Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Book Reviews

The Mingling of SoulsThe Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex and Redemption by Matt Chandler. David C. Cook. 224 pages. 2015
*** ½ 

We attended a live video broadcast of Matt Chandler, senior pastor at the Village Church in Dallas, presenting this material from the Song of Solomon. Along with our ticket to attend the event we received a copy of this book.

Chandler states:  “The sheer amount of confusion, heartbreak, and fear that I have witnessed at The Village Church in regard to romantic relationships and sex provides my primary motivation for writing this book.”

He writes that:  “What we learn in the Song of Songs is that a marriage shaped according to this gospel of grace, forged over years of hard-earned trust and forgiveness, can be an unsafe place for sin but a very safe place for sinners.”

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to you. I highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them with you below:

  • Somewhere between fifth and ninth grades, depending on a variety of factors affecting development and awareness, what I like to call the “Day of Epiphany” occurs. Up until this moment, a child has been largely indifferent to the opposite sex or even thought they were “gross.” But on the Day of Epiphany, something changes. The indifference and repulsion had vanished. A particular member of the opposite sex caught your eye in a suddenly different way, and, well … you kind of wanted one. This is the Day of Epiphany. After the Day of Epiphany, boys begin to pursue and girls begin to want to be pursued.
  • The more recent struggle for men is the evaluation of “true masculinity.” Should we be sensitive or tough? If both, when? How do we display sensitivity in a way that doesn’t make us effeminate? And how do we display toughness in a way that doesn’t make us chauvinistic or stubborn?
  • Relationships built on physical attraction never last and tend to be superficial, self-absorbed, and legalistic.
  • If there is no evidence of commitment in his or her life, I would caution you to move very slowly into any kind of serious relationship. God has hardwired us for the commitment of companionship over and above sexual attraction or physical pleasure.
  • If you have physical attraction and no companionship in your relationship, you’ll eventually be miserable; but if you have deep companionship with each other, physical attraction isn’t as important and becomes less and less so as time passes.
  • If sex is what God says it is, then there are few things as damaging to the human soul as casual sexual encounters. The hookup culture is yet another symptom of a confused and broken society that has elevated the role of physical gratification and sex beyond the biblical norms and wasted them, sacrificing contentment and joy on the altar of momentary pleasure—leaving only brokenness and regret.
  • Therefore, men, don’t put the burden on your girlfriend or fiancée to keep turning down your advances or reminding you of God’s design for sex. Don’t put her in that position. You lead, and do so in a way that protects you both from sexual temptation.
  • We are told so many times that sex is bad, wrong, sinful, gross. And then we are expected to embrace it fully when we marry. That message is not a great way to set a couple free to marital intimacy.
  • When the trajectory for both partners is mutual Christlikeness, the next step is to chart the trajectory of your path as a couple. As you move from simply dating into a more serious version of dating, you arrive at what we might call courtship. Courtship is when you’re not just “dating to date” anymore, but you’re dating to move toward marriage.
  • In courtship, a couple are moving more and more toward entering the covenant of marriage, even if they are not engaged yet. In a weird way, they are perhaps “engaged to be engaged.”
  • If the gospel of Jesus Christ is not at the center of a wedding ceremony, it is likely not going to be at the center of the marriage.
  • Men, let me plead with you: The greatest fight of your life is not lust. You may think it is, but it isn’t. The greatest fight of your life will be rejecting the passivity that has infected your heart since the fall. Your natural default, especially as it pertains to sacrificial leadership of your wife, will be to mutely witness.
  • Here are ten “nevers” of communication, especially as it pertains to conflict:
  1. Never respond to your mate rashly.
  2. Never touch your mate out of temper or frustration, ever.
  3. Never seek to shame your spouse in public (or in private for that matter).
  4. Never fight in front of your kids (or use them as leverage in a disagreement).
  5. Never mention your spouse’s parents or any other family member.
  6. Never dig up the past; try to stay on topic.
  7. Never try to win.
  8. Never yell, use put-downs, or verbally defame your spouse.
  9. Never withhold physical intimacy or use sex to manipulate.
  10. Never put off seeking resolution.
  • If you want to throw logs on the fire of romance, husbands and wives, here’s the first thing you have to do: pay attention. You have the opportunity to see things that no one else does. So pay attention, study your spouse, learn him or her, and then you can turn around and use the things you’ve learned to demonstrate your love.
  • Song of Solomon chapter 8 is probably the most difficult of the chapters in the book.
  • Regardless of your stage in life, the first relationship I would spend a lot of time considering is your relationship with God. It is the gospel and our belief in it that make dating, courtship, engagement, marriage, and growing old together unbelievably vibrant.

