Taking Care of Yourself (Murray)

 In our fast-paced digital world where everyone is always on the move, it happens quite often that we end up not taking good care of ourselves.  We are in a hurry, so we eat convenient foods that are unhealthy, foods that are not good fuel for our bodies and brains.  We don’t have time to exercise or get outside much, so we put on extra weight and lose mobility and flexibility.  We stay up late staring at a screen, so we get less than 7 hours of sleep most nights.  We spend too much time on our phones and social media, so we kill our attention spans and hamstring our mental capabilities.  We have so much to do that we rarely take serious downtime to relax and reflect.  Sometimes all of these things weigh us down to the point of anxiety attacks or depression. At minimum, these things seriously sap us as humans – as Christians – and keep us from having a fuller life.

David and Shona Murray talk about all these things in their excellent book, Refresh.  In fact, one reason they wrote this book is because Shona did experience panic attacks and depression.  Through her experience, she learned the hard way about a more balanced and biblical lifestyle.  I appreciate how the authors note that we are complex creatures, so fatigue, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and the like aren’t always simply a result of personal sin.  There are various other factors that sometimes intertwine.  Shona says that “one of the biggest breakthroughs on the way to healing comes when we take that holistic approach to causes and cures” (p. 49).

This book isn’t a moralistic guide to better living.  Instead, it’s a Christian approach to life that emphasizes the fact that since we belong to Christ – body and soul – we need to manage our lives for his glory.  We have to take care of the body which Christ bought by his death, the body which is a temple of the Holy Spirit, the body in which Paul calls us to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:18-19).  I appreciate how Murray shoots for a good balance in these areas, not calling us to extremes, but thoughtful moderation.  Balance is the key!

If your life is a whirlwind and you really feel cruddy quite often, I’d recommend this book.  Or, if you would like some wise Christian direction for a balanced lifestyle, you’d appreciate this book.  As I said in an earlier post, although it is sort of aimed at women, men can for sure benefit from it as well.  I implemented some of the suggestions in the book, and it has helped my concentration and studies already.  I’m sure it’ll be a blessing to you as well.

David and Shona Murray, Refresh (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017).

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

 

Naming our Struggles (Murray)

 Quite often we as Christians know the various sins against which we struggle.  We might be strong in some areas, but are weak in others.  For example, a person might not have a violent or quick temper, but he does struggle with discontentment and envy.  A Christian might have real and genuine loves for others, but she has a hard time being a good steward of her money.  The list goes on.  Usually as we mature in the faith, we start to see our strengths and weaknesses.  The Lord, through Scripture, helps us see our failures so we can repent of them and ask for grace to “put off” what is sinful and “put on” what is good.  However, sometimes we can’t always name our weaknesses, we don’t know what to call them, or they haven’t been pointed out to us yet.  In Refresh, the authors list some of the main areas of stumbling for women – though I’d add these are areas of stumbling for men as well:

Idolatry.  We make idols of beauty, fashion, career, husband, or children – especially their success in school and sports.

Materialism.  Our pursuit of money or bigger and better homes often results in working more hours or jobs than we can handle and also nourishes the womb of discontent that gnaws away at our minds and hearts.

Debt.  One of the greatest causes of stress is living beyond our means.  Maybe we don’t spend 50 percent more than we can afford, but 10 percent, year on year, grows our debt and our anxiety levels.

Comparison.  Pinterest, Facebook, and mommy blogs can lead us to compare ourselves unfavorably with others who seem better looking, better homemakers, better organizers, and better everything.

Indiscipline.  Although it’s hard to be disciplined and organized, it’s more stressful to be the opposite, which so easily occurs as we use technology.  How many hours are wasted on the internet, resulting not only in guilt over wasted time but a pileup of other duties that now have to be rushed.

Identity.  We define who we are by our successes, our failures, or some part of our past, instead of who we are in Christ.

Media diet.  Just as what we put in our mouths affects our emotions, thoughts, and hearts so what we put in our ears and eyes has emotional, intellectual, and spiritual consequences.  Many live as if Philippians 5:8 said, ‘Whatever things are false, whatever things are sordid, whatever things are wrong, whatever things are filthy, whatever things are ugly, whatever things are terrible, if there is any vice, if there is anything worthy of criticism, meditate on these things.’

Perfectionism.  We strive for flawless family, house, meals, and appearance.

Failure.  We fail at school, or at a job, or at homemaking, or in witnessing, or we fail to meet our own or others’ expectations.

Later in this helpful book the authors talk more about dealing with these dangers and sins in light of God’s grace and his word.  It’s good to know our sins and weaknesses so we can, by God’s grace, fight them.  We don’t want to wallow in weakness, we want to press on obediently in the strength of the Lord!

NOTE: I edited the list for length; you can find it in its entirety on pages 46-48 of Refresh by David and Shona Murray.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015