Your Marriage Masterpierce by Al Janssen

I’ve read several great marriage books, but what stands out about this one is how inspirational it is. Others are better in explaining key Bible teaching on marriage, and yet others in practical detail, but this one stands out in making you want to be what you should be in your marriage and fulfill God’s will in showing grace.

Janssen clearly excels in creative writing. The book is a joy to read. He uses Bible stories and personal marriage vignettes to make his point. In his Bible stories, he stretches some of them a little beyond what the text can bear, but he makes some great points too. His use of Adam and Eve was his best and most thought provoking.

One of the things that he gives us that I find too often missing is his call to sacrifice in our marriages as our Lord does for us. He believes in protection from gross abuse and practicing tough love in serious situations, but he compels us to sacrifice in our relationship. Sacrifice can feel like pain at times, but that is exactly too what the Lord has done. So many run when loving endurance would not only have honored the Lord, but also likely yielded a great marriage. Simply sticking it out helps many as most couples who dedicate themselves to the marriage, usually rate their marriage great five years later. Selfishness makes many run. For example, he uses Hosea and Gomer, as well as a modern-day Hosea and Gomer to well make his point. (Chapter 14 is riveting).

This turns out to be an updated edition, but somehow I missed the earlier one. In any event, it is a jewel. 

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue by J. A. Myhre 


Here’s a children’s book that will be loved in any Christian home. The plot is set in Africa and has the unique thrills of that continent. The author, J. A. Myhre, is a doctor in Africa. Her 20 years in Africa makes her able to visualize accurately situations there. The stories here began as stories for her own children and it’s a blessing that they are available for children everywhere.

The story transports us to the life of an amazing girl named Kiisa. She is dropped by her father at a school where she feels out of place and has to take a stand to do right and suffers for it. A little bird befriends her and encourages her. Later, the story becomes riveting when the school is attacked. What Kiisa does makes the story ( I don’t want to give away the plot!).

Beyond the gripping nature of the story itself is the description of the unsugarcoated nature of evil in our world and the right kind of courage in its presence. This story challenges our children to be righteously courageous in our world. I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

A Helpful New Marriage Book

It’s a marriage book unlike any other. It’s specifically for the scenario of a strong women, so strong they use the word “fierce”,  and a more naturally easy-going guy. Written by a couple, Leroy and Kimberly Wagner, who fits this description perfectly, who made all the mistakes, learned from them, and by God’s grace triumphed in Christian marriage. It must resonate dramatically in our day as its impetus was their discussion of what they learned being the #1 segment of 2015 on Focus on the Family. 

The book barely touches on how we may have such an increase in this type of marriage situation, things like the gender confusion of our day, and just focuses instead on what two people who love the Lord must understand. This book is geared toward the men, how they have failed even if she is too strong, and how Servant Leadership can be brought to bear to get the Christian marriage we sincerely want.

One of the biggest failures a man in this type marriage can do is be so passive he checks out. It actually leads to making her more fierce and he carries some blame. The key is fixing your part, taking your responsibilities and doing it for Jesus’ sake if you can’t push through to do it for her.

The book is amazing. I assure you it isn’t trite platitudes as some marriage books tend to be, but real substance that you can get your heart and mind around. I give it the highest possible rating.
I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

Eternal Salvation–A Christian Movie Review

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Eternal Salvation is an excellent Christian movie. The wooden acting that has plagued some Christian films is no where to be found in this movie. The plot will grab your attention throughout. My wife and children watched this film with me and we give it a family thumbs up. You will love this Dove-approved Eternal Salvation DVD.

The story is of an unsaved family man who is a high-profile investment banker. He survives a brain aneurysm, but faces struggles in recovery and with his job and protege. Through that difficult time and the help of a Christian friend he finds Christ. There are more issues after his salvation that help him deepen his faith. His wife and daughter find the Lord as well. There is fine drama in telling this story that makes for a fine viewing experience.

