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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Kregel Publications (May 2, 2011)
Gary Heim is a licensed psychologist and the pastor of Small Groups and Discipleship at Blythefield Hills Church in Rockford, Michigan, where he has served over thirteen years.
Lisa Heim is a licensed professional counselor and women’s ministry leader.
Married for more than twenty-five years, Gary and Lisa are adjunct professors at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and speak frequently at retreats and seminars. Visit www.truenorthministries.net for free small group resources.
Visit the author's website.
Flat tires, wounding words, a troubled marriage… We all struggle, but few people have learned to struggle well. When trouble comes, how do you respond? Do you turn north to God or south to the gods of this world?
True North offers biblical insight, personal stories, discussion questions, and compelling examples to encourage you to turn to God with every frustration in life. Authors Gary and Lisa Heim show you how to move from self-centered grumbling and grasping to Christ-centered gratitude and giving so you can embark on a life-giving adventure of walking with God.
“In True North, counselors Gary and Lisa Heim do more than point us in the right direction. They invite us to join them in their own spiritual journey.”—Martin DeHaan, president, RBC Ministries
“True North is about proper orientation to God while living with other sinners in a cursed world; it’s about understanding what happens in your heart, finding strength in God, and loving well. Bring an honest heart and mind to your reading of this book and you find good shepherding here.”—Brian Webster, Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
“Gary and Lisa Heim both call and enable us to orient our lives toward survival and success. True North charts a clear and compelling life trajectory and gives us something solid to cling to when the downturns in life confuse our emotions and disorient our instincts.”—Joe Stowell, President, Cornerstone University
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (May 2, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
But life is so difficult and discouraging. Relationships often don’t work the way we long for them to. People wound and fail us, and we wound and fail others. It’s so tempting to lose heart and live for something—anything—other than wholehearted devotion to God. Lisa and I know because we’ve been there.
Lisa and I have a good and growing marriage. We’re experiencing love and laughter in ways we didn’t decades ago. But it’s a different kind of love than it was on our wedding day. We’ve significantly disappointed one another’s original expectations of what marriage would be like. In the face of those failures, pain, and loss, we’ve struggled to learn how to love. Our experience is normal. No one learns to really love others without a struggle to turn from self-centeredness. And as we share our stories with you, you’ll see how God has used our problems and failures to help us grow—in our personal lives, in our marriage, in our parenting, and in our ministries—as we’ve wept, laughed, prayed, and thought deeply about our lives in the context of the truths we share in this book.
Because of the depth of my self-centeredness, I’ve found that nothing in life is harder and more confusing than learning how to love. But nothing is more important. Jesus said the Bible can be boiled down to one sentence: love God with all your heart and love others as yourself (Matt. 22:37–40). Life is all about life-giving, soul-stirring relationships. This is what we were created for. And we’ve found that in our groaning and confusion to love well, we’ve needed a lot of help in discerning which way to turn. Therefore, this way of thinking about the Christian life has become like a spiritual road map for our journey. This map is not a formula for spiritual growth. Instead, it provides a tangible aid to help us discern whether we’re turning to God or away from him when we face the troubles and frustrations of everyday life.
These truths have been shaped and tested in our lives. For more than twenty years, Lisa and I have spent thousands of hours discipling and counseling individuals and married couples with a wide range of problems such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, anger, parenting, and marital conflicts. As root issues come to light, we walk those people through this way of thinking and responding to life. As they start to understand what’s happening inside them when they react to the groaning of life, they too can see what it means to intentionally turn to God and find his help. They turn to God, not to make life work, but to become the kind of person who knows God intimately and who can reflect his good heart to others, despite the circumstances.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” But he didn’t stop there. He continued, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I’m so glad I can passionately say, yes, it is possible to truly change from the inside out; not perfectly, but substantially. Real change is a lifelong process. It doesn’t come easily, and it never comes by just trying harder. First and foremost, it comes by learning how to grow our heart’s affections for Jesus Christ and learning to make him the center and treasure of our lives.
The Choice: North or South? God or gods?
It’s all about the affections of our heart. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37). In his Sermon on the Mount he stated, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Every day, all day, God gives us the freedom to choose who or what we’ll give our hearts to. We call it going north or south. We either turn north to God for the security, love, and significance we long for as we face the chaos of this broken world, or we go south to the false gods of this world. When we go south, we tend to live with ourselves at the center of our lives. We relate to God and people as objects of self-gratification. When we approach relationships this way, we’ll fear the significant people in our lives who might disappoint our expectations. We’ll resent them when they fail to meet our expectations, and we’ll love them only when they meet our expectations. But in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said it’s no big deal if we love those who love us. The worst of sinners do that (Matt. 5:46–47).
When we put ourselves at the center, life becomes a confusing, dark, and chaotic world of greed, anger, worry, and envy. Those kinds of emotions are signals that tell us we’re forsaking God and going south by putting ourselves at the center of our universe. We try to get control over the chaos of life. We work to protect our fearful hearts. We’re trying to be our own god. Yet for all our efforts to be in control, the result is greater chaos and hurt. We damage our families, friendships, marriages, and God’s reputation.
But it can be different when we choose to live north by turning toward God and allowing him to be the blazing center of our lives. In Sex and the Supremacy of Life, John Piper explained:
I have a picture in my mind of the majesty of Christ like the sun at the center of the solar system of your life. The massive sun, 333,000 times the mass of the earth, holds all the planets in orbit, even little Pluto, 3.6 billion miles away. So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. If he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction (pg 37–38).
Yes, when all the “planets of your life” revolve around the blazing center of the massive sun, everything finds its proper orbit. Only in Christ do we find rest (Ps. 62:1). When Christ alone is the center of our lives, when he has the affections of our hearts, then—and only then—we become established. We become grateful, giving children of God amidst the chaos and groaning of this broken and fallen world. We live purposefully by seeking to reveal the greatness and goodness of God by how we give to others—yes, even when they fail to meet our expectations. But, as Piper suggests, when we take the Son from the center of our lives, when we put anything else in his place—our marriage, our kids, sex, sports, work, hobbies, ministry—we become double-minded. Our passions begin to spin out of control. We succumb to worry. Lust, pressure, and conflict characterize our lives.
“Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts
are restless till they rest in Thee.”—Augustine, Confessions
Will we choose God? Or will we depend on people, things, and circumstances to go our way? The great battle is for our hearts. We either go north to God or south to gods. There is no in-between.