Chandler ends each chapter of the journey through the Song by looking at how the gospel’s call to confession and repentance enters our mess and removes the weight of guilt and shame by pointing us to Jesus.

Uncommon MarriageUncommon Marriage: What We’ve Learned about Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together by Tony Dungy and Lauren Dungy. Tyndale. 264 pages. 2014. Audiobook read by the authors.
***

I’ve read and enjoyed each of Tony Dungy’s major books – Quiet Strength, Uncommon, The Mentor Leader, Uncommon Life Daily Challenge and now Uncommon Marriage, which was written with his wife Lauren.  The couple has been married for more than 32 years and have nine children, serving as foster parents prior to having their own children. In this book they share what has worked and some things that haven’t worked in their marriage. They take the reader through their married life using a biographical format, sharing key principles of an uncommon marriage.    

As newlyweds the Dungys found it important to find a new church home and began the practice of praying together. Lauren was a school teacher at the time, later becoming a stay at home mom. Tony was an Assistant Coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would later serve in that capacity with the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, before becoming a Head Coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts.

They write of Tony confronting racism with the Kansas City police (this book was published before the recent issues with police and African Americans in Missouri, New York and South Carolina), and their son at a school in Tampa.

Laura writes of the challenge of effectively running their household and raising children with her husband unavailable so much due to his job as an NFL coach. Early in their marriage they began the practice of taking walks and bike rides to make sure they were communicating well. Good communication is critical to a healthy marriage. Lauren shares one time that their communication broke down (when Tony accepted the Minnesota job without discussing it with her).

Both Tony and Lauren were involved in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), while in Minnesota. Overall however, Lauren was not happy in Minnesota, though Tony was. This was the first time they had not been on the same page in their marriage. Lauren writes about what she does when she and Tony disagree on an issue. She shares how she feels about the issue, and then submits to the leadership of her husband.

They discuss the importance of a weekly Date Night and Date Day, and prioritizing family time.

The division of responsibilities in the Dungy home is not necessarily traditional. They write about playing to the strengths of each. Tony and Lauren each have very different personalities.

They write about difficult times in their marriage, including the suicide of their son Jamie and getting fired as the Tampa Bay Head Coach, and how they leaned on God and each other during those times. They also write about the good times, such as winning the Super Bowl over friend Lovie Smith’s Chicago Bears.

Tony today works as a studio color analyst on the NBC’s weekly Sunday Night Football pregame show, Football Night in America. The Dungy’s live in Tampa and are involved in many initiatives such as the Dungy Family Foundation, All Pro Dad and Basket of Hope.

They share the below 8 Core principles of an Uncommon Marriage, along with suggested reading and key Bible verses in the Appendix of the book.

  1. Look to the Bible as your guidebook and to Christ as the living example for your marriage
  2. Stay in sync spiritually
  3. Manage expectations and appreciate your differences
  4. Work as a team
  5. Practice committed love
  6. Communicate well and often
  7. Don’t run away from conflict
  8. Support each other in serving others

A related resource available is The Uncommon Marriage Adventure: A Daily Journey to Draw You Closer to God and Each Other by Tony Dungy and Lauren Dungy.

