1) How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong: Leslie Vernick
This was one of the good ones. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but it's basically a book about what we can learn from suffering in marriage and how we can choose to behave in a godly way regardless of how our spouse acts. She talks about the value of trials, pursuing God, and the immense power we have to choose our responses. She also writes about how to show love to a husband even when he is acting unloving. Leslie is strongly grounded in Scripture and demonstrates hope and compassion in her approach. One aspect of the book that I appreciated was Leslie's discussion of how different acting right may look to different marriages. She uses the example of women who suffer in marriages where they are being mistreated emotionally, physically or sexually. Many women believe that when being abused, they should simply "submit more" and then everything will be fine and they never actually confront their husband's sin.
For this particular woman, loving her husband or acting right may require speaking up respectfully yet boldly against the evil in their marital relationship. It might mean she must learn to speak the truth about how God sees her husband's abusive behavior and how it is destroying their marriage. It may even involve exposing the deeds of darkness to others and allowing her spouse to experience the consequences of his sin in order to bring him the possibility of repentance. (p.5)
2) A Life That Says Welcome - Karen Ehman
This was one of the eh books. As an introvert, I really struggle with the Scriptural command to offer hospitality to others without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9), which is why I picked up this book. Karen writes about the importance of having a heart of hospitality towards others and offers many practical solutions for putting hospitality into practice. She talks about organization, cleaning, cooking as well as the heart of hospitality. I got a few ideas, but I guess my main issue is not the practicalities, it's my heart. I can cook and clean, but I have to want people to be here and invite them and that's the hard part for me. I also just thought Karen's writing style was a little simplistic and cheesy, but that's probably just a personal preference.
3) The Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges
One of the good ones. Also the most challenging one. For such a small book, it is jam-packed with biblical truth and convicting words. Jerry takes God's words to be holy, for I am holy and unpacks exactly what that looks like. Although he believes that God views us as holy and blameless, he also points out that "no one will attain it with effort on his own part."(p.10) Christians love to talk about what God has done for us, but we are not as passionate about actually walking in obedience to God's word, instead often just hoping for victory over a particular sin to happen magically. I would highly recommend this, but maybe not for beach reading. It's going to take some thought.
4) Real Moms, Real Jesus - Jill Savage
I think I found this one while I was looking at Karen Ehman's book on Amazon and it was listed as one of those "People who bought this book also bought..." I wish I had left it there. I really, really struggled to finish this one. I did appreciate how Jill relates motherhood to Jesus' experience on earth. So often we think Jesus cannot relate to what we are struggling with, and she made those connections really clear for me. However, it was just fairly weak and shallowly written to me. And if she quoted from The Message one more time, I was going to scream. It's fine to use that book occasionally to put a thought-provoking light on a very familiar Scripture, but when it's used constantly? It's really annoying. It made me feel like she thinks moms can't handle the real Bible because we lost our brain cells when the kids were born. Anyway, that could be nit-picky, but it bugged me.
5) Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together - Mark and Grace Driscoll.
I've already written a two part review of this one, so I won't repeat what I said. But if you haven't read those reviews, I'll just mention again that despite going into reading it with very negative expectations, I liked this book.
We're actually at the beach right now so this is only part of what I've actually read - I've got some fairly shallow beach reading with me that I'm hoping to have time to finish - The Night Circus, another Kate Morton, more Dorothy Sayers. After all that heavy reading, I'm ready for some fluff!
What about you? Read anything worth recommending this month?