I might quibble over the portrayal of his daughter’s conversion. It was not made clear that she had to have  a personal faith herself. Plus my children all noticed that she was an older girl than the part she was playing. Still, this is a film I recommend for your family.

You can check out a variety of similar Christian DVDs here. Fishflix is allowing me to offer you a $5 coupon to their site if you join their email list. You can join by visiting www.fishflix.com/5gift or texting 5-GIFT to 44222. I get no kickback on this coupon, but am happy for other families to have this resource.

I received this DVD free from the publisher. 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.

Raised To Release–A Great Book For Christian Parents

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It’s the big question about raising children–what exactly are we raising them to be? What results are we aiming at? The world offers no guidance for sure. Enter Victor and Esther Flores into the discussion and see how scriptural what they say really is. It will ring true as you read this volume subtitled “a missional mandate for parents.”

They base their discussion on the famous text of Psalms 127:4. I must confess that I have read and heard much over the last 20 years on that text, but it is invariably about the full quiver, or having as many children as is possible. While having a large family can be an incredible blessing ( I have 6 children myself), that is not really the whole point of what that text is trying to say.

This book approaches the text more accurately. The authors were challenged by a quote by Jim Elliot from this text. He said that arrows are made to shoot and so we should shoot them straight at the Enemy! The authors said, “This is not a book about how to have a great family and raise great kids, but how to see our great God’s message advanced through family!” Wow, that is refreshing.

There is much good here. Chapter 4 even gives great insight into marriage. Ultimately, this book serves as a great reminder that our children are ours only for a season and for a far greater purpose than merely adding joy to our own lives.  Many even with conservative principles shelter their children only to keep them forever.

I loved how they discussed having to trust the Lord as some of their children took challenging and dangerous missions trips. Perhaps, this is also a reminder of the scriptural idea of letting go so they can seek and fulfill God’s will for their lives.

Practical and helpful, easy to read, and sincere describe this book. I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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 .

Ready To Return by Ken Ham

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Ken Ham returns to a subject that he has written on before–our losing the younger generation from the faith. As you would expect from this famous creationist, he sees the denial of the historicity of the Genesis account as part of it. Still, he and co-author Jeff Kinley, assisted by researcher Britt Beemer, probe deeper to all aspects of moral relativism and an insufficient view of God’s Word that have brought on this problem.

The research is at once fascinating and heartbreaking. His assessments of why we are where we are seem spot on. When he shares that children being raised in Sunday School are leaving churches and the faith at a higher rate than those who weren’t, we get the greatest shock of all. His explanation that how we teach Bible “stories” is adding to the problem gets one thinking.

The book is excellent, the analysis keen. The only downside is there is a bit of repetition at times. Still, he looked at issues from several vantage points. Public school was shown to statistically predict a bad turnout for children. He well showed differences in only borrowing someone else’s faith. The chart on page 99 showing “renters” versus “owners” well illustrated the problem.

Chapter 9 was the best as he gave a plan that used the Bible as the basis for our raising our kids with results different than these dismal statistics he shared. His analysis of current trends nationally shared in appendixes was helpful. This book is a fine resource!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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 .

New Marriage Book by Fawn Weaver

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The title is intriguing. I expected it was promising more than it could deliver, but equally figured it would have good principles to think about. It turned out that way, but I was surprised that the author claimed that she and her husband had never argued. Besides being unbelievable, how could one who had never argued know how to overcome it? They had never, sadly, had children and so could not speak with authority on a vital part of marriage. They seemed to have such busy lives that I found myself doubting that they were around each other as most couples are.

She did relate some discussions that sounded like arguments to me. That braggadocio stance was a little much for my taste too. Still, the information shared would help if both husband and wife committed to it.

Some of it was basic, yet well written and told in a way that makes you realize you need to work at it: don’t go to bed angry, don’t accelerate the argument, etc. The last week of the 28-day challenge was primarily about finances, but was helpful too.

