BOOK REVIEW: FREE TO THRIVE — How Your Hurts, Struggles, and Deepest Longings Can Lead to a Fulfilling Life 

by Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2021)

The authors, well-known author and apologist Josh McDowell, and pastor and speaker Ben Bennett have joined forces to examine why so many Christians struggle through life rather than thrive as children of God. Due to their own experiences and their years of ministry, they believe most believers are suffering due to unmet needs in their lives.

McDowell and Bennett make the case that God has designed all people with seven basic needs:

  1. Acceptance — to be included and approved of, as you are, no matter what.
  2. Appreciation — the longing to be thanked and encouraged for something we have done.
  3. Affection — the longing to be cared for with touch and genuine emotional engagement.
  4. Access — the longing to have the consistent emotional and physical presence of key persons.
  5. Attention — the longing to be known and understood by someone who enters into your world.
  6. Affirmation of feelings — the longing to have our feelings validated and confirmed by others.
  7. Assurance of safety — we need to feel protected and provided for emotionally, physically, and financially.

The authors contend that hurting Christians with unfulfilled longings suffer because they try to satisfy those longings themselves or with other earthly things or people. But God placed those longings in us so that we might always go to Him with our needs.

McDowell and Bennett are unusually open and honest in sharing their own unmet longings and the adverse effects those had in their personal lives and ministries. Writing as fellow strugglers, they encourage readers to understand that they are not unusual in trying to satisfy their longings without God and give practical steps to begin looking to God for help and comfort. The book concludes with helpful appendices of the Longings Table and websites and books for further ongoing support. I heartily recommend this book.

The Toughest Critic You’ll Ever Face

This article from apologist Greg Koukl is very important because of the turbulent times we are in the midst of right now. What with the devastation of waves of COVID, political and societal unrest around the world, and even basic questions of identity, reality and meaning — the practice of apologetics is needed now more than ever. But not for other people….for ourselves! From Stand to Reason……………

https://www.str.org/w/the-toughest-critic-you-ll-ever-face

A Bigger Perspective

My wife is a watercolor artist so the analogy in this article really works for me. The advice is that we all need to take a step back from time to time to get a look at the big picture, because a different perspective can help us better appreciate the art that God is making of our lives. From Core Christianity…………………..

God Uses Our Minds to Communicate with Us — Dallas Willard

Focus your mind on God

If we do not use our ability to turn our minds and thoughts toward God, we do not have contact with God. Undoubtedly God could move into the human realm and invade the mind. If God did act in such a way, what are the chances the receiver would properly interpret such an encounter, if there is no knowledge of God at all? Therefore, what human beings can and must do is progress to the point where we consciously, intentionally focus our minds on God. The minister of the gospel is tasked with the very special and essential calling of directing and illuminating our minds toward the reality of God and his ways.

From The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth. Copyright © 2014 by Dallas Willard amd Gary Black Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

How to Discern Biblical Truth

With all of the trash and craziness out there in the world and on the Internet, discernment is probably more important than it has ever been. Here is a money quote from Charles Spurgeon: Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.— Charles H. Spurgeon. From Beautiful Christian Life………………

BEING IN THE WORLD — DALLAS WILLARD

Being in the World

Being in the world is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing. The world is—in the end—God’s creation. The world is the place where God has appointed you to live. Your birth and life to this point haven’t taken God by surprise. God has prepared this time and this place for you. We find this place prepared through our family, through our country, and through our education. You have been prepared to rule for good. That’s the purpose for which God made you.

“‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.'” (Gen. 1:26)

God made you similar to Him and made you to rule over all the earth. This is a command that extends throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis and continuing into eternity. This is the place you have in God’s order—to be the person He intended you to be—forever.

From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.