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Reviews & Resources





Resources to help pastors give marriage and family counseling, Linda Mintle helps believers avoid divorce, Release highlights Kirk Franklin's 'rebirth,' City on a Hill sequel offers community-driven worship
BOOKS

Resources for Marriage And Family Counseling

Intimacy
By Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.
Siloam Press
345 pages, hardcover, $21.99
Reviewed by Adrienne S. Gaines

For couples needing a little help adding passion to their marriages, Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., may have just the cure. A licensed professional counselor and executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo., Weiss offers practical, biblical advice for renewing that spark between couples in his book Intimacy.

Weiss encourages couples to strive for "three-dimensional sex," which involves regular spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy. Couples should pray together regularly, nurture one another with affirming words and set up a consistent schedule for sex, he writes.

Weiss goes on to discuss the roadblocks to experiencing God's best for sex, which may include past traumatic experiences or wounding that occurred within the marriage. He offers exercises to help readers cleanse their "temples," releasing pent-up anger and forgiving those who offended them.

Relationships also often suffer from "plaque" resulting when couples don't acknowledge when they have sinned against each other. The couple's money-management structure and sexual histories also may prove to have a negative impact on their intimacy. Weiss shows readers how to confront sexual addictions, overcome sexual abuse or stop patterns of "sexual anorexia," in which someone withholds spiritual, emotional or physical intimacy from his or her spouse.

To promote intimacy, Weiss challenges couples to complete three daily exercises: pray together, discuss feelings about the day, and praise and nurture each other. Throughout, Weiss gives tons of real-life examples and practical action steps couples can take to improve the areas he addresses--whether how to communicate feelings, who should initiate sexual activity or how to set regular dates with one's spouse.

Pastors will find Intimacy helpful in counseling couples who say the passion has died in their marriages. With a 100-day log to help couples monitor their progress, the book can serve as an excellent workbook for at-home use. Married for 15 years, Weiss takes his own advice, which he believes was given to him by God. He says he and his wife experience the deepest intimacy they've ever known. He believes other couples can have the same opportunity if they're willing to commit to his 100-day action plan.

Can Stepfamilies Be Done Right?
By Joann and Seth Webster
Charisma House
211 pages, paperback, $13.99
Reviewed by Adrienne S. Gaines

No matter how optimistic a stepparent may be, blending two families isn't easy. Just ask Joann Webster and her stepson Seth, who together share their experiences creating one family out of two in their book, Can Stepfamilies Be Done Right? Drawing from the lessons they learned through numerous counseling sessions and simple trial and error, Joann and Seth candidly tell of the family's ups and downs--from the meaningful conversations the two shared to the turbulent years when Seth and his brother, Josh, were involved in drugs and criminal activity.

Joann Webster quotes various experts, but is not a family counselor herself and does not write from an expert's perspective. Yet it is clear that experience has given her much to offer. Switching from Joann's point of view to Seth's, the book gives readers a balanced view of both the parent's and child's perspective in a blended family situation. Seth and Josh were abused in their mother's home, creating dynamics that may not exist in all blended families. Yet readers will gain valuable insights as Joann explains the importance of merging values and building unity, while Seth relates why he kept his feelings to himself and later rebelled.

This book may be a helpful resource for blended families, as they see what worked and what failed in the Websters' situation. Though it doesn't offer definitive answers, the book takes readers on a journey through one family's circumstances that offers tons of lessons and insights.

Divorce Proofing Your Marriage
By Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D.
Siloam Press
236 pages, paperback, $13.99
Reviewed by Adrienne S. Gaines

Relationships are hard work; there's no denying that. But clinical psychologist Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D., believes too many couples divorce over fixable problems. In her book Divorce Proofing Your Marriage Mintle offers sound, biblical advice to help make marriages last a lifetime.

Subtitled 10 Lies That Lead to Divorce, 10 Truths That Prevent It, Mintle's book pulls no punches. She challenges couples to see marriage as a covenant, not a contract that can be broken when one partner perceives his or her needs aren't being met. Within a few pages, it becomes clear that Mintle sees few circumstances that merit divorce, save dangerous and abusive situations. She writes that marriages can even survive adultery, though trust must be restored.

Drawing from real-life examples, Mintle walks readers through the process to repairing broken relationships. She dismantles each scenario--the stay-at-home mom who won't clean the house, the couple who says they have nothing in common, the intrusive in-laws--and reveals root issues, such as misplaced priorities or a lack of self-discipline.

Whether couples are experiencing marital challenges or not, this book is an excellent resource to safeguard relationships against common threats. Pastors can draw tons of sermon illustrations from the examples Mintle gives. Or they can use the resource as a tool in both marriage and premarital counseling sessions. Smart and sophisticated, Divorce Proofing Your Marriage is filled with practical wisdom from a writer who is experienced and spiritually discerning. It would make an excellent addition to anyone's library.

Better Sex for You
By Dr. Helen Pensanti
Siloam Press
220 pages, paperback, $14.99
Reviewed by Adrienne S. Gaines

Sex isn't something people often talk about in church. But Dr. Helen Pensanti, host of Doctor to Doctor on Trinity Broadcasting Network, says thousands of people from all over the world consistently ask her how they can improve their sex drives. Her answer is outlined in her book, Better Sex for You, which touches on both physical and emotional factors contributing to decreased sex drives.

She believes great sex is within any couple's grasp, but they need a correct understanding of how their bodies work. Pensanti discusses what arouses men and women, including medical and nonmedical conditions that may hinder arousal. She writes about the unique pleasure areas in men and women. For example, men who have thicker skin than women--enjoy deep, strong caresses, particularly on the muscles of their arms, shoulders and calves, she writes. Women on the other hand enjoy gentle touches and nonsexual kisses, she says.

Staying true to her field, Pensanti also speaks of hormonal changes in men and women, particularly at midlife, that impact their libido. She also advises about hormone supplementation and recommends various natural "sex boosters."

Better Sex for You is straightforward in its approach to remedying decreased sex drives. Pastors may find it useful for couples whose intimacy troubles may be as much physical as psychological.

MUSIC

From Musician To Minister

The Rebirth Of Kirk Franklin
By Kirk Franklin, GospoCentric Records
Reviewed by Andrea R. Williams

Erase any previous perceptions you had of Kirk Franklin. With his latest release, Franklin has reinvented himself, putting more emphasis on ministry. In a word, The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin is awesome, and thousands of others agree. In its first week, the release hit No. 4 on Billboard's Top 200 list.

Although tinged with the urban styling that marked previous Franklin releases, this CD is a collage of beautifully written songs from the heart of someone in love with God. From the opening praise jam "Hosanna" to the hard rock, rap-driven "Throw Yo Hands Up," listeners will find evidence of a changed man. One of the many highlights on this project is "Don't Cry," a beautiful, melodic song featuring piano work from virtuoso Richard Smallwood.

The release is filled with a host of "guests," including Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor Shirley Caesar, the late Willie Neal Johnson, Papa San and dc Talk's TobyMac on a hidden bonus track. Donnie McClurkin, Crystal Lewis and Jaci Velasquez lend their voices to "The Blood," a song about racial unity in the body of Christ. A reprise features Yolanda Adams and Alvin Slaughter.

Franklin glides smoothly from the traditional "Caught Up" to the urban-sounding, inspirational "Brighter Day" and the Latin-flavored "He Reigns (The Medley)" to the worshipful sounds of "My Life, My Love, My All" and "Always." Churches that incorporate an urban contemporary worship style may find several cuts appropriate for congregational singing, particularly "He Reigns" and "Hosanna."

Although The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin is unmatched musically, it's the message that will leave listeners breathless and seeking a closer walk with the Savior.

City on a Hill: Sing Alleluia
By Various Artists, Essential Records
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg

With more than 300,000 copies sold, City on a Hill--Songs of Worship and Praise deserves an encore, and it has arrived in the form of a follow-up album, City on a Hill: Sing Alleluia.

In step with the original idea, the new album mixes and matches prominent Christian musicians with original worship songs and traditional church hymns. Returning contributors include Jars of Clay, Third Day, Caedmon's Call, FFH and The Choir, while newcomers include Jennifer Knapp, Nichole Nordeman, Bebo Norman, Fernando Ortega and Phil Keaggy.

In this community-driven album, producer Steve Hindalong is able to highlight and blend individual artists' talents to create a diverse but powerful recording. For example, the title song, "Sing Alleluia," is a beauty with Jennifer Knapp and Mac Powell fusing their vocal talents. This is an outstanding album for anyone who loves good worship music.

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