Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flirting with the Forbidden - An Honest Look at Temptation

Reading a book about temptation tends to be the literary equivalent of a yearly employee performance review. The author acts like your boss pointing out all the places where you are performing below par, and if you’d only implement the company game plan you’d bring your performance up in no time.

 So you close the book feeling somewhat defeated. You just didn’t try hard enough, didn’t have faith enough, or the pitfalls are so overwhelming you are bound to keep falling into the adversary’s traps.

 Steven James’ Flirting with the Forbidden doesn’t come across that way. James does not sit across the desk stabbing a finger into your chest. It’s as if he’s hanging out with you at a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon passionately discussing common struggles over a steaming mug of Nicaraguan blend.

 The way James approaches the topic of temptation is incredibly engaging. With scripture as his template, he transforms Bible personas from flannel-graphed to full-blooded. Joseph struggles with lust, David agonizes with shame, Pilates’ wife wrestles with guilt. James crafts first-person accounts, which make the well-known people of scriptures become more human…men and woman who are relatable, who went through the same struggles we all face to some degree.

 Each story is a prologue to James’ own take on various temptations that so easily assail us all.

 What I appreciate is James’ transparency. He openly admits his own struggles, and his willingness to do so allows the reader not to be intimidated to look honestly into his own heart.

 What makes Flirting with the Forbidden such an encouraging book is that Christ is at the center of it all. James leaves no doubt who gives us control over those things of the world, which throw us off center.

 I loved its devotional style. I read a chapter each day and it gave me a lot to think and pray about. I would love to see James write a similar book but with a full year’s worth of material.

 James is the consummate storyteller who isn’t afraid to let his guard down. Flirting with the Forbidden challenges, convicts, and encourages. A fan of his fiction, I am thoroughly impressed with this insightful non-fiction work.

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