Book Review, Crash the Chatterbox

He was my constant companion for almost 15 years and I didn’t even know his name. That’s how I felt when Steven Furtick officially introduced me to The Chatterbox. At first the title of Furtick’s new book and sermon series didn’t appeal to me. But finally, when it was either that or listen to reruns of old sermons on my iTunes list, I decided to give it a shot.

Instantly I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for each Sunday as Furtick slowly made his way through six sermons about this mysterious, ever-present menace cleverly camouflaged within my own thoughts.

It sounded like Furtick was telling my story, as if he’d been listening to my own percussive, demoralizing, internal dialogue. In a vulnerable manner, with extremely personal anecdotes, Furtick extended empathy and encouragement. If this renowned, eloquent pastor hears The Chatterbox in his own mind, then certainly The Chatterbox isn’t a figment of my imagination.

I’m sorry, I haven’t done a sufficient job of intruding The Chatterbox. Allow me to let Steven Furtick do so: “…this ceaseless war going on inside my heart and head. I’m waging it every millisecond of every minute of every hour of every day—the kind of chatter that can derail [a] day before it even gets started…[it] bombards [you] with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it. Why you shouldn’t do it. And why you’ll never be able to do it. Why you’re too dysfunctional, too petty, too immature, too melancholy, too impulsive…”.

So you’re familiar with that voice? Me too. And after years of inpatient and outpatient counseling for an eating disorder, I am pretty numb to canned suggestions about how to shut it up.

I know I’m supposed to believe “what God says about me”. But often, those phrases just seem like randomly plucked passages, strung together with hyphens and ellipsis, all manipulated just to make me feel better: I am beautiful. I am special. I am strong… All true, but not very powerful in my experience.

Just as I finished listening to the sermon series, Furtick’s book, Crash the Chatterbox, became available. I had to have it. I was on the cusp of understanding and employing a new, fail-proof strategy to Crash the Chatterbox—permanently.

Furtick’s book is based on four confessions: God says I am, God says He will, God says He has, God says I can.

Furtick devotes three chapters to thoroughly explain each confession. The book concludes with relevant discussion questions and an invitation to visit the related website, http://www.crashthechatterbox.com. The website offers highlights, interviews, study materials and more, making the book useful for small groups and in home study.

There’s no way I can encapsulate in a simple book review what took Steven Furtick over 200 pages to say. But I will attempt to share what made the concept of crashing the chatterbox such an epiphany. Far from an outside-in approach to boosting self-esteem and improving my opinion of and respect for myself, Furtick takes an inside-out approach.

Confession, Furtick points out, actually means to “say with”, in this case, “to say with God”. God’s self-revelatory name, which He told Moses from a flaming bush, is I AM. All of the confessions begin there. It was in that same conversation with Moses that God insisted He was enough to overcome all of Moses’ insufficiencies, and that, yes, God had indeed chosen Moses to play the most pivotal roll in all of Israel’s history.

The point is not who God says I am, but that God says, I AM.

When we understand the incomparable power of the God who has given us Himself through Jesus Christ, The Chatterbox’s voice becomes feeble, weak and distant.

The only draw back to this book is Furtick’s own strength: it is well written, but Furtick is a charismatic, one-of-a-kind orator. I highly recommend listening to the six sermons as well as reading the book. It’s like seeing the outtakes of a great movie. There’s so much more you don’t want to miss.

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Final Thoughts on a Final Recovery, and Wednesday’s Promise

(The following post is a summation of the 3 Things to Make Recovery Final series and includes the promise I made last Wednesday to tell you one really special way that God reveals Himself to us.)
Just a couple more thoughts, I think sometimes our “Christian” life and struggle to manufacture faith gets in the way of really having faith. A lot of times during recovery I thought, “If I just believed God enough. Why is it so hard to trust Him?”
The other day I was enamored by one of Steven Furtick’s sermons in the Crash the Chatterbox series. He referenced Moses at the burning bush. Furtick pointed out that in all his arguments with God and reasoning as to why he shouldn’t be the one to deliver Israel, Moses never once doubted God’s ability.
God showed him several miracles and Moses knew what God was capable of doing. Instead, he argued from a place of insecurity, basically saying over and over again, “You don’t really want to use me to do this God. You’re awesome and all, but I’m not smart enough, I’m not a good speaker, I don’t have many friends left in Egypt, no one will believe me…”.
God didn’t set Moses straight by fixing Moses, or suddenly, magically filling him with faith. Instead, God simply told Moses who HE was. He said, I AM.
Every time Moses said, “I am not…”, God’s effectual response was, “I AM…”. This gets really awesome when we get to the New Testament and realize how many times God says that He has give us His name. Because we bear His name, all of our arguments about failures, small faith and insufficiencies are answered in our new name, “I AM.”
(2 Chron. 7:14, Is. 43:7, 2 Peter 1:4, John 17:11-12)
The answer to stronger faith isn’t to grit our teeth and try to force it. It isn’t to work harder or do more. It is simply watching Jesus, seeing I AM.  (A few verses and commentary on this: www.abible.com.)
This is why Paul White’s sermons hit me so hard and sunk in so deeply.
I had tried for SO LONG to conjure up this faith that should have made me a “good Christian girl”, impervious to stupid struggles and battles and fears and anxiety. I was exhausted because I couldn’t come up with faith or make believing in Jesus “work for me”. But that’s the point. When we understand that “faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen” we can start walking in faith without holding out for “proof” that this works.
You’ve heard it said, “To know Jesus is to love Him.” (Maybe that was said about something else, but it has never been more true than about Christ). We cannot make ourselves love Him or believe Him. But the more we KNOW Him the more irresistible He becomes, the better we understand His voice and freer we walk day by day.
Hangeth Thou in There 🙂
#3thingstomakerecoveryfinal

Comical Perspective

Let’s add some levity to the subject of perspective that I brought up on Monday. A change in perspective almost necessarily requires learning to laugh at ourselves, our circumstances and sometimes our frustrations. Let me tell you about the week of Rachelle’s wedding… and the week after we got home.

