Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.
This week’s selection is Preparing for Marriage by David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte & Lloyd Shadrach, published by Family Life Ministries.
You know how it goes. We meet. Fall in love. Get married. And live happily ever after.
At least that’s what we all expect. No one marries expecting to be a divorce statistic, but sadly, the rate of divorce isn’t all that different among Christian couples than it is with unbelievers.
That shouldn’t be the case and it doesn’t have to be, but it takes preparation. Preparation that is often neglected in the midst of choosing caterers and venues. Many couples spend months, even longer, preparing for a wedding and little, if any, time preparing to be married!
My husband and I taught a preparing for marriage class for a number of years. After using various materials, we found this book and the couples who currently teach the class still use it.
The book is a combination book and workbook. The best way to use it, is for each person to complete a chapter or project on their own, then to spend some time discussing it together. It can be worked through by a couple on their own or with a mentor couple. It can also be used as a small group or classroom study.
Theology … we tend to think it’s for pastors and teachers or, maybe, students in seminary or Bible college, but not for moms and dads, office workers, storekeepers, and others of us who work in stores and offices and homes every day.
But as you’ll learn from Brad Hambrick’s book, we all have a theology, including our ideas about God’s attributes. How does our understanding of God’s character affect how we view the events of our lives, especially the hard ones and how do we arrive at our view of God, sometimes, without even realizing it?
One portrayal of how we do theology is provided by breathing: inhale, process, and exhale. We inhale information, experiences, relationships, hopes, dreams, opportunities, tragedies, successes, failures, and an incredible number of mundane moments. These pieces are then processed by personal evaluations as good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant, painful, pleasurable, significant, noticed, or unnoticed. Finally, we exhale beliefs, correlations of cause and effect, life principles, optimistic or pessimistic expectations, and ideas about God (i.e., whoever or whatever we believe to be “in charge” of it all).
Think about some of the formative events of your life, the good and the bad. These major memories have the greatest impact on our core beliefs, our theology.
As you reflect on these formative life events, the hard or negative ones will fit into one of two categories: sin or suffering. Sin encompasses those actions, beliefs, and emotions that are contrary to God’s Word or character. Suffering includes the tragic and deteriorative effects of living in a fallen world, as well as the consequences of other’s sin against you.
The guiding principle of this entire study is simply: Our battle from and against sin and suffering is first and foremost a battle toward and for God.
With this said, our concept of God, resulting from the theological breathing discussed above, greatly influences how we read the Bible. If we believe that God is a cosmic cop, we read the Bible fearfully wanting to know the things for which God will “pull us over” and for which he will “let us go”—the equivalent of the “how far over the speed limit can you drive and get away with it” debate. If we believe that God is a heavenly grandfather, then we read the Bible to find out what good ideas he has and how to stay on his good side to get the extra treats of his approval.
This devotional study can help us identify the connections between our sins and struggles and our understanding of God. It can help us identify those attributes we need to understand better. Doing so will help us trust, enjoy and emulate Him more and better. When we have a wrong view of God, Brad says: Continue reading →
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book (or in this case a booklet) that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is HELP! I want to Change by Jim Newheiser.
“Why can’t I change? Have you ever asked this? Maybe you want more discipline in your eating habits. Or perhaps you struggle to keep your spending under control or maintain daily Bible reading and prayer. Change is hard, and our attempts often result in failure.”
So begins the description of this powerful little booklet by Jim Newheiser. Pastor Newheiser has been a biblical counselor for over twenty years. He’s a fellow with ACBC (the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors), a pastor at Grace Bible Church in Escondido, California and the director of IBCD (the Institute for Biblecal Counseling & Discipleship). He knows how hard change can be. Continue reading →
Divorce, separation, adulterous or unhealthy relationships and break-ups of every kind … who hasn’t experienced the hurt of losing someone or had the need to break off a relationship.
You may be the one who was deserted by someone who said they would never leave you. Sometimes the pain is worsened by the knowledge that your former spouse committed adultery, emotionally or physically.
