Jesus through the eyes of women, marriage, friendship, counselling and mental health issues

One of the blessings of being a book reviewer is that I am often sent really good and helpful books to read. One of the issues of being a book reviewer is that I don’t always have the time to write in-depth reviews on each book. Therefore, every once in a while I write posts with multiple shorter reviews on a whole host of different topics. Here’s another post for you all on topics like marriage, women in the Bible, legal issues in the counselling environment and how to live with a psychiatric diagnosis.

I Have a Psychiatric Diagnosis: What Does the Bible Say? by Ed Welch

Ed Welch has written many books and countless articles all with the desire to help churches and Christians care for those with mental health struggles, here is another one. Welch uses his many years of experience as a counsellor to help the person struggling with their poor mental health helping them see what the Bible says and how the gospel impacts issues like anxiety, panic disorders, trauma, depression, and narcissism. Each chapter is written out of a love for the sufferer and is full of biblical truths that will encourage and point the reader to Jesus. 

One of the things that I really like about Welch’s writing, and this book is no different, is the importance that he puts on a diagnosis (how helpful it is to be able to understand the many complexities of a psychiatric diagnosis) and on the necessity for professional help and medication where appropriate. In each chapter Welch addresses the most common questions associated with the particular diagnosis of the chapter, his explanations, practical suggestions and biblical teaching is worth reading. 

Build a Stronger Marriage: The Path to Oneness by Bob Lepine

This book is written for couples who are struggling in their marriages. The chapter are very short and designed to get you thinking about your actions, words and expectations. Lepine ends each chapter with a practical exercise to do which will help you reflect more before moving on. The end point of the whole book is to see the restoration that is possible through the grace of God and that a person’s past doesn’t define their future. 

The thing I like about this book is that the focus is on the reader, this means that the reader has to reflect on themselves and not on their partner which could create accusatory conversations, Lupine has written in such a way that the reader reflects on themselves, which is helpful. 

This could be a very helpful book for couples who are struggling in their marriage, it will help the reader think about how they can change, by the grace of God. 

LEGAL ISSUES IN BIBLICAL COUNSELING: DIRECTION AND HELP FOR CHURCHES AND COUNSELORS by Dale Johnson and Edward Wilde

A counsellor and a lawyer walk into a coffeeshop… No, that isn’t the start of a joke, but the start of a book (I cannot confirm is the book was actually written in a coffeeshop!). In this book Johnson (counsellor) and Wilde (lawyer) combine forces with colleagues from their respective fields to help churches know how to set up a counselling ministry. The book is written in two parts; 1) how do I protect a counselling ministry in the church? and 2) how do I protect myself and my counsellees?

Each section has six chapters that address issues relevant to the border section headings such as; stewardship of the church and the state, regulations, communication what you’re offering with clarity, pastoral perspective, religious liberty, sexuality, gender and much more.

All of the contributors bring their expertise to help the reader be equipped to start a counselling ministry. All of the contributors are very clear with the issues that someone might face and they give plenty of additional resources that will help the reader. I think this would be a helpful book for anyone wanting to start a counselling ministry in the church.

The book is written from an American perspective and for an American context. It is also a bit niche, written for churches and church leaders wanting to start a ministry or for those who want to pursue biblical counselling as a career. I am based in the UK so it isn’t a relevant book for me, but it was a very interesting read, now I’m on the search for a UK equivalent.

Pastoral Friendship by Michael Haykin, Brian Croft, James Carroll

Friendship, especially pastoral friendship, is a topic that isn’t discussed much. People assume that because pastors are around people a lot that they automatically have a lot of friends, but that isn’t always the case. In this book the authors help the reader see the importance of pastoral friendship by giving examples from history of the important role friendships have played in the life of some of the ‘big names’ in theology, by exploring some of the friendships that we see in the Bible and the beauty of having intimate relationships that humanity was created to enjoy. One of the things that I like about this book is that it isn’t theoretical, the authors (who are also friends) speak about how the principles have been played out in their lives and ministries. This is a very easy read that has helpful insights, practical suggestions and will hopefully give every pastor guidance to reflect on their friendships. 

