Posted on Sunday, May 08, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Marriage To a Difficult Man, by Elisabeth D. Dodds (Audubon Press, 2004)

My husband was a bit troubled when my friend, Dana, gave me this book along with Journey to Hell for my 30th birthday.  Despite the tricky title, this book recounts the wonderful marriage of Sarah and Jonathan Edwards.  I love reading about the wives of such great men!  Sarah Edwards went through a time of mental anguish (January of 1742) that Dodds delicately recounts in chapter eight.  I’m so glad she did, because it is a picture of God’s magnificent grace that can be very much applied to women today.   Here are some of the changes that came out of it:

Sarah Edwards stopped straining to please God and began to live in the assurance of a salvation she didn’t have to try to deserve.  She stopped pushing herself to be worthy of Edward’s love and from then on had his unreserved admiration.  Before, onlookers had considered her a saint but her husband knew she wasn’t.  Afterward, Edward’s marveled at her “constant sweet peace, calm and serenity of soul”…

…so we still cannot be sure whether she had a religious transport, a nervous breakdown, or whether the two were mingled.  But the evidence is clear that after whatever it was, Sarah picked up life again, and went on as before, but in a new dimension of joy.  Her own words may explain it.  She said it left her with “the riches of full assurance.”  She recalled how, midway in that peculiar week, she awoke and “…was lead to reflect on God’s mercy to me in giving me, for many years, a willingness to die, and after that…in making me willing to live.”

The neurotic martyr is ready to die.  The greater valor is to be willing to live. (108-109)

I don’t need to have suffered a mental break (but my husband may argue it’s already happened on several occasions) to fully relate to Sarah’s reflection.  I find myself suffering all the time from “martyr syndrome.”  I could not imagine what being the wife of Jonathan Edward’s and mother of eleven children would demand of me.  My reading reflection theme seems to be self-righteousness lately, but I believe women can fall into that trap so easily.  We become proud and smarmy in our so-called self-giving.  And when we see its ugliness, it is too much to bear.  But the gospel revives us into a knowledge of the One who truly did give all of Himself, for smarmy ol’ me.  How can I not be filled with joy as I glorify the Giver of all that I need?  Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted on Friday, May 06, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

On my Confessions page, I mentioned that I finally broke down and joined Facebook at the same time I started my blog.  It seemed pretty necessary for sharing my articles with friends and hoping they would share with their other friends.  Also, the whole like button was such a mystery to me, but was seemingly an important element for bloggers to have.  After all my curious investigating and weighing the different like options to incorporate on my site, I’ve decided I just don’t like the like button.  I think it’s tacky.  I’ll tell you why.

First of all, what if the like button was used in actual conversation?  How offensive would that be?  After a friend or acquaintance shares about their weekend, bar fight, or actual deep thought, the popularity police decide whether they will cast their vote.  Is this what democracy has come to?  You don’t have to comment on the truth or value of what is said, just say like.  And of course there’s no dislike button, because that would be pernicious.  All I’m saying is just because it’s a positive word, doesn’t really make it a positive action.

Speaking of truth, that appears to be completely irrelevant.  As we become more and more accustomed to the like culture, we begin to forget to ask important, discerning questions in our so-called conversations.  The value is in the entertaining and accomplishing while meaningfulness is cavalierly tossed out the window.  Instead of standing for truth, we are feeding into our sinful tendency to compare ourselves with others.  How many people like what I just said?  Sassy Susie gets liked up and down, but Sassy Susie maybe just talks a lot about nothing.  We begin to calculate the value of what we say by the number of likes we receive, rather than the actual content.

Additionally, the more we push that like button, the more we may feed our own illusion of power.  Immediately published on Sassy Susie’s post: “Aimee likes this, along with 13 other people.”  Well, if Aimee likes it, it must be good.  I’ve just endorsed someone else’s published material.  I am actually creating my own amateur Facebook status on what is cool to like.  Really, what’s going on beneath all our playful, self-indulgent, liking banter ruse is the fact that it’s all a marketing ploy.  Is it a coincidence that I liked a fitness website and now I get ads run on my page for losing weight and breast implants?  I don’t know, maybe some exercising comments I made contributed.  But the point is, advertisers are trying to customize to our liking.  Every commercial on TV now wants us to like them on Facebook.  Their crazy computer spiders (how creepy is that?) skulk on our every cyber-move and pounce in with the customized add.  Liking a website is their free ticket to advertise their latest sell.

