Book Review: The Choosing to Forgive Workbook (Author: Frank Minirth, Les Carter)

Doctors Frank Minirth and Les Carter are Christian counselors who have written an excellent book on forgiveness entitled The Choosing to Forgive Workbook. This workbook is informational as well as application oriented. It includes numerous questions and checklists to help one work through the process of forgiveness and think well about what it means to forgive.

I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly and working through the questions and checklists. I think it is a great resource for anyone struggling with forgiveness and also makes a great resource for pastors to give out to congregants who are struggling with forgiveness.

The authors outline twelve steps to forgiveness, which they explore in detail throughout the book:

  • Step 1. Openly recognize wrong deeds to be wrong deeds.
  • Step 2. Recognize that your anger is not only normal, but necessary.
  • Step 3. Realize how ongoing bitterness will ultimately hurt you.
  • Step 4. Learn from your problems by establishing better boundaries.
  • Step 5. Refuse to be in the inferior position and resist the desire to be superior.
  • Step 6. Avoid the futility of judgments, letting God be the ultimate judge.
  • Step 7. Allow yourself permission to grieve.
  • Step 8. Confront the injuring party if appropriate.
  • Step 9. Find emotional freedom as you let go of the illusion of control.
  • Step 10. Choose forgiveness because it is part of your life’s mission.
  • Step 11. Come to terms with others’ wrong deeds by recognizing your own need for forgiveness.
  • Step 12. Become a source of encouragement to other hurting people.

Here are a few choice quotes I jotted down:

  • “Even if you can point to your own failings, you will still need permission to admit the depth of your anger or hurt or disillusionment. To do so is not a denial of your own faults. Rather, you can recognize that your feelings about someone else’s mistreatment are a separate and distinct issue that deserves attention. Forgiveness can occur only as you first let yourself admit the extent of your hardship.” – pg. 5.
  • “By clinging too strongly to a victim status you are certain to remain stuck in a troubled way of life. You will find balance, though, when you realize you are, indeed, a victim but are not obliged to live forevermore in defeat and futility.” – pg. 7.
  • “Choosing to forgive will not be authentic until you first allow yourself to wrestle with the question of why you should forgive.” – pg. 14.
  • “You’re setting yourself up for failure if you assume that you’ll be able to be as complete as God is in the forgiveness process.” – pg. 24.
  • “When trying to forgive, many people make the mistake of assuming that all anger should be removed. That is neither possible nor desirable. Bitter anger…needs to be resolved, but some anger may remain and that can be okay.” – pg. 25.
  • “Your desire for vengeance may need to be removed. Perhaps you will even need to accept the fact that wrongdoers may go unpunished. Forgiveness will help you in such instances. But your forgiveness will not require you to let go of your values. Hold on to them. Yes, you may need to monitor the intensity of the emotion accompanying those values, but let’s not throw morality away.” – pg. 35.
  • “Inherent in our definition of forgiveness is the willingness to leave ultimate justice to God. Forgiveness does not require you to suppress your feelings, to shrug at the wrongs dealt to you, or to become allies with your antagonist. But forgiveness does require that you hand over the ultimate consequences of another’s wrongdoing to God.” – pp. 52-53.
  • “While you cannot change the attitudes and feelings others have toward you, your task can be to monitor your own behavior to determine if you are unwittingly enabling others to persist in their insensitivity.” – pg. 63.
  • “While all humans are inferior to God’s standard of perfection, no human was ever intended by the Creator to be held in higher or lower esteem to another human. God’s plan is for equality among individuals. While we each differ with respect to skills and achievements and gifts, we each hold a similar core value in His eyes. The apostle Peter struggled with feelings of superiority over the centurion Cornelius. But finally as God showed how He loved them both Peter concluded, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality’ (Acts 10:34).” – pg. 90.
  • “…you may be operating on the assumption that the sooner you can pronounce forgiveness, the less you’ll have to deal with the lingering effects of the wrongful deed. In truth…this reasoning only increases your emotional healing time since you are only storing up emotions that grow more intense and more negative with time.” – pg. 124.
  • “There are also two good reasons to confront: (1) To establish self-respect through an improved understanding of your needs, or (2) To potentially restore (or establish) a relationship.” – pg. 148.
  • “You’re never going to forgive if you cling to the wish that you could make them believe correctly as you do. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you should drop your convictions. That would be irresponsible. But I am suggesting that you not be stuck in an emotional dungeon that results from falsely thinking that somehow you might be able to control their decisions. Forgiveness begins as you recognize their freedom to be who they are, even if they choose the wrong path.” – pp. 170-171.
  • “Don’t assume that your struggle makes you abnormal. Rarely is forgiveness the easiest or most natural path to take, particularly when the offending person is unrepentant.” – pg. 187.
  • “At the core of every personality is the characteristic of pride, the preoccupation with one’s own desires and preferences.” – pg. 209.
  • “Your heartfelt gratitude for the mercy of God will be the single most important ingredient in your journey to offer forgiveness toward others. As you claim that mercy, you will want to give it to others. If you feel you have no need for mercy, you likely will not feel compelled to offer to to those who have wronged you.” – pg. 222.

