Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Finding God in the Bible

Finding God in the Bible
by Darren Wilson

Nonfiction: Christian Living
Date Read: Dec. 23, 2013
Page Count: 234

5 stars

Let's Talk About It:

Darren Wilson writes in a way that is entertaining, and down to earth. I wasn't sure what to expect from his book, or what he would have to say. More advice on how to read the Bible? How to study the Bible?

Things changed when Darren Wilson started saying, "Yes," to God. He started to get to know who God really is. Wilson goes through some interesting stories in the Bible-- most of them are weird, unusual, violent, or confusing. He shares what he has discovered through them-- God's character, His personality, and His desire for relationship. Darren Wilson got to know the God who had wanted a relationship with him even when he barely knew and trusted God. The God he now calls: his friend.

This book was amazing! It definitely has helped me learn more about the personality of God, how He reveals Himself in Scripture (even through the strangest of stories), and what it means when God desires a relationship with me. Highly recommend!

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Sacred Sex

Sacred Sex Embracing Your Sexuality as God Designed it
Author: Dr. Tony Evans
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Number of Pages: 74
Nonfiction: Sexuality, Christianity
Date Read: 04/22/2014

     Morality. Relativity. Right and Wrong. The issues we face are complicated and everyone has an opinion. But who has the answer when it comes to sexual issues?

Sex dominates our popular culture to a degree we've never seen before and unrestricted sex is being touted as a shortcut to personal fulfillment and satisfaction - but it's a counterfeited and cheapened imitation of the real thing. Respected pastor Tony Evans refuses to let the voice of God be drowned out amidst the clamor of the crowd. Discover what God says in His word regarding why your sexuality is important and why sexual immorality is devastating. Discover how to maintain purity and enjoy true intimacy in marriage - the real fulfillment and satisfaction that God intended.
This summary was taken from Goodreads.

Star Rating:
     3.5 Stars
Content Rating:
     PG (recommended to 16 & up)


There were some good points made in this book about sexual purity, here are four things I liked about it:

  1. I did enjoy the focus on the spiritual aspects of sex, and it did outline the emotional affects pretty well (though it would have benefited from more definition, and scientific facts to back it up-- citation, citation, citation, people...). The spiritual aspects have never been very well explained or talked about in depth with me, so it was enlightening to actually read how so.
  2. Fun fact that I learned (but possibly knew in the past), was in biblical times if a husband found his new wife not to be a virgin on their wedding night and charged her for it, the family would have to provide the cloth that they slept and she bled on to prove she was and save her from the charges. Don't ask me how they got it, because I don't know.
  3. I really enjoyed learning more about how the marriage covenant reflects God's covenant with us. Yeah yeah, we know sex is good within marriage, blah blah, but this book did make the connection and showed how it reflects God's covenant with us, and how when I husband and wife are together intimately, they renew-- recommit-- to that covenant with each other.
  4. I liked the section that touched on when a husband says he wants to meet his wife's sexual needs, but does not meet her emotional needs throughout the day so he can later then meet her sexual needs, then he does not mean he really wants to meet those needs. He wants to meet his needs.   For women, it's different; if you aren't there for her when she needs you at 10am, until you want her at 10pm, then you're fooling yourself and it's just about you. (This does not justify or give a wife reason to deprive her husband and not meet his sexual needs though.)

Unfortunately, I expected a book that was going to enlightenment me on why I needed to make sex something sacred in my life, something that explained to me how it was more than just physical pleasure or even emotional connection while backing it up with facts, and an eye-opening attempt at convincing and proving to me that this was better for my life.

Instead I was disappointed and found a book that told me what to believe, though it did use a lot of Scripture well, rather than sharing more supportive evidence.

If I am completely honest: this book feels like it is an "advanced reading copy" and still in need of work. I do not regret reading it, because in truth there are some good qualities to it, but I will be looking to read other books on the subject of "sacred sex" because I am sure there is another book out there that shares this principle better.


Truly, what bothered me most about this book were the few times that Tony made statements and did not further back them up with research, facts, personal experiences... something other than his own word.

