Book Review: Live Full, Walk Free

We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives

Girls, you know I love Bible study. So when I got a copy of my friend Cindy Bultema’s new Bible study, Live Full, Walk Free, I was excited!

Live Full, Walk Free is a study of 1 Corinthians, the New Testament book written by the apostle Paul. During Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was the Sin City of its day–a culture known for its immorality and idolatry. That might make you think: Not so different from the culture we live in.

So true.

Paul lived and worked with the Corinthians for eighteen months. After he had moved on to another city, he wrote 1 Corinthians as a letter to encourage the Christians there to not to give in to the culture. He wanted them to live full and walk free.

In her study Cindy sets out to answer the question, “How do we live full lives in a culture polluted through and through?” Through a detailed study of 1 Corinthians, she helps us discover God’s answer.

Cindy explores the historical and cultural background of Corinth. She examines the challenges these people had and how they apply to our lives. She challenges us to live victoriously in Christ, demolishing the lies Satan throws at us.

But don’t think this is a dry, academic study. Through Cindy’s personal stories and light-hearted humor, you’ll find yourself having fun even while you are learning eternal truths.

One of my favorite study sections was a chart where readers examine what the world says and what God’s Word says on topics like beauty, money, and self-worth. This exercise challenges us to see where we have allowed the world’s perspective cloud the freeing truth we have in Christ.

If you’re looking for an uplifting study that gives you hope in a sin-stained world, try Live Full, Walk Free.

Listen to Cindy’s words:

We have all we need to live fully and walk freely in this time and place. We have all we need, here and now, to be part of the solution and not the problem. We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives, even in Sin City.

Check out the Live Full, Walk Free Bible study and the accompanying six-session DVD!

Cindy_HeadshotCindy Bultema describes herself as wife, mom, women’s speaker, author, hot lunch volunteer, and overcomer.

Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband John and their children Jake, Benjamin, Amanda and Sarah.  When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy walking her adventurous dog Rocky, attending one of their children’s sports events, meeting friends for coffee, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

Find out more about Cindy at her website.

Find Live Full, Walk Free here.

 

live full, walk free

 

Book Review: Making Marriage Beautiful

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I loved this insightful book on marriage. Author Dorothy Greco writes with transparency and humor. Because she wants to help others, she and her husband bravely share their own not-always-perfect endeavors to have a beautiful marriage.

Greco hits the nail on the head when she writes:

What differentiates a loving, joyful, intimate marriage from a disappointing, frustrating one is the willingness and commitment to be changed, to say yes to God’s transforming work, and to become increasingly holy with each passing year.

Isn’t that true? The willingness to be changed must be present in each spouse or the marriage simply will not work. And yet this is what we struggle with most. We would much rather pray, “Lord, change my husband” or “Lord, change my wife” than “Lord, change me.” But the author encourages all of us to say yes to God’s transforming power. To not only admit our failures to our spouses to receive their forgiveness but to confess our sin to God and receive His grace. Making Marriage Beautiful reminds us that we all need changing and that marriage is often the tool God uses to continually transform us to the image of Christ.

I wish I had had this book when my husband and I began our life together. The chapters on differences in family cultures and expectations would have been especially helpful! Although we have worked through these issues now, having this book would have made the ride through the bumpy waters of early marriage smoother. Greco encourages all of us to examine the preferences we have “stockpiled” and how these preferences may affect unfair expectations we place on our spouses. She also reminds us to celebrate our spouses “otherness.”

The author ends the book by using an illustration from her own backyard. She tells readers that her home is on property that is glacial till–in other words–very poor soil. It is a constant struggle to grow beautiful flowers and shrubs in this environment. She then likens her soil to the cultural environment we live in. Growing a beautiful marriage in a culture that encourages self-fulfillment instead of sacrifice and instant happiness instead of steady faithfulness requires persistent work.

But she says,

Keep clearing the rocks. Keep amending the soil and pulling the weeds. As the seasons pass, your faithful obedience will result in the gradual transformation of your soul and your marriage.

Whether you’ve been married three weeks or thirty years, this book will help your marriage become more beautiful.

Author Dorothy Greco is a talented writer and photographer. Her writing has appeared  Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today, Her.meneutics, Gifted for Leadership, Today’s Christian Woman, SheLoves, Start Marriage Right, UnGrind, Junia Project, and Sojourners. I am a featured contributor for Gifted for Leadership, CTWomen, and Start Marriage Right. Check out her website.

