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5 Stars Out Of 5
Recommended Ladies' Small Group Study
July 17, 2011
In the small group Bible study "Freedom from Performing," author Becky Harling gently confronts the ideas that Christians must earn the approval of others, work for praise, seek to impress, earn the approval of God, or prove to the world through their actions that they are indeed saved. To do this, throughout the book, she emphasizes different aspects of God's amazing grace. In fact, each chapter has a one sentence "Grace Glimpse" to highlight the chapter's point. We rest in God's grace, and once we're secure in that, we serve out of gratitude and love as the Holy Spirit leads.
Within each chapter, Harling highlights Bible stories that show God's grace in action among His people. Her explanations of the cultural concepts behind many of the stories especially appealed to me. She also references many pertinent Bible verses for the reader to look up on her own. Harling also shares parts of her testimony and the testimonies of other women in each chapter in order to show how points apply. As we understand the experiences of others, we can better understand how the message can work in our personal lives. Each chapter ends with a "Message from the Grace Giver"â€”a letter written as if from God to the reader, a scripture prayer to help the reader internalize grace, and a daily Bible study for the reader to work through on her own to later discuss with her small group.
If you are looking for a great small group Bible study for women, I highly recommend "Freedom from Performing" by Becky Harling. I read it alone and found it so encouraging even that way, but I think the blessings would have been exponential in a group setting. I look forward to reading it again that way someday!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Because I'm such a book person, I often look for books to encourage me and help me to remind myself of the Truths I know in my heart. This past month I've been reading through this book I thought might be encouraging. I read a preview online and I liked the table of contents as well as the first few pages, so I had wanted to read it. When I started reading the book, though, I found that it wasn't what I was looking for. I didn't connect with the content of the chapters in the book. I do know and understand God's grace, but I imperfectly live out my life in that grace. My struggle is not understanding and accepting God's love--it is getting past my people pleasing and for my motives to be right--for my actions to be aimed at glorifying God, not done out of the fear of man.
The first couple chapters I simply didn't connect with. The chapters in the middle had some good ideas and thoughts in them, but they felt very wordy. I liked most of the questions at the end of the chapters for Bible study. But there was one part of each chapter that unsettled me. It was the section near the end of each chapter and was titled "Message from the Grace Giver". The author writes on pg. 19, "These are life-giving truths I drew from Scripture and then recast as if God were speaking them directly to you. I pray they encourage you and help you live in grace." Her words sound okay, but the idea of doing this concerned me. I don't think it's wise to speak for God. I know this is a literary device that many authors use, but I simply don't think it's wise. The Bible is God's Word. God speaks for Himself in it.
There are many books that have been written about this topic and similar topics. Some books resonate with some people, but not everyone. Perhaps this is one of those books. But, it isn't the one I'd recommend. I'd actually recommend Becoming a Woman of Freedom by Cynthia Heald or Becoming a Woman of Grace. These are great Bible Studies that will take you to the Word. If you want to read a more indepth book about grace I'd recommend The Discipline of Grace and Trusting God by Jerry Bridges.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from NavPress.
Helps Women Get Free from Performance-Driven Lives
June 28, 2011
This is twelve-week Bible study for women to help them become free from the bondage of performing for other's approval and also opens them up to receiving God's grace and acceptance. It is also full of Biblical wisdom to help open them up to some of Jesus' parables.
I liked reading the "Message from the Grace Giver" and "Praying Scripture to Internalize Grace" in every chapter. The "Message from the Grace Giver" was worded like the Lord was speaking directly to me and the prayers helped me to go deeper into the Lord's presence to receive the messages that He wanted me to learn from this study.
My favorite topic was about Jesus' hidden place; this was the place Jesus went to draw closer to God where He didn't get any applause or affirmation. The topic opened my mind up to the fact that when we go into that hidden place with God He uses our time in there to purify us and to make some changes that He wants to make within us.
There is a Bible study at the end of each chapter broken up into six days worth of Scripture study and reflection which is great for group study or personal reflection.
I recommend this book to women's Bible study groups that include women who want to learn more about Jesus' parables, God's grace, and how to try to live a more performance-free life. I also recommend this book to women who want to learn about these topics during their own personal Bible study time.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I am absolutely fascinated by this book and its message. Any book titled â€˜Freedom from Performing' and subtitled â€˜grace in an applause driven world' and has an attractively presented cover will get attention. What makes this book stand out is its writing, its articulately presented principles and practice, its very honest discussions and its lively and reflective pace.
Designed as a three month women's study of the Bible, it focuses on the affirmation, accolades, applause and recognition that many women feel they need to define their success. Central is an idea that women are performing a variety of roles in daily life and this performance-driven life creates unrealistic expectations. Changing a focus to the real worth of a created soul made in God's image changes the emphasis to what we are, not who we are expected to be.
This is a satisfying book to read and work through because it is bright, breezy and challenging without being overpowering. The phrasing of the writing is superb, the natural writing style reflects the author and at times feels almost conversational and the practical study exercises are as reflective as you would want them to be. For some this will be a life-changing book and will be well used. This is gifted communication and a real author discovery for me.
I was really excited to have a chance to review Freedom From Performing by Becky Harling as it deals with something I myself have issues with. Those of us who are performance based often struggle with seeing ourselves through the righteousness that Christ offers us; when we fail to do so, we set ourselves on an endless, and fruitless, cycle of trying to be "good enough" for God...teaching one more class, serving one more person, reading one more book of the Bible...endlessly. Those things are well and good in themselves but, if they are done to earn God's favor, rather than as a result of God's grace acting in our lives, they are of no use whatsoever. That's why I wanted to read this book. I was hoping for insight from one who had "been there". To be honest, Freedom From Performing does offer some good advice to the performance driven among us. Sadly, it also offers a hefty does of non-biblical advice (dangerously masquerading as theologically based truth).
Centering prayer is just one of the issues that I found to be dangerous in this book. It alone is enough but it isn't all. If you have bought a copy of this book, toss it; if you are thinking about getting a copy of this book, don't. My copy will be hitting the trash can before this day is over.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of Freedom From Performing from NavPress for purposes of review. I was not not required to give a positive review, only a fair and honest one. My opinions are my own.