Posts made in January, 2014

Review: Dating Like Airplanes

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Reviews & Recommendations

Dear Readers, please note, I received this book free of charge from Caleb Breakey in exchange for this review. Also, Caleb is one of the few authors who actually signs his review copies personally, which makes them a real treat to receive. 

In August 2013, author Caleb Breakey contacted me regarding his first book, Called to Stay, an excellent work about millennials and the church. I kind of loved it. Caleb was able to voice the concerns of the up-and-coming generation of church leadership and then calm that voice with exhortations to love. Acknowledging the great irony that millennials judge their elders for being judgmental, Caleb was able to find a wonderful balance between critique and compassion. I truly loved that book.

Caleb continued his writing career earlier this month with his sophomore outing, Dating Like Airplanes. The book covers dating from a Christ-centered perspective that calls its readers to engage in a new form of ever-mindful, constantly-vigilant romance. If the current keyword of evangelical leaders is “radical”, Caleb Breakey’s latest work fits the bill.

The book shows Caleb’s adept read on human nature and cultural narratives. Whereas Called was a rallying cry to the disenchanted, Dating is a wake-up call to those enchanted by romanticism (shattering one particular myth on p158). The title of the work comments on the old adage of “falling in love” and that mindset’s implied lack of control. Caleb encourages his readers to “fly” rather than fall–to soar in healthy relationships that not only avoid being ruled by emotion and passion but also require focus and intentionality. His core themes include: Selflessness, Vulnerability, and Transcendence–a good list, to be sure (p42-43). His intentions are clear: for Christian couples to engage in relationships resulting in giving, god-honoring marriage or, at the very least, break-ups without the baggage of resentment, regret, and bitterness.

Of course, this us no easy task (nothing of value is). No, Caleb unapologetically asks his readers to step into a new approach to dating that is difficult. His exhortations are strongly communicated and very applicable, providing those who will undertake the challenge with a good roadmap.

However, I had a few misgivings with some of the stops on the trail, and I think that the book will be best digested in youth groups or book clubs rather than with individual readers. Some of these ideas need to be discussed. For example, in making a case for why believers should not marry unbelievers, Caleb asserts, “marriages are not the place for character reform” (p52), implying that one should not enter into a relationship to evangelize or change a person. I agree with the content but strongly disagree with this language, for my marriage has been nothing but a constant process of character reform (and I believe all good marriages are, for both parties, regardless of religious dynamics). Additionally, the book contains inserts after each chapter featuring comments by people “flying”, and I just did not value such testimonials. Not unlike the narrative asides I critiqued in Real Men Don’t Text, such interludes both interrupt the flow of the writing and also add little to the overall content–these comments would have been much better served as appendices at the book’s end.

Dating Like Airplanes is full of thought-provoking content, and a young person (toward whom the book seems to be intended) will need some help navigating not only some of the concepts but the deeper things beneath them. Regardless of my personal cautions with some of his ideas, Caleb has good amount of great things to say, and he says them well (such as affirming Jesus at the center [p58] and providing a visual picture of a relationship’s anatomy [p61]). I didn’t love Dating Like Airplanes, but I liked it well enough to recommend it for small groups or book clubs with a facilitator to help engage and digest its worthwhile material.

Portions found on pp. 83, 98-99, and 127-145 are especially good, and Caleb’s blanket accusation of each of his readers, that each individual is the greatest threat to his/her romantic relationship (p69, p80), is a powerful and bold move for a writer to make in this type of work. It’s a gutsy and well-taken assertion, tempered with a noble confession on the following page. But, again, I think some readers better understand his point after receiving further guidance and feedback.

You can get Dating Like Airplanes at Amazon.

 

 

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From Ruin to Recovery, and the Ministry Beyond…

Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Writer's Diary

I was struck with a very encouraging realization recently.

My prayers have been answered. Literally.

For those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that I followed the Lord’s leading in December 2010 to do two things: First, return to my home state of Delaware; second, write a novel. The process of doing these two things I have not shared in full on the blog as of yet, and I am unsure I ever will. To make a long story short, I did the first in August of 2012 and completed the second in May 2013. Since that time I have felt like my life was in a holding pattern while waiting to make my next move.

