The Plan

It’s that time again!

Tonight, billions of people around the world will make New Year’s Resolutions. Tomorrow, about half of the resolutions made will have been broken. By next week, many of the rest will be toast as well. In light of this, I offer my reading goal for the year. This aspect of the blog has fallen slack over the past two years, but it’s my hope to build this up again!

12, not 60

A couple years ago I tried to read 60 books: 5 books per month. Yeah, that didn’t work. So I thought about trying for 24 this year (outside of school reading), but my wife lovingly told me it would be a good idea to stick with 12 (one per month). So, without further ado, here are the first four I hope to get through:

Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth and Breakfast with Buddha are both comedic novels about life, death, philosophy, and theology. My supervisor gave them to me to read and I look forward to seeing what others have to say on these matters. Having read a few pages in Golfing I think I know where the author (Roland Merullo) is coming from on these. But more on that later.

Ethics is looking like it will be a great read. Dietrich Bonhoeffer never actually finished writing this book before his imprisonment in Nazi Germany, but the pieces that we have in a book seem to be worth a spot on every bookshelf.

Gospel Wakefulness: I have heard author Jared Wilson preach a few messages on this topic of Gospel Wakefulness- the idea that we can believe in Christ but not have a real awakening to the beauty of His grace. I look forward to reading more to this end.

I hope I can read well, for God’s glory, this year. We are to honor Him with all things, our minds included.

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The Greener Grass Conspiricy

Is this specifically a marriage book? No. Should all couples read it? Absolutely.

The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence is a book about contentment that is only found in Jesus. The truth of the matter is that we all seek happiness and fulfillment in everything but Jesus. Which, when you think about it, makes no sense whatsoever because if Christ made us and saved us, why would he not give us all that we truly need? But us, in our sinfulness, tend to make little gods out of everything else. Yes, school, work, spouse, kids; these are all little gods that are initially good things but become horrible rulers of our lives.

Stephen Altrogge does a great job at attacking our sinful hearts with the Word in this short read. He hammers home the true gospel (which you know i love!) and is sure to point us to Jesus as the end goal of everything. We pursue education not to find fulfillment, but to worship Jesus. The sum of our being isn’t found in our jobs, but in Christ and His atonement at the cross. And contrary to Jerry MacGuire’s theology our loved ones do not complete us! It’s when we believe that everything is more important than Christ that things go sour. If true happiness were to be found elsewhere, we would be right to run from our current situations and seek better ones.

Implications for marriage

So then he mentions marriage a few times. What cause quarrels and fights among us? James says that it is our passions which war within us. So when we fight in our marriage, it’s more of our sinful nature wanting what we can’t get from our spouse- true lasting joy. We need to remember that people will fail us, but Jesus won’t. That is Altrogge’s point. We need to stop following this conspiracy that says things are better elsewhere and we deserve better. No, we deserve death, but Jesus has graced us with life and holiness in Him. What else do we need?

For a more thorough review, see Tim Sewall.

What has been missed

So, when you change your password on Facebook, there are many things that get reset. One such item is the Networked Blogs feature. Case in point: this past May, I changed my password and my blog ceased posting on Facebook. So below are links to the (few) posts that I wrote between May 10 and July 15.

First, I want to make people aware of something awful that I am very sad didn’t get posted at first. This video is about child sex trafficking and is truly gripping. Please take half an hour to watch this and apply yourself to fixing this problem somehow. Even if you can only pray at the moment, do so, for our Father listens well.

For all you lovers… SO MANY of my friends are getting married this Summer. I guess you could say that Emmalie and I were a good motivation for others! So with three weddings behind us and another two coming up this late Summer/Fall, I have begun reviewing some good reads for couples.

What He Must be… was the first book that I reviewed. Men, this is technically written for dads and daughters as they’re seeking a man, but you should be the audience of this book if you want to be a good man of God in your marriage.

The Christian Husband was the second book I reviewed. This again challenges men to be who they need to be for Jesus and their brides.

Speaking of Marriage, Emmalie and I celebrated 6 months at the beginning of July. I shared some thoughts on becoming more holy through marriage here. Also, it was my parents’ anniversary shortly after that!

With this year’s Lead 2011 conference in Auburn coming up, I shared an analogy of the Church here (along with a pretty crazy picture!) Also, info on the conference here.

And finally, there is Happy Birthday America! This post served as a recap of some thoughts from previous years regarding our worship of America. Just a list of three points, really.

What did you expect?

The last time I spent six months on one book was when I read Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper which is understandable seeing as it’s a (physically, spiritually and mentally) heavy read. So when I picked up What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp, one thing I didn’t expect was to spend six months reading it. However, whether because I was busy with school and being a newly wed with two jobs, or because God wanted me to take my time on it, I spent from the week before our wedding to the end of June on this book.

Again with the Gospel

A common theme over the past few books has been a great emphasis on the gospel in your marriage. This has been incredible! Many of my mentors have spoken the truth of the gospel into my heart on so many occasions and I have been greatly encouraged by the Spirit working through their words. So when I read a book like this, I am thrilled to know that this gospel is spreading greatly through the hearts of many. Tripp greatly emphasizes the fact that we always need to be pursuing the God who loves us alongside our spouses and that we have nothing without Jesus in our marriage. Our marriages are meant to bring more holiness into our lives, not happiness.

