27 October 2014

Redeeming Emotion--wrap up.

Yesterday, I completed a 4 part teaching series at Cedarcreek Community Church entitled Redeeming Emotion. Over the 4 weeks, we looked at what the Bible had to say about emotion, specifically anger, fear, sorrow, and joy.  I also introduced a 4 step model for working through emotions: 1) reflect and listen, 2) respond and repent, 3) remember the gospel, and 4) relate and restore.

I thought it might be useful to provide a few brief notes and links to the audio teachings for those who are interested in going deeper. You can click on the links to hear the teachings.


Anger
  • Part of bearing the image of God means that we are emotional. God is passionate; we are passionate.
  • God's anger is expressed towared unrighteousness and unholiness (Exodus 32). His anger is always righteous.
  • Our anger may be either righteous or unrighteous.
  • “Careful inspection of ourselves, particularly when we’re angry, makes it clear that we suffer from a defect more severe than mere self-centeredness. The greatest obstacle to building truly good relationships is justified self-centeredness, a selfishness that, deep in our souls, feels entirely reasonable and therefore acceptable in light of how we’ve been treated." (Larry Crabb, Men and Women)
  • From Ephesians 4--Paul assumes believers will become angry, but we are instructed to not harbor our anger. We are also instructed by David to ponder our anger.
  • Imprecatory psalms express anger and call for God to deliver.
Scriptures
  • Song of Solomon 6:4-5
  • Luke 10:27
  • Exodus 32:9-10
  • Romans 1:18
  • Proverbs 6:16-17
  • Ephesians 4:25-32
  • Psalm 4:4
  • Psalm 139
  • Romans 5:6-11
Fear 
  • One in five Americans have disruptive anxiety.
  • Anxiety can consist of fear, worry, fret, physiological symptoms, obsessing. 
  • We need to dig deeper into what the Bible teaches about anxiety. 
  • Two types of fear--righteous and unrighteous
  • The righteous type of fear is found in the "Fear of the Lord"
  • We worry about lots of things that are not God.  Jesus tells us not to worry about those things.
  • Often our anxiety comes from the the belief that either God is not powerful or that God is not good.
Scriptures
  • Luke 12:4-5
  • Proverbs 1:7
  • Matthew 6:25-34
  • Proverbs 16:9, 19:20, 20:24, 21:1
  • Matthew 7:9-11
  • Romans 8:35-39
  • Psalm 55
Sorrow
  • Biblical characters with clear stories of sorrow--Job, Hannah, David, Elijah, Solomon, Jeremiah, Jonah, Mary, Martha, Jesus.
  • 1/3 Psalms are in the minor key--laments.
  • Jesus experienced sorrow--at the death of Lazarus, in the garden of Gethsemane
  •  Sorrow is a part of the rhythm of life.
  • Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.-CS Lewis
  • Christians Get Depressed Too videos
  • Isolation leads to loneliness leads to depression
Scriptures
  • Psalm 22
  • Psalm 88--"the saddest psalm in the psalter. Does not resolve. Most hopeless of all the Psalms."
  • John 11:35
  • Luke 19
  • Matthew 26:38
  •  Romans 8:26
  • Psalm 69
  • Psalm 42
Joy
  • Christians are rarely described as joyful, but instead hypocritical, judgmental, political, and conservative.
  • If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, it is because you are trying to carry it instead of Jesus--read on Twitter
  • We tend to live in duty driven Christianity.
  • Christianity is a celebrating religion.
  • God is a delighter.
  • You can't get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.--CS Lewis
  • Happiness in God is the end of all our seeking--John Piper
  • It is finished.
  • Christians are too cautious with grace.
Scriptures
  • Luke 7:31-34
  •  Zephaniah 3:17
  • Luke 16:20
  • Genesis 3--independence
  • Genesis 11--achievement
  • Genesis 19--sexual pleasure
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Deuteronomy 24:5
  • Psalm 16:11
  • Psalm 119
  • Psalm 1
  • Matthew 5:17-20, 48
  • Romans 5:8-21
  • Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Psalm 30:4-5,11-12

Book Review: God at Work

A friend of mine sent me a video of Tim Keller talking about the doctrine of vocation, which brought back to mind Gene Veith's God at Work (2002, Crossway), an engaging, accessible summary of the doctrine of vocation, particularly through the lens of the Reformation tradition. Veith, a Lutheran scholar, draws particularly on the writings of Luther himself, a source we all benefit from.

Veith sets out to examine what is meant by vocation or calling. Too often, it seems, we are limited to thinking of our jobs as our vocation, though we all have a variety of vocations. For example, I hold the vocation of neuropsychologist, but I also hold vocations of husband, son, father, citizen, deacon. Veith explores how we live out our callings in each of the roles God has called us to.  I particularly appreciated his chapters on "your calling as a citizen" and "bearing the cross in vocation." In the first case, understanding how we live as citizens of two kingdoms, how we submit to the governing authorities, and how we resist when necessary were all good and useful topics.  His application of Luther's Theology of the Cross to vocation was also beneficial.

I would happily recommend this book to those interested in learning what does it mean to live as a Christian in the world.

