Category Archives: Family & Marriage

Book Review: The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace & Stuart Scott

The Faithful Parent is advertised with the following synopsis: “Parents and children need help from the One who is perfect, who understands our need, and who can really help us-God himself. Because of that, the most important relationship in your family is your relationship with him. That’s the relationship The Faithful Parent emphasizes.” I’m not sure that’s what I came away with from the book.  While the concept is certainly introduced at the beginning, I didn’t find it woven throughout quite as deeply as I was hoping for when I picked up the book.  It does offer some advice about sharing the gospel with your children, but most of it is poorly developed for my taste.  For example, the entire chapter on raising pre-schoolers is about 10 pages, and the one on teenagers is less than 20.  The answers they give to most questions are good answers and solid answers, but not deep answers.

In terms of discipline you need not bother reading the book at all if you are not an advocate of corporal because this book definitely is.  Surprisingly, though, this book doesn’t seem to offer a defense, description of, or instruction in how to apply corporal punishment, it simply suggests it be used.  This, in my opinion, is a huge omission – if you are not a supporter of corporal punishment this book will not convince you to use it (and you’ll find few, if any, alternatives in the book for dealing with discipline).

Actually, the most valuable part of the book (and the only reason I gave it the ranking I did at the end) is found in the Appendixes.  They are entitled, “Presenting the Gospel in Context: Faithfully Sowing the Seed According to the Scriptures”, “Put Off/Put On Dynamic”, “The Making of a Man of God”, and “Taking Thoughts Captive.”  If you read nothing else in the book, these are worth the time it takes to read them.  Over all, this book would make a good complement to Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (who happened to write the forward for this book), but I would recommend reading it AFTER the Tripp book because that will put some context in place.  Over all, I’ll give it 3.5/5 stars.



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Book Review: The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley

There are very few books I’ve read which I would consider live changing.  Outside of the Bible, there are only two or three books which I can say have had such an impact on my life I can recall the specific title of the book, the author, and how it’s impacted me.  Granted, there are dozens of books which have influenced my thought processes and beliefs, but books that I can say impacted the direction of my life?  Those are few and far between.

The Principle of the Path is a book which certainly has the potential be added to my short list.  I say “potential” because its impact can only be measured over time, so I won’t add it to the list just yet – but give me a a year or so and I think it has a very good chance of being on it.  This is the first book I’ve ever read by Andy Stanley, but hopefully it will not be the last.  His writing style and humor remind me of John Ortberg’s – one of my favorite authors (in fact, at times I found myself thinking I was reading the latest Ortberg book instead of some other author!)  I found the book so captivating I actually read it in one 24 hour period (don’t get too impressed by that, it’s less than 180 pages long, and it took me less than 3 hours to read the whole thing).

Here’s the basic thesis of the book: it is our direction not our intentions, that determines our destination.  And it is our attention that determines our direction.  Simple enough, really, and something I’ve thought about plenty of times.  Stanley argues that many (actually, most) people are in situations in their lives that they never intended to be in not because of bad luck but because of bad planning (at times I felt like was writing advice written by my father!)  He spends the first few chapters of the book setting out his argument for why this is the case, and then the rest of the book detailing how to apply it to our lives.

Here are two quotes that sum everything up pretty well: “We don’t drift in good directions.  We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (p150) and “Attention determines direction, and directions determines destination.” (p153)  His position, in the end, is sound, and I find myself relating to and understanding it fully.  Too often we blame our situation(s) in life on our circumstances, forgetting that our choices led to our circumstances in the first place!   Stanley encourages us to set down a course to guide our choices so we can better control our destinations.  Stanley does a great job establishing that the Principle of the Path is not a law which can be violated/broken  but is something that is at work whether we acknowledge it or not – and we can harness it for our good or bad.

This is a book I highly recommend reading, and one that, if you read in partnership with Search for Significance by Robert McGee, would help you understand to a greater degree yourself (including your thought process, beliefs, struggles, failures, triumphs, and even fears).  A solid 5/5 stars.

I review for BookSneeze®

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. 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

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Filed under Christian Living, Family & Marriage, Leadership, Non-Fiction, Self-Analysis/Help

Book Review: The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips

I’ve read a lot of books for men and I have to say this one would be in my top five.  I was disappointed that the author takes a shot at what I consider to be one of the best – if not the best – book for Christian men written in the past 10 years (Wild at Heart), but other this minor distraction I found the book very good.  Unlike Wild at Heart, which in many ways explores some of the psychology behind why men are the way we are, The Masculine Mandate follows a much more familiar path in its outlook.  He sets for this thesis in the beginning of the book and then spends several chapters talking about how men should act (3 as husbands, 2 on raising children, 1 on being a friend, and 1 on work).

Overall, though I found his foundation to be fairly strong.  Phillips bases his entire view of how men should live on his understanding and interpretation of God’s original command to man in the garden to “work and keep” the world God gave us.  Phillips expands on this original command to “work and keep” and applies it to the major areas in a man’s life: marriage, child-rearing, relationships with others, and work.  He makes no apologies for his very traditional and conservative views and backs everything up by going back to the original mandate given in the early parts of Genesis.

As with just about every book I read I can’t say I agree with Phillips 100% of the time (just as I don’t agree with Eldredge 100% of the time in Wild at Heart).  Still, there was more in the book I agreed with than not, and it was much better written than many books out there on the topic of the “Christian man”.  Personally I think you need to read Eldredge’s work first (to have a better understanding of why men do/act/think the way they do) and then move on to to this book to understand some of the how of what should be expected of men.  Overall, I’ll give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from Ligonier Books as part of their Blogger Review Program. 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cross posted on Reflections of a Christian Daddy

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A Tribute to My Wife (Love & War Part II)

Cross posted on Reflections of a Christian Daddy

Today is my wife’s birthday (I won’t say which one – birthday, that is, not wife…), so Happy Birthday, sweetie!

