BOOK REVIEW: More than just THE TALK, by Jonathan McKee

Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review the book “More Than Just The Talk” by Jonathan McKee.  While Family Christian sent me the book for the purpose of the review, the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

thetalkFor a Christian book, More Than Just the Talk, is pretty raw.  It was not what I was expecting, at all.  At the same time, it was exactly what I needed. I am a mother of three daughters, one of which is sixteen… and has a boyfriend.  A great kid.  Who despite how much we love him, still wonders when we will “trust him” and “trust them” to be alone together.

I say, when they are married.  My husband, he claims never. HA.

This book is so entirely relevant not just to my sixteen year old… but to my twelve year old… and to my eight year old.  All of which are exposed to the sexually charged media of the world we live in.

It’s time to be real, parents, the influence the world has our kids … even from those who sit in our church pews … is a struggle we not only need to fight against, but a fight that has to start sooner.  We can not afford to give up.  This is a real battle, that will not be easy to win.  Some of us won’t.  Thank God for grace.

Recently I was in a discussion regarding 1 Corinthians 7.  In this letter, Paul basically says it is best to be unmarried (to remain fully focused on God and His calling), if you can’t avoid temptation to get married, and if you get married to stay committed to that person for ever.  Pretty straight forward, but we have to understand WHY Paul wrote this letter.  The Church at Corinth, was in the midst of a city full of sexual sin.  The Church at Corinth, was itself spiritually immature.  This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in, in the United States.  We are country, much like Corinth, that is a hub of various cultures and religious beliefs.  With many different views as to what is and isn’t moral, pure, and good.   We are influenced by those around us, because the further we draw away from the New Testament days, the less mature we are as a body of believers.  We no longer have that same fervor that the early Christians… those taught by Christ and his immediate disciples had.  That fervor gets watered down each generation.

Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, could easily be a letter written to every church in the United States.  This is what our youth today face. They face music, television and movies that are sexually charged.  We have phones with apps that can allow us to secretly view materials and participate in conversations, and many parents are blissfully unaware.

And, as author Johnathan McKee points out in the book, we are not alone.  This temptation and these materials are making their way in to the hands, minds and hearts of Mennonite and Amish communities.  It’s flooding in from everywhere, and even the “good kids” are getting exposure to it when they are at a friend’s home.  Even when that friend is another Christian.

Many parents are familiar with giving “The Talk” about sex.    It might be very technical about how the body works, coupled with scripture and religious views.  Some may delve in a bit deeper talking about the consequences (physical and emotional).  Some parents may be stricter teaching abstinence only, where as others will support abstaining coupled with information should the child choose not to.  It is a subject talked about at church, school and also home.  Usually, but not always.  In fact there is still some uncomfortably in talking with our own kids, about such a big topic.

If you are hoping this book is going to make you more comfortable talking to your kids, let me forewarn you…. it won’t.  In fact you are probably going to find yourself a little comfortable reading it, let alone thinking about talking to your kids about it.  However, with that uncomfortably … you will also find yourself feeling a sense of urgency to act.  You are going to realize that you need to do more than just talk about it, but actually take some steps.

Investigate what your kids are reading, what music they are listening to, and watch television shows they are watching.  Understand the way teens are looking at sex, and justifying what is and isn’t ok.  Be honest with yourself about not only what they are being exposed to at school… but what is seeping into the home (what channels are you subscribing to, that show late night content that is pornographic).   Take a moment to really understand that those lyrics you think you kids don’t understand the context, they know more than you think.

When your 8 year old asks you, “Mommy… what is 50 Shades of Grey about?”  …. when you don’t own the books, didn’t watch the movie, and don’t talk about in your home.  That tells you, this stuff is everywhere.  They are seeing it & learning about it, somewhere.  Someone is talking to them.  The radio?  Their teachers?  Their fellow students?

There is a lot of influence and we need to be prepared and proactive with our children.  More Then Just the Talk is not a comfortable read, but a necessary one.   Whether you are a public schooling mom, or a Pastor’s wife…. your kids are exposed, they are in need of real … straight forward … and sometimes explicit truth.