Study Bibles.

Introduction

This post is a review of the currently available study bibles. These are English translations of the Old and New Testaments found in the Christian Bible that include notes, maps, cross-references, and other features that delineate them as a “study” bible. At the time I performed this aggregation (1/16/12) there were 1,127 results for study bibles on Christian Book Distributor’s website.[1] I have attempted to compile almost all of them below – excluding study bible’s which differ only by translation or are foreign language. I’ve also excluded a number of others which I include at the bottom in a list for anyone interested in performing further research.

Options

Bible: Versions: Notes: Visuals:(1) Cross-Refs: Concordance: Book Intros: Published:
MacArthur Study Bible NKJV, NASB, ESV 25,000 140+ 80,000 Yes Yes 1997
ESV Study Bible ESV 20,000 440+ 80,000 2009
Zondervan Study Bible NASB, NIV 20,000 80 100,000 Yes Yes 1999
Life Application Study Bible NIV, NLT, NKJV, NASB
Archaeological Study Bible NIV, KJV
NLT Study Bible NLT
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible
NASB New Inductive Study Bible NASB
Scofield Study Bible (Original) KJV
Scofield Study Bible (Revised)
Scofield Study Bible (III) NIV
NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV
C.S. Lewis Bible NRSV 2010
ESV Reformation Study Bible ESV
Transformation Study Bible NLT
The Orthodox Study Bible
HCSB Study Bible
Serendipity Bible
Ryrie Study Bible NASB, KJV
The Jewish Study Bible 2011
The Literary Study Bible
NET Bible
The New Interpreter’s Study Bible NRSV 2003
The Wesley Study Bible
The Harper Collins Study Bible NRSV
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

Other Notes About Versions

  • MacArthur Study Bible – Written by Rev. John MacArthur. MacArthur is well-known for his evangelical commentaries and controversial position on lordship salvation. This study bible takes a premillennial eschatological position and a limited atonement interpretation.
  • ESV Study Bible – Includes 50 articles.
  • Zondervan Study Bible – Includes articles.

Other Options

The following for various subjective reasons where not included in this list…if you believe these offer some distinctive feature which should be included please let me know and I will reconsider…

