Mailbag

The Mailbag: Will you review my book?

I’ve written a book. Will you please read and review it or give me some feedback on it?

Every time I receive this e-mail from an author, I just want to reach through the screen and hug her. I’ve been in her shoes.

When my book, Jacob: Journaling the Journey, was in print I, too, had to write to bloggers and Christian newspapers and magazines asking them to write a review of my book. It’s a good way to introduce potential readers to your work and encourage them to buy a copy or twenty.

I never liked soliciting reviews for two reasons: First, it’s kind of like asking a boy out on a date – it’s an awkward and weird feeling that you’re essentially saying, “Do you like me enough to say ‘yes’ to me?”. Then, there’s the agonizing wait to see whether or not you’re going to be rejected. Second, I always felt like I was asking the person to invest an enormous amount of time and work, and all I was able to give her in return was my thanks and a copy of my book. It felt like asking someone for a huge favor that I’d never be able to repay.

So my heart goes out to those fledgling authors who are having to cold call bloggers for reviews. It ranks right up there with having a tooth pulled.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot and people are asking me to write reviews of their books, I have a much different perspective. Far from feeling like authors are asking me for a humongous favor, it would be my joy to serve and encourage each and every one of them by writing up shining and supportive reviews for all.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, I find that I can’t:

📖 There aren’t enough hours in the day to read and review, in a timely manner, all of the books I receive inquiries about. And, I can’t bring myself to say “yes” to some authors and “no” to others.

📖 I’ll just be perfectly transparent with y’all, I’m very undisciplined right now when it comes to book reading. I study my Bible. I read lots of articles. But for some strange reason, I’m not reading many books – even books of my own choosing – at this season of my life. I can’t really figure it out because I’ve lived my whole life with my nose in a book, but…there it is.

📖 Writing a book review (especially when you have a relationship with the author) is kind of like a friend showing you her new baby and saying, “Isn’t she cute?”. Fortunately, I happen to think all babies are cute, but…with books, not so much. And the last thing I want to have to do is tell a friend, or even a stranger, that her book has a face only a mother could love. I’m an author. I know what it’s like to hear that. It’s no bueno.

Every once in a blue moon, I’ll write a brief recommendation of a book I’ve picked up of my own volition and taken my sweet time reading because I think it’s something my readers would enjoy or benefit from. I can do that without the pressure of a deadline or worrying about hurting an author’s feelings.

Also, I try to compensate for the fact that I don’t write book reviews myself by publishing reviews written by guest posters. If you would like to write a book review as a guest poster, or if you’re an author who has a blog-less friend ready to write a review but needing a platform to post it on, drop me an e-mail and let’s chat about it.

While I’m honored and humbled that anybody out there might want my opinion on her book, and I dearly wish I could write a review for everyone who asks, I’m afraid that – with rare exceptions for people I’m extremely close to or who have served as mentors to me – for this season of my life, the answer has to be an across the board “no”.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of Jennie Allen’s “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

A Review of Jennie Allen’s
Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul

by Carol Coppens

Many years ago, when I was in the 6th grade, I was taught that when doing a book report, even if I didn’t like the book, I should try to say something good about it. That was fine teaching at the time and I think it has made me a better writer, this trying to see both sides. I’m not in school any longer though and these days, I’m bound less by trying to see the good and more to pointing out the multiple errors of books like Anything. If you’re a Jennie Allen fan, you won’t like what I have to say but I can’t stay silent.

Anything is a poorly written book. It’s an irreverent book. It’s a book that will never help any woman discover the totality of God’s plan of redemption, His sovereignty, His wrath which rests on the unregenerate, nor His holy fury at those who presume to speak for Him. This is not a book that will help you to dive deep into the character of God and to know Him better but instead, Jennie’s book is a tedious, self absorbed, experience driven, hermeneutically unsound, over-stepper of scriptural boundaries, mish-mash of emotionalism and repetitive “wrecked-ness”. Here are some of the specific faults that I see.

Even in these days of relativity, where the only rule that seems to apply is that there are to be no rules at all, there are still a few that are necessary. One of the rules of basic English grammar is, if you’re going to use an adjective (remember that word from English class?) you’d better do your homework and find out exactly what that word means, in the context in which you plan to use it.

The word reckless is used multiple times in this book. Jennie describes childlike faith as living “simply, recklessly.” On pg. 97, she writes that she and her husband, “now lay in the hands of a reckless, invisible God.” Page 143 tells of her realization that people are going to think they are foolish for adopting, saying, “that goes with almost any act of recklessness, even reckless love.” Maybe she thought the word sounded powerful and kind of daring when she penned it but the definition of reckless is “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

Describe human beings as reckless as much as you like, because we all certainly can be, but when a writer uses the word reckless to describe almighty God, that person has crossed over into blasphemy and I would shudder to think that I had written such a thing about the God I will eventually have to give an account to. Some of the other words she uses to describe God are, “unsafe”, “wildly unpredictable”, “radical”, “ridiculously radical” and she also writes that “God is still not very practical.” Exactly where are the chapters and verses for these descriptions of God, Jennie?

