Jesus In Me (book review)

When Jesus was about to ascend back into heaven, His disciples were understandably anxious. But Jesus spoke these reassuring words to them, “I will not leave you alone. I will ask the Father to send the Comforter to you.” And true to His word, the Holy Spirit was made available to all Christians. This is what Anne Graham Lotz explores in Jesus In Me.

In the opening pages, Anne explains that an important verse to help us understand the Holy Spirit is found in John 16:7. Anne and I both like the Amplified Bible’s rendering of this verse—However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Using the multiple names of the Holy Spirit captured in this verse—Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby—Anne begins to dive deeper into what the Spirit of God does in these various roles.

This is not a heavy theological dissertation, nor does this book wade deeply into complex doctrines. Jesus In Me feels like Anne is your friend, and she is just sharing with you what the Bible has said to her about the Holy Spirit and how she has experienced Him for herself. The Scripture references are there for you to read on your own, and Anne shares her personal stories, but both of these simply invite you and me to experience more of the Holy Spirit for ourselves. I really like this book! 

I am a Multnomah book reviewer. 

P.S. There are some special pre-order offers available from Anne Graham Lotz’s website which you may want to check out.

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.

9 More Quotes From “Keep Your Love On!”

Keep Your Love OnKeep Your Love On! is an outstanding resource for anyone who wants to repair or strengthen a relationship. As I said in my book review, I think pastors and marriage counselors should definitely get a copy of this book. Here are a few more quotes.

“If you want to preserve relationships, then you must learn to respond instead of react to fear and pain. Responding does not come naturally. You can react without thinking, but you cannot respond without training your mind to think, your will to choose, and your body to obey. … Powerful people are not slaves to their instincts. Powerful people can respond with love in the face of pain and fear. This ‘response-ability’ is essential to building healthy relationships.”

“If you were raised with a powerless, fear-driven mindset based on the belief that you can control people and they can control you, then you will naturally perceive God as a controlling Punisher. You will take the laws of the Old Testament—all the verses and stories about wrath, judgment, and the fear of the Lord—and conclude, ‘See, God wants to control us, and we need to be controlled.’ … The problem is that the Bible doesn’t show us a God Who is pursuing the goal of distance between Himself and a bunch of scary sinners. Instead, the Bible reveals a God Who is relentlessly closing that distance and paying the ultimate price to repair the disconnection we created in our relationship.”

“Fear and love are enemies. They come from two opposing kingdoms. Fear comes from the devil, who would like nothing more than to keep you permanently disconnected and isolated. Love comes from God, Who is always working to heal and restore your connection with Him and other people and bring you into healthy, life-giving relationships. … When Paul told Timothy that the spirit of love is also the spirit of power and a sound mind, he implied that its opposite, the spirit of fear, is the spirit of powerlessness and a weak, divided mind. When you grow up partnering with the spirit of fear, as most of us do, you learn to simply hand over your brain and your power, letting fear take control. But as soon as you decide to partner with the spirit of love, you have to think and make powerful choices.”

“Do you want to win the battle between fear and love in your relationships? You can start by making these two fundamental commitments: (1) It’s my job to control myself. I do not get to control other people. (2) My number-one goal and priority in relationships is building and protecting connection.”

“Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment, replaces it with freedom and safety, and invites each person to bring his or her best self forward in the relationship.”

“True honor is the practice of two powerful people putting one another before themselves, empowering one another, working together to meet one another’s needs, and adjusting as necessary in order to move together toward the shared goal of the relationship.”

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying ‘Yes’ to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say ‘No’ to. … When we find ourselves with more freedom than self-control, then that freedom erodes the quality of our life and friendships. Self-control is what allows us to manage increasing levels of freedom in our life and relationships.”

“When you put a person in the position of God, you set him or her up for failure. … Mysterious as it is, making ourselves accountable to God and putting ourselves under His authority is the only way we can become powerful and learn to govern ourselves. … When two people are consistently pursuing a connection with the Perfect One, that connection will set the pace for their connection with each other. They will be learning to love from Love Himself, which can only bring the best into their relationship.”