I went through days of thinking the Lord would reveal some next new path, and I prayed for that. Some hours I prayed for his nearness and encouragement in the face of pressures and stressors that were taxing my mind in both waking life and dreams. Of course, other days I simply wanted to make it through my 9-5 without damaging my testimony with gossip, malcontent, or vitriol (I will admit that I have failed here more than I would have liked).

Even now, as I type this, I find myself wondering what is next to come. I have felt consistently that 2014 will be a major year for my wife and me–in what ways, I do not know, but I am certain that this year will be significant.

In one way, really, it already has been, for I am in the midst of online training to lead a small group for a recovery ministry. I have to pour through a great deal of curriculum before I begin to interface with others, but the content is excellent, and the program directors with whom I’m working are encouraging. But it was not until earlier this week (during a discussion with my wife), that I realized something: this blog, my writing, and that novel I felt led to complete have already resulted in some level ministry, and now, with this new role I will undertake, more is coming.

I prayed for such an opportunity for a long time. Years.

YEARS.

Is this new function what I expected? Not at all. Do I believe it is the culmination of Stronghold’s reach? Not remotely. In fact, I believe this is just my putting a foot through the threshold of a new phase of life, and I am wildly enthusiastic about following it. The Lord has answered my prayers. My hope is to live worthy of the call. By his grace and to his glory, I will. Through the fellowship of believers,  through encouraging community, and through the power of one greater than myself, the Lord will be honored.

And that, my friends, is worth the wait.
 
 
 

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Nostalgia Rules! A Lego Story

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in RandoMusings

In light of the blizzard that has struck the northeast, I am re-printing this story (slightly edited) from my old “Stunk’s Stage” blog (as briefly explored here). This is a great, innocent tale, and I never tire of telling it or reading it. I thank God for memories like this one.

I have to be honest; I’m somewhat shocked at the tone I was able to encapsulate in this 2007 re-telling, as if I had channeled my most sincere childlike voice to relay a picture from my past. I kind of wish I still had that voice from time to time. Perhaps, again, I will find it.

For Lego fans or simply those who like a good ol’ time, this piece may be worth a little read while the snow’s still thawing in the Wilms, Dee (and surrounding states).
The below content was originally posted at
http://www.stunksstage.com/2007/10/10/toy-stories-the-lego-blizzard/
on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 at 4:30 am

TOY STORIES: The Lego Blizzard

By Christopher Stunkard

I was recently e-mailed by my good friend, Aaron; and after responding to him, I began to reminisce about some of the good old times he and I had as kids. We used to duel each other for hours with wooden swords. We’d watch G.I. Joe: The Movie on nearly a weekly basis. We’d joust with the cardboard tubes carpets are rolled on. There were plenty of fun times, [one of which] I will never forget, [during] a blizzard that trapped me at Aaron’s house a whole weekend.

It was supposed to be a sleepover like any other Friday Night. At the time, we were around 9-11 years old (I think it was 1993), and our toys of choice at the time were Legos and Star Trek (even though at that point I had still only seen like 4 episodes of The Next Generation). Anyway, we had spent Friday building excellent Federation Starships, each of which were captained by Lego figures of us. We both had crews of around 20-30 lego dudes, and it was good stuff. Aaron even had Battle Beasts we used for villains in the mix. When we had played enough, we crashed. It was good.

The next morning we awoke, expecting to hang for an hour or two maybe before I was to be picked up by my parents. We realized quickly however that the world we knew, usually green, was now covered in blanketed freshly-fallen, deep snow. I could not be picked up. We were trapped–[which] meant more Legos and more fun.

And fun it was. I don’t remember much in the way of details, only that we knew we had hours-a-plenty to burn, and burn them we did. Space battles, crash-landings, mass-crew-murders, and perhaps even turmoil between our allied forces were replayed time and time again. It was excellent. I believe that we destoryed about a half dozen starships between the two of us, and it was amazing. Saturday came and went with the joy of phasers, laser, tasers and the cries of war. I think we broke for lunch, dinner, and a half-hour of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Other than that, it was intergalactic warfare to the edge of space.

