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Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life

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Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life [Paperback]

Dan B. Allender , Tremper Longman III
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 7, 2007
We all want to know our lives matter. So did the Teacher in Ecclesiastes. He invested time and energy in every activity he could think of that might bring meaning and purpose to his life but found only disappointment, frustration, hopelessness. In our thirst for significance we, like the Teacher, give our lives--our time, talents, strength, heart--to anything we think will give us worth and purpose: Power. Relationships. Money. Pleasure. Work. But worshiping these idols has a high cost--and still doesn't bring the fulfillment we long for. In Breaking the Idols of Your Heart Dan Allender and Tremper Longman illuminate for us the Teacher's warnings and, after all his activities, his final radiant conclusion: Meaning and purpose come only when God is truly the center of our life and the object of our hope. Using a compelling fictional narrative at the start of each chapter to encourage reflection on our own life and the lives of family and friends, the authors lead us through Ecclesiastes to help us recognize and exchange cheap pursuits for the only One worth pursuing. Ecclesiastes is not an easy book to read, because transferring our worship from money, power and fame to God is not an easy road to travel. But as the Teacher discovered and wrote down for us, it leads to one conclusion: life lived abundantly, in freedom, hope, purpose, meaning.

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Editorial Reviews


"A gripping story with much helpful biblical insight." (Brian Borgeman, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 2008)

"This book possesses high quality, depth, and practicality. I am impressed with its sound biblical approachs, its contemporary handling of Scripture, and its faithfulness in interpreting and applying the Word. Both writers have unusual insights into the postmodern mind because of their sound biblical and theological ability to bring the Scripture to bear on our setting." (equip magazine, issue three 07)

"What makes Breaking the Idols of Your Heart exceptional is the mix of psychological depth and biblical insight. In the end, readers know change is possible if they’ll honestly face their own idols." (CBA Retailers Resources, September 2007)

"Both writers have unusual insights into the postmodern mind because of their sound biblical and theological ability to bring the Scripture to bear on our setting." (Equip, Issue 3, 2007)

"Dan and Tremper and ancient wisdom are a winning team! This book dethrones idols and points us toward what is worth giving our life to." (John Ortberg, author and pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church)

"This book uses the category of 'idols' as a creative way to understand not only a difficult biblical book (Ecclesiastes) but also the very way our hearts work. It brings a great deal of clarity where there has been confusion. Recommended." (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City)

About the Author

Dan B. Allender (PhD, counseling psychology, Michigan State University) is professor of counseling at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He taught previously at Grace Theological Seminary and Colorado Christian University. A speaker and writer, his books include The Healing Path, To Be Told, How Children Raise Parents, The Wounded Heart and Leading with a Limp. With Tremper Longman, he wrote Bold Love, Cry of the Soul, Intimate Allies and the Intimate Marriage Bible studies.

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is also visiting professor of Old Testament at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and adjunct of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He lectures regularly at Regent College in Vancouver and the Canadian Theological Seminary in Calgary. Longman is the author or coauthor of over twenty books, including How to Read Genesis, How to Read the Psalms, How to Read Proverbs, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament Essentials and coeditor of A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. He and Dan Allender have coauthored Bold Love, Cry of the Soul, Intimate Allies, The Intimate Mystery and the Intimate Marriage Bible studies.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (July 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830834419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830834419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Idol Buster September 5, 2007
Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III have put together one of the most unique devotional books I've come across in Breaking the Idols of Your Heart. Allender, a professor of counseling, and Longman, a first-rate Old Testament scholar, combine fictional narrative with biblical exposition as well as pastoral wisdom to introduce the reader to the subtleties and complexities of perhaps the most puzzling book in the Old Testament. Each chapter is divided up in two sections. Allender creates a narrative in which the reader can relate to the troubled lives of the characters in the first, and Longman interprets and applies the "teaching" of Ecclesiastes in the second. Some of the story line is tedious and Longman's ideas don't quite fit with it (or even make sense), but the tag-team approach brings the wandering pontifications of Ecclesiastes to life and poses good questions for self-examination and the end of each chapter. Their conclusion: the book of Ecclesiastes is an "idol buster."

