Review: Rick & Bubba’s Guide To Marriage

Looking for marriage advice from a man’s perspective? Then you might want to check out Rick & Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage.

rick-and-bubb

As one might expect from the title, this is a book filled with humor about marriage. They begin at the beginning, writing about relationships before marriage and during the wedding. Most of the book, however, is about the ongoing give and take of the marriage relationship.

The self-proclaimed “sexiest fat men in America” really do have a serious commitment to marriage. In the introduction of the book they write, “…Marriage wasn’t meant to be perfect. It was to teach us how to love an imperfect person perfectly.”  There are many moments when the humor is set aside so that some realistic and needful information is shared.

…God wants us to be good forgivers, knowing full well that we ourselves have been forgiven.

Your anniversary comes only once a year, so don’t miss this opportunity to rekindle the romance and remind yourselves how much you mean to each other.

If your wife is hurt, embarrassed, or upset over a “funny” remark you made, you’re probably not doing comedy.

Remember, too, that one day when your children are grown and on their own, it’ll be just the two of you once again. You’re goin to have to actually converse with that person sitting across from you at the breakfast table. So don’t let him or her become a stranger.

These tidbits of wisdom are neatly tucked away inside a very funny book that will have you smiling in no time. The chapters are full of stories from Rick and Bubba’s marital experiences. Bubba’s wife Betty and Rick’s wife Sherri also make several appearances in the book. Every chapter has something humorous, especially the insets that carry such titles as:

Surefire Ways for Guys to Know She’s The One

Top Ten Things Not To Say on the Way to Your Honeymoon (For example: “If I speed a little, we could still catch the second half of the game!”)

Worst Ways to Say “I’m Sorry” (“Honey, I am sorry I said I didn’t like the dinner. All I meant was it just wasn’t as good as my mom’s.”)

Baby Names when the Mom Chooses (Harrison, Chancelor, Tyler, Preston), Baby Names when the Dad Chooses (Brock, Earnhardt, Buck, Brick, Killer)

If you are looking for a therapy-style book on marriage, keep going. But if you are looking for some thoughts on marriage couched in some good clean manly humor, then you’ll enjoy this book. There is also a bonus CD of Rick & Bubba that comes with the book.

I have never heard Rick &  Bubba on the radio, but they have a large listening audience. If you want to know when they are on in your area, you can check THEIR WEBSITE for more information about this and much more.

Thomas Nelson Publisher’s Product Page

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Book Review: Fusion

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I just finished reading FUSION by Nelson Searcy and I must say it was a true blessing. FUSION is a book about assimilating new people into your church – with a focus on how to move first time guests into working members.

For those who do not know Searcy is a protege of Rick Warren, and many of the concepts from Purpose Driven Church are expressed here. Searcy, however, has had his own experience with church growth in New York City, and he has a plainspoken and simple way of sharing methods and ideas with others. He has a podcast and a website . He also leads a coaching network and has published several books.

This book helped me because it addresses an area of my life and ministry that is weak – organization. I can’t say that there were any surprises in this book. There were no great secrets. There were no ideas that just WOWED me. But taking common sense things that need to be done and putting the flesh and bones of organization to them was very helpful.

Although much of the emphasis is placed on what happens at the church building, there is also considerable input into outreach following the first visit and subsequent visits. Here are a few concepts that I highlighted in the book:

*The concept that our guests are God’s gift to us. How did you receive them? Did you show the Giver your appreciation? Did you treat those gifts as they deserved to be treated by having a plan in place to integrate them into the life of your church? First time guests are extraordinary gifts full of unparalleled potential.

*Assimilation is intentional hospitality. While guests are in your company, they need to feel comfortable and valued, no matter where they are in their spiritual development.

*The most powerful word for change in your church is “Because”. When they understand the why, the what becomes a non-issue.

*We have been called to plant and water so that God can grow the harvest – and not to plant and water haphazardly, but to the best of our abilities as we are laboring for His Kingdom.

*Growing churches put their energy into reaching new people that God is bringing their way, while stagnating churches focus on reclaiming people who have passed through and fallen away.

*When guests return for a second look, you’ve won 80% of the battle of gaining new regular attenders and have drastically increased the chances that they will begin a journey with Christ.

This book offers valuable organizational information that has been a blessing to me, and we are already seeing some positive results as we begin implementing some of the principles Searcy explains. I highly recommend it to church leaders. In fact, I ordered one for each of our elders.

Thanks for reading,

John Dobbs

Review: In Constant Prayer, 2

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I’m continuing some thoughts from In Constant Prayer today.

Praying the Daily Office is much more than mere ritual, an impression in my mind that has been corrected by Robert Benson. I’ve always regarded the repetition of words as a less than desirable effort to pray. (Of course I think if I could see a thesaurus of my prayer language it would likely be a rather small list of words repeated often!).  What moves this from simple ritual? Praise.

