Tag Archives: Marriage

How will your marriage be OR How is your marriage now?

Book Review:  Ready to Wed by Dr. Greg & Erin Smalley

The Good:

Marriage Counseling 101.  In the next year, I’m planning to add and revise some of my pre-marital material.  And guess what book will have a big part of that revision.  Yep, this one right here…excellent pre-marital counseling advice, material, and exercises.

I Got Homework.  Although this book is written for those preparing for marriage, I found myself completing many of the homework assignments on my own and with my wife.  So marriage veterans, don’t think for a minute this book will not benefit your marriage.

Who Wrote This Chapter?  Within the “12 Ways to Start a Marriage You’ll Love”, there is a new author for each chapter.  Why is this a good thing?  Well, it allows the book to have varied personalities and styles to make the book more enjoyable.

The Bad:

Didn’t I Hear This Before?  Although the different authors can be a good thing, the downside is there is opportunity for repetition and slight contradictions.  Some of the opinions of the authors may differ somewhat and can hurt the continuity of the book a little.  None of the contradictions are drastic, but there are small ones here and there.

Shameless Plugs.  One author seems to use their chapter as a platform to promote their book over and over.  It would be like if I mentioned my book “Bottom Line”, which is a devotional for teens & young adults, on this blog.  Or if I would put the reader to www.bottomlinedevotional.com for book information and purchase options in a book review blog.  But I would never do that.

Weak Sauce.  The majority of the book was Biblically sound.  However, there was at least one author who seemed to not like the word “sin”.  It’s OK to call it that!  Instead of calling the problem “pride”, words were used like “buttons pushed”.  Come on, don’t come at me with that weak sauce!

The Grade:  B+.  I really enjoyed this book for its variety, meaty advice & counsel material, along with solid Biblical principles.  Occasionally there would be some repetition or weak fluff marital direction, but that was rare.  It was a great read and encouragement for those preparing for marriage, and those that tied the knot years ago.

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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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How Do You Know God’s Will?

1441765405545Do you know God’s Will? In some things…yes, but not everything. Romans 2:15 says we know God’s will for morality, whether we agree w/ it all – it is still His law, God’s standard. We cannot change that…but we KNOW it. It is written on our hearts.

Working with teens – there are often questions to know God’s will for college, career, dating…how do you know? I tell them – if you stare at the clouds long enough, God will spell it out. Kidding! NO, it’s not written in the clouds. And don’t look for a piece of burnt toast that looks like Jesus…God doesn’t work that way. Although that piece of toast is pretty amazing.

For real though, this is what I usually share with them Do you really think – if you are following God’s moral will for your life…you strive after Him, you pray and are into His Word daily…you think He won’t make His will clear to you in those big things in life? I believe He will.

WILL OF GOD_std_tBut what about non-moral decisions? What about the purpose of our suffering? What about those things that you just don’t understand? Are we without hope? NO! Will we ever know why or how? Maybe not. What do we do? We PRAY. And that which is missing, according to Romans 8:26-27, the information we do not know – the HS will fill that in – He will write the rest of our story to God! Wow!

Let me break it down this way:

  1. God promises He will hear us
  2. Holy Spirit will Help us
  3. End Result – It will all work out for GOOD (Romans 8:28)

You know what the foundation of all this is – trust. You are trusting that God will hear and has the power to answer your prayer. You are trusting the Holy Spirit knows your heart and can take your cries to the Father with the right information. You trust that no matter what happens – God is in control and what He says, allows, does…it is GOOD.

The rest of this sermon can be found and listened to here

 

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In Search of a Mentor, I Found of Love & Family

I needed help. I needed a mentor. I needed discipleship. Let me start off by saying this…I had the blessing of growing up with two devoted Christ-followers as parents. They led me to salvation, brought me to church, loved me, and cared for me with selflessness and unconditional love. But, a good parent understands that their child needs more than just themselves to continue to grow. When other adults take a spiritual interest in a young person, that additional support goes a long way in their spiritual development. And I had the blessing to have many mentors and adult support (youth pastor, pastors, teachers, youth leaders, and the list goes on) willing to disciple me…I probably needed more than most to get me going in the right direction.

1545973_10155682313840246_5840232825176079849_nBut one particular couple stands out. They had 5 children of their own, so I look back now and am amazed they had so much time to help me. The husband, a sharp man, was never afraid to tell me the truth, and providing sound Biblical advice. The wife was so caring, kind-hearted, and full of grace. You could call them a couple with truth and grace.