Find her book here.

 

Book Review: Women, Leadership and the Bible

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I met Dr. Natalie Eastman at a retreat for writers. She nearly bubbled over with excitement for equipping women to study the Bible for themselves. She has since written a book on that topic. Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe? teaches women a five-step process for studying God’s Word and discerning answers to theological questions through this intensive study of the Bible. As an example of the process, she uses the issue of women’s leadership in the church. Dr. Eastman does not tell you what to believe on this issue, only helps you study Scripture for answers on the issue. She does include examples of women pastors in the book, but asks the reader to make their own conclusions.

Following is an interview with Natalie about her book:

womenLeadershipBibleQ: What’s the purpose of your book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe?

A: The term “empowerment,” it seems to me, is vastly overused these days. Yet, admittedly, that’s exactly what I’m doing through WLB and Biblical Breakthrough! Through equipping women with seminary-level tools by which they can study, understand and interpret the Bible; then, stuffing them full of confidence through constant encouragement that they can do this, I hope to empower them to change from an internal status of paralyzed and possibly ignorant (or simply the feeling that one doesn’t know much or enough) to confident, ready, and trained to engage and effectively apply God’s Word with theological reliability and biblical skill.

On an emotional level, I simply want to tell Christians, especially women, “You can do this.” This is not rocket science. Nor do these abilities rely on a special gifting of the Holy Spirit. These are learned skills. Anyone who puts their mind and effort toward the training can and will learn how to know what the Scriptures are saying, as well as what they’re not saying. They can learn how to filter through the many voices “out there” that interpret God’s Word; how to tell the difference between when someone’s giving their opinion about what God’s Word says and when they’re interpreting; and what to do with the many conflicting opinions and interpretations. It can be done. People do it every day. And you can do it with greater skill and effectiveness, while still being sensitive to and filled with God’s very presence throughout the process.

Q: What makes it different from other books on women’s issues?

A: Plenty of books espouse one position or another on women’s roles or any other issue, effectively telling women what to think and why to think that. Yet, few teach women to discern God’s messages and desires for his people through systematic, thoughtful, seminary-level analysis. Women, Leadership, and the Bible steps into that void, offering step-by-step, approachable, “non-jargonese,”methodical process of analyzing an issue on many levels: scriptural, academic, spiritual, emotional, community, and personal. The ultimate goal is to equip women (and any men who desire to read it) to thoroughly and effectively investigate God’s Word, along with filtering through various interpretations of it, and subsequently make up their own mind about an issue.

Q: How could things change if every Christian woman was to read your book? :)

A: Just IMAGINE a world in which Christian women humbly, yet skillfully study Scripture to get clarity on their hardest biblical questions! And imagine women sifting and sorting through all kinds of opinions and interpretations as they study and consider what the Bible’s text says!

True freedom and self-confidence await the woman who engages the material in Women, Leadership, and the Bible. That freedom and confidence come from knowing and understanding not only what she believes, but why she believes what she believes. She will know she has formed her own thoughts, opinions, and interpretations using reliable, tested, and grounded methods, carefully testing her own and her community’s beliefs against Scripture. It is life-changing!

If women can engage their difficult life-issues with competent biblical integrity (and they can!) rather than relying exclusively on emotions, what others say, or the last book they read’s interpretation, as I did for so long, just imagine the difference this will make in their lives, their churches and, yes, the world! Women (and men who learn these skills, too) can feel confidence before God that they are attempting to understand his Word as best they can, as they subsequently seek to follow and obey it.

Q: What benefits does Women, Leadership, and the Bible provide to women?

A. Whether or not the subject of women in church leadership roles is an “issue” in your community, a thoughtful approach to understanding the issue can help a person feel secure in their practices and help them understand the interpretations of others. That type of studied, thoughtful understanding promotes good and helpful dialogue among Christians. The method taught in WLB benefits people wanting to get to the bottom of other issues, too; for, as we all know, many other theological issues have been or will become “issues” there at some point. WLB can benefit your church or ministry in numerous ways:

  • Engages women with the Bible.
  • Encourages women toward further biblical and theological development.
  • Develops women as critical thinkers, so they can embrace their faith and service with groundedness and confidence.
  • Urges independent thought within the context of Christian community, with unity being the ultimate goal.
  • Equips women with seminary-level hermeneutical skills and tools on an introductory level and, hopefully, whets their appetites (or satisfies one!) for further and deeper biblical studies.
  • Teaches women to recognize and face internal and external influences that impact their faith and practice.
  • Encourages grace-filled dialogue and study about this and other “controversial” issues within a safe space.
  • Provides a “virtual community” for women who really want to “get to the bottom of things,” biblically speaking.