Yes, praise is that part of prayer that doesn’t seem to flow as naturally as our list of needs and wants. It’s the part of prayer that doesn’t request healing of the sick. It’s the part of prayer that isn’t about us. Benson is right when he says:

Sometimes it seems we have convinced ourselves that even though we are expecting God to work in mysterious ways on our behalf, our call to offer praise and worship to the One who made us is the sort of thing that can be taken care of once a week in an hour or so between the Sunday school and the Sunday buffet. (p. 54)

In praying the Daily Office we are moved beyond our lists and into the language of praise, written long ago. That, to me, is of great value.

Benson addresses several excuses that are offered up as to why people do not practice the Daily Office. Like a surgeon he cuts away each one … gently but with conviction. Are we too busy? He says that we may spend more time putting off our prayers than it takes to say them. Are they too complicated? Benson reminds us that we are adept at mastering difficult and complex things and this is not an issue. He answers the questions about time, place, how to face discouragement or doubt. Accountability is important as well, so Benson encourages joining with others to say the Daily Office.

By no means have I mentioned everything in the book, but I hope I mentioned several things that interest you enough to purchase and read In Constant Prayer.

Two things I really liked about this book:

* This book is within reach. It is not a heavy theological book so thick with unfamiliar terms as to be boring. This book is written for the everyday Christian who wants to grow closer to God why practicing the ancient prayers.

* This book is personable. There are many stories and revelations about the author’s life that leave one feeling as if they know him. And one can certainly identify with him.

And since Robert Benson left a comment on my previous post, he has become one of my favorite authors. 🙂

I’d like to read other books in this series, but I’m not quite ready to move on from this one yet. I’ve got some absorbing to do. As I wrote yesterday: I would be interested in hearing from those of you who pray the daily office.

What prayer book do you use?

What rhythm do you practice?

What characterizes your prayer space?

And if you are totally opposed to the daily office, let us know why.

Thanks for reading!

John

Review: In Constant Prayer

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A Review of In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

2008, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

ISBN 978-0-8499-0113-3

It is not surprising that the book under review is about prayer. But it is not simply about prayer in general. I have a lot of those books on my shelf. None of them has intrigued me as much as this one. As the author says on the first page of his first chapter, “This is a book about the most ancient practice of Christian prayer, a way of prayer known as the daily office.”  On page 9 he writes:

“In the simplest terms, the daily office is a regular pattern and order for formal worship and prayer that is offered to God at specific times throughout the course of the day. Each set of the prayers, known as an office, is made up of psalms, scriptures, and prayers. It is the sort of prayer that is most often associated with monastic communities and the more liturgical and sacramental parts of the church.”

No wonder I haven’t been familiarized with this kind of praying. For those of us who grew up in the tradition of the Restoration movement, anything regarded as formalized was disdained. Certainly anything perceived as Catholic was abandoned. Free expression in prayer along with encouragements to pray daily is what I learned. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

But the author makes a point that is of great interest to me. These prayers have been offered up for thousands of years by God’s people, but sometime during the past 500 years Protestants have abandoned the practice. The idea of praying certain prayers at certain times of the day is still practiced by some religions, but on the whole Christianity has moved beyond the prayer that sustained it for millennia. Benson writes, “The tradition of saying the daily office has languished for so long that many of us have barely heard of it, if at all, and not many of us know what these hours of prayer involve” (p. 29).

Psalm 119:164 says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” And it appears this was taken literally.  Benson leaves room for our modern lifestyles, pleading for some regimentation in our prayer lives.

I want to write more in this review, perhaps tomorrow. I would be interested in hearing from those of you who pray the daily office. What prayer book do you use? What rhythm do you practice? What characterizes your prayer space? And if you are totally opposed to the daily office, let us know why.

More soon.

Thanks for reading,

John

Review: The Unlikely Disciple

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-QXHjm997k[/youtube]

Book Trailer for The Unlikely Disciple

If you watch the video book trailer above, then I think you have a very good flavor of The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose.

I don’t know what you expect from this book. If you think you’ll get some genuine questions about what Christians believe and why, then you’re right. If you think that you will gain some insight as to the inner workings of Liberty University, then you’re right about that as well. If you think you are going to read a one-sided rant against Christianity, specifically the brand of Christianity taught at LU, then you’re wrong.

I appreciate Kevin Roose’s book on so many levels. I think the one quality of the book that stands out  is the honest self disclosure that comes along with the story. I suppose that’s ironic, given that he had to be incognito during his semester at the University. The Unlikely Disciple is written with a disarming genuineness, almost like a long talk with an old friend. But this friend has quite a story to tell!

Christians have a lot to learn from this book. We have a lot to learn about how others view us, and how some of our answers are received by seekers. I think we learn that there are some really neat non-Christians out there who might show some interest if we do not pounce upon them at every opportunity. I think that the church enclosed and focused on itself learns how little it has in common with the rest of the world. Finally I think we learn that the “God Divide” isn’t beyond our reach, if we can extend the hand of acceptance and friendship with those who have yet to believe.

