Book Review: The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do

Image of The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do
by Kathie Reimer, Lisa Whittle
Shepherd Press 2007
Paperback 190

I am currently leading a group of ladies in a study on consecration, using Havergal’s Kept for the Master’s Use (a verse by verse discussion of her hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be”). The chapter we are now perusing has to do with the line, “Take my will and make it thine—it shall be no longer mine.” That, in essence, is the theme of this book. Though the idea of self denial is not one that has women alone in the Scripture’s crosshairs, Kathie Reimer and her daughter, Lisa Whittle, discuss from a feminine viewpoint seven seeming paradoxes in the Word of God:

  • Have a single focus, yet multi-task
  • Be tolerant toward some things, yet intolerant toward others
  • Fail, and simultaneously succeed
  • Proceed, while also waiting
  • Hold on and, in turn, let go
  • Lead, and still follow
  • Die, and consequently, live more abundantly

An apt sub-title for this book would be, What It Looks Like for Christian Women to Deny Self

Strengths

The chapters themselves are not deep in scriptural discussion for the most part, although Kathie (my favorite of the two authors) tends to offer more to chew on. Most of the book consists in offering what Kathie calls “snapshots” (ch. 7) of how dethroning self will appear in the life of the woman desiring to follow Christ.

If you are looking for sermon illustrations on the topic, this book is chock full of them. There are also some pithy one-liners such as, “Faith is confidence that something or someone is reliable” (p. 157); “The journey to the end of ourselves is a great and necessary place for all of us to go” (p. 78); “Your tongue, when unregulated, is a natural disaster” (p. 52); and “The one last human freedom that remains available to a man, after everything else has been stripped from him is his ability to choose the way he will react to his circumstances” (here quoting Dr. Viktor Frankl, p. 29).

I liked Lisa’s take on submission in Chapter 6 (“Lead and Follow”):

For many of us wives, our view of being submissive to our husbands tends to be somewhat skewed. We look at it as intrusive, controlling, humiliating; but it is not. Submission requires strength, not weakness. It takes courage. It requires a strong belief and trust that God knew what he was doing when he established this ‘chain of command’ back in the days of Adam and Eve. (p. 155)

I was pleased that each chapter offers a substantial list of Scriptures for further study, along with application questions. My inclination would have been to spend more time discussing these verses, rather than offering so many personal sketches for observation.

The final chapter (“Die and Live”) is, appropriately, the most lengthy. I feel it would also have been effective to place it first. The question of dying to self and living unto God really provides the tools for success in the other six contrasting areas.

I enjoyed Kathie’s application of each of the preceding “hard things” and how they come into play with regard to what some often see as the hardest thing—sharing our faith. Readers will find good scriptural discussion from the Gospels there.

Weaknesses

One thing I found objectionable was a repeated setting up by both authors of Mother Teresa as an example. Yes, she led a sacrificial life, but for what purpose? With what ultimate motivation? Where is she now? Are there not good, solid, evangelical heroes of the faith to choose from without looking to the Roman Catholic Church? Someone else who worked selflessly in Mother Teresa’s native India comes to mind: missionary Amy Carmichael.

Various translations (NKJV, KJV, NIV, NASB, NLT) are used in the book. Discussions of particular Scriptures that were weak at times, or absent altogether. For instance, in explaining Colossians 3:2 in Chapter 1, Kathie states that setting your affections on things above means “to fall deeply in love with Jesus”—an expression that is not only inaccurate in this case, but which also uses a sentimentality that makes me squirm. She further refers to Jesus as “our loving, heavenly parent.” Parent? These references are both in the first chapter, which made me wonder if I was to slog through this type of thing throughout the whole book. Later on, Kathie posits of Psalm 55:22,

To all of us Jesus says, “Cast your burdens and cares upon me—and I will sustain you”—a promise from the one who cannot lie. To “cast” means we have to let go [I understand this to be correctly translated “to throw or fling”, which has a very different dynamic], and, like so many other verses in the Bible, this one is very likely a continuing action verb, not just a one-time-will-do-it word.” (p. 110, emphasis mine)

Jesus says? And, I wonder—is there a reason we are guessing about verb tenses? I understand this meaning could be implied, but she develops this idea of continued action even further, so would it not have been the better part of wisdom to find out for sure first? These “warm fuzzies” and “guesstimations” are what drive me away from this type of book and toward plain old study tools, time and time again.

