Thursday, October 8, 2015

Theological Fitness: Part Six

I am slowing up in posting these end-of-the chapter questions (red) with my answers (black)

However, I have been busy! In the Evangelical Presbyterian church I am attending, I am enjoying four different Bible inputs and doing homework for them. The women's Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Another group I am attending is going through David Jeremiah's Spiritual Warfare. I am also in a David Ramsey class on money management. In addition I attend an adult Sunday School class on Amos. 

The sixth chapter of Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith is called "Jesus Is Lord".  The ideas correspond with David Jeremiah's Spiritual Warfare

1. Why did Christ have to suffer? Look for answers in Hebrews and elsewhere in Scripture.
How else could Christ take our punishment that God requires for our sins? 

2. In what ways do we sometimes behave as if Christ's work on the cross weren't complete? Why is our theology important here?
We think that our works can get us into heaven. But that is not how Scripture and theology explains it. We are justified by Christ's death if He has called us to be his own. 

3. How does the affirmation that Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding affect the way that we pray?
We have a personal advocate praying for us! I have often asked for friends to pray lately with my selling the house that my late husband and I lived in and with my exhausting downsizing and move. But how more glorious that there is One on the throne in heaven praying for me where a home is being prepared for me (Hebrews 11:16.

4. How does your theology of Christ's covenant community influence the way that you may worship? 
Aimee emphasizes Hebrews 10:23-25 in this book. We are not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. 
How would it affect your everyday life outside of the church? 
My faith is an everyday experience--not just for one day a week. This spills over with my talking about my faith with others.

5. Maybe, as Protestants, we don't talk about the priesthood enough. Why is this an important office to learn about? How does the book of Hebrews help us to understand this better? What does it teach us about God?
Hebrews 7 refers to this--Christ is our forever priest (vs. 21) and verse 24 says that His priesthood is forever. 1 Peter 2:9 says You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

6. Read Hebrews 13:20. How does this benediction summarize some of our confessions from Psalm 100? Verses 20 and 21 is a prayer for the Hebrews: 
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the death, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 

Psalm 100 tells us to enter His gates (church) and to realize we are His people. Therefore we can:

Make a joyful shout to the LORD . . . 
We are the sheep of his pasture.  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Theological Fitness: Part Five

I went up the mountain (Monte Sano) here in Huntsville, Alabama to reflect on these questions from chapter five of Aimee Byrd's Theological Fitness. I  also reflected on recent input from the podcast “Mortification of Spin” where Aimee Byrd, Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt have a “casual conversation”. August 19th it was on “A Woman’s Place” with an interview of linguist Dr. Valerie Hobbs, who has been studying how Reformed people use words about the place of women. The podcast uses the term “complimentarian”. Aimee also has commented about a John Piper article. I basically go along with complimentarianism in the Reformed community, but had other opinions on my role before I joined the Reformed community and will reflect here about all of this and a little on how things changed when my husband had dementia.  Aimee also had been in a previous church setting before the Reformed traditions. Aimee's questions from chapter five are in red and my answers are in black

1. At what times of your life has your faith been most challenged? In the1980s I was a DCE (Christian Education Director) in two churches in another denomination. I felt I was where the Lord wanted me to serve rather than work in public school education. That denomination came to ordain women, and although I wasn’t ordained, I did have a ministerial license and some seminary classes. The second church where I served asked me to leave and to this day I have no idea why. It had a congregational form of government and there was no Presbyterian session held in my dismissal. I had to just find myself another church to serve and not to tell anyone what had happened in my leaving; a denominational official would not help with counseling or intervene in the church on my behalf and his advice was only “Carol, you wouldn’t want to split a church over this.” No help at all with my hurt or future. How did you respond? Needless to say I was very bewildered and hurt. How could believers do this to me! I felt I had found my calling above being a public school teacher.  I loved being a DCE.  What did you cling to? I remember clinging to certain Christian songs that I would play on a cassette over and over again in my car. I did not have a theology of forgiveness or hope for the future. I did not meditate on Scripture as I have come to do now. I did not know then that the LORD would bless me with two Christian husbands over the next three decades. I married for the first time at age 40! When that husband died of a heart attack, several years later I married my second husband and began thinking more theologically and entered the Reformed tradition—hence this blog where I asked two men for help with end-time views. Now both of these men early quit this blog. Then I would ask questions of my pastor and get good answers. Later my pastor told me how an elder had criticized me for asking questions in our Sunday afternoon classes. Aimee also recounts on the podcast that she was criticized for asking theological questions. 