For a while I was getting sucked in.  Many websites have a Facebook Social Plugin in their sidebar showing the number of people who like them, along with nine or so smiling, rotating profile faces of their so-called fan club.  This is beneficial for traffic, because a new viewer will see how happening your site is and want to join the inside circle.  It feeds a temptation we all have to want to be part of some elite group.  Plus, one day your profile pic will be on that rotating display.  And I can publish my own popularity as a blogger: this many people like me, you should too!  Well, I’ve decided against it.  I’ve always believed smart people don’t have to tell others they’re smart, and beautiful people don’t need to advertise.  They just are.  Exploitation is ugly, and usually used by those lacking in the very thing they are trying to sell.  Well liked people don’t need to brag about how many friends they have, and besides, it’s not always a good thing to be well liked.  So, like me or not, I’m going to say what I say.  I might not attract a bunch of followers, but I encourage the readers I do have to leave thoughtful comments, be more engaging, and even dislike in your feedback if you think I need some sharpening.  And if you really do like what I have to say, please use the share button, which I think is much more helpful.

Am I saying it’s bad to just simply like things? No.  Am I saying the like button is evil and we should all boycott it?  No.  There’s no command in the Bible on like buttons.  I am challenging you to think a bit deeper on your liking motives, as well as urging you to ask yourself: can I be more engaging in this conversation?  Am I just being lazy in my relationships?  Is this statement true?  And I’m not saying that it’s wrong for websites and bloggers to promote themselves.  We need to if we want to bring people to our site.  But I do think that sometimes we sacrifice our own classiness by feeding this whole celebrity-obsessed cultural hunger.  There has to be some better ways.

Meditation: 1 Thess. 2:4

Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

This is a book that I was eager to read.  I’ve had a very critical attitude about where technology is going, and how it is shaping us before I curmudgeonly surrendered to blogging and all (well, really only some of) its associated networking.   Now that I confess to its necessities and benefits, I still hold dear all my original reservations.  Timely entering the scene—Tim Challies’ new book with the subtitle Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion.  For those of you Christians on the internet who may be living under a rock, Challies has one of the most read Christian blogs in the cyber-hood.  So I was looking forward to gleaning some wisdom from a Christian who is seasoned and well-experienced in digital explosions.  Although, the title had me a little scared.  The next story?  I haven’t even jumped on the happy wagon with the right now story.  I was afraid that Challies might be a little too gung-ho in his technological prowess.

As I began reading, it was relieving to notice Challies held many of the same concerns.  I was very encouraged to see someone whose whole career is based on media devices (web design, two blogs, publisher, and author) to be discerning about how they impact his life as a Christian.  Instead of giving us a moralistic mandate, Challies offers up riveting questions for reflection, and later honestly relates how these thoughts have challenged his own relationship with technology.  The purpose of his book is stated in a question: How has the digital explosion reshaped our understanding of ourselves, our world, and most importantly, our knowledge of God?  And what is “the next story” that will form and direct the way we live (12)? He gives us historical background of the different technological ages we have lived in and their effect on culture.  There’s no calling technology evil or acting like everyone better get with the program and update to all the latest digital toys.  Rather, we are challenged to find the “sweet spot” where experience, theory, and theology overlap in our technological lives.  He explains that technology is actually mandated by God in the sense that we create tools in order to fulfill the cultural mandate.   It’s always refreshing to read a book that causes us to meditate further and challenge ourselves on the matter at hand, rather than offering a marketable formula.  Challies aims at the heart, rather than just the outward behavior.

If I were to draw you an infographic book review, I would have an image symbolizing our technological age that passes through a strainer, symbolizing the gospel.  The Next Story takes us on that journey.  Challies book strains out many gritty subtleties that we may have missed if the gospel light hasn’t been shining.  He addresses some of the cultural idols in our lives such as productivity, significance, and desire for information by asking the question, Is it possible that constantly communicating with others is not always good (74)In this, he pushes us to look at the quality and motivations of our immediate accesses in communication.  Now that we do have direct access at our fingertips, are we using it to serve God better, or do we in turn end up serving the devices to feed our own idols?

