Monday, May 3, 2010

jill briscoe - 8 choices that will change a woman's life

The intro to the book is a bit cheesy and sugar-sweet; but the chapters are another story. Great, deep, hard-hitting, and biblical. There are certain moments when she talks about things (like the "Devil's cheese" left out to trap church mice) that I kind of inwardly groan - but if you can get past small moments like that; you can love this book. My only other complaint is that her own life may be un-relateable to most. She talks about being married to a husband who is a televangelist and flying all around the country doing speaking engagments, etc.. I can imagine a suffering person wanting to write her off for this - like, "Well, we can't all be Christian celebrities!" So, aside from those 2 small things - it's a very usable book. I'm even thinking of using it in my challenge group next year.
Choice #1 = To Resist Pain or Use it
Whether looking at verses about how a servant is not better than his master, or how we should consider it pure joy when we face all kinds of trials, the Scripture - especially the NT - is full of counter-cultural wisdom about suffering. This chapter confronts everything that is at the core of American belief and values. We are Americans with the unalienable right to pursue peace and happiness! But, Briscoe claims that while American Christians are praying, "God, get this trouble off my back!" - that other Christians around the world say instead, "God, strengthen my back to bear it".
She also quotes wisdom from some other great Christian thinkers =
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." C.S. Lewis
"Not only is pain useful as a warning, it may also be an essential dimension in our richest experiences." Philip Yancey
One thing I really like about this chapter is that she spends a fair amount of time talking about serving other suffering people. Sometimes, when I read a book or chapter about Christian suffering - it turns me inward as I think about "woe is me". But, she is good at acknowledging that as Christians we will suffer; but that this life isn't all about us and our happiness. "Trouble trains us to serve troubled people." (p. 19)
She uses a few different Bible translations that I'm not as familiar with; and it can be nice to read familiar verses in a new way - such as:
"God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life." 2 Cor 7:10 TLB
"We can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. [Taken in the right spirit] these very things will give us patient endurance." Rom. 5:3 Phillips translation
"When the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete." James 1:3-4 TLB
The discussion/prayer guide at the end of the chapter seemed quite useful and cool too.
She gave a metaphor for us that I liked a lot. She talked about a little girl playing around in a crowded train car. A traveler watched her and began to wonder who she belonged to - she was so well-adjusted and friendly with everyone it was hard to tell. But just then the train entered a tunnel and was filled with darkness. As that happened, the girl ran to a man at the front of the traincar. As the darkness came, she showed who she belonged to. And so will we if we run to God in our own dark times.

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