Women & Books Together 2: Found in Him (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

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Favorite author.  Great gospel topic.  10 weeks.  Women studying, growing, and learning together.

Starting January 6, we will begin the second installment of Women and Books Together.  A weekly blog post where we discuss a chapter of a book together.  Doesn’t matter where you live, how fast you read, or what church you go to.  Thankful for blogs to do this – and the book!

Elyse Fitzpatrick’s latest book (came out in October) is Found in Him.  All about learning and celebrating  our belonging to Christ.  This is a marvelous aspect of the Gospel.  One that as women we should know and celebrate.

So, we will start on January 6 with discussing chapter 1.  I will post my thoughts and some discussion or thought-provoking questions.

If you don’t have the book yet, put it on the Christmas list or buy it with gift card money!

Favorite Quotes from Comforts from Romans

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Do you ever struggle to believe the Gospel? If you are a Christian or non-Christian your answer is or should be YES! Even as believers, I think we tend to struggle in believing the life-giving hope of the Gospel that is ours in Christ.

One of my favorite authors put together a month-long book of devotions going through the first 8 chapters of the book of Romans. Not only is it theologically solid, but it is also easy for anyone to grasp, and full of hope for sinners like me.

I hope you find hope in these quotes as Elyse points us to Christ – and if you haven’t picked up this book, then I urge you to do so.

“He (Jesus) emerged into the dim light of our world, bringing with him the ineffable brightness of a universe remade, having reverses the curse and defeated the power of darkness forever.” (pg 20)

“He absolutely delights in demonstrating his mercy and love. Rather than our failures frustrating him, our sin simply serves to make his mercy more beautiful.” (pg 29)

“Our gospel inheritance is meant to cause us to rejoice and to live out each day in grateful obedience.” (pg 55)

“In both our justification and our sanctification, Jesus Christ must remain in our minds where he is in Paul’s: completely, utterly, permanently, gloriously, preeminent.” (pg 101)

“God no longer has any wrath left for us because we’ve been justified by faith.” (pg 130)

Yet Another Bible?

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I used to work in a chain Christian bookstore. Bibles took over the place. There were so many. And so many have come out since the mid-90s. There is a Bible for teens, children, moms of _______, dads who golf, etc. If you are charismatic – you have a Bible just for you. If you follow certain preachers – they probably recommend a certain Bible. Why is there a need for another one?

I was intrigued by the Gospel Transformation Bible and was excited that we got it in the mail.

Here are three reasons I love the Gospel Transformation Bible and maybe some thoughts that will point you to it if you are in the market for a new study Bible:

1. The design. This may not be the most important factor in choosing a new study Bible, but I think the simple black and white hardcover design is fabulous. Simple and precise. Very easy to read and find what you need inside, too.

2. The preachers and scholars that Crossway chose to use is varied. There are men and women from different denominational backgrounds, some are preachers, others are teachers or professors at seminaries. It is encouraging to see the common ground that the Gospel brings together.

3. The main focus: the Gospel. The notes that you will read in this study Bible will all point to one thing – the Gospel – Jesus Christ. He is most important part of any theological discussion. He is what all the Scriptures point to.

Appreciate Bibles that focus on this one thing – Jesus!

This is from the Crossway website about the Bible: “Focusing on heart transformation rather than mere behavior modification, their points of application emphasize the Hows and Whys of practical application to daily living—in short, how the gospel transforms us from the inside out.”

Book Review: The Pastor’s Justification (Jared Wilson/Crossway)

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Whoever said being married to a pastor was easy – hasn’t been married to a pastor.  Let me explain and in that explanation, tell you why I chose (and liked) Jared’s book The Pastor’s Justification – a book for pastors (not pastor’s wives).

When I went to seminary, I went for the purpose of getting further training so I could do what I wanted to do: disciple.  If marriage came with that, great.  But, at 23, that was not my main goal. I was there to learn how to do ministry and engage in ministry.  I did meet girls there who said they were there because they knew they were called to be a pastor’s wife and seminary was the place to find single men entering the ministry.

