4 out of 4 stars
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The Bible has often been referred to as 'the living word' that many look to for direction and comfort. In his book Psalms That Can Change Your Life, Stephen H. Farra, PhD, LP blends components of psychology with ancient scriptures to show his readers that good mental health can be achieved and sustained. The author's professional credentials include experience as a pastor, research psychology, and currently, he is the director of the Psychology Program at Columbia International University. His expertise in this field is evident in this informative and wisdom filled book.
He provides statistics and cites references for authenticity so that interested parties can explore more material on the subject he is presenting. His goal is to demonstrate that the Psalms, even though they were written long ago, are still relevant today in helping people overcome fears, anxiety and stress-related psychological symptoms.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this was the difference between happiness and joy. According to the author, when a positive outside event occurs, we experience an upswing in mood, and our outlook on life improves. However, after a while, this fades, and we may find ourselves seeking that same euphoria. Some do this by pursuing money, popularity or ingesting chemicals. In essence, he explains that happiness is fleeting, and he encourages his audience to find joy which abides and is independent of the external conditions of life.
How do you do that? You meditate on the Word of God which produces a fortifying inward strength and renews the mind. He notes that psychologists have administered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) to help clients recondition their thinking which creates better behavior. While many believe this is a newer treatment practice, he uses Psalms 42 and 43 as evidence to support the fact that self-talk, like what is used in CBT, has been in the Bible as a remedy long before it became a popular approach in clinical settings.
For example, in Psalm 42:5 it says, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And, why are you so disquieted within me? Hope in God! For I shall praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (KJV) Here the author points out that the writer of this was speaking and encouraging himself to brighten his outlook on life and pull out of despair. By examining one's inner dialogue, better mental health can be gained, and one can put this into practice instantly without drugs or a practitioner standing by. While he does not condone people going without their prescribed medication, he offers this as another piece of the process.
I liked the beginning of the book and its short explanation and history on where the Psalms originated from and the time span of their writing. I enjoyed the psychological side of his comments and how the Bible can be a useful tool in the world of psychology. Many times, we hear that science and God shouldn't mix, but he gives solid reasoning and facts as to how the two working together can create a purposeful life for people. He emphasizes that many of us don't tell ourselves the truth about a situation. Maybe we think another person is to blame, and we don't see our role in the problem. By getting quiet and reading this section of verses, we have a chance to have an accurate depiction come forth and a clearing away of mental obstructions that hinder us.
I am giving this a 4 out of 4 stars for its easy to apply principles that include meditation and worship. I found a few minor errors in the text and had I not been looking for them, I may have missed them entirely.
For those who have been subjected to abuse through a church, this guide may be helpful in getting you on the right track spiritually. A broader group of readers who aren't offended by Biblical references will also find this appealing. People who do not believe in Christianity may not find this enjoyable.
In closing, two verses seem to be the way that the author is directing attention. In John 10:27 it says: "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me." And, in Psalm 23:2 it says: "He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet streams. (KJV) This book offers a way to an intimate relationship with God that can bring respite to those who are suffering.
PSALMS that can Change Your Life
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