Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

ResetIt’s not available until next March but I wanted to share with you news of a book I’m writing for Crossway. It’s a book for men that has grown out of my counseling ministry to Christian men, and especially pastors, who have been suffering at various points on the spectrum of Stress > Anxiety > Burnout > Depression.  Here’s how the Amazon blurb puts it:

Largely due to overwork and the stresses of modern life, men in work and ministry are increasingly run-down, anxious, and depressed. But is this level of physical and spiritual weariness inevitable? Just as a car needs to be regularly refueled, retuned, and repaired in order to keep running, a balanced life can be sustained only when a man takes proper steps to stay on track. In this hopeful book, experienced pastor and counselor David Murray shares stories from his own life and the lives of friends, offering gospel-centered advice for avoiding, assessing, and recovering from burnout. With chapters on rest, relationships, routines, and more, this book lays out a host of practical remedies men can use to reset their lives on a more sustainable course—resulting in renewed energy, joy, and purpose.

Why just men? Don’t worry, there will be a sequel for women too that I’m writing with my wife Shona (or that she’s writing with me, I think I should say!)


What’s in your mouth?

I’m devoting the next few weeks to working on a project that’s going to demand most of my mental energy. So apart from the usual Mon-Fri Checkout which will continue, I won’t be writing an additional daily article. Instead, I’m going to post a series of daily devotionals on Hosea that I wrote a few years ago.


I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth. — Hosea 2:17

God’s Old Testament people were taught so many of God’s names: Jehovah-jireh (the Lord who provides), Jehovah-nissi (the Lord our banner), Jehovah Rophi (the Lord who heals), Jehovah Ra-ah (the Lord who sees), etc. They had been entrusted with so many profound and precious divine names.

And yet, what names did they take up in their lips but the names of Baalim (“lords”), the names of the heathen gods and deities. They forsook the name of the one Lord and spoke the name of many lords. As God listened to Israel day by day, it was not His own name He heard but rather those of false gods.

Despite this, here God promises that He will one day come and take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth. He will do it, and it will happen. The names of heathen gods which dominated their conversation and even their worship would be heard no more. God will put a new song in their mouth to magnify Him. It may seem impossible. How can Israel break the habit? How can they simply stop what they had gotten so used to doing? The great secret is in the divine “I will.”

Was there not a time, Christian, when your mouth was full of the names of Baalim? Despite your godly upbringing, your conversation was full of the Baalim of this world. You spoke of football and baseball, of supermodels and singers, of celebrities and millionaires. These were your lords, your Baalim. When God came down to listen for His name in your life and home, all He heard were the names of Baalim. Where was the name of Jesus Christ, the Name above every name?

But God, who is rich in mercy, came down to your mouth and took away the names of Baalim. You have no interest in them anymore. You don’t want to talk about them anymore (Ps. 16:4). Instead, the precious names of the Lord are your meat and drink.

And what if your mouth is still full of Baalim? Bring your mouth to God and say, “I can’t stop this. I can’t save myself. Come and take away the names of Baalim out of my mouth. Take away the lords and make me confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”


Check Out

Blogs

William Ames’ Exhortation to Students of Theology | Danny Hyde, Meet the Puritans
“Since theological seminaries have recently held graduations and a new class of students will soon enter, I thought it would be a fun exercise to write a post on ‘the learned Doctor’ William Ames’ advice to theological students. ”

The Counterintuitive Appeal of Christian Morality in a 21st-Century World | Trevin Wax, TGC
“As the Sexual Revolution wreaks havoc in the lives of people around us, we have the opportunity to proclaim the Scripture’s moral clarity–not as a barrier to the faith, but as the beacon of light in a morally chaotic world.”

Eight Time Drainers of Pastors and Staff (and Seven Solutions) | Thom S. Rainer
“What if I told you I could help you get 10 or more hours of your week back? That’s like having an extra three weeks a year. In order to make this quest a reality, let’s look at some of the greatest time drainers of pastors and staff, with suggestions about improving each of them.”

My Friend Was Like Grass | Jon Bloom, Desiring God
“A day is coming when we will know the epic story of this quiet, grass-like man has always been far more thrilling than the best novels and the greatest films. We will marvel at our former dullness, having ever considered such a thing ordinary.”

The FAQs: Supreme Court Rules on Texas Abortion Case | Joe Carter, TGC
“In one of the most significant rulings on abortion in decades, the Supreme Court ruled on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in a 5-3 decision to overturn state laws designed to regulate abortion clinics in a way that would protect women’s health.”

Abortion Forever | Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
“The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.”

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju ($3.99)


Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert D. Jones ($2.99)


Love Your Enemies: Jesus’ Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis by John Piper ($2.99)


Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend ($1.99)


America the Strong: Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation by William J. Bennett and John T. E. Cribb ($3.99)


A Door of Hope in Trouble Valley

I’m devoting the next few weeks to working on a project that’s going to demand most of my mental energy. So apart from the usual Mon-Fri Checkout which will continue, I won’t be writing an additional daily article. Instead, I’m going to post a series of daily devotionals on Hosea that I wrote a few years ago.


I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope. — Hosea 2:15

Vineyards in the wilderness? A door of hope in the desert of despair? Achor means “trouble” and was so named because Achan’s idolatrous greed there resulted in the “trouble” of defeat for Israel, and the trouble of “execution” for Achan and his family (Josh. 7:24 –26).

Achan’s sin was a challenge to Israel. How would they react? Would they trace their defeat to sin? And how would they deal with it when they found it?