2. Where do you think you stand in the theological milk-to-meat chart? I do not think I am milk anymore, but have grown a lot in my orthodoxy and orthopraxy. How has your level of theological knowledge helped or hindered your perseverance? My perseverance has increased because I am confident in the LORD’s working in my life over many trials. The last trial was having my second husband pass away from dementia. I learned to not question the LORD’s providence in my life as I had in the 1980s. He is in charge and can do what He sees fit. 

3. Does your church use any catechisms or creeds to teach you about the Christian faith? Both my Florida church (RPCGA) and Alabama church I am attending (Evangelical Presbyterian) weekly use the Apostle’s Creed and often the Westminster Confession. The repetition grounds me and helps me discern what might be error. If so, which ones does it use and how are they helpful?  If not, how would you articulate what your church believes about God, man, and salvation? Can you explain to others what the statement “Jesus is Lord” means? Jesus is LORD means to me that He is my Savior and Messiah, the One I look to as David did in Psalm 110. Now I am not on a scavenger hunt to find His will, but can daily trust Him to guide me. I do not need to have the Christian success story because He guides me through all the events of my life. Success is that one day I will be with my LORD in heaven. Jesus is LORD indeed. I now believe in His providence in the events that happen to me and take delight in thanking Him.

4.  How do you think learning about God’s Trinitarian nature affects the way we think of him as our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer?  His Trinitarian nature means that He is in charge of everything, is my Savior and takes care of the needs in my life. Out of gratitude for His justification, I press on with the Spirit's help towards my sanctification and the eventual glorification of my life when I see Christ in heaven seated at the right hand of God. Because of His grace, I can live confidently and don’t work my way to heaven, but delight to grow in that grace.

5. Hebrews 2:7-9 also touches on the incarnation. In referencing Psalm 8:4-6, the pastor to the Hebrews is proclaiming that Jesus was made even lower than the angels. Think about that. The angels are messengers of God; they serve him. But Christ came to serve us! If angels delivered a message to us, we would think it to be pretty important. What does our final Messenger indicate about the value of the message? This message relates to me and shows why Christ humbled Himself and was born on earth. Do you affirm the sufficiency of God’s Word revealed to us in Scripture, or do you find yourself looking for outside revelations?  There are no outside revelations to be had. Scripture is sufficient in and of itself.
6.  Of all the psalms, why do you think Psalm 110 is the most quoted in the New Testament? All Scripture is inspired and profitable, but Psalm 110 pinpoints the messianic reign of the One who is seated at God's right hand. I hadn't realized it is the most quoted, but perhaps that is why. 

About complimentarianism I have a few questions. Aimee’s colleague points out in a post called “Accidental Feminist or Vlad the Impaler” that women should not be ordained and that men should be the leader in the home. Although it wasn't my previous background I became relieved to have that head in my church and in my home. 

When, dementia struck halfway through my second marriage, suddenly I had to be in charge. Often I would check with my pastor or at least keep him involved when I took over; for example, I disobeyed my husband by removing guns from the house, but always checked with my pastor about this issue. Early on the pastor took the guns out of the house and my husband said he didn’t want to attend a church where your pastor took your guns. My pastor hadn’t been able to sell the guns and so they waltzed back into the house; the pastor said to have them locked up. My husband had some hallucinations as other Alzheimer’s patients do, and eventually I was able to sell these guns. I also had his doctor and a police officer help with this decision. I didn’t want him to hallucinate and shoot someone. 

I do believe that the husband is the spiritual head of the home, but when mental illness or dementia enters, a wife will need extra help. With belief in God’s providence in this matter, I knew that I had to step up to the plate. I was a helpmeet for him.

Eating a meal and thinking through chapter five at Monte Sano

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Theological Fitness: Part Four

The book questions for chapter 4, Theological Conditioning, are in red and my answers are in black.

But before I get into these questions, I have to say that I am getting convicted to do more for my own physical fitness other than take my dog on more walks. The exercise equipment I had in Florida, I did not bring with me to Alabama—it just wouldn’t fit into the U-Haul truck. So, I am getting a key to the gym at my apartment complex. All these terms author Aimee Byrd is putting in this book are convicting me: heavy licking laid on by Aimee’s fitness trainer in her fitness DVD, weighted-side-plant-T-stand-pushup craziness!! 

Now on to the mental and theological fitness of this chapter with Aimee Byrd's questions.