The Chronological Study Bible KJV Study Bible The New Defender’s Study Bible New Spirit Filled Life Bible (aka FIRE Bible) The Charles Stanley Life Principles Bible
Rainbow Study Bible Life in the Spirit Study Bible The American Patriot’s Bible HCSB Apologetics Study Bible The Geneva Bible.
Quest Study Bible Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible Thompson Chain Reference Bible The Evidence Bible Prophecy Study Bible.
Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible Cambridge Study Bible Lutheran Study Bible African Heritage Study Bible. The King James Study Bible, 400th Anniversary Edition (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
Faith in Action Study Bible. The Matthew Henry Bible. HCSB Life Essentials Study Bible. The Case for Christ Study Bible. The Maxwell Leadership Bible.
The Master Study Bible. The Revival Study Bible. Living Water Bible. NRSV Access Bible. Life Lessons Study Bible.
The New American Catholic Study Bible. Mission of God Study Bible Harper Study Bible. Stewardship Study Bible. Blackaby Study Bible
Comparative Study Bible. Andrews Study Bible. Full Life Study Bible. Life for Today. Praise and Worship Study Bible.
Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible. The Inspirational Study Bible. The Journey. Little Rock Catholic Study Bible. Faith in Action Study Bible.
Reflecting God Study Bible. Discover God Study Bible. The Everyday Study Bible. Disciple’s Study Bible. The Discipleship Study Bible.
The People’s Study Bible. The Life Plan Study Bible. Prophecy Study Bible. The Legacy Study Bible. The Henry Morris Study Bible.
The Experiencing God Study Bible. The Discover Study Bible. The Living Insights Study Bible. The Expositor’s Study Bible. Cambridge Annotated Study Bible.
The Message Study Bible. The A.W. Tozer Bible. Concordia Self-Study Bible.

Amplifications

  • The Expanded Bible (Thomas Nelson, 2011).
  • Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (Kregel Publications, 1994).

Bibliography:

  1. [1]I also utilized Amazon’s site. A search for “study bible” on the same day filtered down to include only books returned 10,309 results. I reviewed 528 of these results, after which time I was fairly confident I had located most of the major study bibles and a few of the smaller ones.

Book Review: Streams of Mercy (Author: Mark Rutland)

At Philadelphia Biblical University, in the school bookstore, there is a section for used books. I don’t know who the suppliers are (a few folks who sell used books I think) but they keep several hundred volumes stacked on the shelves at low prices all year round.

As an undergrad student (and to this day) I loved walking into the bookstore and browsing through the shelves – looking for some gem to take home. So many of the books are priced between $1 and $3 it is just a beautiful opportunity to buy books.[1]

In any case, as I was perusing the shelves so many years ago I stumbled upon a small blue paperback entitled Streams of Mercy and subtitled “Receiving and Reflecting God’s Grace.” I’d never heard of the book or the author before – but I was struggling horribly with scrupulosity and so I picked up the book and went home.

I’m not sure when I actually began reading the book. It is not unusual for me to acquire a book and for it to sit on a shelf for a year or two before I actually crack it open (or even longer), but when I did, God used it as part of some major renovations He was doing in my heart and life.

Rutland’s book is not a complex theological treatise, rather it is a humble, passionate, and logical discussion of humanity’s need for mercy, God’s provision of mercy, the many ways in which we deny and ignore mercy within and without the church, and a discussion of how receiving mercy allows us to be completely changed and minister to others from the overflow we have received.

Rutland doesn’t attempt to tease out every theological complexity – instead he allows paradoxes to stand and instead focuses on what we do know and understand about the nature of God. He carefully attempts to balance his portrayal of God so as not to diminish God to a you-can’t-do-anything-wrong Grandpa in the sky.

Rutland’s book is filled with personal experiences, anecdotes, and thoughtful stories that bring me to tears. I’m reading the book again – for a third or fourth time. For anyone who knows me – you know this is astounding. I do not read books more than once. There are a very few I might read twice…and I absolutely do not read books three or four times!…and when I finish it, I have every intention of starting at the first page and reading it again and again and again.

Rutland’s book is balm for the soul and he does it in such a way as is sure to upset all forms of Christians equally and soothe all forms as well. Rutland is a charismatic Christian, but he does not emphasize or even acknowledge this within his work – instead focusing on a common truth that all Christian’s share about the grace and mercy of God.

Every once in a while I look into where this Rutland guy is and what he is up to…and always I’m impressed. Now, all glory belongs to God for the work of grace He has performed in Rutland’s life – and I am sure that he would be the first to state this…but for those who are interested, take a look at the Wikipedia article describing Rutland’s life and ministry thus far.

Dear Father, Might you extend to us grace and mercy in abundance that we might reflect your grace and mercy to others in an overwhelming manner. In Christ we pray, Amen.

  1. [1]Yes, I struggle with not buying books like the stereotypical member of the female gender struggles with not buying more shoes. :)