Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
Peter Scazzero learned the hard way: you can't be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Even though he was a pastor of a growing church, he did what most people do:Avoid conflict in the name of ChristianityIgnore his anger, sadness, and fearUse God to run from GodLive without boundariesEventually God awakened him to a biblical integration of emotional health, a relationship with Jesus, and the classic practices of contemplative spirituality. It created nothing short of a spiritual revolution, utterly transforming him and his church.In this best-selling book Scazzero outlines his journey and the signs of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. Then he provides seven biblical, reality-tested ways to break through to the revolutionary life Christ meant for you. “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality,” he says, “unleashes the Holy Spirit inside us so that we might experientially know the power of an authentic life in Christ.”

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Details

TitleEmotionally Healthy Spirituality
Author
ReleaseAug 12th, 2014
PublisherZondervan
ISBN-139780310342465
Rating
GenreChristian, Christian Living, Spirituality, Religion, Faith, Nonfiction

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Review

  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    TLDR: not a great book.Just to get this out of the way… The author respectfully quotes a sainted Roman Catholic mystic on one page, and then throws Charles Spurgeon under the bus on the very next page. He has a tendency to insert bracketed words when he quotes verses, and he uses The Message translation. The author never uses the word “sanctification”, never defines discipleship, and merely alludes to the sovereignty of God.———A combination of a self help book and autobiography, Emotionally Heal TLDR: not a great book.Just to get this out of the way… The author respectfully quotes a sainted Roman Catholic mystic on one page, and then throws Charles Spurgeon under the bus on the very next page. He has a tendency to insert bracketed words when he quotes verses, and he uses The Message translation. The author never uses the word “sanctification”, never defines discipleship, and merely alludes to the sovereignty of God.———A combination of a self help book and autobiography, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is broken into two sections, the first explaining the problem of emotionally unhealthy spirituality and the second prescribing the pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality. Woven through the book is documentation the author’s personal experiences and journey.There are ten top symptoms that he lists for emotionally unhealthy spirituality. And they are valid symptoms—covering over brokenness/weakness/failure, denying the influence of the past, judging other journeys—to name a few. But these are symptoms that are complex, and could point to any number of root issues (such as pride) other than the issue of emotional health. However Scazzero perceives all problems through the lens of emotional immaturity due to his own story and experience, one that is heavily marked by emotional immaturity. Reading through this lens presents an incomplete picture of the process of sanctification.The book presents a “radical truth…a simple but profound reality”, referring to the concept that emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. But, this life changing truth comes without a Scripture reference. It is indeed a valid point that the two are connected and related. But, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality errs however in placing it’s hope in this concept, that emotional health and contemplative spirituality combined are the key to fixing things. He states, “…if we do the hard work of integrating emotional heath and spirituality, we can truly experience the wonderful promises God has given us—for our lives, churches, and communities. God will make our lives beautiful.” He goes on to quote Gal 5:22, and to expound upon the fruits of the Spirit. But this passage in Galatians is a call to walk by the Spirit (v16) instead of the flesh; Scazzero’s application of this text to deal with emotional health. Trading the call to walk by the Spirit to emphasizing emotional health, we are left to walking a fine line of a sort of prosperity gospel: follow the seven steps and you will be blessed.Scazzero employs the metaphor of an iceberg to illustrate that our deepest person is untouched by Jesus when we are emotionally immature. In effect, that we are keeping the Holy Spirit chained up in the above-water portion of our iceberg spirit. This underscores the author’s limited understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and the sovereignty of God over all of His Creation. I would argue that the converse is true, we ourselves cannot access the depths of our own souls, our knowledge and awareness of our sin and our true identity are only be revealed by the work of the Spirit. (Ps. 139: 23-24/ 1Cor 2:10-11) We have not, and in no way can we limit God.In his description of the contemplative tradition and practices, it strikes me as thoroughly odd that we are only given practical examples of this practice from the lives of monks and the likes of Mother Theresa. Why is this? Did the apostles not prescribe such a practice? Or did they demonstrate this in their life work? The practice of monasticism is simply not prescribed in Scripture.The second part of the book breaks down the pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality into seven steps. The very first one raises some very serious concerns: "know yourself that you may know God.” How can such a statement be made? Surely we must know God and His Word in order to know ourselves! To do this backwards is surely to place our deceitful and personal claims upon God, rather than standing before the truth of His character and subsequently understanding ourselves in light of who he created us as, and the role that He gives us in His story. So, rather than diving into the theological and anthropological issues that this chapter presents, I’m just going to dismiss the entire chapter as fundamentally flawed.Step two outlines how to process the past in order to move forward. I did find this chapter relatively helpful, as our personal histories are a huge element of sin patterns and relational problems. And this chapter was less theological, and serves as a good reminder that we should be aware of how our past affects our present and future.The third step introduces the strange concept of “The Wall”. Another concept that comes without a Scripture reference. This refers to a “dark night of the soul”, something through which we must persevere or remain stuck in emotional immaturity. Scazzero presents the stages of faith in a linear way, with “the wall” being a block between different stages, God leads us to our “wall” and we either get “stuck” here or “drop out”. Scazzero points out that we don’t control the seasons/stages of faith, nor do we control our walls. But simplification of these six stages seems to underestimate the variety that God uses in sanctification, and the unique ways that he sanctifies each