Enter the Ring: A Review

Enter the Ring by D.A. & Elicia Horton

A truth I have learned in ministering to couples is that marriages don’t end because couples fight they end because they either stopped fighting or didn’t fight fair. In this book the Hortons provide biblical advice on how couples can fight to stay together in a world that pulls marriages apart.

Throughout this book the Hortons point to the importance of pursuing Christ together for the health and well being of the marriage. Common problems like how to manage family relationships are addressed from a biblical perspective. The importance of shared goals and communication in every area especially finances are demonstrated.

I have known far too many couples divorce because they weren’t willing to fight for their marriages and as a result damaged their gospel witness and the witness of their church. I would commend this book to couples and to pastors looking for resources to use in premarital and marital counseling.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.


Your Marriage God’s Mission: A Review

Your Marriage God’s Mission by Clint and Penny A. Bragg

In a day where expectations of marriage and commitment to it Clint and Penny Bragg have written a book to help Christian couples go against the flow. The main premise that the marriage relationship requires a missions orientation, that God has given couples gifting and passions which are part of God’s calling.

The first section addresses the importance of having a marriage mission and how to form a marriage mission statement. The second section addresses how couples can pursue spiritual disciplines together. The third section addresses practical steps in pursuing mission in marriage. The fourth section addresses aspects of spiritual warfare in marriage. The final section addresses evaluating and assessing the marriage mission.

This book removes all grounds for a selfish understanding of marriage. I would commend this book to any couple who is married or considering marriage as it sets the bar high for couples.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of When Parenting Isn’t Perfect


In When Parenting Isn’t Perfect Jim Daly and Paul Asay provide a resource that is relevant to every stage of parenting as it is never perfect.

One of the main arguments found in the first section of this book is that too often parents set their sight on perfection in raising their children and in doing so often crush the spirits of their children. Rather than alienate children in a pursuit of perfection parents must parent their children in reality. The second section addresses the practical realities of parenting from knowing your children to knowing your spouse and working well together as parents. The third section addresses the reality that you are parenting a human being and not a robot, while we may have great influence over our children we really can’t control them especially as they grow up and become more independent. The final section looks at the long-term view of parenting especially the transitions that lead to children becoming adults.

In a world of broken families Jim Daly shows how even and especially imperfect parenting can shape children for the better. Over all as a book that is supposed to be a Christian book on parenting Daly’s book focuses more on his personal experience than Scripture, which is the main weakness of this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review of The Family Life of a Christian Leader

The Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith Fernando is a resource that provides a biblical understanding of every aspect family life. While the title may direct it towards Christian leaders, it should be beneficial for any Christian whether they view themselves as a leader or not.

Fernando begins with the foundational truths of family life as they are built on the reality of God. He reminds that family is not a human institution but one divinely ordained. This truth and the fact that God desires to uphold our families is a good incentive to prayer. In the second chapter points to the importance of dying to self in our family relationships. Chapter three provides a biblical understanding of the love we are to have in our families, not the love of the world which is self-serving but the others-focused love which the New Testament calls us to. Chapters four and five focus in on the nature of marriage and the marriage bed. He moves on to address the fact that there is both joy in the family as well as pain and disappointment in the family. The importance of unity and the how to handle conflict in a way that promotes unity is explored. The closing chapters of the book address children in the life of the family.

There are some aspects of this book that are geared specifically for Christian leaders, however most of the instruction found is applicable and needed in the larger Christian culture. Fernando is able to address a wide range of issues in the family in a way that is both encouraging and convicting at times. In my reading I can’t remember a single book that addresses all the areas of family life as well as this one does. I would commend this book to any Christian seeking to understand what the Bible says about our family life as this work reflect a depth of biblical wisdom needed in order to address the issues facing families today.

Disclosure: I received an ecopy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Review: Marry Wisely, Marry Well

Marry Wisely, Marry Well by Ernie Baker has proved to be a very timely resource for myself as I am getting ready to begin premarital counseling with a young couple in my church.

To be clear while the primary focus of this book is preparation for marriage and navigating the perilous period of singleness it more than a book on marriage preparation. The first two chapters delve into the biblical understanding of wisdom with a strong exhortation to purse Christ’s wisdom. The third chapter addresses the nature of attraction and potential dangers regarding attraction, which is a good word for all to pay attention to married or single. Chapter 4 presents the biblical design and purpose for marriage. The second section of the book serves as a guide for those navigating the period of singleness giving biblical guidance in regards to preparedness for marriage and finding a spouse providing a helpful corrective to the current hook-up culture found in the West.

