Book Review and Giveaway: Counsel from the Cross

Great news! I am re-posting this review from last month because the publisher has offered to give away three copies of the book to readers. If you are interested in winning a copy, will you comment below and tell me the best advice someone gave you in a rough moment? I will be announcing winner on Monday morning.

I remember at 13 having a crush on a young man who was 20. His wise momma realized where my heart was heading. She quietly and discreetly suggested that he might be on my heart simply because he needed a bit of extra prayer. Her caring comment was not exactly what I wanted to hear at that moment, but it nudged my 13 year old infatuation in a more appropriate direction.

I first saw Counsel From the Cross at Tim Challies’ blog. I was immediately interested in it. I hoped it might help me better encourage hurting friends, as well as give me tools to be a better mom to my kids.

I had the chance to read the book on the plane last weekend, and found it deeply encouraging on a personal level, as well from the standpoint of encouraging others who are challenged by their life circumstances. (And really, who of us isn’t?) The theme of the book is simple: the Gospel is the only real answer to soul-sickness.

Could it really be that simple? I wondered if the answers in the book would be too basic, stuff I already knew, with no true insight. I shouldn’t have worried. The authors unpacked this simple message in fresh and deeply thoughtful ways. As I read, I bookmarked many pages, and continually mulled over the multiple applications of this message — most often in my own life as a human mom raising, encouraging, and instructing my also-human children.

Some of the questions answered in the book include:
– What should we do with our troublesome feelings?
– What kinds of counseling really work?
– What motivates true change?

Examples are given throughout the book, describing applications for this message in various life challenges such as addiction, depression, grieving, and broken relationships. I loved the words from Martin Luther quoted several times in the book- boy, there was a man who understood depression and mental anguish! And I came away from the book convinced that my dad, a staunch ‘scripture-alone’ minister, would have loved the book too.

Whether you’re struggling in your own life, or just want to be a good support to a friend, this book is an excellent Biblical reference that points clearly and truly towards the source of all power in life: Jesus alone.

Does this book sound interesting? Comment below for a chance to win a copy. I will be closing this contest on Monday morning.


  1. That book sounds great…not sure how I missed that one over there. I’ve been wrestling with a few of those issues myself of late and I think I’ll be getting a copy!

    I got another book from his blog – “Gospel Powered Parenting” which I’m thoroughly enjoying…much the same concept as the book you reviewed here. The answers to the tough parental questions are in the Gospel! Highly recommend that one too!

  2. Christine,
    I actually just ordered that book too! Am looking forward to getting it.

  3. Diana Campbell says:

    I would love to read this book right now. The encouragement is very much needed as I deal with four children under seven. Thanks for the review.

  4. I think the best advice I received in a rough moment was actually pretty simple: “just take a moment and pray”.

  5. Hilda Zimmerman says:

    The best advice I ever got as a parent was “this too is a stage and it will pass”. So at every trying stage, I remind myself of that and try to move on. 🙂

  6. That book sounds great… reading good books enhance our knowledge and confidence… Thanks for the review.

  7. Best advice I received is when we were going thru infertility treatments and someone said to me “you will know when it is time to stop and do you want to have a child or be a mother?” I knew I wanted to be a mother stopped that day and started the adoption process

  8. This sounds exactly like what I need right now.

  9. This sounds like a good read. Please enter me.

  10. Amy Hedges says:

    Tim book not only looks like it could offer me personal encouragement but I’m sure the connections he makes can be applies to teaching and counseling my children. It never hurts to dig into God’s word a little deeper and learn how to better apply it to daily living.

  11. This book sounds great. I received great advice from my OB after our second miscarriage…..oh shoot…gotta run, kids need me…

  12. I could use a little council from the cross. I’ve been in the desert far too long. 🙁

  13. My sister in law recently reminded me that things change. My current situation is not going to stay this way forever. I thought that was good advice. I wanted to order this book and didn’t get around to it – maybe your giveaway is just the thing!

