Friday, January 13, 2012

A Book Review of Die Young by Michael and Hayley Dimarco

            First I do want to give credit to Michael and Hayley Dimarco for the premise of this book.  I think the ideas that they are trying to convey are needed in today’s Church.  We are so enamored by life that, at times, we forget the basis of our faith, which is dying to the flesh so that we may live for Christ.  I was honored to be able to receive an advanced proof of this book, and to share my honest opinions.

            One really good chapter that was in this book was entitled “Less is the New More”.  The focus of this chapter was the tendency for all of us to fall into covetousness.  This is a major struggle I think for everyone.  In this chapter the Dimarco’s make some excellent points.  One point they make is if we are not caught up in more we are better able to give that which we do have.  There are many other great points to this chapter, but again my job is to draw you to read the book, not tell you everything it says! Ultimately, and I believe this is a point the Dimarco’s make fairly well, covetousness is choosing an idol over our LORD Jesus Christ.

            However, I am going to address a very common flaw I find in people who love to mention Mark 10:25.  For those of you who are not familiar with this verse it states: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  In this section of Chapter 3 (Dimarco 94) they almost argue that you have more faith if you have fewer possessions.  Although I agree, that there are wealthy people who feel as if there is no need for Christ, I’m blessed to know many wealthy people who use their wealth to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People who will reach out to those in need, not to have their name praised by men, but people who give in secret and who will receive their reward on the day of the Bema judgment.  These people should not be ignored or forgotten because many of them have simply chosen to be good stewards of that which the LORD has blessed them with.

            Another great chapter is chapter 4 which is “Weakness is the New Strength”.  Again this chapter was very easy to read, and started off with a good illustration of the fact that since the creation of man we all have pursued strength.  It continues with the example of the tower of Babel, Satan, and even Peter, who, until after the resurrection of Christ, often tried to attain in his own strength.  This chapter had great flow, and was a chapter that challenged me and yet also encouraged me.

            Now, I need to give some of the problems I see with this book.  This book is not for someone looking for an easy read.  The reading of this book was rather challenging.  I wish it was due to content, but really it was related to flow.  Until I got to about chapter 2 I had a very hard time even following the flow that Michael and Hayley were trying to develop.  Another major set-back to this book was the constant inserting of “Here Lies…”  I am a huge believer in being personal in the way you write, and sharing your struggles and set-backs as well as your victories, however, this caused me a lot of frustration as it didn’t work with the flow that they were already having a problem developing.  I think what they shared was great, and ultimately I just waited until I finished the book to read those entries. 

            I also noticed some things that made me sit back and scratch my head wondering what they meant.  For example, in Chapter 1 the Dimarco’s write “Death threatens a part of you, if not all of you (Dimarco 26).”  Last time I checked death was always a threat to the whole and not to just a part.  Especially in the topic of dying to our flesh, our whole flesh needs to be dying so that we might walk in the newness of life that is found in Christ Jesus.  Then in Chapter 2 they have a paragraph that starts, “In our squalifies us from the fight; it means we’ve love, we’ve been taken down, and they’ve won (44).”  I don’t even know where to begin on this as when I looked up squalifies in the dictionary I couldn’t find a result.

For me, I am going to have to rate this book a 2.5 to maybe a 3.  Since this is an advanced proof it is my hope that they go through and are able to clean up the flow, and make it a little easier for the reader to follow.  As I said to begin with I think the premise to this book is great, and with some cleaning up I think this would truly be a good book. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Journey Together: Weekly Update #1 January 01 - January 10, 2012

            So it seems like just yesterday Jen and I posted our first blog entitled “Our Journey Together”.  However, it has already been a week, and now it is time for us to post our first update.  I think that for me, this has been a decent week.  Spiritually speaking my focus has been fairly good.  I still haven’t been having the quiet time I desire to have on a daily basis, although, from time to time I do manage to get into the word some.

