Category Archives: Marriage

Want a great marriage?

From this day forward

From This Day Forward is a simple but effective book on how to have a lasting marriage. Many Christians like to point their fingers at the gays and homosexuals saying they are ruining marriage. However, they are not ruining it. Who is ruining marriage then? Those heterosexuals who fail to live up to the commitments they made at the altar. Love is tossed around as a simple feeling or emotion. While it can be that, love is a choice and a commitment. I once heard it said “You do not fall in love, you fall in holes.” This is definitely something I have come to see in my own marriage. I did not fall in love with my wife, I chose to love her. Yes we had all those great feelings and emotions that all couples experience on their journey towards marriage but we also came to the conclusion that love is more than those butterflies in our stomachs, it is a choice, and it is a choice we made to love each other.

Unfortunately, many “Christians” are falling for the world’s idea of love over God’s. What this means is the church has been infiltrated with the wrong idea of love. Marriages are crumbling within the church just like it is outside of the church. Divorce is mentioned more often than it should be within the church. It is even seen as a way out if your spouse fails in some area or another. Instead of sticking through thick and thin, divorce is seen as an escape route. Craig and Amy address this in From This Day Forward.

This book does not break any new ground and or share any amazing new secret or wisdom to a happy marriage, but it is written in a practical and encouraging way to challenge couples that even though hard times can and will come, it is still possible to have a happy marriage. In the book, they address five commitments couples, whether married, dating or engaged, should make to fail proof your marriage. The five commitments are 1-Seek God, 2-Fight Fair, 3-Have Fun, 4-Stay Pure, and 5-Never Give Up. As you notice, these commitments are not rocket science and you have probably heard them mentioned before, but married couples would do well to actually commit to remember and practice them. If this were to happen within the church, I could almost guarantee that the church would be a happier and more welcoming place. Can you imagine a community coming together often who were practicing these five commitments? Wow. It would be amazing to see this happen. Imagine a church where married couples only spoke positively about their spouse to other people? Imagine a church where couples spoke of how they loved each other? Imagine if even the jesting and joking among married couples were to cease? Younger people would get a better idea of what marriage is supposed to be about. When we first star dating someone, we do not even think about joking on them like married couples do after marriage. And when we get engaged we do not suddenly begin to talk negatively about them, even to other people. But it seems after being married for so many years, it becomes natural for couples to begin talking and joking about each other to other people. Who is hurt in these jests? Those younger people hearing us talk about marriage in this manner. If this is what happens when someone gets married, then why should I get married? I would just rather date someone so we can stay in love. That is what we are simply telling younger people when we act this way.

In these five commitments, a foundation is laid for a strong marriage. But it takes commitment and choosing to live according to these commitments. This has to be a daily choice for both spouses to make towards each other and to remember constantly, even in the heat of the moment when a fight or argument seems imminent. Marriage takes work, but Craig and Amy in this book lay these five commitments as foundations for any marriage. Let me share with you a couple quotes from the book that stood out to me:

“Become the kind of person you would like to marry…I will seek the One while I prepare for my two” (p. 28).

“Imagine how hard it must be to divorce someone you’re genuinely seeking God with. What are the odds that God’s direction to you is going to be, ‘Yeah, you should just split up’? Not likely” (p. 42).

“All couple fight, but healthy couples fight fair” (p. 53).

“One of the best ways you and your spouse can become slow to anger is by communicating regularly and honestly when you’re not facing conflict…work on your marriage during non-conflict times” (p. 61).

“When you’re married, fun is not a luxury; it’s a requirement…Without romance, without adventure – without fun – marriage is reduced to a simple business arrangement” (p. 85).

“We decided that our marriage will be as good as we decide it will be” (p. 141).

That last quote I feel sums up the main theme going through this book: if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Most things of great substance in someone’s life do not happen as an accident, it happens as a result of making choices. So if you want to have a great marriage, decide to make it great. Do not wait to see if it happens because if you wait, it will pass you by and you will miss out on years of fun as a married couple.

From This Day Forward is a great book and one I will use in the future when counseling and talking with couples getting married as well as couples already married. I also recommend singles read it as well. This book will go right up there with another book I reviewed called True Love Dates. So if you are dating and expecting to get married, engaged, or already married, pick this book up and read through it with your spouse and practice what it teaches. Choose to have a great marriage.

