Tag Archives: Counseling

Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Book Review:  Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

The Good:

Is This Real Life?  What I appreciate about this book is how true to life it is.  These are not utopian principles that only exist on perfect planets.  No, we are talking about chapters full of incredible, insightful and practical advice that belong on the counselor’s shelf.

What does that mean?  Clear definitions of words using Biblical backing.  For example, gossip was defined as when “I confess the sin of another person to someone who is not involved”.  Yep, that’s it.  These tightly wound, easy to pick up definitions are throughout the book, and quite helpful in everyday counseling opportunities.

I’m gonna use that.  You will find yourself saying “oh, I’m gonna use that” out loud on numerous occasions.  The charts, tactics, Bible passages, and unique methods are so valuable to help people who are in need of a change.

The Bad:

Careful there partner.  What I like about Tripp’s books is they are never short on boldness.  It is bold from the very first page where it claims this will be the “best news a human being could ever receive”.  Now that’s bold.  But on occasion, he goes a little too far in his theological statements using language that might be too absolute or take an interpretation too far.  It’s rare, but make sure to not take it all as Gospel (which I don’t believe Tripp intended in the first place).

The Grade:  A-.  I think I am a bit late to the party.  Nearly every counselor training session that I have attended, the speaker recommends this very book.  And it did not disappoint.  Great value in the counselor setting, and for that matter as a pastor, parent and husband…great value in everyday life.

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What Happens When Sinners Say “I Do”?

Did you know that your spouse is a sinner?  Yes, it’s true.  You married a sinner…and so did your spouse!  Sorry to lay that one on ya, but it’s true.  We are not perfect and when you get married, you marry an imperfect person with flaws, baggage, annoying habits, struggles, and a constant fight to please themselves over you.

So now that I dropped that bombshell on you, I thought it might be good to help you with this new revelation.  How about I suggest a book to you…41k0ystnbxl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Book Review:  When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey

The Good:

That’s Deep.  It’s like the author reaches into your soul in order pull out a good spouse.  There is incredible spiritual depth.  As Marty McFly would say…it’s heavy.  But, be patient, the book starts off pretty heavy but sets a very good foundation for the practical steps in the chapters that follow.  Topics that flow in the next few chapters include confrontation, forgiveness, communication, and sex.

Is “Teaching Illustrations” a spiritual gift?  Man, this dude can give illustrations.  I mean anything from riding a bike to opening gifts a Christmas…he is able to bring everyday life examples to drive home valuable lessons.  I mean, the author even snuck in Frodo and Luke Skywalker in there.  As a visual learner, this was very helpful in absorbing the material.

Beautiful End.  This was quite the twist.  I did not expect an ending that was so emotional and poetic.  Nearly brought to tears reading stories of marriages enduring through tragedy, I found it to be a perfect ending.  Although speaking of “till death do us part” as the final thoughts would not have been my first choice in writing the ending of a marriage book.  But you know what?  It worked.  Actually, it was masterful.  By far my favorite part of the book, and it left a sweet transition into putting the book’s lessons into practice in my own marriage.

The Bad:

What Just Happened?  There were times where I asked myself, “Self, where is he going with this?”.  On rare occasion, the transition from one point to another needed a little more.  We started merging on the freeway at 75 miles an hour and I needed time to put on my blinker.  You get me?

The Grade:  A-.  Based on the title, it might not be a good idea to buy it for your spouse.  How about buying it for yourself first?  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  This book allows reality to set in on marriage.  Fairytales do not exist.  Sure, falling in love is magical.  Your spouse is a gift that fills a part of your heart that was reserved only for them.  But…Life happens.  There are car problems, job losses, sick kids, sleepless nights…it’s not always unicorn rides over rainbows.  So when that happens, when tension rises along with your blood pressure…how will you work through marriage as a flawed, sinful, and mistake-filled person with someone else who is all those things too.  You’ll have to read this book (which points to the real answers found in God’s Word) to find out.

 

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Book Review: Craftsmen

Book Review: Craftsmen by John Crotts

The Good:

Counseling Gold. Whether it is anger, lust, or greed…this book provides incredible counseling material. I would strongly recommend using this book for counseling opportunities. It gives great outlines supported from Scripture to help men overcome sin.

Here ya go son. I will one day say this with this book in hand, “here ya go son”. This book is primarily based on the content found in Proverbs. So, as Solomon wrote Proverbs with his son in mind, I often read this book with my son in mind and lessons that I desire my son to learn.

