Guest Post: Give Her Wings Book Review


As many of you know, I serve with a ministry called Give Her Wings, whose mission is to “raise gifts and money for mothers who have left abusive situations… to give these brave ladies a chance to get on their feet . . . to breathe . .. to heal their broken wings and fly free again.”

Megan Cox is the director of Give Her Wings, and is herself a survivor of domestic abuse. She tells her story and provides insight into the experiences of domestic and spiritual abuse in her book Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse.

I recently asked several friends in different areas of ministry to read Megan’s book and write a review for us that gave their response to the book and how they could see it being used in their particular ministry. 

The following is the response I received from Sarah Mitchell. Sarah and I attended seminary together and served alongside one another in a variety of ways during that time. Sarah has served overseas and is currently serving in the (more than) full time role of wife to Chris and mother to their three preschoolers. The Mitchell’s live in Salem, VA, where Chris is the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church.
A dear friend of mine knows how much I love to read and how I used to like to write…well, I still like to write, I think, but I haven’t in forever (something about 3 kids 4 and under!). Anyway, I digress already! So, Bekah asked me to read a new book, knowing that the book would be a helpful resource as a pastor’s wife in a local church.

Naturally I was excited to get to read a book that was both hot-off-the-press and a potentially useful resource. Little did I know how helpful this little beautifully written book would be over the last couple of months. A lady I know is currently struggling with the decision to stay in or leave an abusive relationship. Aside from praying through Scripture with her, which is, of course, the richest resource on the planet and applicable in every situation, I was clueless how to help her when she asked me for counsel and prayer, but that VERY SAME WEEK I received this book in the mail. The Lord’s timing is so utterly perfect and He obviously knew that I would need Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse by Megan D. Cox to give me a glimpse behind the curtain of someone who is struggling in a situation of abuse and to provide a practical guide for me as I walk this journey with my friend!

Things with my friend are complicated and fragile and I feel totally inadequate as her confidant and life-line, but God has very definitively crossed our paths and I know that obedience looks like helping her in whatever way I can. As I began to read Give Her Wings, I instantly loved Megan’s ability to share her personal story, truth from God’s Word, and practical advice both for the victim of abuse and the ones seeking to help her. Towards the beginning of the book, Cox writes some of the most life-giving words to encourage victims of abuse to come out of their situation into freedom. She says, “A seed must first die and be buried, then life comes…I was made to be free. That thought right there is the new life peeking out” (6). LIFE, and life more abundantly is what Christ offers to all of us and it is what we, those who are believers and ambassadors of the gospel have to offer others. Cox reminds her readers of that purpose over and over again throughout the book.

Complicated. Messy. Scary. Ugly. Dark. Those are words that describe the life victims of abuse long to leave behind. As encouragers, we offer the hope of life after abuse but it often requires personal sacrifice. To me one of the most profound statements Megan makes for those seeking to be helpers to victims is this: “There really is something to our lives being messy…Look into the life of one person you knows God and you will find a bit of chaos somewhere along the way…What unintentionally separated the wheat from the tares in my life was the fact that some people decided to get into our mess and get all muddied up” (45). I have a choice to make…I can run and hide and leave my new friend to fend for herself or I can hang in there, push up my sleeves, get on my knees, and really just be a friend. I know what Jesus did for those who had messy lives, He reached into their messes and just loved them. Cox calls us to do the same.

If those of us who are in full-time ministry or are involved in ministry at any level are at all tuned into what’s going on in the lives of those whom God has surrounded us, then we will likely run across people who need us to get into their messy lives and help. And Megan Cox doesn’t mean fix them or their situation. No. In fact she will tell us that we can’t fix it and that fixing it isn’t ultimately the point. The point, according to Cox, is to love them well. We need to be available, loyal, truthful, and pointers to the One who made them and loves them. Cox writes, “Tell her [the victim] that God does not wish anyone to be abused. She needs to know this right away…If she understand that Jesus cares about the pain and loves her, the seeds are planted for her to be able to separate an abusive husband from the true God who loves her” (90).

I definitely found Megan’s book to be a useful tool for those who are counseling women who are victims of abuse or as a healing balm for those who have been or are involved in an abusive relationship. It’s a brilliant diamond hewn out of the rough grit of her personal experience leaving behind a life of abuse and straining toward the abundant life the Lord had planned for her. It’s a unique resource because Megan artfully weaves excerpts from her own journey in and around and through scripturally anchored advice and how-to’s. I highly recommend and urge those who are in women’s ministry or in church leadership in any capacity to read Give Her Wings. It is a must-have resource for the Church as we seek to demonstrate Christ-like love toward the hurting and the broken and the ones being put back together piece by beautiful piece.

