Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas Meditation

Overhead the stars glisten in the predawn sky like diamonds set in black velvet. A chill wind sweeps off the nearby hills, seeping through the cracks and crannies of every home, carrying with it the biting cold of winter. In the pasture lands the sheep huddle together in woolly clumps seeking an escape from the piercing fingers of frost.

As the eastern sky turns from black to purple to brilliant orange, the cry of an infant intrudes upon the early morning stillness. Somewhere, in a stable in a little village nestled in the Judean hills, a young woman and her young husband cradle her first little child in their arms.

Mystery of eternal mysteries, the Divine Logos is come—Immanuel, which being interpreted is God with us. For the little one in his mother’s arms is the One who placed those diamond stars in that black velvet sky. In timeless ages past it was He who ordained the warmth of summer and the cold of winter. By the word of that vulnerable infant the sun burst into its brilliant blaze of glory before there were human eyes to see it. Indeed, upon the counsel of the Father it was that precious babe who molded from the bones of the earth on the third day of time a little hill someday to be called Mount Calvary.

For you see, the little One crying in that cold stable, surrounded by the love and protection of a proud young mother, is the mighty Son of the Highest, the Prince of Peace, the Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Mindscape: What to think about instead of worrying

This little book (180 pages, including endnotes) is a great exposition of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, . . . , let your mind dwell on these things.” Witmer writes with a pastor’s heart and eye as he walks the reader through this verse, virtually word by word. Throughout the book he employs an extended metaphor for worry: our “mindscape” is a landscape—a garden with “worry weeds” that must be pulled. He draws on illustrations from his own life as well as his pastoral experience that are helful and to the point.

As he explores the list of things Paul tells us to fasten our minds upon, Witmer deals with both the negative aspects—what we think about instead of what Paul is commanding; and the postive aspects—why what Paul commands is so helpful to defeat worry.

I’ve also read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety. These two books make great companions. Fitzpatrick delves deeper, perhaps, into some of the underlying issues (she makes much of the “idols of the heart”), whereas Witmer is devoted to examining Paul’s solutions from Philippians 4:8. Both books are outstanding, contribute significant material for biblical counseling, and are quite readable by counselees.

I recommend Mindscape very highly. Even if you don’t wrestle with worry, you’ll find the book helpful as Witmer unfolds a verse from one of Paul’s best known passages.