            Some of the strengths of this week though have been the fact that I have began a daily reading plan that should get me through the whole Bible in one year.  The plan I chose is a chronological plan.  How it has worked thus far is I use an application called “You Version” and is available for I-products, and also android products.  It is called the “Reading God’s Story” and was authored by George Guthrie.  This product is nice because this app has an audio feature, and so we have actually been listening to the readings on a daily basis every lunch time, and so the whole family is benefiting from this change.

            There are some things however, that I’m also needing to work on.  I have a quick temper, and therefore I have a tendency to yell when I don’t feel like Jen or the children are listening to me.  In my relationship with Jen this can cause conflict of course, and then I worry about my children seeing me in fear, instead of seeing the love I really do have for them.  Because of this tendency I have decided to try to memorize Proverbs 15:18 which states: “A hot tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife (Holman Christian Standard).” 

            Physically things are going very well.  I’m doing better at least doing my daily body tests, but I still need to do better on regular exercise.  The good thing I have done is I have begun to lower my caloric intake, and through that I have actually lost over 10lbs in the past two months.  I’m very excited to add a few extra notches to the belt, plus I’m already seeing small changes in my blood pressure and pulse.

            I have set myself a goal of losing 7 pounds in the next two months, although I may change that to 10.   This week I see myself needing to be more faithful in regular, 30 minute exercise segments.  I hope to continue on this path of weight loss, and see if I could realistically get at least half way towards my goal of over 80lbs of weight loss by the end of 2012. 

            Spiritually speaking, I am again going to try to focus on being more committed in my goal of having regular quiet time.  I have in fact sent out a request for suggestions as to which book of the Bible I should study for this next year as in-depth as I can go.  Thus far James and 2 Timothy have been suggested, but I’m more than willing for some additional suggestions. 

            Now for Jen’s update:

Good evening my dear friends, I hang my head in shame as I have to tell you this week did not go so well for me.  It started off good, but my depression got the better of me.  I don’t do well with change, and even the prospects of it, which it has been full of both….  I’m not going to go into details of it, but it started with a new routine, and sick little ones that totally hindered my perfectionist’s agenda. 

So, now that I think about it, I didn’t do as badly as I thought, but my depression did get pretty bad. For most of the week I had one or two sick babies that needed me what felt like every! Single! Moment! Which I’m not complaining about, it just makes it hard when I set such high goals for myself and not give myself the grace I truly need, instead of the emotional beatings.  Tomorrow I am really hoping to start getting up earlier and getting in the Word, and at least catching up a little on my Bible reading as I have fallen behind already; also, to spend a few minutes on my Wii.  I once read that if I at least show up, that is an improvement. I know that once I get back into the Word and just try to make sure I am not letting lil miss princess perfectionist get in the way and do the baby steps again, I’ll be on the right road. 

I am sooooooooooo tired of always being tired; I am so tired of the cycle of being too tired to work out and so then vice versa. I am so tired of not fitting in my largest clothes and not being able to find pretty ones because either they are all taken at the stores that I shop or they don’t make them in my size or the cost is astronomical at a reg store because of the darn size.  I am so tired of not being able to use my lap to put Bible on so I can take notes in church.  I am so tired of others, not all, but some, avoiding me because of my weight.  I am tired of being a cranky pants and so I am too focused on myself to be a blessing to others.  This has gotta stop!  So, that’s my update, and I’m stickin to it, lol.  Thank you for sitting through my lil pep talk, if that’s what that was…….

See you next week with the next update.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Importance of Sexual Purity: A Review of Every Single Man’s Battle By Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey

            I have had this book sitting on my shelf for probably five months.  After I received this book, I was wondering why on earth I would bother choosing this book to read.  Then just the previous day, I was talking to a friend of mine about needing to read this book, and I was informed that Stephen Arterburn went through a divorce.  This meant that I was even more hesitant to read a book, because after all, if it didn’t work for him, why read it?  As soon as I read over the introduction I knew I wasn’t giving Mr. Arterburn a fair chance.  I have now read this book, and will share my thoughts with you all.

            Before you read any further I want to put in a warning right here.  This book review is not meant for children.  I will be willingly addressing the issues that Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey address.  I will also be honest in this review as I see things that I can directly relate to and share my own insights and experiences. In this review, I will be direct but not graphic.

