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True Beauty
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
The newest book by mother-daughter team Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre is wonderfully encouraging and a helpful resource for discovering the source and purpose of True Beauty.

What this book is not:

This book is not about "inner beauty". In fact, the authors give a very clear explanation why this line of thinking is unhelpful.
This book is not prescribing a certain dress code or diet and exercise plan for Christian women. The authors expect us to think carefully about how our beauty reflects God's beauty and decide what is most appropriate and God-honoring as individuals.

What this book is:

It is an encouragement to think neither too highly or lowly of oneself. We all have value but apart from Christ, we are all ugly sinners who need to be rescued from sin.
It is an explanation of how beauty is a gospel issue. Through the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus, we have a way to understand our Creator's design for us and we can desire to reflect Him.

In seven chapters, the authors discuss how we should view True Beauty in relation to our culture, God, our hearts, our bodies, clothes, our trust and works.

Examples of great take-aways from this book:
Our Culture: Our culture has it all wrong. The standard is unrealistic and fake plus it is constantly changing.

God: God is the only perfectly beautiful being. He designed beauty and created us to reflect His beauty.

Our Hearts: Our hearts are jumbled and confused about what true beauty is. It can only be found in the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

How we view beauty can have a large impact on our priorities and desires. Every woman would greatly benefit from reading this book to gain a godly perspective on True Beauty.

*Special thanks to Crossway through NetGalley.com for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre tackle the sensitive topic of beauty in their book, True Beauty. The "benchmarks for beauty" are constantly changing and most of the criteria is propaganda which caters to worldliness. This book, on the other hand has a simple goal, namely - to point women to true beauty which is found in the pages of Scripture.

True Beauty challenges readers to see things from God's perspective. Henry Scougal writes, "The worth and the excellency of a soul is to be measured the object of its love." Herein lies the real value and beauty of a woman - as she contemplates and worships her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: "He is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty. He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty. His beauty transcends time and culture. It never changes and never fades." Therefore, true beauty is not fleeting. True beauty is not bound by cultural expectations. True beauty is rooted in the radiant beauty and majesty of the living God. He is the most beautiful Being in the universe. Therefore, all beauty must be measured according to his design.

Mahaney and Whitacre alert readers to the final standard of beauty - which is found in Jesus Christ. Women, must therefore, develop a "taste for beauty." However, "sin has blinded us to the beauty of God, and when we lost sight of this beauty, we lost interest." So instead of delighting in God, we delight in other things - things that are in the final analysis, tantamount to idolatry. This fascination with the mundane, with anything less than God is nothing new. Israel struggled mightily with the sin of idolatry: "Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:11-13, ESV).

One of the central arguments in the book is that the "gospel of Jesus Christ transforms our taste for beauty ... True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God." And to behold the great God of the universe is to trust him implicitly. The authors add, "Apply trust in God, with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10) and you will not fail to become genuinely beautiful." Indeed, this is the touchstone as Mahaney and Whitacre weave this important reality through the remainder of the book and discuss the relationship of beauty to hearts, bodies, clothes, trust, and work.

Frankly, I cannot say enough about True Beauty. It avoids the pitfalls of legalism and props up the pillars of a gospel-centered worldview. It is gracious and thoughtful in tone. It is saturated through and through with Scripture. It affirms beauty and challenges women to pursue the highest standard of beauty - which again, is the Lord Jesus Christ. My hope is that True Beauty receives a wide readership and strengthens and edifies a new generation of women who grow more beautiful as they pursue their Savior.

"but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." (1 Peter 3:4, ESV)

Highly recommended!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2014
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through Net Gallery. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I loved this book. Really, I did.

Carolyn and her daughter, Nicole, start their book out by explaining the gospel according to beauty our society preaches to us and flat out tells us how that gospel is one big lie.

Yet again, God blows me away with how He uses authors-especially these two women-to preach His gospel and to show how the gospel applies to every aspect of our lives. Beauty included. Carolyn and Nicole explain how women-of any age-will be transformed by the truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ once they learn what true beauty is. Because it isn’t the latest hair styles, clothes, make up techniques, face lotions,or botox. It is the true Beauty of God. His Eternal Beauty. His design for us. His craft of man-kind.

This book addresses topics like our hearts, body image, clothing, eating disorders, and the beauty of our works as Christians. They surround these topics with God’s truth and wisdom. The gospel in which they preach sets us free from the limitations of our culture’s idea of beauty and directs us to the limitless beauty that rests in our Savior and God’s unfailing wisdom about beauty.

Praise and Glory to Jesus Christ for Carolyn and Nicole for writing this book. It was eye opening and life changing in many aspects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 11, 2014
Over the past few years I have found myself thinking often about beauty. I suppose my interest in the subject may relate to the fact that I am the father of two girls. Though they are still young, they are already being exposed to so many messages about the importance of beauty and the kind of beauty society expects from them. They already know they will be judged on the basis of it. For this reason I want to equip them with a knowledge of what the Bible says about beauty. But what does it say? What should I be teaching them?

Beauty is the subject of a new book from mother-daughter team Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre. In True Beauty they go looking beyond society’s perceptions and misperceptions of beauty and attempt to bring the Bible to bear. They do it well.

Before I had two daughters I had three younger sisters, and for years I heard them grapple with being beautiful, looking beautiful, feeling beautiful. I heard them as they asked questions about the appropriate standards for beauty and as they doubted all we tried to tell them. I saw them try to deal with the false gospel of beauty: that beauty equals happiness, that more beauty brings more happiness, and that to be without beauty is to be without hope and fulfillment. What they didn’t want to hear is the too-easy message that outer beauty is meaningless while inner beauty is everything.

They could have used this book. Speaking for both authors, Mahaney says, “My hope is that you too will be encouraged to bring every question about beauty and every struggle with your appearance to God’s Word. My prayer is that you will trust in his Word and submit to his Word, finding hope, freedom, and delight in the beauty of his truth.” It is only God’s Word that can direct us to the deepest and sweetest beauty.

The authors begin by grounding beauty in the image of God. Because we are all made in God’s image, we all have inherent beauty. If God is beautiful, then so too are we, having been made in his image. “We are not beautiful because we fit the popular ideal of beauty, and we are not ugly or unattractive because we don’t measure up. Our beauty as human beings is not derived from ourselves. It comes from a beautiful God.” From Creation they go to the Fall and then to the gospel, showing that the gospel lays a double claim to our taste for beauty, first through creation and then through redemption. True beauty, they say, is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.

From the source of beauty, they go to the heart, showing that human beings are glory thieves, eager to steal the glory that is rightly God’s. A woman who wishes to use beauty to draw attention to herself, is robbing God of the glory that is his. From the heart they move to the body and deal with common issues—body image, weight, and the like. They speak here of stewardship, they encourage women to care for their bodies in ways that serve the Lord, and they warn against grumbling and dissatisfaction. They move outward again from the body to the clothing, discussing the importance of modest dress and rightly showing that clothing is simply an outer reflection of the inner woman.

As the book begins to draw to a close, they look at two important New Testament texts that speak to inner beauty and outer beauty. A helpful appendix provides guidance to parents who want to help their children understand God’s perspective on the subject.

What you will not find in True Beauty is the all-too-common attitude that frumpiness is next to godliness. You will not find the authors trying to convince you that beauty is a problem, that Christian women ought to be ashamed of the beauty God has given them, that they’d better not do anything to enhance it. You won’t find them saying that character is all that matters. What you will find is simple, clear, practical teaching on the nature of beauty and the sheer goodness of beauty.

