Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: First Things First


I was so excited about this book. Being the mom of a large family, I love reading about how other large families do things. The title sounded very promising. The book focuses on two main themes: the importance of the family's faith, and the fact that although the head of the household is an NFL celebrity, they're really just like everybody else. They did a very poor job of communicating these themes.
First, Kurt was not a believer at the time that professing believer, Brenda, met him. That didn't stop her from pursuing a relationship with him, despite the fact that this man who was unequally yoked with her would soon become the leader and father of her two children. According to him, she kept pushing him to "pray a simple prayer". It is not we, by our little prayers, who save us. God alone saves who He wishes (John 3:7-8). It is the fruit of our repentance that proves our salvation is true, not the fact that we prayed a simple prayer. (Matthew 7:16-23)
The Warners communicate a very real desire to show that their life is no easier than anyone else's. Their children, even the three-year-old twins, are away from their family the majority of the day, but they still have a full-time nanny and housekeeper. Brenda also says that she "needs" time each week with her girlfriends. Now, I will be the first to agree that time with girlfriends is a real treat and I love that time together. But to say that it is a need is completely unbiblical. Tell that to all the apostles who died a martyr's death and lived a life of pain and persecution for the sake of the gospel.
This book would be an encouraging, even inspiring, read to an unbeliever. But it truly has no place as a Christian book.

If you believe that you are saved because you prayed a prayer once upon a time, please examine yourself according to 2 Cor. 13:5 to see whether you are truly in the faith. If you look and act and think like the world, please consider whether you are truly saved. I John is the test. Does it describe you? The results can be life-changing. :)

11 comments:

Graceful Threads said...

I read this book and couldnt of reviewed it anymore accurately and succinctly. Your right on about all of it.

Curious Christian said...

So do we never know we are saved? Is it a constant journey, trying to live up to a standard of perfection? Do we constantly live in doubt?

What if we've been really good and righteous, and then mess up once... maybe even in a big way? Were we never "really" saved, or did we lose it? What if we've got a lot of good fruits in a lot of areas, but one is really a struggle? Does God look at the good fruits, or the one bad one? Is one bad fruit evidence that we haven't really repented, and aren't really saved?

Do "good fruits" look the same in everyone, even if their lives have been dramatically different? If I've been raised in a white, Christian, middle-class home in a good neighborhood and strong church, I may be further along in the "good fruits" department than someone who had a poverty-stricken, abusive childhood, who has mental health or psychological problems, or brain damage... do the exact same "good fruit" standards apply? Or is it enough to show progress toward them?

If it's all just God's decision, and He saves who He wishes, does that mean our lives are supposed to be lived as checklists to be good enough for God to choose to save us?

I am not trying to be snarky, and am truly interested in the answers to these questions. It sounds very work-based, and eerily similar to the Mormon concept of salvation, without the "becoming gods" wrinkle. I don't want to misunderstand what you're saying.

Thanks.

Ginger said...

CC, I appreciate your honest questions.
We can have full assurance of salvation, according to 1 John. Read it and test yourself. Does it describe you?
No, it is not at all an attempt to live up to a standard of perfection. I assume you are referring to the law. The whole purpose of the law is to show us our sin. So we can see that we must have a Savior. Read Romans 3. There is none who do good, none who are righteous. According to that chapter and many others (Jesus said: Why do you call me good? There is none good but God), you have never been good and righteous. How many times have you lied? Have you ever hated anyone? Jesus said hatred is the same as murder. Have you ever looked at someone with lust? Jesus says we commit adultery in our hearts when we lust. Sin is in your heart. Imagine if all of your inner thoughts were displayed on a big screen tv for all your friends and family to see. It's not just what you do on the outside that is sin, it's what's in your heart. "Man sees the outside, but God sees the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7)
Rich white folks and poor abused children all have sin in their hearts. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
It is God who changes our hearts when He saves us. It is not something we can accomplish by good works. If it were, we wouldn't need God. When we see our sin for what it truly is, we cry out to God to save us. It is HE who does it, not us.
If you were drowning and screamed out for help and someone threw you a life saver, would you say you saved your own life by crying for help? Of course not. It was the one who threw you the life saver who saved your life. It is the same with God.

I pray you will be blessed as you search out the scripture. Nothing is more important that your eternal salvation. :)

Faith said...

Ginger,
So where are you getting all these books for review? Not at BookSneeze, right?
Faith

Anonymous said...

Ginger,

Don't know you personally. Have replied to your comments before. Am greatly appreciative of your review of this book. It is not surprising considering the lure of New Evangelicalism. You have correctly answered CC above. We can "know" that we have been saved. You have directed CC to the right Scriptures. God bless you. And yes, curious myself, where do you get these books to review?

Loretta
SW Virginia

Ginger said...

Thank you so much for the encouraging words, Loretta. :)
I review books for Thomas Nelson (BookSneeze.com) and Tyndale House (Tyndale House blog network).

Curious Christian said...

Thanks, Ginger! And I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply back. I didn't mean to give the impression that I am questioning my own salvation. I was confused about your interpretation of salvation based on the blog post. I get the impression that a lot of my beliefs and practices regarding Christianity are different than yours, and I'm genuinely curious (not condemning!) about them.

It seemed like you were questioning Brenda Warner's salvation, in light of behaviors you disagree with and may actually be sinful. Did I interpret that right? I questioned this because to me, when we start condemning Christians for imperfection, we are back to holding them to a legal standard, which all the verses above prove we are never going to attain. I wanted to clarify your position on that.

Does that make sense? I admit, I was rambling a bit in the first comment, trying to write as fast as the questions would come to me. Hope this one is a little easier to understand! Thanks again for responding.

Ginger said...

There's nothing wrong with questioning your salvation, it's a wise thing to do. According to 2 Cor. 13, we are called to do so! We have eternity to gain.
Since we can have assurance of salvation according to 1 John, it only makes sense to test ourselves in light of scripture.
Re: the Warners, I did not question the salvation of either. Nor do I "disagree" with their behavior. Scripture clearly states that believers should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, and I had earnestly hoped Brenda would eventually say that their relationship started out wrong. Unfortunately, that never happened, which leads readers to wrongly think it's ok to do that. :( That broke my heart.
Disagreeing with behavior is only opinion. We have scripture to know what is right and wrong, so we don't have to rely on simple opinions.

Anonymous said...

Curious Christian,

In your earlier post you stated that " I get the impression that a lot of my beliefs and practices regarding Christianity are different than yours"
I'm curious as to what stripe of Christianity you claim (i.e. Baptist, Methodist, etc..). Though we as Christians will not (this side of heaven) agree on every bit of doctrine, there are the essentials that simply cannot be compromised. So, perhaps you wouldn't mind telling us a bit of your background that way we can understand just where you differ.
Many Thanks you's
Abels wife...

Anonymous said...

Oh my. I find myself reading and commenting again. Thank you, Abels wife, I too am curious about what Curious Christian's religious background is. And, Ginger, if I may ask you as well? Are you Baptist, Presbyterian, ? Our doctrinal beliefs are Independent Baptist.

Thank you,
Loretta SW Virginia

Ginger said...

Our church is Reformed Baptist.