How to Deal with How You Feel: Managing the Emotions That Make Life Unmanageable

James Merritt. Harvest House, $14.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-7369-8534-5

This sensible if simplistic work by pastor Merritt (Character Still Counts), former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, offers Christian guidance on controlling one’s emotions. Drawing on scripture, the author “outlines God’s blueprint for how to deal with your emotions.” Merritt looks to the Bible for advice on coping with such “life takers” as anxiety, anger, and loneliness. For example, he recommends readers follow the stress management strategy exemplified by Isaiah as he awaited the fall of Jerusalem: “Look up at the unequaled God, listen to the unlimited God, and linger with the unfailing God.” Examining how to embody such positive emotions as joy, hope, and gratitude, he contends that “giving thanks is a big deal to God” and suggests that Christians might give thanks for their literacy, religious freedom, and the roofs over their heads. Some solutions can feel trite—such as the four-step plan for dealing with anxiety: celebrate, appreciate, pray to, and meditate on God—but the scriptural analysis offers some keen insights into how biblical figures used God’s grace to master their feelings, as when Merritt discusses Jesus’s teaching that “worry is an insult to God. It’s a slap in his face.” Christians will find some wisdom in this handy if lightweight volume. (Aug.)
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