I sensed a bit of incongruence between mother and daughter on the concept of self love/self hatred. Kathie tends to lay it out in Jim Berg-like fashion (low “self esteem” is rooted in covetous comparison and a selfish sense of entitlement), while Lisa addresses self-hatred as being a viable something that springs from self love (p. 55). It came across as sort of a psycho-babble/biblical counseling hybrid. I have perceived from various books and biblical counseling materials that self-loathing is not hatred at all, but rather a morbidly ironic manifestation of loving one’s self exceedingly. “I want________ to change; I don’t have ________; I’ll never be ____________” all seem to be at the root. This is self absorption masquerading in martyr’s clothes, a self-deception the Adversary relishes, no doubt. I’m with Kathie on this one.

Toward the end of the book, there is an interesting illustration regarding da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

He asked a friend for an evaluation. The friend heaped superlatives on the masterpiece and especially praised the wine cup by the Lord’s hand. At that point, Leonardo da Vinci blotted out the cup. “Nothing,” he was said to have answered, “should distract one’s attention from the Lord.” (p 149)

This was my own personal paradox while reading this book—experiencing a draw toward spiritual ideas while often feeling distracted away from the Scriptures by creative analogies and entertaining or touching stories. Analogy and illustrations have their place, without a doubt, but I was disappointed that the greater portion of the book was typified by this, rather than deliberate inviting of the reader into a prevailing, deeper understanding of what Scripture says. I think I’ll stick to my friends, the dead guys.


Diane Heeney is a stay-at-home mom, who enjoys some freelance writing, blogging, and speaking for ladies’ retreats and functions. She received her BA (Church Ministries) in ‘85 grad from Bob Jones University and went on to serve at BJU as a secretary in the Extension office and later as Director of Girl’s Extension Ministries. Diane and her husband Patrick have helped a number of churches in the past 16 years, and are now assisting the ministry of a growing church in Lander, Wyoming. They have three children: Erin (breathlessly awaiting 13), Michael (all camo, all the time at 9), and Kate (their sweet surprise, now 3 yrs old).

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There are 52 Comments

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I've noticed that you and I agree about the sentimentality and cuteness that seems to characterize much of what is offered to women in books, Bible studies, and devotional guides- the whole Lace Doily Sprinkled with Potpourri approach, as if women don't want meat- we want crustless cucumber and watercress sandwiches. Ick.

WE WANT STEAK! WE WANT STEAK! http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-eatdrink053.gif[/img ]

I loved the list of seven paradoxes. How absolutely true.

Quote:
Kathie tends to lay it out in Jim Berg-like fashion (low “self esteem” is rooted in covetous comparison and a selfish sense of entitlement)... I have perceived from various books and biblical counseling materials that self-loathing is not hatred at all, but rather a morbidly ironic manifestation of loving one’s self exceedingly. “I want________ to change; I don’t have ________; I’ll never be ____________” all seem to be at the root. This is self absorption masquerading in martyr’s clothes, a self-deception the Adversary relishes, no doubt. I’m with Kathie on this one.

I agree with this interpretation.

Is this the same Kathie Reimer that wrote [URL=http://www.amazon.com/1001-Ways-Introduce-Child-Bible/dp/080543836X/ref=... ]1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to the Bible[/URL ]? I remember it as having some good ideas (I used to teach a 2-3 yr old class) but I think the lessons say they are geared for kids as old as 8. IMO, if a kid is still singing 'Bible' songs to the tune of Three Blind Mice at 8 years old, the train has done left the station.

Thanks for the review, Diane.

Diane Heeney's picture

Thanks for the kind words and the smiley, Susan. :bigsmile: I'm not sure if this is the same author as the other book you mention. There is no indication in this book. I don't see any obvious connections at Amazon or CBD.