Here is one of the few examples from the book that bothered me deeply:
"So Paul says that to avoid immorality, what men and women must do is save themselves for marriage. The fact is that some people were so sexually active before they got married that they were running on low octane after they got married. Their passions burned too early, and now they had burned low because they did not keep what was special and sacred for the marriage bed. This helps explain the high sales of Viagra and other performance-enhancing drugs. (page 49)"
This one in particular gets me fired up. Where is your proof? He makes a pretty sound statement, but I see nothing that truly holds up, "This helps explain the high sales of Viagra and other performance-enhancing drugs." I cringe at that sentence. Tony opens up an entirely new topic, slapping it onto a somewhat decent paragraph to make it sound dependable, and then drops it. He never touches on the subject again throughout the book.

Did he really only want to get his two-cents in there and that's it? Back it up, please. 

Secondly, this is not a very approachable book for those who are not a Christian. I understand Christians may be the target audience, but this is a huge downfall and I am very disappointed because I expected a book that was approachable. Sacred Sex is filled with Christian words that lack definition and explanation. Rather, I would prefer if Dr. Evans had taken the time to avoid those cliche, church words all together, even that would have made this book more reader friendly.

Aside from those two things, my last quarrel are a couple sections in Dr Evans book where he could have expanded upon the thought he was expressing. It's a bit harder to share an example of this, but there were times when I was reading, it was getting interesting, and then the section was over. That's it? Ran through my head a couple times.

Ultimately, I am not embarrassed to have read about sex, it's a topic that interests me. What this book lacks, however, is content. It really needed to be longer. Of course I enjoyed that it was short and easy to read, but it was too short.

Reading this review make you squirm?
Did you find it too harsh or unforgiving?

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for posting an honest review. Thank you, Moody! If you are interested in having a book reviewed by me, you can check out my about page and contact me here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Glasses & Nudists

My style is something I have been building over the last couple of years. And I have been putting it off for months, but I finally started trudging through store after store in search of a new pair of glasses. It was an experience that stretched me, and got me thinking about style.

No, in case you’re worried, this is not just a girl’s post about fashion, but I do want my clothes to reflect me as a person and not one particular style. Ultimately I want a wardrobe that is unique to me and my lifestyle, and is not defined by trends or what’s popular.

I want the flexibility to be more than one kind of person
 when it comes to clothes.

I probably tried on a hundred pair of glasses before I settled on these, but I was worried-- they were different and new-- even though I had been ogling over this cat eye meets hipster librarian style for months. Most people liked the frames I had before, and by getting new ones I knew I would risk positive and negative feedback. I had a fiance, family, and really close friends who I would much rather like my glasses than tolerate them. My relationships are not grounded in my looks, but I was still worried.

It’s hard, especially when we all can find things we don’t like about ourselves. Clothes are something we have control over when it comes to our image and who we want to be stylistically. I have had a lot of ups and downs since I made the decision to dress how I really wanted to dress a few years ago, including the style of glasses I wore, and have had to battle the embarrassment and insecurities of not fitting in or not looking good to others...

Even when I wear something that could be deemed “stylish” or trendy.

Actually, I wanted to fall in love with the way I looked. Not in a self-absorbed, vein desire for beauty in myself, but an appreciation and delight in the beautiful, wonderful, and mysterious way God created me.

Let’s face it, God created man and woman to be naked. That’s something I fully believe. Our original adornment was our bodies. The uniqueness of shape, size, color, hair, smell, and whatever else you can think of was God’s spoken masterpiece. Until we sought to open our eyes, and ate the fruit God had forbidden us to eat. We fell and spoiled the experience, beauty, and unashamedness of being able to see and even enjoy each other’s bodies without it being something deemed wrong, dirty, lustful, and sinful outside of marriage. I’m not talking about having sex with any and everyone here, or lust, I’m talking about enjoying aesthetic beauty: things that are pleasing to the eye. 

God was not hiding from us something we rightfully deserved to know, I think He was saving us from ourselves and was planning to give us a better life we could enjoy

I am no pervert when I say I would love to be in a world where it is okay to be completely naked, and we could go through life in a way where that was not such a shameful, wrong thing to do.

Do I think it’s possible to change our thinking? Should we all become nudists?

No, unfortunately, I think that is a mistake we will have to bear for the rest of our lives. It’s a touchy subject that I do not know much about, but I do know that God covered Adam and Eve. Whether He did it for their own well-being because they were embarrassed by what He created, or because they had cheated themselves of a wonderful existence that could have been theirs… I am not sure.

Maybe that is something that can be restored, I do not want to doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to change our way of thinking and living. However, that has not been a particular subject that God talks about restoring in this world from what I have read in Scripture.

