Unleashing a Revolution {Book Club}

Friends, two things before we jump in to today’s chapters in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. First, like how I snuck that in? Chapters? After saying we’d just read chapter 2? I made a mistake! Today is chapters two and three. So, if you haven’t read chapter three, please do and I’m sorry. Next week really will be just chapter 4.

Second, I want to pray over and for us as we jump in to some important information.

God who knows all, sees all, and loves all, we need you. We need you on an individual level and we need you as a community. As we start to explore topics that might stir up shame and discouragement, we ask that you surround us with your hope. Instead of feeling the weight of this subject, we will feel the invitation and freedom that Christ came to bring. He came to set captors free and we know that though we are eternally free, this is a book we can all benefit from. Thank you, God, that you are a God of substance and you enjoy connecting with the deepest parts of us. Bless this time as we read and discuss this book. In the freeing, strong, fun name of Jesus, Amen.


In chapter 2, Scazzero lists and explains The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.

  1. Using God to run from God
  2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear
  3. Dying to the wrong things
  4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
  5. Dividing our lives into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
  6. Doing for God instead of begin with God
  7. Spiritualizing away conflict
  8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
  9. Living without limits
  10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey

Which stood out to you as you read it? Where there any (or multiple) that you didn’t think he explained well or supported enough? How do you think these unhealthy practices might influence an individual, marriages, families, and organizations?

I appreciated in chapter 3 after he listed what we teach a person after they become a Christian that he said, “All of the previous are excellent steps to being to a journey with Christ. Yet they are simply not enough. After a few years many find that past, deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ remain entrenched.” We know this is the truth, don’t we?

Revelation is open to many, many interpretations. Even if you don’t agree with Scazzero’s, I can see his point that we are all influenced by culture and therefore need to slow down and look at what exactly is influencing us. Is it the values of an earthly culture? or a heavenly one?

When I read the components he included in emotional heath and contemplative spirituality, I found myself nodding and wanting both lists to be true of me. As you read, were there one or two you felt a quiet invitation from the Lord to explore as we read together?

And then he went and referenced Mary and Martha and I wanted to scream. I’m sorry, “be a Mary, not a Martha” smacks of a simplistic Christian tea and my still-needing-some-redemption side makes snarky comments. This sermon on the ways Jesus interacted with and called both Mary and Martha to him is a more holistic handling of scripture in my opinion.

But, I can get behind his gifts of slowing down, anchoring in God’s love, and breaking free from illusions. I can’t wait to hear what stood out to you, what was stirred in you, and what you’d like to discuss. See you in the comments :).


P.S. Next week is chapter 4 in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. M'Lynn October 6, 2015

    “We are not simply about experiencing a better quality of life through emotional health. Awareness of and responding to the love of God is at the heart of our lives. We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ. At the same time contemplation is not simply about our relationship with God. It is ultimately the way we see and treat people and the way we look at ourselves.” p 47 (chapter 3)

    This is such a timely reminder for me today. I’ve again gotten snippy with the public. It happens every time I travel or if I’m out with the public for too many days in a row! If I sit and have a wonderful reflection and journaling time every day and feel happy inside because of it but can’t go out and love whoever I encounter (however I encounter them), well…what a waste. Daily preaching the gospel to myself is the only way to see myself and others the way God sees me & them. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We all have bad days and good days and do annoying things and have annoying things happen to us.

    “Our relationship with God and relationship with others are two sides of the same coin. If our contemplation or “loving union with God” does not result in a loving union with people, then it is, as 1 John 4:7-21 says so eloquently, not true. Moreover, as we shall see, it is about seeing God in all of life.” p. 47 (chapter 3)

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      “Two sides of the same coin” and the importance of the union of the two. This is a good thing to tune into! Thanks M’Lynn 🙂

  2. Grace L October 6, 2015

    I too could resonate with “slowing down”. It’s easy to get so busy and not take enough time to be with the Lord or to really be with the others that God  has put around us. I liked the diagrams illustrating the Mary/Martha issues. The visuals helped me to see the imbalance that we can so easily get ourselves into. I like the image described here: “Mary is not trying to master God. Her life has one center of gravity – Jesus. I suspect that if Mary were to help with the many household chores, she would not be worried or upset. Why? Her inner person has slowed down enough to focus on Jesus and to center her life on Him.”

    In the past I have never much liked the comparison between Mary and Martha and have felt that Martha got the bad rap here. After all, meals need to be cooked and people need to be taken care of. How can Mary do that if she is always just sitting at the feet of Jesus? So the image here of Mary doing the chores with the peace of God in her is inspiring to me.

    I also want to share about the emotional health ideas in this book. I come at this with a perspective of being 70 and having gone through a lot of emotional and inner healing over a period of many years. I came to faith at age 40 and even at that point I had been dealing with emotional fragility and healing. But something happened when I came into the body of Christ and came under the shelter of His wings. Some deep, deep issues began to surface in me that had their roots in my mother’s womb and growing up years. I sought Christian counselors as well as prayers and ministry for inner healing. The healing came slowly and I can look back now and see that God was preparing me for this season of cross cultural ministry. I am grateful to be in a much healthier emotional stage of my life. But, perhaps even more importantly, because I struggled through so many issues in my lifetime, I find that I can relate to those we minister to here with compassion and real understanding.