believer. If for example, a believer doesn’t hit a wall in their life, are they forever stuck in a shallow faith? Or must the young believer wait years for God to give them a wall before advancing to the “next” level. Yes, most believers will be tried and tested, but this is an oversimplification and rather misleading description of that process.Next up, grief & loss and accepting your limits. This chapter spends a lot of time trying to anecdotally explain all the different types of pain and loss. The story of Job is heavily used in this chapter, but makes the final point: “as he followed the difficult path of allowing his losses to enlarge his soul for God, God blessed him superabundantly.” Which places an inordinate emphasis on the blessing. "Embracing our limits" is to understand that we are human and unique in our gifts, and for some reason, we are also treated to St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility in this confusing chapter.The next step outlines and recommends the use of the Daily Office and also refreshes our approach to the Sabbath. The recommendation of the Daily Office again feels odd because of it’s monastic history. An analysis of the routines of the early church as laid out in the New Testament would have been welcome, rather than basing a prescription for regular prayer and devotion throughout the day upon the highly scheduled lives of monks. The reminder of God’s design for Sabbath rest and the author’s exhortation to keep it is helpful and biblical.The next to the last chapter offers practical guidance for growing in emotional maturity—how to handle conflict, be a peace maker, etc. Helpful, but not groundbreaking. The last chapter focuses on yet another new concept called the “Rule of Life.” Apparently Daniel had one, or rather we can infer that Daniel may have had one, and the other examples of the “Rule” come from monastic communities and practices. The idea of the “Rule” is to create an intentional plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. Valid point, but again strikes an odd chord.And here lies the biggest issue with Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: the entire book is undergirded by personal experience rather than being based in Scripture and the book places too much stock in the practice of contemplative spirituality. While it mixes in enough Scripture to make the entire book palatable to the average evangelical Christian, the concept of contemplative spirituality should be approached with great caution because it is rooted in mysticism, which is not biblical. However the book raises a few good points that would likely be helpful to readers who haven’t studied the topic of emotional health in respect to the Christian walk.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    I confess I didn't read the whole thing. I got half way through and didn't need to go further. What he writes about combining emotional health with contemplative practices is by no means new and his theology is bad. Henri Nowen is a much better source.
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  • Jason Kanz
    January 1, 1970
    I had not heard of Peter Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (2006) until a few months ago when a pastor friend of mine mentioned it in passing. Since then, when I have shared that I was reading this book, many friends and acquaintances told me how excellent it was. I am not sure why they left me in the dark so long. As a pastor of a church, Scazzero was trying to lead through pure effort with no attention to his emotional life. Only when his relational life began to fray at the edges di I had not heard of Peter Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (2006) until a few months ago when a pastor friend of mine mentioned it in passing. Since then, when I have shared that I was reading this book, many friends and acquaintances told me how excellent it was. I am not sure why they left me in the dark so long. As a pastor of a church, Scazzero was trying to lead through pure effort with no attention to his emotional life. Only when his relational life began to fray at the edges did he begin to take a closer look at emotion. At the outset of the book, he identified 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality that serve as a useful diagnostic tool. Once we understand our emotional feebleness, Scazzero spends the later half of the book talking about what to do about. He encourages a deeper look inside, acknowledging the reality of emotions as a normal part of the Christian life. I particularly appreciated chapter 6, which dealt with the concept of a dark night of the soul, an issue too frequently ignored in the Christian life. For Scazzero, I think rightly, the dark night is a normative part of the Christian life, though too often, people run from it, rather than toward it, much to their detriment. Near the end of the book, he encourages the practice of two specific disciplines--the daily office and the Sabbath--to grow in our understanding of God and understanding of self. Attention to God and delighting in his creation are essential practices that we too often hurry past. On the whole, I think this is very beneficial book. It is a relatively easy read, but if you read it, take your time and ponder what the author has to say. He writes with lists and bullet points, which many people will find desirable, though don't believe that represents naive ideas that can be cast aside quickly.
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  • Jillian Saldaña
    January 1, 1970
    My leader prefaced this book by saying, “His own wife left the church he was Pastor of, because of the lack of emotional heath.” I was hooked, and also thoroughly impressed with Peter Scazzero’s wife, Geri. From beginning to end, this book honestly digs at you. It prompts you to be more aware of self, and to set out truthful ways of making your soul and heart more mature through God’s love. The content was so rich, but the practicality of it all is what I treasure most. I hope to keep copies of My leader prefaced this book by saying, “His own wife left the church he was Pastor of, because of the lack of emotional heath.” I was hooked, and also thoroughly impressed with Peter Scazzero’s wife, Geri. From beginning to end, this book honestly digs at you. It prompts you to be more aware of self, and to set out truthful ways of making your soul and heart more mature through God’s love. The content was so rich, but the practicality of it all is what I treasure most. I hope to keep copies of this book by my desk always, because it’s worth turning back to, over and over again. Highly recommend this to church pastors and leaders.
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  • Johnna Boone
    January 1, 1970
    I think he has good principles in the book and it reminds me that I have far to go and grow. By far my favorite chapter was the one on the sabbath. I didn’t give it a 5 because sometimes I would question how he uses scripture- in my opinion, they were sometimes taken out of context.
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  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    so so so so goodp.s. anna if you see this sorry for reading ahead ily
  • T.M.
