Christian psychologists, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, present biblical principles for nurturing moral character and responsible behavior in children.
Archive for Adult Book Reviews
Boundaries With Kids: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (c1998)Posted by: csatta | February 5, 2012 | No Comment |
Louie Zamperini, Olympic runner, joins the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941. As a bombadier aboard a B-24, he defies death and escapes enemy fire while flying dangerous missions. Nevertheless, the day comes when his plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean, and Louie must survive the terrors of the open waters as well as enemy-occupied land.
Never was there a more fitting title for a book. Louie’s spirit, from childhood on, was indomitable. Yet the unimaginable things he experienced during World War II brought him to the brink of destruction. Like many war veterans, his body returned from the war but his mind and spirit were not at peace. That is, until one blinding moment of redemption, when everything changed for Louie Zamperini.
In true John Piper style, this book is both scholarly and practical. (John Piper might say that the whole point of this book is that scholarship is very practical!)
On the scholarly side, the author makes a case against relativism and Christian anti-intellectualism and discusses the role of thinking when a person comes to faith.
Most meaningful to me was Piper’s teaching on what it means to love God with our all our minds.
“I wrote this book to remind myself of the place of thinking in the pursuit of God.” (p. 18)
“Thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God. Thinking is not an end in itself. Nothing but God himself is finally an end in itself. Thinking is not the goal in life. Thinking, like nonthinking, can be the ground for boasting. Thinking, without prayer, without the Holy Spirit, without obedience, without love, will puff up and destroy (1 Cor. 8:1). But thinking under the mighty hand of God, thinking soaked in prayer, thinking carried by the Holy Spirit, thinking tethered to the Bible, thinking in pursuit of more reasons to praise and proclaim the glories of God, thinking in the service of love–such thinking is indispensable in a life of fullest praise to God.” (p.27)
“. . . the mind is mainly the servant of the heart. That is, the mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart. The apex of glorifying God is enjoying him with the heart. But this is an empty emotionalism where that job is not awakened and sustained by true views of God for who he really is.” (p.36-37)
“Thinking and knowing are given to us by God for the purpose of loving God and loving people.” (p.160)
“Without a profound work of grace in the heart , knowledge–the fruit of thinking–puffs up. But with that grace, thinking opens the door of humble knowledge. And that knowledge is the fuel of the fire of love for God and man. If we turn away from serious thinking in our pursuit of God, that fire will eventually go out.”
It’s 1962, and aspiring author, Skeeter Phelan, decides to write a book about the experiences of black maids working for white employers in Jackson, Mississippi.
As a well-to-do native of Jackson, Skeeter was lovingly raised by a black maid. Although she is sympathetic to the winds of social change, Skeeter finds it difficult to gain the trust of the maids who fear the potentially horrific backlash for their truth-telling.
Skeeter’s own social life is up-ended as she increasingly distances herself from people who treat blacks as inferior or who do not have the moral courage to care or help bring about change.
Told in the first person with alternating chapters for “Miss Skeeter” and two of the maids, Aibilene and Minny, the immediacy of the story draws the reader into the maids’ world as well as that of a white woman who witnesses things from both sides of the fence.
Although significant events such as the murder of Medgar Evers are interjected, the story mainly focuses on these hard-working women–the injustices they faced as well as the loving bonds forged with some of their employers’ family members.
The author, Kathryn Stockett, was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and was sweetly nurtured by a black maid named Demetrie. Kathryn says, in her own words at the end of the book,
I’m pretty sure I can say that no one in my family ever asked Demetrie what it felt like to be black in Mississippi, working for our white family. . . . I have wished, for many years, that I’d been old enough and thoughtful enough to ask Demetrie that question. She died when I was sixteen. I’ve spent years imagining what her answer would be, and that is why I wrote this book.
This #1 New York Times bestseller let me “walk in another man’s moccasins.” I’m grateful for that.
I object to the prurient incident of a naked house intruder. In addition, although the considerable amount of swearing is probably authentic, I wish that my Lord’s name had not been taken in vain.
“The highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display.” (p.25)
“When sin entered the world, it ruined the harmony of marriage not because it brought headship and submission into existence, but because it twisted man’s humble, loving headship toward hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. And it twisted woman’s intelligent, willing, happy, creative, articulate submission toward manipulative obsequiousness in some women and brazen insubordination in others. Sin didn’t create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive.” (p.79)
“Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.” (p.80)
“. . . faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is.” (p.114)
When God Comes Calling: A Journey of Faith . . . Wall Street to the World, by Ted Fletcher (2010, updated ed.)Posted by: csatta | June 20, 2011 | No Comment |
This inspiring autobiography chronicles the life of Ted Fletcher as well as the birth and growth of Pioneers, a mission organization founded by Ted and his wife, Peggy, in 1979.
While serving as a Marine in the Korean War, Ted heard Billy Graham present the gospel to the troops. Ted surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.
During the years Ted worked as a business executive with Mobil and The Wall Street Journal, God challenged Ted and Peggy concerning the Great Commission and they longed to become more personally involved in missions.