When my mom passed away, they constantly opened their home, fed me loaded nachos, and played games with me. They provided a home away from home when I was really hurting. The wife would provide me advice that I needed from a mom including “don’t be kissing till you have a ring”, and filled my belly with additional snacks that I also needed from a mom. The dad would scream laugh at my jokes, listen intently to my stories from the golf course, and be a sounding board for my career aspirations.

But one day stands out. My mom had just passed away in early May, and I needed a suit for my high school graduation. I had no clue. I never had owned a suit in my life, and didn’t know the first place to look. So I asked if this couple would meet me at the mall and give this sad kid some fashion direction. I needed a mom to stop me from picking a leisure suit, and guide me in the right direction.

11800259_10155808635090246_1847206222024109969_nWe met at JCPenney. This couple helped me pick out a solid black suit. A suit I wore to my graduation from high school. A suit I wore to my graduation from college and seminary. It also became the suit that I wore on my first date with their daughter…I think you know where this is going.

This couple was always like a second father and mother to me. Now, they truly are. I fell in love with their daughter after that first date. (And no, I didn’t kiss her until she had the ring!) The mentoring and discipleship that I received in high school, still continues to this day. My father-in- law continued to disciple me as I became the primary caretaker of his daughter, just 5 years after they helped me purchase my first suit.

IMG_290215 years later, they gave me money for my birthday. And after 15 years, I needed a new suit (the wife/mother-in-law’s daughter also makes a really good loaded nacho – hence needing a new suit).   So with the birthday money, I decided to go to JCPenney with my wife and kids, and purchase a new solid black suit. It reminded me of that special day, and the many other days this couple disciple me patiently to help me become a better follower of Jesus.

So, pastors, youth leaders, parents, teachers, friends…what does a mentor look like? What does discipleship look like? It looks a lot like life. A mentor is someone that is willing to sacrifice their time and energy to provide godly wisdom to everyday life. Sure, this couple may have had 300 other things to do that day, but they knew I needed help for an important day. And there had to be times they wanted a quiet night when I rang the doorbell, but the nachos and “take two” game were ready for me every time without a complaint. Life and time. You put those two things together under the precious wisdom of God’s Word, you have discipleship.

Take time to be a mentor. Take time to disciple a younger person, or a younger believer. Treat them like family, because one day they just might be.

 

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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: “You and Me Forever” by Francis & Lisa Chan

Book Review: You and Me Forever, by Francis & Lisa ChanB1IKi3KCAAARclh.jpg large

The Good:

When We Gonna Talk About Marriage. This book is heavily focused on the reader’s relationship with God. And why not? This is the relationship that will last into eternity, not your marriage relationship. So the journey Chan takes you is bigger than just man and wife, and that is what makes this book unique and powerful.

Radical Call to Marriage. This is no ordinary marriage book, it is radical. It is a call to live your marriage entirely different. What makes it so credible, is the author and his wife lived what was written in this book. Otherwise, it would be a “you should” book. Instead, it is a “we did, and look what happened” book.

Ready for a Challenge? If you don’t want to be challenged, then don’t read this book. If you do…buckle up! The book is full of challenging thoughts and one-liners that smack you around.   The chapter on mission specifically will provide a great challenge.

Parenting Chapter. The parenting chapter alone is worth the price of admission. If you don’t have the time to read everything, read that chapter, and then if you can go back to the beginning and dive in. It is worth the swim.

The Bad:

Came for a Hamburger, and Got a Steak. Listen, if you open this book expecting a book full of relationship advice, you’re barking up the wrong tree. So don’t waste your time here. This book goes on a much deeper spiritual level and forces you to reevaluate your marriage. This is the closest thing I can come up with in terms of bad.

The Grade: A

I’m a little bias, sure. Crazy Love was the one of the first books that produced in me spiritual life change, outside of the Bible. Before that, reading was the furthest thing from my desk or leisure activity. When I realized I could read, and my life habits and disciplines could change as a result, I was sold. And it just happened to be Crazy Love was the first book I experienced that life change.

That being said, this book provides a unique look on marriage. It goes outside the girls are from Pluto, boys are from Saturn type relationship advice. It goes much deeper. For those that have a relationship with God and are married, this book provides a way for those two relationships to not only co-exist, but to thrive and grow into the relationships that are God-designed…how they are supposed to be.

Want more than just marital advice? Want to live life as a couple with a mission that is directed by God and has eternal effects? Want more than just a happy marriage? Pick up this book.