Now, 14 years almost after entering seminary, having been married to a pastor for almost 2 years, I can tell you that there really is nothing glamorous about being a pastor’s wife.  And that is why I chose to read Wilson’s book.  And it’s a good one.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my husband, I love being married to him, I love serving him, and I love being his wife.  I love ministry, I love doing ministry – but it is hard.  It is hard to see your husband get beat up at work (not currently or literally, no black eyes yet).  There have been times when ministry is hard and there are more times when it is a joy.   It is hard to see him discouraged at times and wonder why the church would do that to him (because the church is full of sinners), and sometimes you just want him to be able to worship in church with you (but have to wait until vacation to be able to do that).  As a friend who is also a pastor’s wife said, “Sundays make me feel like a single mom”.

Wilson, a pastor in Vermont, writes a very personal, very relatable, and insightful book for pastors.  But, I also think it can be useful for pastor’s wives as well.  Wives: if you want to know some of the heartache, pull, weight that is in your husband’s heart at times, read this book.  Know how to encourage your husband in the gospel of Christ when he is discouraged.  When your pastor husband feels like a failure and you don’t know what to do, this book might be insightful for you.  Wilson takes many of the struggles that ALL pastors face and puts them up against our sinful spirit, and the grace and cross of Jesus.  Our husbands aren’t successful because the numbers of the church increase or more people get baptized or the giving is on the up: they are successful because they are in Jesus.

Here are some ways you can read this book:

1.  If you have multiple pastor’s wives in your church: read this book together.  I think it would be great to have a monthly gathering of pastor’s wives, sip coffee or tea, eat a cookie or fruit, and talk about this book – be real, be vulnerable, and share what God is doing in your marriage.

2.  Read this book with your husband.  It will strengthen your marriage more than you think.  You need to be in constant dialogue with your pastor husband.  He needs to know where you are struggling and you need to know where he is struggling. Who else has that much insight into her husband’s heart?


W&BT #1: Name Above All Names (week 6)

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This was another impactful chapter from Begg and Ferguson’s book Name Above All Names.  I have learned that what I am experiencing in life helps determine how I will read a book – this one is no diferent.  Here are some highlights from the “Suffering Servant” chapter:

1.  Isaiah 53: “He carried our sorows” – Sin plays a harsh role in this world.  Our sorrows are born from the sin in this world.  But, we don’t need to carry them all by ourselves.  We have communities: friends, blog readers (y’all), pastors, family members (some), but most of all we have a willing Jesus who already has born all of our sorrows and will continue to do so until He returns – (then we won’t have any because we’ll be perfect) – as He intercedes for us next to the throne of the Father.  This is such a reassuring thought!

2.  “How is it possible for the purpose of God to be at the heart of all this?  How can Isaiah say – however reverently – that God is in control of it all, that it “was the will of the Lord to crush Him” (pg 140).  This is an important doctrinal lesson to know and believe. If you can’t believe this fact – that God the Father was in charge of the darkest moment of history – then why would you believe that God is in charge of the darkest moments of your life?

3.  “Our Lord’s outward posture here is expressive of the passion within” (pg 144).  Though this quote is not talking about musical worship – I think the same principle applies.  If we are passionate about God within – won’t we come to worship and participate in worship in an outward manner?  That may mean different things like singing with a smile on our faces – singing loudly and expressively.  It may mean getting on our knees or lifting our hands as far they can go and not caring about who sees (and also not being distracted by those who choose to worship in this manner).  It may mean lifting our hands in prayer giving up our private worship to the God who sees.  It will look different for different people – but we are all worshipers.

4.  “All three persons would always be involved in everything God was doing.  The Father would plan salvation, the Son would come to procure it, and the Spirit would be sent to apply it” (pg 144).  Another important doctrine is the one of the Trinity.  We can’t forget one of the persons of the Trinity in the work of salvation.  I’ve learned a lot of this from Dr. Bruce Ware, a professor at SBTS, a gentle, humble, and brilliant father, husband, professor, and author.  Our prayer life will change when we learn and love this doctrine.  Our prayers of thanksgiving will change when we know and live this doctrine.  Our corporate will worship will change when we see the magnificence of all the persons of the Trinity.

5.  “My soul is overwhelmed” (pg 146).  Jesus was a vulnerable Savior.  He didn’t hide His true feelings.  He was real with the disciples at the hardest moment of His life (up to this point).  He wasn’t pithy or unreal with His disciples.  He said He was overwhelmed.  He ultimately knows that it is the will of His Father to crush Him – but He doesn’t hide His emotions (real, true, honest, not sinful) from those around Him.  This is part of what makes Him the perfect Suffering Servant.