23 October 2014

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

They say "absence makes the heart grow fonder", whoever "they" are. When separated from your beloved, you develop a deeper sense of longing, or perhaps appreciation. All I know is that I miss my wife. I feel like when she is here at home, I am fond of her, yet I can see the truth in this pithy statement. Seeing the tenderness in the pixilated face of my wife tonight, surrounded by our children--four of them, at least--filled me with a desire to be with her. Not just romantically, but in all ways. She is my best friend and after just four days, I miss her so deeply it hurts. I think the most difficult thing is not knowing when she will come home.

How do soldiers manage? Or those left behind? How do they pass the days separated from those whom their hearts long for? How do they fit all the pieces of each daily puzzle together when some very important pieces are missing?

O Lord, I am grateful that you allow me to continue to delight in the wife of my youth, my companion, and friend. Thank you for reminding me of the desire for her that you have continued to fan into flame for over 17 years.

Bring her home to me.

You’ve captured my heart, dear friend.
    You looked at me, and I fell in love.
    One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!

-Song of Songs

21 October 2014

Book Review: The Making of an Ordinary Saint

The spiritual disciplines are a curious thing to me. I have read numerous books about them over the years, but I have never been quite sure what to do with them. The message that I seem to hear from the conservative side of evangelicalism with which I would align myself would suggest that spiritual disciplines can be a dangerous business if improperly understood. And yet, I have read many books about them. When I saw The Making of An Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines (2014) by Nathan Foster, I was intrigued. Certainly, as a "Foster", the child of author Richard Foster, he has a regal lineage. Honestly, though, the book cover was just as inviting and a wise choice by the publisher.

In the book, Foster set out to explore twelve spiritual disciplines--those initially described by his father in the Celebration of Discipline--stitched to his everyday life. This approach allowed for an honest, autobiographical description of the spiritual disciplines in his life. Foster shared his challenges and new understandings in an engaging way.

As I read the book, I was deeply affected by some of his chapters, but with others, I was less engaged. The chapter on submission was my favorite. I could find myself easily connecting with what he was saying about some of the frustrations he experienced, but was drawn to his description of an Eskimo man who didn't fit the mold of the bike racers he was with. I also learned from the other chapters as well.

One of the criticisms that Foster anticipated was hearing from fundamentalists...like me, I suppose.  On page 143, he wrote "While I try to remain teachable and open to the insights of others, I'm finding I have little interest in learning from extreme fundamentalists whose lives and careers are based on criticizing others--you know, those people who call themselves Christians but seem to know nothing of love." I wonder if Foster cuts himself short. I share a concern for a lack of love, but I also share a concern for truth. There is an old proverb that says, "don't become so open minded that your brains fall out." I wonder if Foster's unwillingness to learn from those whom he considers unloving is actually an unloving thing to do.

On the whole, this is a good book and I would commend it. Foster is a captivating writer and tells his story well. 

A review copy of this book was provided to me by Baker Books in exchange for this review. I was not required to submit a positive review of this book.

09 October 2014

Book Review: Daring Greatly

I think that more people need to read Brene Brown. She came to notoriety through a TED talk that she gave and was thrusted into the international spotlight. Brown is a PhD social worker who researches shame, vulnerability, and wholeheartedness. I previously had the chance to read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, which I thought was quite good. Recently, however, a friend of mine recommended Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). As much as I liked her first book, this one was better.

Brown accomplishes what we all hope with our research. She is able to examine her data and personalize it in such a way that it grabs the reader. This book is a perfect example. She describes how she distilled 12 years of research into this book about vulnerability.  She shares numerous anecdotes from her own life and the lives of those she has met to animate her thoughts.

This book dives deeply into topics of shame, boundaries, feelings of unworthiness, wholeness, and vulnerability. Brown talks about the toxicity of shame and the benefits of being vulnerable to risk and emotional exposure. I suspect this book will be deeply challenging for many, especially those who deal with shame, but on the other side, there is hope and healing. Don't let that keep you from reading. Indeed, I would like to put this book into the hands of many people that I know.

02 October 2014

Book Review: Unshockable Love

I think I like this book. Unshockable Love (Baker Books, 2013) by John Burke is really a book about the love of Jesus. Burke, the pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas makes the case that too often Christians are prone to evangelizing with the model: bad news first, then good. Admittedly, I have typically operated from this mindset and I think it has its place at times. I once heard someone say that Jesus came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, or something like that. Some people, self-righteous people, often need to be shaken up a bit. Nevertheless, I think that he is right in suggesting not enough people hear the good news of the gospel. Early on in the book, he indicated that he intended to look at the life of Jesus and make a case, based on Jesus' own way of interacting, for how we should interact. He made headway toward this goal, though I expected it to be a more central part of the book. Rather, the book seemed to be filled primarily with stories of redemption that occurred through Gateway Church.  It seems that a large part of these stories of redemption was rooted in the belief that every person is an image bearer of God and, given grace, mercy, and the love of Jesus, will often flourish. The final 100 pages or so presents a model for how to put this into practice, though admittedly, I found this less engaging then the first half of the book. 

On the whole, I think this book gives an important message. Too often, we look like Pharisees, not Christ, in terms of how we relate to others. We are called first to love, and this book helps show the way.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Baker Books for purposes of review. I was not required to submit a positive review of this book.