Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Real Marriage - The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together

Book Review: Real Marriage - The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll

Disclosure: Occasionally I get access to books through a few different publishers who are willing to give you a free copy of a book for review. I haven't seen any that looked interesting for awhile until I saw this one on the list and the title intrigued me. A few days later and my advance reader's copy arrived new and shiny. . .

Real Marriage is not your average Christian marriage book. It strikes me as being radically authentic in a genre that is more so then most. Most books attempt to be authentic, but when the pastor and wife of one of North America's largest churches discusses their marriage failings in striking detail, you can't help but be impressed by their courage to share. Especially in the sexual department. I don't believe I've ever read a more vulnerable, exposing book on marriage. This frankness is applied to difficult topics in a way that is both jarring and refreshing.

The book felt a bit rough as well. I's so used to the spit and polish of self-help psychology books that I've recently been reading, that I was a bit turned off at first. Don't get me wrong, the authors are both great communicators, I think that the editor of this book stayed her hand more then is usual.

The authors approach marriage in a unique, Bible-centered, traditional, and explicit way. The first part of the book talks about marriage, the second about sex, and the third about what they call the "last day." In the same way that the couple is not afraid to share about their own intimate life, they share about the importance of love and submission. They also tackle sexual topics that have affected their own relationship including porn, sexual abuse, selfishness, etc. They include a great Q & A on sexual acts within marriage that ask 3 questions to each topic (modeled on Paul's thoughts to the Corinthians); is it lawful, is it helpful, is enslaving? Interesting that while the couple is traditional in their ideas of how men and women are supposed to relate, they are far from traditional on what they think is acceptable in married bedrooms! There is also great chapter on the topic of friendship in marriage ("Friends With Benefits") which I found unique and probably worth the price of the book. The last section is a unique exercise - reverse engineering your marriage to make it healthy and glorifying to God.

I liked this book overall - would be a great one to read with a spouse (can't really imagine reading it in a group setting, unless you know those people very well!). While it misses the research breadth of a therapist and the polish of a professional author, the book seems quite practical. I'm sure some would find it's understanding of roles difficult to swallow, and I didn't agree with everything they wrote, yet I believe the book has much to offer. I give it 4 ninja stars out of 5. Anyone else out there read it?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ten Guys & 10 Days in Haiti

So this is kind of exciting: On February 17th I'm going to Haiti with a Samaritan's Purse Haiti workteam. It is an all guy group from my church and we're going to an area of great needs where we will do things like help build an orphanage, love the people, and basically just grow God's kingdom in whatever way we can.

I don't want to sensationalize that I'm going and I really don't want to sound super spiritual. I just want to be real about it so here's my attempt.

There is a great guy in my church, Dan who along with his family have done mission work in many countries. Jobina went to Ecuador to visit these folks and do ministry with them this past spring and had an amazing experience. So when Dan said he was leading a trip to Haiti I thought about it for awhile and came up with a nice long list lot of reasons why it couldn't work for me. But I just wasn't at peace. I decided to take a step of faith and say yes . . . and now I have to get some shots.

Me and Mission's trips have never worked out - I never even thought about one until I went to Bible College. There I got the missions bug but every time I've tried to go on one something didn't work out. Once I tried to sign up for a trip to Cambodia, but the team fell apart. Another time I tried to do a summer with Child Evangelism Fellowship, but for some reason after aggressively recruiting me, they just ignored my application. Perhaps it was because God wanted me at summer camp (which is where I went after these failed attempts)? Either way I've never gone on one until now.

Haiti is still deep in recovery from the terrible earthquake that struck in 2010. 220,000 people died, 300,000+ people were injured, and 1.5 million people became homeless. Samaritan's purse has done some great work there and we are honored to join them. If this sounds interesting to you and you'd like to partner with me and the team there's a few ways:

1. Please pray for me! Send me and email (or keep watching this blog) and I'll post some specifics that we'd love to have covered in prayer.

2. Come to our party! We're having an Information and Fundraiser Dessert Evening at my church on January 21st (7pm at Cornerstone Alliance Church in Winnipeg). We'll tell you all about the trip and there will be amazing desserts and auction (there will be a silent auction too). It would be great if you could attend or if you'd like to donate something for the auction that would be most appreciated. Please let me know by Jan 15th if you'd like to go and we'll reserve a place for you.

3. Share your wisdom! If you've been on a short term mission trip and you have some wise words or advice to share about going on one, please do. I can use all the help I can get (seriously).

Thanks for reading this and I wish you a great day,

P.S. A video with more info about what's happened in Haiti and what God is doing there:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm Back...

Happy New Year to you! If in the past you've been a regular reader of this blog you may have noticed that things have (ahem) been a little quiet around here for awhile. Somehow I lost my taste for this kind of thing. Partially it was the increase in my workload at Riverbend, I simply didn't have as much free time on my hands. But it was also because I felt humbled in several areas of my life and didn't feel the same about putting things out there. As days of no blogging stretched into weeks I began to get reflective on what was holding be back.

It's weird, but after not posting for awhile, I felt . . . strange whenever I would consider it. As I perused my past posts I started to not like the kind of person I was sounding like in my posts. "The tone is key" I always say to my marriage counselling clients and when I listened to the tone of many of my posts I didn't like it very much. Too much that sounded like arrogance and not enough like humility. I decided I needed to take a break long enough to leave my old expectations and ways of interacting in a blog behind. So I went cold turkey.

I'm not sure what's changed (or even if it's enough) but I now feel a little more freedom when I think about it. It's a new year, a great time for new starts. So now I'd like to slowly wade back into the blogging waters, but do so with a little more self-awareness. I guess we'll see what happens . . .