By searching out the sin in their midst, and by dealing with it so decisively and comprehensively, they found a door of hope to lead them out of Trouble Valley. But they only found the door because God gave them the door; their repentance was God’s gift. This is what God promises the greedy and idolatrous Israel of Hosea’s day also. In the desert darkness of foreign exile, God would give them the refreshing wine of repentance and the enlightening hope of forgiveness. What mercy and grace!

Perhaps idolatry and greed have got the better of you, and you lie defeated and despairing in Trouble Valley. The Lord is troubling your health, your family, your work, or your church. Thus the divine gauntlet is laid down, and the divine challenge is posed. What will you do? Will you trace your trouble to your sin?

And, if you have found the cause of your trouble, are you dealing with it decisively and comprehensively? Are you “stoning” it and its ungodly associates to death? If so, then God is opening a door of hope in your Trouble Valley.

Perhaps the door has only opened a little, but it is enough to encourage you to persevere in your sin-stoning work. And, as each stone of repentance strikes the evil hidden in your heart, the door of hope creaks open more and more, until the light of God’s love and favor floods in, and you begin to hope once again in His mercy. Hallelujah! God has given you the valley of Achor for a door of hope.

Praise God for Christ, the Giver of door-opening hope in the valley of Achor. “Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).


Check out

Blogs

3 Reasons why American Evangelicals Should Care About Brexit | Bruce Ashford
This is a good brief analysis with #3 being particularly on point.

Seven Lessons from Europe | Desiring God
Turning from the politics of Europe to the Kingdom of God in Europe, John Piper reflects on spiritual lessons learned during his recent teaching tour in Poland, Switzerland, and Italy.

Singing Scripture is really good for you
Three benefits of singing Psalms.

Seven Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the US | Thom Rainer
The rapidly declining incidence of searches for evangelism on Google probably reveals a declining incidence of evangelism, prompting Thom Rainer to say: ”I wish we could have a rule in churches that you can’t say anything critically until you have shared the gospel with someone. It would be a great source of church unity.”

Ugly Stain, Beautiful Hope: My Response to Mika Edmondson
Al Mohler responds to Dr. Mica Edmondson’s address: “Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?” 

The Cost of Saying Yes | Dr. Stephen R. Graves
Say “No” more to  keep your promises more.

Every “yes” carries a cost. We usually think that “no” carries the big cost, but a “yes” can even be more expensive than a “no.”

Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure | HBR
Rest more to produce more:

“Research has found that there is a direct correlation between lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems. And lack of recovery — whether by disrupting sleep with thoughts of work or having continuous cognitive arousal by watching our phones — is costing our companies $62 billion a year (that’s billion, not million) in lost productivity.”

Exercise Triggers Brain Cell Growth and Improves Memory | The Telegraph
Exercise more to remember more:

“For several years, researchers have noticed that aerobic exercise, of the kind which gets the heart pumping, also appears to improve memory and learning. But nobody knew how. Now researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in the US have discovered that when muscles exercise they produce a protein called cathepsin B which travels to the brain and triggers neuron growth.”

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

 Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God by Andrew Wilson $0.99.

Bringing up Boys by James Dobson $3.77. This was a huge help to Shona and I at various points in our parenting.

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns $2.99. Best book on forgiveness out there.

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Ed Welch $3.99. Here’s my endorsement of this book:

“This book of practical spirituality will produce many more helpless Christians, but also many more helpful Christians. It made me feel both more needy and more needed. A rare double blessing!”

Video

Chloe: A Story of Infertility, Adoption, and God’s Love
Watch, weep, rejoice, and worship.


I Will Bring Her Into The Wilderness

I’m devoting the next few weeks to working on a project that’s going to demand most of my mental energy. So apart from the usual Mon-Fri Checkout which will continue, I won’t be writing an additional daily article. Instead, I’m going to post a series of daily devotionals on Hosea that I wrote a few years ago.


I will….bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably unto her” (Hosea 2:14).

Most of us would prefer being taken to a palace with all its comforts rather than a wilderness with all its dangers. But here God promises His people a wilderness which is full of comforts — comforts that cannot be enjoyed in any palace.

God was promising Israel that they would be conquered and taken captive by foreign powers as a punishment for sin. This was to be a wilderness experience with many dangers and sufferings. The people would be hungry, harmed, far away from home, and especially far away from God and His Temple. Surely nothing good could come out of this! But wait; God says He “will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably to her.” He will combine the uncomfortable wilderness with comfortable words.

This was Israel’s experience in the wilderness of foreign exile. There, in the midst of their sin-caused sorrow, God spoke words of promise and hope to the repentant. How often this is the Christian’s experience. When we are in comfortable situations, we become increasingly deaf to God’s voice. We do not need to hear it, we think. So God brings us into the most uncomfortable situations in order to speak to us in a way we will hear.

You are told you have cancer. As you leave the clinic, you feel like you are in a waste-howling wilderness. You sense great danger. Fear of pain and death overwhelm you. A lonely path of surgery and chemotherapy stretches ahead of you. The world feels so bitterly cold and hostile. You get home and fall on your knees as you sob and cry out, “Lord! Lord! Help, help, help!”

And there, in the midst of that wilderness moment, God begins to draw near. Comforting verses of Scripture begin to circulate in your mind and filter down to your troubled heart. As He soothes and reassures, you sense the intimate love of your heavenly Father. And, for moments, you think that this feels more like a palace than a wilderness.

If only it wasn’t always so necessary for us to be brought into the uncomfortable wilderness to desire and delight in God’s comfortable words!