Books I’ve Read Recently

During the month of January we did a series in our student ministry called “Dating, Marriage, and Sex” (you can go here to listen to that entire series online). In preparation for that series I read a few books on the topics of relationships and sex. Below are those books.

sex-dating-relationships_2Sex, Dating, and Relationships by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas. This was by far the most interesting book on this topic I have ever read. The authors did a fantastic job of being Biblical accurate and Gospel centered while explaining the practical side of relationships and sex in ways that I have never heard. The authors goal in this book is to move past the “just don’t have sex before marriage” argument by helping the reader see the Biblical foundation for sex and relationships and what God actually calls us to. There is great chapter on sex and how it is a picture of the Gospel. There is also two great chapters that focus on dating and helping the reader understand why the Bible doesn’t address dating (and it’s more than just “dating didn’t exist back in Bible times). In light of this, there is an interesting chapter that calls for dating to be done differently in the form of what the authors call “dating friendships.” They define this concept as “two friends getting to know each other with a view toward marriage” (page 92). They go on to explain that concept in more detail in the book. Overall this was a great book that challenged many of my own thoughts on sex and relationships. I’d highly recommend this book to singles who want a clear understanding of sexual purity, dating, and marriage.

Love-Sex-DatingThe New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating by Andy Stanley. This book deals less with sex and more with love, relationships, and preparing for marriage. Even though the principles and concepts Stanley talks about in this book are Biblical, there isn’t a ton of references to the Bible and an attempt to helping the reader understand God’s Word. However, I wouldn’t say that makes this a “bad book.” In fact, I think it’s a great book that will challenge both the Christian and non-Christian single to understand love, relationships, and marriage better. In this book, Stanley calls singles to drop the “right person myth,” prepare well for marriage, strive to become the right person (“be the kind of person you want to marry”), and a commitment to sex the way God designed it. There are a host of other things Stanley discusses in this book but the overall message is to slow down, prepare, be the right kind of person, and enjoy marriage and sex the way God intended it to be enjoyed. I would highly recommend this book to young adults who desire to marry. I’d love to get this in the hands of upper high school students as well as college students. I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone under that age group.

41uEQDpG5OL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Sex Matters by Jonathan McKee. This is the best book written to teenagers about sex. There has been plenty that have been written but many simply argue “just wait” rather than explaining God’s beautiful design for sex. McKee doesn’t hold back in this book. He doesn’t tip toe around this topic but answers head on the questions teenagers are asking about sex. He does an excellent job at helping teenagers see why waiting on sex for marriage is actually a very good thing. The next obvious question teenagers ask after they hear about waiting is “how far is too far?” Instead of going the legalistic route and giving a list of things teenagers “can do” and “cannot due” until marriage, McKee explains that sex is a process and that “entire process is only for marriage” (page 49). In light of that, McKee urges teenagers then to do the obvious – don’t start the process. McKee then spends a whole chapter on helping teenagers understand why the Bible says “flee” and how teenagers can do this. The last two chapters of the book deals with porn and masturbation as well as answering some common questions teenagers ask about sex. This is a book I wish every teenager would read. It will help them understand God’s design for sex and answer many of the questions they have. It’s extremely practical as well. If you’re a parent, get this book and encourage your teen to read it. If you’re a youth worker, consider giving this book to your students or at least reading it and having it on your shelve to help you understand how to address teenagers about sex.

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Books I’ve Read Recently

jesus-continued-cover-largeJesus Continued by J.D. Greear. I have read a lot of books recently and this one was by far one of may favorites. I’ve always enjoyed reading J.D.’s books and they have played a big part in shaping my faith and ministry. In this book J.D. deals with the topic of the Holy Spirit and how believers have the advantage of not having Jesus beside them (like the disciples in the Gospels) but instead, through the Spirit, they have Jesus presence inside them. Not only that, but J.D. helps believers understand how they can experience the Holy Spirit in their relationship with God. J.D. says, “The Holy Spirit tends to be the forgotten member of the Trinity. Most Christians know he’s there, but they are unclear about exactly what he does of how to interact with him-or if that’s even possible. Yet something was so important about the Holy Spirit that Jesus told his disciples it was to their advantage that he go away-if his departure meant the Spirit came. The Spirit’s presence inside them, he said, would be better than himself beside them” (page 13). This is one of the most insightful and practical books on the subject of the Holy Spirit that I have ever read. It has a great balance of theological content (which is very much needed in the discussion of the Holy Spirit) and practical application (which is just as much needed in this topic) in regards to the Holy Spirit and how Christians can experience the Spirit’s ministry in their life. J.D. does a great job in this book building a foundation of what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and explaining how believers can experience and seek the Holy Spirit. This is a great book I would recommend to anyone who wants to understand the Holy Spirit better and how they can experience him more in their relationship with God.

51VrdA14sfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Prayer by Tim Keller. Prayer is an area of my Christian life where I struggle the most. I go through seasons where I feel like I’m a “strong prayer,” but many times I feel like I am coming up very short in this area. This is one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. Also, I haven’t read many books devoted entirely to prayer so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. Keller has managed to put together one of, if not the most, thorough books on the topic of prayer. This book really does serve as a modern day handbook for what prayer is and how does one go about practicing prayer. The first part of the book is very academic and philosophical. Keller does a great job as painting the landscape of how people and religious groups view prayer. But this isn’t where Keller spends most of his time in this book. Once Keller helps the reader establish a definition and view of what Biblical prayer is in the Christian life he quickly moves towards helping them see how Christians can practice prayer. The rest of the book, and majority of it then, is a practical guide on how to practice prayer. Keller explores the prayer habits of early church fathers as well as walking through many Scripture passages on prayer. He also offers many practical tips on how Christians can practice prayer in their daily lives. If you want to grow in your understanding of prayer and how to practice it, read this book.

6a00d83452063969e20162fef31dc1970dThe Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. I haven’t read many marriage books (even though there are many out there right now I want to read), but out of the ones I have read this was has been my favorite. I read this book along with a few other men in a men’s group I am a part of at my church. I really enjoyed this book because of Keller’s approach to the topic of marriage and how to do marriage well. He quickly admits and helps the reader see that marriage is impossible to do well apart from God. Throughout the book Keller keeps the Gospel at the center as he shares how marriage is only possible through having a personal relationship with God through the Gospel that helps you truly love and serve your spouse. Keller spends a great amount of time explaining and applying the main Scripture passages on marriage. I also enjoyed how his wife wrote parts of the book and brought another persecutive to this topic. I believe this is a book everyone who is married (or one day hopes to married) should read. It’s practical but always keeps God and the Gospel at the center, which is the only way to do marriage well.

I am currently reading What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung and 30 Events That Shaped the Church by Alton Gansky. I plan to review those when I am done reading them.

Book Review: Counter Culture by David Platt

41O76wsT0VL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Recently I finished reading David Platt’s new book Counter Culture. I’ve always enjoyed reading Platt’s books and found this one to be my personal favorite. It’s a timely book that speaks about major issues we are facing today as a church and as a culture.

In this book, Platt urges and shows how we as Christians must be counter cultural when it comes to the various issues that are in our world today. The issues Platt hits in this book are poverty, abortion, orphans and widows, sex slavery, marriage, sexual morality, ethnicity, and religious liberty. Platt dedicates a whole chapter to each one of these issues. Within these issues other topics that show up are same-sex marriage, immigration, persecution, and more. Platt bookends these issues with a chapter on how the Gospel is the great offense and calls us to be counter cultural. Then he ends the book with an urgent plea to not loose sight of the unreached world around us. Instead of going into detail about what Platt says about these issues (I’ll let you discover that on your own when you read the book) I want to share five things I really liked about this book. These are just a few of the many reasons I believe this is a “must read” for Christians today.

