Swipe Right @LeviLusko

Sometimes we think we’ve heard it all. We don’t think new information will surprise us or grab our attention. Then, in the introduction of his book Swipe Right, the author writes about the impact of the internet. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard most of the stats. Then he writes that “dating apps such as OkCupid, Grindr and Tinder have poured gasoline onto what was already a hook up culture. Tinder alone has more than a trillion swipes now.”

More than a trillion swipes? I would have never guessed a number like that.

Then more stats: “There are now more than one hundred million people on mobile dating apps; half of those are on Tinder.”

More than one hundred million? Perhaps we don’t know as much as we think we do about the current state of relationships and all the ways that people are connecting. Into that setting Levi Lusko offers his latest book.

In Swipe Right Lusko offers practical, direct and Biblical teaching on the subject of purity and relationships. I appreciate his willingness to speak directly to a subject that people sometimes like to gloss over and speak in vague generalities. It can be uncomfortable to enter into a conversation about sex with someone else, especially if that someone is your child or youth group student, but Lusko offers a great tool to help do exactly that.

Lusko has the ability to connect truths from God’s Word in a way that captures the reader’s attention. Here’s one of my favorites from chapter 5:

“God, too gave us guidelines, but people think he is a prude and a killjoy. It’s ridiculous, really. Do you think Apple is a buzzkill because the instructions tell you not to take your iPhone swimming with you? Are they phone-o-phobic? Of course not! We understand the rules help us get the most our of our phones. Far from proving He is against it, the fact that God tells us how to do sex the right way shows he cares about it.”

If we care that much about our phones and want to take care of them, how much more should we take care of the gift God has given to us?

In his writing Lusko speak to those who don’t think they need these principles in their relationships. He recognizes that there will be some readers who think “this doesn’t apply to me” or “that might be true of other people, but not me.” He writes with both truth and grace recognizing that people won’t always listen the first time. In a culture that continues to move further into an “anything goes” approach to intimacy, Lusko offers enduring truths that individuals and couples can return to when the current approach leaves them empty.

An added bonus of the book is that he added a section at the end called Things I Really, Really Want You to Remember.  In that section he gives a quick rundown of the principles from each chapter.  It’s a great way to refresh your memory and even share that information with a friend.

Swipe Right is a good tool to use for both individual reading and group study.  I think it would be helpful not only for those who have struggled with purity issues in the past, but also a good conversation starter for those who are just moving into the time of dating and relationships.

You can get more information at the Swipe Right Book website.

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10 Politically Incorrect Reasons to Stay Married

Wedding-Ring-FingerI subscribe to Tony Morgan Live and today received an email about his top blog posts from May 2013. One that caught my attention was the post entitled 10 Politically Incorrect Reasons Why We’re Still Married. I just posted about weddings yesterday and really liked what Tony Morgan had to say.

In the post he talks about being married to the same woman for 22 years, so right away he had my attention. I admire couples who have been married for two decades and beyond because you know that not all those years were smooth sailing.

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve listened to other voices and read other blog posts is that I don’t have to agree with everything everyone says in order to gain value from what they share. There is much we can learn from other people and not feel like we have to agree with everything they say. There are some good principles in Tony Morgan’s post that can be of help to those who are already married and those who looking to marriage in the future.

Here are the 10 Reasons he shared in his post:

1. We put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own needs. From what we’ve learned, our basic needs are different from each other. The book His Needs, Her Needs is a great book to begin this conversation.

2. We’ve made our physical appearance a priority. Neither one of us would admit to being “10s” by any stretch of the imagination, but we want to look sexy for each other. We work at it. That includes eating right, exercise, clothes, hair, etc. For example, Emily and I have made a pact — she decides what my hair looks like, and I decide what her hair looks like. Again, we prioritize the needs of our spouse.

3. We’ve embraced traditional roles. I work outside the home, and Emily works inside the home. Does that mean we’re against couples who try to juggle two jobs outside the home? Absolutely not. For Emily, though, she gains significance through being a great wife, mother and home manager. That’s a full-time job. Since she owns that role, it relieves quite a bit of stress that we know other couples have to navigate.

4. We prioritize our marriage over our careers. To do this, we have a tight budget. We spend less than we make. We avoid debt. We do this so we can live on one income. We do this so we can invest in time away like our recent trip to Cancun. We say no to overcommitment in our careers, so we can enjoy regular time together.

