Monday, January 18, 2010

This is Your Brain in Love

This Is Your Brain in Love may be the most interesting book I have read so far this year.  While it is certainly a book that has been the most challenging because of the numerous references to brain anatomy, it has also been very rewarding.  This is Your Brain in Love begins with Dr. Earl Henslin's desire to strengthen marriages. Through his research of Dr. Daniel Amen's work in SPECT scans, Dr. Henslin submits that understanding how your brain works when you are in love can you be a better spouse.  Instead of looking at the 5 Love Languages, we are now looking at the 5 love styles and how different parts of the brain react, depending on your styles.

The book also features a special appendix for men who have struggled with sexual addiction and another for women, focused on hormone changes that occur throughout their life.  These two sections are worth the price of the book in my opinion (and in fact could easily be expanded into books in their own right).

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, because as a former therapist who is going through the process of renewing his license, I enjoy this type of work. I have read numerous works about how drug use effects the brain (helpful since I currently work at a Christian drug treatment center). It was quite interesting to see the similar ways in which love effects the brain.  In fact in the opening chapter there is a SPECT scan on a brain.  According to the author, it would be nearly impossible for a doctor to tell you if the scan was a picture of someone in the initial romantic phase of a relationship or if they had been using cocaine.  That's the power of love. It's no wonder that so many people who have been wounded by love, turn to drugs as a way to escape.

While I highly enjoyed this book, I realize that it is not the typical reading material for everyone, even in the specific genre of "Love and Marriage." It is not necessarily easy reading.  However, there are some very practical applications given, and easy tests that can be taken to help you better understand you or your spouse's love type.  I would highly recommend reading this book if you desire to learn more about how a brains work, especially in relation to love.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dug Down Deep

Dug Down Deep is Joshua Harris' break away from books with a dating, or as the case may be, non-dating (ie. courting) theme.  Harris is primarily know for his first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which challenged the standard approach for finding a spouse.  In his latest book he turns his eye towards theology, "unearthing what I believe and why it matters."
Unlike tradition books on theology, Harris mixes in a great deal of narrative in order to give real word examples and applications for the issues that he discusses.  This approach however can have varying effects depending on what type of reader you are: 1. It can make the information more accessible or 2. It can make we wish he would just get on with the point he is trying to make.
As I read through the book there were several things that I really connected with, especially in the opening chapters.  In the first chapter he describes the practice of Rumspringa that is employed by the Amish.  This is a time of freedom given to teens in Amish community.  During this time they are allowed to live like the rest of the world; they are given the opportunity to decide if they want to stay Amish.  While Harris didn't grow up Amish, he describes his own journey of growing up in a Christian home and having to make the choice of staying committed to the way of Christ or pursing his own way.
As the book moved more into the theological elements I noticed something about many of the things I was underlining or highlighting: they weren't from Joshua Harris.  Throughout the book, Harris cites J.I. Packer and  John Piper extensively. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with citing these excellent sources, but I felt that little was added to the points that they made, making it feel like the theology was someone else's while the stories connected them to them were Josh's.  I also have to take issue with the fact that baptism (how we get connected to Christ) and communion (how we stayed connected to Christ) don't appear until 20 pages before the book ends (and even then are only given a brief two paragraphs to explain each of them.
Overall I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.  Dug Down Deep clearly challenges the reader to not simply be a Christian, but to explore, investigate, and examine the things we say we believe.  Each generation must look closely at deepest held beliefs to ensure that they are true to God's word and not simply traditions that have developed over time. However there are several points of theology at which I disagree with the author. Yet as he points in his final chapter, we must have a "humble orthodoxy."  I appreciate Harris' book and hope that his calling to dig into theology will be heard.

This book was provided by Multnomah Publishing for review.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Disciplined 2010

I really hate to make resolutions. Most of the time they don't stick. So in what may appear to be an issue of semantics, I have decided that this year I focus on the disciplined life.  The idea was originally inspired by Mark Batterson's latest book, Primal.  In the book he talks about the 4 ways we love God: through heart, mind, soul and strength.  So my goal for this year is to  take these different aspects of love, meddle them with the classic disciplines and coming up with something that will help me regain some focus over the cross of the new year.
One specific issue that Mark brought up in the book was reading through the Bible in a year.  In my last post I mentioned my struggle with this and what my plans are to correct the situation in the coming year.  But the idea of reading through the Bible in 40 days has also given me an idea for the rest of year.  What if I broke the year down into 9 40 day segments and focus on a different discipline during each of the 40 days?
Since it is New Years Eve this plan should be a little more formulated than it is right now, which is why I  asking for your help.  Right now here are a few of the ideas that I have for my 40 days:
  1. reading the Bible
  2. Fasting
  3. Prayer
  4. Working out
  5. Read the Purpose Driven Life
  6. Read Mere Christianity
  7. Focus on one Old Testament book, learning as much about it as possible
  8. Do the same for a New Testament
  9. Some type of service, not sure what yet (I would really love to hear your ideas here!)
Any help? I would really love to get some feedback on this one.  Thanks! I hope everyone has a wonderful 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bible Reading for 2010

This year, like many years before I plan to read through the Bible. In 2009 I fell a little short, missing several of the prophets, a little history, Leviticus and Revelation (because we all know that many reading plans have failed in the weeks when you read the end of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy).
So this year I am using to help.  YouVersion is an awesome website that puts the Bible and community at your fingertips.  With over 40 different translations and 20 reading plans that can be customized you will find something that will help you meet your goals for reading all or parts of God's Word this year.  It will also connect you with others who are reading the same plan so that you can easily discuss the insights from each day's reading.
I have currently selected the Chronological reading plan.  This approach will guide me through the text based on the chronology of the events.  I have seen, but never used, Bibles that take this approach, so it will be interesting to see how this works.  The greater challenge for this endeavor is the fact that I am going to try to do it 40 days.  After reading Mark Batterson's book, Primal, I became convinced that I need to start my year, this new decade off with a clear goal that would help me regain some focus in my life.  I can't think of anything better than reading through the Bible.  Hopefully I'll stay on top of it and let you know how it goes.
If you are a YouVersion user, look for my contributions, username jdeddins.  I will also try to repost many of them here for other readers as well.


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