Tag Archives: Marriage

Book Review: Choosing Marriage

Book Review:  Choosing Marriage by Debra Fileta

The Good: 

Great Combo.   The author is a licensed counselor and a passionate believer, which provides a great combination of practical and spiritual help to the marriage relationship.  While providing real life examples from her personal life and counseling situations, it gives a well-rounded approach to building healthy marriages.

See Things From the Other Side.  Truth be told, most of the marriage books on my shelves are from the male perspective.  Sure, they are full of Biblical truth, but they lack one thing…the view from the other side of the aisle.  A book about marriage from the wife’s point of view was sorely needed, and Debra Fileta is a great place to start.

For real, for real.  One thing you can say for sure about this book, it is honest and real.  For example, the author gives a hilarious story of her honeymoon that provides a reality of what marriage can be.  The rose-colored glasses are knocked off your face, and the realistic approach to a godly marriage is refreshing and appreciated.

The Bad:

Can you hand me my glasses?  One complaint I have actually has nothing to do with the content of the book.  For some reason, the text seemed faint in some places.  Maybe it was just my copy, but the font could have been a little bolder for the reader.  Small annoyance in a very enjoyable read.

Careful of the hyperbole.  It was rare, but I did catch some hyperbole.  For example, in the final chapter the author mentions marriage as the “hardest and greatest thing you’ll ever do”.  Taking out the spiritual side of things, perhaps this is true.  But the greatest thing we will do as believers goes beyond our marriage, and into eternity.

The Grade:  A.   If I had to describe the book in one word:  enjoyable.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just a book of whimsical saying and enjoyable stories…this book had some dynamite advice and counsel for the marriage relationship.  My point is it was written in a way where you could enjoy improving your marriage, while being challenged in an appropriate and endearing manner.  Kudos to Debra Fileta in providing a valuable resource to both singles and married folks in their pursuit of reflecting the relationship of Christ and His bride.

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Book Review: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Book Review:  Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage by Jim Newheiser

The Good:

Biblical and Sensitive.  The author has great bed side manner in wading through difficult questions about marriage and divorce.  The book does not tip-toe around subjects, but appropriately guides the reader through Biblical texts carefully and effectively.

Explanations for His Explanations.  The author is so careful to take every angle and side to each question of marriage.  Newheiser goes to great lengths to thoroughly present solutions to marriage questions and take you on a full ride around all possible scenarios.

Fight Club.  Many marriages need to read the conflict chapter together.  This could save so much heartache and tension in a marriage.

The Bad:

N/A

The Grade:  A+.  Every pastor should have this on their shelf.  It provides Biblical answers to an array of ministry and counseling situations.  Additionally, it bestows great value for marriage counseling in its beginning pages as well.  With bite size chapters, well-formed summaries, and even discussion questions for further thought, the book is a must purchase for answers about marriage and divorce.

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Need Family Advice?

Need family advice?  Me too.  So I went to God’s Word and shared God’s thoughts on the family in the past, present, and the family’s future.  Click the picture below and have a listen.

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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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Book Review: What Did You Expect?

Book Review:  What Did You Expect? By Paul Tripp

The Good: 

Goal of Marriage.  It won’t take you long before you realize this isn’t just a marriage tips book.  If you want that, check out the grocery magazine stand or peruse the self-help books at Barnes & Noble.  Here, you find a spiritual awakening to your marriage.  You get a theological education of where God wants to take your marriage, and where God wants to take YOU in your marriage.  That’s what makes this a worthwhile read.

A Mirror to Your Soul.  If you are not ready to dive deep into your heart, then you better not click “Add to cart” on Amazon.  But, if you are ready to get to the heart of the problem, issue, or struggles of your marriage, then buckle up…this book will take you there.  I’ve never thought I had a bad marriage, but is that what I want?  “Not a bad marriage”.  For a great marriage, I MUST work at my marriage, and even more so, work on MYSELF in my relationship with God.

Can you give me an example?  I love a good story.  And when the stories of real marriage examples weave in and out of the chapter contents, it makes for a much more enjoyable read.  If the whole book was principles and practical tips, it still would be a valuable book.  But, with the real life examples of marital difficulty and victory, the reader gets the best of both worlds.

The Bad:

Verbose.  This was a BOOK.  Nearly 300 pages worth made it for a very long, but important read.  While all the material is valuable, I typically feel like it can be condensed when it gets to that thickness.  If I drop the book on my foot and it hurts, it’s too much and time to sum up.

The Grade:  B+

The length was the only downside to the book.  Tripp is one of my favorites.  Man, he is able to take theological concepts and apply them to everyday life-like no other.  Challenging principles from Scripture that get to the heart of the husband and wife, rather than surface marriage tips that only gloss over the real problems and issues.  If the self-help books are a band-aid, this here book is major heart surgery.  And if I’m your marriage doctor, I would be prescribing you this book to read 2 chapters and call me in the morning.

 

 

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Book Review: Date Your Wife

Book Review:  Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard

The Good: 

Younger Author.  No offense to the many marriage book authors I’ve read in the past, but they were typically old dudes.  While I certainly am not discounting the wisdom that comes with age & experience, I appreciated a marriage book by someone who was in the same life stage as myself.  Someone with young kids and a younger marriage.  As a result, I was glued to the author’s words as I was often living out similar experiences, trials, and victories.

Let’s Chat.  Easily was the best conversationally friendly book I had read on marriage.  There were great talking points throughout the book.  While some chapters lacked some depth, it made up for it immediately with the practicality and ability to transition the material into a conversation with your wife.

Short Chapters.  For a slow reader like myself who sneaks in a few pages here and there, the chapter length was a blessing.  It actually encouraged me to read more as I felt like I was progressing.  Sometimes the 30 page chapters are intimidating can be like trying to swallow the whole pizza, rather than having small chapters to take many small bites or slices.

The Bad:

Mr. Repeat.  The author tends to repeat himself.  The author tends to repeat himself.  Ok, I’ll stop.  It was a little annoying at the beginning, but it seemed there was purpose to the repetition.  When I was about halfway through the book, I was able to share with my wife all I had learned, and the concepts and lessons came-a-flowing out of my mouth.  Why?  Could be because of the repetition.

The Grade:  A-

There was a considerable amount of lessons and insight to appreciate from this book.  The application of Adam & Eve to current marriage was especially appreciated.  Justin Buzzard is tremendously creative in his pursuit of his wife, and the creativity spills out onto the pages.  I’m more excited about the days ahead of my marriage than I was before the book.  Even after finishing the book, I feel like the journey has just begun with the principles and ideas I gained from reading “Date Your Wife”.  A read I would put on every husband’s shelf.

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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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