I wrote Dating with Discernment for three big reasons.
First, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, married couples now make up less than half of American households. Less than half. Something in our intimate relationships is going very wrong, and has been going very wrong, for a long while.
As American marriages crumble, everyone suffers. Even the Christian Church folk, who might like to think that they are above all that, are participants. I want to help. My experience as a pastor, and a friend, has taught me that the seeds of a marriage’s disintegration or dynamism are often planted at its very beginning.
I’ve watched many people get married and go on to bliss or bitterness, or something in between. And I have seen what makes the difference between later glee or gall as romance springs up. So this book focuses on that start of a relationship, when people are dating and deciding about marriage.
Check out the bottom of this post to get a free book!
The second reason why I wrote Dating with Discernment is that the median age of getting married rose by over seven years in the past four decades. In other words, most people feel unready to marry until nearly three-quarters of a decade later than before. Seven Years. Many have a deep feeling of not being ready.
In 1923, J. Gresham Machen, then a professor at Princeton Seminary, wrote his classic text, Christianity and Liberalism. The book was a response to the rise of liberalism in the mainline denominations of his own day. Machen argued that the liberal understanding of Christianity was, in fact, not just a variant version of the faith, nor did it represent simply a different denominational perspective, but was an entirely different religion. Put simply, liberal Christianity is not Christianity.
What is remarkable about Machen’s book is how prescient it was. His description of liberal Christianity—a moralistic, therapeutic version of the faith that values questions over answers and being “good” over being “right”—is still around today in basically the same form. For this reason alone the book should be required reading, certainly for all seminary students, pastors, and Christian leaders.
Although its modern advocates present liberal Christianity as something new and revolutionary, it is nothing of the sort. It may have new names (e. g., “emerging” or “progressive “Christianity), but it is simply a rehash of the same well-worn system that has been around for generations.
Hi. We’ve not met. I know almost nothing about you. I don’t know your name or your age or even your gender. I don’t know how you like your tea or if you even like tea. (I hear that some people don’t?) I certainly don’t know what you believe about the bigger questions of life. But there is something I know about you.
You believe in purpose.
I mean, you’re reading this, right? And you’re doing it for one purpose or another. The same would be true if you’d chosen to watch a movie. Or put some bread in the toaster. Or brush your teeth. Nobody brushes their teeth for no purpose. That would be weird. Why not finish up by brushing your knees? No. We don’t do stuff at random. We do it on purpose.
This morning I got out of bed, not aimlessly, but because I had things to do. I ate some breakfast, not arbitrarily, but so that I’d have energy for the day. I chose this coffee shop because I like the coffee here, better than the one next door. I ordered a flat white because it tastes better than the cappuccino. I’m now writing this sentence, like everything else today, for a particular reason—to show that whatever we do, we do it purposefully.
We are excited to highlight for you a new series of Bible studies for women: the Sophron Studies (pronounced So-frone). We know they will inspire you to go deep with God and his word. The first volume is Galatians: Redeeming Grace and the Cross of Christ. We asked the authors, Melissa McPhail and Lisa Menchinger, to tell us about themselves, along with what they hope to accomplish with their study.If parts of this interview sound strangely quaint, it was in fact conducted pre-covid.
How did you come to know and love Jesus Christ? Who or what was instrumental in your own discovery of God’s redeeming grace at the cross?
Melissa: While going to church at our Marine Corps base chapel as a newlywed, a marine’s wife confronted me about my testimony. It made me stop and think and worry that maybe I was not saved. Shortly after, I heard the gospel and was converted.
Lisa: I came to know and love Jesus Christ as Lord through a difficult marriage and divorce. During the divorce, the Lord called me to himself. The Lord used preaching on the radio to woo and pursue me and give me a hunger for more, along with observing my parents’ changed lives, who had recently come to faith.
What does a typical day in your life look like? What does an ideal day look like for you?
Christians typically don’t read as much fiction as non-Christians do. This could be because much of secular fiction has content offensive to the Christian conscience, or because there is a dearth of quality Christian fiction to read. But I’d like to suggest a third possible reason.
