Book Review | Rethinking Sexuality, God’s Design and Why it Matters by Juli Slattery

rethinking sexuality

Book Description:

Sexual abuse, sex addiction, gender confusion, brokenness, and shame plague today’s world, and people are seeking clarity and hope. By contesting long-held cultural paradigms, this book equips you to see how sexuality is rooted in the broader context of God’s heart and His work for us on earth. It provides a framework from which to understand the big picture of sexual challenges and wholeness, and helps you recognize that every sexual question is ultimately a spiritual one. It shifts the paradigm from combating sexual problems to confidently proclaiming and modeling the road to sacred sexuality.
Instead of arguing with the world about what’s right and wrong about sexual choices, this practical resource equips you to share the love and grace of Jesus as you encounter the pain of sexual brokenness–your own or someone else’s.

I loved this book. Not only do I know Juli Slattery from Authentic Intimacy (https://www.authenticintimacy.com/rethinking), but I’ve heard her countless times on Christian radio.  She is a professional who speaks truth. And sex needs to be talked about.

This timely book starts out strong, “Although sexuality presents an enormous challenge to Christians and the world at large, it is not a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed.” Bold, yet truthful! She provides stats and research regarding the epidemic of discounting the importance of sexual purity, but also recounts the harmful effects of sex outside of the God-given boundaries.

She is also clear to point out, “The world is watching and laughing at Christians who worship the same God and read the same Bible can’t agree on God’s intention for sexuality. We can’t guide others if we ourselves are lost.” Amid the confusion of today, she’s got some answers, with glaring totality. The world can provide sexual answers, or we can go back to God, the originator of the Design and seek His will above the noise.

As the world pushes more toward postmodernism and humanism, we are sucked into the mindset that there are no standards of right and wrong, no moral compass.  But is this actually true?  When did what God said about the beauty and gift of sexuality become something we had the ability to define? “The transgender movement is the ultimate expression of postmodern thought, denying even the biological constraints of male and female. Gender becomes something we create in our own thoughts instead of a physical reality to which we must adjust our thinking.” There has to be a movement back to the basics, back to reality where we let God speak about what He’s created, instead of letting our sinful nature draw us away from the One who designed us intimately.

So why does purity matter?  Why should sex be confined to the marital bed and not out in the streets where lust takes control of us? Why does this all matter?  Because we can teach the next generation about the discipleship of sexuality.  “…if the church were using a discipleship model to teach about sexuality, these young people would understand the underlying spiritual importance and implications of their sexuality…they would also know how to apply the broader message of the gospel (Jesus’s love and redemption, the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling) to their lives in all circumstances.”

It’s that important.  I applaud Dr. Slattery for being bold enough to speak out about the dangers of misusing our sexuality, mislabeling and giving into sin, instead of seeking the One who gave us the gift of gender and sexuality.  We all need the Living Water.

Check out the website above. She has provided many resources for education, and check out the podcast “Java with Juli” for more of her content.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Waterbrook & Multnomah.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli

 

until i met her

Until I Met Her begins with the funeral of an author- Emma Fern’s best friend and mentor.  There is a private admission from Emma that she in fact, killed Beatrice.  And so the book opens to reveal a mousy character who owns a vintage shop, is married to a successful businessman with a mundane life.  But Emma Fern is nothing if she isn’t incredibly unpredictable.

Her entire world changes when Beatrice Johnson Greene entered her store.  She can’t help but fall all over herself, complimenting her and winning her affection.  The two quickly move from strangers to best friends, and within a short amount of time, trust begins to build between them.  Emma begins to disregard the store, preferring to run off with Beatrice to drunken lunches, and shopping with the rich and famous.

Beatrice confides to Emma that she has written a book that is outside of her genre, and since a previous book of hers had bombed in the past, she was wondering if Emma could be the “author” for a novel she’d already written- take the credit, and be the face of this new book.  At first, Emma is shocked and refuses to do it, but then her dream of being a writer is ignited, and she agrees.

Emma’s lust for fame, and a desire to remain friends with successful, untouchable Beatrice turns to greed as little by little Emma makes subtle changes to the manuscript and takes full possession of the book.  And with no set contract in place, it’s hers, right?

A sidebar to consider in the novel is Emma’s relationship with her husband Jim.  It is incredibly awkward, as she sees no wrong in him at all, and his lack of interest in anything she says/does.  But because of his success, she admires and fawns all over him, even though he’s constantly dismissive of her.  She seems to have a very skewed view of how well her own marriage is going.  Pleasing Jim has always been her main concern, until the book…

Is Beatrice encouraged and thrilled for her best friend to have fame as well?  Or is it truly a passive aggressive friendship that is doomed?  You’ll have to read for yourself.

