The Sin of Certainty {a book review}

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The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs is one of the best books I’ve read this summer. Enns communicates a message many evangelicals need to hear.

We must be willing to move beyond certainty in our faith, because certainty isn’t really the point of faith at all.

For many of us, certainty is the center of our faith. We’ve been taught that the goal of our religious lives is to “know God”, by which we mean (whether consciously or unconsciously) believing the right doctrines and holding the right views.

Our pursuit to know God is evaluated by whether or not we end up with the right answer. Or at least that’s how we evaluate others.

But what if faith isn’t about right answers and right doctrines? What if faith is ultimately about trusting God? 

Pete begins his book with the story of his “faith” crashing down, intriguingly while watching a Disney movie on a plane 30,000 feet in the air. One might think a Bible professor’s faith would need to be unravelled by something more grandiose than a Disney movie, right?  Not so much.

From my own experience and reading about similar experiences of others, the crash, the wall, the dark night of the soul (whatever you want to call it) often comes in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s when reading a book. Other times watching a movie. Perhaps it happens in a conversation or in a class. Maybe we’re watching TV. Or we receive some shocking news.

Here’s the thing about our faith- it’s not something we can necessarily control.

Throughout his book, Pete interweaves his story with what he’s learned about letting go of certainty so that he can fully trust. Letting go of certainty doesn’t mean dismissing thinking or logic, or ceasing to pursue answers. Letting go of certainty means trusting God with our lives. It means keeping an open hand with our beliefs, embracing the mysteries, and leaning in even when our brains might not be able to make sense.

“This book is about thinking differently about faith, a faith that is not so much defined by what we believe but in whom we trust. In fact, in this book I argue that we have misunderstood faith a what word rather than a who word- as primarily beliefs about rather than primarily as trust in.”

Because Pete is an intellectual, he gets the tension that this all might bring to some of us. And it’s because he’s an intellectual that many of us who identify as such should give him a hearing. 

Interestingly, Pete’s hope for this book isn’t just for those who are going through a faith crisis or is submerged to their eyeballs in doubt, but he’s trying to start a bigger conversation about how faith is viewed and communicated in the evangelical church.

“When we think of ‘strong faith’ as something that should be free of uncertainty or crises, I believe we have gotten wrong an important part of who God is and how the Christian life really works. This is about how we might address that problem.”

Finally, Pete ends the book with wisdom about what to do when a tidal wave of doubt comes crashing upon you. If you’re in the midst of some tall waves, I highly recommend skipping to chapter 7 first.

I think the only point I’d disagree with Pete on is the title- the sin of certainty. While I get the idea behind it, I actually think that those who are siting in certainty are not wrong or sinning. I think their faith has some distance to go. From my limited understanding of faith formation, it seems as if certainty is a necessary first step in faith. The sin isn’t in being there. If there’s any sin involved, I think it would be in one’s unwillingness to take the next step when God extends the invitation.

I recommend picking up this book, grabbing some friends, and starting a conversation. Pete’s writing style is down-to-earth, incredible readable, and funny. His gift for teaching shines through the pages. You won’t be disappointed.

In my reading routine, after I finish a particularly good book, I scour the notes section in the back. I’ve found the footnotes of my favorite chapters of a book provide great recommendations for my reading list. If you need a hint on my favorite chapter, I’ll tell you that I’ve added Thoughts in Solitude, The Inner Voice of Love, Stages of Faith, and a re-read of The Bible Tells Me So. 🙂

To read more about Pete, you can visit his blog: http://www.peteenns.com.

And to read more about my relationship with doubt, check out the following days in my 31 Days of Soul Shaping series:

Day 19: Doubt: The Big, Bad Wolf of Faith?

Day 20: The Beginning of My Doubt

Day 21: The Turning Point

Day 22: Questions Aren’t Just for Kids

 

Thanks to Pete and his team for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!

 

Brave Girls: Beautiful You {book review}

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Brave Girls: Beautiful You is a 90-Day Devotional written for elementary-aged girls.

Each day, girls read a one-page devotional designed to help them see that beauty starts on the inside, and that God created them to love Him, themselves, and one another.

How It’s Set Up

Each week is themed around a different aspect of beauty- fashion, creativity, fitness, serving others. One Brave Girl (Gracie, Hope, or Glory) introduces the theme at the beginning of the week along with 15 devotions following the theme. Each Brave Girl has their own personality and own style- a super girly girl, an athletic type, and a girl who loves to create. (more…)

Wonderland {a coloring book review}

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A couple months ago we introduced the kids to Alice In Wonderland (2010). I’m not sure I had ever watched it, and I must admit, parts of it were a bit creepy. The kids mostly liked it, but their attention waned at the end.

