Sep 5, 2011

Sifted by Rick Lawrence

For Christians discouraged by life's difficulties-both the life-shifting catastrophes and the drip-drip-drip of daily trouble-Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective based on a single Scripture snapshot (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus tells Peter he's about to be "sifted like wheat"-shaken hard, beaten and agitated until he practically falls apart. Satan's going to do it. And Jesus is going to allow it, in the interest of showing Peter who he really is. Lawrence uses the simple agrarian metaphor of "sifting" to launch his rigorously honest, deeply challenging, yet powerfully comforting exploration of the trials that beat us down, the good God who allows them, and the incredible beauty that the whole agonizing process can reveal in us.

Rick Lawrence is the long-time editor of GROUP magazine and co-leader of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. He also speaks frequently for conferences and workshops, consults for national research organizations, and publishes prolifically-with 31 books (authored, coauthored or edited), hundreds of articles, and a small-group curriculum to his credit.

Visit the website at

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1434700742

We all go through hard times, and maybe we think we don't deserve to experience the times in the valley. We all prefer to live on the mountain top, and of course we hate experiencing pain ... whether physical, emotional or financial.

We are a family of cat lovers. On rare occasions, we have had to do something (maybe give a bath or medication) to one of our cats that they thought was pure torture. A cat holds a grudge for a very long time, and it may take weeks for them to finally trust us again. However, we knew that what we were doing was for their own good.

Rick Lawrence uses a similar example in this book, and he relates it to our Christian life. At certain times, we might be screaming and fighting like a cat, and not understanding the big picture.
God is bounded by nothing but the self-imposed restraints of love for his creation. And, sometimes, love means He will not "let us down easy." Because He "respects His creation" at a level we struggle to comprehend, we botch the way we translate His movement and restraint in our lives. [p. 98]
It would be easy to coast along in life and believe that God will not allow bad things to happen in our lives. We want to simply believe that God is good, and that He will cushion us from anything uncomfortable or unpleasant.

The bottom line is this: at some point in our lives, we are going to be sifted. The following example talks about the physical process of sifting wheat:

"It's the violent process of separating the useful from the unnecessary - the crushing and sorting of something whole for the purpose of isolating its nourishing core from the trappings that guard it. In the case of wheat, the kernels are first violently pulled from their stalks - what has so far anchored them in their existence. In Jesus' time the kernels were then repeatedly beaten by hand, but now they are smashed between stones or iron rollers. Mechanized sifting systems beat the kernels, then vacuum them into a venting system before dumping them into a large accordion-like box (the sifter) that violently gyrates. The remnants of the kernel drop through a screen in the bottom of the sifter while the unusable chaff, sticks, stones, dirt, and other pollutants are captured and thrown away." [p. 111]
We don't like the idea of being sifted, but it's a reality of life.  We don't want to go through the process of being beaten, smashed, vacuumed and dumped like a kernel of wheat. But we do want any unusable or harmful parts of our life to be captured and thrown away. It is impossible to have the end result without going through the entire process from beginning to end.

Sifted is an honest and sometimes difficult book to read. I know that I need to read it again, and spend more time digesting.  I highly recommend this book!

Disclosure: Copy of this book received courtesy of The B&B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts

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