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Christian Living and ‘Self-Help’ Reading

March 6, 2018

Over the last year and a half, my reading journey, and especially in the yearly Challies Reading Challenge, has included several books in the category of Christian living, and specifically the area of counseling and what could be called ‘Christian self-help.’ Beginning with Martyn Lloyd Jones’ classic work, Spiritual Depression and a David Murray conference series, additional lectures, articles and books have explained and expanded on the topic: the Christian identity, and proper handling of our emotions and dealing with the trials of life.

Recent books in my Challies’ Reading Challenge include Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker,  Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You (a past free offer from ChristianAudio), and Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Ed Welch.  Some recent helpful online articles include these:
• From TableTalk Magazine February issue, Who Defines Your Joy?
10 types of thinking that undergird depression-anxiety
In defense (somewhat) of self-help

Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You looks to the underlying heart issues behind phone use, including our tendency to distraction, and our need to feel accepted and to be part of the “in” crowd and not left behind. Though the main point has to do with the current technology (smart phones), the broader issue is how we use technology. Technology itself is not bad, and has been around since the early chapters of the Bible. Also, distraction is a tendency of our fallen nature, regardless of time and technology, as seen in the story of Mary and Martha, and Martha’s being distracted with the work of serving. Distraction is a way to avoid quiet and silence, the time needed to think about our soul and eternity, time to spend with God, for deep meditation.

Running Scared also provides good insights, to what is really behind our fears. What we’re afraid of reveals what we hold dear, such as money and what it provides, or fear of man (desire to not be persecuted; to be liked and loved). Such fears show that we are seeking this world and kingdom, not God’s kingdom. Welch points to the root behind many fears, and notes the answer; logical reasoning, or simply not thinking about the fear, does not really work. Instead, we replace the fears by focusing on what is more important—the fear of the Lord:

They [fears and anxieties] topple from their lofty perch and are replaced by what is more important. Whatever is most important is the thing that rules us. …You treat worries by pursuing what is even more important. Fear still reveals our allegiances, this time in a positive way. If we have a mature fear of the Lord, it means that we value and revere Him above all else. That’s how we fight fear with fear.

Regarding the transformation needed, to rely on the God of Rest:

Your task is not to transform into a superficial, sunny optimist. It is to grow to be an optimist by faith…. As for me, I want to watch and endure, not worry. I want to be like the night watchmen who are waiting to see first light. God is the God of suspense, but it is a suspense that teaches us peace. He is the God of surprises, but the surprises are always better than we could have dreamed. I can’t put Him in a box and assume that He should act according to my time schedule and according to my less sophisticated version of what is good. I need the mind of Christ. I can do with nothing less.

Wisdom often mentioned in these books, to continually remember—especially in response to the world’s way of reasoning: the Christian life is not about results, about seeing and achieving (what we think is) the right outcome.  The Christian life is about being faithful to God in the situation He has put each of us in; God is the one who determines the outcome. David Murray’s lectures about the LER (legitimate emotional response) versus SER (sinful emotional response) expand on this as well, explaining the importance of how we respond to disappointing life events.

These books (and articles) are helpful, providing good reminders along with great Bible application (such as from the lives of Bible characters) for dealing with the trials and discouragements of daily life.  My 2018 Challies Reading list includes two more books that should also prove interesting:  Scripture and Counseling: God’s Word for Life in a Broken World, by Bob Kellemen, and Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community, by David Powlison, both oft-recommended Reformed Biblical counseling authors.

  1. Gerry Lautner
    March 6, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Greetings Sister:

    First of all I want to thank you for your diligence in Sseking first the Kingdom and His Rightousness and for sharing your search with others.

    I too am a Reformed Baptist, and Covenantal Premil. I have read the history and personal letters behind Darby’s coming to his false doctrine concerning God’s Law and his persecution of B W Newton, and Groves and Mueller when they rejected his interpretation. Very revealing.

    I have already learned much from your site, but was curious as to your position on MacArthurs teaching on the Law, as this seems very different to me than the 1689 and Puritan views which held out the Law, moral that is, as a rule of life.

    Finally, I would so love to find a church where a regulative principle of worship is followed with the old doctrine filled hymns of faith are sung, and the good “old things” are valued and taught, but which also sees that the “new things” of Christ’s literal and soon return are are also faithfull “brought forth”.

    Do you know of any such churches, either in your area, or otherwise? As I hinted, I am not really interested in Mac Arthur’s Dispensationalism.

    Finally may He richly bless you and yours and prosper your study for application to life and His Glory Alone.


    • March 6, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Gerry,

      Thanks for your note, and glad to meet a like-minded believer.
      As to the law of God: I do not hold to the MacArthur view, but to the reformed/1689/Puritan view of the law, the third use of the law.
      As to 1689 churches, the few out there as far as I know are non-premillennial. The choice is between Reformed (either Baptist or Presbyterian) amillennial, or non-Reformed dispensational such as MacArthur and the TMS group. Between those choices, especially because of the Reformed view of the Law, I would pick a Reformed, confessional, though amillennial, church over the pre-trib premillennial group (if my personal circumstances allowed me such a choice).

      One church I know of online, that is 1689 Reformed Baptist, HP and futurist (but I’m not sure of their view regarding the future national restoration of Israel) is the Reformed Baptist Church of Ft. Worth (Ft. Worth, TX): https://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=fbcrh
      I’ve listened to a few of their online sermons. They are the only one I know of that is 1689 and covenantal premillennial.

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