I was excited and eager to read what the Harris boys had to say.

Being out of college and reading a book for teenagers was a new experience for me, but also an incredibly profitable one. I’m a good example that the irresponsibility expected in the teen years does not magically go away when you hit your twenties (in fact, despite my academic success, I became LESS responsible during my college years). This highly motivational book has been extremely helpful to me to catch a vision for how God can use me to do more than just “get by”. That I can honor and glorify Him by my attitude and diligence in my responsibilities as a wife and homemaker—and that as I learn to take care of those primary duties in a timely manner, I can invest in others, be they in my neighborhood, in my church, across town, or across cyberspace! Reading this book has been part of the catalyst in my joining Abigail to start this blog. I’ve always wanted to write, and since my teen years, I’ve always wanted to reach out to other young ladies—to encourage them in the Lord. So here I am. Finally taking the initiative to do so!

I hope and pray that you, too, will be blessed and encouraged both by and to Do Hard Things.

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A Review for Rebelutionaries

July 1, 2008 at 9:39 pm (The Book Shelf) (, , , , )

Here’s our first book review!

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

Book Type: Teen, Motivational, Christian Living

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? Yes!

Overview:
When I was in high school, Joshua Harris called young people to redeem romance, and now his twin brothers are calling teens to reclaim responsibility. Pointing out that the advent of youth culture and the teenager are fairly new developments, Alex and Brett Harris deliver a knock-out punch to the status quo that modern culture imposes on teens (and no wonder—none other than Chuck Norris wrote the forward for the book!). Not only do they rebel against the expectations of our society, but they raise the bar to challenge teens to live up to what God expects of them—to be what He has created them for. Similar in theme to John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life, the Harris twins call young people to take on God-given responsibility with a godly attitude—for His glory. This book is about rebelling against low expectations—a subversive movement, not against any person or institution, but against the world’s way of thinking and living. Full of stories, examples, Scripture references, and well-organized thoughts, this book is not deeply theological, but immensely practical.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

Lots of good, nothing bad, and nothing ugly.

Praises:

Though I am a bit removed from the teenage years (product of the mid ‘80s), I have benefited greatly from this book. Much of what the authors promote is godly character that shines forth in the way we do the tasks set before us. They deal with our excuses, our selfish and lazy nature, and offer something far better. Alex and Brett have done a world of good by giving direction to an otherwise directionless generation. Christian teens aren’t really satisfied with just getting by and chasing after a good time—and no wonder! God has created them for so much more! Teens are challenged to view this time in their lives through the lens of Scripture—an invaluable gem of advice! And they’re encouraged to dream big for God, but also to excel at seemingly smaller but highly important things, such as obeying their parents. The twins promote discipleship and fellowship across generational barriers—a strongly biblical component that is lacking in the lives of many teens. To top it off, there is an appendix at the end of the book that clearly shares the gospel, which I much appreciated—and which is much needed.

Concerns:

Not a lot to be concerned about here. I have no reservations in recommending this book.

Tips for getting the most out of this book:

As always, read with an open Bible and prayer. Have a pencil and paper in hand, too, to jot down ideas that come to mind, areas in which you want to grow, etc. Before setting firm goals to “do hard things”, be sure to search God’s word and talk to your parents or husband for guidance, support, and accountability. As Christian women, we strongly recommend getting acquainted with biblical roles for men and women, so that the goals we set, the “hard things” we aspire to do, will line up with God’s stated will for our lives. Enjoy!

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