A Ministry Smorgasbord. Wow, the possibilities! There are so many avenues this book can be used both in vocational ministry and personal ministry. Church ministries such as men’s bible study, men’s retreats, and parenting seminars. Personal ministries may include parenting and discipleship of other believers. It is a book that should be on every parent and pastor’s bookshelf. I happen to be both, so it is on my shelf!

The Bad:

Confusion over eternal security. While I’m not clear on the doctrinal position of the article, there is some confusion over eternal security. While sin does lead the sinner to hell, there is some confusion at the end of chapter seven. The Gospel is presented well, but a new believer may be confused over what sin can do to one’s eternal security. I would have preferred some better explanation and a more careful language surrounding sin and its consequences.

The Grade: B+.

There are few books out there that have this type of impact on the teaching of godly manhood. Combining challenge with conviction, Crotts does a fantastic job at putting the reader face to face with God’s Word. A man reading this book is essentially presented with a choice: live a wise life or life a life of the fool. This book presents a powerful case for the wise, God-fearing life.

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Book Review: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler #MinglingOfSouls

Book Review: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler

The Good:

Attention all teenagers/young adults/parents of teens & young adults/etc etc. Tell all teenagers and young adults to read the 1st three chapters of this book right now! No seriously, get them out of school/wake them up/take them from work and leave them in a park somewhere and tell them to read the 1st three chapters of this book and discuss it with you. In these three chapters are priceless advice for anyone that is pre-marriage.

Bible-based. The problem with many marriage books is the source of the advice. Sure, psychologists and marriage counselors have wisdom to share, but they pale in comparison to the Word of God. This book guides the reader through the Song of Solomon and draws advice from the wisest man to ever live who, by the way, was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Check please.331639

A Must for Marriage Counselors & Pastors. This book is perfect for any number of scenarios. Whether you want to improve in marriage counseling, or you are a pastor formulating your wedding ceremony template, or you just want to help improve your marriage or a friend’s…this book is for you.

A Challenge From The Start. Let’s be honest, some books tend to trail off like a cell phone in the mountains. Not this book. A blow-by-blow heavyweight fight from start to finish, with challenges for those not married, newly married, and long-married (long-married…is that a word?).

Conflict Resolution. Chandler does not dance around this subject, because in marriage there will be conflict. This chapter is pure gold. Rather than just provide advice for husbands, this book provides great balance between the sexes in dealing with conflict. In fact, the entire book is very well-balanced for both spouses in not just conflict, but all areas of marriage.

The Bad:

A Warning. Chapter five is not for young readers. This chapter is designed for engaged/married couples, but still has value in understanding the true purpose of sexual intimacy designed by God. In this chapter, younger readers will still find valuable warnings of how the world has distorted sex.

Too Much Gospel? This is hard to say. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves in everything we do, including marriage. But, I felt at times, the Gospel was used almost too often and brought some confusion. Almost like, sprinkle a little Gospel on it and it will taste better. At times, could have used more explanation. I understand the intent and I hesitated to even mention it, but felt I needed to be honest.

The Grade: A+

This book is real, honest, but never lets up on the pursuit of a marriage how God intended it to be. It takes the reader on an enjoyable ride through the twists and turns of marriage, but slow enough to provide valuable insight and advice from the Word of God that is attainable, useful, and life-changing. Chandler uses transparency and real-life examples to illustrate lessons learned the hard way. This book should be the next read for anyone reaching for the ultimate joy in marriage. (Hint: It’s not you or your spouse).

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Book Review: “What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him” by Byron Yawn

Book Review: What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn51pc3yNJ2uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Good:

One Liner After One Liner. Goodness, I have never read a book that had so many one-liners that hit you right between the eyes, especially as a dad. So much so, you had to really take your time through some paragraphs because were so full of sentences dripping with truth and power.

Like a Modern Day Proverbs. The wisdom this book provides for sons and Fathers of sons is priceless. It will provide healing, wisdom, instruction, and parenting guidance. It reminds me of the book Solomon wrote for his son…while it certainly does not have the power of God’s Word, it still draws from Biblical principles for the next generation of men.

Counseling Gold. Countless times I wrote in the margin of this book “counseling illustration” or “use in counseling”. As a young father, I need all the wisdom I can get in parenting my own children, let alone counseling other fathers. This will help.

Humor Like a Desert. Just how I like it. I love dry humor, and this book was full of it. It was well-placed, and allowed the read to be more enjoyable. At times, it kept me coming back for more.

