Book Review: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

I received a book as a gift entitled “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. The author is a speaker and writer of women’s Bible studies and brings so much insight into studying the Bible in this book. It made me take a minute to stop and realize what studying the Bible was to me. I asked myself why I was studying the Bible. Was it to satisfy my own conscience? Was it to make myself feel good? Was I reading it looking for verses that spoke to me? Or was I reading it to find out more about who God was?   2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Wilkin said something that was true of me. She says: “I got it backwards, I failed to realize that the Bible is a book about God. The Bible is a book that clearly reveals who God is on every page…or perhaps I really did know that the Bible was a book about God, but I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading it as if it were. I approached my study time asking the wrong questions. I read the Bible asking ‘Who am I’ and ‘What should I do?’ We must read the Bible with our ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of himself.”

Wilkin begins the book talking about her own life and experience, telling about her growing passion for studying the Bible. She then goes on to explain how she began to turn her study time in a different direction: rather than asking herself what the Bible could do for her, she asked herself “what am I learning about God in my study, since this book is about Him?”  She also explains how before she had often let her heart lead her in her study. I think a lot of modern Christianity today asks, “How is this making me feel?” instead of “What am I learning about God and my walk with Him?” But remember, we cannot love what our minds do not know; we first have to have the knowledge. Psalm 119: 125 “I am thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.”

Wilkin explains that the book’s purpose is “to teach you not merely a doctrine, concept, or story line, but a study method that will allow you to open up the Bible on your own. It intends to challenge you to think and to grow, using tools accessible to all of us, whether we hold a high school diploma or a seminary degree, whether we have minutes or hours to give to it each day.”

After talking about her failures and changes in study, Wilkin talks about a desire for Bible literacy.  Bible literacy is “when a person has access to a Bible in a language they understand and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text.” She lists a few different approaches of studying the Bible, explaining what they are, and the problems she has with them. She then begins to give her readers a different guide for studying the Bible, talking about the “Five P’s” of study. Here she teaches her readers to study with Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process, and Prayer.  She goes through each one of these in great detail, giving a what, how, and why for each. This takes up most of the book and is a simple way of going about studying the Bible, which brings forth valuable findings.

I loved how throughout her book Wilkin shows her great love for God and because of that love, her love for His Word. She says quite a few times how she loves the Bible because it teaches her about God.  The way she speaks of and describes the Bible proves her words to be true. I also found that I really liked the way she told her readers that our minds should be trained before our hearts so that we can understand before letting our emotions take over our study.

As part of the objective audience for this book, being a woman, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it for women, but I know that men could find it beneficial as well. She is a very good writer, easy to understand and uses great examples and Scripture to back up her points. As always we must read with great discretion, especially when it comes to books that are popular mainstream by Christian publishers, but I wholeheartedly think that this is a great book to read and to help start a foundation for studying God’s Word.  She simply states a humble way of studying the Bible and I have found it to be very helpful in my own personal study time.

Lisa Heystek

Book quotations taken from: Wilkin, Jen. Women of the Word, Crossway 2014.

 

 

The Truth Will Set Us Free: Endorsing a Book Full of Lies!

Over the last few months I read a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. I want to share with you what that book did for my life lately. Yes, I am endorsing a book full of lies. But the book, of course, points out the lies in the lives (especially of women) and how we should respond to them in an appropriate way. There are eight sections in the book, covering lies about God, ourselves, our sin, priorities, marriage, children, emotions, and circumstances. I’m going to take one from each section here and explain a little bit about it. Here’s a couple that hit home really hard for me.

Lie #4: God is not really enough.  None of us would EVER admit to this out loud. Because really, what kind of Christians ARE we if we admit that we believe that God is not enough? We would be honest Christians if we did so. Deep down I realized that I was looking to so many other things to fulfill my life: my acceptance into my college program, my relationship with my boyfriend, my friends, my GPA, my job. I constantly believe that God is not enough for me, but as Nancy DeMoss explains, He is! We often fool ourselves by thinking “I do need God, but I need God plus ______.” This only leads to pain and distress in our lives. Rejecting this lie and embracing the truth that God is our all in all will give us true, lasting freedom!

