Here are my book reviews for 2011.
Here are my book reviews for 2012.
Here are my book reviews for 2013.
Here are my book reviews for 2014.
Here are my book reviews for 2015.
Here are my book reviews for 2016.
“Why is your wife so sensitive to others’ opinions? Why does your husband have such a difficult time making decisions? Why does your wife find comfort by slipping off by herself and eating food she knows is disgusting? Why does your husband find comfort in electronic fantasy? Don’t just tell me what your spouse does. Tell me why, and then we can talk about the pathway of love and healing. If you don’t know the why, you’re just an accusing judge who knows nothing of love, only something of punishment. I am not excusing sinful or abhorrent behavior. I’m just asking you to have some empathy about the fact that we live in a cruel world, vicious in its treatment of the people we marry, as well as a positive vision for how profoundly a cherishing marriage can heal past hurts.” —Gary Thomas, in Cherish
Here are the links to the Scriptures he references:
“Our desire and need for intimacy and relationship is rooted in the image of God as One (see Deuteronomy 6:4). Marriage and marital sex between a man and woman reflects His nature of oneness and unity.”
“Human sexuality involves every aspect of a person’s being—and sex is meant to connect us on every level.”
“Respecting the boundaries of sexual morality and the ‘stop’ signs for extramarital and premarital sex does bring protection and provision. Protection from: guilt, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual insecurity, emotional distress. Provision for: spiritual rewards, optimum atmosphere for child-raising, peace of mind, trust, true intimacy.”
“Sex as God designed it was meant to be lived within the context of healthy boundaries…. Following God’s design then allows a couple to experience the beauty of sex as it was meant to be experienced.”
“Purity is God’s boundary that provides for a maximum sex life and protects us from the negative consequences of sexual immorality [1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7].”
“Where did sexual purity come from? From the very character of God Himself. God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). ‘All who have this I hope [of being like Christ when He returns] in Him purify themselves, just as [God] is pure’ (1 John 3:3).”
“We were created by God with the desire and longing to be that ‘one and only’ to someone else. That desire came directly from the very nature of God Himself … ‘He is the faithful God…’ (Deuteronomy 7:9).”
“Because true love’s priority is to protect and provide for the one being loved, God’s kind of love will not do things that are harmful to the security, happiness, and welfare of another person.”
Part of this comes from incorrect either-or thinking. However, Jesus seems to tell us that sanctification requires a both-and thinking.
In Christ’s prayer for His followers in John 17, He uses the word sanctified three times (see verses 17-19). Although He is using the same Greek word each time, He uses a different “flavor” of the word to make it really clear what He means.
First of all, the Greek word for sanctified means the process of being made into a saint. So sometimes I like to say the word this way: SAINT-ified.
Check out Christ’s prayer. First He says, “I sanctify Myself,” and then He says, “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Same Greek word, but each time is slightly tweaked.
Jesus uses a “flavor” of Greek which means sanctification is something that He has done completely and totally on His own once and for all. In other words, Christians are completely and totally sanctified at the very moment they surrender their life to Him.
But when He talks about His followers, the “flavor” of Greek means sanctification is something that is an ongoing process. In other words, we are being SAINT-ified.
So which is it? Sanctified once, or sanctified through an ongoing process?
It’s not either-or. It’s both-and!
Think about a married couple. From the moment the pastor says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” they are married. It is done; fully completed. There is nothing the bride or groom can do to become more married.
However, the groom can begin to look at the marriage through his bride’s eyes. Then he can serve her in a way that helps her feel more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within the marriage. Neither of them becomes more married, but they can get more enjoyment within the marriage.
The same thing for Christians. At the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we are saved from the penalty of our sins. We can’t be more saved. But through the process of SANIT-ificiation we can experience more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within our relationship with Jesus.
My paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:15-16—But just as He who called you has paid for your once-for-all saint-ification, so keep on being saint-ified in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
What about you? Are you satisfied with just being saved, or are you striving for a joy-filled, more fulfilling, increasingly satisfied relationship with Jesus Christ? It can truly be a wonderful both-and relationship!
Gary Thomas calls on husbands to not just love their wives, but to cherish them. It’s an admirable goal for all married men! Please check out my review of Cherish by clicking here. Below are a few more quotes I especially liked.
“Never forget: You married a spouse with natural weaknesses. You married a spouse with a history of hurt. We can be agents of healing redemption and acceptance in our marriage, or we can do further harm, perhaps unintentionally.”
