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Thursday, March 21, 2013

"True Purity" (Hayley and Michael DiMarco)

TITLE: True Purity: More Than Just Saying "No" to You-Know-What
AUTHOR: Hayley and Michael DiMarco
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2013, (190 pages).

Books in the Christian Living genre often have the same kind of message: "It's all about God, not about us." This book is no different. When it comes to purity, it is not about us doing or not doing certain things in order to earn our collection of purity medals. True purity never begins with us or ends with our accomplishments. True purity is started by God, sustained by God, and awarded by God. We are pilgrims on a journey watching how God does that, and when need be, to avail ourselves to be purified by God. Purity begins with God. It is God's work, not ours. For the DiMarcos, purity for us is a matter of the heart. How have we completely given ourselves over to God, his purpose, his desires, and his passions? The moment we fail to love God with our 100%, we are due for a spiritual tune-up.

The book uses metaphors like water and light to describe the journey to purity. Whether it is water that washes us cleran, or like light that shines into darkness, the work is God's, not ours. For our devotion, our love, our relationships, our future, and our everything to be pure, we need God's light to shine through the crevices of our lives. Five areas are covered with regards to letting our focus on God be pure.

Firstly, in the area of love, the authors touch on the subject of dating and love. Instead of asking ourselves questions like, "Can I do this?" or "How far is too far?" we ought to change our questions. More helpful will be to do some self-examination: "Why am I in this relationship in the first place?" In doing so, as we begin to realize that our goal in life is not mere happiness, but holiness, we will have a true perspective of living holy lives in our love relationships.

Secondly, in the area of community, the DiMarcos touch on friends and friendship. There are three categories of friends. Those who are more spiritually mature than us as well as our spiritual peers. These two categories, we can be influenced by or learn from. The third category, the less mature, the young, we can offer our help to encourage or guide them. The guiding principle for friendship is that it is meant to glorify God. They also provide tips on relationships with non-believers.

Thirdly, for purity in self, readers are reminded about society's overwhelming pre-occupation with all things "self." As a result, they worry, they get anxious, and they fear not having enough for themselves. The key transformation needed is to learn to turn ourselves over to God, and to give God our 100%. There is also some interesting insights on the rising use of social media, where Michael comments that social media is essentially about promoting the self. Thus, readers are urged to tamper their social media usage, and to make sure that they do not fall victim to the trap of self-glorification, and making use of other users in order to puff up or prop up one's popularity. When I read this, I feel less guilty when my social network numbers do not run in the thousands!

Fourthly, there are some good advice on cultivating the way we think, in order to bring all things captive to the thoughts of Christ. Our mind, because of the centrality of our person, often defines who we are. If we can focus our mind on the thoughts of Christ, and the purity of God, we set ourselves to grow in the fruits of the Spirit. We respond more readily to the Spirit. We reflect more responsively to God. The freedom to seek after Christ leads to pure peace, pure sight in God, and to recognize that one's freedom to pursue stems out of God's grace and not our efforts. That in itself is a liberating reason to seek God.

Fifthly, readers are treated to joyful journey of faith. It is energized by love, knowing that all of our living have been because of the cross of Christ. It clings on to God. It is surrender in God. Only when we acknowledge our own impure efforts, and to trust God for all works of purity, to trust that when the day comes, God will make it perfect.

My Thoughts

This is a deeply encouraging book. The single biggest benefit for reading this book is not just thinking it is all about God, and not about us. The single biggest benefit is to realize that when we orientate ourselves toward God, it is not us moving ourselves toward God. It is God gently guiding and pulling us closer to him. Love is freely given and freely received. When we apply this to faith, to our desire to seek God more, in our thoughts, actions, and words, we are on the path to true purity. The authors have also put up a helpful table on page 173 as a quick guide to leaning away from our self-seeking ways or weaknesses, toward learning more of God's ways and strengths.

I enjoy reading the personal sharing of the authors. They share about their deep struggles and how God has helped them through. It gives the book a very authentic feel, and readers will be comforted to know that the authors do not simply talk or teach about true purity. They are actually living it and experiencing it. Even today.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.


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