“The faster you can get to the question, ‘What do you need?’ the faster you can start doing something about it. Unfortunately, because many people are not used to being listened to, they don’t know what they need, or how to communicate it. They think they have to present a solid case for someone to help them, agree with them, or change for them.”

You can read the the first batch of quotes I shared here.

My book review is posted here.

9 Quotes From “Keep Your Love On!”

Keep Your Love OnPastors and counselors should definitely add Keep Your Love On! to their bookshelf. This book by Danny Silk is a goldmine of helps for repairing, restoring and strengthening relationships. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes from this book.

“Most people haven’t learned to build their relationships on the premise, ‘I choose you.’ Their premise for relationships is, ‘You choose me.’ … However, if all our relationships are based solely on our natural impulse to return liking for liking, then we are going to have problems. Liking is a conditional state—it changes. Making ‘You choose me’ the foundation of a relationship dooms it to change, and probably collapse, the minute one person’s liking happens to turn south.” 

“A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. This choice must be based on who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals. … In order to be able to make and keep commitments like this—commitments to enduring, intimate relationships—you need to be a certain kind of person. You need to be a powerful person. Powerful people take responsibility for their lives and choices. Powerful people choose who they want to be with, what they are going to pursue in life, and how they are going to go after it.”

“Often the first thing that reveals a powerless mindset is powerless language. Frequent use of the phrase is ‘I can’t’ and ‘I have to’ is a hallmark of a powerless person. … Powerless people also throw in ‘I’ll try’ to absolve them if they do not come through on a commitment or promise.”

“Powerless people approach relationships as consumers. They are always looking for other people who have resources of love, happiness, joy, and comfort to offer in a relationship to share with them, because they don’t have any.”

“Powerless people often blame the messes they make on other people. The reason their life, marriage, child, finances, job, or whatever is the way it is has nothing to do with their choices. Someone else—their parents, their spouse, their teachers, society—created the life they’re living. They don’t have the power to create their own lives.” 

“The classic relational dynamic created by powerless people is called triangulation. When you believe that other people are scary, unsafe, and more powerful than you, and when you believe that you need to get them to meet your needs, then you have three possible roles you get to play in relationships: the victim, the bad guy, or the rescuer. If you’re the victim, you’re looking for a rescuer to make you feel safe and happy. If you’re the bad guy, you are using control and intimidation to protect yourself or get someone to meet your needs. If you’re a rescuer, you’re taking responsibility for someone else’s life in an attempt to feel powerful. Powerless people will switch in and out of these roles in relational interactions.”

“In order to stay in relationship, powerless people make an agreement to exercise mutual control over each other. The unspoken pact between them is, ‘It’s my job to make you happy, and your job to make me happy. And the best way to get you to work on my life is to act miserable. The more miserable I am, the more you will have to try to make me feel better.’ Powerless people use various tactics, such as getting upset, withdrawing, nagging, ridiculing, pouting, crying, or getting angry, to pressure, manipulate, and punish one another into keeping this pact. … A relational bond built on mutual control simply cannot produce anything remotely like safety, love, or trust. It can only produce more fear, pain, distrust, punishment, and misery.” 

“Powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and that it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves. As a result, they are able to consciously and deliberately create the environment in which they want to live. They don’t try to get people to respect them; they create a respectful environment by showing respect. They deliberately set the standard for how they expect to be treated by the way they treat others. As they consistently act in responsible, respectful, and loving ways, it becomes clear that the only people who can get close to them are those who know how to show respect, be responsible, and love well. Life does not happen to powerful people. Powerful people are happening—they are happening all the time.”

“What is the goal in your close relationships? Are you trying to create a safe connection or a safe distance? Are you building a skill set to move away from or control the distance between you and your husband, wife, friend, child, etc.? Or are you building a skill set to move toward them and keep your love on no matter what?”

Stay tuned: more quotes from Keep Your Love On! coming soon…

Keep Your Love On! (book review)

Keep Your Love OnJust when I thought I’d heard almost every relationship-building concept, Danny Silk comes along with a totally innovative approach in Keep Your Love On!

