Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Can Our Minds Get Too “Renewed”?

I love peeking into other people’s reading lists, especially the ones where the reader and I share common interests. I’ve gleaned several wonderful book recommendations from studying other people’s lists including Where Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James, The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, and Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson.

Several of my favorite bloggers (be they thought-provoking, challenging, irritating or entertaining) have posted updates to their readings lists. And I’ve discovered a startled and disheartening trend. The vast majority of the books these ladies are reading are all homemaker/mothering/healthy eating/child discipline books. I mean, seriously, there is not a theological or fiction book to be found! Anywhere! And I have to wonder- how do they sort through all this information about the same subject?? You’d think they could write a book themselves from gathering all this knowledge.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve read plenty and I mean plenty of homemaker/mothering/healthy eating/child discipline books. I think that’s why I’m so confused. Well, I’m not exactly confused, but I certainly think that my thinking is more muddled than if I had just tried to figure it all out by myself by gathering information from the people who I know have been successful at the endeavors in which I find myself.

Do we seriously need to read four books each on these subjects in one year? Do I really need to read To Train Up a Child AND Shepherding a Child’s Heart and How To Raise Your Children For Christ and Successful Christian Parenting to discover “God’s way” of child training? (Yes, that is from one book list). I know I’m being picky… I just wish that we Christian women would expand our intellectual horizons just a bit!

For the record, here is a list of the books I am currently reading:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Trinity and Subordinationism by Kevin Giles
Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
Through Western Eyes, Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective by a guy who’s name escapes me at the moment.


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Captivating: A Review

Here is my Amazon.com review of the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge:

1.0 out of 5 stars Sappy, Sentimental, Poorly Written Drivel, March 29, 2007
I picked up this book in the hopes that I would find something original, something challenging, something other than the evangelical drivel that passes for “Christian Living” books these days. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.
What I Liked:

1. There really were some challenging ideas in this book. So often, “biblical womanhood” is portrayed as being all about homemaking, mothering, and hospitality. It’s all about being “against feminism.” While I don’t see anything wrong with a balanced view of a woman’s role, I do think that it’s easy to take these ideas to the extreme. Stasi Eldredge’s book definitely does not fit the mold, at least not in the circles I tend to frequent. Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas are concerned more with the heart. To her, “godly womanhood” means getting back to our roots as women, to embrace our femininity and use it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas about femininity are wrought with their own problems. (See below). Additionally, Mrs. Eldredge’s idea that womanhood and femininity doesn’t always look the same between women is very refreshing and something of which I need to be reminded every day.

2. The authors are clear about the God-ordained distinction between the sexes. In other words, men and women are not the same.

3. The chapters, while lengthy, were quick and easy to read. Yes, that is a plus when you’re running after two children under the age of three.

4. This book was easy to read in pieces.

What I Did NOT Like:
1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other “Proverbs 31” quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the “Proverbs 31” woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful (and while they spend an entire chapter developing this idea, I never understood what they meant- beauty on the outside? Inner beauty? What beauty are they talking about? Oh, the beauty that is completely corrupted by sin, but made alive and beautiful again by the saving work of Christ? That beauty?), and whether or not she is being properly “romanced.” In fact, I’m actually nervous about writing a bad review of this book in fear that Stasi will read it and spiral into a depression again. What if I hit a nerve, dig a deeper wound, remind her of her difficult childhood? Why not generalize this fear to all women because according to the authors, women are weak, wounded, and helpless.

2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God” (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the “Crown of Creation.” In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the “bridegroom” of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a “Lover.” Well, were I a man, I would either laugh at this or be very turned off. Jesus isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my God. He’s my Savior. He’s my Lord. He is the Bridegroom of the Church Universal, but not of individuals. I could go on, but its late and I’m tired…

3. Frequent and blatant misuse of Scripture. They take so much of the Bible out of context that its hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her “first love”. They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.

4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we “open the door of our hearts” where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.

5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians. I believe this issue stems from their use of the Neil T. Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker, a book that has been widely rebutted due to its unbiblical views of Satan and his relationship to believers. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I’m afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just “blame Satan” instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!).

6. Enough with the movie metaphors already! I don’t want to hear about how I’m like “Cora” in “Last of the Mohicans” or “Rose” in “Titanic.” Tell me about Rachel, Rebekah, Mary, Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe, Dorcas, Mary Magdelene, the nameless women throughout the Bible who acted in faith when God called them out of their normal lives into greatness. Tell me about those women FIRST and leave the movie metaphors out of it! Instead of looking to God to learn about us, they point us to our culture and ourselves in order to learn about God. That’s completely backwards!

