Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{W}hole - by Lisa Whittle: A Book Your Small Group Needs to Read and Discuss

I sometimes find myself cynical when hearing celebrity Christians speak or when reading contempary Christian books. Having learned in my early years about 'the faith once delivered to the saints' from writers like John Owen, Charles Spurgeon and C.S. Lewis, the writings of many modern Christian writers seem peurile and too spiritually sweet and syrupy for my taste. I like Christians who are gritty, honest and transparent; people who don't spiritualize away their weaknesses or act as if their lives are above the doubts and frailties that all Christians experience in their journey. The inspired Scriptures reveal to us weak men and women who find their glory in the power of the gospel. It feels to me like many modern Christians mistakenly believe spiritual power is found in never admitting mistakes.

Lisa Whittle's new book Whole satiates my appetite for a Christian book that speaks the kind of language that rings authentic. She rightly understands that "what happens between Jesus and us in the pages of our earthly journey is our greatest vehicle for showing people the God of transformation." That is our collective story. Or more precisely that is His story in our lives. Lisa's transparent and gritty confession of personal doubt, spiritual game-playing, and failure makes the message of Christ ring powerful. Her gift of writing enabled me to make the transfer from Lisa's own story my own personal experiences and the story Christ is writing in my life. {W}hole helps you understand how God designs the holes in our lives so that He can fill them.

The study questions at the end of each chapter, as well as the study guides, will spark the kind of discussion that grace churches cherish but religious people eschew. They are the kind of questions that get beyond the moral platitudes we so often hear in church, and for that reason alone, your small groups should purchase this book for an eight week study that will lead them to bridge the disconnect between one's confession and experience.

George Barna's recently surveyed fifteen thousand people nation wide, and in his new book Maximum Faith, he reveals that less than one in twenty-five people have ever experienced spiritual brokenness. The gospel writers spoke of Christ residing in "clay jars," meaning our lives--which are fragile and breakable--"to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us"  (II Corinthians 4:7). The story of our lives, and every one of us has a story, is a story of brokenness and the power of Christ transforming us through our brokenness.

{W}hole is worth every dollar you spend in getting it for your Sunday School class or small group. Get your copies today.


Rex Ray said...

You’ve probably heard the expression “It rubbed me the wrong way.” Well, that’s what I’ve let this post do to me.

Sorry, and maybe I’m taking this the wrong way, but overall I get the impression to be a ‘great’ Christian you must experence “spiritual brokenness”.
(The post doesn’t say how many times this must this happen in a Christian’s life.)

I believe “spiritual brokenness” must happen before a lost person can be saved, and after they’re saved ‘that’ SHOULD NEVER happen again because God has made us NEW.

I’m not saying we can live perfect lives, but I agree with Paul saying:

“Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? Absolutely not!” How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)

wadeburleson.org said...

Good point. I do not know that I disagree Rex.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure that the post and the first comment are addressing the same thing at all. Brokenness [spiritual or otherwise] is synonymous with humility in scripture If I'm correctly understanding things and that is to be an attitude of life for any christian.

But that attitude can be/is often developed by events of failure and struggles, even doubts. The post addresses honesty about all those failures and such honesty is the result of true humility [brokenness] becoming part of life I would think.

If someone were to challenge my making humility and brokenness synonymous I would have to simply respond as someone did when questioned about pornography once. They said they might not be able to tell you what it is but they sure recognize it when they see it.

I may not know what brokenness [humility] is but I sure recognize it when I see it and it is to be part of a christian's life from my perspective.

Christiane said...

some words from an old sixties song:

'and Jesus was a sailor
and He sailed upon the waters
and He spent a long time watching
from a lonely wooden tower

and when He knew for certain
only drowning men could see Him
He said, 'all men must be sailors
until the sea shall free them. . . '

strange words from a song called 'Suzanne', certainly no hymn,
but sometimes we find glimmers of light in the strangest places :)

Rex Ray said...

Ah! Christiane,
Again, you pour oil on trouble waters. Nice to hear you.

