Back in February, Steady Eddie and I attended a Focus on the Family simulcast at a church an hour and a half or so away. The reason we wanted to go is because Gary Thomas was one of the featured speakers, and I love Gary Thomas’ books (my reviews are here and here). I was very pleasantly surprised when Gary Smalley came up to the podium to speak, and as it turns out, he was my favorite speaker of the entire day. I loved his informal manner. I appreciated his self-deprecating humor and how he spoke very candidly about his own problems and how God has transformed his life. Of course, I bought the book on which he based his talk that day, before leaving the church. I have just now gotten around to reading it, and let me say that this is one book that if put into practice, could definitely change a person’s whole life. Oh, yeah–that’s what the title claims, right?
I have felt convicted or impressed within the past six months to really grasp hold of God’s word and hide it in my heart. More than just simple memorization, I want to learn to meditate and feed my soul on His word. I have been encouraged by Ann Voskamp’s lovely posts on memorization, and for specific help, I have turned to “An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Dr. Andrew Davis. This method works if I employ it, which I must admit I had not been doing much in the past several weeks before I read this book. Gary Smalley has renewed my passion and commitment for memorization and meditation, and what’s more, I am excited and expectant about the changes God will work in me through my careful attendance to His word.
Back to the book–in Smalley’s trademark style, he very candidly shares his own struggles with lust and hedonism and how, after approximately sixty years of falling prey to these temptations, he is finally free from them. The secret? He has hidden God’s word in his heart, and he “chews” on it daily–to the tune of around seventy verses that he recites and meditates upon daily in order to keep his heart and life pure. He discusses how our deeply held beliefs are often ungodly, even if we are Christians, and we must work to replace those old beliefs with the truth. He uses a little bit of pop psychology to give his theory a basis, but mostly this book is just a common sense approach that has been neglected to be taught in churches (at least in my experience).
Included in the book are inventories to determine one’s own level of materialism (the lust of the eyes), hedonism (the lust of the flesh), and self-interest (the pride of life). Of course, he ends each chapter with several individual scriptures and passages that relate to the issue discussed. He also has a testimonial (as if his own testimony isn’t enough) from his daughter who relates the changes in her son, Smalley’s grandson, after he began to practice hiding God’s word in his heart. Remarkable!
This book is the most practical, life-changing book I’ve read in a while, possibly ever. It has really given me so much hope for the future. I can’t recommend this book enough!
I found several videos of Smalley discussing his experience. Three videos might seem excessive, but I think it is thirty minutes very well spent. Enjoy!