This book is nothing more than really bad pop psychology trying to be passed off as “biblical” truth. It is sappy, overly sentimental, erroneous, and, in most parts unbiblical. I had a hard time following any of the points put forward by the authors. The meat in this book would’ve made for an interesting article in “Christianity Today” or “Focus on the Family” magazine. They didn’t need a whole book to detail this dribble. Please don’t bother with it. There are much better books out there about biblical womanhood than this one.

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if it wasn’t so distubring.  The follow is an excerpt from Raising Maidens of Virtue:

“Do you remember last week when you and your sister Jennifer were arguing?  She had pointed out your unmade bed and lack of diligence in keeping things as neat as you probably should.  When your feelings were hurt by her drawn-out rebuke, you said some rather unkind things about her cooking skills.  God’s Word tells us:

‘A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.’ (Proverbs 15:1-2)

Lydia winced as she remembered the sarcastic way she had suggested that Jennifer would probably never make much more than boxed macaroni and cheese and instant pudding for her future husband and children.” (pgs 105-106)

I seriously laughed for a full five minutes after I read this.  It is just absurd.

Here’s a preview of my review: McDonald sets up one straw man after another and just knocks them out of the park.  She takes the extreme case (which may or may not actually exist in reality) and uses it to prove that the exact opposite should be true.

I’m thinking of going chapter by chapter…

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To Train Up a Child Review

I thought I’d throw my own “Pearl Opinion” into the mix.  This is my Amazon.com review of To Train Up a Child:

25 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Christian At All, April 12, 2006

I think a few of the main problems I have with this book lie in a couple of areas:

1. The Pearls view training children the way some people view training animals. Several times in TTUAC, Mr. Pearl states that the biblical way to train children is the same way we train a mule or a dog. He seems to ignore the fact that children are human beings made in God’s image. Biblically speaking, we are to treat human beings with a great deal more dignity and respect than a dog.

2. The Pearls set up an antagonistic relationship between parent and child. The child’s will must be subdued and conquered and the only way to accomplish this, it seems, is through switching. If parents fail to use this method, Mr. Pearl states that parents are creating a “Nazi.” He commands parents to look for opportunities to “thwart” the will of one’s children. I don’t see that in the Bible anywhere.

3. Obviously, parents react to the Pearls’ materials in different ways. I see TTUAC as a manual for child abuse. Pearl supporters claim its saved their homes. It seems to be a matter of interpretation. How can we know how anyone is going to interpret what is in that book? Even some Pearl supporters say that they don’t agree with everything they say which means there are elements that just don’t sit right with many, many people. I would hope that those folks ask why those elements bother them so much.

4. The Pearls represent themselves as biblical authorities on parenting and “child training”. Parents who don’t have a good support system in place tend to get desperate very fast. Mr. Pearl states in his introduction to TTUAC that once you read his book, the techniques will seem obvious and you’ll wonder why you didn’t figure it out on your own. Desperate people often tend toward extreme behavior. There are many MANY pro-spanking parents who feel that the Pearls’ methods are extreme. Switching for each and every single offense. Placing a child’s hands on a hot stove to teach him not to touch it. Shoving an unsuspecting child in a pool to teach them fear of the water. Hosing down a child who’s soiled his pants while learning to potty train as punishment for not using the potty.

Believe me, there are innumberable ways to raise godly children that have nothing whatsoever to do with the abuse advocated in this book.

5. This book is also full of horrible theology which I believe stems from the Pearls errant view on the nature of man.

6. The Pearls are just bad writers. They are totally unclear about several of their ideas and they contradict themselves in a number of places. Never show mercy to your child, show mercy to your child. Pick your child up when he cries, don’t pick him up when he cries. Things like that. I know for a fact that their style alone has left a number of parents totally confused about what to do with their kids. If the Pearls believe that consistency is the key, perhaps they should work on being more consistent in their writing.

Please, please don’t buy it. Amazon should stop selling it.

I’d give it zero stars if I could.

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Casting Away Fear

Originally published on my personal blog, August 2007:

“Sound theology is the cure for fear.”


This is a life-changing concept for me. I am a fearful person. I’ve suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for most of my life. Basically, during times of extreme stress, I am prone to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors which interfere with my ability to live a normal life. Most of the time, I am just fine. My compulsive behaviors are kept at bay and I am able to function normally.

