I am a pretty fast reader. I have read books that I have gotten from publishers in a matter of hours, and I often spend another few hours of time thinking about what to say to put into words how the book impacted me, and what I thought of it. Generally, within one or two days, I’m done with the process. This book took me three months to read and another two months to write this review! Why? Because every time I read a page or two, I had to put it down and absorb the ideas, especially since so many were things that I struggle with. From the opening page, Craig hits on a big area that I struggle with in my life – smoking.
I started smoking when I was 15. I won’t forget the first one – a Benson and Hedges menthol cigarette, smoked in a bathroom stall at school with my best friend Tracy. It was the beginning of a very terrible habit that controls more of my life than I like to admit, although I was miraculously able to quit once for 18 months, when I was pregnant with my daughter. Once I hit a stressful patch, though, I was right back at it, and despite knowing how bad it is for me, I actually went through a period of time (pre-Christianity) when I defiantly said to myself “I’m an adult, I enjoy smoking and I don’t intend to quit until I’m good and ready”. Three years ago, when I became a Christian, I became good and ready, but quitting has eluded me. I have prayed that God would take the desire from me, but I have continued to be bound by this. In some instances, I have rationalized it, too, giving myself permission to keep on, thinking that somehow, if God really wanted me to quit, He would miraculously remove the addiction, and further that this is my “thorn in the flesh” and His grace is sufficient. True enough, I suppose, but for me, it really is just a rationalization for something that is hard work to change.
The problem is that smoking has become an idol for me. When I’m stressed or worried or even at peace – my first thought isn’t bringing my troubles or praise to God, it is instead “where’s my lighter?” That in a nutshell was what Soul Detox was about – the ways in which the enemy encourages us to create idols out of things around us, things that may or may not be culturally acceptable. From intense relationships to gambling to casual sex, any area that can take precedence over Christ in our lives is dangerous and limits our ability to grow in our faith.
The hardest moment in the book for me was the last chapter, when the following paragraph REALLY hit home: “If God wants you to quit smoking and you’re waiting on him to take your desire away, but you’re still lighting up one after another, then I’ll just say it – you’re crazy! Not for smoking – we all have our vices – but for not doing your part. Throw the cigarettes away. Talk to your doctor, get help, join a group, get rid of the smokes. Now! “
That’s why it has taken me so long to finish this book and then to write the review. I know that God used Craig to write those words JUST FOR ME. I know what the next step is. Yet, I struggle with it. It’s hard to relinquish even poison when you have held it in high esteem for so long. God and I are working on this in my life, truly. Craig also says that “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” I know that my obedience in this area won’t be complete until I do exactly what that paragraph says – give it up, stop it, and put myself completely in God’s hands as I continue moving forward. So, for today, that’s my prayer – Lord, give me just enough strength and courage to keep the lighter in my pocket.
Whatever area you are struggling with, it seems likely that God has something to say to you, too. It may be in Craig’s book – it covers many areas that Christians struggle with, including bitterness, envy, greed, and many other things, while still maintaining that grace is grace – transformation can’t come from the outside, but it must be an outward expression of an inward work. The Holy Spirit brings the promised triumph, peace, and joy that should be the beautiful expression of every Christian life, and while we don’t have to strive to get there, we do have to follow the guidance He gives. The powerful blessings that flow from our obedience to His prompting are waiting, sometimes just in the form of realizing that knowing Him is way better than our replacements. So, read the book, but be warned – your toxin may be identified and you may find the Holy Spirit whispering to your heart: “Do you love ME more than your poison, beloved?” Soul Detox will encourage you to find the way to respond with a resounding “YES!” that is more than just a casual affirmation – but an obedient and willing desire to discard anything and everything that stands between you and Him.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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Review 3 for Soul Detox: Pure Living in a Polluted World - eBook
There is so much of Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World by Craig Groeschel that I liked, but I admit, in opposition to the cliché, I was drawn by its simple cover of yellow-gloved hands wringing out a blue sponge. If only cleansing the soul could be as easily done!
However, the cleansing of one's soul requires some work because we live in a sin-contaminated world. Just as exposure to harmful toxins can accumulate in the body causing disease, the toxins of sin accumulate in our souls a little at a time diseasing our relationship with God. The analogy was quite fitting, even the names of the chapters were as interesting as their content was insightful.
Toxic Behaviors Deception Infection: Telling Ourselves the Truth Septic Thoughts: Overcoming Our False Beliefs Lethal Language: Experiencing the Power of Life-Giving Words Hazardous Waste: Uncovering Our Hidden Sins
Toxic Emotions Bitter Roots: Digging Up the Destructive Source of Resentment Green with Envy: Scratching the Poison Ivy of Comparison Rage Rash: Neutralizing The Acid of Anger Scare Pollution: Unlocking the Chokehold of Fear
Toxic Influences Mood Poisoning: Purging the False Promises of Materialism Germ Warfare: Cleansing Our Lives of Cultural Toxins Radioactive Relationships: Loving Unhealthy People without Getting Sick Religion Gone Bad: Tossing Out Moldy Legalism, Spoiled Churches, and Sour Christians
While the author pulls no punches in identifying sinful practices, it is done in the least condemning way and with some confesses of his own. In fact, there is a sprinkling of humor that I found quite engaging with such a serious subject. I also appreciated his stance against legalism:
Some people disagree with me, but I refuse to take a legalistic stance and draw a hard line based on someone else's standards. For example, when it comes to movies, I've heard respected Christian leaders say, "Going to see an R-rates movie is always wrong."… The fact that we're called to discernment and not indoctrination is crucial to understand. The Passion of the Christ earned an R rating for its brutal violence, yet most Christians agree the movies has tremendous spiritual value. But at the same time, there needs to be a line somewhere. As you pray, I believe God will show you where to draw that line.