 Later in the book, Challies warns us against recreating ourselves in the images of our own devices.  Have we confused our tools of technology and their functions with our own calling and capabilities?  Christians are called to be a covenant community, worshipping together, and serving their neighbor throughout the week.  Instead, many are falling into what Challies calls networked individualism, communicating primarily through mediated devices, and even trying to have virtual church.   And now that we have computers to store all of our information for us, we think of our own minds in the same manner—information holders.  He reminds us that collecting mass quantities of data is not the same as gaining knowledge.  And if we continue in our habits of scanning for information, we abandon the qualities to actually learn, such as reflection and meditation.  As we are gorging ourselves on information, we lose true wisdom.  Also associated with networked individualism is the authority of truth.  Challies demonstrates how the wiki model of research has fashioned us to hold the idea of truth as a democracy.  Truth in this model is nearly indistinguishable from consensus (166).

This book challenged me as the reader to meditate on the world’s progress—which seems to be defined as mediation through disembodied technology, and God’s progress—through the True mediator Jesus Christ.  God’s purpose is to make us become like our Mediator, which truly is glorious.  We need to be watchful that we are not becoming like the world’s mediators.  As we use these tools, Christians need to be constantly aware of the idolatrous allure of our devices.  Our goal is not to be disembodied, data exchangers.  Jesus Christ’s resurrection secured for us new, glorified bodies on a new earth.  Our hope in communication is nothing less than a face-to-face relationship with the One who made us.  Let us treat those made in His image with the same standard.

The Next Story is a great, discerning book that I would recommend to any friend.  It even serves as an apologetic to an unbeliever for what challenges a person made in the image of God has to face in their ever-changing technological cultures.  Maybe Tim will write about this in his next book, but I was hoping to see a chapter that dealt more specifically with how this digital age has affected the actual worship service, particularly a pastor’s delivery of his sermon and the congregation’s ability to focus on it.  Pastors have new challenges with the short attention spans they are preaching to, and many have turned to entertaining, digital aids.  What does this say about the authority of truth?  What does it have to say about our True Helper, the Holy Spirit? I realize this would be speaking more about the spiritual kingdom, rather than the common kingdom, so a separate book may be appropriate.

*Disclaimer: Zondervan sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review on my blog.

Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I like fun words.  I love learning new words or rediscovering old ones to use in my vocabulary.  So every Wednesday I will be posting a new word of the week, along with its definition.  I challenge you to use it in conversation throughout the week so that it can sink into your normal rhetoric.  It might be cool to involve the kids as well!  Also, if you would like to submit a word you can email me at mail@housewifetheologian.com and if I decide to post it, I will give you the credit.  Why don’t you have a crack at using our word in a sentence in the comment section…could be interesting.

This week’s word is:

Ubiquitous:  Do you know someone who just seems to be everywhere?  Well, they're ubiquitous!  Maybe they really are everywhere.  God is ubiquitous because He really is omnipresent.  But we mainly use the word as hyperbole (I know, another fun word).  Like, how certain people ubiquitously keep showing up on reality TV shows...

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, approximately 60% of well-meaning people who begin a workout routine give up.  And then there’s a small percentage out of the 40% left, who encounter overtraining syndrome.  Martha Pyron, Md., wrote an article about it for ACSM’s quarterly publication.  According to Martha,

The normal effective cycle of training involves an increase in training, which tires the athlete, but also stimulates improvements in fitness.  The vast majority of this improvement occurs during the rest and recovery period after an intense training bout.  The rest and recovery period is therefore extremely important for the training athlete to make improvements in fitness.

Interesting.  To improve our fitness level, we need to increase our training to fatigue, and then incorporate a proper rest and recovery period.  As it turns out, proper rest and recovery might not be exactly what you think.  In the fitness world, I have picked up on the benefits of active rest.  During my day off regular exercise routines, engaging in light, low stress activity can be more beneficial than say, bonding with my couch.  Slightly increasing blood flow on my rest day speeds muscle recovery by flushing out lactate and other toxins faster from my body.  For me, this is the joy and reward of fitness.  I train hard (well, only for an hour) six days a week so that I can enjoy regular life with ease.  Things like taking a walk in the neighborhood, playing with the kids, or digging out my garden may raise my heart rate a little, but they are light exercise.  For me, the goal of training and conditioning is active rest.