Q: Do any other resources exist to help women take this material further?

A: Yes! So glad you asked! This summer, July 9, 2015, in fact, The Verity Initiative LLC (Dr. Eastman’s overarching LLC) is launching Biblical Breakthrough! An Online Coaching Program with Dr. Natalie Eastman (BB!). This internet-based training program takes people who want to work through their questions concerning women’s roles in church leadership step-by-step through weekly videos, all of which are free! Two further levels of deeper training opportunities are also available at nominal monthly pricing on a subscription basis. In the future, “generic” courses of study as well as courses of study into specific theological questions (i.e. human sexuality, baptism, etc.) will also be offered that take people through the same method in the book, but they will be able to investigate whatever issue/topic on which they have questions and/or for which they need answers.

Also, Dr. Eastman has a mailing list, through which people can receive The Verity Initiative’s monthly newsletter, “Dig Deep!” You can register at this link:

https://ig183.infusionsoft.com/app/form/wlb-excerpt-request

When you join the list through this link, Dr. Eastman will send you a fairly extensive excerpt of the book – a “sneak peek” – as a way of saying thank you for joining the list. This will be delivered directly to your email inbox of your registered email address. Feel free to share that registration link with anyone you believe may be interested in WLB, BB!, or Dr. Eastman.

If you want to buy a signed copy of the book you can do so here.

If you want to buy the book on Amazon click here.

NatalieEastmanDR. NATALIE R. WILSON EASTMAN (M.Div. ‘02, D.Min. ’05–Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is a freelance writer, editor, and member of the Redbud Writers Guild. She has served as a full-time youth minister to girls and women; Bible study teacher; worship leader and team developer; missionary to east Asia; and retreat and event teacher/speaker. She lives in Delaware, OH, with her husband and three young children. Links to her blogs may be found at natalieeastman.com, and her training and coaching at biblicalbreakthrough.com.

Connect with Natalie:

Twitter: Natalie_Wilson
FB: https://www.facebook.com/natalierweastman
FB: https://www.facebook.com/womenleadershipbible
G+: https://plus.google.com/+NatalieEastmanTVI/

My Brand New Book: Soul Spa

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Do you need a place to rest your heart?

We all live busy, stressful lives. Our souls feel like they are being pulled in a hundred different directions. We are desperately soul-tired, but not sure how to find the rest our spirits need.

When our muscles ache or our skin needs a moisturizing treatment, we know where to go. A spa can provide a relaxing massage or a soothing facial. But where do we go when the most important part of us needs care?

Believe me, I can relate. As a Bible study teacher, Christian speaker, author, blogger, church musician, and piano teacher I feel pulled apart every week. My spirit grows tired and worn. I know I need to take time to rest. I know my soul needs the care only the Savior can provide, yet I continue sprinting through my days, not paying any attention to my soul’s cry for help.

Finally, after years of ignoring my spirit’s need for rest and restoration, I decided to change. I began to learn how to bring my exhausted, fatigued, and shattered soul to the God who alone can restore it. I studied holy habits that Christians have used for centuries to draw close to the Savior. As I explored these practices, I found that they opened my heart to God’s working in my life. They gave Him the time and space for Him to restore my soul. All of these experiences led me to write Soul Spa–a book that is like a spa for the spirit.

I invite you to come to the Soul Spa where God is eager to meet you and care for your heart. Using spa analogies, this resource will guide you to engage in spiritual practices such as Scripture meditation, Sacred reading, discernment, fasting, and prayer. In the book you will learn how to develop your own personal plan for soul care.

Features of Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal:

  • daily devotional readings
  • in-depth Bible study questions
  • exploration of Spiritual disciplines
  • reflection/discussion questions
  • perfect for personal or group study
  • memory verses
  • creative ways to spend time with God
  • instructions to form your personal soul care plan
  • fun spa activities to enhance the group experience.

Come to the Soul Spa where the Holy Spirit will nurture your soul with grace, mercy, and peace.

