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Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Making All Things New" (David Powlison)

TITLE: Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken
AUTHOR: David Powlison
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2017, (128 pages).

Human Sexuality are huge matters in our culture. Whether it is about registering for some government procedures, school programs, club activities, or even the use of restrooms, we are asked about gender types all the time. If we are happy about ourselves, references to our sexuality would not really bother us. What if we had a dark sexual past? What if we had been hurt before and our sexuality damaged? What if we have been betrayed by our spouses or partners? Author describes such betrayals like a clean rag soaking up dark and dirty stains. Can the rag be made clean? What does it take to make people new again? This is the key purpose of this book. Powlison sets forth three orienting realities for us:
  1. Faithfulness: Christian faith revels in Sexual Fidelity
  2. Honest: Christian Faith is Candid about Sexual Wrongs
  3. Regeneration: Christian Faith brings Genuine Transformation
Even though God created sex good, sin has corrupted it. By the grace of God, sex has been redeemed and human sexuality made new. Working through the paradoxes of how suffering could be a chance for growth, and how sexual brokenness affects both all genders, readers are guided with this constant prompting, that God will not only make all things new, what He started, He will also complete it. 

Powlison takes time to show us how sexuality is something very personal to us. We all have our own stories and many of them remain hidden from public eyes. We need to be free. We need to be healed, and we need to be whole. It begins by grabbing the bull by the horns, and face our darkest parts of ourselves. Here's the good news. We are not going to do that alone. With God by our side, we can face the forces of darkness and not be led astray by deceptive voices; fleshly desires; and the tempter. Such forces will evoke "self-condemnation, guilt, public humiliation, and shame." Other challenges involve our reactions after a terrible loss. Powlison shows us how to address unholy desires; unholy pain; unredeemed guilt; gender misunderstandings; sexual struggles within marriage. We learn the road to recovery with a long-term plan. In sanctification, we know the direction we are heading. In repentance, we adopt a lifestyle toward that end. Simply put, repentance is about recognizing we cannot save ourselves. We need God. Being renewed is also dealing with the larger and peripheral issues for one thing could lead to another. It requires us to know our own patterns of behaviour. It needs us to be aware of the wider and deeper battles inside and outside us. Often, we need counselors or a mentor to help us through. Over time, we learn about the subtle struggles that lurk in hidden areas. Powlison also lists the different levels of subtlety of sexual sins and suggests ways to deal with them. Eventually, we are reminded of the real goal of all our efforts at tackling sexual sins and brokenness. It is not for ourselves nor for our friends. It's about becoming more like Christ. This means we need to fight our battles daily against the spiritual forces that war against our souls. Recognize their presence. At the same time, recognize that God is on our side. Finally, get ourselves on God's perspective by learning to see ourselves from the side of God.

Let me offer three thoughts about this book. First, it is bold about the inner struggles we face. Human sexuality is not something we readily talk about. Even close friends would find it hard and embarrassing to talk about it. Imagine this. If it is already hard to talk about sexuality, what about those of us with sexual struggles and brokenness? That is why the chapter on "Making Renewal Personal" is an important primer for us to note. We learn that sexuality is interconnected with many other human emotions. Being bold to recognize and confront them will be a great start. Second, we are forced to deal with our own blind spots. The most difficult problems might very well be something we refuse to deal with in the first place. Through the chapters on external forces, factors surrounding the battles we face, and the need to stay the course, we have a decent guide to help us discover the many different possibilities. Powlison describes the tension well, reminding us that there is no silver bullet in tackling such complex issues. Third, there is a determined emphasis on hope in God, and that God can make all things new. In order to do that, we need to be intentional as we read the book. Go through it patientlylest we miss out some of the core diagnostic questions that probe our hearts. Just like the story of Tom who complained of a lack of progress in tackling his temptations. We see how personal patterns and behaviour cloud our sense of judgment. Being too presumptuous of external forces could make us forget about our own blind spots. Go through it honestly, taking time to pause at the page that convicts us. Go through it willingly, and expect God to help us change from the inside out. Temptations are everywhere. The good news is, God is with us.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Crossway Publishers without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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