Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: From Good to Grace-Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel

I was so excited to be part of the launch team for Christine Hoover's new book From Good to Grace!
At the time when I committed to be a part and all that that entailed, I had no idea all that God was doing and working in me-in His perfect sovereignty-to prepare my heart to receive the message in this book.

The launch of the book was to be on March 3, my birthday.  I had plenty of time to read the book, send out a few tweets with the launch hashtag, prepare for the guest post by Christine, and have my review of the book written and posted on my website by launch date.  According to my timeline...not His.

Without boring you on the particulars, let's just say my life got overloaded in a big way!  Activities, family matters, sickness (oh stomach bug...why?), hospitals, funerals, women's conference, fundraisers, graduation planning meetings...and that all on top of my duties at home of homeschooling, homemaking, being a help meet and my serving at our church as Pastor's wife, worship leader and teaching a women's bible study class.  Are you tired just from reading that?

This really is not my norm.  Yes, my life is filled...but in a good way with all God has intended for me.  But, providentially, all this ^ happened while I was reading from Good to Grace.

I love grace.  God's grace is a treasure, a balm, a comfort and a promise I cling to.  I know it, I embrace it, and I bask in it.  I know that salvation is all of God.  I know that I had absolutely nothing but unrighteousness to offer to God...and I know that out of His great love He sent His Son...the only One who could keep the covenant of the law and grace simultaneously when He died upon the cross for my sin and was resurrected to the praise and the glory of God!  I know salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification is all of Him!  And I am so thankful!

So, I was excited to read this new book for, what I thought, would be an aid to help me in conveying that true gospel in obedience to Matthew 28.  I know there are many inside and outside the church that are trying to get to God and secure salvation through works and by their own merit.  I know that there is sadly some false teaching in our churches today that promotes a 'to-do" list and rules that must be kept to gain heaven.  And this book is full of the truth of the real gospel.  The gospel of Truth and of grace.

What I didn't expect was to be called out early on in the first few chapters, admonished by Truth, that though I have trusted in Christ alone for my salvation, I am guilty of, at times, living out my day to day through a goodness gospel!  As if Christ was enough to save me, but now the rest is up to me?  I actually "know" that not to be the case.  I "know" that I can only do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13) and it is by His strength and power we are able to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Col 1:9-10).  So why do I sometimes slip back in to a works-based day to day walk?  Why do I feel guilty if I don't "do" something someone wants me to do?  Or fulfill a role that is not filled?  Or volunteer for EVERYTHING?  Because I sometimes slip back in to the goodness gospel by believing that I am my performance.

In her book, Christine Hoover reminds us that, "In Christ, I am not my performance."  She writes,

“The gospel ransoms me from my prison of performance. In Christ, I am not my performance. This is perhaps the first and most important freedom I’ve received in Christ. Grace frees me from a focus on self and all the sins and burdens that come along with it: selfishness, insecurity, pride, trying to prove myself worthy, seeking love and approval, fear of not being enough. Like a giant wave, the gospel rises above this petty focus on self, crushing every facet of our selfishness and self-centeredness. We no longer need to seek our own honor and worth because we are loved by Love himself…This is the explosive power of the gospel: it frees us from ourselves and enables us to live for God and for the sake of others.” (p. 117-118).

The whole book points constantly and consistently to the sufficiency of Christ.  I love that.  There is nothing in this book that points to Christine, and she over and over again points to Him and all that He has done in her life with a transparency and a tenderness that could only have come from Him.

I could just literally quote the whole book here as I had to put down my highlighter as I found I was highlighting entire pages! You just need to get this book and read it.  Savor it.  I thank God that He allowed me to go through a time of intense busyness where I felt completely weak and insufficient to carry out all He had for me right in the midst of reading this book.  I am thankful that He gave me eyes, ears and a heart to see, hear and feel the message He had for me in this book with my bible open alongside.  I pray you will read it that way as well and let Him wash over you anew with His grace that is intended for every part and every day of your life.  My prayer is that you, and I, and Christine will all preach the gospel of Christ to ourselves EVERY DAY in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE in EVERY DUTY that we accomplish for Him and for His glory!

Get your copy here: From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel

Friday, March 6, 2015

Guest post by Christine Hoover

I am so excited to be reviewing the book From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel by Christine Hoover!  My review of the book is coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this guest post by Christine.  You will love her heart for Truth, her transparency, and boldness in speaking the Truth in love.  Book review spoiler alert:  you are going to LOVE this book that is rooted deep in the gospel of Christ and the grace of God!


Good, Bye

Christine Hoover (@christinehoover) is an author, a recovering perfectionist, the wife of a pastor, and a mom of three boys. She writes online at and has contributed to Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Send Network, and iBelieve. Her newest book, From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel, offers women biblical freedom from trying to “be good enough”. The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. You can read the entire chapter here.

I’ve been obsessed with being good and performing all of my life.

Hello, my name is Christine. I’m a goodness addict.

