Book Review: The God Who Satisfies

Title: The God Who Satisfies

Tagline: How Jesus seeks, saves, and sanctifies Samaritan women- like us

Author: Chris Anderson

Genre: nonfiction

Summary: Pastor Chris Anderson puts a new twist on the well-known Bible story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well (otherwise known as the Samaritan woman). Her life-changing meeting with Jesus, found in John 4, becomes the basis for a book designed to point readers to God’s great redemptive work.

Pastor Anderson emphasizes five ways Jesus works in peoples’ lives: He seeks sinners, He saves sinners, He satisfies sinners, He turns sinners into worshippers, and finally He turns sinners into missionaries.

None of these things would be possible apart from Jesus.

I also enjoyed the hymns sprinkled throughout. The author is a prolific hymn writer, and he makes frequent use of his own songs. These help to drive home his points and to further direct the reader’s focus toward God. It’s an interesting technique I’ve never come across in a book before.  

My Thoughts: A friend gave me this book for Christmas, but I didn’t read through it until recently. It sat by my chair for a long time, with other books always taking precedence. I’m so glad I finally read through The God Who Satisfies.

This book was straightforward and to the point; it was also very convicting. If you’re looking for a fluffy, happy book designed to make you feel good about yourself, it’s not going to be this one.

However, if you’re looking for a powerful book whose sole purpose is to direct the reader to Christ and help him or her grow as a Christian, this is the book for you.

The God Who Satisfies will cause readers to see Jesus’ amazing works in a new light. It’s easy to read the biblical account of the Samaritan woman and think, “Well, I’m sure not her. I’d never have five husbands! She really needed Jesus to save her.”

But Pastor Anderson repeatedly reminds his readers that we are all Samaritan women. We are all desperate, needy sinners, thirsty for the satisfaction only a relationship with God can give us.   

This book will help you see the woman at the well, and her Savior, in a whole new light. God did great things in her life, and He does in ours as well.  

Favorite Quotes: “This unnamed lady is representative of everybody. We all experience painful solitude. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have more questions than answers. And we all have a deep thirst for something more- even if we don’t know what that ‘something” is.”

“Women were downcast- but not to our Lord. Throughout his ministry, He elevated them. He spoke to them. He defended them. He commended them. He forgave them. He healed at their requests. He made them heroes of His parables. He relied on them as some of His more faithful, courageous, and generous followers.”

“I didn’t understand that what Jesus calls me to is infinitely superior to what the world offers! He calls me to abundant life, to delight, to joy! And unlike the siren calls of the world, He actually delivers.”

What Can You do on Your Own? Four Women Who Show us Anything is Possible!

“I could never do that by myself.”

These words whisper through my head all the time. They manage to talk me out of everything from attending weddings to remote hiking to simply eating out for dinner.

How often do you dare to step out alone?

Seeking inspiration…

I love to read. My earliest childhood memory is of going to story hour at the library. I know I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet. Once when I was young, a lady in my church took my sister and I out for dinner and we both sat at the table and read the entire time!

While my manners have improved since then, my love of reading has stayed the same. Good stories thrill me, delight me, and draw me in for more. They never get old.

Two years ago, I set a goal of reading fifty books. I met that goal, but as I looked back over my list, I realized I hadn’t liked many of the books. Often, I’d finish one and thrust aside in disgust, saying, “How in the world did she become an author?” or something to that effect.

I didn’t want to waste my time reading books I didn’t enjoy or find helpful, so last year I set a new goal: Read twelve Christian nonfiction books and twelve classics. Thanks to COVID and lockdowns, I was able to meet that goal, too.

Along the way I discovered something- those Christian nonfiction books were… good. They encouraged, uplifted, challenged, and pointed me to God.

My favorite books were biographies about single women doing crazy, inspiring things for God. I don’t even like to go to a hardware store by myself, and here I was, reading about women who rode camels into deserts, horses into uncharted jungles, started schools in Uganda, and even survived concentration camps.

These women were incredible not in themselves, but because they were totally sold out for God. They were so willing to live for Him, He enabled them to become super-women.

In my continued effort to live deliberately, I reset my goal of reading Christian nonfiction this year. I wanted to share a few of my favorite books with you in the hopes that they would inspire you, too.  

  • The Hiding Place

You must read this book! I’d heard of it but hadn’t picked it up until last summer. You will be beyond moved as you read about Corrie and Betsie ten Boom’s courage, grace, and strength as they hide Jewish refugees in their house. When they were discovered and arrested, their trust in God carried them through the horrors of a concentration camp.

I don’t usually (ok, never) cry over books or movies, but this one got me.

  • Kisses From Katie

Katie Davis was only eighteen(!) when she first traded her comfortable American life for a hut in Uganda. She started out as a kindergarten teacher for dozens of children and eventually created a successful non-profit while simultaneously becoming the adopted mother of thirteen girls. All of this was done while she was still a very young, single woman.

My favorite part of her book is the first page, where she states, “Jesus wrecked my life.” He took all her typical college-girl plans and threw them out the window. I know I often fear total surrender to God for this same reason- that He would “wreck” my life and fling me into the vast unknown. Katie, however, makes it look like a wonderful adventure.

  • Made for the Journey

Elisabeth Elliot is one of my favorite writers because she tells it like it is. She goes straight to the Bible and never steers from the truths she finds there. This little book, originally titled These Strange Ashes, is fascinating- it presents us with the first year of her life as a missionary, when she was still waiting for her future husband, Jim Elliot, to decide if he even should marry her.

I was both thrilled and horrified as I read of some of her ordeals- riding on a horse for days through uncleared jungles, floating down roiling rivers in dugout canoes, battling slimy, unknown creatures, attending women in childbirth, and attempting to translate the Bible into an as-yet-unwritten tribal language. Her devotion to God is evident throughout every challenge.

  • Give Me This Mountain

I’d never heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare until I came across a reference to her in Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s excellent book Choosing Gratitude.  Helen didn’t live a quiet life. Instead of practicing medicine in England, she chose a far more radical path- the life of a medical missionary in the war-ravaged Congo.

Being a foreign doctor in an impoverished country was challenging enough, but things became much harder, and more personal, when guerillas took over Helen’s hospital compound. Many missionaries had already left the country, but Helen’s deeply rooted trust in God compelled her to stay. For five months, she and several other female missionaries were held captive.

Helen braved the ordeal and even learned to give God thanks for it.

What can We do on Our Own?

These are just a couple out of many books I enjoyed last year! I wish I could share more with you. I think I like them because they show me what’s possible when God is fully in charge of your life.

So often single women hold themselves back because they’re on their own. Everything feels twice as daunting. Believe me, I know.

A life devoted to God may not be pretty or easy, but these women show us it’s possible to live boldly all on your own.

It’s amazing what women- even single women- can accomplish when they let God work through them.   

This week I’m thankful for the blessing of good books and the inspiring women they share with us. May we all learn to be more like them. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

Gratitude in all Things

Last week in my kindergarten classroom one of the students laid his bag of Veggie Straws down on the floor. The boy with the cubbie next to him stepped back and accidently crushed the Veggie Straws. I saw it happen and held my breath, waiting for the angry outburst I was sure was coming. Instead, the first boy picked up the bag and shouted, “Yea! Now I have more!”

Gratitude and joy were his first response. I loved that.

And I was rebuked at the same time.

I wish gratitude and joy came that easily to me, but I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of person. That’s my natural default.

I Thessalonians 5:18 tells a different story- “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Last week I wrote about all the reasons I was thankful to be single and easily came up with twelve of them. Most of the time I enjoy being single.

Sometimes, though, I absolutely hate it:

When my school wants to do something nice for the teachers so they arrange for all of us to get away at a nice lodge. Ummm… who do I “get away” with?

When people call me “Mrs.” and then quickly apologize

 Scraping snow off my car at 6:30 in the morning while wearing a skirt because there’s no one else to do it

Feeling like everyone’s either judging you or pitying you because you’re single

And holidays. I really struggle with holidays. There’s nothing like a string of warm, cozy family-oriented events to remind you of what you don’t have.   

How does a single woman give thanks in those circumstances?

One of my favorite books is Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (it was written before she was married).  This book has helped me greatly with my outlook on the more challenging parts of life. So now I want to shift the focus of this post and turn it into a book review:

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” –James 1:17

Choosing Gratitude emphasizes the importance of treating gratitude as a way of life, not just an attitude. The book starts with the reminder of what God has done for us- He saves us, calls us His children, and offers us a new life.