Miscellaneous Reasons for Purchase. #1 – Man Laws. #2 – Chapter on Sexual Purity. #3 – Chapter 18 will grip your heart and will have an incredible effect on the reader (if not, check your pulse).

The Bad:

Redundancy. There was some redundancy of literary style at times. Hard to explain, but sometimes slowed the flow of the read. The repetitiveness in style often cause the writer to say the same thing in different ways in the same paragraph.

Too Dogmatic? I put a question mark here because it wasn’t something that caused me to struggle in my doctrinal view of the book. However, there were some very strong statements that may cause you to slightly raise an eyebrow, but not get bent out of shape.

Take the Gospel, and Call me in the morning. This seems like this is happening more and more in our Christian culture where we simply say the solution is the Gospel. While it probably is true, I need more than just the word, but an explanation. There were times in the book where it had the former without the latter.

The Grade: A

I just finished the book a few days ago, and have already recommended it to a Men’s Bible study group, a parent of a teen, and put it in my planner to recommend at my next big parents meeting. This book comes strongly recommended from one dad to another. With my little boy coming any day now, I needed this, and your son wants you to read this book too.

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Book Review: “The Complete Husband” by Lou Priolo

Book Review: The Complete Husband by Lou Priolo51DD8823XJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Warning: As you read The Complete Husband, you will discover how incomplete you are as a husband. This book is not hazardous to your health, in fact may be quite essential to your spiritual growth as a husband.

The Good:

Counseling Gold. As a young pastor, this book is worth its weight in gold, so to speak. In terms of counseling, it is priceless. There are many “gold nuggets” of truth throughout the book. But the real counseling value is in the practical exercises given extensively.  You may even want to require this for pre-marital counseling.

Easy to Use. This book is not full of lofty, spiritual ideals that cannot never be grasped this side of heaven. On the contrary, Priolo provides practical steps to improve multiple facets of the role of the husband. These steps are clear, although I cannot say they are easy to follow since we, as husbands fail at times.

Brace for Impact. Priolo uses simple points with incredible insight that cause a great impact. The reader will find themselves having many “aha moments”. Insight into the role of the husband is found all throughout the book, providing life-changing behavioral, spiritual, and practical changes.

Homework? Yes Please. The worksheets or homework provided at the end of the chapters and the back of the book are worth the purchase of the book alone. It allows the reader to truly work through the issues on a more personal level.

The Bad:

Nit-Picky. The book is not nit-picky, but I will have to be if I were to find the bad in this book. If I had to pick sometime, it may be there may be some small doctrinal disagreements throughout the book, such as how God’s omniscience relating to “forgetting” the sin of a believer. But again, I’m nit-picking here.

The Grade: A

For lack of better terms, this book will kick your husband butt. The reader, in this case, the husband, will find themselves falling short often to the standard that is set in each chapter. Would you rather read a book about being a husband, and be able to say you have it all figured out? I’d rather read a challenging book to push me to be a better husband to my wife. So if you are ready for a challenge, pick this book up and follow the advice towards being a more complete husband.

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Book Review: Sex is Not the Problem, Lust Is

Book Review:   Sex is Not the Problem, Lust Is by Joshua Harrissex-not-problem-lust-is-393x350

The Good:   The overarching positive of the book is its honesty.  Joshua Harris even brings several personal battles into the book, which allows the reader to relate to its content.  The honesty has a good balance of providing personal battles and not allowing the reader to drift off in their imagination causing more harm than good.  That being said, it does not shy away from topics such as masturbation, pornography, and sexual fantasies.

Also, it provides great value in counseling.  All throughout the book there are practical helps, homework assignments you could give counselees struggling with sexual purity, and Bible verses that combat false ideals and useful for withstanding temptation (chapter 9 happens to be my favorite chapter where it give Bible passages that dispel the lies of the enemy).

The Bad:   The target audience (teens to young adults) took away from some of its firepower.  You were forced to adapt some of the application as an adult reader. 

The Grade:  B+.  The principles were still very solid and practical for the most part.  It paints a realistic picture of the power of lust, and provides Biblical ways to combat and overcome lust.  It provides a solid challenge to any reader, and great tool for anyone fighting for purity.  Also, if you are looking for a book to counsel teenagers or young adults who are struggling in sexual purity, this book would be on my recommended list.