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of by Zondervan in exchange for this review.


The Dude’s Guide to Manhood

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This is the second book I have read by Darrin Patrick, the first being For the City which he and Matt Carter wrote together. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this book before reading it. With a title like The Dude’s Guide, one could get the feeling the author is being prideful in writing a book such as this, claiming to know what it takes to be a man. Using terminology such as “The Dude’s” anything could be a ploy to grab at the heart of any male. However, I have to say this book is neither of those. I am glad I did not let the title push me away from reading it because this is a book that I needed to read and one I believe every man should read.

Why do I say this? Simple. As you read through this book, you are presented with a true, biblical perspective on what a man should be. Culture has skewed our perspective on what men should be. The world tries to say men who are more into video games than work are still growing up, thus why adolescence has been extended to past college. Men who cheat on their wives are in many cases no longer looked down on. Men who work so much they do not have time for their children are in some cases praised. Men are allowed to be vulgar, uncommitted, even lazy among other things. And because society has allowed this, men have dropped to that level. Men and porn are about as synonymous as baseball games and hot dogs or beer. It is not just expected that men will look at porn and we should just accept it. TV shows and movies now present this as just acceptable, even with a married man. All of this is just sad. Men have stooped to the low that the world has said is ok for them. We need a new standard, especially among Christians, to get men to be men.

How do we do this? One way would be to get this book, read it and then apply it to your life. At the end of the book, Darrin ties everything he just wrote together with the fact that for us to be men, we have to start with God and our relationship with Jesus. Without God, living as a true man is impossible. Without God, we will continue to settle into what the world says is ok or acceptable for men. If all we do is try to attempt everything Darrin writes in this book and use it as a 10 step program to become a better man, we will fail somewhere along the way. Without our relationship with Jesus fueling us in this fight, we will become overpowered and live in defeat.

This book is not for the weak. It is easy to succumb to the world’s pull and allow ourselves to live as weak men. But that is far from what God has called us to be. Our ultimate example of what a man should be is Jesus Christ. How he treated people, how He loved people, how He touched lives should be what drives us. God’s ultimate goal for men is to become like His Son and that is the standard by which we need to measure ourselves, not by those men around us. I am planning on using the discussion guide from this website, http://thejourney.org/media/dudes-guide-manhood, to help facilitate a men’s study at my church.

Men, get a copy of this book. Women, buy a copy for the man in your life. Churches, have your men go through this book. The church and the world need men to start being men again, and not the counterfeit men the world has put before us and claimed is manhood. The men presented in beer commercials are not the men God has called us to be. Even the most interesting man in the world, as one commercial claim, is a far cry from true and authentic manhood. There is so much more to being a man then just sleeping with as many women as possible and drinking beer and smoking cigars. God has called us to this and it is much more fulfilling than the counterfeit men the world produces.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Weekly Scoop 3/14

Time for the weekly scoop. This post features articles that I have come across throughout the week that if you have some time set aside this weekend to do some reading, check these out.

First off, if you are like me, you are often tired. Here are some ways to not get more sleep, but to get better sleep: The science behind sleep.

I needed this post. I am not very good about this and was definitely challenged after reading: 10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12.

Another post for parents, this one from Orange Parents. Kids asking “why” all the time can get old and annoying, but as this post points out, it is a good habit for them: Why kids should always ask why.

Matt Walsh responds to another abortion argument: I am afraid of this indisputable pro-choice argument.

Too often in Christian circles, we hear people say “well God will never put more on you than you can handle.” I do not believe this to be the case, and here is a post from the Gospel Coalition on the subject as well: God gives me more than I can handle.

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Scoop. Feel free to share this with friends or anyone you feel would benefit from this post. Let me know if I missed something you enjoyed reading recently. Check back next Friday for another edition of the Weekly Scoop.


Weekly Scoop

It started with my daughter, moved on to my wife and then finally caught up with me. It is not often I get sick but unfortunately, this time, I caught the bug. I am slowly starting to regain my energy and will hopefully be fully recovered this weekend. With all of that said, I am glad I can still share my Weekly Scoop with you and with that said, here are some links I believe would be worth your time:

Here are a few pictures of baby animals in the womb. It’s amazing we still call them babies, but human babies in the womb are only fetus’? Something that can be easily disposed of? 12 Unborn Animals in the Womb.