    January 1, 1970
    Had a few good points throughout, and some ideas for improvement, but most seemed to only scratch the surface of the topic. Overall, it seemed as if the book was more geared toward a preparation for getting into a deeper small group study through the related material on the subject. Still liked the book, but would have preferred a little more depth on the various subjects mentioned.
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  • Nathan Schneider
    January 1, 1970
    Surprisingly, very good. The thesis of the book is that one must be emotionally mature in order to be spiritually mature. And in order to be emotionally mature one should focus on introspection, spiritual priorities, and Sabbath rest. The most helpful part of the book was the development of one's rhythms in life. How will you work the intake of Scripture into your life on a consistent basis? How will you prioritize prayer and solitude? Etc.
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  • Sarah Malone
    January 1, 1970
    There are some solid thoughts and sentences in this book, but the overall ideas seem to get lost in the authors wordiness. I think the author took his personal life experiences and the way he resolved them, then used Scripture to support that. There are some good practices that he suggests, but they're not from the Bible.
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  • Brennan Penner
    January 1, 1970
    This book brings a lot to the surface to think through. My biggest regret with this book is what I find to be the lack of biblical basis for his conclusion. There are lots of good ideas but I failed to see a biblical root. He quotes monks and other religious figures who I am not confident would be considered biblicist. He uses them as evidence for his conclusions more than a scriptural basis. All in all, whether I agree with the book or not it gave me a lot to think about and the opportunity to This book brings a lot to the surface to think through. My biggest regret with this book is what I find to be the lack of biblical basis for his conclusion. There are lots of good ideas but I failed to see a biblical root. He quotes monks and other religious figures who I am not confident would be considered biblicist. He uses them as evidence for his conclusions more than a scriptural basis. All in all, whether I agree with the book or not it gave me a lot to think about and the opportunity to hear from another perspective.
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  • Jessica Gillies
    January 1, 1970
    Quite a few of the reviews on here commented that this book was not so flash theologically; I don't feel qualified to comment on that, nor comfortable rating the book for that reason. What I did enjoy about this was that it gives the reader permission address, rather than ignore and repress, their emotions- including the more negative ones. As someone who has been hurt by a church's interpretation of mental health issues in the past, this (alongside to be open and honest about doubts and struggl Quite a few of the reviews on here commented that this book was not so flash theologically; I don't feel qualified to comment on that, nor comfortable rating the book for that reason. What I did enjoy about this was that it gives the reader permission address, rather than ignore and repress, their emotions- including the more negative ones. As someone who has been hurt by a church's interpretation of mental health issues in the past, this (alongside to be open and honest about doubts and struggles of faith) was a breath of fresh air.
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  • Jillian Armstrong
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this book but I’ll for sure be revisiting parts of it to apply it to my life. I feel like this is a book that should be read by every Christian! I have witnessed and caused hurt to others because of emotionally immaturity, I think as believers we could really benefit from growing in understanding our/others unique identity and calling in light of God’s love.
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  • Gavin Breeden
    January 1, 1970
    First, this book confirmed something I've been suspicious of for quite some time: I'm not all that emotionally healthy. Second, this book game me a bunch of tools to cultivate an emotionally healthy spirituality. Life-changer. Highly recommended.
  • Gabrielle Prose
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I’m grateful to have read this book! I was so curious & excited to hear what was coming next as I read it the first time, and I cannot wait to go back slowly though again. I feel short for words to express how I have been challenged by this book. It is going on my favorite reads list! I highly recommend to everyone.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    This book, Richard Fosters book on Prayer and a recent sermon preached by my husband are all really meeting me right where I'm at in my spiritual journey. I am going to buy a hard copy of this book because I really feel I need to revisit it. I especially loved the final chapters and believe that my personality lends itself to this approach to life. My mum was brought up brethren and my dad baptist. We attended a Presbyterian church and then an Anglican and then back to Presbyterian (these change This book, Richard Fosters book on Prayer and a recent sermon preached by my husband are all really meeting me right where I'm at in my spiritual journey. I am going to buy a hard copy of this book because I really feel I need to revisit it. I especially loved the final chapters and believe that my personality lends itself to this approach to life. My mum was brought up brethren and my dad baptist. We attended a Presbyterian church and then an Anglican and then back to Presbyterian (these changes were made each time we moved house). Then during my student days I ended up at an Anglican Church again (which wasn't initially my intention, I guess as a student I thought wanted something more "hip" than Anglican!). And I think (although I didn't realize it at the time) this is where I found my spiritual home! I love the rhythms of the church calendar, I love how we went into church and it was mostly silent (apart from beautiful organ music) before the service began. I love the reverence for sabbath, for lent, advent.....I love how we prayerfully ushered in the new year. It was there that I learnt about "mini sabbaths" and how to be still before God. This was the church we got married in.While we were at this church we applied to the Presbyterian mission. They accepted us as missionaries and were happy for us to work in an Anglican Church for 3 years to get experience and to pay off student debt before going on the mission field with them. I will forever be grateful for and admire their acceptance of us and their broad vision. We are now serving God abroad, sent out by them, working alongside a non-denominational organization, a baptist church and an interdenominational church. All that to say, we are not defined by denomination, we are all part of the body of Christ, yes denominations may aid us in our spiritual journey and certain ones may be a better "fit" for us but they should not define us, it is Christ who defines us. He alone should shape who we are, he is first and foremost. Denomination, personality, culture, history - all are secondary. Christ is the one who unites us and gives us our unique identity.