Faith Undaunted: Embracing Faith and Knowledge in a Post–truth Era by Donald Macleod

Donald Macleod is a Scottish theological giant, I had the privilege of sitting in some of his classes at Seminary. Unlike many other theologians, Macleod has the gift of combining complex and deep theological truths with a writing style that is readable and enjoyable. In just 161 pages Macleod cover a lot of ground, focusing on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

The desire behind the book is for every reader to have confidence in their faith and to be able to stand firm in a world that could easily be described as post-truth. If you’re looking for a book that introduces you to deep theology well and isn’t hard to read, I would say start here. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Always Longing: Discovering the Joy of Heaven by Stephen Morefield

Heaven will be glorious, whilst a lot of Christians talk about heaven, it’s so easy to focus more on the temporary things in this life; marriage, career, family, job, etc. Those things are good and should be enjoyed, but not at the expense of understanding and fully anticipating what the glory of heaven will be like. In this book Morefield takes the reader through seven different questions about heaven;

  • Does heaven matter?
  • What happens when I die?
  • How will history end?
  • Where is heaven?
  • What will we do in heaven?
  • How should we wait for heaven?
  • What does hell have to do with heaven?

Naturally not every questions you have about heaven will be answered, but you’ll come away from this book with a greater appreciation of God’s salvation plan, a deeper love for Jesus and a view of eternity that will impact your day to day life. The thing I like about this book, which sadly isn’t a given when reading about heaven, is the Morefield uses the Bible as his source. Each chapter has verses and Bible passage that back up what he is saying and he clearly speaks about other positions in a kind way. Worth a read!

Jesus through the Eyes of Women by Rebecca McLaughlin

This is a great wee book that helps you see that some of the first disciples who witnessed most of Jesus’ earthly ministry were women. I’ve often heard people say that Christianity is a misogynistic faith, it’s a perspective that many people have, as McLaughlin says “Some see Christianity as, at heart, misogynistic: silencing, sidelining, and trampling on women.”

But from the very beginning of this little book McLaughlin shows how Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, interacted women. Here are two quote from the beginning of the book that set the tone for what follows.

“Far from being antithetical to women’s rights, Christianity is their firm and best foundation.”

“As we meet Jesus in the Gospels, we’ll encounter a man who welcomes sexually notorious women while standing up to sexually self-righteous men. We find a man born into sexual scandal, who further scandalized his fellow Jews by loving women known for sexual sin. We find a man who never had a sexual relationship, but who loved women so well that they’d leave everything to follow him. We find a man who turned his back on the religiously powerful men of his day and had his longest recorded private conversation with a religiously despised woman.” 

This book is full of stories of how Jesus interacted with women and the important role that they played in his earthly ministry. McLaughlin takes you to Scripture and draws out some wonderful insights that help you see Jesus with all of his compassion, power and defiance of cultural norms at the time. Rebecca is a very gifted writer who bring Scriptural insights, impactful applications all wrapped up with little illustrations. I really enjoyed this book and I’m sure you will too!

I’ll leave you with one last quote;

“If we worked through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and cut out all the scenes that were not witnessed by women, we’d only lose a small proportion of the texts. But even if we limited our scope still further and only kept the parts of Jesus’s life that were witnessed by women named Mary, we’d lose very little! Indeed, we could legitimately call the Bible’s four accounts of Jesus’s life the Gospels of the Marys, as they’ve preserved for us the testimony of at least five—Jesus’s mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph—whose knowledge of Jesus stretched from his conception to his resurrection. The Gospels in our Bibles are the Gospels of the women Jesus loved.”

*** I received a copy of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. This does not change the way I rate the books. My views are my own. ***

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