Self-Help Books

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Listen to this devotional:

Psalm 18:6 – In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (NIV)

Have you ever read any of the self-help books? I heard that these books make up the majority of books sold today. Many of them are for people like me, who have a hard time adapting to the new ways of living. The ones I would look at cover subjects like how to install surround sound, or how to get the most out of a cell phone. They have titles with phrases that include "The Idiot's Guide To…" and "…For Dummies". One online bookseller lists 2,645 titles of books For Dummies, covering investing, taxes, eBay, M.B.A., Ph.D., disaster, body language, makeup, and plumbing, all "For Dummies". The authors or editors take a subject and bring it down to the level that even I can understand. Actually, I wonder where I could get the time to read all of these books, let alone remember anything that I read!

Then there are the self-help books that cover improving ourselves. At this time of year, we could use them to help us make and keep New Year's resolutions. Here are just a few of the titles that I encountered: "If You Had Controlling Parents", "Put Old on Hold", "Are You Living or Surviving?" "Seven Keys to Weight Loss Freedom", and "Self-Help Stuff That Works". Part of the problem is that if we could really improve ourselves in our own power, we would likely have done so by now. Years ago, a professor shared with me his understanding of people with problems. It's simple: the problems are all unique, so treat them as such. There are no pat answers in life. Or are there?

Before any of these books were published, there was, and is, one Book that tells how to fix us human beings, and what God has done and can do about making things right. It's a history book of sorts, telling stories of how God helped people to sort out their lives and to live fulfilling ones. But it is not a self-help book. It is the Bible. Everything we need to know about life is found in this one volume. We don't need to read all those 2,645 books to figure things out. If we just open the Bible, we will find God talking to us. He will let us know what we need to learn, and how to apply what we learn to become a little more like Him each day. All we have to do is listen to what He has to say.

After all, He's never wrong — but we are.

Prayer: Father, when we need to learn something about ourselves, please direct us to Your Word. It's the book we truly need. Amen.

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Robert Barlow <>
Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada

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