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5 Stars Out Of 5
February 5, 2009
This is a book that is meant to be read slowly, chewing and digesting the information over time. The authors' use of the Psalms makes it a valuable resource and a great supplement to studying the Scriptures. Many times, I have read a page and had to stop, mark it, and read it several times more. It has taken me over a year to get through the book (and I'm a quick reader normally) because I wanted to really absorb the concepts contained therein. If you are a person who "stuffs" your "bad" emotions, I encourage you to challenge yourself by reading this book. If you approach it with a prayerful, open heart, God can use it to change your thinking.
Allender and Longman have moments of brilliance in their ability to really put their finger on the human condition. But they are also quite honest in the beginning about how this book doesn't amount to a seven step approach to getting a better emotional life. They instead do a very good job, using the Psalms as their primary tool, of helping the reader open a window into how our emotions are a hard-wired part of who we are as creatures made in the image of God. The book is set up nicely where the chapters are laid out in a point/counterpoint format. For example, chapters 4 and 5 are respectively entitled "Unrighteous Anger: A Refusal to Wait for Justice" and "Righteous Anger: An Assault against Injustice". The main drawback to this book, is that I felt as if I was reading a conglomeration of emotionally-charged nouns, verbs and adjectives, and I was often left wondering exactly what I was to make of what I had just read. This verbal slipperiness or lack of specificity is the only real drawback I found. In the end, I give kudos to the authors for their willingness to wade into the dark and turbulent waters of where the psalms model for us righteous expressions of our darkest emotions. Being an elder at our church, I can imagine this would be a helpful resource to use when leading a small group study on the subject.
Anger, fear, jealousy, despair. These are bad emotions, right? These are emotions to be avoided at all costs, right?I discovered a few years ago that I was a really angry person and that I hurt people when I was angry. Solution? Avoid anger no matter what.Not so fast! Allender and Longman point out that emotions are God-given, a gift from our Creator. And while it is true that our emotions have been corrupted by our sinful nature, they actually have a divine purpose. Cutting ourselves off completely from our emotions will hinder our spiritual growth and short-circuit our relationship to God.Well that wasn't exactly news I was overjoyed to hear. I have spent considerable time and effort teaching myself to be unemotional. Now I learn that, not only have I been wasting my time, I have been at cross-purposes with God. At least Allender and Longman have provided me with some tools to get myself straightened-out. (I really didn't think I was doing all that great anyway.)But now I can do better, and so can you. I can let these emotions draw me closer to the Lord and my fellow humans. We have the technology and it's in this book!