Lie #11: Physical beauty means more than inner beauty. *Sigh* the ever-present “girl problem” of our day and age. I will be honest with you, when I look in the mirror this is what I often see: too short, stomach isn’t flat; face is breaking out, too many heavy curves, baggy eyes, overweight, downturned mouth. Sometimes I even see good things: soft brown eyes, hair that’s behaving, skin’s clearing up, maybe I’m even losing weight! We all know that Proverbs 31 explicitly shows that a woman’s virtue and her godly attitude are much more important, but how many of us live that way? How many of us find our worth in the godliness we exhibit, in the way we love others, in the selflessness of being a true child of God? That is where worth is found. In the eyes of our heavenly Father, who sees not as man, but who looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Lie #13: I can sin and get away with it. Another one that I dare bet none of us have ever said out loud. We probably haven’t even heard any other Christians say this out loud. But this again is where actions speak louder than words. How often do we not know full well that God sees, hears, and knows our sin, and we do it anyway? Nancy DeMoss explains how this is one of the fundamental lies that Eve believed in the Garden of Eden. Satan had convinced her that she could sin (eat the fruit) and get away with it (not die, but become like gods).  We have to remember that God does know our sin, and there are often consequences for walking in sin. DeMoss goes through a number of sins common in the lives of Christian women and reminds us of the possible consequences of them. I’ll leave those details for you to read yourself, though.

Lie #20: A career outside the home is more valuable and fulfilling than being a wife and mother. This lie is in the section of priorities, and while there were several others that hit home for me (including the amount of time we dedicate to time in the Word), this one means a lot to me, but thankfully, it means so much to me because I made a good choice about it. From the time I was in grade school, I knew I wanted to work with animals. I wanted to be a vet. As I got older, I realized that veterinarians do not typically have a 9-5 life. They are called out on farm calls, emergencies and urgent house calls. Now, first and foremost, I know women who are fulltime vets and mothers, and they do a great job balancing work and family, but that wasn’t what I wanted for myself. When I went into my junior/senior years at high school I had a choice to make. I didn’t have a boyfriend and didn’t know if I would ever get married, but I knew I wanted to. Did I go for a full graduate degree and become a vet, assuming God would never lead the right man to me? Or did I go for a lesser degree, praying that a family is what God intended for me. I chose to go into veterinary technology, an undergraduate degree typically with a full or part time, flexible work life. In today’s world women are told “go to college, get degrees, get careers!” But then their children are raised by grandparents or daycare workers. That is not what God had intended for the Christian women. There should be no greater, more fulfilling job than to be able to stay at home and watch your children grow in grace and love for God. I believe I made the right choice concerning my work life, and I hope many other women will make prayerful decisions as well.

Lie #24: If I submit to my husband, I’ll be miserable. Ahh, the section on marriage. The holy, eternal bond that ends in less than 8 years (according to Ask.com—sorry for the poor citation) in the average American couple. I’m not married, but this lie makes me very, very sad. Marriage is supposed to be a bond representing Christ and the church! Are we miserable when we submit to Christ? Men are not perfect (and neither are women!), but when you love your husband, submission is not a painful thing. Nancy DeMoss even has a couple sub-categorized lies in this department, including “The wife is inferior to her husband,” and “The wife does not provide input or express her opinions to her husband.” Submission is not always easy, but a true man of God who loves is wife will not be tyrannical, but will be a loving, devoted picture of Christ, and make submission actually JOYFUL for his wife.

Lie #27: It’s up to us to determine the size of our family. Another touchy topic in society today. Basically this boils down to stepping back and recognizing God’s control in our lives. We may say that we are only going to have two children, and God’s plan (no matter what lengths we might go through to change it) is that we have 10! Or we might want to have half a dozen kids running around our home, but God is only pleased to allow us one or two, or even none. Nothing, not our finances, emotions, time constraints, or birth control pills will stop God from creating in our home the family that He is pleased to give us. Planning is wise, but plan with a knowledge that God will always make His will come about.

Lie #34: I can’t help how I respond when my hormones are out of whack. This lie really just lends itself to, as DeMoss puts it, “cater to our emotions.” We allow our emotions to control our lives and our reactions, when in fact that is not acceptable. This quite simply is not a valid excuse for reacting or responding in inappropriate ways. Yes it’s true that out of whack hormones make it hard to keep our heads on straight sometimes, but that does not mean we can use that as an excuse to fly off the handle.

Lie #39: I just can’t take anymore. Allow me to raise my hand right now and say “guilty as charged.” This is very accurately how I respond to trials in my life all too often. My GPA suffers? I just can’t do this anymore. My friends hurt me? I can’t take this anymore. My heart is aching over something in a relationship? I can’t take any more of this. We give up all too quickly. Why don’t I instead turn to God and say “His grace will lead [me] through!” I will study harder next time, communicate better in the future, and be more patient from here on out! Though I can’t keep those things perfectly, God will give me the grace and strength to continue to do what He calls me to do, even when my heart hurts and I just want to give up. Trust in Him alone!

This book was amazing, and I plan on re-reading it again and again, as I know that these lies will never be all completely gone, but I will need to see them continually and respond to their deception in my life, just as all of us will. I highly suggest this book to any Christian woman. It was easy to understand, and while some parts had hints of free-willed salvation, reading this book with Christian discretion is highly profitable for the life of the daughters of God.

Suzie Kuiper