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Double Book Review: I’m a Church Member & Closing the Window

churchmemberBook Review:  I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer

The Good:  First off, bravo for the impact of this book, yet it taking only 30-45 minutes to read.  Don’t let the brevity full you, like a featherweight boxer it still packs a punch.  This book contains 6 chapters and 6 ways to become a better church member, each with Biblical backing and strong conviction and practicality.  Rainer does a great job combating what he calls the “country club” philosophy of church membership and promotes a giving, serving, and putting others first membership philosophy.  The opening illustration in each chapter keep the reading fresh and applicable to real life.  If anything, you have to read the “child facing two scenarios” illustration in chapter 6.  Priceless.

The Bad:  The pledge in the back of each chapter may be a little corny.  I get the concept, but could be condensed in the final chapter holding all the truths.

The Grade:  A.  There a great misunderstanding of both the importance of being a member of a church and also the responsibilities associated with church membership.  This books helps solve that mystery.  It is a much needed kick in the pants for those that would rather their backsides not be bothered and heavily cushioned during a church service.  It puts people in motion to properly serve and function in the church body, like Christ, the head of the church, intended.

Book Review:  Closing the Window by Tim Chester

closing-the-windowThe Good:  My fingers may get tired from typing if I listed how important this book is in today’s society, especially for young people.  Here’s a stat for you…93% of teenagers have access to the internet.  Do you know the percentage of teenage boys who have been exposed to internet pornography…93%!  Girls aren’t far behind, with exposure at 62%.  I realize this is under the GOOD column.  Here is the good news, this book provides a solution to the problem.  It offers a five-tier process that breaks through the myths and straw-like answers that often fail, and presents a Biblical, life-transforming model that withstands for the long haul.

What’s great about this book is its approach.  While there are underlying reasons for the use of porn, it goes even deeper than the emotional or personality struggles.  The solution starts and ends with God.  Think about it, you really think someone can defeat porn using filters, accountability, or DVD pass codes.  Come on, those should be used, but the user will find a way around those man-made barricades if he or she so desires.  Removing porn from your life is not about what you are losing or blocking, but what you gain.  Many try to take porn away, but don’t replace it, and then find themselves returning to fill the void.  Let me use a quote from the book to explain:  “What happens if you weigh a life with porn against a life without porn?  Put like that, porn will always win, for it offers excitement, pleasure, thrills…by definition…a lesser life…weighing a life with porn against a life lived for God’s glory.  Porn versus glory, porn versus God, fleeting pleasure versus lasting pleasure, shame versus glory, destruction versus eternal life:  which looks the lesser now?”

The Bad:  The only bad…how this book is not better known (this picture above was only available on google images) & how this book is not required for every man to read.  Let me ask you a question:  Do you or anyone you know ever struggled with porn?  Virtually everyone will answer yes to that question.  Whether you need help, or you are in a position to offer help, you need to consider reading this book.

The Grade:  A+.  Please listen to me when I say this, this is not just a book for someone that is addicted to pornography.  This book will help you in your marriage, it will provide you with a proper view of women, and along the way provide Biblical and life-lasting ways to defeat lust in your life.  I’ve read in multiple articles that this book is the best book on counseling someone who is addicted to pornography.  It did not disappoint.  Read it to get out of your addiction.  Read it to help others with their addiction.  Read it to prevent addiction.  Read it to bring you closer to your spouse (or to your future spouse) and read it to become closer in your relationship with God.

 

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5 Questions to Ask After a Break-Up

When counseling a teenager about a break-up, there are some key questions to ask.  Before getting to those, there is one thing to remember.  You may not think it is a big deal, but to them IT IS a big deal.  So treat it like the big deal it is, and try to remember when you were a teenager and how much it hurts when someone broke up or rejected you.  That should raise your empathy level to where it needs to be.

Here are the “5 Questions to Ask a Teenager After a Breakup”:

  1. How are you doing?  May seem like a simple question, but if it is meant and felt, it should break the ice when they know you care.
  2. What hurts the most?  This will help get a little deeper and help you know what to counsel.breaking-up
  3. What emotion do you experience the most?  Anger?  Depression?  Pain?  Each of these emotions have spiritual answers or spiritual passages that can help.  Narrowing down your search will help you know where to steer them in God’s Word.
  4. How has your relationship with God been in the last 7 days?  (How has God fit in your healing process?)  Don’t let this be an excuse to find rebellion, let it be an excuse to bring them closer to God.
  5. What can you learn from this?  It is pointless for this young person to go through hardship if you can’t learn from it.  Whether it is an attitude change, response to difficulty, spiritual growth…let this be something God can use to change you for the better…because you either get BITTER OR BETTER!
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