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Exciting things are happening at the Pilgrim Library. We are expanding! This page will introduce you to some of our latest books and book reviews. We are always getting new books in that help teach us more about our faith, and its implications in Christian living. We already have a great selection of books on theology, church history, commentaries, Christian biographies, and more. Our library has books for all types of readers from the serious student, to the casual inquiring mind. What would you like to see in our library? Do you have any reviews of our books you would like to submit? We’d love to get an email from you.

Review of “The Gospel Comes with a House Key”

Butterfield’s book excels in amazing ways at setting a vision for radically, ordinary hospitality.

Dr. Butterfield’s book excels in amazing ways at setting a vision for radically, ordinary hospitality and its transformative power for our post-Christian culture.  Her closing list of “Imagine a world where…” is pure gold and worth typing up and putting on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

Do I “…see strangers as neighbors and neighbors as family of God“?

Do I “…recoil at reducing a person to a category or a label“?

Do I “…see God’s image reflected in the eyes of every human being on earth“?

Do I know that I am “…like meth addicts and sex-trade workers…,” …taking my “…own sin seriously – including the sin of selfishness and pride“?

Once I’m done asking myself these jack-hammer questions, I can move on to the second paragraph in the preface to Rosaria Butterfield’s most recent book The Gospel Comes with a a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World.  Whew. But for a person that’s being honest with their heart’s default mode and their daily practices, that’s about the pace of the book from launch to landing.

In a sense, Dr. Butterfield’s book is a little like Aslan, good but not safe.  But that’s kind of her point.  If a life motivated by the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is safe and comfortable, then it is a life unfamiliar, in some very practical ways, with the God who entered the un-safe-ness of life under the sun in order to love and rescue the unwashed and the unworthy.  So in her very narratival fashion, Dr. Butterfield walks her readers along the smooth and jagged edges of what it looks like to regularly open one’s home to neighbors, dogs (hers and the neighbors’), strangers, church members, grad students, at least one black snake, and a seemingly constant stream of children (the source of the aforementioned reptile).  She draws the reader along with story after story of how regularly having people in the home opens up an expectation that no topic is off-limits.  As she says, “We were – as we almost always are around here – a politically mixed group.  Unbelieving neighbors and church members all together (p.120).”  But this is all what we might expect if the people seated around our dinner tables reflected our neighborhood as often as it did our hand-picked group of friends.  As she says a little earlier, “The gospel creates community that welcomes others in… It isn’t always easy.  It begins with recognizing people as your kin (p.86).”

Dr. Butterfield’s book excels in amazing ways at setting a vision for radically, ordinary hospitality and its transformative power for our post-Christian culture.  Her closing list of “Imagine a world where…” is pure gold and worth typing up and putting on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. While she does get down to the practical and the nitty-gritty of what it looks like to practice radically ordinary hospitality (see her “The Nuts and Bolts and Beans and Rice” in the concluding chapter), this reviewer’s fear is that this vision of hospitality is so far from where most people live right now that folks won’t know where to start and, in turn, fail to do so.  We all know that feeling well.  You get up on Saturday morning determined to clean out the cluttered garage only to raise the door, see the mountain of undifferentiated stuff that has to be tackled, and then close the door in favor doing some other task your familiar with.  So if I had to recommend a starting place, I would simply offer Dr. Butterfield’s wise words from her conclusion:

In married households it is vital that both husband and wife share a calling for hospitality and work together to establish a budget for time and food and people.  Wives, let your husbands lead. Husbands, be sensitive to your wife’s energy level… the pace is set by the one who feels the most frail… [Hospitality] should make us stronger in Christ.  If hospitality becomes a point of contention, something is wrong.  Stop and reevaluate.  Pray.  Map out goals and values.  Be a team.

Of course the ministry of hospitality isn’t simply practiced by married couples (something Dr. Butterfield says as well), nor will it look the same for all households.  For instance, I have a single friend whose hospitality ministry looks like foster-parenting two children taken from a home due to the current opiate epidemic.  I have another set of friends who are hosting an international exchange student; another set of friends who gave a lady a home during a period of time when her marriage was crumbling; and another set of friends who are slowly working their way through the church membership rolls and inviting a different family over each Lord’s Day.  At the end of the day, Dr. Butterfield’s vision for practicing radically ordinary hospitality is as bold and bracing as it is alluring and refreshing.  If Christ’s redeemed people began practicing and coordinating this kind of hospitality, then walls would crumble as our doors opened, and we would be able to “…put the hand of the hurting into the hand of the Savior (p.207).”

Kirk Blankenship is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor-elect of Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in Martinsburg, WV. This article is used with permission.

Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary

Theological Fitness: Why We Need A Fighting Faith

B-BYRD-2 Theological Fitness small– Aimee Byrd , blogger at Housewife Theologian


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Book Review: Theological Fitness

I could hardly believe Housewife Theologian author Aimee Byrd was actually coming to our annual retreat. I’d spent the previous months working out the logistics and anticipating her arrival. Since Aimee and I had met through blogging, I’d gotten to know her a little. I was responsible for bringing her to the women of my church. and I was practically giddy.When she opened with a Bruce Lee quote, I may or may not have wondered what I’d done.Aimee opens her second book, Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith with the same quote. Like me, readers may shake their heads but, also like me, they will soon understand the connection between Bruce Lee’s words and persevering in the Christian faith. Throughout the sessions, she gave us a peek into her book. I was intrigued and told her I was looking forward to its release. I wasn’t disappointed.