First, More Than Just the Talk, exposes that the content of “the talk” has changed.  We are also given tools on how to talk about it with our kids, with chapters specific to sons and daughters.  Each have their own approach, own needs.  However, I wouldn’t advise skipping one of those chapters.  Even if you only have daughters, you need to read the chapter on sons.  Your daughters will one day have boyfriends, and the sons chapter gives you some perspective, and you may… at some point… find yourself having a conversation with him.  This chapter will be beneficial.  The book also helps us navigate through the tough and uncomfortable questions they will surprise us with.  Because, right now, statistics show us that Google is where they are getting most of their information.

I don’t know about you, but I am not ok with that as their primary source of information.

What I also appreciate about the book, McKee recognizes that some of us will be reading this book after the fact.   There will be some of us that have a child that has had a sexual experience to some degree. Instead of shaming, the book helps us point our kids back onto the path.  We help them to realize that their past mistakes don’t negate a positive future.  New choices can be made, new standards put in place.  They can be forgiven and not defined by who they were at that time.  I also appreciate the book addresses children who have been victimized, where they had no control over the decision to become sexually active.  They are not forgotten, and they too are not defined by their past.  There is hope for all of them, for all of us.

More Than Just the Talk, as uncomfortable as it may make you, needs to be in your arsenal.  Use it, don’t just shelve it.  Read through the difficult parts.  Decided, under prayerful consideration, how and when you will begin these conversations with your kids.  Don’t assume it won’t apply to you, your kids, because of your conservative beliefs.

“More Than The Talk” is a powerful tool, that we can use to shape and redirect the path our children are taking.  It opens our eyes, and calls us to action.

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BOOK REVIEW: PROOF

proof

I find that most books I read fall into one of three categories.  Inspiring, like when I am reading someone’s testimony.  Motivating, the books that get you off your duff and into action.  Challenging, which are the books the make you stop & really think.  The ones where you find yourself re-reading the same chapter a few times because it is SO good, opened your eyes or challenged your preconceived notions about everything.

PROOF is without a doubt a Challenging book.  If I had to guess, I probably earmarked about every third page.  It was that good.  I’ve been reading a lot more lately, as I find myself in a season of life where my kids are more independent.  Recent reads have been lending them to identity, that we are image bearers of God and our identity in Christ comes before our ethnicity, gender, position or passion.  I think it is by no mistake that I would following those books up with PROOF, a book about God’s grace, given to those He has claimed as His own.

About the Authors:  Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

PROOF is a well written book that has substance that is presented in a very easy to read manner.  The authors make cultural reference that my age & a bit younger would relate to.  This makes this a great book for my generation and the next, because it is applicable and current.  You can identify each author by their own writing styles, but they give the reader the courtesy of identifying themselves as they hand off the baton.  They manage a solid balance between personal experiences and biblical truths, sticking to the subject and staying on course from beginning to end.

About the Book:   PROOF:  Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

With a title like that, where can it go wrong!  Without a doubt, this book will stop and make you think…. but you will walk away encouraged and, frankly, happier as you embrace grace gifted to you by God.  The authors have a very concise view on grace, that they spell out throughout the chapters.  PROOF isn’t just a title, it is an acronym for the elements of God given grace.  Scripture has a strong presence to back up their point of view & will challenge readers to examine their own views on what grace is & what it isn’t.

The book also discusses predestination, which for this reader, was a HUGE challenge.  I came into the book with a clear opinion on predestination.  While I can’t say that my opinion has definitively changed, the authors made valid points that are worth my further study.  I would recommend that you not allow your own opinions on predestination to keep you from reading this book.  Whether you agree with them or not, you will find yourself referencing and considering the scriptures as you read through their position.  A book that points you to further study the word…. YES PLEASE!  Like I said, this is a book I would categorize as a challenging.  Carve out some time to read through it carefully, refer to scripture as needed, and get ready to embrace the freedom of grace.

Highlights from the Text:

“Sometimes idols happen to be physical images of created beings, but not always.  Idols are also found in less obvious locations – in the balance of your bank account, in the praises of your peers, in the delusion that you can control your destiny.”    (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“If God waited to give the gift of salvation until one of us made the right response, we would all be damned.  That’s because, left to ourselves, none of us will ever desire what Jesus requires.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“God gives his grace according to his own sovereign design, and his design has never depended on any potential he saw in us.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“Many of us remain completely addicted to a legal method of salvation that tries to barter our best deeds for divine blessing.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

Purchase Information:

BOOK:   PROOF – Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

AUTHORS:   Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones

PUBLISHER:  Zondervan

ISBN: 978-0-310-51389-6