The second week that I had been living out of a suitcase, I was sleeping in my parents’ basement. I had just driven from Dallas, TX to Wichita, KS, arriving at about midnight. Talk about perspective – I thought midnight was the witching hour and I never stay up that late. Well, given the right incentive (spending time alone with my mom and the excitement of wedding preparations and the fact that I was needed in KS) suddenly, midnight was totally possible.

I woke the next morning to a cryptic email from my business partner with Moms Who TRI, Kristen Hench, who is also my dog-sitter. “Call me, it’s about Brave!”

I bolted out of bed and stood trembling as the phone rang. “He’s not getting out of bed, he wet himself on the floor, he’s shaking and he’s barely eating.” Here’s the point where I lost perspective. Sobbing hysterically, I hung up with Kristen, called the vet, cried to my mom and prepared my sister that I might have to fly home and skip her wedding – my dog was sick. Let’s not yet discuss my lack of perspective. To keep a very long and embarrassing story short, I wrestled with God concerning my perspective and priorities. Finally, after two expensive trips to the vet, Brave began to recover from a UTI and was back to his normal self.

Next, hurdle. Smaller, Patrick’s luggage got lost in Atlanta on his way to the wedding. It was found and delivered at some heinous hour. Hysterics averted.

Next hurdle. As a writer, my computer is practically an extension of my fingers. It’s not quite my livelihood, but writing is my passion and the computer is a necessary tool. I opened my cherished Mac Book Air on Sunday morning to find the equivalent of a “blue screen of death.” Another unplanned expense.

Next hurdle. I always struggle returning from a trip, trying to re-assimilate myself into my own, real life. This time I had a workable schedule in mind, certain things to do on certain days for my first week back in VA. Tuesday morning, I hopped in my car and cranked the key… nothing… not a click. After two jump starts, I was afraid to turn the car off. I drove to a Jiffy Lube where they laughed at me when I told them I needed a battery that fits in the trunk of my car. When I called the Miata dealership, they had one single battery left. I traipsed through VA traffic (again a matter of perspective) and waited for over an hour while they did a $200 battery replacement.  Tuesday’s agenda shot. Another whopping bill. Perspective.

This is not meant to be a pessimistic or “poor me” post. I don’t want to imply “it can always get worse.” But I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father and the work of the Holy Spirit in me. In the past, the accumulation of these little setbacks would have had me in tears. This time, one at a time, I rode through them and found my joy intact. Perspective.

Perspectives of Pain and Perfection

Is happiness dependent on whatever life throws our way or do we have a say in the matter? We can find peace amongst chaos, contentment despite limitations, and joy even in our lowest moments. It all comes down to Perspective… Craig Groschel in his recent series on Philippians

Everyone is blinded by their own perspective. Perspective is the angle at which you view something. A pauper views a sandwich and shelter as the essence of life. A king views those same principles of sustenance as bland and ordinary, nearly an assault to his majesty. Before I lived in Georgia, I believed that Oklahoma was humid. An athlete views a difficult workout as a challenge and something to be mastered, a couch potato views the same drills as agony and next to death. Do you see where I am going?

Recently I brought you some stories about the persecuted church. After a few days of reading about the physical abuses that Christians in Nigeria and Egypt were enduring, we read about discriminative abuses against Christian businesses in the United States. I am not diminishing the pain of the Christian businesses, but put in perspective, what is endurance?

I am going somewhere with this (:

Craig Groschel has convicted me on many occasions through his online sermons at LifeChurch.tv, but his series on perspectives has been very humbling. I’ve begun to consider the privilege of pain. “Count it all joy, my brothers when you encounter various trials,” says James, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”            (James 1)

Like the example above, my own pain, in perspective seems minimal and sometimes petty. But my Father knows the testing that my faith requires in order to perfect me. Be it struggles in my marriage, the constant humbling need to destroy my personal idols of food and fitness, loneliness, feelings of failure or any other hurdle that God places in my path in the future, He is intentional.

Intentional. Intentional and repetitive. As He is known to do, God has been echoing this one message in my life from various angles. I am also preparing to lead a Beth Moore Bible study in my home. God chose the book of James this time. As I read through the first chapter, I was skewered by the passage I quoted above…

For you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.

That’s what I want. I want to be perfect, clothed in Christ’s perfect righteousness, perfectly and contentedly reliant on Him for all my salvation and life. That’s going to require a change in my perspective – a new perspective on my own good works, my own sin, my own struggles and my own forgiveness of others. I hope you find the LifeChurch.tv catalogue of sermons effective for your own training in righteousness. Start with the series on Perspectives.