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    I'll give this one 3/5. It was honestly hard at points for me to read this book. I kept coming back to feeling like his points weren't fully fleshed out and weren't deeply rooted in scripture. He made reference to scripture sparingly so it made it seem like the reason behind his message wasn't fully motivated by the text but often as a means to further his ideas (which aren't horrible). Often when reading I would gain some good insight into what it means to be "emotionally healthy," but then the I'll give this one 3/5. It was honestly hard at points for me to read this book. I kept coming back to feeling like his points weren't fully fleshed out and weren't deeply rooted in scripture. He made reference to scripture sparingly so it made it seem like the reason behind his message wasn't fully motivated by the text but often as a means to further his ideas (which aren't horrible). Often when reading I would gain some good insight into what it means to be "emotionally healthy," but then the thought wouldn't finish, and it wouldn't finish on the Gospel. I think I learned a lot about the importance of how our past affects us today, the importance of boundaries, and meeting with God instead of living out of a "faked" Christian life. My one worry is that this book would lead to temporary "spiritual high." I think he provided a good framework for living a devoted life with healthy spiritual disciplines, but often it seemed it wasn't fully filled in with Gospel motivation.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    I read this nearly all in one day--not because it was that good, but because I was trying to read it before our new book club discussed it. This is not the kind of book to hurry through; it would have been preferable to take some time and think through it.It was pretty good--the biggest takeaway for me was to try to align your inner life with your outer beliefs and to take time out daily to prioritize your spiritual development and growth.There were some stories from the pastor that have really I read this nearly all in one day--not because it was that good, but because I was trying to read it before our new book club discussed it. This is not the kind of book to hurry through; it would have been preferable to take some time and think through it.It was pretty good--the biggest takeaway for me was to try to align your inner life with your outer beliefs and to take time out daily to prioritize your spiritual development and growth.There were some stories from the pastor that have really stuck with me. He was honest about some of his shortcomings--almost I believe to a fault. I was surprised that a pastor might struggle with such weaknesses as much as he did.We had a good discussion in our debut session of our Christian book group.
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  • Kaitlin
    January 1, 1970
    This book offers a lot of good advice, but fails to ground itself in Scripture. Instead, the author seems to prefer the traditions of several monastic societies. While he quotes Godly men, he leaves their quotes either open for interpretation or interprets them through his worldview. I also find his writing style a bit sloppy and cumbersome. I read the updated 2017 version, and it still lacks much-needed editing. This is not a book I would ever recommend, but I still encountered some soul-search This book offers a lot of good advice, but fails to ground itself in Scripture. Instead, the author seems to prefer the traditions of several monastic societies. While he quotes Godly men, he leaves their quotes either open for interpretation or interprets them through his worldview. I also find his writing style a bit sloppy and cumbersome. I read the updated 2017 version, and it still lacks much-needed editing. This is not a book I would ever recommend, but I still encountered some soul-searching truth in his forest of poor interpretation. Read carefully, and test his opinions with Scripture.
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  • Hope
    January 1, 1970
    A class at my church read and worked through this book for the past ~4 months. While I really dislike the title, I, unfortunately, do not have another suggestion for the author. The material covered in the book, though, is fabulous! I really appreciate the author's perspectives and all that he shared. I have learned a lot from this book, and I have benefitted from the discussions that have resulted from it.
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  • Andrew Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This was third time to read this book in 18 months. The first time I learned it was okay to have emotions. The second was I need to share these. This time I have begun to learn how to integrate rest and sabbath in my life. But I feel like there is still so much more to learn and I will look to read this again soon.
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  • Mike Conroy
    January 1, 1970
    Although, there were times where I thought he went a little too far on the emotional side. This book is a really needed correction for me in the lack of thought I have ever put into some of the deeper parts of my heart that may be unhealthy.
  • Bethany Baird
    January 1, 1970
    Much needed read for me. Wish I could go through it with a church group like my friend did but I think I will go back through it again slowly. I underlined a lot and it was very healing in regards to some tough stuff I’m working through.
  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    Affirmation of a journey I've been on the past few years. still learning! Happy that our church is studying this.
  • Laura R Bransky
    January 1, 1970
    I recommend if you are feeling stuck in your walk with the Lord, and would be open to looking at ways to examine your life in ways to mature and grow.