Theological Fitness is a study of Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Drawing upon her unique background, Aimee brilliantly constructs an analogy between physical fitness and healthy Christian living. She writes, “Theological fitness, then, refers to that persistent fight to exercise our faith by actively engaging in the gospel truth revealed in God’s Word. It isn’t just a remembering of some Bible verses about God, but a trust in his promises that motivates us in holy living.” (16, original emphasis).

Throughout the book, Aimee breaks down the meaning of each section of this one verse, encouraging readers in how to have a practical, fighting faith that will help us endure. From the imperative at the beginning of the verse to the reminder at the end, each word is tremendously important if we are to persevere. Theological Fitness is a call to stop resting on our theological laurels and to work out our salvation (see Phil. 2:12). It is a reminder that this world can be brutal, and we will be pummeled by it unless we are theologically fit.  It isn’t easy, but it’s the call on our lives as believers in Christ.

One of my (many) favorite excerpts is found in the chapter entitled “Plateau Busters”

I am fighting for a Warrior who has already assured my victory. He paid the highest cost, robbing Satan of any collateral. He has given us our assurance to persevere. The beauty of the Christian life is that you don’t peak in your twenties. Our goal isn’t merely to read through the whole Bible or to reach some moral platitude. Our goal isn’t to have a Christian life that looks squeaky clean to the watching world. It isn’t to marry the perfect person, get the right job, or raise brag-worthy children. Our goal is nothing less than to see Jesus Christ face to face and eternally dwell with him in the new heaven and the new earth. (147-148)

Focusing on this goal encourages me to keep practicing my faith, to keep running the race toward the finish line of heaven. Just as we reap benefits when we set ignore the potato chips and go for a walk instead, the rewards of theological fitness will be evident in our lives.

For those who want to have a fighting, victorious – and yes, sometimes difficult – faith, Theological Fitness is like having a personal trainer teach and encourage you to reach that goal.

*Thanks to P&R Publishing for allowing me to review this book.

Melissa is a working mother, living a quiet and simple life in rural Virginia with her husband and teenage daughter.  She enjoys reading, writing, coffee, and chocolate. She is passionate about the Word of God, her family, and discipling teenage girls. She blogs at One Quiet Life.

Sacred BondSacred Bond, Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele (Reformed Fellowship, 2012)

Sometimes I feel like some of my family and friends start tuning out when I begin throwing the “covenant” word around. It isn’t one that the Baptist churches I grew up in used very often. The lingo sounds kind of strange to those who aren’t accustomed to it, and yet it is the framework of God’s dealings with his people. Learning about the covenant God has made within the Trinity, and then throughout history with mankind and his church has helped me to understand both Scripture and my relationship with the Lord more clearly. So I talk about it too much.

Sacred Bond is the most concise book I have read explaining the basic structure of covenant theology. Everyone needs a copy.

Our God is a God who promises. And he is a God who keeps his promises. Some of his promises are unconditional, and some are conditional on the performance of the other party. Brown and Keel do a great job of illustrating the importance of promises to a relationship in their first chapter, What is Covenant Theology and Why Should I Care?

The basic building blocks of covenant, therefore, are found every time one promises to do something for someone else with the implied positive and negative consequences determined by the cultural and relational context. The promise creates a relationship. It is a commitment with implied sanctions, like in those old western films when the cowboy says, “A man’s word is law around here.” Speaking creates commitments; our words bind us to actions and to other people (12).

Covenants aren’t just made between God and man. They are part of every relationship. God created us this way and he relates to us this way. When Moses wrote the beginning books of the Bible, the people of Israel were already familiar with the covenant language that saturates it because they already lived in a culture where these covenants between a suzerain king and lesser vassals were common. In fact, the Holy Spirit led Moses to write this historical narrative after God had initiated the covenant at Sinai. So they are not only familiar with covenant language, but they are in a covenant relationship with God themselves. They should see then that man cannot obey God and therefore stay in his presence. But the people of Israel should also recognize that the Mosaic covenant given at Sinai points to Someone who can, the Promised Seed announced as soon as Adam broke his covenant with God.

Brown and Keele define a covenant as “a solemn agreement with oaths and/or promises, which imply certain sanctions or legality…God’s purpose in history is to govern his kingdom of creation and bring forth his holy kingdom. His covenants, therefore, are the way that God administers his kingdom.” (17, 18). Each following chapter describes the main covenants God has revealed in Scripture, starting with the intratrinitarian covenant of redemption made in eternity. They are well executed with a description of each covenant, what the Bible teaches about this covenant in both the Old and New Testaments, and why it is important to the Christian life. I was amazed how thoroughly they pulled this off in such little space.

If you are curious to what these covenants are, let me give you the breakdown. After the covenant of redemption there is the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, the common grace covenant (Noah), the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the new covenant. The authors manage to teach all of this, along with a glossary of terms, a Scripture index, and name index in 165 pages.

If you want to understand your Bible better, read this book.  The authors glorify God by teaching his promises to which we can hold fast. We may break our promises, but God was pleased to make a covenant with his people, and then fulfill the full sanctions of that oath. He delivered his righteousness in Christ, as well as bore the curse of the covenant-breakers. Soli Deo gloria!