Are you working with youth in any capacity? This video is for you: How to Ruin Young People.

Celebrity pastors and the issues they can create: Pastor rolls up in a tour bus.

Fathers can and will fail at something in their parenting…but even our failures can be and are redeemed by the blood of Jesus: Daddy Fails redeemed by Jesus.

Here is a challenging but encouraging read for the mothers out there: Steps to overcome anger in the moment.

Are you making any of these mistakes that hinder your child’s leadership development: 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors.

Do you often post to social media in the heat of the moment? 5 Question to ask before posting.

Are you considering quitting social media? If so, here are two posts that will help you make the right decision: How can I know if I should quit and Why I kissed social media goodbye.

Thanks again for checking out my Weekly Scoop. Feel free to share this with others if you find it beneficial to yourself. Also, if you read anything you believe I should be aware of, share it with me in the comments.


First-Time Dad by John Fuller

Whenever I read a book, I like to read something written by someone who understands and knows the topic they are writing about; and not just book knowledge, but an experiential knowledge. If I read a book on how to live by faith, I want to read a book written by someone who has gone through a hard time where their faith is what brought them through. If I read a book on marriage, I want to read something written by someone who has actually been married, not just studied it. I do not believe I am alone in this feeling either. I do not believe anyone would want to read a book on any topic written by someone who does not truly know and understand the field of which they are writing. In First-Time Dad, John Fuller knows what he is talking about and not just through reading books about parenting or doing research and watching families interact. He is writing from the perspective of having children of his own, 6 of them to be exact. For me, when I see a parenting book written by someone who has 6 kids, I know this author will have some good advice and tips to follow.

When I received this book, I was really looking forward to digging into it to see what kind of advice John Fuller would present. I have a 2 ½ year old daughter and she brings so much joy to our lives. I could not imagine life without her now. But, along with that, being a parent was quite the shock and change in lifestyle. John does a great job helping prepare fathers for this change. Much research has been done and shown that the position of father is one of the most important when it comes to how children grow up and mature. Children who grow up without the constant presence of a father have been shown to have a harder time in life than those who grow up with a father who is active and present in their lives. This affects both boys and girls. This fact was another reason I was eager to read this book because as a father myself, I want to learn from those who have been there and done that. I want to learn from their mistakes and glean from their successes in ways that will help guide me in my fathering. John Fuller in First-Time Dad does not disappoint.

John presents many different sides of being a father from the joy that comes from discovering your wife is pregnant to the responsibilities that come from now having to take care of and provide for one more person in the home. This little person is someone who will look up to you for a long time and who will be a part of your life forever. Your son or daughter needs a father who will invest in them and help guide them through their lives. They will need someone to be strong for them at times and other times someone who will cry with them. Every child longs for that relationship with their father and when it is absent from their lives, it will show itself in various ways. As you survey the culture, you see this on display almost anywhere you look. The power a father has in the life of his son or daughter should be constantly on a father’s mind. It is hard to do but to be the father that you can be, it is a necessity. I have struggled at times in only 2 ½ years but I am striving to make adjustments and improvements wherever I can.

First Time Dad is written in a way that is easy to follow and keeps you interested from page to page. John shares stories from his own experiences as well as stories from other parents he has had the opportunity to interact with throughout his time at Focus on the Family. He is not shy about helping fathers understand the changes that are to come in that he helps a new dad understand more about how a baby will affect their family. He writes on how to love your wife and guard
your marriage because that is the most important relationship your child will be exposed to. Time and again we see that when marriages involving children fall apart, the children involved in that relationship often fall apart as well. It is disheartening to see. Many marriages with children that fall apart do so because the marriage was not guarded and the mother and father drifted apart instead of drawing on each other even more. Two other important parts of this book is a chapter on the differences between boys and girls and one on the important part father’s play in the spiritual formation of a child’s heart. Fuller brings this book to a close with a chapter on just how fast life goes once you have a child. I can definitely relate with this part in that it seems like just yesterday, we were bringing our daughter home from the hospital and now she is full of life and singing and dancing and running around endlessly on a seemingly non-stop sugar rush.

