Cherish (book review)

Gary Thomas notes something rather peculiar: Many wedding vows contain the promise “to love and cherish” our spouse, and many pastors spend quite a bit of time promoting love, but often the concept of cherishing our spouse gets overlooked. Gary is out to correct that in his aptly-titled book Cherish.

Learning the value of cherishing our spouse pays enormous benefits. In fact, near the beginning of the book Gary says, “Cultivating a cherishing attitude toward your spouse will elevate your marriage relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.” That sounds to me like something we would all want in our marriages!

So Gary begins unpacking and defining the idea of marriage in practical terms that any married person (or soon to be married person) can grasp. He uses examples from the first marriage in history between Adam and Eve, shows some of the principles Solomon outlines in his Song of Songs, shines a light on the many passages in the New Testament that address marriage, and even shows the ultimate picture of Jesus cherishing His bride. Throughout all of these, Gary gives us modern-day examples from couples he has known and counseled, and even lessons learned from his own marriage.

Each chapter concludes with some bullet points summarizing the main themes, and some questions to help couples grow in their cherishing of one another.

If you are married, about to be married, or a pastor or counselor who works with married couples, Cherish is a book you need to read and be ready to share with others. Such an outstanding read!

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Some temptations come to the industrious, but all temptations attack the idle. … Idle Christians are not so much tempted of the devil as they are tempting the devil to tempt them. Idleness sets the door of the heart ajar, and asks satan to come in; but if we are occupied from morning till night, if satan shall get in, he must break through the door. Under sovereign grace, and next to faith, there is no better shield against temptation than being ‘Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” —Isaac Watts

“Our God and Father may, for wise ends, which shall ultimately subserve His own glory and our profit, lead us into positions where satan, the world and the flesh may tempt us; and the prayer [Matthew 6:13] to be understood in that sense of a humble self-distrust which shrinks from the conflict. There is courage here, for the suppliant calmly looks the temptation in the face, and dreads only the evil which it may work in him, but there is also a holy fear, a sacred self-suspicion, a dread of contact with sin in any degree. The sentiment is not inconsistent with ‘all joy’ when the divers temptations do come; it is akin to the Savior’s ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,’ which did not for a moment prevent His drinking the cup even to its dregs.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God. The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.” —John Piper

Dads, this is an important article for you to read if you have a daughter.

Did you know that 41,000 people commit suicide each year? Here is a helpful piece on how you can help bring hope to the hopeless.

Seth Godin says, “If your employees can’t answer how something they do helps the customer or the company, you’ve insulated your people from their jobs.” Check out his post Why Do You Do It This Way?

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

“The more difficult it becomes for an older person to use the mind and the memory, the more we must fight with him and for him, wielding the sword of the Spirit where his own hand is weak.” —John Piper

A little comedy—Al and Lois go to a counselor after fifteen years of marriage. The counselor asks them what the problem is. Lois goes into a tirade, listing every problem they’ve ever had in their years of marriage. She goes on and on and on. Finally, the counselor gets up, embraces the surprised Lois, and kisses her passionately. Lois shuts up and sits quietly in a daze. The counselor turns to Al and says, “That is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do that?” Al thinks for a moment and replies, “Well, I can get her here Mondays and Wednesdays, but Fridays I play golf.”

Ken Davis reminds us of the value of slowing down in his post Not So Fast.

Digital photography software is allowing archeologists and paleontologists and others to examine artifacts in 3D without damaging the original.

Kevin DeYoung has 5 questions for Christians who believe the Bible supports homosexual “marriage.”

John Maxwell reminds us to make sure we drop the right ball.

Was That Sermon Successful?

Pastor, ever had one of those times when you delivered what you thought was an amazing sermon, but when it was over people looked completely unmoved?

Or maybe you sat down with someone to tell them something that would be so beneficial to their lives, and they responded by lashing out at you?

What happened? Did you miss something? Wasn’t God in your sermon or in your  counseling time?

The Apostle Paul has some great insight for us—

Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God…. (2 Corinthians 1:12)

Paul didn’t rely on external observations to gauge his success in following God, but he listened for the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul wasn’t living to please an audience of people, but an audience of One. He was listening for either the approval or the reproof of the Spirit.

