Book Review: Mingling of Souls

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I have had the privilege of learning from Matt Chandler in a variety of formats over the years…conferences, podcasts, books such as Explicit Gospel, and other venues.  I appreciate Matt’s influence in shaping a lot of the conversations in the local church particularly in his role as Pastor of the Village Church and President of the Acts 29 Network.

I was out of town for some classes last week and picked up a copy of The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler that I’ve heard so much about.  I’d recommend this text to single people, married people, people who know married people or single people, and especially people who love the Lord and desire to honor Him with their lives.  It’s a quick read that is drenched with Scripture.  Chandler’s humor comes through in several spots, particularly as he is very open about some choices that he wishes he had approached differently.  His willingness to bring those difficult things to light engage the reader and cause them to want to dive deeper into the grace and mercy available to those who follow Christ.

When I read, I like to highlight things that stand out to me that I’d like to remember.  I typically read the traditional way with a paperback and a highlighter.  Then I type those notes into Evernote and then paste them here.  Anything listed below comes straight from the book…

  • Although there appears to be a deep desire to approach dating, marriage, and sex in a way that pleases God, there nevertheless seems to be a profound lack of wisdom and practical know-how.  There is a sizable gap between our understanding of the gospel and our knowledge of the Scriptures on one hand and our application of that knowledge on the other.  p. 11
  • Every good gift God gives us, in fact, becomes an idol when we pursue it for its own sake and for our ultimate pleasure and glory.  p. 16
  • Relationships, sex, and intimacy are God’s ideas, and even though our selfish rebellion fractured God’s good design, God reconciled everything back to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. p. 17
  • The fact that we all tend to have different tastes when it comes to physical attraction proves how creative and versatile our Creator’s artistry truly is.  And the fact that we all tend to find somebody physically attractive proves how brilliantly our Creator has embedded in us the very appreciation of beauty (which is to say, more deeply, the appreciation of glory, of which his own is the pinnacle).  p. 25
  • “Character was like a tree, and reputation like its shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree was the real thing.”  Abraham Lincoln, p. 35 from  Lincoln’s Own Stories by Anthony Gross, p. 109
  • Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”  Reputation is the shadow of a person’s character.  If a person’s reputation is poor, more than likely so is his character.  p. 35
  • Each of us, deep down in our hearts, has an antiauthoritarian streak a mile wide.  And the idea of submission makes us nervous, fearful, stubborn, and even angry. p. 37
  • “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” Helen Keller p. 43
  • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 p. 43
  • Believers pursuing romantic relationships perhaps more now that ever need to remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” p. 52
  • “The way of a food is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 p. 57
  • As in the gospel, in marriage we also may also begin to see that the grace that attracts us will sustain us.  In God’s covenant with his people, he doesn’t just initiate the covenant in grace; he also enables our ability to respond rightly to the covenant he’s initiated. p. 105
  • “Pleasures are the shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility…Make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.”  C.S. Lewis, p. 133 from The Screwtape Letters, p. 102
  • Lewis was speaking of the Christian’s need to follow every earthly pleasure back to its source in the God who is the giver of every good thing (James 1:17), that he might get the glory. p. 133
  • When we learn to respond to each other rather than react, we will move much more quickly in our conflict toward resolution and reconciliation.  Reactions only stoke the fires of conflict; responses, particularly godly ones, help us snuff out the conflict. p. 152
  • The ten “nevers” of communication, especially as it pertains to conflict (from Tommy Nelson, The Book of Romance: What Solomon Says about Love, Sex, and Intimacy, 135-138)
    • Never respond to your mate rashly
      • Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
    • Never touch your mate out of temper or frustration, ever.
    • Never seek to shame your spouse in public (or in private for that matter)
