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When I’m not rooting for Norway in the different ski races for the winter olympics, I enjoy watching the foot races. Whether it be hurdles, long distance, or dashes, I enjoy the thrill of watching my teammate chugging along the entire time and then blasting past the other runners on the last lap. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Paul goes on to say that he disciplines his body so that he can have self-control. In his book, popular Christian blogger Tim Challies writes,
“Like an athlete, he [Paul] exercises self-control to free himself to achieve what he most wants to achieve, to live how he truly wants to live. No longer controlled by illicit sexual desires, he can live in purity; no longer controlled by the love of money, he can be content with little; no longer controlled by the opinions of men, he can be satisfied in living for the glory of God” (8).
God has an imperishable prize for the one who runs the race and finishes it. Challies writes to encourage you not only to finish the race, but to finish it well. The book consists of an introduction, a conclusion, and three sections:
- Disciplines of Faith
- Disciplines of Life
- Disciplines of Relationship
He encourages you to
- know your purpose and your doctrine, to renew your mind through the Word, to practice your devotion, to be devoted to your church, and to be vigilant in your Christian duties.
- To know your purpose you need to know what the Bible says, and so you need to know the nuts and bolts that build up our life and teach us how to live. One way you learn doctrine is through your daily devotions (and other reading) and through attending church. You should not only attend but be involved in some way. That could be serving at church, it could be having people from church over so that you can get to know one another.
- be mature, to have a hold on your wallet, to take care of your body, control your sexuality, and consider the legacy you will leave behind.
- Being an adult means being mature. Being a husband and a father means you must be mature. You need to know the practicals of life. You family needs to trust that you won’t dive them into debt. They need to know you will be around long enough to care for them, and to do so you take care of your body and watch what you eat. You remain faithful to your wife, and you have and continue learning self-control. You want to leave behind a good name that will honor God.
- care for your friendships, your marriage, your children, and to accept your role as the leader.
- These are more specific ways to practically show care as a husband and father.
Each chapter has three final sections:
- Do It Now: This consists of tips in bullet-points related to the chapter (such as helpful books on managing your finances).
- Run to Win!: Aside from summarizing the main point of the chapter, this section provides a final call and encouragement to continue making the spiritual habits encouraged in each chapter (such as taking care of your body. the tip to guard against gluttony, especially in regards to the quote by Jerry Bridges, should be duly noted by all).
- Strength for the Race: This section closes with a few Bible verses to help give you some resolve for your race.
I especially enjoyed part three (Disciplines of Relationship), particularly the chapters on leadership, marriage, and children. I’m not a natural leader, so actually being the (servant) leader is something I have to avidly keep in mind, and I want to accept any advice so I can care well for my wife and son.
Generally the chapters didn’t have very many Bible verses in them, so, personally, parts one and two read more like motivational speeches. I want to make sure I’m not too harsh though. Cruciform Press aims at producing books that you can “enjoy,” benefit from, and that are “easy to finish.” Challies has blogged for a long enough time that he knows how to write in a way that reaches the most people, and this book is an outflow of many conversations he has had with laypeople. Normal people. Like, people who don’t attend seminary or usually read theological dictionaries for pleasure. This book is one that could reach a lot of people. So this isn’t a very “meaty” book. The chapters are short, but they are to the point. Really, this would be good to use for discipling new believers or those who still need to work on the basics. As Challies himself writes, “I think the book will prove useful for individual reading, of course, but also for formal or informal men’s groups. Maybe it’s the kind of thing a dad would want to read with his teenaged or young adult son.”
Many who have studied the Bible for a few years probably won’t learn too much that is new, except maybe for part three (though everyone is in a different place). The content is basic, but people need to start at the basics. It’s a fine book best used for new believers.
- Author: Tim Challies
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Cruciform Press (November 15, 2018)
- Read a Sample
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Disclosure: I received this book free from Cruciform Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.