Those you and I preach to may say, “That was wonderful! Great word, pastor!” and have no change of heart at all.

Others may scowl at us, but only because the Holy Spirit is using our words to bring about a deep heart change in them.

So we cannot use the facial expressions, or the compliments, or the complaints of others to know if we hit the mark or not. We have to let the Holy Spirit testify to our conscience whether or not we have been obedient.

I’m praying for you (and for myself): Holy Spirit, remind us of this. Help us to be tuned into You, and not into the external cues we think we may be observing. You alone can approve or reprove us.

Love, Sex, And Happily Ever After (book review)

There is something about the way Craig Groeschel writes that just connects with me (maybe it’s the Craigness that we share!). So when I heard about Love, Sex, And Happily Ever After, I knew it was going to be an excellent read. And I was not disappointed!

With divorce rates so high in our country, far too many couples enter into marriage with the thought in the back of their minds that “this might not work out.” Using sound biblical principles and examples, Craig shows that it’s not only possible for a marriage to go the distance, but that our marriages can get better and better and better as they go along.

In his very creative style, Craig covers principles like:

  • Falling in love with The One
  • Finding your Two
  • The first, second, third, fourth and fifth gears of dating relationships
  • The dangers of living together (“playing house”) before marriage
  • How to know if you should breakup with someone you’re dating
  • Heart habits that will help your marriage go the distance

When I was sharing with a friend some of the thoughts I was reading, he said, “That sounds like good old fashioned common sense.” And that’s exactly what this book is, because it is so firmly based on The Book.

If you would like to add something to your marriage, there is a lot to discover in here. But I think this book is especially appropriate for dating and engaged couples. In fact, since my role as a pastor means I get to do quite a bit of pre-marriage counseling, I’m going to make this book required reading for all of the couples I counsel.

I am a Multnomah book reviewer.

The Doctor & The Pastor—Part II

Friends, I recently reviewed the manuscript for a new book Living Free In An Anxious World. This is an essential book for pastors, Christian counselors, psychologists, and medical doctors which deals with a problem that is only expanding: worry, stress, anxiety. Stay tuned to this blog for a chance to win a free copy in just a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled that the co-authors of Living Free In An Anxious World have agreed to write to my blog readers! Today is the second installment from Dr. Lanny Hunter. (If you missed Part I from Victor Hunter, you can check it out here.)

Guest Author: Dr. R. Lanny Hunter

In my profession as a dermatologist, it’s fair to say that most of my patients come to see me because they are worried. Patients may have developed a rash that worries them. What is it? Is it contagious? Is it serious? Will it scar? What will people think? Can I get rid of it?

Patients may have developed a skin growth, a lump, a sore that won’t heal, a place that is changing color, causing pain, or bleeding. Again, they are worried. Is it cancer? Is it life-threatening? Can it be cured? If I do make a diagnosis of cancer, their anxiety escalates. Will I die? How long do I have to live? How will it be treated? What should I tell my spouse? My family?

Beyond questions of diagnosis, treatment, and questions of severity of illness, many worry about medical costs. How much will it cost? Will my insurance pay for it? They may confide that their insurance has a very high deductible, or that they have no insurance at all, or that they live only on Social Security and Medicare. Will treatment bankrupt them?

In the course of consultation, medical care, and surgery, patients reveal more than their medical worries. They confide their life disappointments—marriage problems, work conflicts, children in trouble, personal and vocational failures, criminal escapades.

Patients with worry and anxiety are my life’s work. To that end, I use all of the interpersonal skills, psychological insights, religious convictions, and medical skills that I have acquired through training and experience. I must listen compassionately and constructively, and be armed with the latest medical techniques in treating disease. I must be cognizant of my limitations in skill and time. I may need to refer a patient to a psychologist, psychiatrist, pastor, priest, social worker, or another physician. I must always remember that I’m not treating the skin. I’m treating the whole person.

With that holistic approach in mind, my brother (a pastor) and I (a physician) have authored a book, Living Free in an Anxious World, which combines the insights of our two vocations to help people manage worry and anxiety in order to free them for more productive living. 

