Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life by Joanna Weaver

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1440 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1578562589
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (July 1 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEHC18

Book Description

With nearly a million copies sold, Joanna Weaver's popular book shows women how to blend intimacy with Jesus and service for Him. 

An invitation for every woman who feels she isn't godly enough...isn't loving enough...isn't doing enough. The life of a woman today isn't really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord's feet...but the daily demands of a busy world just won't leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him...yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, right into the midst of your busy Mary/Martha life-and he extends the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters of Bethany. Tenderly he invites you to choose "the better part"-a joyful life of "living-room" intimacy with him that flows naturally into "kitchen service" for him.

How can you make that choice? With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story and its creative, practical strategies, Joanna shows how all of us -Marys and Marthas alike- can draw closer to our Lord, deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

This book includes a twelve-week Bible study.

Also look for the ten-week DVD study pack companion product to this book, which includes three DVDs and a separate, revised and expanded study guide.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Sisters
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.LUKE 10 : 3 8 - 3 9

Have you ever tried to do it all?

I have, I do, and I probably always will. It’s not only in my nature; it’s also in my job description–and yours, too. Being a woman requires more stamina, more creativity, and more wisdom than I ever dreamed as a young girl. And that’s not just true for today’s busy women. It has always been the case.

In 1814, Martha Forman was married to a wealthy Maryland plantation owner. You might expect she spent her days sipping tea, being fitted for lovely gowns, and giving orders to her servants as she chatted with important guests. Instead, Martha worked right beside her servants from four in the morning to eleven o’clock at night. Among her daily activities were the following:

Making thirty to thirty-four pounds of old tallow into candles; cutting out fourteen shirts, jackets or trousers for the slaves (whom she always called “the people” or “our family”); knitting stockings; washing; dyeing and spinning wool; baking mince pies and potato puddings; sowing wheat or reaping it; killing farm animals and salting the meat; planting
or picking fruits and vegetables; making jams, jellies, and preserves with her fruit; helping whitewash or paint walls; ironing; preparing for large parties; caring for sick family and slaves.

So, what did you do today? You may not have slaughtered a hog or harvested wheat, but I know you were busy. Whether you were out selling real estate or at home kissing boo-boos (or both), your day passed just as quickly. And your mind and body are probably as tired as poor Martha Forman’s as you steal a few moments to spend with this book.

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. The thought intrigues you. Deep inside of you there is a hunger, a calling, to know and love God. To truly know Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit. You’re not after more head knowledge– it’s heart-to-heart intimacy you long for.

Yet a part of you hangs back. Exhausted, you wonder how to find the strength or time. Nurturing your spiritual life seems like one more duty–one more thing to add to a life that is spilling over with responsibilities. It’s almost as if you’re standing on the bottom rung of a ladder that stretches up to heaven. Eager but daunted, you name the rungs with spiritual things you know you should do: study the Bible, pray, fellowship…

“He’s up there somewhere,” you say, swaying slightly as you peer upward, uncertain how to begin or if you even want to attempt the long, dizzy climb. But to do nothing means you will miss what your heart already knows: There is more to this Christian walk than you’ve experienced. And you’re just hungry enough–just desperate enough–to want it all.

A TALE OF TWO SISTERSPerhaps no passage of Scripture better describes the conflict we feel as women than the one we find in the gospel of Luke. Just mention the names Mary and Martha around a group of Christian women and you’ll get knowing looks and nervous giggles. We’ve all felt the struggle. We want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside keeps bossing us around.

Here’s a refresher course in case you’ve forgotten the story. It’s found in Luke. It’s the tale of two sisters. It’s the tale of you and me. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (10:38-42)

A MARTHA WORLDWhen I read the first part of Mary and Martha’s story, I must admit I find myself cheering for Martha. I know we tend to sing Mary’s praises in Bible studies. But Martha, to be honest, appeals more to my perfectionist tendencies. What a woman! She opens her home to a band of thirteen hungry men, possibly more. What a hostess! She doesn’t whip up an impromptu casserole of Kraft macaroni and cheese and Ballpark franks as I’ve been known to do on occasion.

Not her! She is the original Martha Stewart, the New Testament’s Proverbs 31 woman, and Israel’s answer to Betty Crocker. Or at least that’s the way I imagine her. She’s the Queen of the Kitchen–and the rest of the house as well.

And Luke’s story starts with Martha in her glory. After all, this is Jesus. She scraps her ordinary everyday menu of soup and bread and pulls out all her cookbooks. This, she decides, will be a banquet fit for a messiah. For the Messiah. Martha sends one servant to the field to slaughter a lamb, another to the market to pick up a few of those luscious pomegranates she saw yesterday. Like a military general, she barks commands to her kitchen staff. Soak the lentils! Pound the grain! Knead the dough!

So many things to do and so little time. She must make sure the centerpiece and the napkins match, that the servant pours the wine from the right and not the left. Martha’s mind is as busy as a room filled with kindergartners. What would be just right for dessert? A little goat cheese with a tray of fresh fruit? Will Jesus and his followers stay overnight? Someone must change the sheets and fold some towels.

“Where’s Mary? Has anyone seen Mary?” she asks a servant scurrying by. If Mary changed the sheets, Martha might have time to fashion an ark from the cheese and carve the fruit into little animals marching two by two. Productions of this magnitude require the skill of a master planner. And Martha’s an administrator extraordinaire–a whirling dervish of efficiency, with a touch of Tasmanian she-devil thrown in to motivate the servants.