1. How can perseverance be a gift and yet not be a passive endeavor? When we remember that Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him, we also receive the joy of perseverance. We do our part, but we have His strength.

2. How are both joy and agony set before us in the marathon that is the Christian life? Sanctification demands both disciplines. We need obedience and we need joy. My Huntsville pastor has been doing a series on the Galatians 5 fruit of the spirit which includes both joy and self-control.

3. How does what we know to be true about God help us in our most vulnerable moments? What particular Scriptures would be helpful for you to memorize for your struggles in perseverance? Passages on the LORD’s strength help with this struggle--Psalm 27:1; 46:1; 84:7; Prov. 31:25; Is. 40:29; Jer. 16:19; and 2 Cor. 12:9 which points out that we can take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

4. Do you sometimes find it more difficult to pray when you are weighed down with a heavy burden? What does Jesus’ prayer in Luke 22:42-44 reveal about the way we can approach God in these difficult times? What can we expect as a result? As Christ did facing His resurrection, we can pray for God’s will in the matter, not our will. As a result of His agonizing prayer, an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen Him.

5. Read John 10:17-18. What does this statement tell us about both the authority and the obedience of Christ? How do you think this knowledge helped him as he prayed in Gethsemane? How does it help us now as we pray for perseverance? Christ had the power to lay down His life through death or to not do that. But He knew that this was God’s will that He face death for us on the cross.  He knew even with this huge command for Him that His Father loved Him. Through our perseverance and self-control we also will be blessed.

6. How would you evaluate the theological state of the evangelical Christian books listed by Amazon or some other popular bookseller? What is the quality of teaching about God? How can you have better discernment in finding good teaching? What have you been filling your mind with? Why is this important? Actually I do not study the quality of evangelical books other than I read Joyce Meyer’s book on the subject of my spiritual biography, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill; Joyce was not biblical as I pointed out in my book.

7. Read 1 Peter 3:13-17. How do these verses speak to our theological stamina? What two things should you expect after reading them? We need to be ready to give a good defense to everyone, and we can expect that we make be criticized.

8. When might you see FOMO revealing itself in your own life? What other idols might you be chasing down when you give into this proclivity? How is theological conditioning important here? FOMO is “fear of missing out”. We think we have to be in the “know” or we will be missing out. Do I have an “insatiable desire to hear the new”(p. 91)? I am curious and cautious about the manifestations of Political Correctness in our politics and in the church. However, I do not chase them all down and rant and rave about all of them on Facebook.

As a side note I am praying for whom the LORD wants me to influence. I may not even know who that is. I have a rap on my YouTube channel, MC AC The Rap Lady, with the line that says “Heed God’s Word” and I realize that the students I substitute for may listen to that rap on YouTube but rarely in class. The messages I give through that rap appeals to young people—their language. I also teach biblical principles such as stop bullying and stop swearing in my raps.

9. If Christ is the mirror of our election, what does this say about our perseverance? What happens when we look to something else to help us endure? We sin when we look to something else to save us. Aimee writes at the end of this chapter on Theological Conditioning:

We will fail as we battle the flesh. But we get back up again. Because of the grace we have been given in Christ, we look to him and love righteousness. We see his work on the cross and we hate sin. We can confidently run into our Father’s arms in repentance . . . . We can be assured that we will persevere, because we see our preservation as a gift. And all that the Father has give him, he will never cast our (John 6:37) (p. 95).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Theological Fitness: Part Three

In the last blog post Aimee herself commented she could imagine talking on the porch with 
me about her book, Theological Fitness. So I read chapter three on the front porch as pictured. My dog Ziggy enjoyed sitting there in the shade.  Join us in this discussion. 

There are lots of terms in chapter three that are part of Aimee Byrd’s life and vocabulary and an author should write about things they know. First you have the martial arts terms—circuit training and super-sets, sissy-squats, open dojo, jujutsu, blitz attack, skull crushers, spider push-ups, supination arm extensions and then the reference to an 80’s karate film and extra chins. Extra chins? Than is what old ladies have I’m thinking!  But she means that you go to God’s Word for extra strength in your faith journey, to be able to endure extra rounds as in a fight. You have the terms Aimee’s kids have made up and their toothpaste battles.  In this athletic family Aimee even endures childbirth without drugs. But this is all well and good because the analogy goes along with spiritual fitness, the subject of this book.

