Monday, July 8, 2013

GOD DISTORTED by John Bishop

How do you describe your relationship with God? Do you see God as Creator, King, Judge, or Ruler of the Kingdom or do you see Him as a loving Father? John Bishop, author of God Distorted: How Your Earthly Father Affects Your Perception of God and Why it Matters, so wisely points out that many have a hard time calling God, Father, or even processing the idea. He attributes this to the fact that Satan uses our relationship with our earthly father to distort our understanding of God/Father (8). We will never have the relationship God desires if we believe Satan's distorted image of God (9).

Whether your dad was the best of the best, the worst example of a dad, or if you did not know your dad you need to understand that God is not a bigger version of what we know as our daddy (8). Satan uses the characteristics of our earthly father to distort our image of God to prohibit the relationship God wants with us. Bishop defines eight, earthly father types; absent (15), passive (21), demanding (27), enabling (31), controlling (35), abusive (40), accusing (46), and good (52) and their effect on our perception of God. For example, a demanding father teaches that God's love is about "what you do." A controlling father teaches that God's love is for "following the rules and making no mistakes". A passive father teaches that God's love is "distant and intangible.” As a result, we, we not only have a distorted view of God, but we also have a distorted view of our self. How we see our self determines how we see and respond to others (64), and how we see and respond to God.

Bishop pointed out that until we see our self as God sees us we would have an insecure heart. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my own insecurity, from Bishop's list of things that evidence insecurity such as; 1) Always defensive and hate to be evaluated or critiqued, 2) Fear of disapproval, and 3) You talk about yourself, your family, your accomplishments, your goals (90). I had never thought about these traits as signs of insecurity. However, as an adopted Child of God we get our security and approval from God. Bishop reminds us of God's response to Jesus and to us as His adopted children from Matthew 3:17,  "This is my dearly beloved Son, who brings me great joy" (92). What greater words of affirmation, for we all need love and acceptance from our daddy, whether earthly or heavenly (85).

Words of love and acceptance is of little value unless you feel the presence of love and acceptance.  Bishop's most profound point for me, was what he says is "central to theological truth," not that God loves me, or that He was for me, but that He is, and will always be, with me (73). He is in full control of our lives (108), and has a plan that is "good,” for us, which, gives us hope for now and in the future (111). Even during the times when Satan sifts us, Jesus prays for our strength (112) and, when we fail him, he calls us back into a relationship with him (115).

Bishop made a statement that struck a chord with me, saying, "You can set yourself free from guilt by making atonement for your sins, but only your heavenly Father can remove your shame," (136). We can never set our self free, nor can we personally atone for our sin. This was somewhat misleading except that later in the same paragraph he states that Jesus has made atonement and paid the price. Only Christ can atone for our sins and then our Father removes the shame. God transforms us as we go through a process of healing and restoration. Bishop leads us to look into the mirrors of our past that have lied to us, heaped guilt and shame upon us, rejected us, and distorted our image (139-140). We cannot change what we do not see (145). He leads you to identify your hurt, itemize the things taken from you, incinerate it, then initiate your blessing (155-158). While this sounds rather simple we must have a battle plan; otherwise Satan will destroy us. He discusses the three qualities we need to defeat Satan (164-168), and then he challenges us to turn our negative "I cannot," into a positive, "I can."

Prior to reading this book, I would have told you that I love my earthly daddy. I would have told you that he is a Follower of Jesus and lives his life accordingly. I knew he was/is not perfect but, I did not think that he would have distorted my understanding of God. In fact, the only reason I read this book was because I did not like the other choices on my "reading to Blog" list.  Even though my daddy was very dear to me, and a spiritual giant in my life, I saw characteristics of my dad, and mom, in each of the eight father types. The truth be known, I saw my husband and myself in each of these styles. We are not perfect, but God is.

Regardless of your father type, you need to read this book. Bishop did a great job explaining the different father types. His transparency, in sharing of his personal life, revealed his sincere desire for us to understand the effect a daddy can have on their child's life. He painfully described his dysfunctional relationships with his biological father and stepfather, and how he came to deal with his hurt and anger. He openly discussed his shortcoming as a father and the negative consequence of his parental style on his son.

I highly suggest this easy read to everyone. Even if you do not know how you feel about God, it will give some insight to how your daddy has affected how you think and respond. This book would be a great read for a men's study, for young men as they begin fatherhood, for women who have negative perceptions of men, or for those whose fathers did not provide a loving and caring environment. This would make a good sermon series for Sunday or Wednesday night services. The greatest treasure found within the pages of this book is God's true character. If we choose to follow Him, He will live within us, walk with us, and guide us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Get your copy of God Distorted  today.  I would love to hear your take on the book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I receive books free from the publisher WaterBrook Multnomah's book review bloggers program. 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