When we stop to REALLY think about what God has done for us then it stands to reason we will be filled with thankfulness. A heart that’s been changed by God should naturally be overflowing, multiplying, and abounding with gratitude. When we start to view life that way, our whole outlook changes.

The author also emphasizes the importance of developing gratitude for all aspects of life- both the good and the bad. A heart of gratitude can help us walk through the hardest times.

Those tough holidays? My single-girl holiday season might look different from most women’s, but there is still a lot to be grateful for. Reading books like this one help me see that.

I would highly recommend this book. It’s full of joy. You feel it seeping through the pages (sorry if that sounds cheesy, but it’s true!). It will give you new eyes to see what God has done for you and how you should respond.

If you already feel yourself starting to struggle with the holiday season, reroute your mindset with a great book like Choosing Gratitude. At the end of the book there is also a thirty-day devotional to guide readers through a “journey of gratitude.” The devotional is a great tool to help you focus on thankfulness.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss tells us gratitude is a journey to a whole new way to view life. It’s a choice to see life through God’s lens, finding ways to give thanks in all circumstances.

And gratitude leads to joy.

Quotes for Inspiration:

“So much of what is wrong in our lives- out of sync, out of sorts, out of harmony- can be traced back to the root of ingratitude.”

“The mercies of God that are ‘new every morning’ are not blessings we deserve but graces given by God’s loving hand to fallen creatures, those He has redeemed by His good pleasure. To ignore such unmerited favor… is to miss out on the vision of His loveliness and glory that will sustain us through life’s battles and keep joy flowing into and out of our hearts.”  

 “I love knowing that He cares and provides for me, not just air to breathe and food to eat, but countless extras that simply flow from His generous heart. When my eyes are opened by gratitude to see these boundless examples of grace, only then can I see clearly enough to press on in this broken world.”

“Bath soap. Toothpaste.

Hot water. Dishwashing detergent.

Air conditioning. House plants.

Sunsets. Sunglasses.

Birthday cards. Blue skies.

Flashlights. Blankets.

Family photos. Fresh fruit.

Measuring cups. Warm clothes.

Books. Bookcases.

Beautiful music. Clean sheets.

Autumn leaves. Sticky notes.

If we take it all for granted, if we think life just shows up with this stuff already in place, if we trick ourselves into believing that everyday household items come from the grocery store rather than from a gracious God, we walk right past countless reasons for worship without even knowing it.”

I want to end with the author’s beautiful list of simple thankfulness. When we start to look at life that way, it’s amazing how long our thankful lists really are.  Even on the hard days, there’s so much to be grateful for. 

Today, I’m thankful for every SINGLE blessing God’s given me!

Book Review of The Right Kind of Strong

Title: The Right Kind of Strong

Author: Mary A. Kassian

Genre: nonfiction

Tagline: Surprisingly simple habits of a spiritually strong woman

Summary: What does it mean to be a strong woman? This question is posed on the back of Mary Kassian’s new book, The Right Kind of Strong. I looked this question up online and found the following answers- A strong woman fights against expectations, she is self-aware, she follows her own path, she’s a fighter, she perseveres, and she doesn’t let others define her.

All of these sound good on the surface, and there’s certainly truth in the statements, but there’s one fundamental problem with all of them: They focus on “she.” Strength comes from the woman herself.

Mary Kassian presents a completely different view of things, telling her readers that true strength comes from God’s power, not theirs. She argues against the “Girl Power” movement that has swept our world and shares how she considered herself a strong woman for a long time, only to realize that her “strength” was actually stubbornness, insolence, self-sufficiency, and prideful self-promotion (p. 3).

Whoa.

When you look at yourself that way, the whole perspective shifts.

Mary goes on to write about a tiny old woman named Pearl Purdie. Pearl Purdie, in Mary’s eyes, exhibited true strength- the strength of a “quiet and gentle spirit.” Pearl taught her how to be a truly strong woman.

The Right Kind of Strong provides the reader with seven “strength-sapping” habits (p. 18). Surprisingly, some of these habits may seem like they apply to strong women. But women that rely on themselves, however, are always going to have their strength sapped. They’re always going to fall.

The author uses II Timothy 3:6-7 as her basis for the strength-sapping habits. In this passage Paul is writing about weak women who have been burdened with sin and led astray by various passions. The unhealthy habits of their lives can serve as a warning for us all.