So what’s the theological connection?  Sunday and eternity.  At the beginning of the week, Christians are given a day for rest and worship as a covenant community.  Also known as Resurrection Day, Sunday is given to us as a foretaste of our future eschatological hope.  It is modeled after creation.  The original day of rest was a symbol to Adam of what he was working for, that is a place of eternal rest with the Father.  It was on Saturday, the last day of the work week.  We all know how that went.  But what the first Adam failed to accomplish for his progeny, the second Adam, Jesus Christ secured.  Now our Sabbath Day is in the beginning of the week.  First we rest in Christ before we are called out to labor in our secular vocations.

What is this eternal rest to which we anticipate?  Is it merely inactivity?  As we learn about the Sabbath, we see that Christ is our rest.  In one sense rest is a place.  Verses like Heb. 4:1 and 8-10 use the Greek word that can be translated abode, or to colonize.  On Sunday, Christ’s covenant community meets together for worship.  Michael Horton calls it holy people and holy space.  Here we are given Christ and all His benefits.  In another use, rest is a sort of status.  Revelation 14:13 speaks of our future, eternal rest, contrasted to 14:11—the condemned’s endless, restless state.  The condemned will forever be tormented by their sin. The redeemed will be delivered from suffering.  My concordance translates the Greek rest from this passage: to repose [be exempt], remain, to refresh, take ease.  Why is this so?  Because unlike Adam, Jesus Christ won for us the new creation and all of its blessings—by His efforts—apart from our efforts.  We will be freely active to worship the Lord and serve Him, safe in His truth and goodness.

Until then, we are called to suffer in this world.  We live between the already of Christ’s victory, and the not yet of its full consummation.  In this tension, the believer goes through intense training bouts as they take up their cross and follow Christ.  We may have already been qualified by the work of Christ, but we are being conditioned (a.k.a. sanctified) for holiness.  All the while, we look forward to that day of final jubilee.  We will be given our new land where we rest in the efforts of the One who has prepared it for us.  There will be jobs for us in our new home—I’m not going to be hanging out on a cloud all day with my formerly deceased pets.  But finally I will be able to serve God free from all the constraints from the curse.  Active rest is freedom in our full recovery to holiness--freedom to fulfill our purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

Girls Gone Wise, by Mary A. Kassian (Moody, 2010)

Pre-Fall nakedness symbolized the purity and innocence of humans before God.  Post-Fall nakedness symbolizes the inability of humans to make themselves presentable before Him.  God did what Adam and Eve were unable to do.  He covered them and made them presentable.  He shed the blood of an animal—probably a lamb—and clothed them with its skin.  By means of a bloody sacrifice, He covered their sin and shame.  Do you see the symbolism here?  Do you feel the surge of hope?  God’s merciful solution to Adam and Eve’s sin and their inadequate attempt to cover shame, was to clothe them with something infinitely more adequate.  The skin of the sacrificed animal pointed to the time when God would sacrifice His Lamb—the Lord Jesus Christ—to atone for sin, alleviate shame, and clothe us in His righteousness (Gen. 3:21)…

Clothing bears witness to the fact that we have lost the glory and beauty of our original sin-free selves.  It confesses that we need a covering—His covering—to atone for our sin and alleviate our shame.  It testifies to the fact that God solved the problem of shame permanently and decisively with the blood of His own Son.  It also directs our attention forward to the time when we will be “further clothed” with spotless, imperishable garments (2 Cor. 5:3 NKJV, Rev. 3:5). (99)

I think it’s good that Kassian reminds us of the purpose of clothing.  Our goal is not to be naked and unashamed before the world.  Our clothing is a testimony of our own righteousness.  It points to our hope in being clothed in Christ before God.  Rev. 3:5 mentions how those who overcome will be clothed in white garments.  These garments, symbolizing a wedding (as the bride of Christ), should motivate us now to purity (1 John 3: 2-3).  We are clothed in and by Christ!  As our Groom is sanctifying us, we look forward to that day when our union is consummated.  His red blood makes our garments white.  When we think of His cost for our so-called wedding dress, we are motivated toward purity.

Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I seriously got back into a regular workout routine about two years ago.  Having been raised in a family that values physical fitness, I have always lived a somewhat active life.  However, in my thirties it became apparent that my body was not as obliging to my requests.  It was time to get a little more disciplined if I wanted to feel as strong as I did in my twenties.  So I did the practical thing for a mother of three:  I started buying DVD workouts by experienced trainers.  The first workout I did was an hour long.  As I was chugging along I thought to myself, “You’re a little winded, Aimee, but you’ve still got it!”  And then I woke up the next morning.  Ouch!  Going down the stairs, “Ouch, eeew, ugh!”  That just told me I needed strengthening, I’m not in my twenties, and the exercise was working.  So, even in pain, I kept at it six days a week.