I would highly recommend First-Time Dad for any first time dad who might want to go into fatherhood with their eyes opened. I would also recommend this book for any father who already has a child or two but notices some areas that could use some improvement. This book is one that I will go back to many times as a father. So for all you dads out there, let’s remember the importance of the position we hold in our homes and families and be the dads we need to be. One step that might help you could be picking up this book.

Thanks for taking the time to read this review. If any of you dads who read this have any stories of successes or failures you would want to share, please feel free to do so.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Press in exchange for this review.


Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham Jr.


I chose to review this book for a couple reasons. First, I heard a message by Voddie Baucham speaking at Passion One Day from the 90’s that was inspiring and so when I saw he had written a book, I knew I wanted to read it. Second, a couple of my friends, Matt and Carolina Price, mentioned another book of his which caused me to look for other books by him. Thus, when I came across Family Shepherds, I knew I wanted to read it. I am extremely satisfied and happy that I did in fact get this book. It was both challenging and inspiring as I strive to be the leader, husband and father that God has called me to be.

The back has this to say about the book:

“It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the family and that of father’s in particular. We’ve heard it said, ‘As the family goes, so goes the nation.’ But it can also be said that ‘as the father goes, so goes the family.’”

As a youth pastor, I could not agree more with this statement. As I view families in public, it is extremely easy to notice families that have disconnected fathers and those who have non-existent fathers as well. We question why the country is going the way that it is but all we need to do is look at how men are beginning to act. You see it from celebrity fathers all the way down to “regular” fathers. Men are not taking responsibility to raise their own children; and then they wonder why their kids eventually take a turn for the worse at some point in their lives.

God has given men the position of leadership and it is in our nature to lead in one way or another. The sad thing is that most men are leading in a negative manner. Multiple studies have been done by both Christian and secular groups and they are finding overwhelming evidence of the impact that fathers have on their children. Voddie does not just present the evidence but goes in depth with ways that will challenge men to lead well and become a true man of God.

Family Shepherds is divided into 5 parts: 1. The need to equip family shepherds, 2. Family discipleship and evangelism, 3. Marriage enrichment, 4. The training and discipline of children, 5. Lifestyle evaluation.

Each section is filled with Scripture to back up his points and written extremely well to inspire any professing Christian man to step up because the church and the world need us to. However, one of the most challenging parts of this book was how Voddie constantly challenged men with knowing what they believe. No man can truly lead his family in a God honoring manner without being a student of the Word; it is not possible. For us to be Godly men and leaders, we have to be men of God’s Word, who study, read, and love it. Apart from God’s Word, it is impossible to be a Godly leader. Yes some men might become good fathers and husbands and men, but only God can lead men to become great fathers, husbands and men. We need to be able to pick out false teachings on raising children and being men. The world is constantly coming out with self-help books and “instruction manuals” that have some pretty good advice, and even when put next to God’s Word, it is hard to pick out the lies from the truth. That is why we need to be men of the Word if we are to lead our families to become disciples of Christ, so we can pick out the stuff that misses the mark of the inerrant Word of God.

This book greatly challenged me in how I am going about leading my family? How am I leading my wife and daughter into a closer walk with the Lord? Or am I going about my life just hoping they grow closer to the Lord? As men we are to lead. If we are not leading as we should, there is not much of a hopeful future. I sincerely challenge any man, whether you are a husband and father yet does not matter, to get this book. You will come away challenged and inspired to be, first off, a devoted follower of Christ and second, the leader God intended us men to be.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review.


The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley

 

I was not sure what I was going to get with this book because I was not extremely familiar with the author. However, after reading it, I am extremely glad that I picked it up. The Blessing is a book that I would highly recommend for any parent, child, husband, wife, brother, sister, etc., etc. The front cover states this in regard to what the book is all about: Giving the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. That is truly what this book is all about.

John Trent and Gary Smalley do a great job of unpacking and presenting the idea of the “blessing” and how people today can use this idea in any of their relationships. As I read this book, my eyes were opened as to why some things in my family are the way they are. It helped me have a greater understanding for some of my shortcomings. But, most importantly, The Blessing helped strengthen my desire to be a better husband and father and that is what truly blessed me about this book.

It is hard for me to truly state everything about this book in a review. The main thing I can say is to actually go get the book and read it. Pray that God would give you an open heart as you read it. Pray that God would allow you to see where you might be able to make some changes in your life that might help bless those around you.