So, just a couple weeks ago we decided to give ‘ol Alice another try and this time we watched the Disney animated version and the kids LOVED it. Since then, they have started to plan our 2016 Family Halloween Costume (slight obsession in the making??).

So it seemed very fitting when this guy showed up at my door:

wonderland

Given that we love to color together AND we love Alice in Wonderland, Wonderland has been a total win for us!

The coloring book doubles as a little story, which I think is a fun idea. You read a little, color a lot, read a little, color a lot.

The pages are beautiful, the drawings are interesting to color, and I haven’t been able to pick a favorite page because I love them all. Seriously.

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If you want to take a peek inside, you can check out this youtube video.

For all of my coloring book enthusiast friends who are also book nerds, I’d highly recommend it!

 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Summers are Our Jam

Summers Are Our JamWe’re starting to dream about warm summer days, long stretches of afternoon with nothing we HAVE to do. When school is out, we’re all like–  FREEDOM!!!!!

Well, except me. I’ll be working. 🙂

But because half of my heart is still at home all day, and because Jake is so awesome as to let me speak into the summer schedule, here are some of the fun (and helpful) things we’ll be doing this summer:

We will play outside. Explore. Ride bikes. Dig in dirt. Play basketball. Swing. Chalk. Picnic. Maybe work a little on our Park Challenge (visiting every park in our city). Anything that involves being outside of our cute and cozy apartment and basking in the warm summer sunshine. The kids are doing local camps this summer, which will give them a little bit of freedom and structure outside as well. (more…)

Coloring as Spiritual Formation

Coloring as Spiritual Formation

I’ve always loved to color. Being the introvert that I am, coloring had always been a safe way to introvert while being in the midst of a lot of people at school or while playing at a friend’s house. Markers, crayons, colored pencils? It didn’t matter.

Somewhere around junior high I put my crayons on the shelf.  And while they came back out for a brief time when I was in college (I found a really fantastic biology coloring book!), it wasn’t until the past couple years that I’ve started to re-connect with my love for coloring.

And it’s also during this time that I’ve found how helpful it is for me in connecting with God.

I’ve been using these two coloring books in the evenings to slow down, relax, and make mental space to connect with God. 

(more…)

Parenting as an Art (and sometimes art gets messy)

Make your own-3

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on our Year of Positive Parenting.

To be honest, it’s been really hard.

There’s nothing more I want in life than to get this parenting thing “right”. And of course, the reality of parenting is that there is no “right”. Math problems have right answers. Jeopardy questions have right answers. Parenting does not have right answers. (more…)

What I’m Into {April 2016}

What I'm Into-4I’m sitting here at the computer in a sweatshirt, jeans and a big cozy blanket laying across my lap. My cup of steaming vanilla tea is warming me because I refuse to turn the heat on and warm up my 65 degree house. It’s 40 degrees outside even though we’re nearly in May.

It’s hard to believe that last weekend we were running around the soccer fields in t-shirts and shorts, eagerly talking about all the things we’re going to do now that we’re for sure done with winter.

My solution to all this whining? I’m going to rewind 3 days and pretend we’re still in 60/70 degree weather and tell you about all the goodness that comes along with warmer weather.

First of all, April means birthdays in our family. We got to celebrate the lives of two of my favorite people in the world: (more…)

A Bible Project I’m Incredibly Excited About

Jake and I spent just 7 short months living in Nairobi, Kenya, but the land and the friends we made still hold a special place in our heart. Jake and I went to East Africa as learners. We wanted to get to know the people, the culture, and learn what it looked like to follow Jesus in their culture. While we had ideas of eventually living in East Africa long-term, we knew we needed to come and learn first.

We came to this conclusion about following Jesus in East Africa: It looks the same as here in the mid-west. And it looks different.

When we lived in Nairobi, I loved going to the bookstore on campus and finding books that I was familiar with – C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright. But after I was there a bit longer, I began to realize that there was a lot more Western influence in that bookstore than African. I started asking questions.

These conversations resulted in mixed feelings for me. While I was so glad that they had great material by people I really enjoy, I was also sad that there was so much western influence — how much of this influence is for the good and how much is for the bad? (more…)