Ngan Jones

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" – John 3:16

‘Living without worry’ by Timothy Lane

Overall

This is a great book. It is easy to read with the right amount of text. The ideas are very clear, organised and well presented. They are also concise and straight to the point. Repetition is rarely found. I love how the worries in relation to the past, future and present are dealt with separately. The author frequently refers back to the bible and uses biblical examples in addressing different issues. There are also lots of practical ideas and useful thought-provoking questions. I definitely recommend it if worries are bothering you.

Chapter 1 Why not worry? & 2 What is worry?

After the introduction in chapter 1, chapter 2 defines what worry is. It points out an interesting distinction between indifference (passive life), godly concern and over-concern. Worry begins when a person loves something in the creation more than the Creator himself: it is over-concern about things. Worry is actually a good opportunity to spot what we put above God. The solution for the over-concern is not to become indifferent, i.e. not to care about anything and live a passive life, but instead the bible encourages godly concern. 

Chapter 3 & 4 Worry and your past

I find chapter 3 and 4 important but a bit less relevant as I don’t feel troubled by the problems addressed in those 2 chapters at the moment. The main message is don’t get held down by your past sins or past experiences as we were freed from the sins through Jesus’ death. We should acknowledge that the world is fragile and acknowledge our past sufferings. However, the author encourages us to remember who God is, what he has done for us, what he will do for us, and let ourselves be helped by other Christians. 

Chapter 5 Worry and your future

Chapter 5 points to the worry over future. The author boldly points out what is worth our worry isn’t anything in this world but hell. Hell is a reminder that God is committed to addressing all of the wrongs and injustices that have occurred throughout human history. It is a place of fire, a place without God’s love. But the good news is that God loves us and through the death of his only son Jesus Christ we not only avoid hell but also inherit a glorious future in heaven. As this life is nothing compared with our eternity, there is no need to worry about it. But we also don’t need to worry about eternity either as heaven is our destiny secured through our faith in Jesus Christ. 

Chapter 6 Worry and your present 

Chapter 6 is very helpful in reminding us of God’s promises that we need in facing our present worries:

  • God promises to be at work in us. Once we belong to Christ, we will become more and more like Christ each day, his love, his passion, his gentleness, his sensitivity, his wisdom, his forgiveness, his courage and his strength.
  • God promises to be faithful in hardship. He knows us, knows our strengths and weaknesses. He is not going to place upon us more than we can endure. 
  • God promises to be with us each day. At the heart of Christianity is the relationship with God. We are not alone in facing trouble as God is living in us by the Holy Spirit. 
  • God promises to love us as his child. We have an equal right to Jesus Christ. God loves us with the same affection as he has for Christ. 
  • God promises to provide all we need. His provision does not depend on our performance but on our grace. 

How can we be sure that God is keeping his promises? Because he has given us the most precious gift, his Son, which was most costly to himself. So we should rejoice and pray to God to praise him and ask for help. 

Chapter 7 How to begin to change

Chapter 7 provides the questions to help the readers self-examine our own hearts because our behaviour and emotions derive from our core commitments and beliefs. Worries reflect our over-love for things other than God. The author considers different areas including finances, relationships, children, marriage and control. The practical actions he suggests are 1) to pray to God to show us the areas for growth and 2) to seek out to one or two people who love us and ask for their ideas of what take hold of our heart and life more than our Saviour. 

Chapter 8 Real truths that counter your worry

In chapter 8, the author uses James 4 v 13-17 to make his point that life is short and unpredictable as acknowledged by the bible. But instead of making this truth worry us, we should rely on God as he is all-knowing and all-powerful. We can’t control everything but God can. 

The possibility of suffering often worries us too. The author refers to Paul’s experiences as an example of how we should see and act in facing suffering (2 Corinthians 1 v 3-7). Suffering is in fact a gift from God. It will come but will not last forever because in eternity we will be in glory. This suffering is all being used for our good to make us more like Christ and make us more able to be of use to those around me. Jesus is a perfect example of how we should act in suffering. He experienced both excruciating pain spiritually and physically. Yet he prayed and trusted his Father’s care.

Chapter 9 How to cast all your anxiety on him

Chapter 9 emphasises that even though right thinking is important, change must happen at a deeper level than just thinking and behaving. It is more than positive thinking, more than of reminding ourselves of who we are in Christ. It involves talking to and relating to Christ in the midst of our anxieties, worries and fears. 1 Peter 5 v 7 captures this truth in the simplest way: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”. What does this look like?

  1. Humble ourselves: confess to God who he is, who we are and who we are not. We can’t order our life and the universe better than God.
  2. Cast our anxieties on him: we have to do this daily. Stop. Sit down. Acknowledge what we are worrying and talk to God about. Think about his wisdom, care and love for us in Christ and leave then with him.

We should acknowledge that the devil will attempt to use this area of vulnerability and weakness to use this to his advantage. But we have Jesus as our advocate. The battle has been won through his death.

Some of the ideas to help us are:

  • Firm in faith: the Christian life is a life that relies on grace, not our own performance. 
  • Part of the family: we don’t live alone but are a part of the church family. Hence we should be open to each other and support each other.
  • Meditation : we should fill our mind with the truth from the bible and use that as a basis to talk to God. The Psalms are one ideal place where we can find someone relating to God through mediation. The author then went through Psalm 27 as an example.

Chapter 10 What would Jesus say?

Chapter 10 looks into what Jesus would say by using what Jesus said to Paul in a vision when Paul was struggling in his ministry: 

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. (Acts 18 v 9-11)

There is a worry spiral that we can go down that we need Jesus to help us out of. It is what we find him doing here for Paul:

  • Phase 1: worry and fear – God gets smaller and situations are overwhelming. Do not be afraid!
  • Phase 2: paralysis – we start to shut down and get silent with helplessness. Keep on speaking, do not be silent!
  • Phase 3: isolation – we feel abandoned. For I am with you!
  • Phase 4: paranoia – other people are scary. No one is going to attack and harm you!
  • Phase 5: hopelessness – nothing we do matters. I have many people in this city!

So let Jesus counsel us.

Chapter 11 Conclusion

Chapter 11 concluded the book by a quote from Luke:

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12 v 32)

  • The Lord’s command for us: Do not be afraid.
  • His reassurance of us: little flock – we belong to Him
  • His promise to us: your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Some thoughts for myself

I don’t think there are any particular things that worry me at the moment. But I definitely recall the most recent times when I felt anxious. They are often related to Anna as she, this tiny little person, has become such a big part of my life. Does she eat enough? Does she gain enough weight? Why hasn’t she rolled over yet? etc. Other thing that makes me overconcerned time to time is the relationship with other people. Do they like me? Do they like what I said? Why did they not talk to me? Why don’t I feel belong to this group? 

I find the advice in this book really works for me. I pray to God and ask him to refocus my heart to the treasures in heaven, to my eternal life with him. I’m blessed to have a great church family who are very supportive and I can share my worries and prayers with. I still feel worried sometimes when situations arise, but I do see that I’m changing for the better and more relaxed about things. As long as I keep my heart focus on God, I know it will be alright. 

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    This entry was posted on January 2, 2016 by in Books, Christianity and tagged , , , , , .
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