  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    Source: Free copy from Book Look Blogger/Zondervan/HarperCollins.Rating: Very Good. The book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an updated edition. It was originally published in 2006. A Discipleship Course is available, this includes an eight session workbook and DVD.Three more books on this topic: The Emotionally Healthy Church. The Emotionally Healthy Leader.Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day, A 40 Day Journey with the Daily Office. Zondervan page for the complete list of media.Pete Source: Free copy from Book Look Blogger/Zondervan/HarperCollins.Rating: Very Good. The book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an updated edition. It was originally published in 2006. A Discipleship Course is available, this includes an eight session workbook and DVD.Three more books on this topic: The Emotionally Healthy Church. The Emotionally Healthy Leader.Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day, A 40 Day Journey with the Daily Office. Zondervan page for the complete list of media.Peter Scazzero states in the Introduction, While the traditional approach typically focuses on providing helpful classes, engaging small groups, and ample opportunities to serve, the level of change in people's lives tends to be minimal. So is the impact. In contrast, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality books and resources are designed to help people experience beneath-the-surface transformation-spiritually and emotionally. Page 6. Chapter 1, addresses the home life we grew up in (and Scazzero) and how it affected us. Even in the best of families, tragedies and sadness occur. He shares briefly about his own childhood and how He became a Christian. With the help of his wife, who brought his attention to a problem they had, he discovered there is a link between emotional maturity and spiritual maturity. He considered this pivotal moment a "revolution."Page 22 lists, "the top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality:""1. Using God to run from God2. Ignoring anger, sadness, and fear3. Dying to the wrong things4. Denying the impact of the past on the present5. Dividing life into 'secular' and 'sacred' compartments6. Doing for God instead of being with God7. Spiritualizing away conflict8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure9. Living without limits10. Judging other people's spiritual journey"Chapter 2, discusses the eight main emotional families.Scazzero had been ignoring his emotions. It had never dawned on him that, "God might be speaking to me in the 'feeling' realm in a way that did not compromise His truth." Page 44.He goes on to list several times Scripture revealed God's emotions. For example, Genesis 1:25, 31. Matthew 26:27-38.I was glad he pointed out we tend to ignore emotions such as anger or sadness because they might be the "wrong" type of feeling. When we deny our pain, losses, and feelings year after year, we become less and less human. We transform slowly into empty shells with smiley faces painted on them. Sad to say, that is the fruit of much of our discipleship in our churches. But when I began to allow myself to feel a wider range of emotions, including sadness, depression, fear, and anger, a revolution in my spirituality was unleashed. I soon realized that a failure to appreciate the biblical place of feelings within our larger Christian lives has done extensive damage, keeping free people in Christ in slavery. Page 44. An important theme in the book is to know ourselves, to be an authentic person. He uses a new term and shows a chart so we can critique ourselves: differentiation. The key emphasis of differentiation is on the ability to think clearly and carefully as another means, besides our feelings of knowing ourselves." Page 58. Scazzero lists four ways to help us know ourselves.Chapter 3, discusses our past generations and how certain things are passed down. This was revealing to me. In this chapter, a "10 Commandments" of family is shown.Chapter 4, is on control. In this chapter, a graph of the "Stages of Faith" is shown. Six stages are listed.Chapter 5, addresses addiction. Addiction is a common way to deal with problems and stresses.The final chapters listed:"Chapter 6, Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath (devotional and prayer time with God.)Chapter 7, Grow into an Emotionally Mature AdultChapter 8, Go the Next Step to Develop a 'Rule of Life.'"An aspect of the book I loved, is it is visually appealing in its teaching context. Thirteen black and white graphs and 44 separate lists are given. This is the style Scazzero uses. I feel it's a strong visual teaching tool.The book is heavy on application. Self-tests are available to take. After the revealing answers, Scazzero teaches how to combat those weak areas in order to grow.Chapter 6, reflects on having a daily time to read the Bible and pray. He points out the command to keep the Sabbath. Do not misuse this day.Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is a book small groups or life groups can benefit from.I don't consider this a "self-help" book published under a Christian publisher. This is a book on growing not just emotionally but spiritually, because we cannot be mature in any area unless we are mature spiritually. The only way we can grow is in God's Spirit.An element of the book holds a word some people in the Christian community do not like. The word is "centering." When Scazzero uses this word he is referring to centering on Jesus Christ. We are not to center on any other thing. Our thoughts and focus and prayer is on God and His Word.
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  • Christina Stidham
    January 1, 1970
    My general impression of the book was not positive. The author ends with some decent suggestions (such as false peacemaking and viewing others as people and not as objects), but overall his basic premise, that we must know ourselves to know God, is false. Yes, there are some good suggestions for working together with others and in looking at our lives, but it is almost all based on writings of mystics or monks, and not so much on the Bible. Our focus should be on God, and we should find ourselve My general impression of the book was not positive. The author ends with some decent suggestions (such as false peacemaking and viewing others as people and not as objects), but overall his basic premise, that we must know ourselves to know God, is false. Yes, there are some good suggestions for working together with others and in looking at our lives, but it is almost all based on writings of mystics or monks, and not so much on the Bible. Our focus should be on God, and we should find ourselves, that is our identity, in Him and what he has revealed to us through the Bible. I found this very self-focused, instead of God focused, and the preoccupation with contemplative spirituality (The underlying idea of contemplative spirituality is the belief that God is in all things and in all people, [panentheism]), Mysticism, and meditation/centering prayer was too Zen/Buddhist for me. I will stick to reading the Bible and praying as Jesus taught us to pray in the New Testament, and not with the contemplative spirituality/mysticism that this author purports is the way to really know God.Some areas in particular that I had issues with in this book are as follows:According to the author on page 20, "God promises if you and I will do life his way (even though it feels unnatural and hard to us initially), then our lives will be beautiful"-Where in scripture does it say this?? God promises that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), I don't recall him promising that our life will be beautiful. He says that he came so that will have life in all it's fullness (John 10:10), but I certainly would not use beautiful to describe it, nor is there a verse that supports Scazzero's claim that God PROMISES (my emphasis) a beautiful life if we do life His wayOn page 65 the author posits that to know God, you must first know yourself. The title of this chapter is: "Know yourself that you may know God". Scazzero basically says that you cannot know God if you don't know yourself. I do not agree with this supposition. To say that you first have to know yourself in order to know God is completely false. You must start with God, not with yourself. Scazzero's thinking is backwards and not Biblical.In chapter 4 the author also talks about how we must go back in order to go forward as summed up in two ESSENTIAL biblical truths (my emphasis)- "1: the blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generation's profoundly impact who we are today" I would not agree that this isan "essential biblical truth"-"2: discipleship requires putting off the sinful patterns of our family of origin and relearning how to do life God's way in God's family"Scazzero further posits on page 95 that these key biblical ingredients are CENTRAL(my emphasis) to our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I do not agree with the author's supposition here. Yes, it may be helpful to look at your family's past, but to claim that it is central to our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is assuming far too much.On page 108 Scazzero declares "His (God's) approval is without conditions". This is not biblical. His love is without condition, but his approval is not. We must believe in Jesus, in order to be "approved of" and brought into his family.I had quite a few objections to raise in chapter 6 of the book.