Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Review: Growing in Godliness

Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl's Guide to Maturing in Christ. Lindsey Carlson. 2019. Crossway Books. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: As a child, I was always in a hurry to grow up. I wanted the privileges and freedom that came with maturity, but I didn’t want to wait through the awkward period of growing.

Don't be like me. Don't judge a book by its cover, or by its topic.

There is a part of me that thinks it is a pity that this one is limited to such a narrow scope of readers: teen girls and perhaps mothers of teen girls. For the part that just applies to being a teen girl is so very, very tiny. Most of this one could be applicable--relevant--to readers of both genders and of all ages. For the topic is SANCTIFICATION.

I loved this one. God is good; God is sovereign. He makes all things beautiful in HIS time. I'm not doubting the WHEN of my birth, but if someone could have handed me this book when I was actually a teen girl....that would have been super-lovely and helpful. Because the truth it, teen me was a MESS of emotions and I just didn't get it--get the goodness of the whole gospel.

Every chapter of this one embraces the GOOD NEWS of the gospel. The doctrine is strong with this one--and nothing could be more needed. Doctrine is meant to be lived out and Carlson's book encourages teens to do just that.

Another thing that I appreciated about this one was how it challenges you to think by asking important questions. For example, "Do you give your time, attention, and focus to the pursuit of knowing more about God? Or does the pursuit of growing in godliness feel like an imposition to your plans?" and "Would your words show evidence of a tender, merciful, and compassionate heart? Or would they point to selfishness, anger, or bitterness? And let’s not stop with spoken words; what about the words you type and text? If it’s “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34), then you can trust that out of the abundance of the heart, the fingers also type and text. How do you speak, type, text, and communicate with your family, friends, neighbors, and teachers? Do your words display maturity or immaturity?"

These are the things Carlson encourages her readers to bring with them to church:
  • Bring humility. Leave your preferences, entitlements, and disappointments at the door and enter with humility. “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5).
  • Bring a readiness to serve. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
  • Bring compassion. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5),
  • Bring your gifts. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).

As Christians, we are works in progress, awaiting full redemption. Stained by sin, we are no longer the original picture we were created to be. Made alive in Christ, we are no longer dead in our sin, decaying like the dilapidated before versions of our selves. But we aren’t yet the fully redeemed after picture either. We are in the work-in-progress stage of being made new.
You can’t fake or rush Christian maturity. There is no Glamour Shots version of holiness that is convincing to God on the day of redemption; only the work of the Spirit will do. In order to know God and please him, you must work with God to grow in godliness. Surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit and ask him to give you wisdom to understand the character of God and the desire to be more like him.
God created you with one specific and overarching purpose for your life. It is the clear and concrete reason you exist and the primary goal for your life. The Lord created all of humanity, including you, in his image for his purposes. God’s purpose for your life is to bring him glory in all you do.
Satan has been distorting God’s plan for your emotions and the resulting feelings you experience from the very beginning. In the garden he tempted Eve to follow her heart by dangling her desire for wisdom right before her face. She responded by following her feelings headlong into disobedience—a decision which resulted in consequences you’re still feeling today.
The “follow your heart” creed certainly isn’t found in the Bible. The Bible actually thinks our hearts have a disease: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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