  14. This sounds like the type of read I need right now! Can’t think of a piece of advice, but can share a message that recently resonated with me from my minister and it was about hospitality and how we all should be hospitable which isn’t really common these days. I’ve been struggling with how to deal with a neighborhood situation and that message opened my heart a little more so I can try and make life a little easier for a little girl whose family is struggling. I can do this by just being hospitable, offering a family dinner, a game, an hour or so of playing in our yard to a somewhat neglected sweet child.

  15. Jacqueline Strawder says:

    My friend just yesterday told me that I have to BELIEVE that the Lord will answer my prayers …..that I should never give up on the Lord , never give up on praying, and to remember ….it will be HIS timing …not mine!

  16. Sounds like just what I’m needing at the moment…

  17. As one who has found herself playing the part of “Dear Abby” since high school, this book is JUST what I need in my role as encourager of the women (young and seasoned) at church, in the school where I work, and as I contemplate the next chapter of my life, going back to school to complete my degree. Please enter me in the drawing, and thank you for your encouragement to us all!

  18. I had a difficult episode of post-partum depression and my doctor told me that when you’re going through hell, that’s no time to stop and look around. Keep moving – get out of that place. It was just what I needed to hear.

  19. I’ve had this book on my list of things to read since I first read about it on your blog. I would love to win one and be able to better aid those in my life who are struggling. If I don’t win this drawing, I’ll just have to buy it for myself as a gift for the New Year ~ an investment in the future! Thanks for thinking of your readers.

  20. Came upon two of your books on amazon and just got them in the mail yesterday! I was looking for books on having a large family and found yours. I want a large family with biological and adopted kids and am so happy to see that is what you have! Inspiring! I look forward to reading your books and your blog.

    Counsel from the Cross sounds like a great book. The hardest time in my life was going though antepartum depression when I was pregnant with my son. For someone that wants a big family, going through this in my first pregnancy was discouraging. Best human advice was that I was still a great mother and will be in the future despite my occasional OCD type thoughts, but drawing closer to the Lord and getting through it one day at a time was the best therapy and of course seeing my son happy, healthy and thriving is great therapy. As it got better, I knew I was stronger in Christ for it and if it happened again it would be a lot easier to deal with.

  21. I would LOVE to have a copy of this! Sign me up! Thanks Mary!

  22. I am always looking for great ways to apply the Scripture to the lives of my tiny boys.

  23. This book sounds fabulous. Thanks for the review!

  24. A friend once told me to always take “mental pictures”, such as of your wedding day or your child when they are their sweetest. When times get rough like spousal troubles or kids are driving you crazy you will have a memory to draw from. Keep the happy thoughts close.
    His book sounds great! Please enter me:-)

  25. I would love a chance to win this book as well. Thanks for the contest.

    The best advice I have been given was during some tough years of being raked over the marital coals. I was furious and felt justified for how I felt. My dear friend (who else could this come from than someone who I know loves me dearly?) told me, “You need to die to your self right now and just serve your husband and family.”

    Ouch. That was the last thing that I wanted to do, but when I followed her advice and gave my willing heart to God, He changed me and brought me through that season with flying colors – stronger, faith filled, and with a God-fueled love for my husband. Notice, my attitude and feelings didn’t change first – but my actions did and God really honored my obedience with His work in my heart.

    Now, when I realize that I’m getting a little, “all about me.” I immediately (ok, not always immediately) start self talking myself into dying to myself and look for ways to serve others.

  26. I have been pondering that last question that you listed – “What motivates true change?”. This book sounds great. thanks.

  27. Tricia Anderson says:

    This books sound very good – and something that we can all gain more wisdom from.

    The best advice I received was to choose my battles – that helps in all areas as a wife, mother, employee, friend, etc. It especially helps with raising our 15 year old son right now — How he dresses – probably not a battle I should fight… but how he speaks to his parents – a proper battle. Now if I can just get it right with him – then raising our three younger children should be a breeze – right?

  28. Wow this sounds great and very timely for me right now. Thanks for the suggestion!

  29. Oh this sounds so perfect right now. Just this morning I was discussing something similar to your story above with a young friend who came to me for counsel. I wish I had this book right now to be able to glean its wisdom! Thanks for the recommendation!