• First of all Scazzero incorrectly states on page 127 that the first words uttered by Jesus in the new testament are from Matthew 5:3. Jesus speaks many times before that instance. If the author cannot properly state even this much, then how am I to trust the rest of his writing?• It is my opinion that this author is quite mystical-he promotes the "Jesus prayer"(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner), which in itself is not bad, but he says that it has, "long been a foundation of the eastern Christian spirituality to help believers remain grounded and dependent on God throughout the day. By repeating the prayer throughout the day, synchronizing the syllables of these words with our heartbeat throughout the day, the intention is that our very lives will embody the richness of the prayer". This sounds quite grounded in mysticism and very similar to what those in Roman Catholicism and orthodox churches do, the repeating of a prayer simply to focus is quite meditative and not how Jesus teaches us to pray in the New Testament.• Furthermore in this chapter, the author states on page 132 that "detachment is the great secret of interior peace". To me this sounds quite similar to Buddhism. He later says on page 133 that "it has rightly been said that those who are the most detached on the journey are best able to taste the purest joy in the beauty of created things". He ends the chapter with a quote from Thomas Merton(a Roman Catholic Trappist monk, and Mystic who studied Zen Buddhism and said that non-Christian faiths had much to offer Christianity) "I wonder if there are 20 men alive in the world now who see things as they really are. That would mean that there were 20 men who were free, who were not dominated or even influenced by an attachment to any created thing or to their own selves or to any gift of God".Later in ch. 8 on page 160, Scazzero talks about "Centering" and how we should, "Be attentive and open, Sit still, Sit straight, Breathe slowly, deeply, and naturally, and Close your eyes or lower them to the ground" Then, "When you find your mind wandering let your breathing bring you back. As you breathe in, as God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, exhale all that is sinful, false, and not of him", and "When your mind wanders pray the Jesus prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner'". Once again very Zen/Buddhist and Mystic/meditative focused. This is also not supported in the Bible.In chapter 9, on page 180, the author quotes Jean Vanier saying, "Love is, 'to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves'" and says that "Jesus did this that with each person he met". I would not entirely agree with this. Did Jesus reveal the beauty of the Pharisees to themselves? No, he rebuked them. Does that mean he didn't love them? No, I would not say so. I would say that because Jesus was love, he knew that he had to reveal the wrongdoing in their lives, in doing this they could possibly have realized the truth and had the opportunity to repent. Love does not just mean to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves, it can sometimes be helping someone to see that they are not doing what they should, telling the truth in love, for example.The author further states that, "out of our contemplative time with God, we, too, are invited to be prayerfully present to people, revealing their beauty to themselves" pg 180 . Our job is not to reveal people's beauty to themselves, in fact what beauty can we claim? The Bible says that none are righteous, and I would say that there is no beauty in ourselves aside from what God has given us. I would not say that our job is to reveal people's beauty to themselves, rather it is to reveal that they are in fact sinners and need God's saving mercy and grace. If we can go around and reveal people's "beauty" to them, then how are they going to see that they need God?The author then states that "Jesus refused to separate the practice of the presence of God from the practice of the presence of people. When pushed to the wall to separate this unbreakable union, Jesus refused and summarized the entire Bible for us, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love our neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'" Matthew 22:37-40 It is my opinion that this author focuses too much on the love of God and does not balance it out with God's righteous judgement. We should not go too far to either side of the scale. I also do not agree with the author's statement that Jesus summarized the entire Bible with this statement, rather he summed up the law and the prophets (Old Testament) with this statement, though it does sum up what we are to be about as Christians. It seems to me that this author is big on generalities, and not into details.These are just some of the objections that I had to this book. I would certainly not recommend it, as it is rife with Biblical falsehoods, and it seems apparent that Scazzero did not rely much on the Bible when he wrote the majority of this, rather he relied on the writings of others (primarily Catholic monastic mystics such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen), and his own experiences. In addition Scazzero rather boldly claims that when he writes in his journals, it is God's truth ( he writes, "I go back and read what I have written to review truths God told to me during that time" pg 86), and in one instance when he spoke to his wife he said, "Geri listened to my five-minute speech, realizing she was on holy ground". These are very bold claims, and I would be very hesitant to trust someone who claims these things. It seems that Scazzero genuinely wants to share what he believes is the secret to emotionally healthy spirituality, but in my opinion fails because it is not grounded in the truth of God's word, and is focused on the self, instead of on God, where our focus should be.Food for thought:What is contemplative spirituality?: http://www.gotquestions.org/contempla...Thoughtful article with further critiques of the book: http://midwestoutreach.org/2013/08/11...Review of Scazzero's other book "The Emotionally Healthy Church", which touches on a lot of the same points as this book and how many of these ideas (included in "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality") are not biblical: https://9marks.org/review/emotionally...Article on centering prayer: https://carm.org/centering-prayer -this is a good article on centering prayer and how it is not biblical.A summary quote from the article states:"Centering prayer is an unbiblical and dangerous practice. It can put a person in an altered state of consciousness and open him up to a spiritual connection that is not in harmony with Scripture.Instead, we are to seek God in prayers that are non-repetitious, with a focus on God's word and truth, with an active mind seeking to find the true and living God through the revelation of the Scripture and communion with his son Jesus."2 meaningful quotes to sum up some of my opposition to this book:Martin Luther: “[The] righteousness of Christ is entirely outside and above us.” Luther’s Works, Vol 24: Sermons on the Gospel of John.Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "As long as I am still reflecting on myself in order to find Christ, he is not there. When he is really there, I see nobody else but him." (translated from German, DBW, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke, volume 4 "Nachfolge", page 107, footnote 36, Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4).
