Book Review: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

“Breaking free from the four emotions that control you” is a goal that most of us don’t even realize we have, but Stanley guides us through diagnosing the troubles of our hearts—and better yet—finding a treatment plan to make us whole again.

Guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy are the four horsemen of the apocalypse of our hearts. They all are signatures of debts and imbalances in our relationships and thinking.

Guilt means that “I owe you.” There is no happiness in guilt. No joyful service, no smile.

Anger means that “you owe me.” You didn’t give me what I deserve! (Whatever exactly that might be!) Herein lies the heart of a grudge.

Greed means that “I owe me.” What’s mine is mine—because I’ve earned it—and this is only the beginning. Greedy people worry, don’t share, and don’t give. But Greed isn’t a financial issue; it is a heart issue. Greed demands security.

Jealousy means that “God owes me.” How dare you have what I can’t? It isn’t “fair” that you’re smarter, better equipped, or more successful than I am, because God owes me just as good or better!

When our hearts are held captive by these feelings, we are hurt. Stanley nails it: “Hurt people hurt people. And we could add who hurt other people, who hurt still other people…. On and on it goes.”

But there is a cure! Confession, forgiveness, giving, and celebration are medicine for the soul, if we’re willing to make a habit of them.

Stanley’s book is an excellent treatment of the underlying issues most of us share. He is blunt, honest, and helpful, much like the cardiologist who can help save our physical body. I’d recommend this for small groups or personal reading. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling!

(Multnomah’s Blogging for Books provided me a free review copy of this book.)

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler

I recently read Don’t Check Your Brains as part of the BookSneeze.com review program. An evaluation copy was provided to me at no charge. In the interest of full disclosure, as soon as I finished it, I purchased a copy for our teen Sunday School teachers.

This book makes a great introduction to “Christian mythbusting.” It tackles the ideas that are fed to us—and that so many of us swallow whole. Do these sound familiar?

  • God is an impersonal force
  • Jesus was a white plastic wimp
  • All roads lead to Heaven
  • The body of Jesus was really stolen
  • As long as I’m better than Hitler, I must be alright in God’s eyes. (God grades on a curve!)
  • Christians are idiots
  • Christianity is easy
  • Manhood is about sex, strength, and money
  • Sex is dirty and bad
  • Mankind can save itself

These are just a few of the 42 myths tackled by McDowell and Hostetler. The chapters are 2-5 pages each making for a quick and easy read. The authors include great illustrations and anecdotes that help the book relate. I’d recommend the book on this count alone.

Another great feature is the inclusion of questions in each chapter. These aren’t typical discussion questions; they are “brain food” with scriptures to look up and evaluate. The form has some variation from chapter to chapter to help maintain interest.

I enjoyed the book thoroughly. If you’re looking to work with young people, I’d consider it a great resource on the basics of intentional Christian thought and living.