I think Christians would like to read more fiction, but who has the time? After work, family, church, extracurriculars with the kids, upkeep at home, Christian service, continuing education, and everything else we cram onto our calendars, there is precious little time left for reading. Even among people who want to read, non-fiction becomes the default priority in an effort to make the most of our time, as Ephesians 5:16 says.
Ironically, the problem is actually compounded by the publishing industry itself! Traditional publishing practices don’t help matters when fiction offerings are as prohibitively long as they often tend to be. In the traditional model, in order to make money the economics work a typical novel has to clock in at 70,000+ words. I won’t take the time here to go into the technicalities, but anything short of that and the price points don’t work out well.
I think a lot of Christians look at the sheer size of most novels and think, You’re kidding me, right?
“Buy it,” is the easy and obvious answer, but I’m hoping for more than that. I’m hoping you will allow it to motivate you to be more involved in foreign missions, either by direct participation, financial support, or prayer. And I hope that you’ll give it to a young person (or more than one) for those same purposes.
I believe the book—just released today—will thrill and entertain everyone who reads it, at least, but I am praying especially that God will use the book to make missionaries out of teenagers.
The Good and the Bad
I’ve spent the last twelve years working in youth ministries of one sort or another, and I’ve heard a lot of negative talk about today’s young people. Unfortunately, some of it is true. I could tell you stories all day that would fit the preconceived opinion a lot of adults have about “kids these days.”
I can also tell you positive stories that will knock your socks off. I can tell you about kids who love their Lord more than popularity. Teens who read their Bible every day put most grownups to shame in the devotion department. I can tell you about the piety and spiritual fervency of today’s American Christian youth.
Today we are excited to announce the simultaneous release of our first three fiction titles. It so happens that these are all “speculative fiction”—like the novels of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle—although future titles will include missionary stories, historical fiction, and more.
Please download a sampler with a lengthy excerpt from each book.
In two of the books we release today, characters travel to different worlds and times, and the other is a reality-rending ghost story by Charles Dickens—which is notA Christmas Carol but may be even better than that beloved tale.
SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER: Use coupon code FICTIONOFFER1 to get 30% off any or all of these three paperbacks.
A Forgotten Classic
Our first book is an edition of Charles Dickens’ Haunted Man, originally published in 1848. This version has been abridged significantly to make it more enjoyable for modern readers, while retaining every essential element of the story. It also includes an introduction with character descriptions and other helpful information, and a thought-provoking Afterword discussing some of the spiritual issues that are addressed in the book.
– We’re trying our hand at publishing fiction! – The first novellas are coming soon… – And we’re seeking more fiction manuscripts! Got one?
Here’s something we’ve been eager to announce for almost a year. At Cruciform Press, we’re finalizing our preparations to follow our Savior into the realm of creative storytelling!
Jesus Christ was the most skilled and effective communicator of truth who ever lived, and more than a third of his teaching in the gospels is in the form of parables—fictional stories designed to illuminate and illustrate the truth he taught. The prophet Nathan brought King David to repentance with a metaphorical story about ungodly greed and unjust murder, and other prophets and apostles were given visions by God that used fictional elements in the service of truth. Professing Christians like Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe literally changed the world through their stories, and C. S. Lewis described his Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy as a way of “seeing the truth sideways.”
When we see Satan, God’s enemy and ours, using fiction throughout human history to powerfully advance his nefarious schemes, let’s remember that all he is doing is perverting a divinely ordained technique—one that God intends to belong first and foremost to his church. So at Cruciform Press, we are excited about the opportunity to help “reverse the curse” in this regard by using the God-given instrument of fiction for good purposes instead of evil.
Today we are excited to announce Cruciform Quick, a line of booklets in the range of 40 to 60 pages each. We’re launching the series with three titles from Tim Challies, and we look forward to other authors publishing in this line as well.
We all know the feeling: every week, every month, every year it just seems that life keeps moving faster and faster. So at Cruciform Press we are taking our trademark length—books of about 100 pages—and adding a set of resources that will make for an even quicker read.
The Challies booklets seen above each started life as a popular series of posts on Tim’s blog, articles he then adapted for this format. And while Tim plans to release additional Cruciform Quick titles, there is plenty of room for others to publish in this new format.