Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: The Happy Christian

The Happy Christian. David Murray. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 256 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

Earlier this month, I reviewed David Murray's Christians Get Depressed Too. I really loved it and thought it was great. The Happy Christian is a follow-up of sorts. The subject is happiness and positive thinking.

In his introduction, he writes:
What we think and believe about God, about ourselves, about others, about our problems, and about our world dictates and determines the quality of our whole lives: our happiness, our relationships, our creativity, our productivity, and even our physical health. That's why I've written this book. I want you to have a positive faith and life. Or if you do already, I want you to have an even more positive faith because the more positive your faith is, the more positive your life will be. As Nehemiah said more than twenty-five hundred years ago, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." 
His approach:
I will identify the major causes of negativity and unhappiness in our lives and outline ten biblical and practical ways to tilt the balance of our attitude, outlook, words, and actions in a way that will lift our spirits, compel attention for the Christian faith, and make the church an energizing force in a life-sapping culture.
His ten chapters include ten "spiritual" equations:

  • Happy Facts: Facts > Feelings = Positive
  • Happy Media: Good News > Bad News = Positive
  • Happy Salvation: Done > Do = Positive
  • Happy Church: Christ > Christians = Positive
  • Happy Future: Future > Past = Positive
  • Happy World: Everywhere Grace > Everywhere Sin = Positive
  • Happy Praise: Praise > Criticism = Positive
  • Happy Giving: Giving > Getting = Positive
  • Happy Work: Work > Play = Positive
  • Happy Differences: Diversity > Uniformity = Positive

I really loved, loved, loved, LOVED the first seven chapters. Honestly, every time I thought I found the BEST, BEST chapter of the book, I would go on and read the next chapter and change my mind again.  Though if I had to choose, I think the most potentially life-changing chapters are "Happy Facts" and "Happy Salvation."

In the first chapter, the focus is on thought patterns and feelings. Some of the negative thought patterns he addresses are black-or-white thinking, generalizing, filtering, transforming, mind reading, fortune-telling, telescoping, perfecting, and personalizing. He then offers a six-step strategy for retraining your brain to overcome your negativity. The first three focus on "How did I get into this mood?" and the final three focus on "How do I get out of this mood?" Facts, thoughts, and feelings are examined twice. You might be skeptical. Is Murray making all this up? Are his examples and strategies biblical? He provides biblical examples and his use of scripture is persuasive.

In the third chapter, Murray presents THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL. This chapter is quite refreshing and a big encouragement. I think it has great potential to change the way readers think about the gospel, about Christianity. Of course, some readers may already be aware that the Christian faith is a DONE religion and not a do religion or a do-not religion. But confusion abounds and our own fallen nature and our culture don't exactly help clear up confusion.

Murray writes,
"It is finished!" Are there any happier words in the universe? It is done. All done. Nothing in my spiritual inbox. Nothing in my trays. No lists to tackle. It is finished. Jesus lived the life I could not live and died the death I dare not die. He took my duties and performed them perfectly; He took my failures and paid the penalty. That's the foundation, the starting point, the beginning of all true Christianity. Done! Done! Done! 
He also challenges readers to rethink how they approach the Bible.
What is the Bible all about? Most popular answer: "To help us live better lives." In other words, it is all about me. I am the main subject of the Bible. I hate to disillusion you--no, actually I'm glad to--but the Bible is all about God. He is the subject, the object, and every other grammatical term in between. Our first question when reading this book about God is not, "How does this apply to me?" but "What does this reveal about God?" 
I would definitely recommend this one! It is a fantastic read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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