BOOK REVIEWS

Finding Quiet – J.P. Moreland (2019)

jpJ.P. Moreland, Finding Quiet (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 225 pp.

J.P. Moreland is one of the most influential Christian philosophers and thinkers of our generation. His writing has wielded a powerful influence in my life for nearly twenty-five years. His most recent book, Finding Quiet, is his most personal, transparent book to date.

In Finding Quiet, Dr. Moreland recounts his battle with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Moreland has a God-given gift to communicate complex ideas in an understandable way. Anyone familiar with his writing will be familiar with his scholarly approach. But this book, as mentioned above, is deeply personal and gut-wrenching. I found myself moved at various points throughout the book and was encouraged by the author’s willingness to share some of the deepest pits that nearly consumed his life. This kind of transparency is difficult to find, especially in the academic world.

The author not only tells his grim tale; he guides readers along a path that helps them understand how he gained victory over anxiety and relief from panic attacks. One of the most beneficial aspects of this work are the many tools that Moreland shares; tools that enable readers to walk toward wholeness and healing and conquer anxiety and depression.

To be clear, Moreland is firmly tethered to the Word of God, a reality that he makes plain throughout the book:

“Properly understood, we will see that presenting two members of your body – your brain and your heart muscle – to God as instruments of righteousness (which includes emotional flourishing and overall health) can be important in replacing anxiety and worry with deep peace and joy.”

But he is also committed to utilizing the latest research and resources that help anxious souls find relief and solace. For instance, as the author notes, “Anxiety is largely a habit wired or grooved into one’s brain and nervous system that becomes activated when one encounters certain triggers.” In response, several tools are offered to assist people in their quest for peace. Moreland graciously presents these tools, not as dogmatic solutions, but as options that people can consider that matches their unique needs.

Some Reformed thinkers (myself included) may find some of the discussion uncomfortable and even objectionable but thoughtful consideration of Dr. Moreland’s recommendations is suggested.

Personally, the two most powerful principles that the author presents include the commitment to living a life of gratitude and treasuring key Scriptures to help win important emotional battles. Several practical tips are offered to help cultivate an attitude of gratitude and Scriptures are offered that have been personally meaningful to the author.

I urge readers to explore Finding Quiet and benefit from Dr. Moreland’s God-centered wisdom. Again, not everyone across the board will agree with each of his conclusions – but all can certainly benefit from the fruit of his labor. My prayer is that this book will be a mighty source of strength for many people who battle depression and anxiety.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS

Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life – Michael Lundy (2018)

deMichael S. Lundy, Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 182 pp.

Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life by Michael S. Lundy addresses an important topic that afflicts many people. The vicious tentacles of depression and anxiety threatens to squeeze the life out of unwilling victims. For some, hope and relief seem light years away. Lundy’s book serves as a sort of balm for anyone who seeks solace in the desert of depression and anxiety.

Lundy’s work focuses on the well-known Puritan, Richard Baxter who wrote a great deal about depression and anxiety. Readers are greeted by an introductory essay, penned by Dr. J.I. Packer. Packer provides a helpful context for Baxter by pointing to his plan for discipleship. He notes that three basic perspectives governed the writing of Baxter, namely, 1) the primary of the intellect, 2) the unity of human life before the Lord, and 3) the centrality of eternity.

Michael Lundy includes his own treatment of Baxter and limits his discussion to the topic of depression and anxiety. He refers to depression as a “heart disease,” which in reality is a “broken heart.” Lundy commends the writing of Baxter and encourages readers to prepare their hearts for deep encouragement and challenge:

“Baxter offers no panaceas; he appreciates suffering as intrinsic to this life. Yet, he refuses despair, and demands of his readers – patients and caregivers alike – an optimism grounded in his view of a good and great God, and buttressed by his own very practical advice on how one can give or receive help that reflects love for God and neighbor.”

