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Book Review: Die Young by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

The Paradox of “Death to Self” Meaning “Abundant Life”

In this short book Hayley and Michael DiMarco offer seven chapters that cover seven paradoxes of the Christian life. Each chapter contains Bible verses, practical principles based on those verses, and short sidebars by both husband and wife as to how these principles have impacted their personal lives. This is essentially a handbook focusing on how Christianity teaches the opposite of what your flesh desires – which ironically leads to death – and how dying to self and living for Christ leads to an abundant life. Therefore, the younger you die the longer you will live. They carefully weave a model of robust Christ-like discipleship and articulate the importance of the gospel, justification by faith alone, and sanctification based on Christ alone. However, they also show that our faith does “work” itself out in the way Christ changes us from the inside out as we die to self and live for Him.

The seven chapters include these paradoxes:

1) “Death is the New Life” deals with what it means to die to self, learn contentment, and how suffering can be a very positive outworking of God’s working in our life. It also tackles what it means to be holy, and live a life of faith, hope, peace and love. One of the questions for reflection in this chapter was very thought provoking: “Will suffering destroy your hope and your faith, leaving you with nothing solid to stand on, alone and empty, or will your suffering destroy the parts of you that tie you to the things of this earth and keep your focus off the God of heaven?”

Some other gems from this chapter include:

“There is no fruit that grows from a seed that refuses to die.”

“When your life and all that it entails isn’t your portion, but God is your portion, then it will never diminish no matter what the world may bring.”

“There is a death that comes that isn’t meant to destroy you but to destroy that in you which was never meant to replace the hand of God in your life.”

“In the economy of Christ, love isn’t meant for self but for others.”

2) “Down is the New Up” is described perhaps best in the chapter as “the bottom isn’t such a bad place because it is only from the perspective of your own lowest point that you are able to see your sinfulness and need for a loving Savior and to be saved.” The chapter focuses on the importance of humility and contentment as opposed to pride. The perfect model of humility led to Christ becoming a man who died on a cross and procured our salvation.

3) “Less is the New More” is about how God gives more than anything we can get from the world. The less we have – the more we see how much we have in Christ. One of the key points of this chapter was, “The less there is that competes for our attention and favor in life, the more attention and favor we can give to God.”

4) “Weak is the New Strong” focuses on how waiting and depending upon God to work inspite of our weaknesses actually leads to great strength and a servants attitude that contributes to God’s working through us in a powerful way.

5)Slavery is the New Freedom because slavery to God gives those of us who embrace it freedom from all the other gods which express their hold on us in the form of struggles, addictions, fears, worries, and all other sins in our lives.” They also articulate how “our submission to God and to others proves our faith in God’s sovereignty.”

6) “Confession is the New Innocence” is all about the crucial importance of confession and ongoing repentance in the believer’s life. Here are some excellent quotes from this section:

“Without confession of guilt there is no innocence for the sinner…Confession precedes forgiveness…Our resistance to confession does two things: it keeps us from the forgiveness our sins need, and it also calls God a liar because to fail to confess is to say ‘I have not sinned.’…Confession of the biblical sort is the act of verbalizing not only error and remorse but also truth…So proper confession calls out the sins we committed and not just the pain we inflicted…Confession is best done instantly, and immediately…In the life of a Christian there are two kinds of confession. There is the confession that we make to God regarding our guilt and need for His forgiveness. This is the saving kind of confession that saves us from our guilt and makes us innocent. And there is the confession that we make to man regarding our guilt and our need of healing. Repentance is your changing your ways, determining what sin is in your life and how to avoid it from here on out…To refuse to be honest about our sin is to refuse to agree with God that there has never been and will never be a perfect person besides Jesus…Confession reveals not only our sinfulness but God’s righteousness.”

Hayley and Michael are very transparent about their struggles with sin throughout the book – Michael commenting on this fact writes: “That’s why the majority of our sidebars in this book are confessional; they destroy pride in us, create healing, and maybe even encourage the same action/reaction in you. Confession lets the confessor and the hearer (or reader) know that they’re not alone both in the pursuit of healing and the dismantling of a double life.”

7) “Red is the New White” – is on the necessity of Christ’s atoning blood to make us “white as snow.” The author’s write, “As red covers white so well and so permanently, so blood covers the sins of man…You must, in order to receive justification, believe that the blood is enough. You must die to the part of you that insists it do its part to participate in this salvation thing and help God out…If your heart has a hard time believing justification by the blood, then consider killing the part of you that would argue against God’s gracious and necessary gift.”

