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Book Review - Single Servings
June 17, 2005
One thing that keeps book reviewing an interesting task is the sheer variety of the books I am privileged to read. In the past month I’ve read biographies, theology and devotionals. I’ve read about marketing the church, reclaiming the church and new ways of doing church. And now I’ve read about singlehood, admittedly a topic I know little about. Because my wife and I began dating when I was eighteen and we married when I was twenty-one, I have difficulty relating to the situations of men and women who find themselves single or single again in their late twenties, early thirties and beyond. Because of this I assumed that Single Servings by Lee Warren would have little to offer me. But it turns out that I was wrong.
Single Servings is a devotional book targetted at single adults. Author Lee Warren ministers to singles as a columnist for Christianity Online. He has been published in several other publications and often travels to speaking engagements. He is well-qualified to write a book to challenge and encourage other singles.
I must admit that because my schedule did not allow me to spend 90 days on a single book, I read the entire book in just a couple of days. I felt afterwards like I had eaten 90 single servings in only a couple of sittings. While I enjoyed it, I know I would have been able to digest more of the book if I had been able to read it the way it was intended.
The book is divided into nine parts: Community, Completeness, Emotional Health, Physical Desires, Longing For Love, God’s Timing, No Fair, Expectations and Embracing Life. Each of the 90 chapters follows a typical devotional format. It begins with a verse of the Bible and that is followed by the author’s reflection. There are also five questions that help apply that day’s text.
A chapter that especially caught my attention is one entitled “Our Spiritual Act of Worship,” in which Warren discusses the satisfying of physical desires. He writes, “Why then do we as singles dwell on what we’re missing? God’s people have no rights over their bodies. We have no right to demand that our physical desires get met. God is happy to do so within the context of marriage, and someday he may choose to give us a spouse. But until then we can show our love for him by laying our physical desires on the sacrificial altar as an act of worship. And in so doing, we will experience the joy and contentment that always come from sacrifice” (page 95). Insights like that are as valuable to a married man as to a single man. There are plenty of similarly valuable reflections throughout the text.
There are a couple of areas I might suggest some improvement. I would liked to have seen some serious interaction with Paul’s statement about those who are given the gift of celibacy and how these people differ from those who are single because God has not yet seen fit to bless them with a spouse. The author also writes quite often about hearing God or listening to God’s voice, but without indicating whether this is to be done only through Scripture or whether he refers to hearing God’s voice through subjective impressions and so on. Clarity in this matter would have been useful. An index of Bible passages would also be welcome for later reference. And while I’m putting together a wishlist, the gratuitous mention of Mother Teresa on the last page could also disappear without harming the book’s impact.
I found this to be a valuable book, not only in edifying me, but also in helping me to understand the unique challenges faced by singles. Warren works well within a restrictive format. He is transparent without being exhibitionist, vulnerable without being whiny. He does not back down from presenting a serious challenge to single adults. At the same time, he does not offer them false hope or allow them to bemoan their condition. He rightly sees singlehood as an opportunity for great blessing and unrestricted service to the Lord. Singlehood, while it may be difficult, can and should be a great blessing to the church. And Warren clearly hopes that all singles who read his book will accept this challenge. I am happy to recommend this book.
The theology is generally strong and the author seems to be quite conservative.
This book is written to be accessible to just about anyone.
I honestly don’t really know how many similar books there are.
I would suggest it is quite important to the target audience.
I recommend this book to believers who are single, and especially those who are struggling with being single.
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