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A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope through the Psalms of Lament (Focus for Women) Paperback – March 20, 2016
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Some days feel like a roller coaster ride--up and down, and if possible sideways ... Christina doesn't ignore our emotions, rather she drives us from the wild ride to the freedom found in Jesus. (Trillia Newbell ~ Author of Fear and Faith and United)
With theological integrity and practical suggestions she tenderly teaches us the language of lament and how our lamentations can take us to the gospel. (Susan Hunt ~ Pastor's wife, former Director of Women's Ministry for the PCA)
... I wish I had Christina's book back when I became a believer. It would have saved me a lot of painful emotion-stuffing and foolish emotion-ignoring. (Gloria Furman ~ Pastor's wife, Mom of four, Author of 'Missional Motherhood' and 'Alive in Him')
... invites us to vulnerability, transparency and trust - particularly when life is hard ... offers practical, empathetic help for those whose emotions have taken them captive in a time of upheaval. (Jen Wilkin ~ Author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds)
A wonderful book ... rather than letting emotions control us, we learn how they can focus our hearts more firmly on God in the midst of all life's deepest troubles. (Ursula Weekes ~ Minister's Wife at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon, London)
The undertow of our emotions can quickly sweep us away. A Heart Set Free anchors our hearts in the truth and invites us to cry out boldly to our Savior. (Karen Hodge ~ Womens Ministry Coordinator for the Presbyterian Church in America.)
... In A Heart Set Free, Christina Fox comes at our emotions, particularly the emotion of lament, from a Biblical view. Using the Psalms she takes the reader on a valuable journey teaching how to understand and express our emotions to our Heavenly Father. (Jessica Thompson ~ Speaker and author of Answering Your Kids Toughest Questions and Everyday Grace: Infusing all Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus)
About the Author
Christina Fox is a blogger at www.christinafox.com where she chronicles her faith journey. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She lives with her husband and two sons.
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Since I do think God wants me to deal with my emotions in deeper and more constructive ways that can seem quite a bit uncomfortable, vulnerable, and scary, this book is a timely companion. Christina's writing is quite personable, making her book incredibly accessible and easy to apply its teaching. Her insight and obvious depth of study will effectively guide her readers to apply balm of the Word of God in the Psalms in meaningful ways to those "pesky" emotions. I plan to re-read and soak in several chapters soon. Highly recommend.
Part 1 of the book lays out a biblical perspective on emotions. Fox describes the emotions of worry, fear, anxiety, despair, grief, sorrow, abandonment, rejection, and shame, and she considers how they become “uninvited guests” in our lives. From there, Fox moves on to set them in the context of creation, fall, and redemption and gives a hopeful and helpful reminder that “Jesus came to redeem all things—including our emotions.”
The rest of the book focuses more narrowly on the psalms of lament and their use as a pattern to guide us. As an emotion-avoider, I found myself moved by Fox’s explanation of why we should lament:
We need to lament not because we are without hope but because we have faith in God. We also need to lament so we can enter into the pain we often avoid in order to know the peace that God gives those who come to him in faith. We need to lament so that we can learn more about God, about his redemptive purposes in this world, about ourselves, and about our greatest need in Christ. And we need to lament so that we can experience more of God’s amazing grace.
From there, Fox goes on to give us practical direction and encouragement to lament. Chapters 6 (“Crying Out to God”), 7 (“Asking for Help”), and 8 (“Responding in Trust and Worship”) are particularly good; here, Fox shows us what, exactly, the psalmists did in their distress and how we can follow their example.
In the introduction, Fox warns readers that her book is not a race but a marathon, and this proved true on one level. Her writing is simple and clear, so actually working through the chapters does not take long at all, nor does it make unreasonable intellectual demands. (This, I think, makes it an excellent volume to hand to a friend struggling with despair or anxiety. I’m quite sure that people suffering from emotional overload do not want to slog through obtuse and complex material in order to feel better, and Fox knows this.)
The marathon nature of the book comes via the deceptively simple—and few in number—study questions at the end of each chapter. Though she is writing about the Psalms of Lament, Fox does not focus on expositing the individual psalms, choosing instead to explain the general pattern most of those psalms follow. The in-depth Bible study is left up to the reader, who will read, meditate on, and apply various psalms as she answers the questions. A marathon indeed—but one worth the time and energies of all who submit themselves—and their emotions!—to the “living and active” power of the Word of God.
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