Apparently I'm not the only one who tired of the "stories". Here is http://www.discerningreader.com/book-reviews/the-7-hardest-things-god-as... ]another review I found this morning, at Discerning Reader.

And, I concur with you...it was the list itself in the Table of Contents that grabbed my attention and then gave me the forward momentum when I had to strap on the hip boots.

What are your favorite "steak" authors for women?

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Diane Heeney's picture

...and thanks for not including the "I senses" typo in your quote of my quote.

Aw, now I done drug it out into the light, hain't I? :X

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

My favorites are fairly eclectic- [URL=http://www.solvefamilyproblems.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=... ]S.M. Davis[/URL ], [URL=http://www.drlaura.com/main/ Dr. Laura Schlessinger[/URL ], [URL=http://www.reviveourhearts.com/ Nancy Leigh DeMoss[/URL ] come to mind first... but I tend to read blogs rather than books nowadays, due to the lack of availability, quality, or variety of Christian books in our local library or the book bin at Goodwill.

To clarify- I know that Dr. Laura is not a Christian, but her stuff is meaty in a different way that I find appealing.

I have to admit that I am excessively intolerant in this area- as soon as a I see a book that is tootie-frootie pink, covered with roses or a cartoon figure of a woman in curlers, I often don't bother looking at it further. I probably miss some good stuff because of it, but I am seriously allergic to cute. I don't even like kittens. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-shocked009.gif[/img ]

The cover of the book you reviewed would appeal to me, and I'd read it based on the outline.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
...and thanks for not including the "I senses" typo in your quote of my quote.

I senses that the typo has now been fixed!

Diane Heeney's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Quote:
...and thanks for not including the "I senses" typo in your quote of my quote.

I senses that the typo has now been fixed!

I thanks you. Wink

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Diane Heeney's picture

Susan R wrote:
My favorites are fairly eclectic- [URL=http://www.solvefamilyproblems.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=... ]S.M. Davis[/URL ], [URL=http://www.drlaura.com/main/ Dr. Laura Schlessinger[/URL ], [URL=http://www.reviveourhearts.com/ Nancy Leigh DeMoss[/URL ] come to mind first... but I tend to read blogs rather than books nowadays, due to the lack of availability, quality, or variety of Christian books in our local library or the book bin at Goodwill.

To clarify- I know that Dr. Laura is not a Christian, but her stuff is meaty in a different way that I find appealing.

I have to admit that I am excessively intolerant in this area- as soon as a I see a book that is tootie-frootie pink, covered with roses or a cartoon figure of a woman in curlers, I often don't bother looking at it further. I probably miss some good stuff because of it, but I am seriously allergic to cute. I don't even like kittens. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-shocked009.gif[/img ]

The cover of the book you reviewed would appeal to me, and I'd read it based on the outline.


Yes, I like DeMoss. I have enjoyed Elisabeth Elliot...her straightforward style suits me. I like Elyse Fitzpatrick too...but she wanders into the realm of storytime a bit herself (hers are usually personal scenarios, tho, and serve to effectively illustrate her points). I have not yet read Laura Hendrickson (I'd like to see a review of her "Can Medicine Stop the Pain?")...but she has a new one coming out in July (co-authored with Elyse and some others, entitled,"Women Discipling Women"), and I suspect her approach will be one that we like. I've enjoyed corresponding with her, and the worthwhile posts she has offered here and elsewhere. I'll be getting a review copy of the new book; but I think they'll be offering one here too. Maybe you'd like to pre-request it? Smile I'd like to read your take on it.

Have you read anything by Elizabeth George? Cynthia Heald? Martha Peace? I have friends who have recommended books by them. Someone gave me "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace...but I haven't gotten to it yet.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Diane Heeney's picture

I'd also like to see a review of Carolyn Mahaney's " http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581346158?ie=UTF8&tag=girltalk0e-20&li... ]Feminine Appeal "...which I blogged on yesterday http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/are-you-a-feminist-in-r... here . From what I've read from her in the blogosphere, she calls her shots pretty straight as well. Not a lot of "foof" in what I've seen.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Keri L.'s picture

I enjoyed this review Diane.

