Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: God's Battle Plan for the Mind

In God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation, David Saxton's goal is "to convince God's people of the absolute necessity of personal meditation."  He writes this book to "motivate the believer to begin this work; teach practically how to meditate on divine truth; and guide in right patterns of thinking throughout the day," (Kindle location 101).

Mr. Saxton notes that the practice of meditation unites biblical knowledge to practical living.  He goes on to state that "Unless a believer spends regular time thinking personally and deeply about the things of God, he will not be growing in the grace that the Lord desires in his life," (Kindle location 149).  The author surmises that meditation is neglected by many Christians today because it is "difficult work--work that is opposed by the distracting spirit of our age, our adversary the devil, and the carnal raging of our hearts," (Kindle location 250).

After a brief introduction to biblical meditation, Mr. Saxton devotes a whole chapter on the unbiblical forms of meditation that are practiced in churches today.  He boldly names the counterfeit activities such as yoga, transcendental meditation, relaxation therapy, the New Age Movement, and the mysticism and contemplative prayer of Roman Catholicism.  These practices create a mental vacuum while biblical meditation doesn't seek to empty the mind, but fill it with Scripture (Kindle location 447).  I was deeply convicted by the author's simple, yet powerful, statement: "People waste their best thoughts on worldly things because it is the easiest way to go," (Kindle location 477).

Once he establishes what biblical meditation is not, Mr. Saxton then provides a lengthy biblical description of what it is over the next 3 chapters.  He quotes many Puritan theologians to show their view and practice of biblical meditation.  In the remaining chapters, the author stresses the importance of this practice in the sanctification process of a believer's life and gives helpful tips for choosing meditation subjects and how to get started.  He also identifies the benefits of biblical meditation as well as the enemies that will undermine the believer's walk with God.

Near the end of his book Mr. Saxton addresses the modern-day Christian's reluctance to practice biblical meditation.  His exhortation is pointed, and may even be viewed as judgmental, but it strikes at the heart of the believer's unwillingness to change his thought life:
"To overcome the busyness that results in failure to meditate, one must be honest about what is important to him.  Why does a person find time to watch a two-hour movie and yet not find time to read God's Word and meditate upon it?  It is because he simply does not see the value in it and is unwilling to spare the time for it.  Thus, the way to overcome excuses is to admit that the Lord does not retain first place in one's life," (Kindle location 2485).
Fortunately, Mr. Saxton does not leave the Christian without remedy: "The initial way to correct this lack of biblical priorities is to recognize it as a sin of neglect and to ask the Lord's forgiveness and help."

Mr. Saxton writes this book to a Christian audience, so he presumes a believing reader.  Given the errors that have crept into the modern day Christian church (including unbiblical meditation), I think that he misses the opportunity to present the Gospel to the nominal Christian reader.

Nevertheless, God's Battle Plan for the Mind is a much needed resource for all Christians.  I highly recommend that believers of all ages and all maturity levels read this book and practice biblical meditation.  Christians are to do all things to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) and to think on things that are of good report (Phil. 4:8).  Mr. Saxton's book provides the needed guidance to obey these commands so that the believer can grow in sanctification and holiness.  The author helps us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12) with his clear and direct statement: "What a person habitually chooses to daily meditate on reveals his true spiritual condition," (Kindle location 383).

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.