Danny points out that most people try to develop a safe distance between other people, to keep themselves from getting hurt. As a result they have become powerless in their relationships—powerless to make any changes that would move them closer to one another.

But God designed us for connection: Connection with Him and with each other. These types of connections can only come from powerful people. Danny says that powerful people are not those who impose their will on others, but people who first of all take personal responsibility for who they are. Then powerful people can establish healthy boundaries that will help others move from powerlessness to power. Healthy, long-lasting, fulfilling relationships come when both people are powerful people.

All throughout the book, Danny Silk give sound, biblical direction, combined with his personal experiences counseling other people. He is even vulnerable enough to tell us how he learned these valuable lessons by moving away from powerlessness in his own marriage.

This is an outstanding book for anyone who want to strengthen or repair relationships in their lives, or for anyone who wants to be a catalyst for change in the lives of people close to them. Pastors and counselors should definitely add this book to their library.

“Quality love relationships do not happen by accident. Real love is built the old-fashioned way—through hard work. And if you learn to manage the very best of who you are, the all-elusive intimacy experience we crave will be well within your grasp.” —Danny Silk

I am a Red Arrow Media book reviewer.

The Counselor Brings Reproof

Search meNo one likes being rebuked, but it is necessary. In fact, it is vital for healthy growth. As a Dad, I didn’t look forward to the times I had to rebuke my children. But what’s the alternative? What happens if I just let misbehavior slide? We must rebuke those we love if we want them to mature.

The Counselor—the Holy Spirit—not only teaches us, but He reproves us as well because of His love for us. And we all need it!

  • The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing… (Romans 7:18)

This knowledge of my wickedness becomes even more painful when I think that Jesus calls us to perfection (Matthew 5:48). I can’t “do” perfect on my own. But thankfully Jesus didn’t tell us to “do” perfect things, but to BE perfect.

The Holy Spirit reproves us—that is, He shows us where we are deviating from the mark—so that we can BE perfectly at one with Jesus, with our lives demonstrating Christ’s perfect nature.

Warning: the enemy wants to pervert The Counselor’s reproof. He wants to whisper to you that God is mad at you, that you’ve blown it too many times, that you’ll never be good enough.

Just like Jesus countered all of satan’s temptations with the Spirit-breathed Scripture, you need to do the same thing. You tell him, “My Father loves me so much that He sent His One and Only Son to die on a Cross for me! He wants me to display the glory of Jesus in my life because that’s what brings Him pleasure. He only reproves me because He loves me. If He didn’t care about me, He would leave me alone!”

Because He loves you and wants the very best for you, here’s what you can boldly pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I will be continuing my series on the Holy Spirit as our Counselor this Sunday. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us!

The Counselor Instructs Us

The life of Jesus“The Counselor” is the name Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit. Looking at the definition of the word Counselor, there are four main things the Holy Spirit will do in our lives which corresponds to another well-known passage of Scripture—

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Counselor teaches/instructs, rebukes, corrects, and trains. And He does this through The Word that He inspired.

The Bible is one huge “the Holy Spirit said” Book. Men wrote the words of Scripture as the Counselor Spirit inspired them (2 Peter 1:19-21). That same Counselor then helps us apply those inspired words to our lives.

Jesus is our Ultimate Example of One Who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and fully controlled by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). The Counselor helped Jesus the Man be able to apply the inspired Scripture:

Jesus told His followers to received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8), so we could be His witnesses in the world (see Acts 8:26-35 and 10:38-43).

“God does not give us power to imitate Him: He gives us His very Self. … We are not put into the place where we can imitate Jesus; the baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us into the very life of Jesus.” —Oswald Chambers

This should be our normal life! But if we discount the Holy Spirit—or even discount our worthiness to commune with The Counselor—we begin to accept sub-normal as normal, and the normal become miraculous and only obtainable by a few “spiritual giants.”

The Father’s desire is for all of us to bear a strong, unmistakable family likeness to Jesus. Christ relied on The Counselor, so we must as well.

Next Sunday I will be continuing our series on the Holy Spirit called The Counselor. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, please join us.

%d bloggers like this: