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Welch, Edward T. Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest.  Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2007.

Rev. Justin Lee Marple, Niagara Presbyterian Church, purchase from wtsbooks.com

Brief Overview of the Book (Theme, Perspective, Approach):

This book is written in the tradition of biblical counseling out of CCEF and Westminster Theological Seminary.  Parts build upon his books When People Are Big and God is Small and Depression: A Stubborn Darkness.  The approach is thoroughly biblical — it shows you how God’s word can speak into your world.  He begins by showing how this book is for everyone (not just those who display extremes like OCD)and lets God speak.  God speaks on money and possessions, on people and their judgments and on death, pain and punishment.  The last several chapters then bring it all together with more of God’s word.  Each chapter was written as meditations to take one at a time, but I could hardly put it down.

Critique(strengths and weaknesses):

I am afraid that many people will not read this book because of its title Running Scared.  Any weaknesses in the book are unimportant.  The strengths are so great that my only concern is that people will not read it because they do not think of themselves as worriers.  I did not begin the book thinking it would be a great help for me, I did not see the need for me.  In fact, I thought it would be a greater help for others.  Perhaps those who worry a lot would benefit even more, but I found that this book really helped me to listen to God’s word.  By the end of the book I had grown in my faith and in my assurance of salvation.

Application (specific, shows just how valuable & relevant the book is):

I really need to go back and reread the book one devotion at a time now that I have gone through the whole thing.  It would be even better if I journaled reflections as I go.  The greatest application of this book is reflection.  Not every specific application to be valuable has to be for change of our actions directly — changing the way we think about everything will lead to change in actions.

I used a quote from the book in my message this last Sunday on the book of Joshua.  We are looking at Joshua in light of the death, resurrection, Great Commission, and Acts of the Apostles of Christ.  In other words, I am preaching about evangelism.  Fear is only natural to connect with such messages because people are afraid to do evangelism and because the people we reach out to in evangelism here are often afraid of the final judgment.

Reflection on how worriers are false prophets has been very helpful to me.  When we worry we think of the worst possible outcome (in gory detail) but it never happens exactly the way we worried and thus we are functional false prophets.  Instead, we should immerse ourselves in the true prophets — in Scripture.  It may not tell us if the economy is going to collapse or if we are going to have paying work tomorrow, but it promises that God will provide for His people in this life (where he also provides for those who do not belong to Him) and the next.  It is worthwhile to remember that the cable news networks have plenty of prognosticators who are false prophets and many politicians are false prophets too.  Actually, all of us can get caught up in this because worry lives in the future and none of us are immune from worry.

Best Quotes:

Remember, the assurance that we belong to God is a big deal in Scripture.  There is no reason that you should be kept guessing.  If you are a member of a church that takes allegiance to Christ seriously, then you have, in a sense, already appeared in court with witnesses who testify that you are a follower of Christ.  The pastors and leaders of your church know you are not perfect, but they have evidence that you turn to Christ when you see your sins. [p.218]

Here is a way to test your progress: confess your past sin to another person.  … Now, what would it be like if someone else knew your past sin?  If you shudder at the thought, your liberation is incomplete.  After all, if we are persuaded that we have been forgiven by the divine Judge, why would we cower at the judgments of people who are no different from ourselves?  Yes, people can reject us if we tell them certain sins, but that reveals more about them than about us. [p.227]

The chapters these quotes come from are full of other gems I could have quoted.

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