There probably is nothing new described in this book, but the principles described are well organized without being overwhelming and certainly can be put to use for cleansing one's soul, as suggested. I recommend Soul Detox highly for every Christian.
Disclosure: I received this book for free from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.
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Review 4 for Soul Detox: Pure Living in a Polluted World - eBook
This book has an interesting viewpoint on the world we live in and the influence that has on a Christian’s behavior.
How are our words, habits and actions influenced by what we see around us? The author of this book says the influence is great and offers ways to start detoxing yourself from the views of the unspiritual world that surrounds you. If you feel you need a refresher on ways to stay separate from the world, this book has many easy to understand principles you can start to follow.
I gave this book 4/5 stars because I found some of the writing to be difficult to follow. Parts of the book were boring but overall the book offers some great ideas on ways to stay close to the Lord and further from the world’s influences.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
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Review 6 for Soul Detox: Pure Living in a Polluted World - eBook
You know there is something holding you back from being the person that God intends you to be. We may think we’re different and unique when it comes to the toxins that are polluting our lives, but as Solomon reminds us, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. A limited number of toxins: behaviors, emotions, and influences, raise their ugly heads and make us sicker than we realize. Pastor Craig Groeschel in Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World (Zondervan, 2012), encourages us to identify and treat the toxicity in our Christian lives. I enjoyed his conversational style of writing, and it wasn’t until late in the book that it hit me that I could have been listening to a series of sermons. The main point that I took away from this book is that as we are in the world, but not of it, it’s often hard to see how we are conforming to the world rather than to the image of Christ. We become conditioned to things that used to be off limits, and the example we set doesn’t glorify God. We forget how powerful words are, and unintentionally inflict deep pain on others, even as we suffer the pain of words spoken long ago by someone who has probably forgotten that he said them, and has no idea of the pain that those words are causing today. Millennia ago, the religious leaders thought that they had it covered; they took the Ten Commandments and ‘clarified’ them by breaking them down into over 600 bits and pieces of things to do and not do. The problem is that in most cases they got so wrapped up in memorizing and obeying man’s rules that they had no time to experience the heart of God. Groeschel wisely points out that the toxins that affect us as individuals can and do spread into the church also. I was left with the sense that as we conform more to the world, and in doing so become less Christ-like, that in our churches we are becoming more and more religious: we demand that others act like the Christ-like person that we’re no longer interested in becoming. Lots of scripture references help the reader in the quest to identify and treat the toxic reactions from behaviors, emotions, influences and religiosity that keep us from achieving our full potential. I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my review.
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Review 7 for Soul Detox: Pure Living in a Polluted World - eBook
Craig is convinced many Christians are living in a dangerous environment with their spiritual health. We sense that something is not right in our spiritual life. We know we are not growing closer to Christ nor following Him as we would like. Perhaps we can't put our finger on it. Craig believes the enemy is blinding us with a smokescreen of poisonous distractions, like living with a heavy smoker. We are not aware of what is stunting our spiritual growth. We think the way we live is fine, normal. Years ago we didn't realize the dangers of breathing second hand smoke. Now we don't realize the harm of our toxic culture. Like a frog in a warming kettle, we have become acclimated to our poisonous environment. Craig reminds us that everything we allow into our minds has an impact on how we grow spiritually. If you want to detoxify your soul of the impurities that pollute your relationship with God, this book is for you. He examines the pollutants that corrupt our spiritual desire to know and serve God. Some can be removed, some must be managed. We are asked to take an honest look at ourselves and to understand the battle in the mind. He looks at the power of words. He deals with toxic emotions like bitterness and fear. He looks at the toxic influences of our media and gives a plan for discernment. He also addresses toxic relationships and how to deal with people. And lastly, he exposes toxic religion. He leaves the reader with these questions: What does God want different in your life? Why?
Craig takes the Bible seriously. Peter wrote that we should keep away from worldly desires (1 Peter 2:11) and Craig is convinced we are falling short of that command. Reading his book helped me see how accustomed I have become to our godless culture. This book is not only an eye opener but a call to detoxify my environment.
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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Review 8 for Soul Detox: Pure Living in a Polluted World - eBook
The subtitle for this book is “Clean Living in a Contaminated World”, and it is must read material for the Body of Christ. Pastor Groeschel deals with relevant topics such as identifying false beliefs; the power of your words and thoughts; toxic behaviors, emotions, relationships and influences; healthy boundaries; legalistic religion; forgiveness and bitter roots.
Our culture is saturated with beliefs and behaviors that are counter-productive to the blessings that come from living life in a God-ordained way. We have great freedom in Christ, but many of the freedoms available to us culturally and socially do not truly bring life to us, nor do they have long-term value. And this is why detoxing of the soul, which is the primary battlefield for spiritual growth and transformation, is so needed.
For too long the church has lost the effectiveness of it s witness due to the muddling of a cultural worldview with a Biblical worldview. Fruitful, influential and powerful living is available to every Believer who learns to live every day with an eternal perspective, and it starts with detoxing your soul.
This book includes a good assortment of scripture references for individual study. There are also helpful suggestions and examples of what the practical application of those scriptures look like. Soul Detox is a good source of self-examination for conviction, refinement and spiritual growth. I highly recommend you add this book to your reading library – you’ll be glad you did!
By way of disclosure: I received a free review copy of “Soul Detox” by Craig Groeschel from Zondervan in exchange for writing a review—good, bad, or otherwise.