I just finished the new Nancy Leigh DeMoss book, Choosing Gratitude, and found it to be sufficiently "meaty". It was so refreshing compared to the last book I reviewed for Thomas Nelson, Find your Strongest Life. I read it because they sent it to me, but I'm sad to report that after reading it I actually became dumber Smile

Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup has gotten very good reviews. I know she is a woman who has had enough cutesy books for women. I plan to read her book in the near future.

I'm waiting to buy a book by Diane Heeney. I bet there would be some real depth to her manuscript!

Diane Heeney's picture

Keri,
I was sending you an email while you were posting, apparently.

Wow...thanks for the compliment. :8) I don't know yet if I am in that season of life to devote myself to a book. I had a hard enough time completing this review...but part of that was because of the time of year and the fact that I found it a bit tedious.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote to a young mother (I'm not "young" per se, but I have kids the same age as young mothers!) that it was wise to read great things during this season of life, to get a feel for substance and cadence. That is what I am endeavoring to do. She also advised that just because it has already been said (written) doesn't mean it that it does not need to be said again...for the present generation. I think that is a wise observation, and it is also a consolation to me. I don't have many new things to say that superb authors have not already eloquently addressed...but perhaps I can say them in a new way that is more applicable/absorbable for today.

I enjoy your writing as well (and this is not just a "mutual admiration club" as my Dad would say; I mean that sincerely)...perhaps we both ought to be on the watch for what God may want us to say, and, in the meantime, give ourselves to a steady diet of meaty, inspiring stuff. Do you have any opinions on the authors/works I mentioned above?

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Ann B.'s picture

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is excellent. Last summer I worked through her Bible study SEEKING HIM and was deeply challenged by it. It was actually about the basics of the Christian life, but it had new perspectives and really showed that it had been carefully written and prayed about, over a period of years, rather than just thrown together to get it on the market and make some money. LIES WOMEN BELIEVE is another good one of hers, particularly the chapters on why Eve originally sinned and its ramifications on how women think today.

You also can't do better than Elisabeth Elliot.

Diane Heeney's picture

Ann B. wrote:
Nancy Leigh DeMoss is excellent. Last summer I worked through her Bible study SEEKING HIM and was deeply challenged by it. It was actually about the basics of the Christian life, but it had new perspectives and really showed that it had been carefully written and prayed about, over a period of years, rather than just thrown together to get it on the market and make some money. LIES WOMEN BELIEVE is another good one of hers, particularly the chapters on why Eve originally sinned and its ramifications on how women think today.

You also can't do better than Elisabeth Elliot.

The Bible study sounds very interesting, Ann. I know I have enjoyed "A Place of Quiet Rest" and "Choosing Forgiveness" by her. Top shelf.

I know what you are saying about the "thrown together" idea...I think it is remarkable that someone such as Nancy can be such a prolific writer, but not be turning out slap-dash material. I think it is excellent commentary on how she views her writing--as a ministry rather than a cash cow. I have high regard for that.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I receive Elizabeth George's newsletter, but the only books of hers in the library are in the Large Print section, and I can't bring myself to check them out. It's too much like parking in a handicap spot when my mom is not with me. BTW- if you search "Elizabeth George", be aware that there is a well-known secular mystery author of the same name. The Elizabeth George we are speaking of did not write What Came before He Shot Her.

Another helpful and meaty source (especially for homeschoolers) is Steve and Teri Maxwell's site at [URL=http://www.titus2.com/corners/ Titus2.com[/URL ]. I also read [URL=http://theologyforwomen.blogspot.com/ Wendy Alsup's blog[/URL ]- loved her post about [URL=http://theologyforwomen.blogspot.com/2010/01/impulse-control.html Impulse Control[/URL ].

I do think there is value in stories and illustrations, especially personal ones or those from real life (not the sappy ones that get passed around through email). I reserved Women Who Do Too Much by Patricia Sprinkle from the library, and read the first couple of chapters this morning. In her testimony I saw reflections of my own struggles, and her explanation of how God dealt with her and those around her was encouraging.