    Maybe some people grow up in healthy families, but many of us did not. And, in ministering in 3rd world or developing nations, many of the women we minister to have come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. So, yes, let’s seek the emotional healing we need personally. And in light of that, I love the following list where the author describes a newer healthier self image:

    1. I hold myself in high regard despite my imperfections and limits.

    2. I am worthy to assert my God-given power in the world.

    3. I am entitled to exist.

    4. It is good that I exist.

    5. I have my own identity from God that is distinct and unique.

    6. I am worthy of being valued and paid attention to.

    7. I am entitled to joy and pleasure.

    8. I am entitled to make mistakes and not be perfect.

    I love this list and the image it portrays of emotional and spiritual health.

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      I love that list too! Today I read further in the book (I have to read ahead to write the posts)—I don’t think I’m giving anything away—and he was about saying instead of begrudging the family (and messes) we came from, to accept it’s the family God had for us and to find ways to heal. Thanks for offering hope to us :).

    2. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Grace, I also meant to say, this is part of what I love about being in a book club … something that could have hit me wrong, really speaks to another. Or something I love, is a big miss for others. But through each other, we can see something from another perspective. Thanks for your thoughts on M and M!!

  3. Kay Bruner October 6, 2015

    Okay, true confession.  I haven’t read any of the book yet.  But I’m reading the blog posts!  And I WANT to read the book, I swear it.  I’m jumping in here on the Mary and Martha thing, because I heard a life-changing message on Mary and Martha (it wasn’t a sweet girly quiet time there at the feet of Jesus, “the better way” was a seminary education–think Paul sitting at the feet of Gamaliel–BOOM–let that blow your world right up!) and it was all in the context of sorting through my psychological/spiritual mess around how I have tended to read the Bible in a way that has kept me OUT of true relationship with God.   http://kaybruner.com/blog/2015/5/19/the-opposite-of-love-is-

    1. Ellie October 7, 2015

      I haven’t read chapter 3 yet but I also have so many thoughts already tied up in the Mary and Martha thing I’m gonna read the chapter and read the link and read your post Kay, then I’ll be back! 😉

    2. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Kay, this is the beauty of book club … you don’t have to have read a book to still have opinions and things to say/share. I loved your piece. Thanks, friend!

  4. Monica F October 6, 2015

    What stood out to me was the section on the ‘gift of anchoring in God’s love’, Ch.3.  This is something I’ve been focusing on in my life- especially after years of ‘activity’ and ‘exhaustive doing’, followed by a 9 month sabbatical.  Now that I’ve slowed down my heart a bit, I am learning and experiencing more of anchoring myself in God’s love, not in man’s approval.  I like what he said:

    “Emotional health and contemplative spirituality enable the ‘contemplative’ circle of our lives to grow larger and to balance off the amount of activity in which we are engaged.  This adjustment has the capacity to lead us to an incredible transformation with the love of God each day.”

    And of course, he threw in a Brennan Manning quote- which warmed my heart, and reminded me of how loved I am:)

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Monica, love, love, love that slowly, more and more of us are being rewired and are “anchoring in God.”

  5. Rachel October 7, 2015

    I have never heard Revelation interpreted this way, but I find it so relevant to living and working cross-culturally. In relating to local Christians, and seeing differences between our lifestyles, I find myself frequently asking: is this belief/behavior of mine truly biblical or merely part of my Bible-belt upbringing culture? But until I stepped outside of my own culture, I was largely blind to these issues – just completely oblivious. I mean, I’m from a “Christian culture,” how could anything about it be un-biblical?

    The gift of slowing down was significant to me, as we are in a bit of a slow time with our work. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something we’re supposed to be doing that I’m just missing. I’m spending more time in prayer and Bible study than I would normally be able to, and I realize that’s a great thing! But I still wonder…what am I forgetting to do? Instead, I should see it as a gift “to pause and be quiet enough to recognize God’s timetable and voice,” to not get in such a hurry to do things that I “attempt to help God’s plan move forward more efficiently.”

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Me too—I liked the application of Revelation to cross-cultural work!

    2. Kim A. October 13, 2015

      I totally agree about the Revelation insight!  I actually avoid the book of Revelation because I find that people get really distracted and talk about things that I don’t find that relevant to the true purpose of Revelation (which is yet undiscovered by me….), so this was a bit of light bulb moment and a little bit of redemption for that final ‘hot-topic’ book!  So interesting!

  6. Rankin October 7, 2015

    As I read through chapter 2, I was thankful for grace!  The two that really stood out to me are, ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear and dying to the wrong things.  These two are a dangerous combination that can lead us to devaluate who we are and our needs.  In my life I have had to learn that my emotions are okay to feel and that they are valid.  I have had to learn that we don’t need to die to the good parts of who we are…that there is balance in giving and loving.  Learning the truth about these things has given me much freedom.