5. We prioritize our marriage over our children. We have four beautiful kids, but they will eventually grow up and leave. My relationship and friendship with Emily is more important. Ironically, when we put our marriage relationship first, our kids feel loved and more secure. This is one of the reasons why we are strict about limiting the activities our kids engage outside of school.

6. We didn’t have sex before marriage. We didn’t live together. We dated for six years before we got married. I can assure you, we wanted to have sex before marriage. Again, God forgives. I know all couples can’t begin here, but we did. And, I’m convinced learning that discipline to restrain ourselves before marriage has freed us up to thoroughly enjoy ourselves after marriage.

7. We’ve had lots of sex after marriage. God created us to have sexual desire. Christian couples, in particular, need to get over their inhibitions, talk about sex and continue to discover. Again, the principle of putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your needs holds true here as well. If you want to help your spouse avoid temptations outside of marriage, your sex life needs to stay spicy.

8. We enjoy wine together. (My unchurched friends won’t understand why this is politically incorrect. Trust me. It is with church people.) In other words, we don’t let religious people define how we live our lives including our marriage. We let God’s Word direct our lives. Because of that, who we are publicly is who we are privately. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not. We can be ourselves with each other and with everyone we do life with. There’s a lot of freedom in that.

9. We never meet alone or publicly with a member of the opposite sex. I don’t have meals alone with another woman. I won’t travel alone (even in a car) with another woman. I won’t meet a woman alone in an office without windows or without an open door. (My consulting clients can verify this.) This protects both of us from the temptations we all face. These protections help us avoid mistakes that would reduce the freedoms we have in our marriage. We’re not willing to sacrifice that for a momentary inconvenience.

10. We’re committed to a covenant where divorce is not an option. For Emily and me, that means we need to work at loving each other. We don’t wait for love to happen — we work at it. We need to discipline our lives to avoid mistakes that could end our marriage. We prioritize our faith, because that creates order for the rest of our lives including our marriage. Since we both agreed to fulfill this covenant ‘til death do us part, we have confidence that, even when marriage is difficult, we will persevere.

I know. Some of this sounds really shallow. Some of this sounds impractical. Some of this sounds inappropriate. I hope it challenges your thinking and generates some healthy conversation with your spouse.

Let’s choose integrity. Let’s choose to stay married.

You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader

No TitleThis is my first Mark Sanborn book, but I’ve heard him speak before and know he is a prominent voice in the area of leadership. Even if I didn’t know the author, the title of the book would have been enough of a hook to interest me in reading the book. I like the concept that everyone can lead regardless of the name on the letterhead or your business card. Since leadership is primarily about influence, a title is not required.

In the early pages of the book, Sanborn establishes that as a primary principle: “The bottom line is, influence and inspiration come from the person, not the position.” His encouragement to the reader is that he or she can be leader, even if his or her title doesn’t reflect a leadership position.

Throughout the book, he provides examples from his own experience and the experience of others to demonstrate how influence and inspiration can come from all different levels. He refers to people who are teachers, bellhops in a hotel, insurance customer service agents and waitresses to give evidence of leadership.

One of his principles I highlighted was this: “Leadership is intimately linked to service.” Whether someone sits at the top, in the middle or at the bottom of an organization, he/she can still be a leader as he/she serves.

A critique I have of this book is that at times it seem a little disjointed. I felt like he jumped from topic to topic within a chapter. While the content was good, I didn’t always feel like it connected within the chapter.

I really like the principles Sanborn lays forth regarding leadership and it would be a good read for anyone who seeks to be a person of influence.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)

The Traveler’s Gift

Several months ago, I read Andy Andrews’ book The Final Summitwhich is a follow-up to The Traveler’s Gift.  I enjoyed reading The Final Summit and had great intentions of reading The Traveler’s Gift, but just had not taken the time to do it.  My daughter recently read it and just went on and on about how much she liked it.  Knowing she had a copy of the book made it easy for me to finally read through it myself.  I’m glad I finally did.

The Traveler’s Gift tells the story of David Ponder and a crisis he comes to in his life.  As he struggles to find answers to his problems, he is given the opportunity to meet several historical figures and learn various principles from them.

