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Book Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

The “Missing Link” in Christian Discipleship

Pete Scazzero (the pastor of a thriving church in New York) writes a very transparent and yet helpful account of how Christians have a tendency to neglect two areas of their lives: the emotions, and the realities of generational sin. He begins the book by demonstrating how devastating this can be in relationships, and how this affects the corporate health of the body of Christ. What this does ultimately is it creates a “false peace” that deals only with symptoms and not the causes of what makes for unhealthy relationships.

I think this book is must reading for all Christians, especially church leaders (pastors, teachers, small group leaders, etc.) because I think most interpersonal relationships, marriages, families, and thus churches live in this reality Scazzero calls “false peace.” In the book he gives various examples from his life, and others lives – as well as many biblical examples of how to identify these real emotional and sinful tendencies, and how to correct them through the biblical disciplines.

For example – I have discipled numerous men over the years (as a pastor and professional life coach) who know the Bible well, but their relationships are a mess. Sometimes they have a ton of repressed anger inside, or are trying to “make up” for the approval they never received at home, or they have an incurable “lust” problem, etc. Ultimately, all these “realities” are typically below the surface in the discipleship process – and never dealt with. We give people more verses; more lists of dos and don’ts, and continue to live in this realm of false peace.

Scazzero builds a great case in the book for identifying personal and generational sin, and gives excellent tools for grappling with, and overcoming these areas of sin with the help of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. I can’t recommend this book (and the workbook that goes with it) highly enough. I think if Christians and churches (he’s also written a book called the Emotionally Healthy Church with a workbook that goes with it) want to really become healthy and rid the false peace and barriers that have been built up over time, you can’t do any better than to read and work through this book.

My wife and I have read this book and gone through the workbook at least four times, and it has been absolutely life transforming. Along with R.C. Sproul’s the “Holiness of God,” and Peter Kreeft’s (“Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing”) and Randy Alcorn’s books on Heaven – this book has radically changed my thinking and behavior – and has helped me repent of, and deal with sin in my life in a way that few books have helped me to do. I think every Christian should read this book more than once and go through the workbook with another person, or several people (small groups are ideal – especially if they are a close knit small group).

As a pastor and church leader for many years I also recommend that staff’s, elders, and ministry teams go through this book and the Workbook based on this book for healthier teams that will radically benefit the body of Christ for good. If I could give this a higher rating than a five I would – this book is one of the greatest gifts of God’s grace I’ve received – it has helped me in all of my relationships – with God, other believers, and those who have yet to believe – and taken me to a deeper level in all these relationships than I ever thought possible.

 

*Peter Scazzero is the Founder and Senior Lead Pastor of New Life Fellowship Church. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell (MDiv) and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin in marriage and family), he is also the author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006), The Emotionally Healthy Church: Expanded (Zondervan, 2010), and Begin the Journey with the Daily Office (WCA, 2009). Pete has been married to his best friend, Geri, and together they have four daughters – Maria, Christy, Faith and Eva. He loves libraries, bookstores, and the printed page — on almost any topic. Basketball, hiking and the outdoors (thanks to Geri), laughter, Italian opera, history, and great meals with family, are among his greatest joys. Pete and Geri are co-founders of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

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