The only other thing I want to mention about this book comes from its own pages. In the first chapter, the authors are giving reasons for why the blessing is important and the one that really stood out to me is this one: “the blessing fights back against a toxic culture.” The culture is slowly but surely eating away at the idea behind the family. Everywhere you look in the media, there are attacks against what we know as the family. Personally, I know that these attacks are being set forth by Satan but if you were to look more closely, you would probably see that the people attacking the family the most are those who in some way or another have been directly hurt by a family member or something happened in their past to turn them this way. So if the church wants to be able to combat this move, one way is to help families understand how to love each other unconditionally and how to live in light of the gospel.

I do not want to say anything else about the book because I do not want to give too much away. I do want to say though that if you have read this review, you should get the book.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Husbands, love your wives…

This morning, I was given a pretty big glimpse of just how selfish I can be. I had heard it said that marriage is able to help people see just how selfish and prideful they can be. This is definitely true of me. I went into my marriage thinking that I would never be that way. That I would be able to love my wife like I loved myself and not even struggle with that. How wrong I was. Just ask my wife. Time and time again I have failed to love my wife with my actions. The saying “actions speak louder than words” definitely applies to my actions towards my wife. No matter how many times I would tell her I love her, my actions would be showing her that I am still first.

This morning my wife asked me to help her with some things and instead of just agreeing to help, I started discussing reasons why we did not need to do everything that she had even mentioned. What was I doing? Putting my own desires first and not thinking about her. Ephesians 5:25 was not practiced here on my part at all. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Simply put, I failed. I have done this many times before and because I am so hard headed, I still have not quite learned how to put others before myself. I am so grateful to have a wife whose spiritual gift is mercy or I would be in for trouble. Whenever I hear guys talk about marriage in a negative way or talk about how demanding their wife is or anything like that, it always seems to burn me up on the inside and maybe one of the biggest reasons I have kept quiet instead of saying something around guys like that is because maybe I haven’t begun practicing loving my wife as Christ loved the church. I do not lay my life and desires down in place of hers. What does that show with my actions? Too often I allow myself to feel like I am some great gift from God to my wife instead of realizing that I am nothing. I do not deserve anyone like Marcie. I allow myself to act like I am more important. This has quite a few disastrous results. First, it does not free her up to be who God wants her to be. Second, it keeps me from being the servant leader that I should be. Third, instead of drawing us closer, it pushes us apart which is never good for a relationship that is used in the Bible more than anything else to describe how God relates to us. So not only do I not honor my wife when I do this, I do not honor God.

How much did Christ love the church? He “gave Himself up for her.” He put her before Himself. Have I done that with my wife? Sometimes I do and let me say that it brings me the greatest joy. Just as Christ gave Himself up for the church and received the greatest joy out of it. I have the perfect example to follow and yet I struggle so often. Many times I have put reading a book, watching TV or even playing a video game before loving my wife. Is that what my wife signed up for? Is that what I told her in our vows when we stood in front of God as well as family and friends? No. I told her I would love her sacrificially. Have I done that? Sometimes. But what about other times? Definitely not. I know marriage is tough because two people with sinful natures come together. But as the man in this relationship, I need to take the lead. If I were to put myself in her place, what would I think? Another thing I fail to do enough is put myself in her shoes. I sometimes feel like I might have more pressure on myself than she does, but that is not so. She is feeling pressure in ways I do not even understand. I do not try to look through her eyes enough.

So, why am I writing this you may wonder? Well, I enjoy writing and putting my thoughts out there for others to see but more importantly I am writing this as a public apology to my wife. I am sorry baby for not loving you like Christ loved the church. I have not been the greatest at that and I know I have quite a bit to learn but please keep praying for me, that God will have His perfect work done in me and that I will remain sensitive to His Spirit.

I am also hoping that through it will come some accountability in that I have friends who will read this and this is a public announcement to tell you that you can ask me how I am doing in this area. So, if you have read this far, I pray that you might even feel challenged to look at your own life and relationship with God and see how you are doing in that area.

But once again, Marcie, thank you for being the person you are. I know I have failed many times to be the man that you married and I am sorry. I want to be better at that and I desire to the man of God in your life that you have seen glimpses of. Thank you for not being the type to give up on me. You are so much more than I deserve and I love you.