Book News

  • Unashamed by LecraeInterview with Lecrae on UnAshamed Audiobook. Check out this interview with Lecrae about the recording of his new audiobook Unashamed, which was released May 3.
  • Living in the Light. John Piper has three new books out at this time. One of them is Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Read about the new book here and watch a short video from Piper describing the book.
  • The Christian Reader’s Resource Guide: 49 Links To Help You Find The Best Books. Being an avid reader, I really appreciated this post from David Qaoud.
  • Lead Like Jesus for Churches. I look forward to reading this “a modern day parable for the church” from Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.
  • Susan Cain’s Quiet Adapted for Kids and Teens. As an introvert, I was greatly helped by Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Now, that book has been adapted for kids and teens into Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. 
  • 20 Quotes from Mark Dever’s New Book on the Great Commission. Matt Smethurst offers these helpful quotes from Mark Dever’s new book Understanding the Great Commission.
  • 6 Books for Grads.  Mike Leake suggests six books which he believes would be helpful for a graduate, including two of my favorites – Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine and The Call by Os Guinness.
  • Delighting in God by Tozer Christianaudio Free Audiobook of the Month. The free audiobook of the month for May from Christianaudio is Delighting in God by A.W.Tozier. From the website “Delighting in God is the message Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God–those things God has revealed about himself–are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. We are here to serve and adore him, but we can only fulfill that role by acknowledging who he is, which is the essence of the Christian life and the source of all our fulfillment, joy, and comfort.”
  • 35 Random Tips on Reading Books. David Qaoud writes “Whether you’re a committed reader, or if you’ve never finished a book, here’s some random thoughts and tips on the reading of books.”

The Ideal Team PlayerThe Ideal Team Player. In his classic, best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking new approach for attacking the dangerous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here, he turns his focus to the individual member of a team, revealing the three indispensable virtues that make some people better team players than others. The Ideal Team Player presents a powerful framework and easy-to-use tools for identifying, hiring and developing ideal team players in any kind of organization. Whether you’re a leader striving to create a culture of teamwork, a human resources professional looking to hire real team players or an employee wanting to make yourself an invaluable team member, this book will prove to be as practical as it is compelling. The new book was published April 26. Look for my review soon.

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London.  This week we look at

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE ~ LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

  • While we are in this life and world, God does indeed cause His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, He blesses people who hate Him, and He does send rain upon those who defy Him. Yes, God goes on doing that. But at the same time He announces to them that, unless they repent, they shall finally be destroyed. Therefore there is no ultimate contradiction.
  • We are told we must positively love these people. We are even to love our enemies. Itis not simply that we are not to strike back at them, but that we must be positive in our attitude towards them. Our Lord is at pains to have us see that our `neighbour’ must of necessity include even our enemy.
  • The first thing, of necessity, is that our treatment of others must never depend upon what they are, or upon what they do to us. It must be entirely controlled and governed by our view of them and of their condition.
  • This is a tremendously important principle, because according to our Lord that is the kind of love that we are to have, and the love that we are to manifest with respect to others.
  • How then may we manifest this love of God in our contact with other people? Here it is: `Bless them that curse you’, which, in more ordinary language, we put like this: reply to the bitter words with kind words.
  • Secondly: `Do good to them that hate you’, which means benevolent actions for spiteful actions. When somebody has beenreally spiteful and cruel to us we must not be the same to them. Rather we must respond with actions of benevolence.
  • Lastly: `Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ In other words, when we are being cruelly persecuted by another person, we must pray for them.
  • This is the way in which we should test ourselves. Do you pray for people who persecute you and who use you despitefully?
  • Do you ask God to have mercy and pity upon them, and not to punish them? Do you ask God to save their souls and open their eyes before it is too late? Do you feel a great concern? It is that which brought Christ to earth and sent Him to the cross. He was so concerned about us that He did not think about Himself. And we are to treat other people like that.
  • What God commands is that we should love a man and treat him as if we do like him.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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