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. 


  1. I am like you, Carol, I have a notebook I take with me to church to write down key points from the sermon. I also write down in it scripture and my thoughts about what I have read. I think it is easy for people not to be engaged in the Word or listening to a sermon if they don't do it often, that is why it is critical to be in the Word daily and when attending church to get there on time (my biggest gripe with people arriving late) and participate actively in all parts of the worship service.


    1. Excellent, Betty. I

      can't be bothered with people arriving late myself. Sometimes I am late now for Sunday School before the worship service. Last Sunday I stopped to pray for the pianist who has a disability and that made me late to Sunday School. In worship some people may have to leave off a child in the nursery and just can't get there in time. I think they have their reasons, because I have mine sometimes also. But it is a good thing for me to work on for myself so I have more time to prepare my heart.

  2. I also bring a notebook and write down scriptures and what I am able to of the Pastor's words-- hard sometimes to be looking up verses and taking notes. I like to look at the notes & verses a little more during the week and think about the message.

    1. That is so good to go back to those notes, Mary. We are on a series now and I should do that and email the pastor questions.

      Also, Mary, so glad you have decided to blog about this questions elsewhere and I will be following what you say.


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