This book was one that was on sale at Shepherd’s Conference (Inerrancy Summit).
David Saxton. God’s Battle Plan for the Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. 144 pp.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believed that it was God’s providence that I read this book at the time I was reading it since lately I have been thinking a lot about Christian devotions and prayers. It truly ministered to my soul.
The subject of the book is on biblical meditation. The author David Saxton correctly note that this is a loss discipline today among most Western Christians and it doesn’t help that the term “meditation” often invoke unbiblical form of meditation that is more in line with Eastern religion and mysticism than the Bible. Thus the first two chapters argued for the importance of biblical meditation and also note incorrect forms of meditation. True biblical meditation involves thinking about God’s spiritual truth from the Scripture rather than the emptying of the mind or looking within oneself. Since some of the contemporary Christian meditation strategies are not necessarily biblical the book looks at the Scripture in constructing meditation that would please God while also looking at the rich insight that the Puritans had on this important Christian discipline. Chapter three is a wonderful chapter that defined biblical meditation and providing the biblical support for this. I appreciate the lexical word studies the author went through as well.
Both the author and the Puritans that the author quoted in the book had very good illustrations on the importance of Christian meditation. For instance we read that “a godly person does not just snack occasionally on God’s truth; rather, the Word is his heart delight and hourly consideration” (2). Constantly throughout the book meditation was compared to chewing food and the habit of studying the Bible and not meditating was compared to tasting food but not swallowing it. We also see the illustration that it is important to let the Word of God soak your life thoroughly similar to letting a teabag sit in hot water long enough and not merely letting the tea bag that dip a bit into the water (10).
Another helpful part of the book is how the author explored the different kinds of categories of meditation that the Puritans understood. First was the distinction between deliberate and occasional meditation in which the former was planned while the later was more spontaneous. The Puritans noted that both had their place but also warned about the danger of only having occasional meditation since it run the risk of being subjective and not as systematic in one’s spiritual feeding through the whole counsel of God’s Word. Deliberate meditation was further divided into two types with direct meditation focusing on understanding what the Scripture has to say about a given topic while reflexive meditation was more on what the application look like in one’s life.
I appreciated how practical both the book and the Puritans were on the subject of meditation. Many times in the book the author emphasized that the purpose of meditation is to apply spiritual truths and not merely engage intellectually with Scripture. I like that as I’m sure it will help many believers who like me can struggle with things being intellectual. The book also covered various practical steps involved in meditation such as consideration of important occasions for meditation, selecting the subject of meditation and getting started with meditation. While some might not like how the Puritans provided “steps” to one’s meditation the author does make a powerful argument from his analogy of how the lack of a step by step approach can be frustrating for those unfamiliar with this spiritual discipline of meditation in the same way the author found it frustrating when his GPS broke down while he was trying to travel from Rome to Pompeii (59-60). The author insightfully points out that the Puritans were practical without being rigidly bound to unnecessary rules. For instance, the Puritans talked a lot about what time of day one should engage in Christian meditation (morning or night) and while many have their reasons for their preferences they also saw Christian liberty on the timing of the duty of meditation and their writing portray sensitivity by taking into account individuals’ temperament (are they a night person or a morning person, etc). Since the goal of meditation is to connect with God the duration of one’s meditation was also covered by the Puritans. The author has a wonderful point when he said that meditation should be like eating a several course meal with someone rather than wolfing down fast food on the free way (57). The duration should be however long until one connects with the Lord and are lead to apply God’s truth. The book was also helpful in reminding the readers that Christians sin in specific ways so believers too must meditate on passages that address specific sinful habits. There were so many helpful tips in the book that one must read it to gain from it!
I highly recommend this book. Read it to start one’s spiritual meditations today.
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.