Now about the term in the title—“Superabundantly Engaged”, her HWTV or Housewife Theologian version of Hebrews 2:1 and giving more earnest heed. By this term she means to pay attention to Scripture, to the preached Word, and to opportunities to encourage others and to pray. We are to pay attention to our faith, our calling and the ministry of the Gospel. She also uses the term active listening for engagement.

Lady Jane Grey was brought up. I thought I had to look this up to refresh my knowledge as I was tempted to do for the martial arts terms.  But soon Lady Jane Grey is discussed—an historical figure in England who for the joy set before her was executed as a teenager. She endured to the point of death because she stood for her faith. Aimee then writes about Jesus Christ on the cross and notes, “We cannot even pretend to understand the theological, spiritual, emotional, and physical fitness this took”(p. 75). Anchored in Jesus Christ we hold fast and He has the victory.

Below are the questions from “Superabundantly Engaged”. The book questions for chapter 3 are in red and my answers are in black. The questions are called “Going the Extra Mile”.

1.     Why is it such a struggle to hold fast to your hope? When is it particularly more difficult for you to hold fast to your confession? When life has handed me challenges, it is a struggle to hold fast. When I am criticized or called a hypocrite I have had to hold fast, not defend myself, and carry on. Because I want people to like me, this can be hard. But people do not have to like me—hopefully they see Christ in me and that I am a pilgrim on a journey, not yet arrived at the destination. I can point them to Scripture such as some of the great passages mentioned in this chapter of the book. See Hebrews 3:14; 4:14; 6:17-18; 10:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Philippians 2:14, 16; I Thessalonians 5:20-21; and finally Revelation 2:25-26.

2.     Do you find that you tend to be easily distracted or persuaded to give up on the whole Christian life? I am in my early 70s and I realize that there is no way I would want to give up the whole Christian life. Christ has been my strength and burden bearer and what a privilege it is to come to Him daily. My daily Scripture dependence is much better than other disciplines in my life such as careful eating, exercising and house keeping. I did not grow up in an athletic family, but my parents did live a godly life. 

3.     Are you more tempted to look to your own successes and accomplishments in order to persevere than to God’s promises in Christ? Do your failures send you into despair that you may not finish the race? When I look to “my own successes and accomplishments” I really am just overwhelmed at how the LORD has helped me. Yesterday I had a group of ladies over who had prayed for me during my caregiving, death of my husband and also my downsizing and moving. I rejoiced with them at the answered prayer that they could see in my apartment. Failures and despair—not really because I know that finishing the race will be in God’s timing and with His strength. I watched my husband die in our bedroom; he finished the race in God’s time with His strength. 

4.     Do you have a plan for theological training? How could you get a plan together or help someone else in discipleship? What unanswered questions do you have about Christianity that you may want to investigate? Is there a doctrine that you have wanted to learn more about? As a matter of fact I do have a plan for theological training. I have been taking seminary counseling classes and daily email others with Scripture and/or encouragement. I will be in a study group in the fall for a David Jeremiah book and a Randy Alcorn book. No doubt there will be more theology that will come up for me to study. Like who is Melchizedek? Aimee, I will look out for those doctrines and appreciate your weekly Mortification of Spin podcast with two ministers. Many theological terms I can handle now because of my excellent pastors in the past. Beyond orthodox theology, however, is orthopraxy—how I am living out the Christian life and I have observed some in the Reformed faith who know the doctrines but lack some of the fruit of the Spirit in their Christian walk. 

5.     Often I have well-meaning friends who confess they just aren’t good readers. They also may have trouble focusing on the sermon. What are some methods that can help teach someone to be more engaged before, during and after they read or sit under the preached Word? In my youth I had the privilege of listening to Rev. Dwight Small, a man who worked with Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse. I took notes. I regret that I threw away my notes from those early days. Maybe six years ago I purchased a small notebook computer for note taking of sermons and seminary classes. I listen to sermons on podcasts. I am worshiping in a church that provides a template for the pastor’s sermon and I follow along and take notes with that. 

I want to add that engagement includes meditation and praise during the whole worship experience. Engagement includes not looking around the sanctuary observing people. Engagement includes looking up related Scripture and writing in the large margins of my Bible. 

6.     Hebrews 12:12 acknowledges the heavy blows that we all encounter. But it doesn’t excuse our staying down. How can we be encouragers of the gospel to one another at these times? I have several lady friends whom I am contact with daily through the computer. I am writing a seminary dissertation on dementia caregiving and am there for these caregivers myself, having gone through seven years of caregiving myself. I send these caregivers encouragement by email. 