But sometimes stories are a way of not landing the point. IOW, you can circle the field forever with one anecdote after another, and "Ha ha ha, isn't that great", and for a few minutes you feel good because you had a laugh (Prov. 17:22)- but it isn't until you use Scripture that you actually LAND the thing and the Holy Spirit can bring conviction. I think sometimes women are afraid of being though of as harsh- we're supposed to be soft and sweet and not hurt anyone's feelings. But I don't think making one's point in a straightforward manner is unfeminine. Don't 'soften the blow' with too much sentimentality or humor- let the Sword pierce the heart, KWIM?

Angela Stewart's picture

Our ladies' study group used one of Elizabeth George's video series a while back - A Woman after God's Own Heart. There was good stuff, but it was also pretty "fluffy", and the videos became rather painful to me after just a couple, due to her "cutesiness." I had a hard time with the study in general, though, as it focused heavily on husbands and children, with statements for single women tacked onto the end as afterthoughts, like, "These principles can apply to you single ladies, too." So my perceptions might have been tainted a bit.

I would highly recommend both Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Elisabeth Elliot. Elliot especially does a good job of adressing women's issues fully without making single women feel like incomplete or fringe Christians.

Diane Heeney's picture

Susan R wrote:
Another helpful and meaty source (especially for homeschoolers) is Steve and Teri Maxwell's site at [URL=http://www.titus2.com/corners/ Titus2.com[/URL ]. I also read [URL=http://theologyforwomen.blogspot.com/ Wendy Alsup's blog[/URL ]- loved her post about [URL=http://theologyforwomen.blogspot.com/2010/01/impulse-control.html Impulse Control[/URL ]. I do think there is value in stories and illustrations, especially personal ones or those from real life (not the sappy ones that get passed around through email).

I have enjoyed Titus 2 as well. I went and took a peek at Wendy's site. The opening of the post you mention is good use of a personal story. It paves the way and helps to further drive home the scriptural application. God does use circumstances to flesh out scriptural truth in our lives, and it can be helpful for us to hear these illustrations as an aid to understanding.

Quote:
But sometimes stories are a way of not landing the point. IOW, you can circle the field forever with one anecdote after another, and "Ha ha ha, isn't that great", and for a few minutes you feel good because you had a laugh (Prov. 17:22)- but it isn't until you use Scripture that you actually LAND the thing and the Holy Spirit can bring conviction.

Agreed. If your aim as an author is to inspire, to exhort, to encourage rather than just to entertain, then scripture had better be employed, and frequently. God doesn't necessarily promise to bless my words, but His come with a guarantee. Smile

Quote:
I think sometimes women are afraid of being though of as harsh- we're supposed to be soft and sweet and not hurt anyone's feelings. But I don't think making one's point in a straightforward manner is unfeminine. Don't 'soften the blow' with too much sentimentality or humor- let the Sword pierce the heart, KWIM?

Yes, I like to be liked too. Who doesn't? We like acceptance. And if you're a blogger and you are tough in your posts, the "hits" diminish...if you are tough as an author, your readership (which translates into purchases) may very well decrease. But the people who really seek and who would be the ones to genuinely benefit from straight talk...they will return time and again. Look at the number of devotees both Elisabeth Elliot and Nancy Leigh DeMoss are experiencing. God will bless faithfulness, for the day is at hand. And, as far as femininity goes, perhaps this is a misunderstanding of roles. Being a submissive woman doesn't mean I am silent or fawning. We are not to be afraid of leadership. In that Titus 2 passage and elsewhere, we "older" (ahem) women are supposed to take the reins and lead.

Like anything else, this is about balance. I love humor. I like to smile. One of my students at BJ said that I "teach through my teeth"...hard sayings can be softened by the countenance without laying a finger on, or weakening, content. Anyone who visits my blog will know that. But funny stories and cartoons are not the majority of what I offer. Mostly it is what I am learning. Things that smack me in the face when I read them. Experiences that have the fingerprints of God upon them, which I feel accountable to share. Gems and quotes I come across that would burn a hole in my pocket if I tried to keep them there.