Ted and Peggy applied to various mission organizations but did not meet their qualifications for various reasons, so they resolved to support, pray for, and host in their home as many missionaries as possible.
Nevertheless, Ted sensed that God spoke directly to him with a promise from Psalm 2:8: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (NIV)
By faith, Ted resigned from The Wall Street Journal and waited upon the Lord for the next step. Again Ted and Peggy applied to a mission board and were rejected. Then a friend asked, “Why don’t you start your own mission board?”
Not long after, World Evangelical Outreach was born. At the very first board meeting, they decided that prayer was to be their priority: “Prayer is always to be the first priority, the highest purpose, the moving force, the vital energizer of this Mission” (p.54).
Ted met with Dr. Raph Winter, a world-renowned missiologist and founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission. Dr. Winter had identified 5 major blocs of “hidden peoples” (Chinese, Muslin, Hindu, Buddhist, and Tribal), and so it was decided to emphasize these unreached peoples and to recruit new missionaries to go to them.
Over the years, the mission board’s focus became more defined and the name was changed to Pioneers “to reflect our desire not to follow the worn paths, but to blaze new ones” (p.77).
The mission statement was fine-tuned to be as follows: “Pioneers mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches” (p.87).
After Ted suffered a massive heart attack in 1986, it became clear that he needed to decrease his responsibilities. In 1988, his son John took over as general director. In 1999, John stepped down and Steve Richardson took his place as president of the U.S. operations of Pioneers.
Ted put his energies into recruiting missionaries and loved it. He believed that although missionaries had restricted access to certain countries, a country could not be “closed” to the Lord.
Ted recounts many thrilling stories of both the hardships and spiritual breakthroughs experienced by Pioneers missionaries around the world.
The Lord chose to call Ted home to heaven in 2003, but his words of exhortation still ring from the pages of this book: “Will you go where no one has gone before? Will you help send the Gospel to the ends of the earth?” (p.130)
This updated version includes several chapters written by Peggy Fletcher in which she describes the last few years of Ted’s life and the on-going work of Pioneers during the last decade.
Speaking the Truth in Love: How to be an Assertive Christian, by Ruth Koch and Kenneth C. Haugk (c1992)Posted by: csatta | June 8, 2011 | No Comment |
Should Christians be assertive? Is that biblical?
“Many Christians have been trained from early childhood to focus on the Bible passages that deal with meekness, submission, and self-denial. And that emphasis is certainly necessary to balance the Old Adam, which Scripture describes as selfish and self-serving, always in opposition to God. . . . But [w]hen you focus only on passages about humility, your spiritual vision may become too blurred to see the passages that urge you to value yourself as God does, to take hold of your life and be responsible for your choices . . . .” (pp.67-68)
The authors suggest that when Christians are assertive, they experience freedom and build healthy relationships.
“Assertiveness helps balance God-pleasing humility with God-pleasing self-esteem so that you honor the rights of others while you honor yourself . . . . to be assertive means to be response-able, able to respond to life, able to make choices, able to be strong and capable, because God’s power is alive in you.” (p. 70)
First, the authors define assertiveness in contrast to passive and aggressive behavior and explain why it is biblical. Next, they provide techniques for being assertive–deciding when it is appropriate to be assertive, what to say and how to act. Finally, they apply the techniques to the following scenarios : 1) making, granting, refusing or negotiating requests, 2) offering and receiving criticism, 3) expressing and receiving anger, 4)offering and receiving compliments and appreciation, and 5) expressing and receiving affection.
Appendix A includes an assertiveness inventory to help the reader determine what situations are likely to bring out passive, assertive, or aggressive behavior by that individual. Appendix B lists basic human rights such as “Each person has the right to be treated respectfully.”
James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (NIV)
Nonviolent Communication is not written from a biblical perspective, but it does offer some keen insights into how listening, speaking, and anger can be intertwined.
Rosenberg explains why it is important for each person to take responsibility for their own feelings. He contends that “what others say and do may be the stimulus, but never the cause of our feelings.” (p.49) “Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment.” (p.147)
In order to be emotionally free, we must “take responsibility for our own intentions and actions” on the one hand while “we respond to the needs of others out of compassion, never out of fear, guilt, or shame.” (p.60)
Nonviolent communication “guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others. Instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting. We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention. In any exchange, we come to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. . . .” (p.3)
The nonviolent communication process involves expressing 4 pieces of information and also receiving the same 4 pieces of information from others:
1. The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being
2. How we feel in relation to what we are observing
3. The needs, values, desires, etc., that are creating our feelings
4. The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives
As a woman, I relate to what Rosenberg says about expressing the needs behind my feelings :
“For centuries, the image of the loving woman has been associated with sacrifice and the denial of her own needs to take care of others. Because women are socialized to view the care taking of others as their highest duty, they have often learned to ignore their own needs.
At one workshop, we discussed what happens to women who internalize such beliefs. These women, if they ask for what they want, will often do so in a way that both reflects and reinforces the beliefs that they have no genuine right to their needs, and that their needs are unimportant. For example, because she is fearful of asking for what she needs, a woman may fail to simply say that she’s had a busy day, is feeling tired and wants some time in the evening to herself; instead, her words come out sounding like a legal case: “You know I haven’t had a moment to myself all day, I ironed all the shirts, did the whole week’s laundry, took the dog to the vet, made dinner, packed the lunches, and called all the neighbors about the block meeting so [imploringly] . . . .so how about if you . . . ? “No!” comes the swift response. Her plaintive request elicits resistance rather than compassion from her listeners. They have difficulty hearing and valuing the needs behind her pleas, and furthermore react negatively to her weak attempt to argue from a position of what she “should” or “deserves” to get from them. In the end the speaker is again persuaded that her needs don’t matter, not realizing they they were expressed in a way unlikely to draw a positive response.”
Rosenberg warns that “if we don’t value our needs, others may not either.”(p.56)
The author teaches how to listen to someone with empathy rather than trying to fix a problem or make that person feel better.
Christians may not agree with everything in this book (such as the effects of corporal punishment), but Rosenberg does provide the reader with a helpful tool chest of communication skills for building healthier relationships and a happier life.
The Proverbs 31 Lady and Other Impossible Dreams is a story about a housewife who discovers Proverbs 31 and begins a one-year journey toward becoming a refined woman in Christ.
Her story begins with a loving but chaotic home life that includes her husband and three boys. The chaos is written somewhat over the top to make a point about what is actually quite close to truth in many households not ordered in Christ.
Then one night over a bowl of popcorn the wife discovers Proverbs 31 and thus begins her journey.
From the Forward, “ As this one frail modern woman seeks to brighten the corner of her world……she makes an exciting discovery. The more she tries, and fails, to be like [the Proverbs 31 lady] the more she becomes [her] through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unaware of the changes within herself, she is only aware of the change in other people—-especially her family. And in the end it is her husband, the one she thinks she has failed the most, who reveals the truth to her:
There are many fine women in the world but you are the best of them all.
This story is feminine mystique as God ordained it, the liberated woman explained from the biblical perspective, the search for self-esteem outlined for the humblest reader. One will find in this book the meaning of existence with eternity in view and help for real and imagined hurts.”
I must admit I was at first skeptical about this book as the amout of chaos in the main character’s home life was almost too much to bear as a reader! Further, in her attempt to become the perfect Proverbs 31 lady, her initial “stabs” at it were often painfully…..well, painful. In truth, though, the author is showing us how we can act out of vanity rather than a true understanding of the word.
In the book Preface, Ralph Osborne explains it well when he writes, “Proverbs 31 has been both a marvelous model for the Christian wife and the cause of more guilt for her than anything else. When those verses become the pattern for a do-it-yourself project, frustration, guilt and disillusionment can only result. When seen as what the power of the Holy Spirit can accomplish, those same verses are winsome and hope-filled.”
While we watch the housewife stumble through her journey, we see her become this beautiful Christ-like woman who is modeled after the Proverbs 31 lady. She makes an important revelation that struck a cord with me: you do not create fruit, you bear fruit.
She is not perfect, but she has become more Christ-like and she and her family enjoy the fruits of her labor and journey. She transforms from what started as a women who was more of a bull in a china shop to a woman with immeasurable grace under fire.
In the end, I found this book to be delightful and I definitely recommend it. Some of the transitions are a little awkward, but the year-long journey the author takes us on is well worth the read. I would also recommend first reading Proverbs 31 so you better understand the premise of the book.
Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud discusses 9 principles that he believes are commonly understood and followed by successful people:
- Listen to your heart’s desire.
- Eliminate negative forces.
- Choose the future by acting well in the present.
- Take action and responsibility.
- Make progress one step at a time.
- Hate the right things in the right way.
- Give back better than you are given.
- Be humble.
- Do not make decisions based on the fear of other people’s reactions.
This is a more brief (119 pages) graduate edition of 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life: A Psychologist Probes the Mystery of Why Some Lives Really Work and Others Don’t.
As a middle-aged person, I sense the wisdom in these 9 principles and wish someone had given me this book when I graduated. Would I have paid attention to them way back then? I hope so. Will I let them change me now? I pray so.
- Adult Book Reviews
- Adventure Stories
- Award-winning books
- Caldecott Medal/Honor
- Christian Fiction
- Christian Nonfiction
- Elementary Book Reviews
- Fairy Tales
- Graphic Books
- High School Book Reviews
- Historical Fiction
- Holiday stories
- Humorous stories
- Middle School Book Reviews
- Multicultural stories
- Newbery Medal/Honor
- Picture Books
- Realistic fiction
- Scarey stories
- Science Fiction
- Survival Stories
- Teaching with Books
- War stories
- Early Reader
- Early Readers
- Lower-Elementary Books
- Picture Books
- Short Chapter Books
- Short Chapter Books
- Upper Elementary Books
- Early Readers