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Where the Storm Meets the Sun


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I bought a book for my niece and nephew for Christmas this year. Nothing shocking about this; I was buying them books before they were born.

But this year I picked up what is, I believe, the most well written, theologically rich storybook Bible I’ve ever seen.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago is an exceptional storybook for both children and adults. The reason for this is that, unlike most storybook bibles that read like a collection of disjointed short stories, this storybook Bible reads like a chapter book. It is designed to teach the grand narrative of Jesus to even the youngest listener. Each story refers to previous ones and, more importantly, points to the future plan of God.

The following excerpt is from the account of Noah and the flood. It is one of my favorites so far because it shows both the quality of writing and the depth of the theology.

The first thing Noah did was to thank God for rescuing them, just as he had promised.

And the first thing God did was make another promise. “I won’t ever destroy the world again.”

And like a warrior who puts away his bow and arrow at the end of a great battle, God said, “See, I have hung up my bow in the clouds.”

And there, in the clouds– where the storm meets the sun– was a beautiful bow made of light.

It was a new beginning in God’s world…
God’s strong anger against hate and sadness and death would come down once more– but not on his people, or his world. No, God’s war bow was not pointing down at his people.

It was point up, into the heart of Heaven.

Beautiful word pictures and well crafted foreshadowing make this a story pleasing to both the heart and the head.

While the book itself is excellent, the Deluxe Edition is even better. Included is a 3-CD set of audio CDs with the entire storybook narrated by British actor David Suchet. The words come to life listening to him! We’ve spent the evening listening and following along and it has kept the attention of a 22 month old, a 21 year old and a 32 year old. Multi-generational to be sure.

What this storybook proves is that the story of Jesus does not have to be “dumbed down” for children. And adults don’t have to feel silly enjoying a children’s book.

As CS Lewis once stated, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

The Jesus Storybook Bible is a good children’s story.

Instruments, Part 2


Focusing from the beginning on the need for change and for God in our lives may lead many to bristle and quickly defend that there needs to be no help shown to them in their lives. Tripp faces this argument head-on in Chapter Three. Going back to the very beginning of time, he proves to the reader that, whether it is admitted or not, all people are desperately in need of help. According to Tripp, there are several universal concepts that apply to mankind. First is the fact that humans were created to be dependent. This first statement goes against much of what the culture today teaches, but Tripp states that, “Genesis 1 confronts us with the fact that our need for help preceded sin… If there had been no Fall, if we had never sinned, we would still need help because we are human” (41).

The second universal quality of all humans, Tripp says, is that mankind was made to interpret. He states that man is not a machine that simply takes in facts, but rather man interprets, or thinks through, those facts and makes choices based more on the interpretation of facts rather than the facts themselves. Tripp argues that the only correct way to interpret any event in life is through the lens of God’s word (41).

Lastly, Tripp states that all people were created to worship. Whether we are worshiping God, ourselves, or something or someone else (45), all of mankind is in the act of worship at all times.

Tripp concludes this chapter by explaining that because all people are sinful, dependent, interpreting worshipers, then the only logical conclusion is that all people are also in need of some form of counseling and all people are counseling, or influencing, other people on a daily basis.

How does one ensure that the counsel being both given and received is, in fact, solid counsel? Tripp states in Chapter Four that the process of ensuring one counsels and receives counsel correctly begins in the heart. The word heart, for this discussion, refers to the Scriptural explanation: “the inner person (spirit, soul, mind emotions, will, etc.)” (59). The central discussion of this chapter relates to the thesis because, in order for a radical change to occur in people, one must know where and how to start the change. Tripp argues that change begins in the human heart. “One of the most important word pictures in the New Testament reveals Christ’s perspective on how people function. It is Christ’s answer to the age-old question, “Why do people do the things they do?”” (60).

In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus compares people to trees, explaining that the fruit in our lives is the behavior exhibited, and the heart is the root system that feeds the tree and influences the production of behavior. Tripp expands this illustration clearly and thoroughly throughout the remainder of the chapter, explaining to the reader both how most people attempt to “change” their fruit (a process he calls “fruit stapling”) and how the Scripture explains true change occurs. Change only occurs on a real, permanent level when the one receiving counsel comes to realize that “sin is much more than doing the wrong thing. It begins with loving, worshiping, and serving the wrong thing” (67).

Tripp contends that because humanity is created with a need to worship that all people will choose to worship something. The key to ministry is helping people see the error in their choices to worship created things instead of the Creator. Not only are people worshippers, but people are also treasure hunters, and Tripp tells his reader clearly that “there are only two kinds of treasures, earthly and heavenly and whatever we choose will become our rulers” (72). He concludes by stating, “The things we set our hearts on never remain under our control. Instead, they capture, control, and enslave us” (73). The point being that one can either be controlled by Christ and His heavenly treasure, or controlled by “earth-bound treasures” and therefore reap the consequences of that choice.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands


The following series of posts is a detailed summary and review of Paul David Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. I hope that providing this will encourage you to read the book in its entirety.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, by Paul David Tripp. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002. 375 pages.