Boldness and humility. Throughout this book Platt balances boldness and humility well. There isn’t a page in this book that doesn’t have one or more bold statements that calls the reader out of complacency and indifference on these important issues. However, Platt’s boldness is balanced by a deep humility. Throughout the book Platt shares how he hasn’t always responded to these issues in the way God expects. He also shares how he doesn’t have all the answers and is seeking answers alongside the reader. Platt’s boldness for the Gospel and his deep humility is clearly seen throughout this book.

Gospel-Centered. If you have ever read anything about or by Platt you know he is a very Gospel-centered leader, writer, and person. It would be easy for anyone to write a book about social issues like these and do so in a way that isn’t Gospel-centered. However, Platt realizes and shares how the only real answer to these issues is the Gospel. That doesn’t mean he ignores the practical and gives us a pass to not take action, in fact, Platt shows us how the Gospel fuels action and demands we live counter culturally as well as doing something about these vital issues. Platt shows how the Gospel is the foundation and key to addressing and fixing these social issues. He also shows how the Gospel itself transforms Christians and how they see and act towards these issues.

Practical. Platt not only tackles these issues with a large dose of Bible and theology, but also shares a lot of practical things the reader can do in response to these issues. At the end of each chapter, Platt shares a list of things the reader can do in response to that particular issue. There is also a helpful website for this book that has more resources on each issue and more.

Focuses on the local church. The call to live counter culturally and respond to these issues is something that is not just given to the individual Christian, but to the church as a whole. The entire body of Christ has been called to counter culture and to respond in a way that God expects when it comes to these social issues. Platt keeps the local church at the center of how we should respond to these issues. He calls the Christian to partner with their local church in doing something about these issues. I believe that’s the way God wants it. God doesn’t want “lone ranger” Christians working their tails off alone against these issues. He wants Christians to work together as a church to counter culture and through the Gospel make a difference in the world around them.

Timely chapters for the American Christian on racism, homosexuality, and religious freedom. I’m not suggesting these issues don’t exists elsewhere in the world or that they are not timely for other countries, but I do believe these are very timely chapters for Christians in America. Our country is facing racial issues, a redefinition of marriage, and freedom of religion becoming less of a reality. Platt takes these issues head on and shows how the Gospel ascends race and breaks down the racial walls. He shows how homosexuality is wrong and against God’s design for marriage. He shows how religious freedom should be given but how we much approach such an issue. These chapters are needed for American Christians today.

As you can probably tell I really liked this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand more about these issues as well as how to respond in a God-honoring way. It’s a powerful book that packs a much needed punch.

What Bruno Mars is Teaching Teens

Bruno-Mars-HD-WallpaperMusic is powerful. Music has a way of shaping peoples believes, identity, and behavior. This is especially true of teenagers who are striving to find out how they fit into the world around them. Many teenagers turn to music to find out what they should believe, who they are, and how they should act. This is why it’s so important for parents to be aware of what music their teenager is listening to.

One of the most popular artist right now is Bruno Mars. Bruno Mars has been around for sometime, but recently is putting out some big hits. This past weekend he performed at the Super Bowl where he sang a few of his hits. As I have listened to Bruno Mars on the radio and even went back and watched his halftime performance I am reminded of a powerful theme he is teaching teenagers through one of his songs.

Sex is the ultimate human achievement. In his song Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars sings, “Cause your sex takes me to paradise. Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise. And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah. ‘Cause you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven. For too long, for too long .Yeah, you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven. For too long, for too long.” Sexual themes is not new in music and tends to be the focus on a lot of popular songs. In this song, Bruno Mars makes it seem like sex is the ultimate goal. That having sex with that special someone will be the only way to find true satisfaction. That is why so many teenagers so quickly give up their purity because they believe true happiness will come with having sex with that someone they “love.” God created sex and it’s not a bad or ugly thing. In fact, it’s a very beautiful thing God gave us as a gift. However, God did create sex to happen only within marriage between a man and a women. When sex is taken out of that context it gets messed up and it no longer brings joy as God intended. In fact, sex outside of marriage usually brings shame, guilt, and heartache. This is my fear with teenagers listening to this song and letting it shape their behavior. Sex is not the ultimate achievement. It was never intended to be. We were created to find satisfaction in God, our Creator, not sex.