Mr. Roose had several hurdles to overcome if he was going to pass himself off as just another evangelical student at LU. Having virtually no familiarity with Christianity, he had to learn some of the lingo (and then re-learn more current lingo once on campus). He had to come up with a salvation story that was generic enough to satisfy, but not to raise questions. And for it to be an honest accounting of life on campus, he had to dive headlong into the various activities. It appears that is exactly what he did.

the-unlikely-disciple-coverEveryone who attended a Christian college knows that you can find whatever element you want to find there. It would have been easy for Mr. Roose to find the most hypocritical students and present them as typical Liberty students – but he does not do this. I believe that he did an outstanding job of presenting the good and the bad, in both the students and leadership of the University.

Toward the end of the book (end of his semester at Liberty), I was entranced by his description of the effect of the death of Jerry Falwell on the student body. Excellent writing is characteristic of the book, but especially in that section.

As you might guess, Mr. Roose has become the center of much criticism for his undercover operation. Liberty University book store is selling the book, but with a faulty disclaimer inserted into the book. You can read about that ongoing situation as well as other critiques and reactions at the author’s blog located here – (Kevin’s Blog).

A few things I’d like to note before concluding this review.

– This book hooks you fast. When you sit down to read, you’ll find it hard to put down!

– This book contains some discussions that relate to the life and struggles of single college students. There is some sexual discussion (though not crude) and some profanity (though not strong).

If you do a search, there are several reivews of this book currently to be found on the internet. I’m glad I read it. I hope to have opportunity to read more of Mr. Roose’s writings in the future.

So, was Kevin so overcome by all the Christian influence around him that he became a Christiain during the semester? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Follow Kevin on Twitter HERE.

Become a fan on FaceBook.

Thanks for reading,

John

Facing Our Failure – A Review

failureFacing Our Failure: The Fellowship Dilemma in Conservative Churches of Christ by Todd Deaver.

When I first met Todd Deaver several years ago, the first thought through my mind was to wonder if he was one of those Deavers. I mean, the Deavers that have retained a place of importance and influence in Churches of Christ over the past decades. The answer was yes. Coming from the same religiously conservative bloodline as Roy Deaver and Mac Deaver, I expected Todd to be of a similar ideology. He was. He was also very kind, quiet, humble and possessed a gentle spirit. When I heard him preach, he was articulate, precise, and left the hearers with no questions about his convictions. Those are all good things.

That may explain why I was so suprised to read of a new book authored by Todd Deaver that was titled Facing Our Failure: The Fellowship Dilemma in Conservative Churches of Christ. In the introduction Deaver writes:

“We don’t tolerate inconsistency among denominationalists or brethren we regard as ‘liberal.’ We highlight it and expose it. We advertise it far and wide as indisputable proof of their error. What then should we do with our own? … a theology that can’t be consistently applied is one that is fundamentally flawed. Some things must change.”

Deaver’s charge is that we often choose which issues affect fellowship, and which do not. The use of instrumental music in worship seems to be the one that all conservative brothers unite against. However, while united in their opposition to the instrument, they accept many diverse convictions on other matters. How does one decide which matters are essential for fellowship, and which can be tolerated? This is the question that haunts Deaver.

In the first chapter, using a series of articles in The Christian Chronicle as a backdrop, Deaver pursues tenaciously the task of demonstrating the ‘fellowship dilemma’ which lures him into writing this book. Heavily footnoted (almost every page), this 135 page book sets about to do one thing: expose the problem. There are no big solutions to the struggles presented within these pages, and  this is on purpose. It can be regarded as an expose. It is a bit scandalous, making clear statements that are followed by specific annotations from such recognizable names as Rubel Shelly, Monroe Hawley, Larry James, Alan E. Highers, Gregoray Alan Tidwell, Wendell Winkler, F. Furman Kearley, David Miller, Jimmy Jividen, Wayne Jackson, Cecil May Jr., and many others. I am grateful that it is free from exaggeration, sarcasm, and emotional argumentation. It is not free, however, from provocative statements that fairly demonstrate his claims.

The author admits from the beginning that this book is not for everyone. Most evangelicals would be surprised at the kind of arguments and divisions that exist when one follows the teachings of some on the subject of fellowship. Churches have divided over issues that are not declared as important by the Bible. On page 101 Deaver writes, “If we were truly consistent, every practice over which we disagree – and there are scores of them – would be a salvation / fellowship issue, because in every case those in error would either be ‘liberals’ or ‘antis’ …”

In his conclusion are listed nineteen points at which current fellowship ideals are inconsistent. He says on pages 107-108, “We, who are in fellowship with each other, don’t even agree among ourselves about who should and should not be fellowshipped, even though we claim agreement on this point is essential for our unity.” With that staggering statement, Deaver leaves us to consider our own conclusions about fellowship, unity, and acceptance of those who differ from us in significant ways. In an appendix there is an application of his thoughts on the subject of Diversity and Divorce.

I hope that means that there will be another volume coming. Facing our Failure is important, but so is finding our way to a new paradigm for understanding these important issues.  For now, Deaver is content to wipe off the glass of our theology and let us have a good clear look in the mirror. That can be uncomfortable. It should be convicting.

Todd Deaver surprised me. I’m sure he surprised some others. He has documented his points well, stated them clearly, considered potential objections, and has presented his case.

If you grew up among Churches of Christ, I have no doubt that this book would be of interest to you. I encourage you to buy it HERE. Thanks for reading!

JD