You know, I'm thinking that this easily translates over into the realm of preaching too. I have heard (no doubt everyone here has too) preachers who peppered their sermons with jokes and stories that are entirely unrelated to the matter at hand, and sometimes are also entirely inappropriate for them to dispense in the first place, for the gaining of a few laughs, or to endear the audience to themselves. I get restless with preaching that is all story and no scripture. I admit to having come out of some Bible Conference services feeling, "Why did you waste our time like this?" There is a different dynamic here than perhaps with preaching, but the idea is the same. Be sure what you've got to say is constructive, marinated in the Spirit, and true to the Word. God never wastes time, and neither should we. The summer will soon be ended.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Diane Heeney's picture

Angela Stewart wrote:
Our ladies' study group used one of Elizabeth George's video series a while back - A Woman after God's Own Heart. There was good stuff, but it was also pretty "fluffy", and the videos became rather painful to me after just a couple, due to her "cutesiness." I had a hard time with the study in general, though, as it focused heavily on husbands and children, with statements for single women tacked onto the end as afterthoughts, like, "These principles can apply to you single ladies, too." So my perceptions might have been tainted a bit.

I would highly recommend both Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Elisabeth Elliot. Elliot especially does a good job of adressing women's issues fully without making single women feel like incomplete or fringe Christians.

As an aside, Angela...have you ever visited http://ladiesinwaiting.net/default.aspx ]ladiesinwaiting.net ? The name made me backpedal at first...a blog for women who are waiting to be married...sharing their miseries while they are waiting....moping and complaining while they are waiting? (I can say this because I was days from my 30th birthday on my wedding day Smile ). But it is a good site, with many helpful resources for single gals. FWIW.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Angela Stewart wrote:
I had a hard time with the study in general, though, as it focused heavily on husbands and children, with statements for single women tacked onto the end as afterthoughts, like, "These principles can apply to you single ladies, too."

I've experienced this alot too, and it's unfortunate, because the principles that guide healthy relationships are applicable to everyone.

fsansone's picture

Ladies, I hope you will excuse me for intruding. I have found the conversation interesting and I appreciated the review.

While I will probably not be reading the book, the reality is that most/all of the paradoxes mentioned are also very relevant to the lives of men, as well.

I was mainly breaking in to comment that Diane has hit the nail on the head in regards to her preaching comment. Would to God more of us preachers would learn what she has said so well in this one paragraph.

Diane Heeney wrote:
You know, I'm thinking that this easily translates over into the realm of preaching too. I have heard (no doubt everyone here has too) preachers who peppered their sermons with jokes and stories that are entirely unrelated to the matter at hand, and sometimes are also entirely inappropriate for them to dispense in the first place, for the gaining of a few laughs, or to endear the audience to themselves. I get restless with preaching that is all story and no scripture. I admit to having come out of some Bible Conference services feeling, "Why did you waste our time like this?" There is a different dynamic here than perhaps with preaching, but the idea is the same. Be sure what you've got to say is constructive, marinated in the Spirit, and true to the Word. God never wastes time, and neither should we. The summer will soon be ended.

Amen!

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree, Bro. Sansone. For a long time I thought something was wrong with me- because if I was really right with God, I could listen to someone yodeling the 23rd Psalm and get a blessing, right? Because if you attend a service wanting a blessing, you will get a blessing- isn't that how it goes? But when the message is devoid of Scripture or even a well-stated Biblical principle, what is a person supposed to do? Perhaps it's my intolerant attitude poking up its nasty head again, but I refuse to go dumpster diving for a spiritual McNugget. If we are 20 minutes into a message and I haven't opened my Bible yet, I usually leave... and go clean a bathroom or sweep a floor. At least I feel like I accomplished something. Thank goodness my pastor isn't like that- you could wear out your Bible in no time turning to all the passages he uses.

I think for writing a book or blog- because you have so much time to research and rewrite- the standard could be even higher when it comes to thoroughly studied and supported content.

