Theological Fitness by Aimee Byrd

Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting FaithTheological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith by Aimee Byrd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a meaty book. I think I will need to read it again to better digest it more thoroughly. Using examples from the world of physical fitness and workouts, Aimee shows the importance of being trained spiritually as well in theology. Our theology affects how we live, so it’s important to have correct theology in order to live as God would have us live.
While some of this book was hard to plow through, overall it was a great encouragement to continue to learn and grow in our knowledge of God. The book centered around Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Other parts of Hebrews are drawn in along with Scripture as a whole to show the importance of knowing what we believe. The gospel is presented along with an overview of covenant theology. Another important point that the book makes is the need for us to learn and grow in community. We are not meant to do this fitness training alone.
The best part of the book for me was the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. These really helped to summarize the key points and bring out the application. It also makes it easy to use for a small group discussion.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher P & R Publishing in exchange for my review.

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The End of Me by Kyle Idleman

The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus BeginsThe End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins by Kyle Idleman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount tells us the way to true living is to live in a way that is countercultural to the world around us. Starting off with the first few Beatitudes, the author takes us through Jesus’ shocking statements of who is really blessed. Not those we would think of, such as the rich, but rather the poor, the pure in heart, the ones who mourn. Living the opposite of how the world expects us to live.
Coming to the end of ourselves, dying to ourself, is how we can truly find the life that God has called us to. The end of this book talks about the need to die to our own wants and desires, to serve others rather than being served. It is a challenging book – to be humble, to look out for others rather than ourselves.
This would be a great book for a small group study, learning more about Jesus’ upside-down way of living instead of the way that seems right to us and the world we live in.

*I received a copy of this book free through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and FreedomLuther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom by Carl R. Trueman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly I had a bit of trouble getting into this book. It starts off with an overview of Luther’s life and shows that he was human and had weaknesses just like all of us. Once I got further into the book it grabbed my attention more, perhaps because it was talking about Luther’s emphasis on the importance of the Bible and the need for the Word to be central to the Christian’s life. “Luther’s view of the Christian life, like his view of the success of the Reformation, was rooted first and foremost in the overwhelming power of the preached Word.”
This book, while not a biography, gives an extensive look at Luther’s theology and life, and doesn’t hold back from the warts and weaknesses of Luther. Too often we focus more on the successes of our heroes, but they are human too and Luther had failings. While not spending too much time on these failings, the author doesn’t shy away from them. Also, Luther’s theology was continually forming and wasn’t set in stone when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses. It was an ongoing process. We too often think he had it all figured out, but he was continually learning just as we do.
So far, my favorite book in this Theologians on the Christian Life series is either the one on Schaeffer or Warfield. While this one on Luther didn’t grab me quite as much (hence the 3 stars instead of 4), it was still a good read and a good look at Luther’s life and what he believed on different issues (such as the importance of the Bible and the sacraments of baptism and communion, as well as his views on civil authority, marriage and family).

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

The Message of the General Epistles in the History of Redemption by Brandon Crowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The “general” epistles, also known as the “Catholic” epistles (meaning universal, not to a specific church or individual) are the books of 1 and 2 Peter, James, Jude, 1, 2 and 3 John. Sometimes these books can be confusing, particularly James with its message of works which seems to contradict Paul’s message of salvation by faith. In this book the author provides a very readable commentary on these epistles by breaking down what they say regarding our salvation (the indicative) and our sanctification (the imperative).
Each book is walked through, first examining how the book presents our salvation and then looking at how that is lived out by our Christian walk. Noting themes of who each book is primarily addressing, such as “scallywags” or “scoffers”, the author breaks down the overall message of each book and shows how they relate to the rest of the Bible. Rather than being contradictory, these epistles go along with the theme of the rest of the Bible – Christ accomplishing our salvation for us.
I found this book very readable and understandable, even addressing some of the harder passages in these books. Each chapter also ends with questions for discussion so it could easily be used as a group study to better understand these books of the Bible.
Some quotes:
(In Jude) “The call for those who are more stable in the faith is to lead others to the safety of our genuine, holy faith.”
“Here is a warning for all who study Scripture: may we never allow knowledge of the Bible to occlude the reality and glory of Christ, whom we meet on its pages.”

*I received a copy of this ebook free from the publisher P & R Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for my review.

Thoughts from the Simeon Trust Workshop Training

Originally published on my private blog on March 12, 2015:

Where to even begin regarding the impact that going to the Simeon Trust Workshop had on me. And not just the workshop itself but the conversations with other ladies that pointed me in a different direction than I was doing. Realizing how bad I am at studying the Bible and the incredible need for studying with other believers. And yet my still having the desire to teach and share with others what the Bible says and to awaken a passion within them for God’s Word and knowing it. To spend a few days surrounded by other Christian women who are passionate about studying God’s Word and want to do it correctly was an amazing experience. Too often I feel that others around me aren’t as invested in studying God’s Word as I am or don’t have the desire to know and read the Bible like I do. Oh that others would see the joy that can be found in knowing God through His Word!
As I continue on this path of teaching and leading, I have found that while leading a discussion group is part of it, my heart is to teach. BSF leadership training is not the direction to prepare me for that. I’ve struggled a bit with being at BSF, finding it not as deep as what I would like. While I have learned a lot this year through the study of Moses – the holiness of God and the horribleness of our sin – it’s still a more basic study than what I would prefer. And there is a tendency for the text to be moralized in order to bring out application, when perhaps there really isn’t a direct application in that particular text. After conversations at the workshop, I’ve come to the decision that continuing in BSF is not the route I want to take. I will likely finish out the year but not continue in the fall. Dropping BSF will free me up for other potential Bible studies or perhaps even teaching opportunities with Sunday School. Though I don’t know that I really am good enough for teaching. Perhaps starting with teaching theology rather than a direct Bible study will give me room to grow in how I study the Bible and help me to become more proficient at it before leading an actual study.
I’ve also seen that I long for actual Bible study, not just a book discussion group. But others don’t seem to have that desire, at least not as strongly.
I think part of the allure or encouragement of the workshop was being around other women that seemed to be similar to where I am in my spiritual walk. Sometimes I feel alone, that with the books I read I’m further ahead than others and find it hard to have conversations. But I have to be mindful of pride and remember that I’m only where I’m at because of God’s grace to me. And I need to learn how to pass on my knowledge in a way that can be understood and help others to grow further.

The Changing of a Dream

Originally published on my private blog on January 15, 2015:

I worked in the Short-Term department at SEND International, a missions agency, for 2 years and this was my dream job. Because of a unhealthy emotional situation there, I needed to leave after 2 years and ended up at another job where I worked for almost 10 years before quitting to stay at home and work part-time. At the time I had to leave my dream job at SEND, I was devastated and didn’t really understand what God was doing, just knew that I needed to leave and He was in control of it. Now, many years later, I realize that what I’m doing now is really a dream “job” and would not have been possible most likely if I had stayed at SEND. By my working at another job that paid more over the last several years, we were able to get out of debt and be in a financial position for me to cut back to part-time work instead of full-time. This has freed me up to be more involved at our church and in ministry opportunities. I am developing relationships and using my gifts in ways that never would have happened if I had stayed at SEND. God’s dreams were bigger than any that I had.