6.  “It is this theology of the cross that we find here.  God grant that in seeing Christ as the Suffering Servant we will be done once and for all with the superficial triumphalism that sadly emanates from too many Christian organizations and churches” (pg 155).  How are you real and vulnerable with those in your church?  How do you show compassion and true life with those in your church?  Does everyone think you have it all together?  I hope not.  Because we are all sinners and have damaged lives but who are greatly redeemed by a compassioned Savior.  Let us not diminish the work of Christ on the cross by having others think we have it all together.

Join me next week as we finish up the book!  It’s been a great one for me!

W&BT #1: Name Above All Names Week 5

On the first page of this chapter in Begg’s and Ferguson’s book, Name Above All Names, I have scribbled, “this chapter resends hope to me on every page”.  What an encouraging page to head back to after having read it many weeks ago – especially on a day when my pregnancy hormones are crazy and it seems like every email or text I receive just hits me in the wrong way.  HOPE

Here are some thoughts from the chapter on Jesus: Son of Man:

1.  “We are struck by how deeply embedded some of their character traits seem to be” (pg 103). As a parent – do you wonder what traits you are passing to your children?  I think about that often now that I have two loveable boys of our own.  My husband often says that is one of the hardest jobs in parenting: seeing your sin looking back at you.  I think my parents did a good job of raising me – but as an adult I see where some of my traits come from and it is scary to think that I too could pass on some less than desirable or Godly traits to my boys.  This is where hope comes in.  God is a God of bringing hope and change into a family.  Just because your family is one way doesn’t mean that those traits and cycles have to continue to the next generation.  Sebastian’s life verse ends in hope for the children in the coming generation – the good of the Lord (Jer 32:39)  Do you parent or live like there is hope in breaking the sin cycle in your family?

2.  “The kingdom of God will overwhelm all other kingdoms.  The Kingdom of God will be established and will endure forevermore” (pg 105).  I already dislike seeing ads for the Presidential race in 2016.  Good that a new president will be coming either way, but not looking forward to the next 2+ years where the backbiting and slander will happen everywhere.  And when the bad news comes on the news or as I watch previews for certain coming shows or movies – previews that revel in betrayal, sin, murder, affairs – I know that God is still on His throne and He will make all things right in His time.  That brings me hope.

3.  “The Son of Man is coming to the source of ultimate authority.  It resides exclusively in the Ancient of Days, who is seated on the throne.” (pg 107).  I’ve learned recently from Rob Rienow that any question of sin or dysfunction in this life is really a question of authority.  Who is the ultimate authority in your life?  Who is the ultimate authority in this world?  If our answer is not God – we are wrong.  Some will think and say and live and believe that they are their ultimate source of authority – but God created and gave life to everyone of us, so He is our ultimate authority.  That is very hope-giving to me.

4.  “The remarkable thing about this picture of Jesus is that He is never isolated from His people” (pg 108).  I’ve actually thought much about this in light of some of the “suffering” and tears I’ve had over the last two months.  Not all of my tears are hormone related.  And one of the things that brings me the most comfort is that Jesus suffered.  He had people slander him.  Yet He believed and taught and lived truth and was planted firmly in the hand of God His Father.  This brings me hope when I am going through trials.

5.  “Kingdom grace brings more than forgiveness.  It brings freedom from the powers of darkness and restoration to new life” (pg 118).  My husband would probably like me to frame that quote.  It was probably one of the most powerful in this whole book to me.  Grace is the only thing that sets us free from the tyranny of listening to others, or repeating harmful lies to ourselves, by letting others’ thoughts control us, or by living in destructive habits that control our lives.  Walk in light.  Dwell in freedom.

Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life (review: crossway)

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If you are a die-hard Bonhoeffer fan or don’t even know how to say his name, much less spell it – this book is for you.

