Monday, February 13, 2012

Enemies of the Heart - by Andy Stanley

In typical Andy Stanley form, Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You is a well focused book with lots of practical and applicable real world wisdom.  I have always enjoyed Andy Stanley’s ability to communicate difficult truths in simple ways, and that holds especially true for the four subjects he tackles in this book – namely guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  He has the ability to be piercingly insightful from a biblical perspective, while maintaining a very disarming “aw shucks” kind of humor.

I have read a handful of Stanley’s other books, and for me at least this was the one that I least connected with on a personal level, but only because I feel I don’t have deep struggles in these areas (not that I don't struggle with them at times though).  But where I found it incredibly useful is that as a pastor it both gives me some insight into others, and equips nicely with some tools and ideas for helping people work through their struggles in life in these areas.  I see a sort of symbiotic relationship between this book and Pete Scazero’s books on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Church.

The book is divided into four sections, with the first portion being focused on helping us understand that sin is a heart issue.  Of the four sections I found this to be the most “review” like portion, but interesting nonetheless.

The second section covers what Stanley calls the debts that we have as a result of our sins.  This is where the book really begins to hit its stride, and is the segment that is probably the most eye opening for most people.  He manages to clarify the bondage(s) we have in sin with great clarity, showing how we get stuck on our guilt/anger/greed/jealousy.  This portion alone is worth the price of the book just for the awareness of the state of sin in which we often live that accompanies our reading this segment.

Part three moves into the nuts and bolts practical application of confronting and combating these areas of sin in our lives.  While it isn’t quite on the level of simplicity and wisdom found in Proverbs, it isn’t all that far off, and is far more cohesive in overall thought since the scope is narrowed down to just four areas.

Part four was in a sense an unexpected (short) bonus.  Stanley could’ve stopped after the third section, but in section four he goes on to help us focus on the bigger picture issue of how our sin and the way we deal with them impacts the world around us – especially in our family relationships.

At the back of the book are some questions that go along with each chapter that would serve a small group discussion well.  From beginning to end a very good book, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to my family, friends or flock.

This book was given to me by Water Brook Multnomah Press for review.  I am not paid for the review in any way, nor must I give it a positive review.

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