Diane Heeney's picture

You are not at all intruding. And you are right...these 7 things are pretty universal, although things like multitasking/single focus and the lead/follow paradox look a bit different for women than for men. For instance, I think men are better at the single focus and challenged in the multi-tasking department (my husband marvels, every time he keeps the kids so I can attend some function or such, that I am able to occupy kids, fix dinner, do laundry, blog, keep the house picked up and sundry other things all at the same time Smile ), while it is often the opposite for women.

Thank you for your kind words. Carpe diem isn't just for old philosophers, is it?

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not for alot of frivolity in preaching/writing either, but I think we'll have to grant that the line between "too many stories and bits of humor" and "enough stories and bits of humor" is going to vary somewhat from person to person. And preaching is, in part, about communicating through the vehicle of personality (otherwise, why not just quote Scripture for 40 minutes on Sunday?).
So, I've seen it overdone. I've also seen it done too sparingly and the man behind the pulpit seemed to be a shell and not a real person. I like to know the speaker better at the end of the message as well as knowing his text better. Not because it's about him, but because I can read the text for myself. I want to know how it has impacted him. When it all works well, I don't just know a man and a text better but I know the God of the man and the text better.
(I try to preach that way, too, but have no clue at all if I'm succeeding Smile )

I suspect the excessively cutesy and lace and potpourri stuff in women's lit./speaking is a bit that way also: for some, it probably helps. There may be some generational trends there also so that it works better for certain groups than others. If it's helping, I don't think it's a waste of time, but I think I understand the excesses you're referring to. Ultimately, there's no substitute for the real goods and the rest is only of value if it helps make things more clear or more "sticky" in our minds.

Becky Petersen's picture

Susan R wrote:
I agree, Bro. Sansone. For a long time I thought something was wrong with me- because if I was really right with God, I could listen to someone yodeling the 23rd Psalm and get a blessing, right? Because if you attend a service wanting a blessing, you will get a blessing- isn't that how it goes? But when the message is devoid of Scripture or even a well-stated Biblical principle, what is a person supposed to do? Perhaps it's my intolerant attitude poking up its nasty head again, but I refuse to go dumpster diving for a spiritual McNugget. If we are 20 minutes into a message and I haven't opened my Bible yet, I usually leave...

Susan, I've never had the nerve to get up and leave, but I get really uncomfortable with most jokes and personal anecdotes that seem to have nothing better to do than make the audience/congregation feel good. As I've grown older, I've gotten even less tolerant. I want the speaker to speak about what the Bible actually says and if he/she is practicing "spiritual speculation" to be honest enough to admit it. Many people only get 30-45 min. of a sermon a week. It needs to be meaty and "something to think about" from the Scriptures.

If it is the Word of God that changes people's lives, then stories of personal experience isn't really what they need to hear (mostly).

As to the comment by (aaron? I think...I'm not looking at it), one missionary friend pointed out that if they didn't have a preacher that at least the congregation could get together and read scripture for half an hour. That would be something!

Susan R's picture

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I agree, Aaron, that well thought out illustrations and humor can provide a 'barb' that causes certain points to stick in our minds. The rule of thumb that authors and speakers should keep in mind is this-

Quote:
Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Our spiritual discernment is exercised by being introduced to strong meat. We can still put truth on the bottom shelf (and IMO 85% of the Bible is written for the bottom shelf), but it seems to me that our culture has elevated amusement to the point where even in church we pay more attention to delivery than to content. I've enjoyed many a sermon that I couldn't have told you what the main points were later, but it was a 'great message' because I laughed alot.

Becky- I've admitted a major lack of patience in that area. It's better for me to leave than to allow my spirit to possibly affect others. Cleaning relaxes me, and I can pray about what I'm thinking and feeling. This doesn't happen very often nowadays, perhaps because I've gotten a grip or the speakers I've heard in recent years aren't going there anymore.