Or you may be the one breaking off a relationship that you know needs to end, but the sadness seems unbearable. In some cases, you may be the one who went outside of your marriage, either committing full blown adultery or by getting involved in some other inappropriate relationship. While you know the relationship was wrong, how do you get rid of those “lovin’ feelings”?
Or maybe you haven’t personally experienced that kind of hurt or struggle, but you know someone who has. Lou’s book may be just the answer.
From the introduction:
“Will this ache in my heart ever go away?”
As a professional counselor, I’ve been asked that question a hundred times in dozens of ways. If you are reading this book, chances are that you (or someone you love) have been asking this question, too. When a romantic relationship ends, the confluence of potentially depressing emotions can wreak havoc in the lives of those involved. This is especially true for the person who didn’t want the relationship to end. But for the Christian, there is a very good answer to this oft-asked question.
Yes! Your pain will go away in time.
For a Christian who knows and is willing to do what the Bible says, the heartache will be healed. And the more of God’s Word a person implements, the sooner the anguish will stop. If you are the one who is hurting, there are specific things you can do to ease the pain and help yourself get back to the way you were before the breakup.
This book was originally titled, Losing that Lovin’ Feeling and contains thirty-one short chapters, each one based on a song title, to help you or someone else, “lose those lamentable ‘lovin’ feelings’ as quickly and righteously as possible.”
There are chapters like “How Can I Mend My Broken Heart?,” “How Do Fools Fall in Love?,” “Can’t I Stop Loving You?,” “Why Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “What Good Comes to the Brokenhearted?,” “Won’t Be Cruel,” and “Someday Your Prince Will Come.” Each one is designed to address some aspect of the strong and painful emotions involved when relationships are broken. Continue reading →
We’re all counselors. We’re counseling our friends when they seek our advice. We’re counseling our children when they come home crying because they weren’t invited to the party, they’re struggling in school, or suffering the consequences of a poor decision. We’re counseling others when we write our blogs, teach a Bible study, or lead a Sunday school class.
We’re all counselors. The question is … are we counseling well or not. Are we counseling from our experience? Are we counseling according to popular culture? Or are we counseling according to God’s Word?
While neither I, nor the author, want to reduce the Bible to a set of verses on any given subject, the Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women can help you be a better, more biblical counselor, friend, mom, dad or teacher by leading you to pertinent passages of Scripture.
From the introduction:
The Bible is the grand story of God’s glory manifested in his rescue and restoration of his good but fallen and broken creation. This story is woven through every book in the Bible.
In Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women, each of the topics and verses is a window into the grand mansion that is the Bible. As marvelous as the view is through the windows, it is only when we step inside the grand house— rest in its rooms, explore its many passages and balconies, enjoy its beauty and light— that we will be truly transformed.
When we encounter this grand home’s Master and Maker— Jesus Christ, whose name is written on every wall and reflected on every surface— we will know at last that we are truly home.
The Bible is not just a reference; it is so much more. Please do not get bogged down in the topics or the references. Take time to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the precious Word of God. Let it saturate your life. Keep exploring this mansion for the rest of your life!
They [God’s Words] are not just idle words for you— they are your life.Deuteronomy 32: 47 NIV
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by by John Foxe, editied by Harold J. Chadwick.
John Foxe was a 16th century English historian best known for writing Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. His book gives a detailed account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history.
His book is about courageous men, women and children who have been tortured and killed because of their confessions of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But, even more, it’s a book about God’s amazing grace that enabled them to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs has been edited and updated many times since John Foxe wrote the first volume in English in 1563 under the title, Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perillous Dayes, but it became known almost immediately as the Book of Martyrs.
At the time it was written many of the events the author describes were still taking place and it was written more like a reporter would write today. Foxe probably witnessed many of the events or knew people who did. Other stories were sent to him by those who had suffered or knew people who had.