204196  Check out my new book at CPH or on Amazon!

 

Book Review: Living a Chocolate Life

 

 

Living a Chocolate Life Bible Study cover

I am a confirmed chocoholic. So is it any wonder that I couldn’t wait to read this book?

Living a chocolate life certainly sounds delicious.

But this book is more than an ode to my favorite sweet. It is a Bible study on the sweet grace of Jesus Christ.

According to author Deb Burma:

Living a chocolate life means sampling everything from bitter nuggets of pain to sweet morsels of joy. Some days are dark and lumpy, others are light and smooth. Whatever the shape, flavor, and texture of our days and however our lives are packaged, we can savor God’s rich and endless supply of grace in Christ! Wrapping us in forgiveness, the Holy Spirit fills us with sweet faith in our Savior.

One of my favorite stories in the book is about one of the author’s own baking disasters. When Deb was preparing a triple layer cake for dinner guests, she didn’t shave off the mounded center of each layer before frosting and stacking. The chocolate treat looked magnificent for a minute, but then the top two layers split in half. Crumbs and frosting landed everywhere. She managed to salvage the dessert by shaving off the rounded tops and piecing it all back together with more frosting. When she was finished, no one could tell that it had been a near disaster. Deb tells us that is how God’s grace is: “When we fail, when we make mistakes, when we crumble under the weight of our sins, our heavenly Father lavishes His thick, indulgent grace upon us. He covers our sins and forgives us through Christ’s atonement on the cross.”

Deb explores rich Scriptures about God’s endless supply of grace to us and how we can share that grace with others. The study talks about our cravings and finding satisfaction in Christ. It explores the bitter bites of life and the sweet surrender of our hearts to God’s plan. Throughout the book readers are encouraged to dig into the Bible and memorize meaningful bites of it. Discussion and reflection questions are present throughout.

While this study would certainly be meaningful to complete on my own, I can’t wait to do it with my small group because it is also filled with scrumptious recipes for decadent chocolate treats like her Extravagant Chocolate Three-Layer Cake, Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Triple Chocolate Rocky Road Brownie Pizza. It would be so much fun to make one of these treats each week to share with the women in my group as we share encouragement and hope.

About Deb Burma:

debburmaDeb Burma has a passion for sharing Christ’s love through the study of God’s Word. Whether she’s speaking, leading women’s ministry groups, or writing, her creative and engaging style touches the hearts of women and meets them in the moments of their everyday lives. Deb travels across the country and internationally as a leader and guest speaker for women’s ministry retreats, conferences, and special events. She is also the author of Bible studies and retreat kits, devotion books and the Christian-living/Bible study book “Stepping Out: To a Life on the Edge”, all published by Concordia Publishing House. Currently, Deb is also a women’s Bible study leader and a Youth Ministry leader at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska, where her husband, Cory, serves as pastor. They are blessed with three beautiful children: Chris, Courtney, and Cameron. Learn more about Deb on her blog Fragrant Offerings

Book Review: Listen In

 

 

Conversations that go deep

Every woman longs to be heard, seen and fully known by other women. One of the best ways to encourage this kind of discovery is through conversations that matter.

quote from Listen In: Building Faith and Friendship Through Conversations That Matter

We all want relationships that go deep. Yet too often our conversations stay on the surface. We talk about what preschool we chose for our three-year-old. We exchange opinions on the latest movies. We share what we’re making for dinner tonight. But we don’t always talk about the hurts in our hearts or the painful circumstances that have shaped our souls.

The book: Listen In wants to change that. It is a unique book that allows us to actually listen in on the deep conversations between three friends. The authors–Rachael Crabb, Sonya Reeder, and Diana Calvin–help each other grow closer to God through authentic communication combined with thoughtful listening and gentle questions.

The authors encourage us to:

Imagine conversations that draw you deeper into relationships that lovingly stir repentance, that open doors to experiencing more of God’s mercy and grace, and that awaken you to the thrilling awareness of the beauty his amazing grace has already placed deep in your being.

The book is written in conversational form. We are like a fly on the wall as each woman takes a turn at telling about a significant event in her life–one that has had a hand in shaping her identity. The other two women listen intently and ask questions like: “What did you grow up believing about yourself?” “What were you thinking in your internal world?” “How have you repented?” “Where are you now?”

Each conversation leads to a revelation of a broken place in one woman’s life. Through loving questions and support, the conversations uncover a redeeming grace that has come out of the brokenness.

