I was recently given the opportunity to receive a PDF copy of Emotions by Charles Stanley if I would be willing to read it and write an honest review. I thought about it for about 3 seconds and jumped at that opportunity. As my tagline says, “I believe there is always more to be learned.” My review is what appears below.
For those who know me you know you would not describe me as being emotional. You would likely describe me as wearing my emotions up my sleeve as I generally don’t express them outwardly very often.
For that reason a book with a title of Emotions is probably not one that I would have thought would be very interesting based on the title or have caught my eye on the bookshelf of my local book store. This book is not about the “Rah! Rah! Go Team!” expression of emotions but the emotions we all feel and experience but seldom discuss with anyone else because we think we are the only ones experiencing them.
The fact that it was written by Charles Stanley of course did catch my eye and does give it credibility for me as I have listened to hundreds of his sermons on his In Touch radio program and podcasts over the years. I am glad I decided to accept the opportunity to read it as I have once again learned some things or been reminded of some things I needed to be reminded of which is the benefit I expect to receive when reading any book.
Dr. Stanley first builds a case for what emotions really are and where they originate and makes two very important points at the outset.
1) Trusting Jesus Comes First – If you cannot trust Jesus enough to save you, then nothing I write here will do you any good.
2) Saving Faith Models Trust In God – The second reason I am talking about salvation at the beginning of a book about emotions is because your saving faith is a model for the kind of trust in God you’ll need for healing.
Once that foundation – that for any of this to apply you must be a believer – is established, he describes several types of emotions including rejection, bitterness, guilt and despair and how we can deal with each using God’s word as the basis for his discussion.
The format he uses at the end of each chapter includes 5-10 questions for personal reflection or group study. It has been my experience when there are questions such as these provided if you read these before you read the chapter you will get more out of the reading since you have clues as to what the author is trying to communicate in that chapter. That does hold true for this book as well.
Many of the chapters also have a “The Enemy’s Lie — God’s Truth – Our Defense” table with an issue or situation we often face and discussed in that chapter on the left and the truth from God’s word on the right we can lean on to face that situation. For example in the Guilt chapter:
God’s Truth – Our Defense –
There is also a prayer at the end of each chapter that is an example you can use to pray yourself through that situation when you are dealing with it yourself. These end of chapter conventions alone would be worth the cost of the book.
I did learn much from this book and now have a reference to reach for when these emotions arise in my life or in the lives of those I care about. I think anyone who invests the cost of this book and time it takes to read it will find something they identify with that can help them whether that is a revelation or reminder. We all need both.
Taking a closer look at Emotions, here are some highlights that stood out to me. Quotes from the book are in blue.
Chapter 1 – Choosing to Triumph
He begins by asking the questions, Can we heal and harness our emotions — taking control of this powerful influence within us? And can we choose to express the positive, life-enhancing emotions rather than the destructive ones?
His supposition that is supported and defended throughout the book is stated as: Only the Father can pinpoint where we’ve been injured and what destructive coping mechanisms we’ve developed to protect ourselves. Only He recognizes what lies we believe about ourselves and which attitudes keep us in bondage.
Chapter 2 – What’s Going On Here?
God will work through your emotions to help you understand His purpose for your life.
Many people try to manage their feelings in unhealthy ways that are not at all helpful.
- The belief that emotion is a weakness
- The inclination to suppress or stifle emotion
- The drive to drown out emotions
- The need to express all emotions without a filter
Chapter 3 – The Root of All Painful Emotions
“Starting With Fear – …I believe that the origin of every other negative response we face is some kind of anxiety.”
Chapter 4 – Reviewing the Evidence
…if you ever find yourself driven by the thought, If I don’t act now, I’ll miss the opportunity and may never have another chance–rather than whether or not that choice is God’s will for you–then it is likely that you’re acting out of anxiety and you will not come to a wise conclusion.
…fear generally causes us to be pessimistic, self-focused, and unwilling to take risks. We ask, Why me? instead of Father what is it You are teaching me?
Freedom Through Change
Do you experience any of the symptoms of anxiety? Does a persistent lack of peace plague you? Are you tormented by a divided mind–your life characterized by a lack of focus, progress, and wisdom in making decisions? Do you constantly second-guess yourself because of the fear that you’ll be rejected, deemed unworthy, or found to be inadequate? Are you relationships strained, unfulfilling, and, at times, even alienating? Is your body deteriorating as a result of undue stress? Have you found yourself unable to grow spiritually as you hoped you would?
If you answered yes to any or all of these, then there is evidence that some form of anxiety is driving you…you need to deal with your fears in God’s strength and wisdom in order to enjoy the freedom He created you to experience.
Chapter 5 – The Courage to Stand
It is exceedingly important to find the origins of your fears so that you can then deal with them–and the thoughts they generate in you–effectively. Otherwise, you are only addressing the surface symptoms of you anxiety, rather than the profound issues that make you feel helpless and out of control.