This past weekend Melissa and I were able to get away for a few nights by ourselves for the first time since Celeste has been born.  Thursday evening we headed out to a house in Bath, NC (about an hour due east of Greenville) while the girls stayed here with my parents.  We came back on Saturday afternoon after a couple of days of relaxing, playing games, time to talk, and just having fun.  One highlight was going out on the kayak on Saturday morning on Back Creek (the house was located on the creek).

While out on the creek we began the first part of a two-part exercise we decided to try.  Back in July I wrote a post about a book we were reading entitled Love and War by John & Stasi Eldredge.  In chapter three they write the following:

Now, it would be very, very helpful for you both to know the story of each other’s lives.  Ladies, do you know the story of your husband’s life?  Gents, do you know the story of your wife’s life?

Over the past several years, safe in the trusted confidantes of our small group, six of us too turns “sharing our story.”  We took an evening each, and told the story of our lives.  Starting with our childhood, we spoke of memorable events – the painful ones as well as the happy ones.  We unfolded the pages of our lives.  And even though each couple had been married for more than two decades, husbands and wives heard new stories that profoundly impacted them.  Countless “ah ha” moments.  Many tears.  Much mercy.

It was a beautiful beginning to come to know one another in a deeper, more substantive way.  Pieces of the puzzle of each other’s pesonalities began to fit into place.  “Oh, that’s why you hate to talk on the phone” or “So, is that why you feel so defensive to me?”  Now I get it.  Understanding your spouse by understanding the unfolding story of their life is priceless…

Making the time to really hear your husband’s story or your wife’s story will be time well spent.  We want to encourage you to do this.  Give each other a few hours.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Invite God to guide and fill the time.  It will bear so much fruit.

So we did that.  For the two+ hours we were out on the kayak I talked (something I rarely do for that amount of time – especially about me and my life).  I began by telling my earliest memories of childhood and working my way through to the death of my sister in 1999; we didn’t go past there because, well, we ran out of time and arrived back at the dock.  But it was a time for me to share, Melissa to listen, and also for her to ask questions and, hopefully understand me better.  It is something I can honestly say I would encourage every couple to try – I’m looking forward to hearing Melissa’s story on our next date with just the two of us 🙂

And today is her birthday.  On days like this I get to spend time reflecting on how much it is that I love and care for her, even though I probably don’t tell and show her enough – not to mention how blessed I am to have her.  This weekend, though, was a perfect illustration of all that I hold dear about our relationship – we had fun together, we shared conversation, we hung out as friends, and we just enjoyed being with each other.  To this day I still find my wife the most beautiful woman on earth – she makes me smile and laugh, she challenges me to be better than I sometimes think I can be, she isn’t afraid to tell me “no” when I want to do something that I need not do, and she encourages me to be the best I can be and believes in me to be that better man whom she deserves.  She is a wonderful mother to our little girls, she works hard at her job of raising them while I’m at work as well as taking care of our home and running a music business all at the same time.  And she supports me in my jobs (both of them!), is willing to listen when I need someone to talk to, and, occasionally, will even watch a guy show like James Bond or (on very rare instances) even Star Trek 🙂

So, Happy Birthday, sweetie!  May your next year be your (and ours) best yet.  I love you.

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Love & War (Part I)

Cross Posted on Reflections of a Christian Daddy

I know this blog is entitled “Reflections of a Christian Daddy”, but I believe there are two key components to being a good Christian Daddy.  First is to be a solid believer (the whole Christian part), ensuring my walk with the Lord is where it needs to be.  It’s the same idea as when you fly on an airplane and they tell you that if the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling you need to put your own mask on before helping someone else (how can you help someone else if you’re passed out?)

The second key component is nurturing the marriage relationship, because I believe strongly (and have seen it reinforced over and over) that the best gift Melissa and I can give our girls is to have a strong relationship between the two of us.  About two months ago we started reading through a book together entitled Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge (you can visit the Love and War website by clicking here).  They were actually running a promo earlier this year that if you were willing to blog about the book they’d give you a free copy.  Well, we already had the book and had started reading it, so we didn’t get a copy for ourselves but we did order a free copy to give to a friend of Melissa’s who was going through some struggles in her marriage.

Anyway, I am going to be doing some blogging about the book specifically, but today I just wanted to introduce the book to you.  We have also started a small group for married couples at our church that is following Sacred Marriage, a curriculum based on the book of the same name by Gary Thomas (you can visit his site by clicking here).  The whole thesis of his book (and this study) is to look at marriage as something which God uses to make us more like Jesus.  We have had our first two sessions and, while attendance hasn’t been what we had hoped for, we have had a great time learning together with others.

One final note.  This past week I was out of town at a church conference, so Melissa and the girls went to Melissa’s sister’s house to spend the week instead of spending it alone.  She drove me up to the conference on Monday and dropped me off, and then had to pick me up on Friday when it was over.  We decided that she would actually come up late Thursday afternoon so we could spend an evening together just the two of us, and we had a great time.  We got to just hang out, talk, and even went for a nice hike in the mountains (where the conference was); hike was a little over 3.5 miles and we went up to the ridge to watch the Sunset.  One of the really fun things was the top of the trail (perhaps the last 50 feet or so) was a short rock scramble, and it’s always fun getting to do something like that together.  It has been over a year since we got to spend a night by ourselves without the girls, and it was very refreshing to do so.

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