    One point I really related to in Chapter 3 was ” I began to listen to the gift of limits God gave me–limits related to my personality, temperament, gift mix, and physical, and emotional, and spiritual capacity.  This opened up for me a new world of surrendering and trusting God in the midst of obstacles and challenges.”  To me living in our limits is a way to live in grace.  We can only do and be so much. Limits have helped me to reach out for grace and to realize that I am not perfect.   Realizing  limits helps us to really understand that God can handle it.  I don’t have to be afraid that I won’t get something done or that I won’t be enough.  God isn’t limited like I am and His grace is enough.


    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Rankin, there’s so much to pause and re-read/share, isn’t there. The emotions piece … yes! and we’ll have more to talk about this next week, I look forward to it! And the idea of limits paired with grace … that’s one to chew on. Thanks 🙂

  7. Ellie October 7, 2015

    Well, I’m a little behind as I’ve only read up to the end of chapter 2 but these comments make me want to read Chapter 3!! I think the thing that’s been great for me so far is that freedom from needing to judge. We work across a lot of denominational boundaries/barriers here and I feel trapped sometimes in the cycle of judgements and not sure how to get out.

    I love the list of labels/judgements:

    “Those artists and musicians. They are so flakey.

    Those engineers. They are so cerebral. They are cold as fish….. ”

    All the way to “We judge the Presbyterians for being too structured. We judge the Pentecostals for lacking structure. We judge Episcopalians for their candles and their written prayers. We judge Roman Catholics for their view of the Lord’s supper and Orthodox Christians from the Eastern part of the world for their strange culture and love for icons.”


    I felt so freed by these lists. These “namings” of the differences we fight with.

    “By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitable project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do.”

    I feel so trapped sometimes by Christians’ judgements of *each other* and others who are “outside” and I myself fall into it all the time too. What will it take to set us free from this? I don’t know but I feel like the fact that he’s addressing this is a really good start for me to keep reading and maybe grow and find out something.

    However, I feel a little uncomfortable with the what feels to me a little like “pyramid sales” type tone of, “I’ve got the secret to this healthy emotional spirituality and I’m going to tell you in Chapter four” thing which is kind of stressing me out but since you guys at VA have all told me the book is good I’m trying to trust that it’s just a style issue and the substance will satisfy me when I get there! 🙂 (I’m scared of being disappointed when the answer turns out to be “fish oil” or “spirulina powder at only 50 dollars a tub” – probably shows more where I’m at in my levels of trust/distrust of the world at the moment rather than anything else?!…)


    1. Amy Young October 7, 2015

      Ellie, 🙂 … I love your honesty! Thank you for trusting us with it. The flavor of judgment in so many corners of the world, is powerful, isn’t it? I’m trying to grow in understand when to draw a line because something really is not okay—versus expanding the circle because something really is NOT a deal breaker.

      And, I obviously can’t promise how you will read a book and how it will hit you, but I certainly hope as you read, you find no fish oil 🙂 … just more information that can stimulate greater understanding of God and yourself. If, that’s not the case, with no guilt, stop reading :)!! It’s really okay. xoxox Amy

      1. Ellie October 8, 2015

        I know, it’s so hard isn’t it? But I guess I want to get out of the “I am judge” mode and genuinely just get alongside people and God takes us gently where we are. One of the things I think about this is that when have you ever had a conversation when someone’s confronted you (judgementally) about something (or even just felt judged) where you were motivated to healthy change? I think the times I’ve been motivated to healthy change after a confrontational conversation have all been with people who are close enough to me that I trust them and it’s not easy but often after the conversation when processing it what they’ve said has really helped me. I think then I can probably only do that helpfully with people in the same relationship to me. It’s not my right or responsibility to do it with people outside that sphere.. Just thinking about it now so it’s not a fully formed thought yet but that’s the gist of it..

        And I’ve started reading chapter three and it’s great so far 😉

        1. Amy Young October 8, 2015

          Ellie, I think you’ve made a powerful distinction! Do we sense someone has confronted us out of good will for our growth and good? Or out of judgment for shame and superiority? :)!

    2. Phyllis October 13, 2015

      Oh, you caught exactly what I’ve been annoyed with so far. I didn’t identify it as “pyramid sales,” but I just wanted to tell the guy to get on with his book and quit with the stuff about big secrets to be revealed later! But I do think that it’s going to be a really good book. I need to be thinking about emotions–and healthy spirituality, of course. I’m very interested to see where he’s going with all this.

  8. Phyllis October 12, 2015

    Quick question: I just bought this book for myself and started reading. (It looks great!) But I wanted to ask if the two books with the same author but slightly different titles are the same? I got Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature, because it is cheaper, but there’s also Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life In Christ. Same books?

    1. Amy Young October 12, 2015

      They are the same … just different editions :)!

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