My Fantasy Football Team Name
My Fantasy Football Team Name
There could not be a better title for a book on marriage than Love & War. For many of the comedians and critics, they stay away from marriage for the sake of war that they might lay a strong hold on to what they conceive is love in the single and promiscuous life. What they do not realize is that the war is not meant to be between spouses, but against all of the enemies that come against the covenantal couple. Sadly, however, our world sees more couples at war against each other than for each other; and this only goes to feed the lie that marriage is better left untouched. It is this ignorance that John and Stasi go to war against.
Best Line of the Book:
“God lures us into marriage through love and sex and loneliness, or simply the fact that someone finally paid attention–all those reasons that you got married in the first place. It doesn’t really matter, he’ll do whatever it takes. He lures us into marriage and then he uses it to transform us. (p47-48)”
The Good and the Bad:
John and Stasi write to help married couples make sense of the mess they are in, and they also write to help unmarried couples understand the mess they are inevitably getting themselves in when they say vow their vows. The mess is inevitable because marriage at its core is made up of two sinful sinners sinning regularly, trying to turn 2 individual lives into 1 flesh. The institution of marriage demands pure selflessness (both in the living and in the forgiving), and this is hard for a creature who by nature does all things for itself.
An area of major focus in the book is that of spiritual warfare. This is obviously a hot topic of debate and it will not be discussed entirely here, however I will give a couple of thoughts to this. There are typically 2 areas of thought when it comes to spiritual warfare: either the Devil and his team are everywhere or they are nowhere. As C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters, the best weapon of Satan is to trick people into believing he does not exist. For me, I believe that Satan “prowls like a Lion” but practically it does not have much effect on my every day living. I blame my flesh and its attraction to the world more than I blame Satan for my sin, but I do not give enough credit to Satan for his attempts to break apart my marriage.
Time and time again they remind the reader that 1-God loves marriage, 2-marriage is hard, 3-your flesh hates marriage, and 4-Satan hates a healthy marriage that glorifies God. They tell us that if they had to narrow down their “top 3” things to help your marriage, they would be 1-to find life in God, 2-Deal with your brokenness and 3-Learn to shut down the spiritual attacks that come against your marriage. In chapter 5 (How to Have a Really Good Fight) they bring up some very good insights into how to look after and protect your marriage from the real threats that the Enemy and his team have cooked up for you. I found this chapter to be very insightful and helpful as I reflected upon my own heart and my own marriage. However as the book rolls on, they seem to overly go back to how the Enemy creeps into everything. They don’t take away personal responsibility, but I believe they focus far too much on Satan and his work. That is my major critique for the book.
Overall I think this book can help many marriages. They give a lot of practical advice that is based on what I believe is the strongest basis for a healthy marriage: humility and the Gospel. The book is not an exegetical gem, however, and in this many weaknesses show. Even still the experience and wisdom that flows from them through their personal experiences and counseling exceptional and very helpful for any marriage, whether in pre-marriage, year 1 or year 50.
A couple of days Mark Driscoll posted his thoughts at The Resurgence Blog regarding Conference Christians. I thought his thoughts were interesting, and I wanted to expand on them because I have been mulling in my mind something of the same idea for a while.
Mark defines a Conference Christian as “someone who spends a great deal of time (and often money) attending Christian conferences. They love hearing the speakers, love singing with the bands, love letting the world know who they meet and what they are experiencing via blog/Facebook/Twitter, and love meeting up with other conference Christians.” As Mark is a constant speaker and host of conferences, he is not claiming that conferences are bad or misguided. But like all things taken out of moderation, they are abused by many.
139. (UPDATE: since writing this blog, literally hundreds of people per day have been here. Naomi has been doing some interviews lately, which has upped the public curiosity)
139 times people have come to my blog (specifically my book review of The Scent of Water) this week seeking a certain tidbit of information that, if you found this post via a search engine, you most likely are after. And thanks to Word Press for the nifty statistics tool that tells me these things.
Naomi Zacharias Divorce. Divorce Naomi Zacharias. “Naomi Zacharias” Divorce. Is Naomi Zacharias Divorced? Naomi Zacharias Wedding. Ravi Zacharias Divorce (Huh?).
139 times this week human beings ended up on my blog by searching these terms through Google, Yahoo, etc. I have no idea whether or not these are 139 individual people or if someone particularly obsessed with Naomi’s personal life spends his days Googling her. While this would make my heart sad for that one individual, my heart is made sad with the thought that there were 139 people wondering about the personal life of Naomi.
Last Wednesday we took a little vacation. We went out to Encinitas, grabbed a tasty breakfast at the 101 Diner (which I encourage you all to do at some point…they even serve Organic Coffee! If you’re in to that sort of thing…), then we spent a few hours at the beach.
I love being unemployed. Endless vacation days.
