Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review by Marcus - Sacred Sex by Tony Evans

   I have to start by saying this was an amazing book.  There are a lot of marriage book on the market that try to help couples find fulfillment in their marriage, but none of them come close to this one.  Tony Evans literally goes to the heart of intimacy in marriage.  He points out the problems, the solutions and the results of a fulfilled marriage.
   God is the Creator of men and women.  God created us with sexual desires and needs.  The problem, as Tony Evans points out, is that man in his sinfulness has perverted that plan.  But God is powerful enough to keep us from sin, and He is powerful enough to lead us to the one true person that He has chosen for us.  Sexual purity before marriage and during marriage are a part of that plan.  
   But what stood out to me is the approach that Mr. Evans took in showing how to reach that place in marriage where sex is sacred.  Here are a few quotes from the book:
  "While sex is a wonderful and beautiful gift of God designed for human fulfillment, Satan has taken this God-ordained activity and has done with it what he does best.  He has counterfeited it and sold his cheap imitation as the real thing."
   "God's sexual standard outside of marriage is virginity, an extremely valuable gift from Him that you can give away only once and never get back again."
   "Sex is a part of your God-given DNA, but it was never designed to be your master."
   This book could easily be taken and used as a curriculum in a small group setting.  It has a message that teens, dating couples, newlyweds and seasoned married couples need to hear.  The message of the book is that intimacy starts long before anything physical.  It's possible to have a few moments of pleasure with another person, but that isn't intimacy.  When that happens you leave a part of yourself, and move on looking for the next "high" moment.  But true intimacy is sharing your thoughts, dreams, emotions, your whole life.           The author said sex is a covenant, an unbreakable bond.  And when you do it God's way, according to God's plan, you get to enjoy this awesome gift that God has given human being in a way that the world could never understand.  It becomes sacred. 
   This book was given to me free of charge by Moody Press in exchange for my honest review.

Awesome! Marcus' review of two Adventures in Odyssey Books!

   I just finished reviewing books 8 & 9 of the Adventure in Odyssey Imagination Station series.  Both books feature Beth and Patrick, two cousins, taking trips in the Imagination Station.  Book 8 called Battle for Cannibal Island sends two kids into the world of the Fiji Islands in 1850.  They are brought into the story of real life missionary James Calvert.  It is an exciting adventure that is full of suspense, while also teaching a spiritual and history lesson.
   Book 9 is called Escape to the Hiding Place.  This book sends the two cousins into the world of Nazi occupied Holland during WWII.  The kids experience what life as a Christian would have been like during that time.  Ultimately, they are forced to take refuge in the house of Corrie Ten Boom, the real life hero whose family saved hundreds of Jews from being taken to Concentration Camps.
   Overall, I give these books the highest rating available.  They teach life lessons while taking kids on an amazing adventure.  I let my 8 year old read them and she loved them.
  I received these books free of charge from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Unsatisfied & Disappointed - Book Review by Marcus

  I just finished reviewing Understanding Theology in 15 minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron, and I am unsatisfied and disappointed.  I must first say that there are good things in this book.  Chapters on topics like "How Do We Know the Bible Is the Word of God?" and "Did God Really Make Everything?" along with a lot of others were really good.  I am a pastor, so I have to be careful when I hand a book to a new convert.  And I had hoped when I first received the book that this would be a good one to give to people who had questions about Christianity, but when I began to read, I found out differently.
   The author said at the beginning that he hoped to keep his own personal view from coming through, but when you read through the various chapters of the book, you find that he not only shared his own personal view.  It is his book, therefore he is entitled to write what he wants.  And for the most part, this is an excellent book.  The author is a very good writer, and very accurately gives both sides of every argument.  There were just  few reasons why I couldn't recommend this to those in my church.
   I am unashamedly Wesleyan-Armenian in doctrine.  From reading this book, I conclude that the author is Calvinist.  We are both Christians.  We just have differing viewpoints.  He points that out in the book, but then in these few instances to try and prove why Calvinist are right.  That's my fault.  I would highly recommend this book had he given both sides of the argument and then let the reader decide which they felt was better, but in these few instances, he didn't.  So this isn't a slam against Daryl Aaron, just an honest review. 
   Just a few of the faults I find in this book are things like "Christians are still sinful." p. 130  Romans 6:16-18 says that whoever you choose to obey is who's servant you are.  Then Paul gives two choices, choosing to sin or choosing to live a life of righteousness.  He continued by saying that you once were a slave to sin, but you have been delivered from that bondage, and "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."  So I'm not sure how a slave to righteousness, who Paul says has been delivered from and is free of sin, can be a sinful Christian, yet the chapter points out that Christians are sinful.
   On p. 154, the author talks about the sower and the seeds.  He specifically points out the seeds that fell on rocky ground, saying they never had been saved.  But Jesus said in Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."  Paul said to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."  Jesus said these people believed for a while, but they didn't finish the race.  They allowed the temptations of the world lure them back into a life of sin, thus losing their salvation.
   The last problem that I point out is the chapter on the ability to lose your salvation.  The author does give both sides of the argument   For the one side he quotes text like John 15:1-6 where Jesus said any branch that any branch that does not bear fruit is removed from the vine and burned.  Jesus said, He is the vine, those who have been saved are the branches.  Therefore, if He cast them away, then they are indeed losing their salvation.
   He also points out Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
   On the other side, he gives John 10:28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."
   But then the author, in what he calls a Heartfelt Attempt To Persuade, tries to convince the reader that you cannot lose your salvation.  He actually gives a much stronger argument for losing your salvation than he does for not being able to lose it, but yet he pushes those scriptures aside and tries to convince the reader to believe like him.
   I do not know this author.  I have all the respect in the world for him.  I have no doubt that he is a good Christian man that I will meet in Heaven, but I cannot recommend this book simply because of the bad theology.
   No one can make me accept Jesus as my Savior, and no one can take away my salvation.  Only I can do that.  It's my choice, my decision.  And if I choose to turn my back on God, I can.  And to be honest and truthful, if I took this theology and preached it, then my people could accept Jesus as their Savior, and then go out and kill someone that they hate, and then kill themselves and still go to Heaven.  It just doesn't make sense.  Therefore, I cannot recommend this book.
   Please take this review as simply my opinion on a theology, not a personal criticism of the author.  I did receive this book free in exchange for my HONEST review.  They in way influenced my review.