This series by Stephen Nichols (church historian) and Justin Taylor (Crossway/blog guru) is apt to make all of us less stuck in our chronological snobbery (as I think CS Lewis referred to).  The other two “thinkers” in this series is Warfield and Schaeffer.  The new one is about the WW2-time period theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
The best-selling work of Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, is by no means his only work, just his most well-known.  The rest of his life and work are highlighted in this book.
One aspect of the book that I enjoy is the historical work that Nichols has put in to it: using the lesser well-known works of Bonhoeffer to justify what Nichols says about the book’s main star.  He also uses history to corroborate.
Most importantly, the readers get a true glimpse of the theologian, man, pastor, and martyr.  We get a glimpse into his struggles with the theology of the day found in Germany, his love for his homeland, and how he stood up to the anti-God mentality that was so prevalent in the days of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
If you want a readable primer on Bonhoeffer, a good overview of his life, work, and the gospel that filled every thought – you will want to pick up Nichols’ work.

Name Above All Names (Review and Book Study Coming)

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Jesus.  What’s in a name?

This is the most important name to us Christians – the one that our entire Hope lies in.  Begg and Ferguson, some of my favorite preachers, have teamed up to write a fabulous and readable book that studies some of the positions/names of Jesus.

I chose this book from Crossway this month because of the authors, but I was afraid it was going to be over my head or not really readable and applicable.  I was wrong on both acccounts.  They have made this book not only applicable but funny in places.

One of the underlying messages throughout this book is that Jesus is the center message of the entire Bible – and Jesus needs to be the center of your life.

So what about this special book study coming?  In the past I’ve had a full-time job writing curriculum for a church.  This is the book we are starting with!  This will be a 7 week series, so it should finish by the time some schools/home schools start back.  It will begin JULY 15 so it gives you plenty of time to get the book.  We’ll read a chapter per week and then have study questions here, some thoughts from my reading, and opportunities for you to comment on the blog and join in on the study.  This is sort of like Tim Challies’ Reading the Classics together.  I hope to have a blog button up soon so you can have it on your blog or facebook.  I’m really looking forward to studying this book together with yall and see how we grow in our knowledge of the Savior.  Oh, and this will be geared toward women only).

So, go buy the book and get ready to learn more about our Great Savior!

Book Review: Lucado’s New Kids Book: The Boy and the Ocean (Crossway Books)

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I really wish I had written this book. Lucado talks about some of my favorite created things: the ocean and the mountains.  On a personal note: that’s why I always thought NC or VA are the perfect states because you have both within a few hours of each other.  The wonder of East Coast living…but I digress.

Lucado does an excellent and theologically-accurate job of describing God’s love to kids in a way that they can tangibly see and touch and feel.  One of the canvases he discusses is the ocean.  Another one is mountains.  And a third is the stars.  All three can demonstrate to a child some ways that could help them know God’s love better.  Even as an adult who has been a believer most of my life, I think the ocean is the best way to communicate God’s love and other characteristics to others.  I think much of Psalm 19 and Romans 1 when I look at the oceans.

While this book doesn’t go into every aspect of God’s love or many more of His characteristics, it gives a good base to start from and it is good for little children (toddlers).

The writing goes well with the illustrations that are beautifully done in a fashion that will appeal to children.  That’s the only downside to kindle books – you don’t get the beautiful illustrations in a book you can hold.

Thankful for this book.  Elijah loved it and it will be read a lot by my little boy (and Little2 who is on the way).

Book Review: Comforts from Romans (Crossway Books)

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Do you ever find yourself in need of an encouraging word and something just to tell you that your life will be ok because of Jesus?

Whenever I am in need of these things I look to two people outside of my Buddy and Little Buddy: Phyllis, my mentor, and Elyse Fitzpatrick.  They both bring the Word to my life when I need it.

This new book from Elyse is no different.  Short chapters make it an accessible read, especially for moms who may not have an hour to themselves without toddlers wanting snack food or babies needing to be fed or changed.  This book taken from the book of Romans will encourage you in the Word where the truth lies and where life finds meaning again because of our hope in Christ.

Whether you need encouragement in your:


Emotional Life

Physical Life




Church Life


Work Place

All the answers for these problems lie within the pages of Scripture (it is Sufficient)!  And Elyse pulls together 32 daily readings (about 4 pages long each) to help you find the answers that you might need.  Scripture as a whole can and should impact our lives as women and as believers.  The Gospel  must impact our lives in every area!

If you are looking for a book that can encourage you, convict you, and help give you practical understanding in a very indepth book of the Bible, pick up Elyse’s new one.