Society gets beauty all wrong. As we examine the messages we see and hear all around us, we quickly spot the presence of idolatry. The beautiful are worshiped, while the plain are ignored or even reviled. Beauty is a cultural god. Mahaney and Whitacre do an exemplary job of going to Scripture to bring God’s wisdom to bear. And, as we would expect, his perspective is infinitely better. This is a book for any woman—an especially any young woman—to read and absorb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2014
"The gospel of Jesus Christ really does redeem everything, including beauty. It really does reach into the heart of “if only I could get this taken care of” and takes care of it. Our beauty crisis is no match for the truth of God’s Word"

In True Beauty  Mahaney and Whitacre provide us with a much needed foundational theology of beauty. Now this isn’t Mahaney’s and Whitacre’s exhaustive concordance of beauty. But in 128 pages they provide a solid Gospel foundation and a springboard for further study on the topic of beauty.

To begin the book Mahaney and Whitacre inform us of the problem of beauty and our culture. They provide statistics and information to support the point that;

"Our society has taken physical beauty and made it a god. The message of the gospel according to beauty is proclaimed in every advertisement and television show: Beauty equals happiness. Beauty brings fulfillment. Beauty means success. Don’t have physical beauty? You are condemned."

Throughout the book they weave personal stories and stories from other women who have struggled in the area of beauty. Even though they paint a true and grim picture the authors don’t leave us hopeless and without a solution. They do an excellent job of pointing out the fleeting nature of beauty and holding it up to the unchanging and relevant truths of Scripture.

In the remaining 6 chapters of the book Mahaney and Whitacre provide for us a Biblical-Theological understanding of beauty. Each chapter reads like a New Testament epistle in the sense that they lay out a Biblical-Theological framework and then they point out the practical implications of the framework and how it relates to everyday life. They also do an excellent job of staying Gospel Centered. With a book about beauty it can easily turn into a list of rules and legalistic, but in True Beauty they keep the focus on the Gospel and the heart of the reader.

Each chapter is excellent, with that being said I thoroughly enjoyed chapter 2 True Beauty and Our God. In this chapter they point out that God is the sum of all things beautiful and more. As his children we are to reflect that beauty to the world. How do we do that? We compare our taste for beauty to the beautiful attributes of God.

"Take, for example, God’s holiness. If God is pure and cannot look on sin, then our style preferences should be in harmony with this aspect of his beauty. If we admire and enjoy clothing that is immodest, provocative, or seductive, then our tastes belie the beauty of God’s holiness. Rather, the Christian woman should value a style and appearance that represents the purity and holiness of God."

True Beauty is written with women in mind. Their target is women. My family and I sat and read this together because the principles apply to both men and women. I also wanted my daughter’s to hear the truths and testimonies in this book and I told my son’s as we read this book think about how this effects your decisions on a future spouse. I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2014
The book challenges women on all sides of the attractiveness spectrum--whether we are pretty (and know it) to those who feel discouraged and never pretty enough. I appreciated the consistent biblical backing of the writers who remind us that this is a holiness issue. Do we complain and blame God for not giving us the looks that our society values or do we get proud that we're in the better than average category so that gives us more than average status as women?

I have had my ups and downs with my looks throughout my life, like most women. There were times I got more attention than I deserved. There were times I neglected my appearance. But what motivates me from this book is that He alone is truly beautiful, and filling up my life with God should be my focus. In the meantime, as a middle aged woman, my responsibility to be a good steward of my body and whatever attributes that remain from the ravages of aging.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2014
Another great book from the Mahaneys! In addition to being a quick and easy read, this book is filled with theologically sound, culturally relevant, practical wisdom for today's woman.

What I love about this book is that it's not just another handbook about how to exude beauty from the inside out. We've all heard that being beautiful inside is what really counts. Although there is much truth to that, how much help has that knowledge honestly given us in our quest to be beautiful? Rather than harping on our inner selves, each page in this groundbreaking book takes the focus off of ourselves and points to God's beauty, for "true beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God." So often we twist the truth. We hear people tell us that we are beautiful because God created us in his image. Again, while there is truth to that, what we ought to do is take the focus off of ourselves for a moment and remember that God is the One who is beautiful and He made us in his beautiful image! I love the piece of practical advice Carolyn gives on this point - "Even more important than telling our daughters how beautiful we think they are is telling them how beautiful God is." We ought not be concerned about low self esteem, for low self esteem has the same root problem as high self esteem - each puts the focus on self. If we could only take our focus off of ourselves, thinking about ourselves less, and turn our focus to Jesus, how freeing it is!