I was born with a list in my hand, or at least that’s how early I imagine it started. I came by it honestly—my mom’s response to everything my sister and I needed as children, whether shampoo from the store or help with a school project, was always, “Make a list!”

So I did. I made list after list—of library books for summer reading, of boys that I liked, of songs to record from the radio on my tape recorder, of necessities to pack for overnight camp, of must-haves in my future husband, even of outfits for the first month of eighth grade so as not to repeat and make a fashion faux pas of infinite proportion.

I don’t just make lists. I am that person, the one who adds a task to a list just to experience the satisfaction of crossing it off, the one who makes lists for my lists.

I’m a perfectionist.

There was a time when I would have said that with pride, but not anymore. Perfectionism has not been a friend to me. Sure, my house is organized and my budget spreadsheet is up-to-date, but when perfectionism is applied to the spiritual needs of the heart, it’s called legalism. And legalism is a fancy word for an obsession with goodness. It’s a belief that good things come from God to those who are good. And it’s a belief that you can actually be good enough to get to God on your own.

I became a Christian at age eight. From that point, or more accurately from the point in middle school when I started having “quiet times” according to my youth minister’s instructions, until my late twenties, I spent the majority of my Christian life striving—striving for perfection, for God’s favor, for the approval of others, and for the joy and freedom that the Bible spoke of yet completely eluded me.

At an early age, I fell for perfectionism’s lie that I could be good enough to win God’s heart and the approval of others. I sought joy, peace, and love through being good and, instead, found myself miserably enslaved to my own unattainable standards.

This was my understanding of what it meant to be a Christian: If I do good things, then God is pleased. If I do things wrong, then he is angry. This is actually the basis of every religion on earth except Christianity, this idea of a scale where the good must outweigh the bad in order to be right with God. I had religion down pat, but the religion I practiced wasn’t true and biblical Christianity. On the outside I appeared to be a good Christian, but on the inside I felt unlovable and was riddled with guilt about my inability to please God.

Unfortunately for me, a large part of a goodness obsession is an addiction to self. Goodness is evaluated by activity, completed tasks, responses from others, and results. It requires a focus on appearance and image and maintaining some semblance of religious behavior. Goodness required that I control my environment with military precision, hide my weaknesses, and compare myself with others or my own arbitrary standards. Goodness fed both my pride and my self-condemnation and kept me relationally isolated.

The other part of a goodness addiction, I discovered in my twenties, is a faulty understanding of who God is and what he expects from His children. I only saw God through perfectionism’s filter. He was gray. He had no patience for my mistakes, forever glaring at me with a scowl on His face. He sighed a lot. If I was extra-good, He might manage to crack a smile. He was one-dimensional, disengaged, unaffectionate, and I absolutely feared him.

I knew nothing about grace.
I knew nothing about forgiveness.
I knew nothing about the true gospel, because a goodness addiction completely overtakes the heart and mind, leaving no room for truth. It enslaves and cannibalizes itself. It becomes an all-encompassing religion, closing tightly around one’s soul. It led me down paths of depression and despair.

And it became my gospel.
I lived according to that gospel–what I now call the goodness gospel–for far too long, precisely because I didn’t know the true gospel’s reach. I believed that faith was effective for salvation but only self-effort could produce my sanctification. Now I know differently. God has taken me on a ten-year exploration of grace and sanctification and faith, and I am not the girl I once was. I live in the freedom that Christ was won for me.

Now that I know differently, I also have eyes to see the goodness gospel covertly worming its way into hearts of believers, and I see its destructive effects.

In the Christian culture, there seems to be great confusion and even pressure that we women feel about what we should be doing and why we should be doing it. The confusion touches decisions about education, family, eating and drinking, work, hobbies, community involvement, and even whether one should volunteer when the sign-up sheet is passed around again at church.

The pressure grows when choices are wrapped in spiritual or more-spiritual terms. We see it everywhere: Do something great! Follow your dreams! Make a difference for the kingdom! Be missional and in community! For the gospel-confused, that too often translates into: I’m not doing enough, what I’m doing isn’t making a difference, and I’ve got to create my own and my neighbor’s own and my children’s own and everyone’s own life transformation.
From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel is a book for women like I was, who long to please God but fear they never will. It's for the woman drowning in self-condemnation, the woman afraid to be vulnerable with others because she's so fully aware of her imperfections, and the woman who craves but can't seem to grasp the freedom and joy that Jesus promised His followers.
Instead of asking "What does God want from us?", From Good to Grace asks, "What does God want for us?" The book illustrates how we confuse being good and trying hard--the goodness gospel--with the true gospel, which is really about receiving the grace and love that Jesus offers us and responding with our lives by the Holy Spirit's help. It’s my prayer that through it you discover it's possible to know God's love, live in peace and freedom, and serve others with great joy. Because God has something so much greater for you than trying to be good enough.

Purchase your copy today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, or iTunes and discover the gospel’s reach in your own life.