Romans 12:21

Well, my assignments and reading for school have pretty much kept me from posting anything new the past few weeks. Also, the past week or two has been pretty this:qabsyvj

We’ve had the crud run through everyone in the house. That’s always fun when I have a new job, Mrs. MMT has a new job, Sprout is potty training, and I’m taking these courses. Oh yeah, and at some point, we’d like to have a life. Oh, also, as I mentioned in my reading challenge, I had requested a number of book from Baker, well, I received three in the mail this week. Good stuff.

I’m kind of freaking out about the amount of stuff I have going on. Then again, when my head stops being a lead balloon, things may not seem so bad. Anyway, that means no book review this week, also, the post is a day late. So, I’m just going to double dip. One of my assignments was to write up a few short thoughts on a verse that has particular meaning to me, so this is what I cam up with –

Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

This is a verse that has been important to me for about the last 10-15 years. There are two parts that get to me. The first part, ‘be not overcome’ addresses a number of circumstances. If you watch the news a great deal, or get involved with ministries to the destitute, sex-trafficking, or refugees, you can feel overwhelmed. I sometimes see so much evil in the world that I just want to stop. I want to withdraw and avoid everything, and it becomes easy to feel like it is just too much, so why bother? I really likely the simple, direct, indicative, ‘be not overcome’.

The second part, ‘overcome evil with good,’ is sort of a launching point to many other aspects of the Bible. It makes me think of other verses, such as: turn the other cheek; the darkness fears the light; if God is for us, who can be against us; pray for your enemies; and basically the entirety of Revelation. There is almost a feeling for triumph with this part of the verse. You know that, long-term, in the end, Good will overcome and evil will be vanquished.

There is a lot of encouragement in the verse. To the first part, it says to me that if we are command not to be overcome, then it is within our ability (or that God will give us the ability) to overcome. That is very freeing, you know that when bad things happen, you will not always be overwhelmed, and eventually, goodness prevails. And it’s that second part that is probably the most encouraging. As I mentioned above, the end is already decided, the outcome is not in doubt; evil will be overcome by good.

It is a great reminder of the sovereignty of God. It give you hope and strength to get through whatever trails you may face. My wife and I actually put this verse up on a chalk board by the door not too long ago. We were part of a church plant that died. There were internal issues that actually lead to a church trial and eventually the defrocking of the pastor as well as the church being removed from the denomination. It was a frustrating and discouraging time for us, so this was a reminder that all we can do is what God has commanded is right, and we know that in the end, all will be restored.

2017 Reading Challenge

As I mentioned in my review of my 2016 challenge, I’m not planning on reading as many books this year. There are a few reasons for this, one, as of last week, I have started a new job that has roughly tripled my commute. Another reason is that I am starting some course work from CCEF, before entering completely into a new master’s program with Westminster. Taking classes means specific reading requirements, but also lots of writing, so I cannot devote as much time to reading. Finally, as I plowed through more and more books last year, I ended up writing less and less. So, with what little time I have between taking classes, a new job, and a toddler, I’d like to focus a little more writing.

Anyway, to the books. I’m laying out my challenge a little differently this year. Last year, I basically just say, hey, I’m going to read a bunch of books. This year I’m listing a number of specific books, and then some categories for the remaining few.

The first group are two books that I am reading daily, one is a devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, and the other is the Bible. I’ve mentioned the M’Cheyne plan before, so I’m putting it to the test this year.

Next group, novels. If I ever finish War and Peace, I’d like to check out three other novels – Hyperion, Lolita, and Brave New World. I also have read a few books through the Kindle First thing, so, call it maybe two more from that category.

The third group is my Christiany stuff, of which there are only three. I know, that’s not many for a blog with Theologian in the title, but bear with me, more Christian life/thought type books will come out in other categories. The specific three I’d like to hit are Five Views of Biblical Inerrancy (from the great Counterpoints series), Boice’s exposition on the Sermon on the Mount, and the classic, The Plan of Salvation.

Next up, non-fiction. Again, only four of these, though it does include one ‘big-book’, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (funny side note on this, Kindle can tell if you’ve finished a book or not and obviously if you’ve downloaded a book. So, the year this book came out, it was the most downloaded non-fiction, and the least read/finished, percentage-wise, of any book). Another good one I’ve I wanted to read for a while, Misbehaving (about Behavioral Economics). Sprout just turned two, so obviously it’s about time for me to obsess over her education, so I have Einstein Never Used Flash Cards on the list. Rounding out the non-fiction list is an autobiography from Jimmy Carter – A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety – which is just a cool title. I’ll also add a stretch goal here, if I’m doing well come, say, November, I’ll through in Gödel, Escher and Bach, another big book, so we will see.

Probably the biggest category, books I need to read for school. So far this include, Marriage Matters, Hold Me Tight, The Christian Life, and Systems Theory in Action. I’ve already read two others for these classes. This is the list for just two courses. Now, in the summer, I’ll take one or two more courses, but none in the fall, so this list will grow by probably three to seven.

Finally, my review copy books. So far, there are three on my list – The Christian Lover, Pillars of Grace, and The End of Protestantism. The first two are from Reformation Trust Publishing, which has been pretty easy to use. The last one is from Netgalley, which I’m not entirely sure that I like. I’ve reviewed a few from there, but I’ve also skipped a number of them, and they’ve been taken off my list or my ability to read them is gone. Not really their fault, since I didn’t review them. However, I think I just like working with the publishers directly. I’ve requested three more from Baker, and Crossway just emailed me the other day to say I need to go pick up another one. This will round out whatever is left in my goal of 24, and any that comes after that.

So there you go, I’ve specifically called out 19 of my 24 book goal (I guess 20 of my 25 stretch, if that works) with the final five being a mix of school and review copy books. Hopefully, it will go well and maybe I can move it up to 30 in the fall, however that will probably be my max, so I can focus on other things. Of course, this is likely to be a very crazy year, so it’s possible that I won’t even hit my goal.

You can stay updated at my Goodreads page, or wait for an update that will come probably sometime in the summer.

New Direction

As many of you probably know, I have been considering seminary for quite some time. My issue was always, what would I do with a degree, especially the MDiv? People who know me personally know that I would make a pretty poor pastor, and I would be quite bad at preaching. That generally led me to look at some of the other master’s programs, especially from RTS. Well, over the past couple months, I’ve actually been looking into counseling. At first, I was looking locally, at places like Richmont and Mercer, but also found some good programs online, such as the counseling degrees offered by Southern, Midwestern, and Westminster. I was especially keen on Westminster, as I thought it offered one of the best mixes of theology and Bible studies, with counseling coursework. Also, they were launching a new online program that starts this fall.

So, I applied. I didn’t get in for the fall, though I guess I’m technically waitlisted, but I am in for the next time the start matriculation, which will be, at latest, fall of ’18; I’ll know for sure in July. One thing I can do right now is take courses at CCEF that will transfer in when I start the full program. So, I did that, too. As of Jan 18, I will be taking two courses, Dynamics of Biblical Change (basically the intro to Biblical Counseling), and Marriage Counseling.

I am not entirely sure what I am doing with this. A few months ago, I was fully planning on making a career change. However, I’ve recently started a new job. As that plays out, I will see if what I needed was a job change, and not a career change. That would mean this would be more for just some sort of ministry, though I don’t know what form that will take.

Anyway, so that is an update of where I am and what you can expect from this blog over the next few months. I will continue to do book review and to be pretend theologian, but there will also likely be heavy doses of counseling related writings.