For this installment of my theological fitness series, I want to get into the trenches of our metaphorical race (Heb. 12:1-2)—the experiences of obstacles and triumph.  First of all, we need good training.  I might be able to think of some good exercises, but I do not have the knowledge of putting together the most beneficial workout routine.  And I certainly wouldn’t go for a full hour unless I was being led.  Many of the workouts I do combine circuit training and super-sets.  I would not have thought of concepts such as combining emphasis on aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems or active rest.  But these trainers have a plan for me to follow.

Often, these routines require each circuit to be repeated.  There are many benefits to this.  The first time through, my muscles and my brain are being introduced to the form.  The second time through is even more advantageous.  Now I already know the technique.  So if I’m told it’s time for the second set of UFC’s, or sissy squats, I know what in the heck that means and the technique involved.  At this point my muscles are reaching fatigue, and I am told that this is good because that is where “the magic happens.”  Muscles are being further toned on the second time through.  This point of muscle fatigue is also the point in the workout where I ask, “Why did I get myself into this?”  That’s when I know change is happening.

Where am I going with all this?  Much of our conditioning in the Christian life is hard.  As biblical pastors, teachers, and mentors lead us we realize that we aren’t quite as spiritually fit as we thought we were.  When we face a challenge or obstacle, we find our strength and stamina are weak.  First we have to learn the form.  Theology has specialized language just like every other discipline.  For my workouts, I need to learn lingo such as skull crushers, spider push-ups, and suspended arm extensions.  When learning what the Bible teaches about God’s redemptive plan through Jesus Christ there’s all kinds of vocabulary involved such as propitiation, imputation, eschatology, and covenant.  Also, in many of our first experiences in trying to live according to the gospel, we fall on our faces.  We are in a continuous battle with sin.  But through repentance and prayer, the Lord uses even those times to strengthen us.  When we encounter our new vocabulary the second time, we know it and can learn deeper by the use of it.  When we encounter a similar temptation over, we are stronger and wiser to turn away.  Our trust in the Lord grows as we see how He has been faithful all along. 

There will be many blessings throughout our Christian lives, but there will also be times when we ask ourselves how we got into all this.  And, sure, there are obvious moments in life where this question is our wisdom talking, telling us we should not be involved in a particular situation.  It is a discerning question.  Many times this question comes because we did not properly count the cost.  It demands us to estimate the value and purpose of our cause.  But make no mistake, we will find that the most valuable things in life bring us to fatigue.  That’s when we are toning—during the “burn.”

Further meditation: Phil. 3:12-14, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 2 Tim. 4:7

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

I like fun words.  I love learning new words or rediscovering old ones to use in my vocabulary.  So every Wednesday I will be posting a new word of the week, along with its definition.  I challenge you to use it in conversation throughout the week so that it can sink into your normal rhetoric.  It might be cool to involve the kids as well!  Also, if you would like to submit a word you can email me at mail@housewifetheologian.com and if I decide to post it, I will give you the credit.  Why don’t you have a crack at using our word in a sentence in the comment section…could be interesting.

This week’s word is:

Riant--(adj.) smiling, happy

I mean, really, why don't we use this word more?  Huh? Why not?

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

  Finally, I get to enjoy my first “real” spring morning of the year.  A couple of weeks ago, I thought spring was ushered in.  We saw daffodils and other early spring blooms.  The robins have appeared.  I quickly ordered new flip-flops and shorts for the kids.  Baseball practices began.  We were given some beautifully warm afternoons, unaware of the upcoming weeks of wind and rain.  Then the temperatures took a dive.  Winter was back.  I’ve been afraid of losing my beautiful tulips, cherry blossoms, and hyacinths before they could even be enjoyed.  The wind kept blowing, and the clouds kept rolling in.

Finally, I retrieved my porch cushions from the storage shed.  My first real spring morning.  Upon a quick inventory, I am thrilled to see most of my flowers have survived the heavy wind and rain…strong enough to bend, as the song goes.  My kids are picking their first dandelion bouquets of the year.