Redeeming the realities…

When Emmalie and I were getting ready to get married, I began to fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations. But because I expected unrealistic expectations, I was getting prepared for them. This meant that I was completely ready for every obstacle that we would face! Ok, maybe not. It turns out that even if you prepare for unrealistic expectations, you still run into wrong thinking. I have seen this countless times in my own marriage where either Emmalie or I will go into a situation thinking that things will turn out one way only to be unpleasantly surprised at our own assumptions. Likewise, I have seen many people getting ready to get married thinking that they know how every situation will turn out, saying, “you’re (fill in the assumed preparedness here) when you’re married.” If you’re preparing for marriage at some point, don’t assume you know what you’re ready for.

Out of the books mentioned thus far, I would recommend this the highest. It’s repetitive, but the best things are only learned through repetition, and Tripp includes plenty of true to life scenarios by which you can know that he knows what he is talking about!

The Christian Husband

When Emmalie and I were going through marriage counseling, Pastor Phil assigned me some reading. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think about this book, but was pleasantly surprised by the great emphasis on the gospel that Bob Lepine had when writing his marriage book, The Christian Husband: God’s Job Description for a Man’s Most Challenging Assignment.

True Manhood

Lepine breaks his discourse into three jam-packed sections on being a godly husband. But this is more than a moralistic book on good behavior. Each section begins with a mock interview that begs the question, How do I know I’m ready to be a godly husband? Am I leading and loving my wife (or soon to be wife) well?

He begins his answer to these inquiries by taking back masculinity from the worldly clutches that try to bind it. To be a man is to be a leader and a lover, while our fathers and mothers shape our view of manhood (for good or evil) things like the media, feminism, and our peers tend to distort the truth of what God created us to be. Lepine asserts that true manhood isn’t dictatorship in the home, neither is it passivity; it is a recognition of God’s ultimate authority and our need to follow Him in our leadership of others (much like this mentions). The whole book then begins to unwrap what we need to become true men in our homes.

The Gospel is Central

As Baucham talked about in his book, Lepine discusses at length the fact that our leadership and manhood are rooted in the Gospel. Only if we get Jesus and His cross and experience His saving and changing grace will we be able to lead well. Our reactions to others and our actions will be unholy without His changing Spirit in our hearts– even if we think we are doing well. He also emphasizes our need to follow the Savior’s example in our marriages. Jesus is the King, Prophet, and Priest for his bride (The Church) and so we need to be that for our families. Again, this is only possible through Christ’s power in our hearts.

This is a quick and excellent read for any man; please take the time to read it and apply the truth behind it!

What He Must Be…

…If he wants to marry my daughter

Voddie Baucham Jr. tells us much in this short but heavy read. Written originally for women seeking men, and fathers that would give their daughters away, this book has massively beneficial implications for young men seeking to be husbands. Baucham calls us men to faithfulness and maturity in Christ. He writes,

A young man who is worthy of a wife will have  a clear understanding of the covenantal nature of marriage.

With these words, however, Baucham is applying the grace and instruction of the Gospel to young men and fathers and daughters.

What the dad must be

The main point of this book is that fathers need to have an actively loving relationship with their daughters in guiding them on whom they would marry. This concept is incredibly unpopular. What? the woman may exclaim, My dad needs to be involved in my selection of a husband? Why on earth would I allow that? And if the father has not been faithful in leading his daughter up till that point, Baucham argues, her question is legitimate. So this book is  a calling to the fathers to train their daughters to seek a good man.

I agreed with almost everything in this book, and I recognize that many believers today will not see his point and even get angry with the things that Baucham puts forward. If you are a father giving his daughter away, a daughter about to get married (or looking for her husband), or even a future son-in-law, you should read this book. It drips with the Gospel as applied to the life of the family.

Purchase What He must be… here

**This is the first of a series of reviews on books that deal with marriage. For a list of those books, click here.

This is for all you lovers out there…

Summer time is often wedding time. This has never been more true for me than this year as we have already attended two summer weddings, been in another one, and will be in one more in August (Emmalie and I are constantly grateful we got married six months ago instead of this summer)!

So in light of the weddings that have taken and will take place, I wanted to share a few great resources for married couples to appreciate. Starting next week and going every Friday until I run out of marriage books, I will be posting a review of these resources. Here they are in order of upcoming appearance on the blog:

  1. What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham Jr.
  2. The Christian Husband: God’s Job Description for a Man’s Most Challenging Assignment by Bob Lepine
  3. What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
  4. The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence by Stephen Altrogge (reading now; see note below)
  5. Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy by Gary Thomas
  6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
  7. The First 90 Days of Marriage by Eric and Leslie Ludy
I have read the first three and am almost done the fourth one, so hopefully this gives me enough time to finish reading the others in good time. Also, in regards to Altrogge’s book, this isn’t a marriage book per-se but it deals with godly contentment, which is critical in any marriage. If you are getting ready to get married, or have been married for a long time, these would be great resources to get your hands on. Please consider reading through any of these together with your spouse.
Also, if you didn’t get my Back to the Future reference in the title… enjoy:
**Update:: That’s what happens when you don’t check the video first… if anyone knows where I can find a better, real version of the movie clip, let me know!