If I understand Anonymous correctly, He said “brokenness” is to be a part of a Christian’s life, and “can be/is often developed by events of failure and struggles, even doubts.”

I will accept his words as truth when he can show this “brokenness” of failure, struggles, and doubts in our example—Jesus

Mel said...

In the literal text, Rex Ray is correct about when 'spiritual brokeness' occurs. I think we have become accustomed to labeling a person's deliverance from specific sin as spiritual brokeness, when in fact, it is a moment when we realize - own- admit, and humbly bow down and acknowledge our action as sin before God. It feels like brokeness because it leaves us vulnerable and exposed, which may be the very place we should live.

Lisa's book mirrors the Celebrate Recovery program at our church. The purpose is to identify and address any issue (hole) that keeps us in bondage in our relationship to Christ. Fixing the hole from the bottom up instead of merely covering it becomes the focus.

Christiane said...

Was Christ 'broken' ?

It was foretold, by the prophet Isaiah about
'a man of sorrows . . .
familiar with suffering'

and that

'. . . it was the LORD's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.."

The prophet Isaiah in Chapter 53 speaks of a sinless Savior who was broken by OUR sins.
Did He sweat blood in dread of what was to come with the scourging and the crucifixion ?
Did He weep at the news of the death of a friend ?
Was He moved with compassion for those who were lost and harassed and without a shepherd ?
Did He experience unfairness, and rejection? Was He spit upon and reviled ? Was He tempted by Satan?

Did He know our pain when our sins crushed Him on the Cross ?

Rex, a wonderful Christian woman named Corrie ten Boom suffered much at the hands of the Nazis. But she discovered something important:

" "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still"
excerpt from 'The Hiding Place' by Corrie ten Boom)

Sometimes persecutors place us in that pit, or life's circumstances may place us there.
Or being sinners and very weak, we sometimes place ourselves into that deep hole, only to find that He is waiting for us there.
We can say to Him, with Peter,
'Lord, save me.'
It is by His Hand we will be lifted upward.

Rex Ray said...

Your comment is excellent in showing, “By his stripes, we are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 and as you said Isaiah 53:5)

You brought out His “brokenness’ was caused by OUR sin; NOT his.

But the topic “brokenness” of Christians is caused by THEIR sin.

If {W}hole teaches “God designs holes in our lives so that He can fill them” means ‘trials that don’t break us makes us stronger’, then that’s fine.

But if the “holes” are sin that causes “brokenness” (prodigal son) then these holes are of the devil and not God.

If you find yourself in this type of hole, the best advice I’ve heard is “Stop digging.” :)

Anonymous said...


Christiane's point is well taken from my perspective at least.

That said, I must also say, to endorse this claim..."I will accept his words [Anonymous's comment] as truth when he can show this “brokenness” of failure, struggles, and doubts in our example—Jesus."... would mean I would also have to believe that Jesus could never have doubted or struggled or failed __not morally but performance wise such as never failing to drive a nail correctly when building a chair with his dad, the carpenter]__ BECAUSE it is not recorded about Him is scripture__and that to me is a logical fallacy.

By this kind of logic__ Jesus never cried as a baby__it isn't recorded__or cut Himself as a youth with a carpenter's tool while helping His father__it isn't recorded__or laughed__it isn't recorded__ or relieved Himself of human waste __it isn't recorded__and the list could go on.

I'll admit to NOT knowing OR understanding all the mysteries of the uniqueness of the God-Man we accept as the Messiah-Redeemer, but to ONLY accept what I see recorded about Him as factual or actual would rule out the verse that says....

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." New American Standard Bible (©1995)

Rex Ray said...

I think you jumped into water over your head (mine too.)

But I’m sure “the books that could be written” would not contain Jesus crying as a baby or falling from a tree, but would refer to more wonders and works of Jesus.

I hope we don’t digress to needing the advice of Paul…”Reject foolish and ignorant disputes…” (2 Timothy 2: 23)

Pege' said...

Wade, understood your post and ordered the book.