Saturday came and went. Sunday arrived as it always does. When we awoke and headed to the kitchen for breakfast, we found his parents on the phone, going through their church directory, calling [members] to cancel church. The snow was still fully caked to the gound, and no sign of open roads lay in site, which was fantastic news to us. We returned to Aaron’s room and began our space odyssey anew, happy to avoid both church and being parted.

The details of the weekend are hazy. I’m unsure if I got home Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. I forget if we [realized] that we could pop the Lego men’s arms and legs off in order to show the Battle Beasts ripping them limb-from-limb. I’m not even sure if we wanted to stay friends at the end of the weekend [cause] we were tired of each other. All I remember is how good it was to be trapped with my good friend, with [thousands] of Legos, having space adventures across the galaxy. It was a wonderful time of toys, probably a high influence on why I still love them so much to this day. I’d like to thank Aaron’s parents again for haivng me over, the makers of Lego for creating wonderful space products, and God for the snow. You all had a major part in [one] of the greatest weekends in the history of my life.

 
 
 
 

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Recovery Resource Review: Follow the Solid Rock Road!

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Reviews & Recommendations

Though I am still learning my way around Twitter, I have discovered that a little bit of honesty and courage when reaching out to others can be the starting point for real connection and not simply “following”. One such connection I have made is with Jerry Pineda, on whose account I stumbled late last year. Jerry and his wife Jamee are involved with drug and alcohol recovery ministry in which they use a self-developed curriculum (co-authored by Sherry Colby) entitled, “Follow the Solid Rock Road“.

As someone whose own recovery work is focused on a different addiction, I felt that Jerry and I may be able to learn something from one another and our respective works. We exchanged a few direct messages on Twitter, graduated to e-mail, and sent each other copies of our books.

I found Follow the Solid Rock Road to be an excellent and challenging resource, for it goes beyond mere recovery from substance abuse to holistic living (as all good recovery books do) and also has an edge and intensity that may be necessary for some programs to succeed, depending on those involved.

The book covers a great deal of ground as it offers 10 principles for addicts to adopt in order to successfully continue in lifelong sobriety without relapse or excuses. The writers pull from a wealth of personal experiences, some of which are heartbreaking and terrifying, and the read is not only instructive but, for particular segments, deeply compelling. I walked away from this book not only with memorable tools but very useful anecdotes and real-life cautionary tales.

And be assured, in recovery, people will need them, especially if they are going through this book. Follow the Solid Rock Road is a pull-no-punches sort of program that demands a response. From an approach of sincere but tough love, the writers call persons in addiction to take full responsibility for sin before finding forgiveness and restoration through faith in Christ Jesus. They do this with a steady tone that challenges the reader while conveying care and empathy.

Follow the Solid Rock Road is the type of resource that can only come from the heart and mind of those who have recovered themselves, who bear the scars of sin and the renewal thereafter. I found myself highlighting passages regularly, and I feel like anyone leading a small group or starting a recovery addiction program at a church may find this tool to be useful and affective.

Resources are available through Amazon, as linked below, or at http://www.thesolidrockroad.com.

 

Group Leader Curriculum

 

 

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Interview: Stronghold, Faith, and Recovery.

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Interviews

I had the great blessing recently of speaking with Jeff Fisher, a wonderful Christian brother who was willing to read Stronghold and later interview me about it for his ministry’s audio resource, “The 104 Podcast: Top Tips to Sexual Purity.”

Jeff is a man who has overcome the pain and brokenness of being discovered in his sin, an experience I was never forced to endure. He and his wife Marsha have overcome great obstacles in rebuilding their lives and marriage, and they now serve the kingdom as warriors for purity–encouraging, training, and engaging the kingdom of Christ for God’s glory.

In the interview, Jeff and I discuss not only my book but a number of tools, activities, and methods to anchor oneself to Christ and overcome temptation. Please check out the links below:

Running Time 27 Minutes

 
 
 
 

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