…I would still fret about the sermon right up until the moment I reached the pulpit. I didn’t have freedom from the fear until I pinpointed the true reason it bothered me.
Origins of Fear
- Attitudes we’re taught as children
- Our imaginations
- Lack of information
- Wrong view of God’s nature
Triumphing Over Abiding Fear
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
- Acknowledge your anxiety to God
- Identify the root causes of your fears and confront them – The spirit of God working through the Word of God in a heart dedicated to Him will always succeed.
- Change your focus from fears to God
- Give the Lord praise and thanks
Chapter 6 – Rejection
Rejection strikes at the foundation of our identity, distorting what we think is true about who we are and what we are worth.
And the truth of the matter is, if we fail to recognize the presence of rejection in our lives and deal with it, it will continue to cause us pain and corrupt every relationship we have. Therefore, we must root out every false message of being unloved, unwanted, and unworthy that has been implanted in our lives and replace it with the truth of Scripture (Ps. 107:20)
Chapter 7 – Bitterness
At the outset of bitterness we must recognize two truths.
- Denying that your bitterness exists doesn’t work, so acknowledge it.
- Bitterness continues to wound as long as it persists–so root it out.
What bitterness and unforgiveness produce spiritually
- Bitterness hinders our prayer life
- Bitterness impedes our worship
- Bitterness prevents peace in a church body
- Bitterness damages a person’s ability to represent Christ
Reasons People Choose Not to Forgive Others
You cannot live a happy, healthy, effective, fruitful life if you are harboring unresolved resentment.
Gaining Victory Over Unforgiveness
- Ask God to reveal any bitterness in you
- Assume full responsibility and ask God for forgiveness
- Ask God to help you forgive the offender
- Pray, with thanksgiving, for the person who wounded you
Chapter 8 – Guilt
In this world, there is most likely no one who is as critical of you as you are. In fact, you have the potential to pick yourself apart with greater intensity and cruelty than anyone else ever could or would think to. No one else can torment you with negative thoughts every waking minute as you can.
He knows the pain, insecurities, and fears you face, and He wants to help you break free from them and from the unforgiveness you feel toward yourself. You don’t have to live under a terrible cloud of shame that suffocates your soul.
So, in summary, we must understand these two things:
- Legitimate guilt comes from violating God’s standard
- False guilt comes from wrong thinking
…it is not pardon they struggle with, but self-condemnation. They have not let the sin go, even though the Lord has.
Friend, you only have to turn your iniquity over to the Father once for it to be forgiven. Psalm 103:12 promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” You may repeatedly recall what you have done, but God does not. In His mind, it is absolutely forgotten. He promises, “I…will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (Isa. 43:25, NLT).
The Consequences of Guilt
- Guilt stops you from achieving your goals
- Self-reproach drains your energy and destroys your peace
- Guilt makes you feel insecure
- Persistent shame can cause physical and mental illness
- Self-condemnation can cause compulsive behavior
- Guilt can make us vulnerable to manipulation
Chapter 9 – Despair
The Challenge of Choice
- A Negative Inward Focus
- A Poor Testimony
- Self-Destructive Actions
- A Desire to Quit – Permanently
John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”
So the Lord reminded Elijah of one of the most important principles any of us will ever learn: Whenever problems arise, get alone and listen quietly for God. Take time to intentionally kneel in silence before His holy presence. He will speak to you. Dwelling on your problem will never make it go away, but focusing on the Father is always the pathway to success.
Like Elijah, you can hold on to God no matter what happens or how discouraging your situation may become — knowing that your greatest moments of victory are often preceded by moments of seemingly insurmountable defeat.
Zephaniah 3:17 affirms, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
Chapter 10 – All The Way To Victory
He taught me that I was so occupied doing His work that I was actually missing His voice. I was not taking time to listen to Him.
So make the most of the opportunity God has given you. Share His love with others verbally, physically, patiently, gratefully, generously, tenderly, forgiving, devotedly, cheerfully, and honorably.
The preceding highlight are just that, highlights. There is no way I can convey to you the full depth of this book in this review. There is too much there. What I have attempted to do is give you some examples of the subjects Dr. Stanley discusses in this book. If you see some that do resonate with you then you will likely receive some benefit from this book. If you don’t then you might need to re-read them. I think most people will see something that reminds them of themselves.
Will Emotions by Charles Stanley resolve every emotional issue you are experiencing right now or in the future? No
Will Emotions by Charles Stanley teach you something new or remind you of something that you once knew that will help you face and walk through many of the emotional issues you are facing right now or will face in the future? Yes
For that reason I believe it is worth the investment of a few dollars and your time to purchase and read Emotions by Charles Stanley. It will be a worthwhile investment.
Until next time…
Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 11/3/13.