Archive for 'Non-Fiction'

Review: Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas

Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas (ISBN: 978-0-310-29081-0)

I had the privilege of getting a review copy of Gary Thomas’ latest book Every Body Matters. I was eager to read this book, since Thomas is the author of one of my all-time favorite books “Sacred Pathways”.

Since, 66% of the US population is overweight (and many more struggle without being overweight), this is a very timely message that needs to be discussed. The very real battle in maintaining our temples has profound spiritual implications. This book in many ways is the start of a conversation, asking “Have you considered the spiritual impact of your diet / fitness habits? “Are you engaged in the battle to present your best self to be used by God?” “Do you believe that God desires to use you for noble purposes?” “Where should health / fitness be on our priority list?” As Christians, we should wrestle with how the answers to these questions should impact our daily routines / habits.

Mr. Thomas passion for this topic is penetrating, it practically jumps off the page screaming “Please Listen — your temple matters, start the journey, begin to fight, don’t give up, God wants to use you!” This is not the kind of book you should just read, nod your head in agreement and go on with your day. No, it’s a book that asks you to wrestle with the topic and start fighting the battle on a daily moment-by-moment basis. God’s spirit can use this message to encourage, convict and empower the reader.

I got a lot out of this book, both in encouragement and motivation to continue on my life journey closer to Christ. I thought the most important starting place is asking ourselves:
Do I believe God when he says he has a plan for my life? Do I believe He wants to use me for noble purposes? What is my part in making myself a more usable instrument? Our temple is a great starting place to show that we are faithful stewards of our lives (body, mind and spirit).

Thomas talks about this point on pg. 20 saying:

Christians who don’t take their health seriously don’t take their mission seriously. What we’re saying by our action is, “My life doesn’t really matter.” But because of the ability of God to work powerfully in any repentant sinner’s life, every body does matter.

There were many good points and takeaways that can be directly applied to ones life, such as:

Gain a future mindset: (Pg. 96)

Bad habits provide instantaneous gratification vs’ the slow reward of good habits. This is the challenge that this battle is fought in the moment, but the rewards (weight loss, energy, clarity of mind, spiritual depth) may not be observed for many months later. That’s a lot of fighting, stress, battle when the reward for giving in to temptation is immediate. So, we have to focus our minds on the hope of the future reward.

Take advantage of positive momentum in building new habits: (pg.162)

Most of us when attempting to wrestle with our health struggles — try for a couple weeks with new healthy habits (perhaps as part of a new years resolution) and then give up accepting the fight can’t be won. However, if we had just persevered for a few more days or weeks to make the 3 or so week threshold the fight will get easier. Positive momentum will begin to build as the new behaviors are no longer struggles but habits on auto-pilot. The battle is not over, but is considerably lessened.

Create Boundaries around New Habits: (Pg. 162)

Don’t go more than two days slipping into old behaviors (skipping exercise, overeating, excess snacking, etc.) or you will be on the road to making them daily habits. The longer you slip into old patterns the harder it is again to break free.

Begin the Process of “Sin Killing”: (pg. 178-180) (I thought this was very helpful regardless of what the sin is. ).

Taste the Bitterness of Sin
– Think and feel the remorse, shame, pain and bitter ugliness of sin.

Examine the Deceit behind sin
– Ask yourself the question: What is the lasting value in Sin? We are deceived into believing that the instantaneous gratification is better than the lasting value of obedience.

Consider the circumstances of your sin?
– What scenario makes it more likely that you’ll be weak / vulnerable to a particular sin? Is it how you feel? Your circumstances? Time of the day? Then become prepared for this inevitable battle, before it defeats you — again!

Use the exposure that sin provides to gain a more accurate view of the conditioning of your soul
– Gain an accurate assessment of yourself based on the sinful behavior to fully recognize how contrary it is to what God wants for us.

Consider the strength of your sin
– Did this sin occur in a rare weak moment or are you out of control in this area (and risk being destroyed by it)? If this is a very strong sin in your life seek help to make the chance for freedom greater.

Find a Holy Substitute
– Replace the sin with a positive alternative. Being prepared with an alternative activity, food or approach will make winning the battle easier.

Fortify your soul
– Adopt habits that will nurture your soul, such as spiritual disciplines, meditating on scripture, listening to sermons, reading books, etc. Create a “spiritual workout” for your soul.

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I ended up with many quotes and tips captured in my notes from the book; I think this book makes a great reference on the topic of our “temple”. Some of the takeaways for me were simple actions, like memorizing 2 Timothy 2:20-21 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 to adding in new boundaries in my life through the “Sin Killing” process, such as: I won’t use the internet until I’ve completed my Bible Study and Exercise for the day, since I could see that was an area I could waste time in instead of using my time more wisely. I also have been careful not to miss more than 2 days in a row in my new habits, because I can see more clearly how that creates a trend of bad habits.

If you read this book and are willing to make an honest assessment of your life, I think you too will find it has many practical applications that will prove to be life changing.

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I received a review copy from the publisher, Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Book Review: Max on Life by Max Lucado

This book is a Q&A book on the many different types of questions that Max has been asked over the years.

This is typical Max Lucado style, which is as if he’s talking to a friend. It’s a little folksy, but that’s what I think is so appealing about him. The answers are often intertwined with a story to make the point more clearly understandable.

To the questions: there is a wide range of topics in 7 categories all starting with H (he’s obviously got the Pastor alliteration gift down 🙂 ) Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Have/Have-Nots and Hereafter.

There is a nice index to the book both by topic and by scripture index.

I noticed sometimes the questions seem to be very similar, but are covering different nuances of a topic. For example (this is my quick summary of the questions, the actual questions are much more detailed): 13 – How to forgive myself, 14 – How to get over fear that God might not forgive me, 15 – What to do when doubting forgiveness, etc.

Occasionally, the answer leaned on Christian platitudes and didn’t quite seem complete to me.

All-in-all I think this book would have a wide appeal, since it covers questions that we’ve all asked from time-to-time. Also, it’s helpful to have a thoughtful answer to give to others who are questioning or hurting. It’s a good reference book.

This would make a nice devotional as well, since it covers a wide variety of topics and gives insightful answers from Max that draw the reader to want to know God more.

I received a review copy from the publishers, Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

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