7.     See this chapter’s definition of having “extra chins”—what does it mean to have extra chins in the Christian life? How is this analogy important for both the heavy blows and the trivial, mundane matters that may wear us down? What kind of conditioning does a Christian train under for extra chins (think ‘80s karate movies)? Aimee I am not thinking of those movies! Extra chins means to me being strengthened with Scripture and prayer. During the time I needed to give my late husband morphine every four hours, I had Scripture cards by my bed and I prayed for strength. Others were praying for me as well. Extra chins means practicing forgiveness of others and being quick to ask for forgiveness from them when I am wrong. Extra chins means listening to the quite voice that tells me what is the next thing to do. I heard of a doctor who was told to go back and pray. See HERE for his exciting story.

8.     How does it put things in perspective when we think of the image that Hebrews 6 gives us of Christ being our anchor in the heavenly sanctuary? Who’s the One really holding on? He is our anchor and He is the one holding on to us. Hebrews 6:19-20 reads: 
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Theological Fitness, Part Two

Below are the questions for "It Depends on How You Read the Scale". Reading the scale, hmm. I go to Weight Watchers for instruction and accountability. I do not own a scale, but get that weekly accountability every week. Scripture is really my accountability and this morning I read in Ephesians 5 about redeeming the time. Today I am blogging to redeem the time. Please buy this book and comment along with this series. Thanks. It will be great accountability for me and for you.

The book questions for chapter 2 are in red and my answers are in black.

1. You have to have a goal to persevere. This goal determines how you read the scale. We learn from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 that the Christian goal is unseen. How does this affect the way that we press on? What difficulties does it bring? Aimee calls our goal "glorification" on p. 41. I think this means that perseverance for sanctification. We press on for that "eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison".

2. Why is self-image really a hoax? How might this change the way that we comfort and counsel others? Years ago I wrote secular curriculum called "Improving Self-Esteem and Relationships". I thought life was all about humanistic self-esteem, even though I was a Christian. It took many years for me to realize life is about God's glory, not mine. I do counsel about God's glory now, not self-image. Really if our hope is in the LORD, 

we persevere

and the peace comes.  
Lately I have been using Romans 12:12 to counsel people.

3. What ideas that you hold about how sanctification "looks" might need to be challenged in light of this chapter? How might that affect the way you look at your fellow believers "in the race"? We begin in faith, continue in faith and are justified by faith. One day faith will be sight, but meanwhile as Aimee puts it so well "sanctification is no passive process; it is a daily struggle"(p. 50). Secular people and lukewarm Christians think of us Christian believers as "hypocrites" when we mess up, but we know that we are called to go on to maturity in Christ and to encourage fellow believers to work towards maturity.

4. How have you changed throughout your Christian walk? As you grow in holiness how have your ideas about the extent of your own sinfulness been challenged? Oh yes, and I continue to be challenged. When I got into a Reformed church, it finally dawned on me that my works do not bring glory to God; I need to get over myself and seek His glory. Furthermore, I can admit my sinfulness, because He gets the glory, not me. When I am challenged to do good works for others, I need to be careful that Carol doesn't get the glory--a huge temptation in this goal-oriented society.

5. How do we know if we are really maturing in Christ? I desire to meditate on Scripture and apply it to my life. I am prompted to pray more and with others. As I do this I am gaining the peace that passes all understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

6. Do you agree that the fight to persevere doesn't always look pretty? If so how can we be more honest about how God is working in our lives? Why do we feel so compelled to candy-coat our spiritual condition? It doesn't always look pretty. We have to be honest. I remember the year I worked for Gospel Light Publications writing Sunday School curriculum; a famous writer I admired very much sat down by me at coffee break and talked about her eating too much candy--she didn't sugar-coat anything! It was refreshing. I write down what I eat for Weight Watchers when I am being careful. I realize I need to write down what I eat every day, and examine when I have emotional eating instead of eating for health. I also need to confess every day and ask for God's help.

7. Sometimes we can conjure up our own imaginary scale with our so-called "Christian scorecard." Paul tells us in Philippians 3:4-7 that he held an impeccable score by all outward signs. And yet he counted it all as dung (v. 8 KJV). What did he trade it for? How did he estimate the real value of his works? How does this encourage you as a Christian? Paul traded it all (all his accolades and resume) for Christ. Paul wanted to "know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Philippians 3:10). This encourages me in my struggle to live as Christ wants me to live. Having things easy is not the answer. Paul says "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Theological Fitness, Part One

This blog has been on a sabbatical, due to my downsizing and moving to Alabama, but I knew when Aimee Byrd's second book, THEOLOGICAL FITNESS: Why We Need a Fighting Faith, came out that I would be blogging about it as I did her Housewife Theologian earlier. See HERE for the beginning of this 2013 series. Aimee in both books asks reflective questions at the end of each chapter. Buy your book from Amazon or wherever and reflect with me on her questions.