Paul David Tripp received his M.Div. from the Philadelphia Theological Seminary and his D.Min. degree from the Westminster Theological Seminary, also in Philadelphia. Tripp is a counselor at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where he is the director of Changing Lives Ministries, as well as a lecturer in practical theology at Westminster. In addition to his teaching and counseling responsibilities, Dr. Tripp has also authored several books and is a highly sought lecturer and speaker.

The purpose of this book is clearly stated by the author in the preface to the body of the text. Tripp states his two-fold thesis in the following manner:
…[T]his book is about: how God uses people, who are themselves in need of change, as instruments of the same kind of change in others. This book’s goal is not just that people’s lives would be changed as they give help and receive it. The goal is to help change the church’s very culture (xi).
Within the confines of this book, Tripp gives his reader a comprehensive outline for how these two goals can be accomplished, starting with the changes needed in the heart of each individual person, and then moving out, to describe the changes necessary in the behavior of people and in the interactions between people. While Tripp seems to be stating in his thesis that the ultimate goal is the radical culture change of the church as a whole, his writing consistently points to the fact that he believes change in the church will not occur without there first being an individual radical change in the hearts and minds of every believer in the church.

To further support this statement, Tripp begins his argument in Chapter One with the most basic heart change any person can experience: the change that occurs in the heart of one who has accepted Christ as Savior. Tripp argues that the need for change in the hearts of men is due to the Fall of the first man and woman. When sin entered the world, the need immediately occurred for a Savior to redeem the hearts of a now sinful mankind. In order for someone to recognize that a change is possible, or even needed, she must first recognize the fallen nature of her own heart and acknowledge the need to be rescued from that fallen nature.

Tripp clearly states from the beginning that only God can begin the redeeming process. “From the moment of the Fall, for generation after generation, he controlled everything so that someday he could fix what had been so horribly damaged. Into this world, at just the right moment, he sent his one and only Son” (3). While salvation from the damnation we deserve for our sins is reason enough to rejoice over the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the reader is quickly informed that, “The King came not to make our agenda possible, but to draw us into something more amazing, glorious, and wonderful than we could ever imagine” (4). There is more to this life than simply being redeemed so that we can share an eternity in Heaven with Christ; we are here to bring God glory through our actions and reactions to the world around us. Recognizing our sin and a need for a Savior and then accepting the call placed on every believer’s life to impact the lives of those around us is, Tripp states, the first step in becoming an effective instrument for change in the lives of people around us.

Chapter Two moves in a logical order from the main idea of Chapter One. Once a person has surrendered her life to Christ, there are certain things she should now be doing as one who is living in the grasp of the Redeemer. The overall theme of the second chapter is summed up in the following statement: “God transforms people’s lives as people bring his Word to others” (19). According to Tripp, this is the second step in the process of becoming a people helper; Christians are not to be those who simply refer their lost or hurting neighbors and family members to the church pastor. Rather, each person who has experienced a saving knowledge of Christ is called to bring Christ’s message of hope and peace and redemption to whomever in their life needs the message. Tripp continues to support his thesis of radical church change by focusing in this chapter on the idea that “in the biblical model, much more informal, personal ministry goes on than formal ministry” (19). His concept in this chapter is to enforce the idea that radical change is not solely the responsibility of paid church staff, but that, as a body, each member of the church is responsible for proclaiming the Word so that people’s lives will be dramatically changed.

Tripp spends a significant amount of time in this chapter answering the key question of any ministry: “What is the best way to minister biblically to another person?” (24). He answers this question in two ways. First he explains what biblical ministry is not. He states that biblical ministry is not the practice of throwing trite advice and biblical-sounding platitudes in the general direction of a hurting individual. He states that the topical, encyclopedic use of Scripture is an incorrect use of Scripture. In this vein of thinking, Tripp states, “If I handle Scripture topically, I will miss the overarching themes at the heart of everything else God wants to say to me…The sad fact is that many of us are simply not biblical in the way we use the Bible!” (27). Instead of simply stating the problem and moving on, Tripp does a good job of giving logical examples of how to use the Bible correctly in ministry situations. He then gives the reader what he calls the three overarching themes of Scripture: God’s sovereignty, God’s grace, and God’s glory. Next, these three things, he states, must be communicated to the hearer before any true change can take place in the heart. And change, Tripp concludes, “is the central work of God’s kingdom” (35).