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  • Lindsay Sutton
    January 1, 1970
    (I read this book as part of a church-based leadership course. Here's my long summary and critique.)Most Christians have been taught that the best way to live a missional life is to serve the Lord always, present a positive perspective, and keep away from conflict. Pastor Peter Scazzero turns this paradigm on his head with his book, Emotionally Spiritually Healthy. With the goal of training Christians how to be present with God and present with themselves and others, Scazzero teaches the practic (I read this book as part of a church-based leadership course. Here's my long summary and critique.)Most Christians have been taught that the best way to live a missional life is to serve the Lord always, present a positive perspective, and keep away from conflict. Pastor Peter Scazzero turns this paradigm on his head with his book, Emotionally Spiritually Healthy. With the goal of training Christians how to be present with God and present with themselves and others, Scazzero teaches the practical difference between what unhealthy and healthy emotional spirituality looks like. He explains the progression of Christian spirituality, normalizes the frustrating and difficult seasons, and encourages his audience forward beyond the tip of the iceberg and toward emotional maturity.---Real talk, this book over-spiritualizes like crazy! Renewing emotional health is not just a Jesus issue. There are plenty of resources that help people learn from and process their pasts. I understand the intended audience of this book is Christian, so I get why the author says "In Christ she can emerge a freer, more whole, alive person" (pg 109), but I find it dangerous to classify this emotional growth as "Christian" or "sacred." It diminishes the value of "secular" avenues for emotional growth and mainstream counseling and therapy methods. The processes recommended in this book are not exclusively available to Christians, and you do not have to have a relationship with Jesus in order to learn from your past and better your future. (While I don't believe this was the author's intention, I find it abhorrent whenever religious groups claim to have the only keys to something legitimately available to everyone.)Scazzero often inserts scriptures in an attempt to support his points, but more often than not, the original contexts don't explicitly refer to the topic at hand. It's inferring reference, which I find dangerous and manipulative, even if someone "gets something out of it." This approach smacks of Christianese. The points the author makes are valid and valuable, but inserting Bible stories in this way cheapens both the author's message and the holy scriptures.One frustrating scripture insertion is on page 205. Scazzero defends caring for the physical body and says "Scripture says sleep is a gift of God (Psalm 127:2)" and fails to mention the rest of the passage which *very obviously* was not written to give its hearers encouragement to take care of their sleep schedules. I know this sounds scathing, but I expect much more from a pastor than this eisegetical approach to scripture. —(Even with the shortcomings...) I'm thankful Scazzero has written this book, and oddly enough, I'm especially thankful it's been written from a male perspective. Emotional intelligence is an area severely neglected in my American culture, and I recognize deficiencies in my own life and history and while interacting with others. Seeing emotions as valid, as expressions, and as signals is an excellent start for folks who are new to the concept, and I appreciate how Scazzero gives tools to begin articulating feelings and making connections between them and their roots. Scazzero mentioned a few of his other books and workbooks at the end of the book, but I wish he had given more resources for going further and deeper. I've seen men around me (okay, just my husband, really) be resistant to the change toward sensing, feeling, expressing, and even receiving emotions, and it takes a lot of time, encouragement, and support to continue moving forward through the discomfort and even fear.It is only when we are able to feel our own emotions, connect with the hurt, and validate that pain that we are best able to listen to, empathize with, and comfort others. In this way, emotional intelligence is vital to the kingdom of God and the caring for humans.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This book is being read and lauded loudly by many in my congregation. Some are on their 3rd and 4th reading proclaiming the Lord leads them to deeper levels of repentance and thus greater emotional health as they work through their "wall" - woundedness. I get it. I give it 4 stars. Having worked through the text alongside the daily devotion with journalling over 9 weeks, I understand why Scazzero stresses that balance between activity and contemplation in your life is necessary for emotional/spi This book is being read and lauded loudly by many in my congregation. Some are on their 3rd and 4th reading proclaiming the Lord leads them to deeper levels of repentance and thus greater emotional health as they work through their "wall" - woundedness. I get it. I give it 4 stars. Having worked through the text alongside the daily devotion with journalling over 9 weeks, I understand why Scazzero stresses that balance between activity and contemplation in your life is necessary for emotional/spiritual health. It's a "Know Thyself" doctrine. I would shift to say "Know God".Scazzero starts by suggesting emotions need to be integrated in a healthy way to become part of one's spirituality pointing to Biblical instances where Christ expresses emotion. I would argue your emotions are often where the devil gains a stronghold and it doesn't matter how you feeeeeeel (read that with a whine). We can often feeeeel offended, tired, broke, busted, disgusted, discouraged, dissappointed and granted it is very fruitful to learn to express emotions fully in front of God in order to allow Him to realign you and restore you, I would think