In it they examine the following "idols"--those material goods of creation--that are pursued in "life under the sun:"

-Chasing after power: we never are fully in control
-Chasing after relationships: they always disappoint
-Chasing after work and money: it will always leave us frustrated and wanting more
-Chasing after pleasure: it is always fleeting
-Chasing after wisdom: never an adequate guide
-Chasing after spirituality: usually ends in legalism and condemnation
-Chasing after health and wellness: life ends in decay and death

It is important to note that each of these "idols" are good things in of and themselves.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Bible study or small group December 7, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book. It is broken up in 7 chapters. Each chapter has a fiction vignette style intro to ease you into the subject. The chapters then dive into scripture. Questions at the end of each chapter are very thought and discussion provoking. Not your common boilerplate factual questions. The chapters are not too long to read, maybe 15 pages a piece. We meet once a week for 45 minutes, and are taking 2 or 3 weeks to cover each chapter because the discussion is so good, not because prep time is high. I imagine if you wanted to go faster you could. Title is apt - it's highly focused on breaking false idols.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding. Deeply theological. Deeply practical. August 13, 2008
Drs Allender and Longman have a long history of co-authoring compelling and deep-thinking books on a variety of topics. This repackaged version of "Bold Purpose" from the late 1990's is no exception. However, where as some of Allender's and Longman's books are difficult to digest (due to their headiness), this one is very accessible to the average reader. Allender writes a chapter-to-chapter story line that illustrates the biblical content from Longman that is based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. It is a very effective combination. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter are well written and make for good small group fodder.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this book. March 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is about the book of Ecclesiastes. I like the style that it is written in and I like the practical messages. Allender and Trempner weave a fiction story into a commentary which makes it an easy read but the content is very meaty. I would recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the list of the "editorial reviews" I am quoted first. The quote is from my Southern Baptist Journal of Theology review. The quotation made it sound like I was endorsing the book. The fact is,my review was not positive. I think the book does a disservice to Ecclesiastes. Longman's view of Ecclesiastes, which makes its way into the book at a popular level, take the writer of Ecclesiastes to be unorthodox and the only thing that saves the book canonically is the "frame-narrator" who adds an "orthodox" prologue and epilogue. As one quoted in the editorial reviews, I wanted to clarify that I do not endorse this book and the quotation is taken out of context.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are ready and willing to be very honest about your desires and want to grow in your relationship to Christ, this is a great read! The book follows a fictional story of several characters with varying spiritual struggles. The story line is woven into each chapter and a scriptural/spiritual application follows. There are introspective questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to make personal application. A great book for group study and reflection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ecclesiastes like you have never heard of before April 22, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The two authors, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, do a masterful job of giving life to a book of the old testament often ignored or thought of as too depressing. In combing a fiction narrative with theological explanations to each chapter, they mix everyday living and real life with words from the "Teacher" author of Ecclesiastes, assumed to be King Solomon. A unique approach to give life to
the idea that idols today are not necessarily the ones made of stone, but instead the very structures of our daily lives. The idea that ones employment may be one of the toughest idols to see, and/or overcome, gives one pause to review and revisit the "idols" which so easily creep into our lives, or at least mine. Highly recommend for the man or woman chasing the pinnacles of their professions, while letting slide the true essence of what it means to live upright and true before his God.
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More About the Author

Dr. Dan B. Allender has pioneered a unique and innovative approach to trauma and abuse therapy over the past 25 years. Central to Dr. Allender's approach are the categories of Faith, Hope and Love and their converse betrayal, ambivalence, and powerlessness. Through engaging these categories and in learning to identify them in one's personal story, healing and transformation can occur by bridging the story of the gospel and the stories of trauma and abuse that mark so many.

Having received his Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, Dr. Allender went on to earn his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. Dan taught in the Biblical Counseling Department of Grace Theological Seminary for seven years (1983-1989). From 1989-1997, Dan worked as professor in the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling program at Colorado Christian University, Denver, Colorado. In 1997, Dan with a cadre of others founded The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology in order to train therapists and pastors to more effectively serve in the context of the 21st century. Dan served as President of The Seattle School from 2002-2009.

Dan continues to serves as Professor of Counseling Psychology at The Seattle School. He travels and speaks extensively to present his unique perspective on sexual abuse recovery, love & forgiveness, worship, and other related topics. Dan is the author of The Wounded Heart and The Healing Path and has co-authored several books with Dr. Tremper Longman (Intimate Allies, The Cry of the Soul, Bold Love and Bold Purpose).

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