Teenagers our living in a highly sexualized culture. Sex is viewed as something we can enjoy however we want and when we want. Teenagers need to have a right view of sex, but they will not get that from the culture. Parents, how are you teaching your teenagers about sex and making sure they are viewing it the way God intends?

 

Book Review: Date Your Wife

13812486I’m not a huge fan of books on marriage. It may because I’m newly and until recent I have never felt a deep motivation to read books about marriage. Of course I have read The Five Love Languages by Chapman like most people, well part of it at least. I know the gist of the book so I’ll finish it one day. But recently I finished a “marriage” book that I think every married, and future married, man must read. It’s called Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard.

I’ll be honest, this is a hard review to write. Not because it wasn’t a good book, but because it was such an excellent book I don’t have much to say other than get yourself a copy and read it as soon as possible! I’m going to take a different approach than I normally do when I review a book so hopefully by the end of this you will be motivated read this book yourself. Or if your a wife, buy your husband a copy of this book as my wife did for me. Here are a few reasons why I believe this book is one of the best books on marriage for men.

It challenges men to be men. Let’s face it, most marriage books tend to speak in a way that woman understand while men just don’t get it. I believe it’s because most marriage books aren’t challenging men to be men. In a sense many of them are speaking the language of woman so they motivate the wives but the husband is left in the dark. Men need it straight forward. Men don’t need someone to speak softly to them, they need someone to tell them to man up and be the man God created them to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are a some good marriage books that speak to men like men, but Date Your Wife has to be the best I have seen so far. In the opening chapter of this book, Justin says, “My assumption is that all of our first date stories have one thing in common: we acted like men. We pursued our wives-to-be. We made the move. We intitated. We took the risk. We took the lead…I’m calling you to do one thing. The action I want you to take is summed up in just three words: date your wife.” This book challenges men to do what they did before marriage, date their lover. It’s simple, easy to understand, and has the power to radically change your marriage.

It lays the responsibility of marriage on the man. If your easily offended than this book my rub your the wrong way. As I said before, Justin speaks to men like men. He lays the responsibility of the marriage, whether that is a good or bad marriage, on the man. In a culture where men are not seen and challenged to be the leaders in marriage, this is a timely warning to men. If your marriage sucks it’s your fault men! Men are the leaders and everything rises and falls on leadership. The bulk of this books is six chapters split into three parts that explain where marriages go wrong and where marriages goes right. In both of these the responsibility is laid upon the men. This is how it should be. This is how God created it to be. God created Adam first and then created a help mate for him. This help mate would be Eve, Adam’s wife. Adam was commanded by God to love, cultivate, and protect her. It’s still the same today. Men are the called to be the leaders in their marriages. If your marriage goes wrong, it’s your fault men. And if it is to go good than it will take you stepping up and being the man God created you to be.

It’s Gospel-Centered. By far this is the main reason I loved and recommend this book. It’s not a self-help book like many marriage books are. It’s not filled with moral commands that are encouraged to be applied as we just “try harder.” Justin makes sure the central theme of this book is not try harder, but to let the Gospel go deep into your heart and life so as a result of the Gospel you radically change the way you think, act, and pursue your wife. All throughout this book Justin pleads with men to remember the good news of the Gospel. It’s the Gospel that helps men date their wives. It’s the Gospel that changes the man which then changes the marriage.

Bottom line is this: every man who is a husband or hopes to be one in the future needs to read this book. It will be worth the money and time it takes to read this book. I believe this book has the power to change marriages like no other marriage book has ever done before.