This was a quick read, one with unpredictable twists and turns, and moments of “what the what!?!!”  I loved the characters, with the exception of Jim, who is so noticeably arrogant, that it makes me wonder what Emma really sees in him.  And even though Emma is nothing like she seems in the beginning, I found that I liked her crazy thinking as she progresses through the story.  She’s feminine, overthinks as many of us do, and a little immature, so I found her to be believable.

I loved Natalie Barelli’s first book in the Emma Fern series, that I’m currently reading the second book, After He Killed Me.  Stay tuned for that review!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | No More Perfect Marriages by Mark and Jill Savage

no more perfect marriages

Wanting a perfect marriage is typical of newlyweds and romantic hopefuls.  And for a while after the wedding bells are rung, things seem to be just that.  But then dust settles and life takes over, and the real “US”es start to show.  Could it mean that a perfect marriage is unattainable?

Instead of answering that question, I think the question should be, “Are we focusing on what marriage is really supposed to be?” Because the truth is that, if we are, we will realize the truth of what Mark and Jill have written about in their new book, “No More Perfect Marriages”- there is no perfect marriage.  They give very real and candid examples from their own lives and long-standing marriage, which I found to be incredibly admirable, and they discuss many changes that many of our marriages may face.

Understanding that each marriage is unique (remember two of us are becoming one), we have to also understand that both people are bringing their pasts, experiences, understandings, expectations, and realities to the center.  And trying to blend those things doesn’t always work out without understanding, grace and forgiveness at the ready.  So needless to say, we need help for our marriages, picture-perfect or not.

One section of the book that I loved was right in the beginning.  They addressed the masks that we wear.  In any marriage, it’s easy to resort to old habits or hide when we don’t get our way, but the problem lies in what those actions do to our spouses.  We need to be realistic and admit when we let selfishness creep in where God wants us to put the other first.  It’s hard, but can be done with Christ’s help.  And Mark and Jill show us how.

I also love how they laid out some God-tools- relevant for all of us, and practical items that we need on a daily basis to consistently put our spouses first, and recognize how our behavior affects each other.  This book has some additional links for support, a link to Jill’s page (http://www.jillsavage.org/) and many fun, practical ideas for how to get over trying to pretend our marriages are perfect.  You’ll love their honesty, raw emotional stories and uplifting outcomes.

This book is (dare I say, PERFECT) for marriages of any length of time, those who are thriving and those who are struggling.  There is help, and these two, along with Gary Chapman are some great Christian resources!

perfect 1 perfect 2perfect 4 perfect 3

I received this book, free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I am very thankful to Moody Publishers for giving me this advanced reader copy, and providing me an opportunity to post about it with all of you.  Pick up your copy today!

Book Review | The Smart Stepfamily Marriage: Keys to Success in the Blended Family by Ron L. Deal and David H. Olson

smart stepfamily

When I was on my honeymoon, I read a book by Ron L. Deal, called The Smart Stepmom.  It was co-written with Laura Petherbridge, and it illuminated a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before crossing the aisle to wedded bliss.  I appreciate Ron L. Deal’s insight on stepfamilies.  He’s a credible therapist with years of experience and success at helping families cope, as well as being a well known author on the topic of blending stepfamilies. Recently he’s co-written a book with David Olsen, founder of PREPARE/ENRICH, to give necessary tools to help couples who struggle as they try to merge preexisting families.

This new book can be added to his other successful works when it comes to pointing couples in the right direction and giving practical advice.  This book comes equipped with some in-depth situations and solutions for those situations that normally wouldn’t have favorable outcomes.  He also points readers to a tool created by David Olson, The Couple Checkup.  If couples take the time to answer the questions truthfully, it can give a breakdown of healthy and unhealthy areas in their marriage that they can tackle together.  The Couple Checkup is a report designed to address the following key areas: Communication, Conflict Resolution, Financial Management, Relationship Roles, Affection and Sexual Relationship, Couple Closeness and Flexibility, Family Closeness and Flexibility and Personality.

I recommend taking the test at any stage of your stepfamily duration.  Once you know about yourself, and your spouse, you have some key areas to strategize over.  Also, the book addresses many of these areas, to directly relate to the checkup.  I think it’s a great resource for anyone who has chosen to remarry, marry someone with children, has questions about stepfamilies, is looking for meaningful resources to help with relational issues, and needs godly wisdom in seeking resolution.  You will not be disappointed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”