***For those who may be reading this and haven’t read the book, I don’t want to give away much of what happens in the book, including the individuals that Ponder meets and the principles these people share.  It is worth reading on your own without knowing what is coming.***

I will say that The Traveler’s Gift very quickly draws the reader into the story.  It is roughly 200 pages long and I completed it in a 48 hour period. Once you start reading, you want to see what happens in the coming chapters.

The principles shared in the book are excellent.  One of the things I enjoyed about it was hearing my daughter’s reaction to some of the things in the book and how it applies to her life as a high school student.  I could make application to my life as well . . . as a person a few years (or so) removed from high school.

It would be worth your time to read The Traveler’s Gift.

Take the Lid Off Your Church – review

In this brief, easy to read eBook, Tony Morgan provides leadership principles and guidelines written specifically for the church. I read the entire book in under an hour, so it is easy to sit down and digest while providing good insights you can return to for reference and reminder.

I’ve been involved in the local church for a couple of decades and recognize how important leadership is to the church. Morgan’s direction to churches, no matter the size, is clear and understandable.  He takes into account some church’s leadership teams may be mostly volunteer led while larger churches and organizations may pay their senior leadership team.

I especially appreciated his focus on modeling team-based ministry in the senior leadership team and the importance of communication with staff and volunteers.

This is worthwhile resource for church leaders and you can’t beat the $3 price tag.  Click here to purchase this eBook.

Onward

I just finished reading Onward that my wife picked up several months ago at a leadership simulcast she attended with her church staff.  Howard Schultz was originally slated to be one of the speakers, but backed out due to pressure from an on-line grassroots movement.

Whether you agree with Schultz or the decisions Starbucks as a company makes – or even if you are not a fan of coffee – Onward is primarily a book about leadership.  While there are no perfect leaders and there are no perfect companies, Onward tells the story of Starbucks fight to return to its principles and regain its financial standing in difficult economic times.

Starbucks coffee is a favorite of mine and receiving a Starbucks gift card makes for a good day!  But as I read the book, there was much about the story of Starbucks I did not know.  The introduction of Pike Place Roast to provide a consistent, daily brew to offer customers alongside the variety of roasts Starbucks serves.  The Starbuck Rewards card designed to build customer loyalty.  The idea for, development of and unveiling of VIA – Starbucks brand of instant coffee.  It was also interesting to read of some of the past failures as Starbucks sought to build a healthy business.

Through the pages of the book Schultz shares his commitment to Starbucks as a company and the principles on which the company was built.  As Starbucks grew and opened more and more stores, there was a drifting from those core principles.  One of the first tough decisions Schultz has to make was to return as ceo (titles at Starbucks are purposely in lower case), which meant letting go of the current ceo.  The subsequent chapters detail the tough decisions that were made to bring Starbuck back to not only solid financial standing, but also back to what the company was all about as it began.

Onward is not just a book about coffee (although Schultz loves coffee), it is about love for a company and a leader who wanted to stay true to what that company was all about.

The Final Summit review

Prior to receiving my copy of The Final Summit I had not had opportunity to read any of Andy Andrews’ works.  I heard him speak (via video) several years ago and heard that The Traveler’s Gift was a good read, but I never moved past the intention to read it.  Although I didn’t have the benefit of reading his previous works, Andrews’ offering drew me in from the opening pages.  Even though I hadn’t “met” David Ponder before, it wasn’t long before I felt like I knew him and had some familiarity with his story.

As I began to understand what a Traveler was and David’s story, I was so impressed by Andrews use of characters from history and they really seemed to come to life.  I don’t want to take away from a person who has yet to read this book, but I found myself trying to guess who each historical person was as the description of the Traveler was given as he or she made an appearance in the story.

In a previous writing, David Ponder learned The Seven Decisions which he put into practice in building his company and life.  In The Final Summit David is called upon to lead his fellow Travelers to discover the one principle that will save humanity.  Andrews uses a variety of historical figures who share their stories and experiences to help uncover this important principle.

While the story itself is inspiring, Andrews use of history is educational and enlightening.  I became familiar with historical characters I knew some information about and was introduced to people I knew little to nothing about in regard to their story.  In the epilogue, Andrews provides information that brings some clarification to what he shared in the previous chapters.

The Final Summit was an engaging read and has moved me to want to read Andrews other books.  If you haven’t had a chance to read The Final Summit, it would be well worth your time.

(The publisher provided with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze®)