These are the kinds of conversations we’d all like to have with our best friends over steaming cups of tea. The book is designed to help all of us do that. The authors outline five key ingredients to meaningful conversations:

  1. Identify an intentional purpose.
  2. Tune in to present experience.
  3. Be curious and offer feedback.
  4. Explore shaping events.
  5. Create a vision.

The book is laid out in a format conducive to small group participation. Six chapters of readings and discussion questions could mean six weeks of learning and experiencing your own meaningful conversations.

One quibble about the book. I wish the introduction had given more information about the process. In particular, I didn’t catch on right away that there were three main conversations explored in the book and that each conversation began with one of the women sharing a painful event in her life. I would have found that information helpful from the beginning, but perhaps the authors wanted the reader to experience the conversations as they happened without knowing details in advance.

Overall, I think the book does an excellent job at encouraging women to go beyond surface relationships and giving us the tools to do just that.

Listen In is a wonderful resource for women who want to deepen their relationships with God and their sisters in Christ. 

Listen In: Building Faith and Friendship Through Conversations That Matter is available here.

Listen In

Book Review: Fight Back With Joy

HowToFightBackWithJoy“More than whimsy, joy is a weapon we use to fight life’s battles.”

Author Margaret Feinberg makes this profound observation in her new book Fight Back With Joy.

Her journey with joy began by choosing “joy” as her one word for the year. She expected the year to be a mix of giddy feelings, spreading kindness, and banning worry. But in the middle of this year of joy, life threw another ingredient into the mix: cancer. Not a very common ingredient in a recipe for joy. Fight Back With Joy is Margaret’s story of how she found joy in the midst of pain.

But the book isn’t just a retelling of Margaret’s battle with cancer. Instead, she writes for all of us who fight for joy in our life battles with money troubles, broken relationships, and painful loneliness. Through her story and the stories of other joy-fighters in Scripture, Margaret gives all of us the tools to discover joy in the midst of life’s heartaches.

Margaret writes:

The Bible insists that joy is more than a feeling: it’s an action. We don’t just sense joy; we embody it by the way we respond to the circumstances before us.

What is the genesis of joy? I believe that, at its core, joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us.

This resonates with me because I have found this to be true. If I simply take time to remember God’s fierce love even when deadlines loom, over-packed schedules crush my soul, and life comes crashing in, I am comforted. When I take the time to hear God whisper, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) my heart pushes back the deadlines, the busyness, and the looming darkness to rest in the joy of God’s grace.

Margaret reminds us that no matter what life brings, God can help us fight our way back to joy. Her book and Bible study give us the tools to win the battle.

Purchase the book here and here and the Bible study here!

Question: How do you fight for joy?

Book Review: Storm Sisters

What exactly is a storm sister?

Read author Afton Rorvik’s definition:

Storm Sister (n)–a friend who sticks close when storms hit her friend’s life. Such a friend might also go by the title of sister, longtime friend, rediscovered friend, or acquaintance who offers or accepts friendship in a crisis. This type of friendship particularly thrives among women connected first to God.

We have all had times in our lives when we needed someone to stand by us. When a child was ill or a parent was dying or we were struggling with the darkness of depression. Thank God for  storm sisters!

There are also times when we need to be that storm sister. But sometimes it is difficult to know what to do for a friend who is struggling with tough times in her life. We are not sure what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do.

Afton Rorvik’s book teaches us how to step gently into the lives of those who are hurting. Through her own story of storm sisterhood, she demonstrates how to give meaningful help.

The book was born out of the author’s own experience as she watched her mother die of a rare neurological disease at about the same time a close friend found out her three-year-old had a brain tumor. These two friends learned how to support each other through the aches of life. Now Afton is sharing what she learned.

The book is full of beautiful sisterhood stories and practical advice. It is both an intimate journey of Afton’s own experiences and practical help for those who want to be a storm sister. One part of the book I especially liked was “What if” questions at the end of every chapter. For example:

What if?

We all struggle to recognize and admit our need. What might happen if in just one friendship, you both found the courage to speak of your deep-down needs?

At the end of the book you will also find reflection/discussion questions and an exploration of what the Bible has to say on the subject.

This book would be an excellent choice for a book club or Bible study group. It is helpful for every woman who has a hurting friend.

But even if you don’t need advice on how to help a storm sister, it is a beautiful story of the relationship a mother and daughter supported by a myriad of friends.

Question: Who has been a storm sister for you?