It may sound dire, but the book’s focus is not criticisms of cultural norms. Mary Kassian weaves stories and scripture throughout her book in an effort to encourage and exhort, not tear her readers down. Over and over again she emphasizes that we are only truly strong through God, and that’s a message we all need to hear.

My Thoughts: I first heard about this book from the Revive our Hearts podcast. I was working in an office, largely by myself, last summer, and I started each morning listening to Revive our Hearts. Mary Kassian talked through seven or eight podcasts on this topic, highlighting one habit of weak women each time. I enjoyed the podcasts enough to buy the book, and I’m glad I did.

As a single woman, I often pride myself on strength and independence. The “I can do it myself” mentality carries through many of my actions. Reading this book, however, changed my perspective on womanly strength. Yes, we should stand up for our beliefs; we should absolutely call out wrong and respect ourselves as women. But we also need to acknowledge our total dependence on God. John 15:5 tells us that “Apart from Him (Jesus) we can do nothing.”  We are not made to rely on ourselves.

The Right Kind of Strong doesn’t encourage woman to be doormats; instead it provides them with a whole different blueprint for becoming stronger. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

Notable quotes: “The way you think makes a profound difference in the way you live. The more you change your thoughts for the better, the more your life will change for the better. But it starts with embracing the mind that is yours in Christ Jesus.”

“God does not want you to be a weakling; He wants you to be a steel magnolia: a soft, feminine woman with fire in your belly, courage in your heart, and steel in your spine. He wants you to have the strength to say no to what’s wrong and yes to what’s right and to live your life for the glory of Christ.”

“It’s important for us to understand that growth doesn’t generally come through big and illustrious acts of obedience. It comes through all those small, daily, repetitive, and seemingly trivial ones. Flexing our spiritual muscles to do all the little things God asks of us is what will make us strong.”  

Book Review 4

Title: I Don’t Wait Anymore

Author: Grace Thornton

Genre: nonfiction

Theme: Letting go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for Your Life

Summary: The tagline pretty much says it all. New author Grace Thornton puts a completely different spin on being single. Never once does she make the claim that singleness is just for a season, nor does she talk about dating. Instead, she talks about why she stopped waiting for Mr. Right. In chapter six she drives home her message by sharing about her purity ring and its meaning. She writes, “The gold ring wormed its way into my heart in a way I didn’t see coming. It became a symbol of hope- hope for the life I wanted one day. It reminded me that I had something to wait for- love, marriage, life as a family.” Grace then states that she wore that ring, waiting expectantly for God to make her dreams come true, until she was twenty-five. God worked in her life, however, until she began to see the ring symbolized something God had never promised her. Her view of God was wrong. She didn’t want to “wait” for marriage anymore. She didn’t need to wait. Now Grace takes a different position- “I already had God and He is everything.” Her whole theme is based around the idea that we discredit God when we feel that we need Him plus anything else.

The book is a combination of life stories, insights, and memorable quotes. There is also space for the reader’s own thoughts, similar to a journal entry. The author’s love and passion for God shine through the pages. It’s easy to believe that she means every word.

My Thoughts: If you only read one book on singleness, let it be this one! I promise that you will be encouraged. Not once does the author bemoan her single status or talk about any steps she’s taken to change it. Her focus throughout the book remains on getting to know God more. She points the reader to Him again and again.

You may also want to lace up your hiking boots and go trekking through England! Grace lived there for a time and weaves her experiences in, along with other travel adventures. As you read you will get the sense that her life as a single woman has been fun and fulfilling. She seems like someone I would want to know.

I enjoyed this book a lot and wanted to read it again as soon as I finished it. I also plan to share it with my single friends. I strongly encourage you to find a copy! 

Memorable quotes: “I don’t know where the road between here and when I see Your face is going to lead, but I want You to determine the steps, for my good and for Your glory. You know what I don’t know, and You see what I don’t see. It’s the story You’ve written that is playing itself out. It’s bigger than I can imagine. It’s good. And it’s all I want.”

“When we see the fullness of God’s glory and the fullness of His love radiating through Scripture… we know we can trust Him. We haven’t been forgotten. We haven’t been overlooked. We haven’t been mistreated. We’ve simply been loved overwhelmingly by a God who can write our stories much better than we can- for our good. And when we know Him and we see the story He’s already written, we know we’re in good hands.”