Editor, Harold Chadwick writes:
Without question the book began in Foxe’s mind when he was at Magdalen College at Oxford University, where he held a fellowship for seven years. He had first been sent by his parents to Brasenose College at the University when he was sixteen. During that time Reformation doctrines were strong throughout Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and Foxe was highly influenced by them. He began intensive study of the Scriptures and began to question the doctrines and practices of the Roman church. Before long he was an affirmed Protestant and nothing ever turned him from that path. This so changed his conduct that before long suspicions began to arise about his allegiance to the Church of Rome. Then it was reported that Foxe was taking solitary walks in the evening and could be heard sobbing and pouring out prayers to God. When questioned about this practice, he openly stated his new religious opinions, and was almost immediately expelled from the college as a confirmed heretic.
Sometime later he married Agnes Randell, a fellow believer, and stayed for a time with her parents.
By this means and others, Foxe kept himself concealed for some time from the papist inquisitors. This continued from the reign of King Henry VIII, through the open and peaceful days of Edward VI, and into the reign of Queen Mary I, who brought back into England all of the Roman Catholic doctrines and the pope’s power. Knowing then what was to happen, Foxe and his family left England and traveled first to Strasbourg, France, then to Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Basel, Switzerland. There he found a number of English refugees who had fled England to avoid the cruelty of the persecutors, and there began work on his now famous book.
Foxe’s history of the martyrs starts with the first century martyrs, including Jesus Himself and Stephen who was martyred about 8 years after the crucifixion. Continue reading →
Aging parents, health concerns, rebellious children, financial worries, safety issues and more. For many of us, they can lead to increasing fear, worry, and anxiety ranging from mild to paralyzing.
As believers we know we should trust God rather than be fearful and worried, but the peace we desire and God wants us to have, seems elusive.
We know the answer lies in our relationship with Christ, but sometimes we need practical advice on how to break those old habit patterns. Elyse reminds us:
[Jesus is] the only one who intimately knows all our thoughts and fears. He’s the only one who is able to deliver us. That’s because He’s faced the greatest of all fears for us—the fear of death and separation from God— and He’s come through victorious. The Bible teaches that one reason He left heaven and came to earth was to “deliver those who through fear…have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread” (Hebrews 2:15 TLB).
Our fears are like chains around our hearts—they paralyze, entrap, and enslave us. But Jesus Christ holds the key that can unlock and banish all your fears. He’s able to do this because His love is more powerful than your fears. It’s His plan to teach, encourage, and transform you into a person who trusts Him— even in the face of your deepest worries and anxieties. He doesn’t promise to make you perfect here on earth, but He does promise to work mightily in your heart now and will ultimately, in heaven, completely free you from every fear.
She goes on to help us identify the source of our fear, worry, and anxiety. Then through careful application of the Scriptures and personal examples, her own and others, she helps us:
Cast all [our] anxiety on him because he cares for [us] (1 Pet. 5.7).
Mondays @ Soul Survival is a place to share your insights about God and His Word, parenting, marriage, homemaking, organization and more. Feel free to link up multiple posts as long as they are family friendly. Remember this is a Christian site. I would love it if you link back in someway and share the linkup on social media. I pin many of your posts on my “Mondays @ Soul Survival” Pinterest boardas time allows. Continue reading →
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney.
In Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney asks the question, “Why don’t Christians who love God pray more?” He explains that the answer and the solution are quite simple.
Prayer … I hope I’m not the only one who constantly feels like I could do more in this area or that I should be more effective.
Some years ago I came across a series of verses in John Piper’s book, Taste and See, that he called the meat and potatoes of his prayer life. I began praying them for myself, my husband, my family and others. My prayer life took on new meaning and through the years I’ve seen the results in those I have been praying for.
So when I saw a promo on Donald Whitney’s newest book, I knew it was one I wanted to read. I wasn’t disappointed!
This from chapter 1:
Since prayer is talking with God, why don’t people pray more? Why don’t the people of God enjoy prayer more? I maintain that people— truly born-again, genuinely Christian people— often do not pray simply because they do not feel like it. And the reason they don’t feel like praying is that when they do pray, they tend to say the same old things about the same old things.