I’ll rate 4 stars–helpful with some caveats.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

A Lesson In Light Of The Duggars (IBTR #69)

You have surely heard the firestorm of news that involved the Duggar family over the last week. I will not add in this article to the piling on that has been done to them, but want to consider an issue that their story suggests that fits this series.

As for the Duggars, my heart goes out to them. I was not a fan of their show personally, but that is only because I can’t endure reality TV. There is just something about sitting on a couch in my living room watching a family on TV sitting on a couch in their living room that just does not appeal to me. But it was nothing personal, my children loved it, and I had no problem with that.

I have spent a good deal of time talking about this story with my wife, and again, I feel sorry for them. It appears that situations involving minors are a sealed subject by law for everyone else in America, so I don’t get that. A lot of people have said the girls involved are the issue, but in the sloppy way this was told to the extent of revealing victims, the girls have been victimized all over again, so I don’t get that either. There is probably a lot we don’t know, but I wish every story of sin looked so beautifully redeemed 12 years later, so I don’t get that either.

I wish I could believe this really wasn’t about the family taking a stand on homosexuality, but I am struggling not to—there are a lot of rattling skeletons in closets out there, but why the great steps to expose them here? The only point from the other side I see is that in light of this situation it likely would have been a good idea to not do a reality TV show. But it is easy to pontificate after the whole story and its consequences are out, rather than in the caldron of such a family crisis where the way forward might not look so clear. In any event, I am glad the show is off the air so this family can focus on each other and recovery without so much spotlight.

So, how does this story suggest a discussion in this Truth Revolution series that involves the Independent Baptist world? It has to do with all-too-prevalent and erroneous ideas about raising children that too often find a home in our circles. I am in no way an expert in child-rearing. My children are not yet raised. But I can discuss one thing my wife and I have learned on this journey.

We have been told that we can raise our children by a certain formula and it will guarantee results. Some latched on to the Duggars (which is not the fault of the Duggars) as proof it can be done. I really don’t even know if they ever said such a thing, but some did it (and the rest of this article is not about them at all).

The plan for many came to include much sheltering, courtship as the only path to marriage, side hugs, and the first kiss being at the wedding, or some similar variations on the theme. Of course, we all know that there is some level of sheltering in raising children. There must be clear boundaries too. But does that Independent Baptist process guarantee results? Or has the process once again overtaken the goal?

Is the process just an oppressive set of guidelines to be rigidly followed? Or should each set of parents take the matter to the Lord? And do you really believe that was the first kiss at the wedding anyway for many who proclaim it?

And are there any guarantees anyway? My children have free will and a sin nature and that may cause problems. Even worse, me and their mother have a free will and a sin nature as well and often fail to execute parenting even at the level we actually want to, and that will cause problems. I am not always the Daddy I want to be, I do not always live by every principle I believe in, and quite frankly, sometimes I blow it.

If I am not careful, I will only focus on the process, which is oriented to their behavior. That overlooks the other dynamic—my behavior. My children and I are probably pretty equal in behavior that is off. Side hugs alone will not fix that.

My wife and I have grown on our journey to love the idea of realness with our children. Don’t take me wrong, we still have discipline and boundaries, but our own crossing of boundaries is worthy of family discussion too. We put up safeguards, but we can survive if they kiss their prospective spouse before the wedding day. We pray we can teach them what they do need to wait on before marriage. That is, however, a matter of prayer and wait and see. Other parents have been disappointed before and we are not so special, nor have such a great process, that we know we are above things not going as we planned.

That brings us to the biggest truths about raising children. It needs humility and prayer more than a process. If it goes well, it will be the grace of God. Our best bet is to be real, but distinctly Christian, to admit our mistakes as readily as we correct theirs, and to throw them and us on the mercy of the Lord.

We must not teach our children that the process is the way either or we will only throw on them the error of our generation. Thinking that we could focus solely on externals and some how please the Lord has done a number on many of us. Let’s not do that to them, or if they fail, they will have nothing left to do but walk away as damaged goods. That will make them miss the wonder of the grace of God, and what could possibly be worse than that?

