Monday, April 21, 2014

Guiltless Living, by Ginger Hubbard

I very much wanted a chance to read Ginger Plowman Hubbard's latest book, Guiltless Living, so when it was offered for review, I had to snatch it up! (By the way, if you've noticed an increase in review copy books and this annoys you, take heart! I'm at the end of my pile!) I have very much appreciated Hubbard's book Don't Make Me Count to Three (click title to read my thoughts on that title) and figured it was a safe bet I'd glean a few things from this new book. I was not disappointed.

I was not disappointed but I was confused by her Introduction, which warns the reader that she is going to confess certain of her sins within the pages. She noted that whenever she mentions sins people inevitably respond that she's a wicked person who shouldn't write books because she isn't qualified to do so. She assures the reader that she does sin but that she isn't sharing her sins to boast but to confess and live honestly. There is nothing in either the Introduction or the book itself which causes me to worry that she is boasting in her sins or even finding amusement in them. However, I can also see how people would say that she laughs at herself too easily and takes sin too lightly based on her style of communications. As it so happens, I can tell you a really good story of the stupid things I've said or done in the past if you give me half an hour. And I'll make my story as interesting as possible - while still being completely factual. Why talk to others if the talk can't appeal to their sense of humor? I'm a big fan of truth through humor. Especially when sarcasm is involved. No, sin isn't funny but we humans are positively ridiculous and we might as well acknowledge it. Sometimes when you acknowledge your stupidity you laugh because you recognize the absurdity that is yourself. Better to laugh than cry? (Good to cry too though.) That to say, she offers the disclaimer that she's going to tell you that she sins. So act surprised.

Guiltless Living is really all about our propensity as humans to sin, but God's propensity to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. She specifically addresses a few problem ares: the sin of being critical, being proud, being controlling, being impatient, being miserly, selfish and religious. In each chapter she tells you how she sins in these areas and promptly follows up her admission with admonition from scripture to do right and leave off from such sins.

I thought her advice was tempered and spot-on. She has wise advice to give and she wouldn't have the advice unless she knew about the sins she is talking about. Her desire to live transparency is admirable and I think she uses proper discretion in sharing about her personal struggles. I didn't find that she was in any way out of line and I would question the accusation that she is sharing too much or is too evil and wicked to share anything at all. I found her to be quite funny and I laughed out loud in more than one spot. I laughed out loud because I identified with the emotions and sins she was describing. A few passages that stood out to me, in particular, were the following:

On the sin of controlling:

"At the heart of control is distrust - a distrust in God's sovereignty. God is in control whether we believe it or not, but we still have a decision to make. We can place our trust in ourselves or we can place our trust in the Creator of the universe. Solomon addressed this choice. "Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe" (Prov. 28:26). This isn't to say that God's plan doesn't include painful experiences. Heartache will come, but the strength and help of the Lord comes to those who put their trust in Him. "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me" (Ps. 28:7). Trusting in God's sovereignty is a leap of faith. We can be confident that it is a leap that leads to the grandest of spiritual adventures." (Chapter 3, The Controlling Serial Sinner, page 53)

On the sin of impatience:

"For some, the forgiveness part is hard. Certainly, our forgiveness is for the glory of God and a command to be followed, but it is to our benefit as well. When we truly forgive and let go of wrongs done to us or those we love, we are happier because we are not living in the bondage of anger and bitterness. Miserable are those who demand God's immediate justice for those who do wrong. The righteous justice of God is not within our control. When we let go of trying to control justice and questioning God's methods, those chains of bondage are broken and we are set free." (Chapter 4, The Impatient Serial Sinner, page 62)

I'll be sliding Guiltless Living onto my bookshelf with the intent to re-read it again some day. I like Hubbard's openness in sharing her desire to follow Christ no matter the personal cost or discipline that she will endure along the way. Let's face it, sometimes it's really hard to follow Christ because there is a tendency to feel that you'll never quite measure up. And you know what? If you are relying on yourself alone, you never will measure up. Christ works in and through us to make us holy so that we can have a relationship with Him. He offers the grace and assistance necessary to pursue Him and meet Him. It is a beautiful relationship because He is in it, making it possible every step of the way. By God's wondrous grace, following hard after Him is actually the most amazing, exhilarating and easy thing to do!

"It we truly understand that soaking in God's grace involves death and rebirth, we can only take advantage of it by living in it. In order to understand that Christ has won the victory, we have to first acknowledge that we are sinners, capable of the worst deeds imaginable, and then accept that we are dead to those capabilities only through our new life in Jesus. For we have been "crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. The life we live in the body, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us" (Gal. 2:20, adapted). Praise His name! We are guiltless! He has won the victory for us! After we acknowledge and accept these truths, ten we can fully rejoice with Paul's words, "'Death has been swallowed up in victory' . . . that's be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:54, 57). (Chapter 7, The Religious Serial Killer, page 100)

The book is 100 easy pages long, full of wit and wisdom and I suffer no hesitations whatsoever in heartily recommending it.

Many thanks to Shepherd Press who sent a copy of this book my direction in order to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation and all opinions are 100% my own.


Annette Whipple said...

I'm in chapter three right now. This is one that I didn't request, but showed up on my doorstop. I'm glad it did. Like you, I really appreciate it.

Definitely recommend!

Barbara H. said...

Sounds really good. Odd that people would have that reaction to her mentioning of her own sins. If we had to wait for sinless people, or those who have conquered everything, to write books, well, we wouldn't have any except the Bible.

Shonya said...

Sounds like one to add to my list! Thanks! :)

Bluerose said...

This sounds like something I need to read!

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