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REVIEW: New books offer recipes for faith that lasts


Authors have devoted a lot of time and ink to the trend of young people walking away from the church — and from faith.
Researchers seeking to identify the cause of the exodus point to cultural secularization, a sectarian climate in many American churches, the mixing of religion and politics, the increasing average age for marrying and starting a family and the breakdown of the traditional family. Blame is easily and cheaply administered; solutions are challenging.
How then are parents to go about forming a lasting faith in the hearts of their children?

Jack and Lisa Hibbs. Turnaround at Home: Giving a Stronger Spiritual Legacy Than You Received.Colorado springs, Colo.: David C. Cook, 2013. 119 pages. $14.99.
Three recent books give parents specific ways to do this. In Turnaround at Home: Giving a Stronger Spiritual Legacy Than You Received
Jack and Lisa Hibbs, a minister and his wife, guide Christian parents to reflect on their childhood and be intentional in their spiritual parenting.
Their plan to leave a lasting spiritual legacy involves three steps — “look back, look up and look ahead.”
The authors encourage readers to assess the spiritual legacy their parents left for them, looking for both strengths and weaknesses. Readers are challenged to find forgiveness and healing for emotional and spiritual wounds from their past and asked to give their past over to God. They are then guided through the process of designing the heritage they want to leave to their children in the areas of spiritual, emotional and social development.   
In the book, the authors share stories of individuals with wounded spiritual pasts. This brings a personal element to the process of turning things around and blessing children with a rich spiritual heritage.
In the final chapters, readers find a “toolbox” of suggestions for parent and family activities and faith lessons. Parenting classes could use the material for a hands-on primer on how to form faith in children.

Rich Melheim. Holding Your Family Together: 5 Simple Steps to Help Bring Your Family Closer to God and Each Other.
Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2013. 216 pages. $14.99.
While the Hibbs family’s approach is customizable, Holding Your Family Together: 5 Simple Steps to Help Bring Your Family Closer to God and Each Other
prescribes very specific steps for strengthening the faith of parents and children. 
In his book, Rich Melheim suggests a very practical family ritual that, if engaged, certainly would enrich the spiritual heritage in a family and help point children to the Lord.
He calls his plan FAITH5, which consists of a five-step sharing experience each night at bedtime: share, read, talk, pray and bless.
Melheim encourages parents each night to share highs and lows, read Scripture, talk about how Scripture might apply to highs and lows and then pray for and bless one another.
To some, the plan may seem rather formulaic, claiming to be the “magic pill” that will hold families together. However, it is reasonable to expect that family rituals create rich and pleasant memories for children. An appendix even lays out a 52-week plan for memory verses for children, set to music, and the corresponding website offers more weekly resources for parents. 
Both of these books have to do with how parents intentionally guide children, but just as important is how parents model selfless, reckless love through their marital relationship. This is the kind of love for Christ parents must cultivate in their children.

Shannon Ethridge. The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage.
Nashville, Tenn.: W Publishing Group, 2014. 244 pages, $15.99. 
Shannon Ethridge in her book, The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage
tackles a tough subject that directly relates to the strength of the marriage bond — the sexual relationship between a husband and wife.
She addresses the topic of intimacy in straightforward terms, but from a biblical and spiritual foundation.
The book is organized by questions that have been posed to Ethridge in her practice as a life coach, marriage author and speaker. She encourages married couples to take very seriously the challenge of not only meeting each other’s needs sexually, but also to take it to the next level and keep the excitement, anticipation and enjoyment in sex that God intended for it to have.
One element that makes the book especially endearing is the author’s disclosure of her own sexually wounded past. Ethridge draws from that past to challenge the sexually wounded to face their wounds and seek healing, making her book a must-read for Christians who have this kind of past that hinders the strength of their marriage.
Ethridge also encourages the sexually shy or inhibited spouse to throw off inhibitions and embrace freedom in the act of intimacy in marriage. Incredible intimacy strengthens a marriage, and strong marriages help parents form a united front to pass faith to the next generation.
Christian parents are anxiously looking for ways to combat a secular culture and form a faith in the hearts of their children that will last.
Beginning a new trend will start in the home with mothers and fathers who are dedicated to God, to one another and to the principle of passing faith to the next generation.

TIM TRIPP is the family minister for the Northeast Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio. He and his wife, Lenore, have been married 26 years and strive together to pass on their faith to their three children.

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