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Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God Paperback – January 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Who needs a book about affirming others? For starters, I do—and I suspect you do too. Too many of us use most of our words each day for criticizing and complaining. My friend Sam Crabtree, on the other hand, is a practitioner of affirmation. To meet him is to be encouraged. His words, both in person and in these pages, are thoughtful, intentional, and full of gratefulness. If you find that your communication lacks encouragement, if you want to grow in affirming others, if you plan to say any words at all today—please read this book!”
C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

“Sam lives what he preaches. I’ve never forgotten a short, hand-written note of God-centered affirmation he sent me years ago, having met only once briefly. His words not only encouraged me personally at the time, but have influenced our ministry in a significant way ever since. I am grateful for this book—if no one else needs it, I know I do!”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author; radio host, Revive Our Hearts

“When it comes to affirming and encouraging others, some people come by it naturally. For the Christian, we come by it supernaturally. However, even the most mature believer must hone and cultivate the act of affirmation—that’s why this new book by Sam Crabtree is such an invaluable resource to the church. How do we effectively ‘build each other up in the faith?’ You're holding the answer in your hands!”
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

“We all welcome words of affirmation. Sam tells us how the practice and power of affirmation will make a difference in the life of anyone, young or old. Practicing Affirmation will help you make a positive investment in your relationships with family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors, even the clerk at the store—even when people are difficult.”
Bruce Johnson, President, SIM, Charlotte, North Carolina

“For over 30 years now I have watched my friend, Sam Crabtree, flesh out the truths he has written about in this book. My wife, children, and I have been blessed to taste firsthand the sweetness of the soul strengthening effects of Sam's God-centered affirmations.”
Ron Wickard, Pastor, Richland Church, Mina, South Dakota

About the Author

SAM CRABTREE (MA, South Dakota State), is a former public school teacher and has served as executive pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis since 1997. He is also lead pastor for life training, serving as the “vision keeper” of the church.

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don’t Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (January 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433522438
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433522437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Devin Mork on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Sam Crabtree: an excellent pastor and, now, a pretty good author. I picked this book per the suggestion of a friend and mentor after I confessed to him how little affirmation I have given to others. This book was just what I needed.

Crabtree does an excellent job throughout the book keeping a pastoral tone. While addressing theological controversy where he needs to, he paints a beautiful picture of how habitual affirmation can create and restore deep relationships in marriages, families, friends, and churches.

As mentioned above, Crabtree does address theological controversies when he comes close to them. One of his wrestlings throughout the book centers around how his message is not promoting some kind of self-esteem gospel which feeds people's sinful pride. Crabtree is always sure to bring his focus on affirmation in line with Christ, keeping our eyes fixed on him who is most valuable. One of the themes in these sections sounds like this, "Our problem then is not that we want to be made much of. Our problem is that we want to be made much of for the wrong reasons" (p 29). Crabtree never pretends that Christians are unemotional automatons who need to get over themselves but shows how we can both uplift each other and glorify God in our affirming words - both to believers and unbelievers.

Throughout my read, I often caught myself smiling. A world in which people practice affirmation the way Crabtree describes it sounds wonderful. What's more, it sounds obtainable! Yes, implementing any of the suggestions in the last chapter, "100 Affirmation Ideas for Those Who Feel Stuck," will require repentance and humility. However, the joys which may result from making the effort are worth every ounce of awkwardness one will have to overcome.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dave Jenkins VINE VOICE on March 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Practicing Affirmation is written by Sam Crabtree Executive Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. C.J. Mahaney in the endorsements says one should read this book if they are going to speak any words to anyone at any point during the day. In my experience there is a tendency in Christianity to use our words contrary to how the New Testament teaches. Practicing Affirmation calls for a balance in correction one another and in affirming the Christ in a person.

Someone who knew I was reading "Practicing Affirmation" asked me recently what affirmation was. Affirmation is a type of encouragement. Affirmation is not man-centered in that it seeks to praise a person for their accomplishments. Affirmation is thoroughly God-centered because it seeks to commend the evidences of God's grace in a person's life.

Here are some reason why I think you should get a copy of Practicing Affirmation for yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends and all you care about. First, this is a book that is thoroughly biblical. This book doesn't just come to the Bible for answers- it allows the text of Scripture and solid explanation of the Scriptures to bring the answers. Second, this book is practical without compromising the Bible. Many books are practical but not biblical. If you are looking for a book that is self-help in orientation this is not your book. This book is thoroughly grounded in the Scriptures, explains the Gospel and seeks to glorify God. Thirdly, this book will help you balance your use of correction and affirmation. The author spends considerable time answering questions and objections regarding affirmation. In doing so, he helps the reader to think through the issue of affirmation and to be balanced in correction and affirmation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joshua D. Reitano on June 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A helpful book on the ministry of affirmation (or encouragement). The premise is this: every good thing comes from God. When we see a good thing, we ought to affirm it. When we don't, we actually pass over something good God is doing, therefore demeaning or undervaluing his work in the world or in other people. So this is a vertical issue (how we praise God), but it's also a horizontal issue (there are tremendous benefits in affirming other people).

To the first point: we need to affirm good things God is doing in others - this a helpful corrective to cynics (who see only negatives), and to the "high truth" people (who think all encouragement is fluff). To the second point: affirming others helps to build up other people. Commending what is commendable tends to reinforce good behavior in others. It helps encourage folks when they make strides in their walk with the Lord. It generally makes you a more pleasant person to be around (contra the quarrelsome person who is like Chinese-water torture). And it is a great way to gain hearing with people (so that you have the opportunity to say hard and corrective things at other times).

Perhaps the most practical lesson in the book is Crabtree's mention of the "Affirmation Ratio." Basically he argues that there is a proportionality that needs to happen with our words - we must affirm much more than we correct. This helps us see well, believe the best, have open eyes to God's work in others, and create space to be heard when we do correct. This is especially important in marriages and with children. How many relationships are in crisis because communication is primarily negative (see Proverbs for warnings about this)!

I gave this book three stars, not because the content was bad, but because it was highly repetitive.
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