How are things with your heart? That's the question Andy Stanley asks in this book, but of course he's not talking about cardiac tissue, blockages, blood pressure, arteries, valves or cholesterol.
He's asking about the deep down places of our soul, the corners we like to sweep things into and the junk we pretend doesn't exist. We certainly don't usually deal with the emotions lurking there or how they control us and our relationships. In fact, we're most likely to overlook them entirely or excuse them as just "how I am," "how God made me," or some other such nonsense that trivializes God's capacity to transform us into Christ-likeness and keeps us comfortable in our sin.
In Psalm 139:23-24, David wrote: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"
Reading Stanley's book is like praying this prayer. It's "dangerous" in that what God reveals about the sins of attitude, emotion and motivation may be painful to see. We usually remain pretty pleased with ourselves when we simply keep our behavior in check. Yet, addressing the hidden junk in our emotions is what we need to do to move forward in spiritual growth.
Stanley covers four enemies of the heart and defines each in a unique, fresh, and insightful way: Guilt (I Owe You); Anger (You Owe Me); Greed: (I Owe Me); and Jealousy (God Owes Me). For each, he gives extremely practical steps rooted in Scripture that will help us overcome any of these emotions that hold us captive.
As challenging and convicting as the book really is, Stanley never comes across as "preachy" or condescending. Mostly, it's like sitting across from a good friend or older brother who is telling you what he's learned from experience with honesty, transparency and humor.
The book includes discussion questions that can be used for group study and I think for a small group that's willing to drop any super-spiritual facades and be honest about our heart conditions, it'd work really well. For an individual, it can be a groundbreaking challenge and an eye-opening first step to victory in your Christian life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing these things in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Andy Stanley has the ability of a heart surgeon to carefuly move his scriptural scapel into the hidden layers of the heart. Uncovering the heart blockage of dangerous emotions, anger, jealousy, greed and guilt. You may be tempted to respond, "Who me?" But after his careful diagnosis you humbly answer, "Yes, me." But this book not only uncovers the sin but quickly guides the reader to the scriptural perscription of confession and repentance.
A great resource for individuals and small groups.
January 16, 2012
Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah Books, 2010, 2011. 218 pages. Reviewed by Rev. Russell A. Whitfield.
Andy Stanley has communicated four critical forces that are common to every person, and has given biblical advice to deal with these damaging powers. The book, Enemies of the Heart, is a collection of chapters that introduces and discusses four emotional forces in a biblically relevant, readable, practical, honest way. The twenty chapters of Stanley's book are divided into four parts to help his readers deal with these four enemies: guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy that come from within a person's heart. The first part addresses the roots of these enemies, the second part deals with each of the four enemies individually for deeper clarification, the third part offers advice that will effect change, and finally Stanley takes two chapters to express the effect the heart change will make on future generations as well as other areas of one's life.
As senior pastor and founder of North Point Ministries Inc, Stanley has written several practical resources that help communicate Biblical Truths to other ministries and lay people as well. He has taken real life examples both from his personal life and the lives of others to illustrate the effects these Enemies of the Heart have on an individual. Stanley recognizes that in his own life he had to confront certain enemies that were set to damage his life and relationships.
Enemies of the Heart explores four destructive forces that infiltrate an individual's life with the aim to destroy their home, career, and relationships. The first section of the book is titled where did that come from? and is introduced with a verse from Jeremiah 17:9 to explain the deceitfulness and sickness of the heart. In the first two chapters of this section, he describes two incidences that provide a clear picture of why this book was written. He shares about a personal occurrence one evening while lying in bed. He had felt an unusual feeling in his chest, and later found out that he had an irregular heartbeat. Another occurrence he describes was when the famous basketball player Pistol Pete Maravich suddenly collapsed while playing basketball right before an interview he had later with James Dobson. Maravich had a heart condition, but did not know about it because he was in fit condition. These two occurrences are used to help the reader understand the importance of monitoring the condition of their heart spiritually.
The next section of his book is titled Deeper Debts. Stanley introduces the four enemies and how each is fueled by a dynamic that must be confronted on an individual basis. He takes a separate chapter to describe each of the four enemies and the destruction each will cause to the heart. He begins this section taking time to identifying these four enemies as debts that are considered the debt to debtor dynamic that always causes imbalance in any relationship. The next four chapters deal with the debts individually. The first chapter is titled Guilt: I Owe You, secondly he deals with Anger: You Owe Me, Next he focuses attention on Greed: I Owe Me, and lastly he considers Jealousy: God Owes Me.
The third section offers some effective ways to effect spiritual growth and transformation in an individual's life. In chapter ten, Stanley's aim is for individual Christians to begin the process of monitoring their heart and not just their behavior. In order for spiritual growth and transformation to take place, there needs to be a "spiritual" heart surgery to happen. As he begins this section, Stanley takes some time to explain how making changes to one's habits can affect the kind of spiritual transformation needed to deal with the dangerous enemies of the heart. He uses a character named Brian who has a bad heart to illustrate the lifestyle changes needed to have a healthy heart spiritually. It took a visit to the doctor for Brian to realize that he needed to make some lifestyle changes that would strengthen his heart. Brian was not willing to make the lifestyle changes needed to strengthen his physical heart, much like the average individual's lack of understanding needed to make spiritual changes in order to lead a healthy spiritual life.
The nine chapters in the third section confront each enemy of the heart with the truths of scripture, and practical advice as to how each one needs to be confronted. Stanley begins by addressing the power of guilt by being overcome through the habit of confession (1 John 1:9); next he offers the most freeing advice of forgiveness as a way to "Get rid of all anger_" (Ephesians 4:31); then Stanley approaches the enemy of greed by offering an attitude of generosity; finally the last enemy he confronts is jealousy that should be overcome through the celebration of other's successes and decisions.
The final section of his book, entitled Moving Forward, ends with two chapters that enlighten his readers about the effects these four enemies could have on later generations, as well as other spiritual struggles individuals might be confronted with, especially his male readers. The habits of our hearts become the best models for those in the home. Stanley readdresses the importance of monitoring one's heart from the warning found in Proverbs 4:23 to guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
The last chapter, About Lust, gives his readers the main reason why it is important to maintain a healthy heart. He concludes the chapter saying, the healthier our hearts, the easier it will be for us to keep this God-given appetite properly focused and under control.
Stanley has done an excellent job communicating the dangers and power guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy have on an individual's life. He has written a strong resource that confronts these enemies that come from within our hearts with the power of God's Holy Scripture. I was convicted that continued monitoring of our hearts spiritually proves to be a major need as we seek to truly live this abundant life God desires for us as believers. As you read this book, you will catch yourself taking time to analyze the habits of your own heart and its condition. I highly recommend this book to every Christian, young or old, as well as an individual small group seeking a powerful resource.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers 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 had previously only read one other book by Andy Stanley and, I must say, I was somewhat dissappointed. So, although this title really intrigued me, I wasn't so sure about reading it. Boy, was I surprised! I really enjoyed this book and it really gives you a lot to think about. It's amazing how the four emotions that Stanley talks about....guilt, anger, greed and jealousy... really are the root of all relationship problems. I really enjoyed his relaxed style of writing and how he included personal stories to illustrate his points. I definitely think that I will have to check out other Andy Stanley books!
This book was provided to me free of charge from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review.