STOP the Violence: Seven Stages to Sanctify is a companion book to another book written by the same authors, Dr. Phyllis Davis and Rev. Carrol Davis. It is essentially a workbook version of Journey of the Soul: Cracked Pots and Broken Vessels (Live the Victorious Life Christ Died to Give You). While the original book contains the same core material, more example stories, and the authors’ personal stories, the workbook can stand on its own as text/workbook. The book fleshes out the concepts more fully, and is not absolutely necessary to do the work in the workbook, although I recommend reading the book if possible.
I feel it is important to understand, however, that this workbook was not intended to be a self-help or self-guided book. It was written with group activities in mind, or as a workbook to use while in one-on-one counseling. After reading this, I feel it is still filled with practical applications that are useful for every day life for the lone reader. It can also serve as a handbook guide for professional counselors, pastors, Christian psychologists, and group leaders who have been trained in the techniques used in both books.
The premise: [from the back cover of the workbook] “STOP the Violence: Seven Stages to Sanctify goes beyond academic exercises and focuses on self-awareness, deep reflection, honesty, and faith. Different from ‘talk therapy’, the Seven Stages to Sanctify is designed to address life’s problems and challenges at the heart of [an] issue, rather than treating symptoms only. Based on the teachings of the Master, it is a powerful discipleship tool that is appropriate for one-on-one use, small and large groups.”
Too many people fall away from the faith because they are not taught to rightly apply the Word of God to their present needs. The workbook “takes you, the reader, on a personal journey to apply the words of the Master to specific areas of challenge in your life. The techniques used in the workbook are tested principles of sound psychological living from the Mighty Counselor, Great Physician, and His word to us through His love letter, the Scriptures. The two companion books are written to the church and fellow Christians that want to mature in Christ.”
How it works: The authors have developed seven stages in the maturing process they call SANCTIFY. Stage one is represented by the letter “S” in SANCTIFY. Stage two is represented by the letter “A” in SANCTIFY, and so on. In the first stage, the individual identifies his problem areas, sins, behaviors, habits, and attitudes that do not align with God’s Word. In stage two, he identifies the things he does to cover the behaviors and attitudes identified in stage one. Stage three is where he identifies and overcomes his uncomfortable feelings. In the fourth stage, he digs down to the core issues that caused the pain in the first place. The two books spend the lion’s share of time on these four stages because failure to get to the core issues can result in the person’s return to the destructive behavior–to relapse. The remaining stages move through the process of recovery.
What impresses me most about the book/workbook combo’s philosophy is how centered on Scripture the process is. It melds both psychology and theology into one unified practice, filling the gaps missing in secular behavioral psychology today. It removes the barriers between the church’s accepted sins and behaviors pulpits can preach about and the more intimate, unmentionable behaviors and habits. It treats them equally under this new paradigm–as it should be. The process called SANCTIFY is applicable to bad habits and criminal sins alike. The participant chooses an issue, works through the process to completion, and then repeats by choosing another behavior. You can repeat the process over and over for every issue you can identify whether it’s something minor (in our opinion) or serious (by man’s standards).
One segment of the workbook in particular caught my interest. It was a part of Stage Three: Overcoming Your Feelings. In this segment, the authors include one of the most practical applications I’ve ever read or heard of a statement Paul made in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I’ve often puzzled over how to do just that. This book gave me ideas how to apply that Scripture. I will be putting many of these ideas into practice. This part of the book also teaches the reader how to avoid letting their emotions control them, to listen to what their feelings are really telling them about themselves.
Another aspect of this book I like is the workbook concept itself. We are too used to passively taking information in, assuming we’ll absorb it to our benefit. Teachers know that passive learning is not as effective as active learning, where a reader becomes a participant. That’s one benefit of using a workbook. All of us at one point or another accept unbiblical statements as truth. This workbook helps the reader to practice identifying Satan’s lies and exchanging them for God’s truth. The more we practice, the more our lives become “sanctified”; we live more in accordance to God’s will. This book and workbook set can help us take responsibility for our lives, become more purposeful and less like a fish out of water, flopping around and letting life just happen to us. I highly recommend this workbook and book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Book Club Network (bookfun.org) on behalf of the authors. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”