What on earth does this all boil down to?

My desire is to enjoy and flatter the body that God has given me, rather than try to change my appearance. I am not saying that clothes are bad, or make-up is bad, or getting a new hair cut is bad, or that shaving is bad, or anything like that. I am saying that for a long time I have been stumbling along in a discovery of finding my beauty and worth in something more grounded than anything I could try to manage and control (like my looks).

I still brush my hair, enjoy styling it, wear makeup sometimes, and prefer clothes that make me look and feel “better”. There’s a different mindset I have to constantly choose to live by though in order to enjoy my appearance and still honor God. I have to be in sync with Him, and understand His way of perceiving beauty.

I have to know that God doesn’t want me to despise and shamefully hide the way I was made. He also is guiding me in how I dress so that I point others to Him and not fall easily into the pit of being admired and complemented by others (both of which I think are acceptable things, but they’re a problem when they get to our head).

I think He wants you to live that way too: free to express your true beauty and style preferences. Not so you can seek to offend or harm anyone, but in a way that frees you from conformity and allows you to enjoy being you (even if… *looks around nervously* you’re a Christian!).

God sure thinks you look good: Genesis 1:31.

Friday, April 25, 2014

God Told Me to Build an Ark

Except this ark is made out of Google documents, red pens and highlighters, pages of paper, lots of ink, and a hardback cover. Still clueless? I'm talking about a book.

This was my year to write a book.

Several times this year I have wanted to give up on that plan altogether, but I had a strange albeit real conviction that God was telling me, "No, I want you to write a book. Just not yet."

I've been eaten up inside because I do not have an idea I can stick with. Today I was pretty annoyed that I did not know what to write about. I have tons of ideas, but I can't seem to make any of them pan out or focus on them long enough to pull a book out of it.

That's when it hit me... "Not yet, Marissa." I am not supposed to write a book yet. God is going to give me that idea, that certainty of knowing what to write, it's just I am not ready for it. At first I did not know why He was telling me this, but now I understand that it must be in part because I am not ready. I fully believe He’s right.

It was my light bulb moment.

For once, I am not supposed to think or try to write a book. Do you know how hard that is for me? I've spent so much of my life slipping in and out of the "thinking about writing a book" mode.

I am going to keep writing. That's exactly what I feel like He's telling me to do. However, it won't be for a book or in that mindset. My blog has been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been considering just stopping and getting rid of the whole thing.

It's not time to throw in the towel unfortunately. Instead I have some wimpy creative and writing muscles that need exercised, and I am afraid my readers will be put through the ringer as I pursue that.

There are a lot of people who are actually writing good stuff about life, dating, marriage, sex, creativity, being real Christ followers, healthy living, authenticity, fashion, pain, fitness, joy, cooking, and whatever else you can think of.

My challenge is this:
to be intentional about blogging
to just write what needs to be said.

One statement I am going to avoid with a passion is saying, "This is something we need to be talking about," and I am just going to do it.

I may not be completely original, or come up with a new formula or way to approach things, but I can add my voice to the ones who are making a difference in their writing. And I can say things in my own unique way. 

Saying all of this is to prepare you... I am going to start talking about some weird, awkward, taboo stuff for me, things that I do not usually write about and post on the internet.

I'm ready to start putting days into original, heart-pouring-out blog posts instead of a couple hours. I am ready to recommit, to be raw again, authentic, and unafraid to write about what I am really pondering over. I have been prepared and commissioned to do so by my Lord.

I have a lot of butt-kicking, stinky sweating, muscle cramping, fitful screaming, fear stomping, doubt smashing, adrenaline pumping work to do. Wanna come?

It’s time to build an ark. 

Good bye, book-to-be. I do not know when I will see you again, hopefully soon, but right now I have some other writing to accomplish. I will get back to you when it's your turn.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Worth Reading: That Passion

There's something extremely important to me when it comes to living my life... Living with passion. My passion is writing and literature. For someone else it may be drawing or music or photography...

I think we all strive to have some sort of craft to call our own-- something we enjoy doing and feel good at and is worth putting our effort into. We want a craft that we can thrive on, and that starts with being passionate about what you do. Here are three posts on finding, using, and living that passion:

1. Three Signs You've Found Your True Passion by Nick Thacker

2. Success Starts with Passion by Jeff Goins

3. Five Steps to Living Out Your Passion by David Valentine