Life was so hectic up to that point. We had been living under the stress of moving for a couple of months. February and March were filled with remember-whens and good-byes, more intensely so the last week we were at Pauma Church. And right after we were buried under our and everyone else’s emotions, we had to enter directly into packing mode. A day at Moonlight Cove was more than a desire: it was a necessity.
The shore was particularly long that day, the waves traveling a good 30 feet up the beach. There were not many cavorting in the frigid water that day as most were enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.
Dear Pauma Valley Church Family,
It is 10 past midnight. My family is at peace and sleeping. I am content, listening to some music I have wanted to catch up on, having just finished reading for a little over an hour a book that has been calling me for far too long. In the midst of our turmoils and strife, we are able to see God’s grace in ways we may not have otherwise seen in the glorious bright lights of a perfect and steady life. Our lives are full of these tensions–I am writing this letter while sitting in the home of Shannon’s generous parents, which is a blessing and a stretch for all of us. And in this we see the lovingkindness and mercy of God. It has been a furious 2 weeks, and we are doing well by His glorious grace.
I wanted to write to you to tell you how much I love you. Having spent the past 2 years in your home, our hearts have been tied to yours in ways both expected and surprising. Random moments of joy and tears have filled our hearts since we left you, with the overwhelming sense of how much you have meant to us, and how much we will miss you. As I have poured into the students and families at PVCC, God has blessed us richly with a huge extended family who we would not have been connected with had this whole experience not taken place. If any of you believe that our 2 years in Pauma were “a wasteland experience” or anything similar, let me take the privileged opportunity to say: you are dead wrong.
God has grown me in ways that I cannot begin to describe in a two page letter. Yes, at times our life here was lonely and yes, at times we were extremely discouraged. But it is in these times that we drew near to Christ, taking comfort in His Spirit, and taking courage not in our works but in the perfect work and righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Over the past 2 years, through all of the teaching, the events, relationships, successes and failures, God has graciously granted me a deeper understanding and appreciation for His perfect work in the Gospel. No price of time or money could ever be enough to make me desire anything else. My only hope is that my ministry to you was used by God to bring about a deeper understanding of the Gospel and therein a deeper hate for sin and not only a deeper but also a richer love for Christ and for each other. If that is left in our wake then our God has succeeded.
We also want to thank you for your unnecessarily and overwhelmingly generous outpouring of love on me and Shannon and my family. As we opened up cards and letters, and as we watched many of you pass through our doors to feed us, help us pack boxes and trucks, and to drive us to Corona, our hearts were stricken to the core. Your love shown through generosity of both time and money not only positively overwhelmed us, but also gave us a greater understanding of what generous giving looks like. I know for a fact that some of you gave cheerfully of what you did not have, and I pray that God richly blesses your generosity. My hope is that this generosity is not given only to us, but it is shared with those in your midst who are in need, and also with those who are far away. Remember what Paul teaches us in Philippians 1:18-30, that our suffering through humble generosity in all arenas of life shines the light of Christ on all who look in. Radical generosity is not natural; Jesus Christ sacrificing Himself by taking Himself out of glory and into our shared misery is the radical generosity that we must model and in turn will bring glory to our Lord in confirmation of the words we speak. It is my hope that your giving continues so that Jesus is given the attention and glory that He deserves.
My brothers and sisters, we are praying for you. We are happy to see that God has seemingly brought along the shepherd you so desperately seek. My prayer for you is that you all unite under the banner of the Gospel, following the lead of the Spirit, bringing many in your community into the hope of Christ. We pray that any differences between any of you are resolved in the love of Christ, forgiving what needs to be forgiven, letting go of grudges that have long worn out their welcome (and were never welcomed in the first place). Let love cover all things; do not let the pride, envy, grudge-holding spirit of the enemy dwell in your midst. If this is not so among you, no pastor in the world can bring a hint of “success” to Pauma.
We covet your prayers over the weekends of March 25-27 and April 1-3. We will be in Harrisburg, PA candidating for a youth pastor position at Living Water Community Church (http://livingwatercc.com). Please pray for wisdom and discernment on all sides as we seek what is best for His Kingdom, and whether or not this fits His desires. If all goes well we may have a job as early as April 10; Shannon is due May 25. As is staggeringly obvious, the timing of this could not be better. And please continue to pray for our little boys (Owen, 3, and Dominic, 2). Pray that the Lord uses this time to shape their hearts for Him in ways we cannot imagine or understand at this time. Transition is tough for their tender hearts and minds; pray the Lord protects them, and that we are wise in how we raise them in these certainly uncertain times.
May God draw you closer to Himself as you seek to love Him with all of your heart, soul and strength. And may you seek to live your life with “to live is Christ, to die is gain” as your mantra. You are here to bring His Gospel to this dark and hopeless world. Be the light that brings others to Christ, no matter the cost of shining.
We love you and hope to see you again soon. But if we never see you again, I look forward to catching up with you in the presence of the Lamb!
Yours sincerely by the precious blood of Christ,
Brandon and Shannon Capuano.
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