I happen to be the oldest in my family. Perhaps that’s why I understand how frustrated Martha must have felt when she finally found Mary. The entire household is in an uproar, busy making ready to entertain the most famous teacher of their day, the man most likely to become the next king of Israel. I can relate to the anger that boils up inside of Martha at the sight of her lazy sibling sitting at the Master’s feet in the living room.

It’s simply too much. With everything still left to do, there sits little Mary, being quite contrary, crashing a party meant only for men. But worse, she seems oblivious to all of Martha’s gesturing from the hall.

Martha tries clearing her throat. She even resorts to her most effective tool: the “evil eye,” famous for stopping grown men in their tracks. But nothing she does has any effect on her baby sister. Mary only has eyes for Jesus.

Pushed to the limit, Martha does something unprecedented. She interrupts the boys’ club, certain that Jesus will take her side. After all, a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Her sister, Mary, should be helping prepare the meal. Martha realizes there is a cutting edge to her voice, but Jesus will understand. He, of all people, knows what it’s like to carry the weight of the world.

Now of course, you won’t find all that in the Bible. Luke tends to downplay the whole story, dedicating only four verses to an event that was destined to change Martha’s life forever. And mine as well. And yours, if you will let the simple truth of this passage soak deep into your heart.

Instead of applauding Martha, Jesus gently rebukes her, telling her Mary has chosen “what is better.” Or, as another translation puts it, “Mary has chosen the better part” (NRSV). “The better part?” Martha must have echoed incredulously. “The better part!” I say to God in the midst of my own whirl of activity. “You mean there’s more? I have to do more?”

No, no, comes the answer to my tired heart. Jesus’ words in Luke 10 are incredibly freeing to those of us on the performance treadmill of life. It isn’t “more” he requires of us.
In fact, it may be less.

A MARY HEARTThe Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Mary and Martha. They are mentioned by name only three times in Scripture: Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-44, and John 12:1-11. But from these brief accounts, a fascinating picture develops of what life must have been like at the house in Bethany–and what life is often like for us.

They say variety is the spice of life. Perhaps that’s why God so often puts people of such different personalities in the same family. (Either that, or he’s trying to prepare us for marriage!) Mary was the sunlight to Martha’s thunder. She was the caboose to Martha’s locomotive. Mary’s bent was to meander through life, pausing to smell the roses. Martha was more likely to pick the roses, quickly cut the stems at an angle, and arrange them in a vase with baby’s breath and ferns.

That is not to say one is right and one is wrong. We are all different, and that is just as God made us to be. Each gifting and personality has its own strengths and weaknesses, its glories and temptations.

I find it interesting that when Jesus corrected Martha, he didn’t say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister, Mary?” He knew Martha would never be Mary, and Mary would never be Martha. ...
About the Author

Joanna Weaver is the best-selling author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit, Lazarus Awakening, and the award-winning gift book With This Ring. Her articles have appeared in such publications as Focus on the Family, Guideposts, and HomeLife. Joanna and her pastor-husband, John, have three children and live in Montana. Visit her website at

My Review

I recently pulled this book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, from my book shelf to skim through as I am attending a bible study on Women of the Bible...two of whom are Mary of Bethany and her sister Martha. I have always enjoyed this book because I have always seen myself as such a Martha with a huge desire to be a Mary. Don't know what I'm talking the book and find out!

This is an excellent book for women particularly in these busy times when we are pulled in every direction. Joanna Weaver provides wonderful insight into these two women's lives and how we can learn from them today. There is also a study guide at the end of the book. I have found this book to be very helpful and inspiring and I highly recommend it.

Love this:

Ten Ways to Tame the Worry Habit

From Joanna Weaver's book entitled Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

10. Separate toxic worry from genuine concern. Determine if you can do anything about your situation. If so, sketch a plan to handle it. Proverbs 16:3

9. Don't worry alone. Share your concerns with a friend or a counselor. You may receive helpful advice. Talking your fears out with someone often reveals solutions that were invisible before. Proverbs 27:9

8. Take care of your physical body. Regular exercise and adequate rest can defuse a lot of worry. When our bodies are healthy, our minds can handle stress better and react more appropriately. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

7. Do what is right. A guilty conscience can cause more anxiety than a world of problems. Do your best to live above reproach. Take care of mistakes quickly by confessing and seeking forgiveness. Acts 24:16

6. Look on the bright side. Consciously focus on what is good around you. Don't let yourself speak negatively, even about yourself. Ephesians 4:29

5. Control your imagination. Be realistic about the problems you face. Try to live in the "here and now" not in the "what might be." Isaiah 35:3-4

4. Prepare for the unexpected. Put aside a cash reserve and take sensible measures so you'll be ready if difficulties arise. Proverbs 21:20

3. Trust God. Keep reminding yourself to put God in your equation. Then, when fear knocks, you can send faith to answer the door. Psalm 112:7

2. Meditate on God's promises. Scripture has the power to transform our minds. Look for Scriptures that deal with your particular areas of anxiety. Answer life's difficulties with God's Word. 1 Peter 1:4

1. And the number one way to tame a worry habit? Pray! Joseph M. Scriven's hymn says it all: "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer." Colossians 4:2

No comments:

Post a Comment