Chapter One is called "The Toughest Event on the Planet". Aimee compares physical prowess of her brother and daughter to the spiritual stamina we need to persevere. We need the body of Christ to persevere, and we need to be encouragers with other Christians.

Aimee's questions are in red and my answers are in black.

1. My previous church was actually named Pilgrim Presbyterian, which is a great reminder of my pilgrim status. What exactly is a pilgrim? How does this status make us different from the rest of the world?
Pilgrims usually banded together. Many Reformed churches consider that they are part of this old Pilgrim faith that came to America. I once asked my Florida pastor, Dr. Kenneth Talbot, what church represents the current Pilgrims and he said the Reformed faith are essentially in the line of the Jonathan Edwards type churches of the 18th century. Seeing that we love one another is part of this tradition and also is biblical according to John 13:35.

2. In Philippians 1:27 Paul tells us to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind. How does this exhortation play out when we are in disagreement over doctrine or practice? How important is theology to our Christian union?                                         
Truth needs to come before unity. In choosing a church in my new location, I considered how the pastor treats the Word of God. The first Sunday I heard Dr. Randall Jenkins preach, he made a definite biblical statement about biblical marriage and I was impressed. I also liked how he and the church had left the PCUSA and joined the Evangelical Presbyterian over unity with that old denomination. Truth prevailed, even though it cost them to get out of the PCUSA.

3. The imagery of an advancing line of legionnaires against the enemy is both bold and intimate. Do you have relationships in your church that foster the vulnerability, trust, and soldiering that this illustration represents? When you are with your Christian brothers and sisters, do you have this kind of selfless solidarity, or are you more concerned with how you've been offended by something or someone who's not measuring up?
 I have significant fellowship on the Internet and with email friends. I have selfless solidarity by texting with a couple in my Florida church. I am developing ties in the church I am attending in the new city I moved to in June. About being offended, I had a secular person call me a hypocrite recently and I just choose to not be offended; he thinks that Christians have to be perfect and giving by his standards and we never will be perfect until heaven.

4. Have you made a fighting effort to get to know Christ's bride?                                                                              
Yes I have. For example, recently I volunteered to teach Vacation Bible School Science lessons in the church I am attending. I also was so comfortable with this church that I decided to not roam the countryside Sunday mornings looking for the perfect church, and also wasting valuable worship experiences. 

5.  How does the worship service affect your ideas about what is ordinary and what is extraordinary? Is ordinary bad? Why do you think God has ordained such ordinary means to convey such extraordinary grace? 
I do not attend church for entertainment. I attend for instruction and worship. God wants us to worship him in Spirit and in truth. See John 4:24.     

6. Do you find that your involvement in technology has made it harder for you to pay attention? What are you sacrificing for the constant interruptions from media devices throughout the week? How does this compare to your willingness to be interrupted by the gospel?
Several months ago I visited a church where in the row in front of me two people were on electronic devices, and I mean they were not taking sermon notes as I have done on my notebook computer, and also they were not using these devices to look up Scripture. They were using a smart phone to text. If during the week we are always on an iPad or iPhone, we are missing real opportunities to communicate with people and to have them minister to us.

7. Is regular church attendance important to you? How about membership?
Attendance is essential unless I am sick.  My membership is in my Florida church as I am working on a counseling dissertation at the seminary connected with that church. Aimee emphasizes Hebrews 10:23-25 on corporate worship and I totally agree.

8. When was the last time you were encouraged to persevere? What difference did it make?
Scripture continuously encourages me to persevere. I held on to Romans 12:12 this last half year. The daunting task before me had been to downsize and get ready to move. After moving the perseverance has not stopped, as I have had the tasks associated with getting settled.  If I didn’t do certain things, I feel I would be sinning as the direction for my move seemed to be what God had intended. (See James 4:17.)

Aimee highlights our need to be there for others, watching our own motivation as we encourage them.  On page 36 she writes, “We are exhorted to lift up our own drooping hands as well as to pick one another up.”  And there are more gems to follow in the rest of the book, so comment here and get your book so we can lift up each other's drooping hands.