This book, True Feelings, is reaching bookstore shelves at precisely the right moment. It is accessible and encouraging in its language. It is a fast read. And, most importantly, it is written in a season of our society when emotions are often given free reign on social media. Sometimes, what I hope to be a simple and quick scroll through my news feed leaves me reeling, as though I’ve been in the middle of a yelling match (in which I wasn’t participating).
Christian, it is the right time to talk about emotions.
Mahaney and Whitacre set forth the following question: If one attends a church that teaches soundly from Scripture, how is it that the person fails to progress in the Christian life? They also posit this answer: We do not have a biblical understanding of emotions or, therefore, the capacity to handle them biblically. Subsequently, the authors spend the duration of the book helping readers understand three things:
1) Where our emotions come from,
2) the purpose for our emotions, and
3) how we can, by God’s grace, change them (and how we handle them) over time.
I believe this book starts in the right spot—why we have emotions in the first place. Many times, the authors reference our cultural proclivity to suppress emotions and our assumption that any strong emotion is bad. But “emotions are from God, for the glory of God” (p. 56). Our job is to consider how He would have us to feel about things, and we learn that by steeping our minds and hearts in the Word.
I particularly appreciate the chapter dedicated to the long-game of changing what we feel by changing what we believe and value, by setting these things next to Scripture and seeing if they align. (If not, we ask the Lord to change our hearts.) The authors address the concept of feeling the right emotion, at the right time, with the right intensity. They quote Mark Talbot, who states that emotions should be “proportioned to the right value of their objects.” If I’m losing my mind over a traffic jam, it’s probably time to step back and evaluate why I am reacting the way I am. A bit of time is given to discuss how our physiological condition impacts our emotions, but I appreciate that Mahaney and Whitacre don’t allow for challenging circumstances to be an excuse for sin. They are clear that our job is to feel things and respond to them with behavior that is God-glorifying.
Some of my other favorite chapters were devoted to equipping the reader with tools for battling out-of-control emotions in the moment, plus daily disciplines to cultivate deeper self-control. This includes Scripture intake, prayer, replacing bad habits (e.g., dwelling on failures) with godly ones (e.g., meditating on truths about God or a Scripture that combats a particular lie you believe), and recognizing God’s good gifts to us.
Overall, True Feelings covers all the bases and leaves the reader understanding her own heart-processes a little better. This would make a great book club read, because it is ripe with discussion topics. Hopefully Crossway will produce a discussion or study guide PDF to accompany True Feelings. I’ll keep an eye out for it!
True Feelings releases October 31, and can be pre-ordered now!
Soli Deo gloria,
*I received a complimentary ARC of this book from the publisher.
I very much appreciate Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas Schreiner, as it is a quick and easy introduction to the covenants of the Bible. Each covenant is given its own chapter, and they are organized as you would expect them to be:
The Covenant of Creation
The Covenant with Noah
The Covenant with Abraham
The Covenant with Israel
The Covenant with David
The New Covenant
Schreiner did a thorough job of introducing the concept of a covenant (versus a contract) and illustrating how each of these interactions did, in fact, produce a covenant. He takes special pains to show how each covenant relates to the one(s) that precede it, emphasizing continuity and discontinuity when necessary (which is often). Reading the final chapter on the New Covenant felt like the dramatic end of a great story, and my faith was bolstered by the promises kept and the hope that remains. Schreiner did an excellent job of leading the reader to the climax of redemption in Jesus.
This book has earned a permanent place on our shelf!
*I received an ARC of this book from Crossway.
As a pastor’s wife, I always have one eye open for devotional books that are easily accessible, theologically sound, and deeply encouraging to people fighting the battle that is the Christian life. I found such a one in this book by Michael Branch.
“True Stories” is a delightfully convicting treasury of devotionals, which draw on the author’s life experiences and the truths about God that he finds in them. I think this is Branch’s elegance as an author: He sees through the messiness of life, fixes his eyes on Jesus, and magnifies the Savior by masterfully preparing a banquet of words for the rest of us to feast on.
The book is structured as such: Each narrative is preceded by a Scripture verse. After using a surprisingly small number of words (for the conviction wrought) to point the reader to Jesus, the author then offers a small word of challenge or encouragement for the day, along with a brief statement that reveals a pertinent facet of the gospel. Each story is quick—I took my time and rarely spent more than two or three minutes on one. I think this makes “True Stories” an excellent accompaniment to one’s quiet time—or a great book to keep on hand for down time throughout the day.
In particular, I was most spiritually challenged by the sections entitled “True Freedom” and “Hurting, Hoping, Heaven”. These sections stayed with me the longest, perhaps due to their vulnerable nature and my own experience with suffering. They forced me to linger on the hard questions they ask. When you buy this book, anticipate being moved by these accounts.
If you are in the market for a solid, joyful, Gospel-centered devotional to enliven your daily walk with the Lord, this is the one.