This book will undoubtedly be a great resource for all women and mothers of girls who are growing up in our current culture that puts so much importance on physical beauty.

Thanks to Crossway for providing me with this book in exchange for a review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2014
This is I very practical, biblically focused view of beauty. I have recommended it to every woman I know. I only wish it were longer! Thank you for writing this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2014
Where do you get your definition of beauty? Is it wrong to want to be beautiful? How does our understanding of beauty affect our lives and actions?

Mother and daughter Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre have teamed up to address these questions in their latest title, True Beauty. And wow, this book is truly a gem! I absolutely loved it, and it’s next on my list to read and discuss with my teen daughter when we finish our current title.

So, does this book focus on physical beauty or inner beauty?

Rather than contrasting inner beauty with physical beauty, as so many Christian books on this issue seem prone to do, Carolyn and Nicole come from a different angle. They assert that any discussion of beauty must be grounded in the gospel. If, as the Westminster Catechism states, we exist to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”, then beauty comes about as a result of fulfilling that purpose.

So, both inner AND outer beauty are a product of reflecting God’s glory.

Our longing for beauty, and the ability to recognize and experience it, comes from God and is only fully satisfied in him:

"He is the only ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty…In order to know what true beauty is, we must see God…True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God."

We display beauty both inwardly and outwardly as we look to him as the ultimate source of it.

When it comes to outward beauty,

"It is not sinful or shameful to improve our appearance. Unloveliness is not next to godliness. God, our Creator, is the beautiful One. He made us beautiful, and our ‘taste for beauty’ comes from him."

Our perspective has, however, been distorted by sin. We turn the focus to self. Even well-meaning Christians who encourage each other that we’re all beautiful because we’re made in God’s image unwittingly become “glory thieves”:

"…we often mistakenly turn this truth about God into cliches about us. When we turn the spotlight away from God and onto ourselves, we twist the truth. So ‘God is beautiful and made us in his image’ becomes “You are beautiful because God created you.’ Herein lies the flaw…it starts and ends with us."

Building on the foundation of God as the ultimate standard of beauty, Carolyn and Nicole lead the reader through how this perspective affects not only our bodies, clothing, femininity, and physical appearance, but also our attitude, demeanor, and actions.

I love, love, love the holistic approach True Beauty takes!

Instead of downplaying physical beauty in order to emphasize inner beauty, or focusing on physical beauty and attempting to set parameters and rules on it, readers are pointed back to the gospel and how a proper perspective flows from it.

The book includes an excellent appendix on teaching our children about true beauty, and a study guide for personal or group study.

True Beauty is another winner from this mother/daughter team! I consider it a must read for all women, young and old!
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on April 11, 2014
Where do most females consider beauty to be found?
- In Hollywood?

- On the runway

- On magazine covers?

- In fashion/makeup?

- What about in Christ?

The authors of true beauty stand on the foundation that beauty cannot be accessed apart from the person and work of Christ. The authors aren't propagating that beauty in within oneself, or that beauty is from the heart, or that beauty is something you can produce. No, true beauty is an identity based on what Christ did for you and who He says you are.

Beauty in the world's eye is fleeting and ever-changing. Beauty in Christ doesn't waver...but your foundation in Him grows stronger, which brings freedom and therefore, beauty!

The mother/daughter (authors) write with confidence in Christ but with a very sincere tone and gracious approach. They plead gently with readers to understand and behold true beauty from & within the Creator.

I would suggest this book for all females, beginning at the age of 12 and for them to be given this book without presumption or explanation...just let them turn the pages and find True Beauty.

Thank you, Crossway Publishers, for providing this text for the purpose of review.
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