There is a reason the Proverbs say, “My son, give me thine heart”. It is the heart, it will always be the heart, and no process can capture a heart. It will take more than that–far more.

Find all articles in the series here.

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George Will On The Government And Free-Range Parenting

I want to share one of the most brilliant, perceptive articles I have read in a long time. George Will has a great mind and I have enjoyed hearing what he has to say since I was a teenager.

He analyzes not only how the government is sticking its nose in where it doesn’t belong, but also how we shelter our children from the wrong things. His best example is having no control over sex and alcohol in undergraduate studies while need to protect them from certain speech.

I had better stop talking and send you on to Mr. Will.

The George Will Article at National Review.
  

What I Learned And Received From My Mother

My mother, Patricia Reagan, is not the bragging type. She has always done helpful things for others. It seems my entire life she has always been responsible for taking people to town for shopping or doctor visits. Many of those folks were on my Daddy’s side of the family ( I have a lot of relatives that never learned to drive and others just got old). 

I owe her a lot too. Every year older I get I realize more what a blessing I have had in my parents. I had a sheltered, carefree, and happy childhood thanks to them. Here are some of the things she gave me:

1. She told me about Christ.

From a very young age she told me about the Lord. She talked often of Him to me in our daily life. She had herself walked to church every Sunday as a child because her parents did not go. It was real to her. Not that she was perfect, but it was real to her. I firmly believe that moved my heart more than lectures that many parents give about a Christianity that has no impact on their lives. 

When I became convicted about being saved she talked so carefully to me. She didn’t have enough confidence in herself and so sent me over to talk to my Grandfather who lived across the road. Then I came back and she and I went into her bedroom where I knelt beside her bed with only her with me and asked Jesus to be my Savior. That is, of course, the most previous memory of my life. She led me to Christ, which is the greatest thing any parent can do.

She also encouraged me to be a Bible reader. (I inherited a love of reading from her). She talked me into reading my Bible through on the one-year plan when I was thirteen. I made it to 1 Kings. That summer she was my VBS teacher and she was telling the class to be Bible readers. She also told them to not be like me and start and quit either. She was not one to ever publicly embarrass me, so this must have been incredibly important to her. I decided that day that if I lived to January I was going to start again ( I have no idea why I didn’t realize I could start then). I did read it through when 14 and have been a Bible reader since. In fact, I try other methods on occasion and always fall back on the one-year plan. You owe a lot to the one who teaches you to be a Bible reader.

2. She taught me about trusting the Lord.

When I was young she went through a period of panic attacks and depression in doubting her salvation. She talked openly of it but sheltered me from the harder parts of it. I remember her finding some good Christian materials. I remember Bible passages that she learned in her life that spoke to her problem. No one had ever trained this young lady (she is only 17 years older than me) about these spiritual truths. I saw her pray, I saw the Lord send help, and I saw her change into a happy Christian. Again, I saw that Christianity was not a game–it was real! Never once have I heard her brag on herself over this victory. She always just thanks the Lord for helping her.

She had to demonstrate this again when she battled breat cancer at 37, and ovarian cancer a few years later. She also lost three of her four siblings by the time they reached 45. She has had hard times. When I went through my own hard times with Alicia’s paralysis, at least I had had an example of trusting the Lord in a crisis.

3. She has loved and embraced my family.

My wife Alicia certainly has no horror mother-in-law stories to tell. Alicia has been accepted and loved from day one. My children have been too. It is a funny sight when we visit my parents now. There is usually one child in her lap and two snuggled up against her at all times. I imagine she is sore by the time we leave. As the kids get older I still see that they love to talk to her and tell her all about their lives and she is always ready for that conversation. I have always received unconditional love from my parents (they have never once failed me in this way) and they have passed it right on to Alicia and the children.

So Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you and thank you for all you have poured into my life.