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Three centuries before Desiring God there was The Pleasantness of a Religious Life. Clearly the former has a better title, but Matthew Henry’s book is in some ways better than John Piper’s. While it is much shorter, it is tougher reading in that venerable Puritan style that is so different from our dumbed down prose. The sentences are longer and more complex. For those who stumble over such things this book is a worthy investment of time and energy.

J.I. Packer wrote a brief introduction to the book, in part, to explain the change in meaning of “pleasantness” over the centuries since Matthew Henry wrote this book. It had a much deeper, richer and more significant meaning that we typically give it today. We think of a pleasant day as one with nice weather, few distractions, some good conversation. They saw far more joy involved. We’d say a great day or an awesome day. The meaning of pleasant has weakened over the centuries. And of course there is the problem of “religious” in our day and age. It seems quite the dull prospect this book, but Packer wants to set us straight.

“Henry’s aim is to make us see that real Christianity is a journey into joy, always moving us from one joy to another and that this is one of many good and strong reasons for being excited and wholehearted in our discipleship.” J.I. Packer

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I was pondering counseling yesterday.  It was a nice, quiet morning at the house.  I was considering why I was foolish enough to not pursue a license after getting my Master of Arts in Counseling.  I was single at the time, and it would have been easy to spend my day off seeing clients.  Such a license could possibly provide additional income while I am between church positions.

But then I remembered that counseling is for those with extra cash, and lots of people don’t have extra cash these days.  So, perhaps my little counseling practice wouldn’t really help.  This got me on a different train of thought.

I had a phone interview this week.  We were discussing my experience with leading small groups.  One thing I learned during my counseling coursework was about processing thoughts and feelings.  Some people who “talk too much” in a small group process thoughts externally.  They are not necessarily sinfully trying to dominate the discussion or show off (though that is a possibility).  They might have to “think out loud.”  Similarly, those who process information internally, tend not to talk in a small group.  It is painful when you’re leading a group of people who process internally.

Those who process ideas externally tend to process emotions internally.  Likewise, those who process ideas internally tend to process emotions externally.  I think out loud, which can drive some people nuts.  I have a need to talk through what I’m studying.  This is on reason I blog- not many people here in Winter Haven enjoy talking about the books I’m reading.  But I need to be alone to process my emotions.  After a disagreement, I often need to be alone to figure out what I’m feeling and why.  Drives CavWife nuts.

This connects, trust me.

Those most likely to seek counseling are those who process emotions externally.  Most counselors will look for affect- emotion- and most people go to a counselor to work through emotions they have not been able to process.  They have tried, but their friends were unable to walk them through the process.

Of course, there are cognitive-behavioral therapists.  They will attract those who process thoughts externally. The counselors will probably be uncomfortable with lots of emotion, preferring to help people process thoughts & actions.

This makes so much sense now: counselors choosing a theory or style based on how they process information & emotions and counselees choosing a therapist, in part, based on the same principle.

Why wasn’t I told this?  Am I the only one silly enough to think about this?  Perhaps I just have way too much time on my hands. 

This also explains why I’ve felt like such a lousy counselee.  I’m thinking I should be processing my emotions with the counselor when I actually process my thoughts.  I thought I had to be someone I was not in order to make the counselor’s job easier.  How’s that for neurotic?

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