Finally, the lion’s share of this work includes two chapters straight from the pen of Richard Baxter. Helpful counsel is offered for Christians who battle anxiety and depression. Baxter’s counsel is biblical, practical, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. Baxter also directs struggling pilgrims to find ultimate relief from depression and anxiety through faith in the promises of God.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · CHRISTIAN LIFE · Church History · Counseling · Discipleship · Theology

Spurgeon’s Sorrows – Zack Eswine

spurgeonI have a friend who was born in 1834.  That would make him 183 years old.  He went home to be with Jesus in 1892 – at the peak of his ministry and in the prime of his life.  I have often asked why God takes the heroes of the faith so soon – Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, and John Calvin all died in their 50’s.  David Brainerd and Jim Elliot died before they reached the age of 30.  While the question is interesting to ponder, the question is not ours to ask.  Enter the Creator —

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2, ESV).

“You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great” (Job 38:21, ESV).

“And the LORD said to Job: ‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it’” (Job 40:2, ESV).

I have been learning from my friend, C.H. Spurgeon for nearly 25 years now.  He has taught me many lessons.  He introduced me to Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a book he read over 100 times in his short life.  Spurgeon has taught me the importance of expositional preaching.  On many occasions, he has reminded me about the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, not to mention living the Christian life.  He has inspired courage and conviction and prompted me to be unwavering, even in the darkest of days.

But one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my British friend is how to deal with melancholy.  Zack Eswine helps highlight some of those lessons in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows.  The subtitle accurately reflects the basic theme of the book, Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression.  

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is arranged in three parts.  Part One walks readers through the basics of depression.  What is it?  How can one recognize it?  What is spiritual depression?  Part Two presents a path for helping people who suffer from depression.  And Part Three is a practical section that offers practical assistance for dealing with depression.

Chapter nine is worth the price of the book as the author directs readers to the promises of God and shows how Spurgeon utilized this habit of claiming the promises of Jesus in his daily walk with God.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is a short book filled with biblical counsel for people who battle depression and provides help for anyone who is reaching out to folks who are wading through the Slough of Despondence.  In the final analysis, readers are encouraged to cling to their Savior who promises to walk with them through every valley.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” (Psalm 23:1–2, ESV)

4 stars

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · CHRISTIAN LIFE · Church History · Counseling · Discipleship · Theology

Spurgeon’s Sorrows – Zack Eswine

spurgeonI have a friend who was born in 1834.  That would make him 183 years old.  He went home to be with Jesus in 1892 – at the peak of his ministry and in the prime of his life.  I have often asked why God takes the heroes of the faith so soon – Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, and John Calvin all died in their 50’s.  David Brainerd and Jim Elliot died before they reached the age of 30.  While the question is interesting to ponder, the question is not ours to ask.  Enter the Creator —

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2, ESV).

“You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great” (Job 38:21, ESV).

“And the LORD said to Job: ‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it'” (Job 40:2, ESV).

I have been learning from my friend, C.H. Spurgeon for nearly 25 years now.  He has taught me many lessons.  He introduced me to Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a book he read over 100 times in his short life.  Spurgeon has taught me the importance of expositional preaching.  On many occasions, he has reminded me about the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, not to mention living the Christian life.  He has inspired courage and conviction and prompted me to be unwavering, even in the darkest of days.

But one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my British friend is how to deal with melancholy.  Zack Eswine helps highlight some of those lessons in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows.  The subtitle accurately reflects the basic theme of the book, Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression.  

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is arranged in three parts.  Part One walks readers through the basics of depression.  What is it?  How can one recognize it?  What is spiritual depression?  Part Two presents a path for helping people who suffer from depression.  And Part Three is a practical section that offers practical assistance for dealing with depression.

Chapter nine is worth the price of the book as the author directs readers to the promises of God and shows how Spurgeon utilized this habit of claiming the promises of Jesus in his daily walk with God.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is a short book filled with biblical counsel for people who battle depression and provides help for anyone who is reaching out to folks who are wading through the Slough of Despondence.  In the final analysis, readers are encouraged to cling to their Savior who promises to walk with them through every valley.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” (Psalm 23:1–2, ESV)

4 stars