In many places, Jennie adds words to Scripture that are not there. Space hinders me from listing them all, so one example will have to do. On page 184, she speaks for Jesus and writes, “as if he were letting us in on the secret, Jesus whispered back to his father, this will all be worth it. Wait till they are with us and see our glory. Just wait till all of this work and suffering and pouring out is over and we are in heaven together forever. Just wait.”

This conversation is, of course, recorded nowhere in Scripture but the words “do not exceed what is written”, definitely are. Jennie would do well to read and meditate deeply on that verse in 1 Corinthians 4. When we imagine that God is speaking to us apart from Scripture, we can easily be led to enter very dangerous territory.

An example of her flawed interpretations of Scripture is on page 37. Jennie quotes Hosea 2:14-17 but then she blatantly misinterprets God’s promise to restore Israel to Himself, as a “dramatic metaphor” about those of us who chase other loves. I say, leave Biblical interpreting to those who know about these things, Jennie. If you think that you’ve been given a new interpretation of these verses that no other person has ever had before, you’re just plain wrong. God was promising restoration to Israel in these verses and nothing else.

She also does emotional and hermeneutical callisthenics with God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (pgs. 69-70). Jennie’s theory is that God was punishing Abraham for his overwhelming love for his son that, according to her, had usurped God as Abraham’s first love. If she had thoughtfully studied these Bible passages or, if she truly understood God’s plan to ultimately save His elect, she would know that the sacrifice of Isaac and the ram God substituted for the boy, was a shadow of God’s own sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no excuse for such lazy interpretation of the sacred Scriptures. In these current times, the proliferation of false and misleading doctrine abounds. Having the correct interpretation of Scripture is of paramount importance because our eternal futures depend on understanding correctly, what God is saying to us.

On page 102, Jennie asks “so how do we actually let God change us?” Finally, I thought, a good solid question after having read page after page of drivel. Can an explanation of justification and sanctification be far behind? Sadly, they weren’t even hinted at and she goes on to tell a rather horrific (as a mother I cringed) story of telling her two oldest children to climb up a cliff and jump off! For Jennie, jumping is the key. Either “jump or crawl down” and “the more we jump and see our God come alive around us, the more we jump without fear – and the bigger the cliffs get”, she says. As the Peanuts character Charlie Brown was known to exclaim, good grief!

In the final analysis, the biggest problem I had with this book (and I slogged through it twice) was my knowing that, from the time of her “vision” in the night that Jennie feels was definitely from God, the wheels of the IF: Gatherings began to turn. For those readers who still might be unfamiliar with IF, they are para-church organization, begun by Jennie, that has no scriptural basis or authority. The gatherings happen outside of the local churches and their oversight, supposedly to accomplish something, ie. discipling women, that only churches are charged to do, in Scripture. In this case, the ends do not justify the means.

Because all the women involved in IF cannot possibly be born again, spirit filled, doctrinally sound, mature women with the spiritual gift of teaching, the possibilities for unscriptural philosophies and practices entering in to local churches, families and society at large, are enormous. I see this movement as no less than a calculated move of Satan against women, a frontal attack on the sufficiency of Scripture and a throwing off of the direct commands of God, in His Word, for both married and single women. Jennie Allen might believe that her “call” to begin IF was of God, but I do not.

So, at the end of the day, would I recommend this book to anyone? Absolutely not! What I do recommend instead is simply this – read your Bible, always praying that God will illuminate your mind with His truth. Get involved with a biblically solid church and pray for God to open doors for you to serve there. There is no substitute for a godly, biblically saturated, discerning Christian woman and one only gets that way by hard work and study. The Scriptures do not open themselves to the slothful. When a woman is mature in Christ and can properly discern truth from error then and only then it will come to pass that the writings of the Jennie Allens of this world will be seen for what they truly are, rubbish.

With a grateful nod to my 6th grade English teacher, I suppose I could say one good thing about this book and that is, that it wasn’t any longer.


Carol and her husband Mike live in a small town, on the shores of Lake Erie, in Ontario, Canada. She was 49 years old when Christ called her to be His disciple. A love for the pure truth of God’s Word fuels her passion to expose false teaching and especially that kind which has women as its primary target.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THose WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYone YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of “Wait and See”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

A Review of Wait and See by Wendy Pope

by Kirstin

 

The Author

Wendy Pope writes that she was minding her business in the early 2000s when God called her to teach the Bible and be active in women’s ministry. She then attended a She Speaks conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and God confirmed her calling in “ways only God could arrange.”

For weeks after the She Speaks conference, Pope “lived and breathed nothing but bio sheets, messages, headshots, and marketing.” Her related expenses went over her family’s budget. But there was no demand for her as a speaker, and she ended up working for 12 years at the offices of Proverbs 31 Ministries (“God moved me to an office chair in a gray cubicle . . .). She served in her church and honed her writing skills. Today she is on the team of speakers at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans

The publisher’s overview of Wait and See states, “Every woman struggles with times of waiting – for a spouse, a child, a job. In Wait and See, Wendy Pope guides readers to focus on the person of their faith rather than the object of their wait. Pope draws on the story of King David, who was anointed king nearly twenty years before he took his throne.”