But just as I might walk out of a meeting, I will also put down a book that I find disappointing. My time is precious, just like everyone else's, and I'm looking to maximize my study time. I appreciate it when a book presents itself as foofy right up front for people who enjoy that (and I do NOT mean to sound condescending- I fear that is how I am coming across- "Susan the Book Snob")- I do believe that there is value in the books that have an Erma Bombeck flavor... it isn't like it's wrong for Christians to have a good time, tell jokes, laugh at funny stories that often give perspective to our successes and failures... my thoughts in this thread have been more about books that seem to present themselves as meatier than they are, at least in my opinion. I do try to stifle my impatience and at least attempt to glean, which can still be profitable.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Susan... can't find anything to disagree with there (much to my disappointment Wink )

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Becky wrote:
As to the comment by (aaron? I think...I'm not looking at it), one missionary friend pointed out that if they didn't have a preacher that at least the congregation could get together and read scripture for half an hour. That would be something!

Yes, it would be something (and something important! 1 Tim. 4:13), but it wouldn't be preaching. I don't disagree with what you're saying though. To the degree we're seeing differences on this point it has to do with the "experience factor." For me, fluffy sermons full of pointless personal anecdotes are in the distant past--and were few and far between even then. So I tend to feel less intensity on the point. On the other hand, preaching that is theologically rich but detached from anybody's here-and-now life--I have seen more of that in recent years (though still rarely, I have to admit).

I'm usually too busy preaching to hear much of what others are preaching so my "sample" is certainly not a good representation of what's out there in general.

Barbara H.'s picture

Susan R wrote:
I agree, Aaron, that well thought out illustrations and humor can provide a 'barb' that causes certain points to stick in our minds.

To me the illustrations do more than that. The best ones flesh out the truth being taught. There are times the light bulb went on for me in an illustration when I didn't quite grasp a concept just by teaching. But there has to be the foundation of solidly Biblical teaching or else the illustrations are just fluff.

And the time I least like hearing something funny in church is right after special music. When the special music does prepare hearts for the sermon, the effect of it can just dissolve when a funny story or comment is told right after, especially when it relates to the song or singer.

Susan R wrote:
But just as I might walk out of a meeting, I will also put down a book that I find disappointing. My time is precious, just like everyone else's, and I'm looking to maximize my study time. I appreciate it when a book presents itself as foofy right up front for people who enjoy that (and I do NOT mean to sound condescending- I fear that is how I am coming across- "Susan the Book Snob")- I do believe that there is value in the books that have an Erma Bombeck flavor... it isn't like it's wrong for Christians to have a good time, tell jokes, laugh at funny stories that often give perspective to our successes and failures... my thoughts in this thread have been more about books that seem to present themselves as meatier than they are, at least in my opinion. I do try to stifle my impatience and at least attempt to glean, which can still be profitable.

I'm glad to hear you say that, Susan, because as someone who likes pink and lace and such, I was feeling like that was somehow being looked at as inherently less spiritual. I do know what you mean, though, about lightweight "tea cake" books for women rather than the kind with strong meat, and I definitely prefer the latter. I've only read a little bit of DeMoss, but everything I've read by her so far has been good and meaty.

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Barbara H. wrote:

I'm glad to hear you say that, Susan, because as someone who likes pink and lace and such, I was feeling like that was somehow being looked at as inherently less spiritual. I do know what you mean, though, about lightweight "tea cake" books for women rather than the kind with strong meat, and I definitely prefer the latter. I've only read a little bit of DeMoss, but everything I've read by her so far has been good and meaty.

Good- I'm glad I clarified that some. I don't think feminine needs to mean 'girly', and I think alot of things marketed to women are 'girly' instead of feminine.

But let's face it- sometimes the 'girly' is all there is at ladies' meetings and women's devotional books, as if that is all we are- someone please save me from illustrations about shopping, receiving flowers, hairstyles, eating chocolate... and last but not least, the idea that "men come and go, but girlfriends are forever".

Susan R's picture

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I remember that- and I think we had a discussion in the Ladies Forum about ladies' seminars/meetings that was of the same flavor. An illustration that uses an everyday thing to bring Scripture to our remembrance isn't necessarily bad or shallow, but I understand the concern when there is an 'anything goes' approach. Jesus' choices of illustrations and parables should give us some guidelines, I would think. He gave the comparison and then got on with the doctrinal import and spiritual application. And He didn't hand out cute little bags of mustard seeds tied with ribbon for the disciples to take home. Bleah

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