Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Review: What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

book cover

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do:
8 Principles for Finding God's Way
by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Hardback: 140 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: 2006, 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
It's like being in the desert.

When you face an especially difficult problem in your life--a bad habit, a nagging depression, or a career fallout--you often feel like you're stranded with no landmarks to guide you. Whatever the difficulty, when you reach the end of your rope, it can be hard not to panic.

But according to Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, the end of your rope can be the best place to be. Because when you reach the end of your own strength and call on God, that's when he makes a way, not out of your problem, but through. It is in those moments you are ready to experience God like never before.

In What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend share eight proven, practical, and doable strategies for finding God's way through your problem. Most importantly, they offer encouragement that no matter how bleak things look right now, God can and will make a way in your life.

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do was a quick, easy read with practical advice that was easy to understand. The book was aimed at those who "don't know what to do" about their problems anymore. The advice started with God, was God-focused, and was based on Scripture. However, the book didn't dig very deep into Scripture, hardly mentioned Jesus, and didn’t mention the Holy Spirit at all--probably to broaden the audience.

The book gave eight general principles that built upon each other and which applied to all tough situations. The authors explained what they meant (in practical terms), how to carry them out, and gave real-life examples.

At the end, there was a bonus section which covered specific categories of "tough situations": discouragement and depression; bad habits and addictions; and sex and intimacy problems. In it, the authors became more specific in their advice on how to identify the specific problem and what to do to get headed out of it. They gave some very useful advice in these sections.

It's a good, basic book. If you're not sure what to do next or how God can help you get through your problems, and you're looking for a short read, then this book will help.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Principle 1: Begin Your Journey with God

It almost sounds like some kind of advertising slogan, but this little play on words really says it: "God will make a way" begins with God. It's not your belief that makes a way; it's God who makes a way. Your faith is the vital step you take to connect with God, the way-maker. But without God, all the faith you can possibly muster won't get you anywhere. So our first principle for finding God's way is to begin your journey with God.

The story of Abraham in the Bible is a good example. When God called him to leave his homeland, Abraham had no idea where he was headed. But he believed God knew where he was headed, so he packed up and left. He did not believe in belief; he believed in a God who knew exactly where Abraham was going and who was able to lead him there.

So when we talk about faith, trust, and belief to carry you through your trials and troubles, we mean it in a very specific way. We're not talking about warm religious feelings or an exercise in positive thinking. Faith is grounded in a relationship with God, a real Person who knows the way for you and promises to lead you on it.

We Are Designed for Dependence
Some people argue that relying on God is a weakness, that God is a crutch for those who can't make it on their own. The fact that you need God so desperately in your life is not a weakness any more than your need for air or for food is a weakness. God created us to reach outside ourselves to find the things we need. We were designed for dependence on him. The term "self-made person" is a huge oxymoron. No one is self-made. The psalmist writes, "It is [God] who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture" (Psalm 100:3).

We did not create ourselves to begin with, nor were we designed to find our own way in life. Rather, God wired us to depend on him. When you exercise faith in him, you are doing the one thing you can do to accomplish superhuman feats: You are reaching beyond your own human strength and knowledge and tapping into God's infinite strength and knowledge.

God Provides What You Need
What do you do in a difficult or painful situation when you don't know what to do? The sad truth is that many people do one of two things. First, they repeat what didn't work before. They try harder to make a relationship work, to succeed in a career, or to overcome a difficult personal problem, pattern, or habit. Chronic dieters, for example, convince themselves that "this time it will work." The victim in an abusive relationship reconciles after another fight or separation, thinking this time the partner will change.

This approach reflects a popular definition of insanity: Doing the same thing again, but expecting different results. If you have done everything you know to do without success, trying again with your own limited knowledge and strength is not the answer.

The second common response to a hopeless situation is to stop trying all together.

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