Pope seems to have written this book for the same audience of “Jesus girls” that has made Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries a popular author and speaker. Her writing style is informal and confidential, and the book is sprinkled with statements like these: “This is stinkin’ thinkin’, and it has got to go!” and, “Instead of the depressing turning dramatic, she was determined to find laughter in the yuck, and, “Whoa! I just blew my own mind.”

The book includes stories of seasons of waiting in the lives of ordinary Christians, including Pope and her family, and questions for reflection. Each chapter concludes with a “Digging Deeper with David” section based on a Davidic psalm. Pope writes, “David is an excellent example of how to prepare while we wait for what God has planned for our lives.”

Proverbs 31 Ministries offered an online Bible study based on the book in 2016. Dozens of readers have posted five-star reviews of Wait and See on Amazon and Goodreads. The book is encouraging, and its “bloom where you’re planted” message is good.

For me, however, the Bible exposition in Wait and See was unhelpful. Pope quotes from nine Bible translations, including The Message. Like TerKeurst and Beth Moore, she sometimes explains a verse by choosing a particular word in it, stating the word in the original language, and then stating its dictionary definition. In one instance, she simply writes, “Fret is the Hebrew word charah.” So what?

In addition, Pope seems to expect believers to hear from God apart from the Bible. Throughout Wait and See, she refers to the Holy Spirit calling, confirming, leading, nudging, prompting, tugging on the heart, and whispering in a still, small voice in the present day. She writes that young David “spent his days learning to recognize and obey God’s voice, two traits that would serve him greatly as king.” But where does the Bible state or even imply that David had to learn to recognize God’s voice? At the same time, Pope seems to be saying that personal revelation from God cannot be misunderstood. “I must not have heard God correctly” is “Misconception #1,” she writes.

Unfortunately, one of my main takeaways from Wait and See was that an unknown number of women are desperate to become famous Christian speakers and authors, the next Beth Moore or Lysa TerKeurst. “I believed saying yes to God would put me center stage in an arena filled with thousands of women who had just read my bestseller,” Pope writes.

As I sat in my gray cubicle, a severe case of the mines” attacked my heart. Near the same time, many of my friends in ministry enjoyed success. Publishing opportunities, consistent speaking engagements, and individual ministries seemed to fall into their laps, but not mine. I pasted on a halfhearted smile when they shared about their ministry growth, but inwardly I pouted and argued with God. What about me? I’ve been speaking longer than she has. When will my ministry grow? Why can’t my book be published?

That was then. “Neither center stage nor a bestseller matters to me any longer,” Pope assures us. But I wonder who these ministries really are for.

Final note: Seasons of Waiting by Betsy Childs Howard, who works with The Gospel Coalition, appears to be a better and deeper book on this topic, based on my reading of an excerpt available online and Aimee Byrd’s review.


Additional Resource:

Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries


Kirstin lives in Southern California and works in the legal field. She has participated in women’s Bible studies for 20 years. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10 ESV


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Bible Study, Blog Swap, Book Reviews

Blog Swap ~ “Women of the Word”- A Book Review

blog swap

It’s time for another awesome blog swap! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other talented bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.

Today, I’m excited to be swapping with a new blogger, Michele, of Living Our Days. Michele is a wife, mom, and grandmother. When she’s not home schooling or working in her garden, she is reading tons – and I mean tons – of books, which she writes helpful reviews of. Living Our Days also includes a great variety of Michele’s poetry, Christian Living articles, and helpful material for her ladies’ Sunday School class, which is currently studying the book of Nehemiah.

I was so glad to read Michele’s insightful review of Jen Wilkins’ excellent book, Women of the WordI have recommended it many times to women who long to rightly divide God’s word but aren’t quite sure how to do so.

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“I can’t recall the last time I devoured a book in one evening, but that’s what happened with Women of the Word. I’m sure the reason is Jen Wilkin’s laser focus on the topics that (after my family) are most important to me — knowing the Bible and teaching the Bible. I found the book to be immediately relevant and useful, not only in my teaching ministry, but also in my personal study.”

Want to learn how to be a better student of God’s word? Hop on over to Living Our Days and check out Michele’s article, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin: A Book Review, and then head over to Amazon and get yourself a copy!

Have you read Women of the Word?
What did you think of it?

Blog Swap Disclaimer: Christian bloggers who participate in Blog Swaps have submitted an acceptable statement of faith to me. Although I do my best to thoroughly vet the theology of the bloggers I swap with, it is always possible for things to slip through the cracks. Please make sure any blogger you follow, including me, rightly and faithfully handles God’s word and holds to sound biblical doctrine.
Book, Book Reviews

“Books By Joy & Others” Features Jacob!

jacobcover

Thanks to my sweet friend, Joy, for featuring Jacob on her blog: Books By Joy & Others!

Joy is an amazing writer, so be sure to check out her books while you’re over there. I thoroughly enjoyed Rain Dance, and highly recommend it!