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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

book

This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. ūüėČ

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. ūüôā His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and¬†you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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The Gentleness of Mercy

Okay, in case you haven’t gotten the idea yet…this book is just amazing! ¬†I just finished chapter six. Chapters five and six both deal with the idea of mercy and forgiveness in a relationship. ¬†Forgiveness I have…I have a pretty easy time forgiving people (unless you were to put a snake in my bed; that would require some SERIOUS forgiveness.) ¬†I’ve always kind of used mercy and forgiveness interchangeably. You know, mercy is bestowing something that is undeserved, forgiveness isn’t deserved, voila! ¬†This book questioned that theory in one sentence.

“Mercy can be extended to those who don’t recognize it, whereas forgiveness is most often a transaction between parties.” (pg 98)

In other words, you can bestow mercy without the other person ever knowing! This really hit home with me as I thought about how many times I can just keep my mouth shut and not say anything. For example, my sister has this horrible habit that really bugs me. (And yes, I have her permission to post this.) She forgets to flush the toilet. Often. It drives me crazy because I have to flush and then when I’m done it won’t flush because the tank is still filling up. So, as I was writing this post, I have to use the restroom and I walk in and the toilet isn’t flushed! AGAIN! My instant thought was, “Man, I’m really going to have to harp on her to get her to fix this. It’s so simple; why can’t she remember?” ¬†Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the post I had left just a second before. Oh, yeah…mercy. So I’ve decided to show mercy on this point and not mention it. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m just keeping it inside, harboring resentment either. It means that I’m being merciful, patient, and kind toward her.

Does this make sense? In my mind it makes sense but I’m not sure my thoughts are flowing well onto the keys this time. It’s so easy to miss the point of mercy in two different ways:

1. By burying it deep inside and letting bitterness take over and

2. By becoming proud in your heart about how many times you’ve shown mercy to another without them knowing.

I think mercy has a kind of gentle humbleness about it. Realizing how much mercy you’ve been shown by the Father and letting that flow out of you to others. And it doesn’t have to be about the ‘big’ things in life

It can be as simple as someone not flushing the toilet or any other pet peeve you may have.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in books

 

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A Healthy View of Sin

So my Dad has given me and my younger sister a reading assignment and I’m really enjoying the book. It’s called “When Sinners Say I Do” by Dave Harvey. (He’s also made reading it a prerequisite for anyone wanted to marry us!) ūüôā ¬†I’m only two chapters into it but I have already learned so much! One thing I love about the book is that it applies to all of life. ¬†The lessons you can learn will aid in every relationship you have because every relationship is about bring glory to the Lord!

The chapter I read today had to do with our view of sin. I’m beginning to realize how lightly I take sin sometimes. How easy it is to brush it off and forget it. I’m learning that I need to have God’s view of sin and not buy into what the world says about it. ¬†From the book:

“Do you fear that you’ll be too hard on yourself? If so, just remember that to Paul, his ‘worst of sinners’ view was a sign of clear-eyed self-assessment and a robust awareness of the holiness of God. Remember also who we are in Christ¬†despite our sin: we are treasured children of the Father, who loved us enough to send his only Son to suffer the punishment for our sins, even those sins we have yet to commit. And remember that God is at work in you, conforming you into a genuine, from the inside out, example of Christ. A sober assessment of our sinful condition doesn’t hinder that work, it celebrates it!”

I’ve seen two very different views of sin in people I know:

1. The person who is flippant and disregards the seriousness of sin and

2. The person who refuses to let go of their forgiven sin and beats themselves up continually.

 

I think both views are wrong and there is a happy medium. We need to realize exactly what our sin is (rebellion against our holy God) and I think it should grieve us when we sin against our Savior. But we also need to move on once we have repented (turned away from the sin) and God has forgiven us. To doubt God’s ability to forgive is to depreciate Christ’s work on the cross.

All these concepts have been floating around in my mind for the past week or so. Prompted not only by this book but also by a Bible study I am doing. I’m excited to see what else the Lord has to teach me!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in books

 

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Book Recommendation

Thanks to a late-night babysitting engagement last night, I finally finished The Answers Book!  So now I have the happy job of writing my two-cents about it.

Over all, it was an amazing book.¬† Some of the science was a little over my head but even with that, I could still gain the point of each chapter.¬† I wasn’t even aware of some of the ridiculous arguments people make against the Bible.¬† Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the information in this book to be better informed and to better articulate and defend the accuracy of the Bible.

I loved the chapter on the dinosaurs.¬† I laughed at the chapter entitled:¬† “Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days.”¬† Well, duh, he IS GOD!!

Anyway, it was a great book and would benefit anyone who reads it!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in books

 

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Dreams Come True- at the Library

Random Fact: We went to the library today.¬† Everyone knows that libraries are magical places filled with wonderful things,¬†¬†aka…books.¬† And we all love books. We used to take a laundry basket to carry all of our books in until all of our baskets broke. Now we just have a regular basket.¬† It’s fun to go to the library because a couple of the librarians groan when they see us walk in.

Another Random Fact: I love David McCullough. I’ve read 1776, John Adams, Truman, and Mornings on Horseback. I like the reliability of his facts and the interesting way he presents them.

So, I told you all that in order to tell you that I found a golden treasure today at the library. They got a new book-

The illustrated edition of 1776!  It is huge and comes with replicas of original documents, letters, and maps in pockets on the inside!   It costs about $60 and I can read it for free!  I ran to Caroline to tell her the amazing news and she gave me a funny look. Obviously not a history fanatic.

 

Needless to say, my day was made.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in books

 

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Books I’m Reading

As I finished Grace Unknown, I had the wonderful privilege to pick a new book to read!  I searched for a while with some idea of what I was looking for and finally found it.

2,000 Years of Christ’s power: Renaissance and Reformation

You know you’ve got a good book in your hands when it’s dedicated to The Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals! I’ve wanted to read this book for years but one shouldn’t just jump thoughtlessly into a 600 page book without thinking and planning! I’m also starting:

The New Answers Book

because I want to learn better how to logically and scientifically defend creationism.

I like to read two books at the same time so if I don’t feel like one, I can read the other. I’m also about to finish Stepping Heavenward for the tenth time!¬†I really like that book because I sometimes struggle with the same things that the main character wrestles with. When I find a book I really like, I read it to death in order to really understand it. I’m so excited to learn from these books!

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in books

 

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