When you’ve said the same old things about the same old things about a thousand times, how do you feel about saying them again? Did you dare just think the “B” word? Yes, bored. We can be talking to the most fascinating Person in the universe about the most important things in our lives and be bored to death.
As a result, a great many Christians conclude, “It must be me. Something’s wrong with me. If I get bored in something as important as prayer, then I must be a second-rate Christian.”
Indeed, why would people become bored when talking with God, especially when talking about that which is most important to them? Is it because we don’t love God? Is it because, deep down, we really care nothing for the people or matters we pray about? No. Rather, if this mind-wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit— if you are born again— then the problem is not you; it is your method.
Anger, who hasn’t experienced it. We call it by different names like: frustration, upset, hurt. Doing so makes us feel better about it or minimize it in some way.
Jesus had a different view. He didn’t minimize it. In fact, He showed us it’s a serious heart issue.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt. 5.21-22).
Murder and anger come from the same sinful heart condition. I may not pull out a gun, but I can murder with my words, attitudes and actions.
Because it’s a heart condition, it’s not enough to simply decide to quit exploding or giving someone else the silent treatment. While we may be able to grit our teeth and stuff those feelings for a while, sooner or later they erupt some place else.
So how can we attack anger at it’s root, in the heart? Robert Jones has given us a guide. He begins:
There will be no thorough and lasting godly change without root removal. Moralistic efforts to be patient with your co-workers won’t cut it. Regret-riddled resolutions to stop yelling at your kids won’t last. You must rip out those angry roots.
He goes on:
This book is written for the average reader who recognizes that anger is a too-frequent issue in his life and a too-prevalent problem in his family, work, and church relationships.
Mr. Jones defines anger and explains the differences between sinful anger and righteous anger. The heart of the book helps us understand that the roots of sinful anger don’t come from our circumstances, but from our inner beliefs and motives. Continue reading →
We all need heroes. Even the Apostle Paul said that we were to follow him and others as they follow Christ, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Phil. 3.17).
On the other hand he warned us, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Who we hang out with, who we follow, who we choose as heroes, can have a profound effect on our lives. When we read the biographies of great men and women who have gone before us, we have an opportunity to see how they lived and to follow their example.
In Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxas writes about seven men who experienced struggles and faced challenges that would have crushed lesser men. These men and their stories—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson—can encourage all of us to be strong in the face of opposition and live right in a world that has little or no standard.
What makes great men & what is the secret of their greatness?
What is biblical manhood and what makes men worthy examples? Metaxas’ book doesn’t just tell us, it shows us through the lives of these seven men. (I’ll talk about women who exemplify biblical womanhood in a future blog.)
Metaxas tells us first what it isn’t, here are several excerpts for the opening chapter:
The first false idea about manhood is the idea of being macho— of being a big shot and using strength to be domineering and to bully those who are weaker. Obviously this is not God’s idea of what a real man is. It’s someone who has not grown up emotionally, who might be a man on the outside, but who on the inside is simply an insecure and selfish boy.
The second false choice is to be emasculated— to essentially turn away from your masculinity and to pretend that there is no real difference between men and women. Your strength as a man has no purpose, so being strong isn’t even a good thing.
God’s idea of manhood is something else entirely. It has nothing to do with the two false ideas of either being macho or being emasculated. The Bible says that God made us in his image, male and female, and it celebrates masculinity and femininity. And it celebrates the differences between them. Those differences were God’s idea.
For one thing, the Bible says that men are generally stronger than women, and of course Saint Peter famously— or infamously— describes women as “the weaker sex.” But God’s idea of making men strong was so that they would use that strength to protect women and children and anyone else. There’s something heroic in that. Male strength is a gift from God, and like all gifts from God, it’s always and everywhere meant to be used to bless others. In Genesis 12:1–3, God tells Abraham that he will bless him so that Abraham can bless others. All blessings and every gift— and strength is a gift— are God’s gifts, to be used for his purposes, which means to bless others. So men are meant to use their strength to protect and bless those who are weaker. That can mean other men who need help or it can mean women and children. True strength is always strength given over to God’s purposes.