    • Never fight in front of your kids (or use them as leverage in a disagreement)
    • Never mention your spouse’s parents or any other family member
    • Never dig up the past; try to stay on topic
      • 1 Corinthians 13:5 “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
    • Never try to win
      • You can express your feelings and thoughts, even share criticisms and complaints, but the end goal of marital conflict should be care for your spouse’s soul, not trying to rack up the most points.  Seeking to win is not love.
    • Never yell, use put-downs, or verbally defame your spouse
      • The right thing to do in conflict is not “what comes naturally” but what God would have us do according to his Word.  The right thing to do is to put aside the “natural” man and put on the Spirit
    • Never withhold intimacy or use sex to manipulate
    • Never put off seeking resolution p. 167
  • Love listens, and here are seven ways how:
    • Show that you are listening with your nonverbal
    • Don’t use logic to overpower feelings
    • Don’t debate
    • Don’t interrupt
    • Don’t leave prematurely
    • Don’t speak negatively or complain about your spouse to your friends
    • Avoid uninviting or distant body language p. 171
  • Walking according to the Spirit, though, we can learn to love each other well, take responsibility for our sins, and forgive as we’ve been forgiven.  We learn to serve and sacrifice and submit in such a way that marriage becomes the real, deep, lasting joy it is meant to be as it glorifies Jesus Christ. p. 175
  • Husbands and wives, one of the gifts that God has given to us in marriage is this treasure hunt of finding things in our spouses that nobody else can (or should).  What a gift to be given by God, to spend decades with someone, Lord willing, in a safe covenant relationships, where you can know these intricate intimacies that no one else gets to see.  p. 181
  • You have the opportunity to see things that no one else does.  So pay attention, study your spouse, learn him or her, and then you can turn around and use the things you’ve learned to demonstrate your love. p. 181
  • Pay attention to the things that wound or heal your husband, and intentionally speak words that do the latter.  Become a student of his likes and interests.  Become an expert on his strengths, not simply a notice of his weaknesses. p. 185
  • Questions to regularly consider with your spouse:
    • What am I doing well?
    • What do I need to get better at?
    • How can I help you?
  • If you ask your spouse these questions, you have to ask with a listening heart and patient spirit.  You can’t ask with a ready defense waiting.  If you’re truly interested in increasing the fire in your marriage, you have to body ask for your spouse’s appraisal and carefully consider it, holding fast to what is true (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21). p. 187
    • How can our marriage get stronger?
    • How can I love you and serve you more effectively?
    • What is it that makes you feel loved, valued, and desired?
  • Then with great discipline, seek to win, woo, nurture, serve, and make much of your spouse.  He or she is God’s gift to you, and you waste the gift of marriage if you don’t actively tend to it.  Don’t give up on the fire. p. 189
  • I want my life to speak a humility that says, “Christ is the ultimate treasure.  Christ is the one who should be exalted.  Christ should be the one you applaud and love.  And I did nothing but what he asked of me.” p. 197
  • Continue to pursue your spouse’s heart.  Continue to press the gospel into his or her spirit.  Continue to want more. p. 199
  • Ahava is faithful to the end because Christians are a people who lean into the covenant of grace.  We’re people who says, “No, I won’t bail.  I’ve given myself for better or for worse to this person.” p. 203
  • There is no experience of joy or loss that has not been redeemed by Christ and now is used by the Holy Spirit of God to minister to others.  What tends to dominate people in their failures is a feeling of inadequacy, as those the loss can’t be redeemed.  That’s wrong thinking.  Every failure in you life, every shortcoming, every stumble, every bloody knee, every broken nose is redeemed by Christ and used by the Holy Spirit to help shape, mold, and serve what’s behind you. p. 208
  • We needed people further along to help us get further along. p. 211
  • Do you find your gladness ultimately in Christ?  Only in him is ultimate gladness found.  p. 213
  • Marriage, properly understood, is an understanding of the grace of God made manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We see this gospel mystery gleaming in the beams of old covenant light in the Song of Solomon.  I pray that you’ve had the eyes to see them. p. 215

 

 

 

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