Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin (book review)

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that I'm supposed to be in Haiti this week but, long story shortened, my foot acted up again, so no mission trip. Instead I bring you the latest installment of my book reviews.

Boys, Booze, and Jesus reads the tag-line on Tindell Baldwin's book, "Popular." That could very well be the tag-line for my high school life. This book is a memoir about Baldwin who grew up in a Christian home and took a very different approach to life in high school than her family desired.

At the heart of the issue was popularity, like the title suggests. Baldwin wanted to be popular, to belong. I believe we all have this desire, to belong. I know I did. It's really scary how Baldwin's memoir mirrors my own (not identically but to a great extent).

After Baldwin's "rebel" phase of boys and booze, she felt a call to Jesus. I felt a similar call at a similar time in life - college. She had an amazing family who loved her unconditionally throughout this ordeal and her father's words when she told him of her commitment to Christ were "you were easy to love." Wow. I know I wasn't an easy teenager to love and Baldwin sounded more like a terror than I was! Here is a snippet of the book that really spoke to me:

"God. It always comes back to Him. Every time someone wonders how I made it through: God. Every time a parent asks me what saved my life: God. Every time someone wants to know how I never got arrested or physically hurt: God. It was always God, like the ending of a great love story where you find out that the guy who was always there was "the one" all along. It was always Him. He never left. He let me take the reins, but He never left: God. In the midst of my decisions - and even some of the harsh consequences - God never left."

Amen!! This is a terrific memoir that shows the power of the Lord and the Holy Spirit in your life. Learning Scripture as a young person in VBS or Sunday School (although my family rarely attended church) helped me when I was in a terrible pit of sin; convicting me, leading me toward the light. It seems the same for Baldwin - her family's commitment to the Lord was a guiding light to her, a safe place to land.

Talking about the suffering she endured while separated from God (which we all are by sin until we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior who died on the cross to pay for our sins), she makes a beautiful point about how we endure suffering. "In His holiness, God chose to become human. It was His way of courting us, making us feel that we can truly relate to the God of the universe. By suffering as humans suffer, feeling as humans feel, and accepting the possibility of rejection, God humbled Himself when He was something so much great, simply so we could understand." Amazing, isn't it? The God of this universe came down to be like us, to be with us, so we could know him.

If you think you've done something so bad that God could never forgive you, you're wrong. Baldwin points out in her book that God only wants good for you; Satan wants you to self-destruct. While it may seem fun at the time, it always ends in destruction. I've learned that the very hardest way. We have a hard time of forgiving ourselves, but if He can forgive us, who are we to say we're unforgivable? But we should examine ourselves by asking "Am I patient? Am I kind? Do I get jealous? Do I boast? Am I rude? Do I put myself first? Do I keep a record of wrongs? Do I love truth and pursue it? Do I protect love? Do I trust? Do I hope in love? Do I persevere no matter the cost?" (quote from "Popular" but paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13).

"Popular" kind of dragged toward the end of the last few chapters but the rest of it fully made up for that lacking bit. I got some wonderful insights to better forgive myself for my past (something I feel I've mostly done but it sneaks up on you sometimes!) and I just hope this book shows especially teenage girls that there is more to life than popularity. Sex may sell but it leaves a mark on your soul. Booze may seem innocent but who likes to wake up next to a toilet or in an unfamiliar place or next to a stranger? These may seem like things out of a movie but they happen in real life and women need to be aware. Parents need to protect the hearts of their children while they are young so when they grow, even if they do stray from the straight and narrow, they can find their way back.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may or may not share my opinions. 


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