There’s been a lot of tragic news recently—the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, our dog had to be put down, media drama, marriages ending, even a heartbreaking suicide in our town…death and winter everywhere.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how the world’s values and musings are at odds with the believer’s great call and destiny.  I’ve been thinking about how badly I fail in my opportunities to show Christ’s love to others.  Just like the spring turning back to winter, I get caught up in this world’s priorities and methods.  Sometimes it’s just plain discouraging—the wind keeps blowing hard, and the coldness doesn’t let up.

The new life and warmth of spring is such a beautiful reminder of the love of God in Christ.  My trees surely looked dead all winter, but now their life is revealed.  My flowers were out of sight, underground, but have broken through, weathered the storm, and are blooming radiantly.  God loves us through it all and is working in us.  We can sing through trials, like the robins in the storm.

We suffer.  There is loss.  But we will never lose the love God has set on us in Christ.  It is more real than anything else.  It is sure.  Christ has propitiated God’s wrath toward my sin—on an actual day in time—and I am blessed with His righteousness and all the benefits that go with it.  I can love because I have TRUE love, a love that endures.  Trials and suffering drive me to His love, and prove His love.  God is the perfect Father, who is able.  Christ is the perfect husband, who sacrificed all in humiliation, life itself, for me—a harlot.  He is making me pure.  Lord, I pray that in gratitude I can take this love and give it to my husband—that the winters will prove my love.  Enable me with Your steadfastness to live out my calling, knowing that nothing can separate me from You.  My destiny is to become like Christ!  That is how You will be glorified.  I do not feel adequate to speak of such beauty and love.  Help me to bring forth my fruit in season, to be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that my leaves will never wither (Ps. 1:3).

Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2011 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian

In my last article, I considered the fitness of Christ in His ability to bear the cross with patient endurance, along with how we are exhorted in Hebrews 12:1 to run the race set before us with endurance.  The Christian life requires fitness.  At the end of the race, I want to be proved qualified.  Our Savior makes us fit, regenerating and justifying us by grace, through faith.  But there is much conditioning ahead in our sanctification process.  To be sure, He is preserving us through the race, but anyone who’s ever been involved in any exercise program knows why the author of Hebrews uses this metaphor.

I am one of those people.  I love exercise, and I think the main reason is that I want to always be fit.  That is, I want to be ready, able--free to do whatever opportunity may come before me.    If my daughters challenge me to a backyard showdown, I’m ready to clean their clocks (or at least keep up with them!).  I can enjoy bike rides, and rollerblading with my kids.  I don’t want my fitness level to prohibit me from enjoying life’s moments, or even protecting myself or my children, if need be. 

Likewise, our spiritual life requires much fitness.  Peter tells us to always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.  He gives this exhortation in the context of suffering for God’s truth.  There are two qualifications of fitness here:  knowing Gods truth, and the patient endurance of suffering for the sake of it.  This requires conditioning, strengthening, and training. 

Just like our bodies need continuous practice in any kind of physical training, so do our minds in theological growth.  Do you like to learn?  Theology refers to a knowledge of God.  You may not be a professional theologian, but you do have some sort of knowledge of God, whether it is true of false.  How do we expect to run the race with endurance if we do not know the One we are running to?  A race has a boundaried path with a particular destination.  If we do not know our destination, how are we assured it is the right one?  How will we be prepared to suffer for His name if we do not treasure it above all the world offers?  What if in the end, we hear, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.”

Romans 12:2 is one of my favorite verses of Scripture: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  We are always learning, whether it is purposeful or passive.  What are you filling your mind with—meat or fat?  The Bible gives us everything we need to know who God is and what He requires of us.  Our knowledge of God shapes our desires.  Our minds shape our wills. 

As I condition myself in learning, I pray for wisdom.  For proper training and conditioning, I need to put myself under the preaching of God’s word, alongside of others who are in the race.  As we receive Christ and all of His benefits together, we are strengthened, ready to live accordingly, and share our faith with others.  We are equipped by the truth, thereby able to identify the false.  By God’s grace He transforms us through His word and the power of His Spirit.  As my knowledge of God increases, so does my joy in serving Him.  As the fitness level of my mind rises, He combines my knowledge and experiences to produce wisdom.  Even when the apparent injuries come, the joy remains through suffering.  Why?  Because I know that my salvation is based on what Christ has already done, not in my own abilities.  In Him I find my meaning and my value.  For this reason I have confident hope as I strive to hear at the finish line, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Further Meditation: 1 Peter 3:13-17, Matt. 7:21-23