Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multicampus church and creators of the free YouVersion Bible App. He is also the author of SOUL DETOX, WEIRD, THE CHRISTIAN ATHEIST and IT. His latest, ALTAR EGO, opens with a few directives: “Trade in your broken ego. Unleash your altar ego. Embrace your God-given identity. Take your idea of your own identity. Lay it down on the altar. And sacrifice it.” With these words, Groeschel lays the groundwork for this primer on first understanding who we are (and aren’t) and then accepting the fact that, until we come to grips with who we are by God’s making and how He views us, “we are not yet who we are supposed to be.” End of story.
"With every chapter, [Groeschel] finds gentle ways to probe deeply into readers’ hearts so that they in turn can make life and heart changes that will most certainly set them free from the inside out."
Groeschel shares freely from his own checkered past of the day that his life changed dramatically. He recalls waking up and looking at his hungover, depressed college self and wondering how he ended up this way. He admits to fooling a lot of people for a long time into thinking he was the good student, the good boy, the good athlete; to his party friends, he was a good time. Like most people, Groeschel was consumed with protecting his good reputation by being whatever people wanted him to be. The problem, he realized, was that a reputation is who others think you are, whereas character is who you really are. Ouch.
Groeschel came to grips with the truth that, while his reputation was good, his character was not. Thus began his journey into becoming the man God wanted him to be, not the man others tried to mold him into being. He describes his inner tension as suddenly realizing that his ego was derived from a twisted combination of his accomplishments and other people’s opinions. Of course, living within the framework of other people’s changing whims and one’s own failings makes for a stressful and frightening sense of value. Groeschel then learned to place his trust and his ego on God’s altar by sacrificing a worldly self-image and allowing God to replace it with His view of us. Welcome inner peace, sanity and rest.
In this three-part text, Groeschel engages us with countless real-life anecdotes whereby he discovered how subtly Christians are swayed into the world’s description of worth and value to their own detriment. Readers will find practical as well as inspirational advice throughout this encouraging book, beginning with: overcoming labels that bind you; understanding that you are God’s masterpiece; you are an overcomer; you are God’s ambassador; you can learn to live with patience, integrity, honor and gratitude; and your life will be transformed, evidenced by bold behavior, bold prayers, bold words, and bold obedience.
Groeschel sheds light on the many insidious ways that pleasing people usurps God’s rightful position as the Lord and the only One Christians should be eager to please. With every chapter, he finds gentle ways to probe deeply into readers’ hearts so that they in turn can make life and heart changes that will most certainly set them free from the inside out.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on March 14, 2013