“Of course, there’s no promise that if you persevere, you’ll get just what you’re hoping for. But the one certainty is that if you give up, you definitely won’t get it.”
“Every conversation—every one!—takes you closer to or farther away from a cherishing marriage. The Bible declares this truth: ‘The tongue has the power of life and death’ (Proverbs 18:21).”
“If we want our spouses to feel cherished, we may have to work at a few things we’re not so good at by nature.”
“Pam Farrel writes in several of her books that a wife often feels most loved when her husband is simply more curious about her. … It’s not enough to simply listen. We have to take the next step, engage, and go even further to say, ‘I want more. Tell me more.’ We have to maintain our curiosity. … Husbands, cherishing often isn’t about what your wife is saying; it’s about who is saying it.”
“Silence is often unintentionally malicious, so try to verbalize every positive thing you can think of.”
“A joyful person walking in grace and hope can cherish much more than one who is tangled up in the guilt that Christ died to remove. Our guilt serves no one. In Christ, our self-condemnation offends God; it doesn’t please Him. To walk in condemnation is to call God a liar and Christ’s work insufficient. One of the worst sins you can commit as a Christian is to define yourself by your sin. In the same way, one of the worst sins you can commit against your spouse is to always define them by their sin. Biblical marriage is about defining each other as Christ defines us—saved.”
“Your spouse has a unique history, so cherish your spouse by treating them according to their reality: They are living a life that has never been lived before. They have a personality that has never existed before. They have a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, temptations and gifts, as well as a once-in-the-universe calling. Your role is to help them complete their one-of-a-kind story.”
“Never, ever, get to the point that you expect your spouse to never stumble. Otherwise, you won’t cherish them; you’ll resent them.”
“Stop comparing your spiritual maturity with your spouse’s; instead, start comparing your spiritual maturity with Ephesians 4:1–3. If you do that, you will change the climate of your marriage.”
“When someone pledges to be your spouse, that commitment alone should earn him or her the benefit of the doubt. Even when things may not look the best, seek understanding before you even think about censure. Cherishing our spouses doesn’t mean living in Fantasyland, but it does mean giving our spouses the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping immediately to accusation.”
To read the first set of quotes I shared from Cherish, click here.
God’s design for sex is truly the most beautiful thing that exists between two people. Its counterfeit is called pornography. Porn is simulated, imitated, and purchased; but no price tag can ever buy true beauty.
God demonstrates the purest love in Himself, when one part of the Godhead is the Lover and the other parts of the Godhead are the Beloved. The Lover is constantly discovering the beauty in the Beloved, and then praising that beauty. The Beloved then reciprocates back to the Lover. It’s a love dance!
Humans are created in God’s image. We are first created to be God’s beloved. Then we are designed to be both lover and beloved in the bonds of marriage. True beauty—real, lasting beauty that pleases God—is discovered. It’s something that starts inside and radiates outside. A true lover takes the time to discover who the beloved truly is.
To see this in action, just look at some of the compliments between husband and wife in the Song of Songs—How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! … How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! … Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. … My lover is mine and I am his. … All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
True love that sees this kind of beauty cannot be imitated, purchased or simulated. If someone attempts to, it’s called pornography.
The dictionary gives this definition of pornography: sexually explicit materials whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal. In other words, porn tries to imitate and simulate true beauty at a purchase price.
Jesus identified this sell-out of true love with the Greek word porneia (see Mark 7:14-23). This word means any sexual involvement outside the marriage between a husband and wife. Porneia comes from words that fill out its definition: things like prostitution, idolatry, and slavery.
Your body was not made for porneia but for God (1 Corinthians 6:13). You were made in His image: to be His Beloved, and He your Lover, and then to have a marriage relationship with another image-bearer of God, where you are both lover and beloved, and where you focus on true beauty.
Anything else is imitated, purchased, and simulated. It’s pornography. It’s idolatry.
Christians are told to fight many temptations, but there are only two that we are told not to fight, but to flee: pornography (1 Corinthians 6:18) and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). So our prayer for the purity and enjoyment of God’s true beauty should be: Turn my eyes away from worthless things (Psalm 119:37).
Don’t sell out to the fake beauty in pornography. Discover true beauty exclusively in your spouse!
We’ll be looking at more relationship builders and killers, and I’d love to have you along for this journey of discovery.