the emotionally mature Christian can quickly see those DIS-eased emotions as the work of the adversary doused with pride. I had trouble swallowing some of what I felt was conformity to this world to even entertain those emotions. I try not to play in the devil's sandbox. He also encourages us to remain in "balance", but I think God calls us ultimately to be ALL IN! Sometimes that means you are leaning really hard and God is refining you to be fit for heaven. That includes coming up against things that feeeeeel out of balance. He calls us to love Him and one another deeply and sometimes the sacrifice leaves you in a season where you need to forget yourself. It's not about us - it's about Him. It's not about judging others or judging ourselves. It's about following God's call and trusting Him to provide. "Anything done outside of faith is sin." Romans 14:23 That faith has peace as a fruit -Shalom wholeness, nothing broken nothing lacking, despite what the situation in the world around us would like us to feeeeel by comparison or expectation. Don't misread this to mean the book is not of value. I appreciate it greatly for stimulating these conversations and allowing for a process for Christians to address emotional health as they address God's intended wholeness. The spiritual practices Scazzero covers to increase your health including the Daily Office, Lectio Divina, Sabbath Keeping are all ones I have benefitted from them greatly in different seasons. I enjoyed the daily practice of reading and reflecting on scripture Scazzero illuminated in new ways. I just didn't always agree and emotionally I think that's OK.
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  • Jake Russell
    January 1, 1970
    It’s like the cliché in the corporate world: “Big ships turn slowly.” The big ship known as institutionalized Christianity, it appears, is slowly turning from only focusing on spiritual needs to incorporating emotional and physical needs. Peter Scazzero’s book addresses a portion of this.From the looks of it, the Scazzeros have mined this space as thought leaders and are releasing books and workshops around specific demographics now (leaders, church, women, etc.). This might be a “Chicken Soup o It’s like the cliché in the corporate world: “Big ships turn slowly.” The big ship known as institutionalized Christianity, it appears, is slowly turning from only focusing on spiritual needs to incorporating emotional and physical needs. Peter Scazzero’s book addresses a portion of this.From the looks of it, the Scazzeros have mined this space as thought leaders and are releasing books and workshops around specific demographics now (leaders, church, women, etc.). This might be a “Chicken Soup of the Soul” in the Christianity realm.However, I don’t want to diminish the real value offered in his first book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” (I haven’t read the other books.) As Scazzero shrewdly points out, when the bricks-and-mortar church encourages its members to repress emotions in favor of spirituality, members find themselves wondering what they’re supposed to get out of church that’s different from the rest of the culture. True healing can’t happen, he also argues, if we keep using Biblical platitudes to repress our emotions.These are compelling arguments — so compelling in fact that it’s easy to understand why the book became a bestseller. Both of these resonated with me, certainly, as I grew up in a church that demanded I repress my emotions in favor of pithy theological statements and budgetary efficiencies.Where the book failed to resonate was where it “westernized” Christian ideas like rest, offering the kinds of solution it had railed against earlier: that is, defining rest according to culture.These hiccups pale in comparison, though, to the rest of the book, which invites its audience, using conversational language, to mature emotionally in the Christian walk.
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  • Christopher Selmek
    January 1, 1970
    Having read this book, I am now emotionally healthy.Not really, but it is helpful in separating true Christian spirituality from those behaviors we learn from our families, which some people confuse as being biblical. Many churchgoers have the impression that you need to bury anger, fear, and self-doubt if you’re going to be respected within your church community, but this book makes the good point that we need to be honest about addressing our emotions if we want to really be spiritual.I’m not Having read this book, I am now emotionally healthy.Not really, but it is helpful in separating true Christian spirituality from those behaviors we learn from our families, which some people confuse as being biblical. Many churchgoers have the impression that you need to bury anger, fear, and self-doubt if you’re going to be respected within your church community, but this book makes the good point that we need to be honest about addressing our emotions if we want to really be spiritual.I’m not sure whether I enjoyed these books more (EMS, the daily devotional guide, and the workbook for groups), or the church group that walked us through these exercises. I know there was a lot of deep sharing going on at our table, because you have to confront the issues of your past before you can start to develop spiritually. There was some Bible study involved, but I found this less helpful than the real life examples Scazzero presents.One of the things the book repeatedly hammers is the need to spend time with God several times a day, which it refers to as the daily office, rather than a mere quiet time in the morning that leaves you feeling spiritually depleted by noon. It suggests a number of habits that would be good to introduce, and a number of bad habits you may not be fully aware you’re doing. Some of my pastors have gone on to the Emotionally Healthy Leadership courses that Scazzero hosts, but I am pretty content with what I have read here. I do suggest it be read with a group so that you can do the exercises together.
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