Joy and Tears

I have to say, when I first saw that this book was written by a man, I was a little skeptical. Perhaps because I, being a pretty emotional woman, have been told by most men in my life, that emotions are not as necessary as I believe them to be, I did not want to be told the same thing again over 200 pages. I thought too, it might not demonize passionate or intense emotions, but it might consists of superficial trivialities that could be found in the “for dummies” or self-help section. I am so glad I was wrong!

“Joy and Tears: The Emotional Life of the Christian,” by Dr. Gerald Peterman, professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute, succeeds in carefully examining emotions from a Biblical standpoint, something I have not seen many authors do. Peterman explains emotions, which are often described as obstacles in the way of knowing God, as actual gifts from God! The emotional lives of Christians are just as important as our cognitive or even actual lives.

In this well-written book, Dr. Peterman works to dismantle the popular Christian myth that feeling has no part in our pursuit of Christ. He does so by explaining that emotions are found in scriptures themselves. How can Jesus weep with sorrow in the Garden, shout with anger in the temple, and rebuke his own apostles in frustration if He is without sin? The answer, to my utter joy, is simple: emotions themselves are not sin! But not to worry, Peterman is is quick to explain that while the emotion of anger may not be sinful, humans are highly capable of reacting to their feelings in a sinful way. He urges the reader to learn more about their emotions instead of pushing them aside, and to become aware of our internal convictions, because, in fact, this is what Jesus did himself. He even goes so far as to say that doing so will help us understand scripture. By becoming more emotionally engaged with the characters of the bible, we will be able to appreciate the Word of God on more than just a cognitive level. And, let’s face it, we can’t just rely on our own understanding to engage us with God.

With arguments and explorations of real life examples, Peterman comes to the conclusion that emotions are the natural responses to our convictions, and also can aid us in becoming more Christ-like. He explains how we can grow to view our emotions as logical, yet at times unconscious, reactions stemming from our internalized beliefs.

With practical advice about how to see our emotions in this way, “Joy and Tears” is geared towards helping Christians take productive, reachable steps towards becoming emotionally healthy. Any Christian, whether feeling void of emotion, or consumed with emotion, will be greatly impacted after this excellent read.

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“All In” by Mike Guzzardo book review

96918038This week I finished reading a book by Mike Guzzardo called “All In” from Moody Publishers. I received the book at no cost from the publishing company with permission to read and review it.

To be honest, I thought this was another book that was just going to tell me that if I want to get all of God’s blessings, then I need to totally surrender to him. However, the first chapter paints a picture of our walk with Jesus as a journey up a steep mountain (not unlike Lewis’s Great Divorce), and I very quickly realized how low I truly was on that mountain, and I began to read more fervently. James 1:22 tells us, “do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” And in many ways, this book encouraged me to do the exact same thing– it is a call to action! Our life as a Christian is not about making Christ one priority among many, but about making Him THE priority.

Mike writes of his testimony in depth when describing his teenage years and his choice between Jesus or the acceptance of others. At one of the darkest times in his life, he called upon Christ and fully surrendered to Him and hasn’t looked back since. If you are currently a teen, or have had difficult teenage years, you will identify with this part of the book. After we get to know Mike a little more and are prompted to truly decide if we want real surrender, Mike shows us that Satan is always looking for ways to distort our perception of God. We need to be able to catch Satan in his lies, and know the true and unfailing character of our Father. The more we meditate on God’s word, the more we grow to know Him, and the more we are changed from the inside out to reflect His character.

The book ends with asking if you are “all in” for Christ, and offers scripture and suggestions for completely surrendering to God. I highly recommend this book as a guide for for new Christians and a refresher for seasoned Saints. It’s a quick read with beautiful metaphors and meaningful illustrations which are easy to understand and relate to. This book is great for adults, but would serve as a source book for student ministries or a young adult small group.