Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Amazed and Confused

Amazed and Confused: When God’s Actions Collide With Our Expectations by Heather Zempel, one of the books from the InScribed Collection of Women Studies

Overview: Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.

When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.

God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?

Dawn's Recommendation: 4 of 5 Stars

What I liked:
1. The book focuses on Habakkuk’s crying out to God with his hard questions (that also apply to us) like:
*Why are we faced with injustice in the world?
*Why does God put up with wrong in the world?
*How long till God fixes things?
This book is good at helping readers focus on the characteristics of God, even when things don’t we want them too.

2. I loved the personal stories and their lessons.
*My favorite story (and hook for the book) was about the time that the author fell into a hole. That’s all I’ll say, so as not to spoil it for you.
* Another story I liked was about the author’s no-nonsense willingness to speak the truth to a friend. She told her that things might not turn out okay, but that God was in charge. It was truth told in love.
* An story that really impacted me was the story of the author’s church at Union Station, where God did amazing things. Our own church is going through a lot of transition right now and this story reminds me that God has a new plan for us, one that will be amazing if we trust and believe!

3. “Amazed and Confused”, like the other books in the Inscribed Collection, has great questions after each chapter to help readers go deeper and internalize what they’ve read. This book includes even more Scripture and study in these questions, which is fantastic. Ms. Zempel is a very good study teacher.

What I didn’t like: There were a couple of small parts that were too theological for the general reader. I felt like I was getting a seminary lesson that went over my head, so I found myself skipping ahead. Luckily, it was in the latter part of the book and it didn’t last long. The author’s Bio helped explain it a bit. She likes “nerding out on church history”, but authors need to be careful of this, since the general reading audience for this book is me, average Jesus-loving-seeking woman.

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