The Doctor & The Pastor—Part I

Friends, I recently reviewed the manuscript for a new book Living Free In An Anxious World. This is an essential book for pastors, Christian counselors, psychologists, and medical doctors which deals with a problem that is only expanding: worry, stress, anxiety. Stay tuned to this blog for a chance to win a free copy of this book later this month.

In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled that the co-authors of Living Free In An Anxious World have agreed to write to my blog readers! Today is the first installment from Rev. Victor Hunter.

Guest Author: Rev. Victor L. Hunter

Whether it was the Carter family’s version in the 1930s, Woody Guthrie’s in the 40s, the Kingston Trio’s in the 50’s, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s in the 60s, or Devo’s in the 70s and 80s, “Worried Man Blues” has been a ubiquitous presence in the bluegrass/folk song genre of cultural music throughout the “century of anxiety.” Its words and tune have provided a common background theme playing in our minds for decades:  “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.” Most of us, men and women, have hummed along, literally and/or figuratively, with its sentiments.

During these decades, my brother and I have listened to the song’s lyrics and contemplated the reality of worry and anxiety both personally and professionally. He’s a physician. I’m a pastor. I can say without hyperbole that there hasn’t been a week go by in nearly a half-century of preaching, pastoral care and counseling, and teaching that worry and anxiety haven’t been at the forefront of conversations with people, young and old, men and women, who have said to me, “I need to talk with you about something.”

This is so because anxiety is part of what it means to be human beings. It’s part of our biological makeup and spiritual reality. It is essential to our survival, as well as being a core theological question. It can also be devastatingly paralyzing, keeping people from living free, living life fully alive.

During the past four decades, the doctor and the pastor, the brothers, have been in conversation about our disciplines of science and theology and our professions in medicine and religion. We have become increasingly sensitive to the many issues that meet at the intersection of biology and theology. It’s about being human before God. We share in Living Free in an Anxious World this conversation and our passion for a holistic understanding of our humanity in light of faith and science . . . as well as our hope for the healing and redemption of our lives. We affirm that while anxiety and worry are unavoidable, they can be our teachers rather than our masters. Our goal is to provide realistic, practical, and helpful guidance in understanding worry and facing our fears that we might travel the road of freedom and grace.

Check out the guest post from Dr. R. Lanny Hunter by clicking here

Mad Church Disease (book review)

Read this book and save your life.


I have seen far too many good people get burned-out in the most unlikely place. The one place where you would expect wholeness and vitality and safety and health: Church! In Mad Church Disease Anne Jackson draws the comparison to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as mad cow disease) to confront mad church disease head-on.

Here’s the insidious thing about the way mad cow disease spreads: after infected cows die, they are ground up and fed to healthy cows. So unwittingly the disease is perpetuated because no one recognizes it’s there. Sadly that’s what happens far too often in the church. We have developed cultures that continue to burn-out people, and then we let those burned-out people feed (develop) new people

Anne shines the light of truth on this ugly disease. She confronts the symptoms head-on, and offers practical steps for helping people get healthy.

As someone who came very close to getting burned-out by mad church disease, I can attest how right-on-the-mark Anne’s book is. And to bolster her diagnosis, Anne interviews several leading pastors whose “second opinion” confirm the original diagnosis. I liked this observation from Bill Hybels:

“Especially as leaders in the church, we consistently need to be filled up and buoyed in our spirits because everybody takes their cue from the leader. If the leader is exhausted, then the people following that leader will feel exhausted. If the leader is wearing thin on hope, then people start losing hope too. If the leader gets pessimistic, everybody gets pessimistic.”

So who should read Mad Church Disease?

  • Pastors
  • Paid church staff
  • Volunteer church ministers
  • Counselors
  • Church board members

Whether you have been infected by mad church disease or not, you need to read this book. It will either be a source of healing for you, or an eye-opener to help protect yourself and others around you from this deadly disease.

The first step to eliminating mad church disease is recognizing its symptoms. Mad Church Disease does just that, and then goes further to talk about the steps for healing. Thanks, Anne, for a straightforward look at this serious disease.

%d bloggers like this: