Broken to Built: 31 Days of Rebuilding with Nehemiah by Barry Pearman on Amazon
For several years I've followed Pastor Barry Pearman's Turning the Page website and his twitter. I also belong to his related Facebook page and highly recommend all of them to you.
With a short chapter a day for a month of 31 days, mental health advocate and practitioner Barry Pearman anchors his reflective insights in the post-exilic Hebrew Bible book of Nehemiah. Although the book guides individuals as they move from being Broken to becoming (re)Built, Pearman reminds us of the necessity of having community alongside us and the necessity of constant connections with God, the only truly reliable One. The visually striking cover of the book photographically illustrates the idea of interaction and cooperation; in fact, the author crowd-sourced on his Facebook page to determine which one of four cover choices most appealed to people.
This book is for everyone! in his intro the author explains, "...we are in recovery mode. We are building and growing a life out of the rubble of what was left behind. In the choking dust of rubble we find that this is no fairy tale. The biblical Book of Nehemiah is a love story. God is in love with the people of Jerusalem and sees them broken, shamed and without dignity." And, "The big idea is that recovery/life takes place in a relational context."
Each chapter opens with a very short real-life vignette from people the author knows in real life; each chapter ends with a (1)Quote to consider, (2)Question to answer, and (3)A rock to build with. I'd suggest at first quickly glancing through the entire book to get a basic overview, then using each chapter as part of your daily devotions, and during the day remembering the end of chapter Quotes, Questions, and Rocks.
Hopefully everyone's life isn't completely in shambles and shards all the time, yet there's always some element that needs to be healed and helped back to wholeness. Maybe you've heard someone mention they started therapy or counseling because parts of their lives were going extremely well, while another aspect or two was in disastrous condition? Maybe that's been your experience? Despite being grounded in scripture Jews and Christians can relate to and affirm as having authority for their lives, this book is for everyone!
By the historical time period of Nehemiah's narrative, God's people had left their existence under Egyptian imperialism centuries earlier, returned to their home-land Jerusalem after exile under the Babylonian empire (though many deported to Babylon stayed there), and now they needed to deal with another empire. The post-[Babylonian] exilic book of Nehemiah describes life under that other empire—Persia. Scripture shows us how cleverly and effectively Jews – including Nehemiah – found ways to live well, grow healthy, and thrive in spite of far from ideal surroundings. Nehemiah even was employed by the Persian king! Often we simply cannot escape negative influences; for many reasons, we frequently need to stay in our current living situation or employment context, but must figure out work-arounds, as Nehemiah did.
I especially appreciate how Barry emphasizes the critical need of having supportive people alongside us at the same time he keeps emphasizing connecting with God in prayer. Those other humans help a lot, but (aside from Jesus of Nazareth) there's not yet been a perfect, totally reliable person, so God must remain our ultimate recourse and rock.
Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from the author with no obligation to write a positive review. As always, my opinions are my own.
My Amazon review: Connecting with Scripture and Community