God’s Good Design Resources

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As we continue in our series God’s Good Design, here are some resources that have deeply influenced my personal theology and pastoral ministry regarding relationships, marriage, family, and human sexuality.

Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image by Hannah Anderson – one of the reviews of Anderson’s book wrote, “Here is a book for women that has something to teach men. Made for More is wise and well-written, and I heartily commend it to everyone made in the image of God, male and female alike.”

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller – this is an incredible book on God’s design for marriage. The Keller’s intellect and practical application makes is one of the best books out there on why God created marriage and how we can become more like Jesus.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – this has been a staple of my marriage library for years. You’ve likely heard me ask the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” That question is from this book. It’s one of the best books out there for viewing marriage as a laboratory for spiritual formation.

God, Marriage, & Family by Andreas J. Kosternberger – this is a scholarly yet accessible treatment of a theology of family and marriage. With topics ranging from marriage in the Old and New Testaments, divorce and remarriage, singleness, and the Bible’s treatment of homosexuality, Kosternberger’s book is a good reference resource if you want to dig deeper into what the Bible says directly about these topics.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung – If you were to buy one resource to go deeper into understanding the Bible’s position regarding human sexuality and homosexuality, this should be the book.DeYoung examines key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality. He also responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry – thoughtfully written by a British pastor who has struggled with same-sex attraction. Allberry’s book is short and readable, and like DeYoung’s book mentioned above, he clearly and simply explains what the Bible has to say about marriage, sexuality, and same-sex attraction. You can also watch a talk that Sam gave at the Village Church on this topic and his book.

“The Bible & Same-Sex Relationships” by Tim Keller – a concise, thoughtful review of two current books by authors who believe the Bible allows or supports same-sex relationships and the six arguments these books and those like them make.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert Gagnon – viewed as the definitive biblical and theological work on the subject, Gagnon’s book provides the most thorough and in-depth analysis to date of the biblical texts regarding homosexuality.

Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything by Robert Reilly – writing from a philosophical and socio-political viewpoint, Reilly explores the fundamental views of reality. His book focuses on the current battle between the primacy of reason (order and intrinsic design/purpose) vs. the primacy of the will (making everything what we wish it to be). Reilly’s conclusion about the homosexual debates is that it’s really about “the Nature of reality itself.”

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan & Angela Yuan – a heartfelt story about a gay son’s journey to God and a broken mother’s search for hope. “God calls all who are lost to come home to him. Casting a compelling vision for holy sexuality, Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community” (from the book’s back cover).

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield – the author was a respected tenured english professor at Syracuse University who was living with her lesbian partner. “Then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a ‘train wreck’ at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could” (description from Amazon). You can read also Christianity Today’s article about Butterfield entitled “My Train Wreck Conversion.”

My recommendation would be to purchase one or two of these resources and spend the next few weeks and months reading and exploring this topics presented further.

New Series: God’s Good Design

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When it comes to marriage and human sexuality, the message keeps changing. Society tries to define it for us, but our culture is always shifting. The Bible, however, teaches us exactly who we are. In His word, God teaches us His design for marriage and His design for sex that is true and perfect, leading to joy and human flourishing. God also shows us the pitfalls of counterfeits and distortions to marriage. Throughout this series, we’ll learn precisely what God’s unchanging plan for marriage and human sexuality is and how it plays out in the ever-changing world we live in.

Here’s the schedule for this series:

May 3 – God the Creator & Designer

May 10 – Created in God’s Image

May 17 – God’s Design for Marriage

May 24 – God’s Design for Sex

May 31 – Sexual Counterfeits

June 7 – Marriage Distortions & God’s Word

June 14 – Marriage Distortions & Our Response

June 21 – Together for the Gospel

For more information on Northshore and our Sunday worship gatherings, click HERE.

Join us at 8, 9:30, and 11 am (Children’s Ministry available at the 9:30 & 11 am services).

Here are some recommended resources for further exploring God’s Good Design.

Staying Soulmates in the Empty Nest

 

This past Sunday, we wrapped up our Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates series with “The Empty Nest.” Remember, falling in love only requires a pulse, but staying in love requires a plan. The empty nest can be a wonderful season of marital satisfaction, but it can also be a season filled with crisis because of the changes in family and marriage dynamics.

According to a 2012 research paper entitled “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” the authors crunched marriage data and discovered that of all those who divorced in 2009, one in four was age 50 or older, compared with one in ten in 1990. Why the jump in divorces for this age group? Could it be that as people begin to realize they are going to live longer, they don’t want to spend the rest of their life in an unhappy and unfulfilled marriage? One husband, married twenty-five years, commented, “We never had a very close relationship, but the kids kept us together. They were our connecting point. When they left home, it was just the two of us, with no buffers. We had nothing in common and decided it was crazy to waste the rest of our lives. So we divorced.” Unfortunately, this is all too common in marriages entering this season of life.

Here are three keys to staying in love through the empty nest years (David & Claudia Arp’s book The Second Half of Marriage was very helpful in developing these three keys):

1. Commit to making the rest of your marriage the best. You may have some marriage disappointments and unfulfilled expectations. Take some time and assess your expectations. Are they realistic or unrealistic? Forgive your spouse. Give them grace. Make a decision with Jesus’ love and mercy to make the second half of your marriage the best season of your marriage.

2. Focus on your spouse more than your kids. This is applicable for any season of marriage. Healthy families begin with healthy marriages. As I said on Sunday, one of the best gifts you can give your children is a mother and father who deeply love each other. Schedule a regular date night (at least once a month) with your spouse.

3. Renew the romance in your marriage. Sex is a beautiful gift for all seasons of marriage, and as you enter into the empty nest, take time to talk about this aspect of your marriage relationship. Remember King Solomon’s sage wisdom, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). Enjoy your spouse for a lifetime!

Here are some great resources for the empty nest season of marriage:

What 50 Years of Marriage Looks Like (Warning: have tissues in hand)

The Second Half of Marriage – David & Claudia Arp

Boomerang Kids – Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D (a book for those of you with children who have moved back into your home). Dr. Pickhardt also provide a “Contract for Parents and Kids” that can provide clarity and expectations if and when your kids move back into your home.

Some great articles by Family Life on Empty Nest and Mid-Life issues

If you’re struggling in your marriage, please fill out this confidential marriage help questionnaire, and Northshore can get you the help you need!