  30. Great book giveaway!

    Advice? Hmm. I think it would be that my kids are only with me for a short time. Enjoy them. Give them memories that will last forever and help them to love life and one another.

    Today….as I sit here with 3 teens ( 1 of which is in college) I see just how fast time does fly. I’m glad I took time to have fun and invest in them as people and children.

  31. Vicki Arnold says:

    Sounds like a lovely book. I would love the chance to read it. My library does not have it (the Hamilton County/ Cincinnati library system).

  32. What a great book!
    The best advice I got was: “Take it one day at a time”

  33. I don’t know if this counts as “advice” since it wasn’t given to me personally, but this quote from Elisabeth Elliott’s devotional entitled “You can’t keep both eyes” gave me a good kick in the pants right when I needed it, and it has stuck with me for over a year now:

    “Don’t ever allow me to use the word ‘struggle’. Every time I use it I am excusing disobedience, I am really preferring to ‘struggle’ rather than to quit.”

    Anyways, I would love to read this book! Please throw my name into the hat!

  34. Connie Corey says:

    “This too, shall pass”
    I have repeated it a zillion times over the years, for things both big and small.

  35. One of the best pieces of advice that I have read (I think from a Kevin Leman book):
    I would have enjoyed that more if I knew I was going to live through it.

  36. This advice was given to a friend of mine regarding dating, and she shared it with me in college. Not sure if her dad came up with it or if he was quoting someone.

    “Run as fast as you can towards God, so that the only man who can catch you is one who is running faster.”

  37. Mary, this sounds like a great Biblical book. I believe many Christians today are too influenced by secular psychology which enables them to excuse their own behaviour & reactions because of their trials & circumstances…this books sounds like it gives the right advice.
    As for advice for me – I think the best advice I have been given many times over is – Look to the Lord, not at yourself, your problems or those around you. It is what He IS that matters, not ourselves.
    Rachael in NZ
    As for the

  38. How right on! The washing out of my mind and heart by the Word used by the Spirit to get my eyes on Jesus, the Answer. Best advice – it’s the look that saves but the gaze that sanctifies.

  39. ask for help. you will bless people by giving them the chance.

  40. The best advice a coworker gave me is to look at the big picture. When something goes wrong, it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed. However, usually within a week’s time the issue is resolved or greatly minimized.

  41. Thanks for the review. I’d love to win a copy of the book.

  42. I would love to read this. Hope I win!

  43. The best advice I’ve ever been given was actually from my husband. I was scared about the foster to adopt process and the possibility of losing another child. He said to me, “You can’t give away too much love.” It is so true and brought everything back into perspective for me. I would love to win this book!

  44. The best advice I can remember was from an older mom who told me to never feel bad about what your children go through b/c you never know how God will use that experience to shape them into the adults He’s creating them to be.

    I hope I win!

  45. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful read. Going through some preteen stuff with my dd…this may be just what the Lord has ordered! I’d love to win, but if I don’t, I think this will be on my to buy list! Thanks for the recommendation!

  46. This sounds like a great read. It is so encouraging to see a trend in cross-centred parenting books rather than trying to use worldly principles and psychology to parent.
    Please add me in to your draw!

  47. I would love to be a part of this drawing. For me the best advice was “Breathe, and remember to take one Breathe at a time” Many times as we are struggling we forget to do the basic things, this friend said breathe, but I later thought breathe and pray. Still struggle with things often. I am human and will be till the day the good Lord calls me. But I keep breathing each step and each day and send up prayers whenever needed!

  48. I, too, would love to read this book! A Swedish soon-to-be psychologist with 3 internationally adopted children, sometimes struggling with special needs and the general “chaos” around smaller children – but mostly smiling!

  49. After my first baby I had every how-to book strapped to my hip and each time my baby cried I’d reach for a book to figure out what to do. The best advice I got was, “Put those books down, pick up your baby, and start to ask the Lord for the wisdom to parent well.”

  50. I checked out Tim’s blog after your reference. Great resource! Would love to win his book. Thanks!