Temptation (Book Review)

  • Series: Rendezvous with God (Book 2)
  • Author: Bill Myers
  • Publisher: Fidelis Publishing
  • Pre-Order Now (Currently available as an ebook)
  • Synopsis: Will continues his rendezvous with God, as he begins to experience the challenges of walking as a Christ-follower in a fallen world
  • Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

For we do not have a priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet He did not sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Spiritual Themes

This was a VERY meaningful book for me, and the reading has affected how I approach certain situations.

The most meaningful truth I recall is the importance of living in the moment with Yeshua, not looking backward with regret, nor trying to push ahead into the future with worry. But it’s not just about trying to “be present.” It’s also about being present with PRAISE– being in the moment with the Lord and praising Him, even when that moment is crazy hard.

Other significant themes include dependence on Yeshua, true relationship with Christ, sharing in Jesus’ suffering (and His sharing in our temptations), and intimacy with Jesus (one of my favorite themes, separate from “relationship with Christ” as Bill also establishes the parallel between physical, marital intimacy and intimacy with Yeshua).

Initial Reaction

Rendezvous with God was the first fiction title I reviewed on my blog, so when I saw that book two was on its way, I reached out to author Bill Myers to request a copy. Compared to book one, I would have to say that I enjoyed this title even more than the first. Though there are some elements that I have mixed feelings about and some elements do merit a “trigger warning,” this is a book with so much to commend!

What I Liked

If I was afraid of a mess, Will, I would never have created you.

Bill Myers, Temptation, p. 45

The novel is rich with truth that digs to the heart of matters. My favorite themes were intimacy with Yeshua and praising Him in the moment. The latter idea was one that I have read before, but the Lord spoke to me in a new and timely way through this book, influencing me even after the reading. This is an idea I kept returning to.

Although I liked book one of the series, I think that this is an example where the second book is better than the first because the premise has already been established. The first book (spoilers ahead) establishes that Yeshua is allowing Will to personally visit Yeshua in various moments, throughout His earthly ministry. In it, Will, who was formerly an atheist, becomes a Christian.

Book two is less apologetic in nature, and it’s also easier to “jump right in” to the plot, because we are already aware of the way that Yeshua pulls Will into the past.

I like reading Will’s voice. He’s a humorous narrator with a dry wit that makes the story particularly engaging. It’s also funny, at times, to read the things he says without thinking. His blunders are pretty terrible. I remember that when I was a kid reading Bill’s (by the way… Bill writing a Will— is Will modeled after Bill?) books, I was astounded that two of his series were both written by the same person. Now, I’m beginning to recognize his style and humor, which connect his books regardless of the series.

Mixed Feelings (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Women’s Rights

  • While arguing with her uncle, Will’s niece Amber becomes particularly obstinate. In a humorously-recounted conversation, she shuts down each of his responses, only to accuse him of “mansplaining.” This was a funny part of the story and it also felt like a realistic portrayal of a teenager in that situation (Amber is trying to convince Uncle Will that underage driving is a “women’s rights” issue).

Why I have mixed feelings about this…

  • It is very evident that she is using buzz words she has heard, without really knowing what she’s talking about. My concern here is that Amber’s use of the terminology could be construed as a dismissal of the issue, in general. Personally, I do believe that there is such a thing as “mansplaining.” And while I recognize that Amber was using the term incorrectly, I wouldn’t want the notion discredited simply because it came from that character.

Content Consideration

SIGNIFICANT SPOILER:

The novel deals with sexual assault, which is at the core of a lot of the plotline (Will’s best friend, a fellow professor, is accused of assaulting his student). Upon request, I had the opportunity to read the book early, even before the blurb was up. At the time of the reading, I was pretty concerned about the treatment of the assault, which felt ambiguous, at points. However, the blurb takes a clear stance against wickedness, so I feel much better. Overall, I would say that Will is very conflicted in his loyalty to his friend, but the blurb shows that he’s making some mistakes in what he does.

I DO, however, feel the need to include a strong trigger warning for survivors of assault, because of the theme in general, and because of some very disturbing things that the perpetrator says.

END OF SPOILER

With a title like Temptation, it shouldn’t be that surprising that there is some discussion of sexual temptation. While there is no actual sex, the thematic content is definitely more geared towards adults, as there is discussion about being tempted in this way AND about why God reserved intimacy for marriage– not as a casual encounter between “consenting adults.” I really appreciated some of the insight Bill provided on this point. I also appreciated that he had Will broaching the topic with Yeshua. That was really cool because, I think one of the effects of what some people call “purity culture” (which I am, in many ways, grateful for) is feeling like intimacy is “bad” and something to not even think about. But, as Bill points out, God created it and we can talk to Him about it!

On a separate note, there were a few lines of Yeshua’s that I didn’t 100% agree with. For instance, Yeshua says something along the lines of “Where else would I be?” in reference to being at a church on a Sunday morning. I can think of lots of places Yeshua might be on a Sunday morning and I’m sensitive to conflation between church attendance and relationship with God. BUT, I will say that both this book and its predecessor do a fantastic job of ripping apart that conflation. I reference this one line, not to be picky, but because the words are being attributed to Yeshua.

Recommendation Status

Despite some mixed feelings in terms of the integration of sexual assault / women’s rights, this is a book that I heartily enjoyed, and that was rich with insight. The Lord spoke to me through multiple passages. Plus, I really like what the author did with allowing Will to talk to Yeshua about anything, even a taboo topic. Although I would definitely put out a word of caution for survivors of sexual trauma, this is a book that I heartily recommend, and I am eager to read book three!

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: