Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 03/30/2011 by Leslie Wiggins.
Not Recommended. Typical Western-world bodycare tips unjustifiably supported by so-called biblical principles.
She heads a worldwide ministry that includes a daily television show, an Internet presence, CDs and DVDs, conferences and seminars, more than 80 books, a magazine, feeding ministries, medical missions, children's homes, disaster relief, prison ministries, urban ministries, water relief, human trafficking relief, and a Bible with her name on it. Joyce Meyer is ubiquitous. So why am I just now getting around to reading one of her books?
If you are a fan of hers reading this review, then please understand that this is only a review of one book, a meager fraction of Joyce Meyer Ministries, and is not intended to provide a criticism of her as a minister or her ministry as a whole.
Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now is exactly what anyone who reads the title might think it is. Despite the saying, it is safe to judge this book by its cover; what you see is what you get.
Joyce Meyer shares how she transformed herself from being tired, irritable, unhealthy, and overweight, to becoming the happy and healthy woman you see on the 2006 cover. She teaches and comments on 12 common-sense keys (her word choice is intentional, for these are not steps) for good health, reasoning that, "Only by keeping your spirit, soul, and body in tip-top condition can you truly do God’s work."
If you let your body get too shabby or sick, it will be a constant distraction. You will not be able to experience the Presence of God and His joy and peace any more than you could in a church building that was uncomfortable, falling apart, or aesthetically demoralizing. Each time we break down emotionally, mentally, or physically, it has a wearing effect on us. If we do it too often, we may eventually come to a place where we can no longer be restored.
Unbiblical statements like that one litter almost every chapter.
Meyer provides commentary and education for the 12 ("a sacred number") keys then offers 5 action points (located at the end of each chapter). Readers are encouraged to choose one action point from each chapter and gradually implement them in their lives ("for balance"). The 12 keys are: Let God Do the Heavy Lifting, Learning to Love Your Body, Mastering Metabolism, Exercise, Balanced Eating, Water Your Life, Mindful Eating, Curb Your Spiritual Hunger, De-Stress, Right Vision, Make It Easy, and Take Responsibility.
When discussing the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise, Meyer is surprisingly helpful and encouraging. She demonstrates an understanding of what it takes to develop a healthy lifestyle; however, she does not reference any studies or research which back up many of her claims. I'm not disputing those claims; I merely mention it because much of what she recommends is probably considered common knowledge in the western world and can be found in almost every health and wellness book available in a chain bookstore.
While the diet and exercise portion may be decent, her use of Scripture is most troubling. First, God comes across as a means to an end; He is merely one of the keys needed for looking great and feeling great. The spiritual disciplines are necessary for becoming healthy and attractive. Rather than the scriptures being all about Jesus, she makes them all about you (or her, as the case may be). Some commands in scripture are referred to as "recommendations."
Second, Meyer does not provide a clear explanation of the gospel. It is not presented in one location; her salvation philosophy is scattered throughout the book. Her ideas about how a person begins a life of faith in Christ include nebulous feelings about God's love. Early in the book she explains that our ability to share God's love with the world is what makes us valuable (because God's love is valuable). She goes on to talk about how we can receive God's love: "God offers us His love. All we have to do is open our hearts and make the decision to receive it...[Like a wide receiver catching a football pass] is how you need to receive God's love. Be passionate about it. Go after it...As you seek it eagerly, you will receive a revelation deep in your heart that will change your life."
Some of her comments are plain silly. For instance, she writes, "God cares most that you go forth clothed in righteousness. But righteousness plus a nice outfit never hurt anyone." The tip that takes the cake, however, is about the importance of having water to drink: "When I am on the road ministering, I carry two water bottle holders with me – one silver and one gold! That way I can match any outfit, stay fashionable, and make sure I have water with me at all times."
Incredibly self-centered and idolatrous, this book speaks nothing of the beauty of sacrificing oneself for the love and benefit of others. She writes nothing of the fact that many saints have glorified God during a time of sickness or on their deathbeds. Instead, sickness is to be avoided, and sacrificing personal comfort for others can be unhealthy and draining. She justifies this opinion with statements like this one: "Never forget that God wants you to love your body and yourself. He expects it, no matter what messages the world has given you." The truth is that Scripture already assumes that we love ourselves, which is why it repeatedly reminds us to love others the way we love ourselves.
In summary, God is a key for getting what you want. Clearly, Meyer is enamored with herself, presenting her life, ways and routines as the epitome of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health. If we all just got our acts together and followed her example, then we'd all be fit and fabulously happy and attractive. ("The truth is that you are already beautiful in God's eyes and if you will accept yourself and follow God's principles, you will systematically look better on the outside.") Looking good on the outside may mean getting a little help from a surgeon; after all, God gave her permission to have "a little work" done and he may give you that freedom, too. Or, perhaps, you could become powerful enough to speak your physical beauty into existence the same way Meyer encourages us to speak existence to other things we want. If we can speak ourselves to health and happiness, then why not speak some good looks into being?
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unintentional Christian satire mixed with health and beauty tips.