Favorite Books of 2014

good book

It is probably no surprise that reading is one of my favorite pastimes. Just opening a book fills me with expectation of a good story or of life-changing lessons. I can take a journey without even leaving my family room.

I love the quote:

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
–Vera Nazarian

Isn’t it true that when you read a good book, your life is given a little more understanding, a little more compassion, a little more light.

I’ve read a lot of good books this year, but I thought I would share a few of my favorites of 2014 three fiction and three non-fiction.

Fiction

Redeeming Love is by one of my favorite Christan fiction writers, Francine Rivers.It’s a powerful retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea. I was especially drawn to the story because it is about a human-trafficking victim, but it also blends in historical facts of the California Gold Rush. Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

 

I loved Jan Karon’s Mitford series so much that I read the whole set twice. So when I heard that she was writing another book in the series, I knew I had to read it. Once again, Karon draws you into characters that are real–flawed but loveable. In Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good Father Tim is retired and struggles to find new meaning for his life. He discovers that God can use someone even when they are not in the pulpit.

 

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron weaves a modern story of an art dealer looking for a painting of a concentration camp victim playing the violin and the historical story of the woman in the painting. Although it is dark at times, there is hope throughout.

 

 

 

 

Non-Fiction

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith is an engrossing and challenging book. Jen Pollock Michel writes a theology of desire explored through the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Desire has been a topic I have long struggled with. Teach Us to Want untangled a lot of my thoughts on the subject. In fact, I plan to read it again for it teaches us how to want well.

 

In Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirsty Soul, author Donna Pyle leads us to drink from God’s wellspring of life. She tells how we can quench our thirst with a long drink of God’s goodness and grace. Donna explores Scriptures that have a water theme like the woman at the well, the man at the pool of Bethesda, David at the brook of Besor.

 

I started reading Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in preparation for the new book I am writing. But I came back to it again and again for my own spiritual growth. Calhoun gently guides the reader into a closer relationship with the Almighty God through spiritual practices. As I met with God in solitude and spiritual retreat, Bible study and prayer, I was truly transformed.

 

 

Happy reading!

Question: What was your favorite book of 2014?

Book Review: Teach Us to Want

Many, like me, imagine desire and faith in a boxing ring, facing off like opponents.

Jen Pollock Michel makes that statement in the first chapter of her book, Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith. This engrossing and challenging book is a theology of desire explored through the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

I, too, have seen desire and faith as opponents: my old self wanting my desires to win and my new self rooting for faith. I have often complained that I have a dysfunctional “wanter.” After all, my health would be so much better if I wanted to do push-ups and eat salad instead of craving couch time and Mint Moose Tracks ice cream. My spiritual life would be easier if I only desired what God desired. In fact, maybe life would be better if I simply didn’t have any desires.

But Michel makes the case that desires are a natural part of us. Without desire we don’t have the fuel to move ahead in life. Our unique desires are part of who we are. Yes, our “wanters” can be corrupted, and so we must be careful to guard our hearts, but desire can be what draws us closer to God.

Reading Teach Us to Want helped me learn a lot of desire:

  • Desire pulls us to our heavenly Father as we pray for what we need.
  • Examining our desires can lead to self-discovery and transformation.
  • Unmet desire is a training program for learning to trust a gracious God.
  • We want too much and we want too little.
  • It is not self-effort that recalibrates our wanters. Only God’s grace can turn our heart’s desires toward His kingdom.

Desire has been a topic I have long struggled with. Teach Us to Want untangled a lot of my thoughts on the subject. In fact, now that I have finished reading it, I plan to read it again. It is a meaty book, filled with honest transparency and personal stories.

I think this quote from the last chapter sums up Teach Us to Want:

There is a biblical case for wanting and wanting well…Although easily corrupted, desire is good, right and necessary. It is a force of movement in our lives, a means of transportation. It can be the very thing that motivates us to change and that carries us to God…Growing into maturity doesn’t mean abandoning our desires, but growing in our discernment of them.

Check out Teach Us to Want on Amazon.

Jen Pollock Michel is a writer, speaker, and mother of five. She is a regular contributor for Christianity Today’s her.meneutics and also writes for Today in the Word, a monthly devotional published by The Moody Bible Institute.  Jen earned her B.A. in French from Wheaton College and her M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her family and blogs at jenpollockmichel.com. You can follow Jen on Twitter @jenpmichel.