Mini Book Reviews – September 2009

Conquer Your Fear, Share Your Faith by Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron
Good summary of their Way of the Master evangelism training. Not much new, if you–like me–have already gone through the training course.
Grade: B

For Men Only by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn
Great insights on women — how they think, communicate, and feel appreciated. Important for any man to read.
Grade: B

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
Interesting reading for me. Many Christian women read this book, so I felt it was necessary to find out what they’re being told about men. Pretty much right on.
Grade: B

The Five Love Languages Singles Edition by Gary Chapman
Excellent book on how people express love to (and receive love from) other people. If you can’t seem to communicate your love effectively to other people, then you’re probably not speaking their love language. Learn to identify your own love languages and discover the love languages of others. Whether it’s words of affirmation, touch, quality time, gift giving, or acts of service, once you become familiar with the 5 love languages, you will find it much easier to express love and appreciation to other people.
Grade: A

Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur
Read this a couple times, because it’s so short. John gives 5 or 6 concrete steps in the Bible for finding God’s will for your life. Then surprises you with a final principle for discovering God’s will for specific concerns in your life. This book cleared up any doubt I had regarding God’s will for me in the coming months.
Grade: A

Learning My Love Language

I just finished reading The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, which is one of those books talked about amongst Christian circles. I have to admit, I was skeptical of reading it, because I thought it sounded gimicky. Single Christians I know would always ask each other, “What’s your love language?” which sounded as trivial as, “What’s your sign?” I was pretty convinced this was just some Christian fad.

But in my ever-growing hunger for knowledge — especially on the topic of relationships — I figured I would have to familiarize myself with the 5 love languages at some point. So I got the book this week and finished it moments ago.

I admit I was wrong. This turned out to be an important book that I believe all people should read. Not only will it help you in your romantic relationships, but with all relationships in general (family, coworkers, friends).

Similar to secular self-help books that say everyone has a preferred “sense” in which they tend to communicate best (e.g., visual, audible, tactile), Gary Chapman — the book’s author — suggests that everyone gives and receives love in one of 5 ways (read: love languages). These five languages are…

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Should you not recognize the love language of your romantic partner, friend, or colleague, you risk building conflict in the relationship through their perceived lack of love coming from you. If the way you choose to show love and appreciation is not the way the person wants or is capable of feeling love, then your efforts are in vain.

For example, if the other person’s love language is Words of Affirmation, all of your sacrificial service or gift-giving is not going to make up for the lack of verbal affirmation the person craves. Likewise, if the other person’s love language is Quality Time, then all of the encouraging emails and bouquets of flowers aren’t going to make up for the lack of love they perceive from the little quality time you spend together.

Right away, I knew what my weakest areas of showing love were… Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. For most of my life, I was very distant in my relationships with other people. I was distant verbally (didn’t often talk, much less provide encouragement to other people), and I was distant physically (wasn’t much of a hugger). And I certainly didn’t like to do acts of service — not even service that acted in my own interest, not to mention others’ interests.

If I was good at any of these languages, it was gift-giving (I love to give stuff away) and quality time (I love to spend time with the people I love).

As it turns out, my primary love language is Quality Time. I both love to give and receive quality time with those I love. I can’t think of a better way to experience the love of another person than having the chance to hang out with that person for long periods of time.

Secondarily, I think I also respond well to Words of Affirmation. I’m not totally convinced about that, as I tell myself I don’t care what other people think of me or what I do — but I’m sure much of that is bravado, and that I really do appreciate it when others publicly appreciate me.

Aside: If someone wanted to make me feel unloved, all that person would need to do is stop hanging out or communicating with me. (Can’t help but laugh at this, given my recent personal circumstances. It explains so much.)

The challenge for me is learning to identify the love languages of other people, then using their love languages to communicate my love and appreciation for them. As I said earlier, I have a lot of work to do in certain areas. The biggest of which I think is Words of Affirmation. I’ve grown up with and around such cynical, critical people that it’s hard for me to say something encouraging to someone without sounding disingenuous to myself. That’s just something I’ll have to get over.

Mini Book Reviews – August 2009

Since giving up television, I’ve been reading more books than at any other time of my life. I figured I should keep track of the books I read and offer a few thoughts on each one. So, without further adieu, here are the books I read in August…

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis [audiobook]
Interesting retelling of the myth of Psyche and an allegory for fallen man’s view of Christians. I wasn’t personally that interested in the story, especially because it wasn’t a clear, one-to-one allegory, but included lots of complex themes and plot points. Might like it more, if I read the book rather than listened to the audiobook.
Grade: C

C. S. Lewis’s Case for Christ by Art Lindsley
This was the first book on my reading list for the C.S. Lewis Institute’s Basic Apologetics course. I read it in one night, because it’s written in such a quick, easy style. It was fascinating to see how much insight Lewis had on the Christian life — even though the author rightly points out an example where Lewis was wrong about his interpretation of Scripture. Great insight into the theological mind of C.S. Lewis.
Grade: B

Choosing God’s Best by Dr. Don Raunikar
My first exposure to the counter-dating practice of courting. This book took on a much more personal importance to me, because I was/am going through this courting process. The book presents a biblical view of finding a marriage partner, contrary to the modern view of dating. The author explains how dating can be destructive to your future marriage, and how the Bible provides a less emotionally, physically, and spiritually damaging way of finding a marriage partner — which is courting. Revolutionary to my view of love & dating.
Grade: A

How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Dr. Henry Cloud [audiobook]
An alternative view of dating, directly contradictory to the ideas of courting. Dr. Cloud (best known for his Boundaries books) suggests that Christians should date many people in order to build social skills and eventually find out what they really want in a mate. He suggests going out with people — not because you’re interested in them — but because you need practice interacting with people. Something about this seemed disingenuous to me and very self-centered. Dr. Cloud also had very little biblical backing for any of his arguments. He approached the subject from a very secular, psychological point of view, rather than basing his views on Scripture.
Grade: D

Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris
Excellent exposition of the topic of lust. Joshua Harris talks about his struggles with lust and how he deals with it. Very short, but effective. Every guy should read this.
Grade: A

Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James
I thought this was going to be inspiring, but it rather seemed somewhat childish. Granted, it was written for young adults (i.e., teenagers) by a young adult (Christian musician Rebecca St. James). James is a virgin, who uses her celebrity to champion abstinence — which is awesome. I just didn’t feel as though she was an authority on the subject as I was reading her book, due to her age and “lack of experience.” Also, the majority of her scripture “quotes” were taken from The Message, which is a pretty poor “watered down” translation of the Bible. I just was not into it.
Grade: D

Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Joshua Harris [audiobook]
I’m starting to really like Josh Harris’ style. This is an excellent book on courtship (even better than Choosing God’s Best), with more real-world examples taken from Harris’ own courtship with his now-wife. Incredibly good advice for couples pursuing marriage through courtship.
Grade: A