Monthly Archives: September 2016

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

Lori Stanley Roeleveld started with an intriguing idea: using the story of Jack and the Beanstalk as an outline for a book on overcoming our giants and living a fruitful life. After all, who doesn’t have giants threatening and sometimes even overcoming our lives? And after all, who doesn’t feel that the tools we have are indeed small, perhaps even worthless? And who hasn’t been surprised when Jesus takes our little tokens and turns them into a mighty beanstalk of power, capable of slaying giants? Now that’s a good story!

Roeleveld started with a great idea. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me.

There were so many directions she could have gone with the theme of “small” people overcoming huge giants. Sadly, she didn’t go to them. In the first two parts of the book, she loosely used the theme of Jack and the Beanstalk to characterize this very issue in the lives of believers. It was a fairly effective allegory. But she didn’t finish the story. She didn’t slay the giant. Then, leaving us longing to kill the giant, in Part 3, she switched over to the list of virtues from 2 Peter 1:5-8. Except she didn’t…

Each of these virtues constituted a chapter. But in exegeting the virtue, she wandered all over Scripture. I didn’t sense any glue holding each chapter together. I was never sure if she was in 2 Peter or somewhere else. And to make matters worse, she used a six-day devotional structure for each virtue but it wasn’t a consistent structure. Every week took a different approach. I know her intent was to switch things up and keep the reader interested. But it didn’t work for me.  I hadn’t realized how important a linear structure is to me until I read this book. I felt lost in the wilderness most of the time!

To her credit, the writing is excellent. Her ideas are good. I liked the “One Stone for your Sling” summary sentence at the end of each chapter. And I even liked her discussion questions at the end of each chapter, even though I couldn’t see using this book for a small group for the reasons mentioned above. Overall, it’s a fair read for someone who doesn’t need structure.

Thanks to Litfuse for offering me this book for review.