I highly recommend this book – especially for new Christians, young Christians – mature teens and college students. This book is loaded with good practical theology and will help you die to what’s killing you, and help you live a more abundant life in Christ by mortifying the flesh.

*Note: I was given an advanced copy of this book by Crossway and was not required to write a positive review.

 

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Book Review: The Gospel Centered Marriage by Tim Chester

Concise and Helpful Guide For Marriage

Tim Chester is a church planter and writer in England. I appreciated the way he elevated Christ, His church, and how he applies the gospel in every facet of married life. The chapters designed for couples and small groups are concise, biblically and theologically based, Christo-centric, thorough, practical, and tailor made to promote discussion and application.

Some of the features of this book that are highlighted in each chapter are the following sections:

Consider this – “A scenario—often based on a real-life—situation which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in marriage.”

Biblical background – “A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.”

Read all about it – “A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.”

Questions for reflection – “Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.”

Ideas for action – “Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.”

What I have done below to give you a taste of the book is to give the principle elaborated on in each chapter and the key Scriptures covered in each chapter.

Part One: Gospel-Centered Marriage – The Five Chapters in this section are on:

Chapter One – “Marriage and the passion of God” illuminates the principle: “Your marriage is an illustration of the relationship of Christ to His people.” The key passage in this chapter is a study of Hosea 1-3.

Chapter Two – “Marriage and the purposes of God” states the principle: “The purpose of your marriage is companionship and partnership in mission.” The biblical background for this principle is found in Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:18-24.

Chapter Three – “Marriage and the kingdom of God” contends the principle: “Your marriage is to demonstrate that it’s good to live under God’s reign.” The biblical basis for the thesis of this chapter is from Ephesians 5:22-33.

Chapter Four – “Marriage and the Submission of God’s people” states the principle: “As the church submits to Christ, so wives put their husband’s will before their own.” The background for the principle discussed in this chapter is from 1 Peter 3:1-7.

Chapter Five – “Marriage and the Loving authority of Christ” discusses the principle: “As Christ loves the church, husbands put their wife’s interests before their own.” The basis for discussion in this chapter is from Mark 10:40-45.

Part Two: Gospel-Centered Relationships – The Five Chapters in this section cover:

Chapter Six – “Grace” – The principle on grace is that “grace means we can always begin again.” The key passages are Titus 3:3-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 2:11-14; and Ephesians 4:26-27.

Chapter Seven – “Love” – Enumerates the principle: “daily thoughtfulness matters more than grand gestures.” The biblical content for this chapter is based on John 13:1-17.

Chapter Eight – “Conflict” – States the principle: “Conflict begins when my selfish desires are denied by my spouse.” The passage dealing with conflict is from James 3:13-18.

Chapter Nine – “Reconciliation” – Focuses on the principle: “Reconciliation begins when my selfish desires are denied by me.” The biblical basis of discussion for this chapter comes from James 4:1-12.

Chapter Ten – “Forgiveness” – Highlights the principle: “Trust must be earned and forgiveness must be given.” The key text on forgiveness is from Matthew 18:21-35.

Part Three: Gospel-Centered Sex – The five chapters in this section are on:

Chapter 11: “Enjoying sex” on the principle: “it’s our duty to enjoy marital sex.” The featured passage in this chapter is Song of Songs 4:12-5:1.

Chapter 12: “Loving sex” elaborates on the principle: “Good sex begins long before you take your clothes off.” The primary passage for this chapter is Song of Songs 4:1-16.

Chapter 13: “Transforming sex” develops the principle: “We get sex wrong because we get God wrong.” The key biblical passage developed is Romans 1:18-25.

Chapter 14: “Gospel-centered beauty” hones in on the principle: “Love finds us beautiful and love makes beautiful.” The numerous passages developed are Song of Songs 1:5-6, 8-10; Romans 12:2; Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Peter 3:3.

Chapter 15: The conclusion of the book “Marriage is not forever” solidifies the principle: “Find your identity and joy in God rather than in marriage.” The main biblical passages developed are John 4:4-26; Mark 12:18-25; Revelation 21:3-4.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I will be using it in the context of counseling and coaching couples who desire marriage; those who are already married; and be using it in the context of small groups in the church. I highly recommend this book because it is indeed gospel centered; it covers the major bases of a Christian marriage; and is not overwhelming for those who are not readers. I especially recommend it for guys (and gals) who don’t enjoy reading, or simply don’t have a lot of time on their hands. Each chapter is only a few pages long, and you can get a lot of substance and help in a short amount of time if you just want to read on a specific topic in the book. It gives excellent food for thought and discussion and will be very beneficial to any couple no matter how long they have been married.

 

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