I had a nervous breakdown a few years ago. Our first baby, my first daughter, had Triploid Syndrome and died before she was born. Talk about extreme stress! A few months after she was born, I went nuts. Literally. On my way to a counseling appointment, I had a thought that I had hit a cyclist with my car, not known it, and then drove away. I thought about it throughout my entire appointment. I thought about it on the way home. And all night long. I checked for blood on the road. I assumed that if I had hit the cyclist, there would be evidence- an ambulance, a news report of a hit-and-run… anything. Of course, there was nothing, but that didn’t matter.

I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work. I had to quit my job as a leasing consultant because I was absolutely terrified of violating the Fair Housing Act and get sued. I don’t have a racist bone in my body, but that didn’t matter. If I forgot to offer the Asian prospective resident a cookie, but offered the white guy a cookie, I could be sued. That’s the truth. You can get sued for anything these days.

The stress of normal life took its toll. It wasn’t long before my amazing, long-suffering husband called our pastor to our home to save my life. I was pretty much wanting to die. I would never commit suicide- ever- but there is something called “a passive wish to die” where the person wants to die, but isn’t willing or able to do anything about it. That would’ve been me. Greg counseled me out of bed and onto the couch where we prayed and talked and cried. It was intense.

My husband made the decision that we would return home from Colorado. That meant that he would have to leave his dream behind… but he did it to take care of me. He knew that I needed to be near my family and that I needed serious help.

We came home. I started back at my old job. I lasted exactly one month. For those four weeks, someone had to drive me to work and pick me up each day. I got into therapy right away with my incredible doctor. As I was pregnant with Nicky, I didn’t want to go on medication. We decided to overcome the OCD with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, before we made any headway, I had to go on state disability because I couldn’t work. My breakdown was complete. I had to walk everywhere and I couldn’t work.

I knew I had to get better before my son was born. That’s all there was to it. He couldn’t have a crazy mom.

He was born in December. I don’t think that I was any more paranoid than any other first time mom. I had all the major worries- was he eating enough? Growing enough? He doesn’t like tummy time- does that mean he’ll be a late crawler? I still couldn’t drive, but at least I could care for my son.

And then my dad told us he had pancreatic cancer. Just seven days short of the one year anniversary of my daughter’s death, my world came crashing in again. The Chief and I had been to Disneyland on our new passes that day. I remarked as we walked back to our car that I finally felt normal again. I called my dad to thank him for the passes and tell him that I was on my way to healing from all this terrible sadness and fear. He asked us to come over. I knew it couldn’t be good.

He told us the diagnosis, and I knew. I knew right away what was going to happen. Surgery wasn’t an option. It was chemo or nothing. The doctors wouldn’t tell him how long he might have. I knew it couldn’t be long. A year, maybe… Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and painful. By the time it is diagnosed, metastasis has almost always already occurred. If the cancer has metastasized, there is nothing they can do really. He didn’t tell us that night, but it had already spread to his liver.

Well, that was it. I couldn’t screw around anymore. I had to be better. I had to drive. I couldn’t be afraid anymore. I had to be with my dad as much as possible. He had to hold his grandchild and love him and kiss him and talk to him as much as possible before the end. OCD just wasn’t an option. I know that its not something that people can switch on or off, but in this instance, I can honestly say that I turned it off.

Now, back to the quote- sound theology is the cure for fear. Why am I so afraid? What am I afraid of?

I think that sometimes my fears are rather infantile. I seem to be very preoccupied with what people think of me. I’m definitely too concerned with my job performance. I seem to gather a lot of self-worth from my job, from what other people think of me, from how clean my house is or how well-behaved my children are. I throw the grownup equivalent to a toddler’s tantrum when things don’t go my way or if the ridiculous level of self-imposed stress that I carry overwhelms me.

Really, the bottom line for me is that I think I need to grow up. I need to store up treasures in Heaven, not on earth. I need to remember that the God of the universe stands behind me and goes before me. I need to find my refuge in HIM, not in myself. I need to hide in the shadow of His wings. “Consider that God is in complete control of His creation.” Do I believe that or not? In the end, the petty stuff I worry about doesn’t matter in light of the relationships that are being negatively affected by my fear.