            The backdrop to Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen Arterburn’s reentry into the dating world. Stephen writes this book to aid fellow brothers in Christ who may be single or recently divorced by challenging them to be men who flee from sexual temptation and pursue integrity. The author writes not from a place of superiority or strength, but to walk alongside men who may be struggling with sexual sin. In a society that devalues marriage, and the marriage bed, and instead advocates for shacking up, Mr. Arterburn in this book provides a helpful defense, and response to the sacredness of sex between one man and one woman in marriage.

            One of the most enjoyable aspects of Every Single Man’s Battle is Stephen, Fred and Mike’s courage in dealing with issues such as masturbation and porn. Many men struggle in silence with these issues but the authors provide helpful answers by highlighting how the point of intimacy is to grow closer together with our spouse not to fulfill our fantasies. On this point Stephen and Fred helpfully teach that when sexual intensity supersedes our sexual intimacy the marriage bed becomes defiled (Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey, 25).

Although I was raised in a solid, Biblically based, Christian home, I allowed myself to fall right into sexual temptation many times, and in many different ways.  I participated in pornography, masturbation, and premarital sex. Even after being married for over a decade, I continue to struggle with sexual purity and integrity. Rather than fleeing from sexual sin, I allowed myself to fill my mind with the drug of sex, and sought not my wife, but my fill of adultery.
            The authors in this book do not dance around the issues but press the reader to understand the issues they examine from a biblical worldview. For example in the first two chapters they cover the issue of sex, masturbation, and pornography, as well as accountability. They quote one pastor, Mason, who is in his thirties and single who says: “Single men should not live alone” (28). Chapter two makes the point that all Christian men should have godly male friends who pray with them and hold them accountable to the Word of God as they wage war against the sins of the flesh (Romans 13:11-14).

            In September, I choose not to be accountable in my war against sexual sin, and decided that I didn’t need anyone to help me.      In reflecting on this time in my life, I realized I acted like a fool. At this time, I was blessed with some money coming in from some work that I was doing, and instead of being wise with my money, I gave into my sin and went to a strip club.

At least one of my friends knows about that night where I gave in and chose to sin. On that night I was thinking about calling someone to talk to about my sinful thoughts, but ultimately talked myself out of calling one of my friends and instead gave in fully to my sin. Embracing my sin rather than forsaking my sin that night burned a lot of bridges that I had been working hard to build for a number of years.
            Men need accountability it really is that simple. Men need godly brothers to come along side of us, and to, quite frankly, give us a smack upside the head like Gibbs does to his fellow-team members in the original NCIS show. The Christian life is not a war we can engage in on our own. Men need to rise up and link arms with our brothers, and keep fighting.  Some people may say, “It was only a strip club”, but that strip club took my thoughts off the LORD, off my wife, and put them on an idol.  For a moment I chose to love my sin more then I love my Savior. As a result of this occurring, I have resolved in my heart to no more love my sin but to genuinely turn from my sin to Jesus Christ.  I now have godly brothers whom I will call, men who will hold me accountable, and smack me upside the head if I screw up again.  I’m very blessed by these brothers, these comrades! 

            Every Single Man’s Battle is only three chapters plus an introduction covering pages 6-54.  The remaining 129pages are a study guide for Every Man’s Battle which serves as an eight week study.  Even though this turned out more to be a Study then a book, the value of this book is great.  

            I rate this book as a must read for every Man, married or not!  The topics covered will address some topics that men have often preferred to keep secret.   I will actually be purchasing a copy of Every Man’s Battle in the near future with the intention of using this study guide as a spring board, not only for my own use, but one I plan to recommend to the men of my Church as well. 

            Men the battle for our integrity and our sexual purity is a must win battle, and one we cannot escape.  The Gospel provides the foundational reason why as men we can overcome sexual sin and be pure. Jesus died to give sinners new life, and as men who are redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and adopted as His sons, we have the ability through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. As men we desperately need to rise up to the challenge to love our wives as Christ loves the Church, and be men of integrity.  Men love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, and mind!  Let us fight this battle together!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”