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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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Double Book Review: “The Meaning of Marriage” & “Is God Anti-Gay”

Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Kellertim_keller

Side note: I try to read at least one marriage/husband book per year. If you decide to this, this book would be a great place to start.

The Good:

Have a Good Pen Ready. I found out really quickly I needed to make sure my pen had plenty of ink, because I was underlining like a college freshman in their first class. This was like going through pre-marital counseling, a seminary class on marriage, and a sermon series on the family all rolled up in one. So my first advice to you is to have your pen, locked and loaded.

If you’re married, make room on your shelf. Packed with enjoyable and impactful personal stories and real life examples, this book provides superior insight to the marriage relationship. Additionally, this quite possibly may have the best Biblical support of any marriage book I have read, just incredible Biblical foundation.

College/Young Adults…Peep This! Chapter 7 is an absolute gold mine for college/young adults and anyone that is ministering or counseling this particular age. This chapter is worth the price of admission. Singles as well, you will want to read this chapter.

Spoiler Alert. Not to ruin the book for you, but the principles are life-changing. For example: Marriage should bring glory to God, if not you are doing something wrong. Or here’s another example: You will not be marriage to the “same person” forever – if you are doing marriage right you each will inspire each other to change more like Jesus Christ. GOOD STUFF!

The Bad:

Wordy.  My only complaint was there were a few occasion of wordiness, and could have been more succinct. But even this comment is being a little nit-picky.

The Grade: A.

This may be the best marriage book I have ever read. The combination of Biblical foundation and timeless life principles is difficult to beat. This is well worth the read for anyone preparing for or in marriage.

anti-gay 

Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay by Sam Allberry

The Good:

It’s all about perspective. The author admits to struggling with same-sex attraction. Therefore, the perspective is what makes this book superior. Christian authors can attempt to write these words, but from the pen of someone who experiences the struggles, the weight of the words increase dramatically.  There was truly a balance here. These were determinations and principles that the author truly had to experience and fully believe. Otherwise, it would be a practicing homosexual writing these words, not one who struggles with same-sex attraction. Therefore, the author provides great insight in a balanced approach to the treatment of the gay community and the homosexuality subject in general.

New Insight. Some of the Biblical perspective and groundwork were incredibly enlightening. In fact, there were times where I thought to myself, I never even thought of that, and it makes total sense. The depth from the combination of a Biblical scholar who struggles with same-sex attraction was a lethal combo, in the sense of providing spiritual depth along with a human touch.

Great Ending. Don’t you hate it when you watch a movie that is good all the way up to the end, and it just ruins everything? This book is nothing like that. The ending, especially the words penned on page 83 are worth the price of the book one hundred fold.

The Bad:

One piece missing. It is a short book, so there could always be more you could add. However, one piece that seems to be missing is the interaction with culture. This book dealt more with friends or those attending church, what about engaging culture?   Chapter 5 just needed to be a little longer.

The Grade: A-

Everyone I’ve talked to said this is a must read on the topic of homosexuality. As I said before, this book is written by a man who has dealt with this issue in their own life, and comes to the table with elements that have come out his own personal journey. He truly had to believe what he writes, because it affects his life choices. Additionally, the depth of spiritual insight on the subject was eye-opening. Worth the quick read.

 

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Wedding Rehearsal Tips

  1. Let’s get this party started. Gather entire wedding party together at front. If outdoors, possibly meet in the tent or in small room for instructions.
  1. My name is…Introduce yourself. Explain you are the pastor of the wedding. Give the impression you are happy to be there.
  1. Meet & Greet. Before you pray, start off by having Bride introduce her family and bridesmaids.  Next, have the Groom introduce his family & groomsmen.
  1. Prayer. God should be at the center of the marriage and wedding ceremony, and the wedding rehearsal should be no different.
  1. Twice is Nice. This is how this will work. 1st run through will be a “rough draft”. Get all the kinks out, and it typically ends up being gigglefest 1995. Then run it through a 2nd time as the “REAL DEAL”. Exactly like you would have it on the wedding day.
  1. Introduce the Enforcer. Introduce the Wedding Coordinator. The wedding coordinator will get everyone in their places and get started. Also be sure to explain if you have ANY questions/concerns on wedding day, see the wedding coordinator, not the bride or groom.
  1. Leave some Space. Make sure to leave a place in your notebook to jot down some notes for tomorrow’s wedding.rehearsal

 

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Are you Married? Do you have a smartphone?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, then watch this and be convicted.

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