I am an introspective person and I’m afraid that it has not served me well. Don’t get me wrong- I definitely think its a good idea to take stock of your life and your heart and make changes if necessary. However, the “sin of introspection”, as Mrs. Wilson calls it, occurs when we allow that introspection to keep us up at night. Its when those little things we forget to do are blown out of proportion and suddenly mean that we are bad mommies or wives.

“It only breeds self-pity, condemnation, hopelessness, and ungodly sorrow. This is an unwise and dangerous mindset to indulge. One sin always leads to a host of others. Introspection leads to anxiety and depression. It is an unfruitful and misleading mindset, for the real sin is… the act of engaging in this self-condemning activity. ‘Set your mind on things above.’ The real sin being committed is this mindset, this morbid introspection. This is what you are likely to repent of, for your failures of the day distract you away from the real sin. And this is what needs to be confessed. A godly sorrow produces repentance; a worldly sorrow produces death (2Cor. 7:10)… God is not the author of accusation and condemnation of His children. He chastises and forgives. He delights to show mercy. he is the Father of all comfort. He does not pile on accusations in the night.” (pgs. 70-71, The Fruit of Her Hands)

I read The Fruit of Her Hands a number of years ago. I liked it and recommended it to friends. I picked it up again a few days ago and I have been overwhelmed by the wisdom contained in this book. It puts biblical womanhood blogs to SHAME. It is intensely practical and it has nothing whatsoever to do with budgeting or meal planning or modesty. Mrs. Wilson is talking about GASP! respect for one’s husband. Paying attention to the “principles” and minding our own business when it comes to “methods.” Being content in all things and NOT being fearful. Loving our lives as homemakers because the work that we do in the home is sanctified by God:

“As I reflected on this (doing the dishes and doing them cheerfully), I realized that I had known all along. God had called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. Because of this, all the mundane things I did were sanctified, holy, purposeful, and honoring to God, and I should offer them all to Him. ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service’ (rom. 12:1). Not only that, I should also find contentment and satisfaction in knowing I was doing these things unto the Lord… Work, hard work, no matter how humble the task, is our service to God.” (pg. 75-76).

Obviously, I am all about this book right now. I encourage any Christian wife reading this blog post to read this book. Its a great one, and not at all “hyper-patriarchal”. Believe me, my radar screen is up HIGH for crap like that.

I read in Matthew the other day this amazing verse- one of my favorites in fact- Jesus says to Peter, after saving him from drowning on the Sea of Galilee- “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

Those words are also revolutionary in my life. When the anxiety creeps up and seeks to capture my mind, my actions, my heart, I MUST remind myself that He is holding my hand and saving me from drowning. And he, again, asks me why I doubted Him.

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”

What is the solution to fear? It is in His Word. What more can He say than what He has already said to those who have sought refuge in Jesus?

Addendum (June 17, 2008):

It seems to me that so much of hyper-patriarchy is based on fear- fear of the culture, fear of feminism, fear of government, fear of pants, fear of public schools.  I can’t miss the irony because so much emphasis is placed on raising up warriors for Christ to take over the culture, but they are so afraid of the culture that I just can’t see that their warriors will be very effective.  What a difference it would make if their rules were based on sound theology rather than a reaction to all that is wrong in the world!  The cure for patriocentrism is sound theology!

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Books on the Docket

I really want to delve into these issues from a theological perspective.  The issues run much deeper then just “submission” and “gender roles.”  I’m going to get into the Word- deep into the Word.  I’ll be reading books on both sides of the issues and I thought I would list out the books I plan to read or have read and will be discussing (in no particular order):

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womandhood

Discovering Biblical Equality

The Trinity and Subordinationism

So Much More

Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God

Danvers Statement

Raising Maidens of Virtue

Different by Design

Domestic Tranquility

Finally Feminist

The Excellent Wife

Reforming Marriage

The Fruit of Her Hands

Fascinating Womanhood

Men and Women in the Church

Paul, Women, and Wives

Lost Women of the Bible

When Life and Beliefs Collide

Biblical Womanhood in the Home

The Feminist Mistake

Biblical Foundations of Manhood and Womanhood

Equality in Christ

Women, Creation, and the Fall

Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth

Some of these are not theological (So Much More, Passionate Housewives, Raising Maidens, Fascinating Womanhood, Lost Women of the Bible…), but they are indicative of what is out there and what is being sold to women on both sides of the fence.  I am sure I will need a brain break once in a while.  This is a really big list and I am sure this will take many MANY months of reading, maybe even years.  But I am looking forward to it.

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