I’ve encountered a lot of books on courtship and dating during my college years, many of them being by Josh Harris and Elisabeth Elliot. This book stands out in its pursuit of applying biblical wisdom to the area of dating and preparation for marriage. If you work with singles and students this a resource that will provide them an understanding of God’s design for relationships that will guard them from much heart ache in the future. I would especially recommend walking a young adult through this book in the context of mentoring.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html

Review of Dude’s Guide to Marriage

Of the writing of marriage books there is no end. One of the latest entries to this ever growing category is Dude’s Guide to Marriage by Darrin and Amie Patrick.

I came to this book with high expectations as I have a great deal of respect for Darrin Patrick and his work in the area of church planting. Unfortunately I find myself frustrated as this did not meet those expectations.

The greatest weakness to this book is that it seems to be more rooted in the author’s experience and what the author has gleaned from other marriage books. I find this a weakness in the book the places it below other marriage books such as Alistair Begg’s and Matt Chandler’s. It is only at the very end of the book where Ephesians 5 is addressed which is odd given how foundational the passage is for understanding marriage in light of the gospel. I think his appendix also shows a weakness of the church in regards to counseling, whereas the New Testament model is believers counseling and encourage one another in areas such as marriage whereas what is recommended is seeking “professional” counseling as opposed to biblical counseling. Which might explain why there doesn’t seem to be a clear prioritization of what the Scripture teaches in regards to marriage.

While the book wasn’t terrible it definitely won’t be one I recommend to other couples as there are other books out there that give the same practical advice while giving greater priority to the Bible.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson through the BookLook Bloggers program  for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Still As True As Ever

Two years ago I wrote the following after SCOTUS struck down DOMA. It is as true now as it was then I highly encourage every Christian to read it and take it to heart.

Yesterday SCOTUS made rulings which have sweeping ramifications for America the extent of which no-one knows for certain. For the greater part of this country’s history there has been in the background an assumed Judeo-Christian identity which played a part in every aspect of public life, shaping the understanding of common law and basic morality.  The SCOTUS rulings make clear what has been apparent to most in our culture, the foundational understanding which underpinned our culture for so long can no longer be assumed or expected.

This break down comes from several different sources. Some of the influence comes from the church itself. Through the history of America one can trace a theme of compromise in the life of the church. One can look at the condition of the various denominations in the early colonial period and see the roots of rebellion coming from within the institutional church itself, as evidenced by the growth of Unitarian Universalism from the early Congregational churches. Doctrinal compromise disintegrated the gospel and created a new religion entirely antithetical to Christianity. This doctrinally deficient bastard child of Christianity owes its origins to the attempt to conform Christianity to to the beliefs and values of popular culture. One can see today the fruits of this compromised religion in other denominations as well. Theological compromise, loss of confidence in revealed truth has again and again given rise to a religion that may imitate the form of Biblical Christianity while at the same time holding in disdain the doctrine and ethical system found in the Bible.

Every denomination is now faced with a question, will they accommodate to the culture and deny revealed truth. The church is not called to seek the approval of the state or the culture. One can read the book of Acts and see that the early church went against the popular culture in every way possible. The Greco-Roman culture exalted and glorified sexual perversions in the same way our culture does, the early church exalted Christ-centered marriage, holding its members accountable for their marriage covenant. The Greco-Roman culture accepted abortion and infanticide, the early church took in and adopted children thrown away by the culture. The Greco-Roman context was one marked by its religious pluralism with a unifying civic religion based on the worship of a human leader, the early church at the cost of their life confessed Jesus Christ and him alone as Lord and not Caesar. The early church existed in a world without religious freedom, constant threat of persecution and death, and rampant culturally ingrained immorality, yet the church did not retreat and isolate itself from culture nor did it accommodate itself to culture. The early church shined like a light in the darkness, it was the salt of the earth, it was a city on a hill. There is a common theme in those three metaphors, the idea of being different. The church is the church at its best when it can be seen as distinct from the world while at the same time being on mission in the world. Local churches need to reclaim their identity as salt and light, and recall the promises of Christ. Christ has promised us that we will be hated and despised by the world, because he was hated and despised by the world. He has also promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. We need to remember in our culture that our war isn’t with the culture but with the serpent, and we need to remind ourselves we follow the one who has already crushed the serpent’s head, the war is won.