Best known for his lively speaking/teaching style, Charles R. Swindoll brings yet another solid resource of encouragement and positive challenge to Christian men and women. As a prolific author, pastor and on-air radio personality, Swindoll has captivated audiences for many years. In a society where the success rate of Christian marriages is no better than their non-believing counterparts, longevity is not the only marital touch-point worth discussing.
Swindoll skillfully details the societal hazards and trends of the day that undermine the marriage relationship. As is his custom, he manages to turn a dismal set of statistics into a forum for positive, hopeful change. With his homespun wisdom, he lays down the gauntlet for taking back the territory given over to the self-indulgence, self-sufficiency and self-securing tendencies that have deprived individuals, families and society at large of redemptive role models for far too long. According to the author, when the health of the family declines be warned because society as a whole follows.
Swindoll begins his text by offering an insightful look at today's world and how different the challenges are now than when he was young. Having been married to the same woman for over 51 years, the father of four and grandfather to 10 can speak with authority on what it takes to make a relationship work, and stick. He cites four foundational principles for taking back the land in regard to cultivating committed, God-centered, thriving marriage relationships.
First, Wake Up! Complacency is every individual's enemy and the smallest of acts can erode a once firm foundation. Swindoll asserts that when people "trivialize wrong," the slippery slope of "becoming indifferent to it, tolerate it, accept it, and finally embrace it" occurs without many realizing it. Next, Listen Up! Grow knowledgeable by the study of Scripture so that when tough times come, you are able to view life with a realistic, faith-imbued hope. Thirdly, Step Up! Be courageous enough to take on the challenge of living differently. Know the battle lines and be willing to step up to them when need be. Finally, Look Up! Turn to God in good and bad times, assured of His constant care and love. Call upon Him to make the difference between mere survival and the abundance of joyous flourishing.
In sum, Swindoll writes this: "Complacency blinds us to reality, so wake up. Knowledge sets us free, so listen up. Discernment prompts us to act courageously, so step up. God loves us unconditionally, so look up."
Swindoll continues his treatise on regaining lost ground in favor of victorious triumph by lively discussion featuring such topics as: ways to get back on target, developing a "symphony" of survival, sound methodology for practical problems, the essential "glue" necessary for every couple, helpful tips on strengthening families as a whole, discerning danger signs of erosion, and hopeful thoughts on staying youthful through the years. In a word, Swindoll's helpful textual advice is positively infectious. Readers will discover old truths presented in a fresh and celebratory package.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe