Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

A Faith That Fights

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 18•14

Christians are disciples, and therefore by definition, we are disciplined.Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it,” is couched in an exhortation not to grow weary under the discipline of our loving Father. By using the illustration of a Grecian Olympic fighter, the preacher to the Hebrews teaches us that part of our discipline in the Christian life is conditioning. We need practice.

IMG_1124My son had a great Martial Arts lesson the other day. Every now and then, his instructor will spend some time differentiating between the sport and real self-defense. Well, this was a real self-defense day. Before they began getting physical, his teacher, Jesse, asked the students what should be the first thing they look for when they enter a room, such as the one they were in. Kids started yelling out uninformed answers such as, “a punching bag!” or “a fighting cage!” Clearly, they weren’t getting where Jesse was going with this, and so he laughs and says, “No! If you are thinking self-defensively, you should always look for available exits when you enter a new place.”

Then Jesse pointed to the side door in the room and told the kids that he was going to come up behind them one by one, grab them firmly, and attempt to carry them across the large room and out of the side door. He told them to imagine they were hanging out with some friends at a movie. How would they react if someone physically tried to take them? Or, maybe the side door represented a car that a kidnapper was attempting to put them in. He explained that it’s hard to predict how you would react in such a frantic situation, and that it is good to practice. Then Jesse put some headgear on, and said that any tactic they wanted to use was fair game; just don’t let him get them to the car door.

You can read how this all turned out over at Reformation21 here. But here are some pics that will give you an idea about how things went down for H.IMG_1132

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Yes, They Do Exist!

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 17•14

It seems that before I joined Carl and Todd on the MoS podcast, they managed to offend (I know, shocking) the Confessing Baptists. Basically, in a discussion about ecclesiology, they neglected to mention the confessing Baptists altogether. And so Tom Chantry wrote a post that took issue with his seeming nonexistence.

Since then, the guys have sent me on an investigative mission to get to the bottom of this whole invisible denomination. And so I risked my own safety while I was flying to Texas to speak at a women’s retreat, and arranged for the “wife” of a Confessing Baptist to pick me up, take me out to lunch, and conduct an interview for the “Confessing Baptist” podcast before I headed to my final retreat destination. I did manage to send the guys a quick email before my flight took off, documenting that if I went dark for too long, then they know that the Confessing Baptists found it fit to punish me for their sins against them. One way or another, I was going to get to the bottom of this mystery.

I am writing to affirm that the Confessing Baptists do in fact exist, and one of them has a truly wonderful woman for a wife. Christina Jesuroga and I have so much in common, and I enjoyed every moment of our time together. And so maybe a bridge has been built, at least by us women, between the two confessing denominations and podcasts.

Christina interviewed me on many questions concerning theology and women, beauty, modesty, parenting, aging, the church, and culture. She also asks me how I got myself into co-hosting with the likes of Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt. If you haven’t already listened to the interview, or are not familiar with the Confessing Baptist podcast, I encourage you to take a listen here.ConfessingBaptistPodcastLogoPINK-Lady-Women-300x257

If Todd Were the Easter Bunny…

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 16•14

imageThe MoS crew really get into the celebratory spirit this year. Something Todd said recording our Easter podcast made me want to outfit the three of us in the latest craze. That’s right, look out Cadbury bunny, and say hello to Janimals. Our producer caught us in the action.

Unfortunately, that’s not the most disturbing part of the podcast. While we have recorded a few episodes on the sexual chaos of our culture, I’m afraid Todd and Carl may have added to the problem this time. I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my husband, but there is a shocking introduction to this episode that has left me a bit flummoxed. I just hope Carl and Todd aren’t going to use this as an excuse to keep the toilet seat up in the recording studio. We’ve already had words on this issue.

And then, somehow, we transition into the seriousness of the Easter season and the true glory that is to come. It may sound like a lot to cover in a half an hour, but really this is how most conversations I have go anyway: confusion, laughter, self-depreciation, and then solving all the world’s problems. Just another day at the office.

Is the Easter bunny real? Is Easter a pagan holiday? Why does every evangelical seem to be observing Lent this year? Take a listen here to hear the MoS crew discuss all this and more. Also, the Mortification of Spin is a free subscription through iTunes, so you can listen in the car or on a walk instead of sitting in front of your computer screen.

 

Propositional Truth Meets Personal Encounter

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 14•14

CalvinHere are two categories that Christians tend to pit against one another. Michael Horton makes the case in his chapter on “How God Delivers His Grace” from Calvin on the Christian Life that this is a false choice. I’m always edified by the way Horton teaches about the preached Word. Here is an excerpt:

In evangelical circles we typically think of preaching as teaching and exhorting. Of course, Scripture informs, instructs, explains, asserts, and commands. Yet for the Reformers, the preaching of the Word is more than a preacher’s thoughts, encouragements, advice, and impassioned pleas. Through the lips of a sinful preacher, the triune God is actually judging, justifying, reconciling, renewing and conforming sinners to Christ’s image. God created the world by the words of his mouth and by his speech also brings a new creation into being. In other words, through the proclamation of his Word, God is not just speaking about what might happen if we bring it about but is actually speaking it into being. Hence Calvin calls preaching the sacramental word: the word as a means of grace. Faith comes by hearing the Word—specifically the gospel (Rom. 10:17). Thus, the church is the creation of the Word (creatura verbi). (121)

After this, Horton explains this false choice so many have set up between doctrine and experience, quoting B. A. Gerrish, “God’s word, for Calvin, is not simply a dogmatic norm; it has in it a vital efficacy, and it is the appointed instrument by which the Spirit imparts illumination, faith, awakening, regeneration, purification, and so on…” (121). Horton continues, “In the words of the Second Helvetic Confession, ‘The preached Word is the Word of God.’ The biblical canon is the completed foundation, but the preached Word is the primary means of the Spirit’s ongoing building project” (122).

This section of the book got marked up pretty good. And it stuck with me as I was sitting in my Sunday school seat, studying John 16:4-15. After Jesus warns his disciples of his and their upcoming persecution and rejection, he then tells them how he must depart so that the Spirit can come to them. And Jesus says,

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (vv. 13-15)

Immediately I noticed the words, truth, He will speak, He will tell, declare, and declare again. This Helper that we have as believers ministers to us by the Word. In Reformed circles, we love to say that Christ accomplishes and the Spirit applies. But how does he do this? Through the Word! And the apostles were inspired by the Spirit to complete the biblical canon, the living and active Word of God that we now have. Our pastors are commissioned to proclaim this Word, and by it we will be blessed in Christ.

So often, Christians are longing for a special word from God. We want to feel a private experience of meeting Christ. But in this passage, Christ is physically with his disciples, and they do not yet have a real understanding of the gospel, of Christ! And he assures them that it will actually be better for them when he leaves. We can understand why they wouldn’t be persuaded of this. And yet here we are over 2,000 years later, tisk tisking the apostles for not getting it at the time, and yet we often long for some kind of personal encounter with Christ over sitting under his Word. And we miss the blessing that we have as the covenant community of the church. Sure we look forward to that day when we really can behold our Savior, but as Horton continued to explain how God conveys his means of grace in the sacraments as well, he begins his next chapter elucidating, “Just as we could not have expected to find God in a feeding trough of a barn in an obscure village, much less hanging, bloody, on a Roman cross, we do not expect to find him delivering his gifts in such humble ways as human speech, a bath, and a meal. Think cross, not glory” (143).

The Wine Kitchen

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 12•14

Given the season, I wanted to repost this wonderful piece from Dana on the Passover meal and the Last Supper. It’s also fitting because I am taking about her today while I speak on the subject of hospitality to some fantastic Texas women.

Right after last week’s sermon, my good friend, Dana Tuttle, and I were reflecting on something our pastor said. Dana was making such great connections, I suggested that she write an article for my blog. I’m so glad she did! In between her mom of 6-year-old-twin-boys gig, Dana delivered the goods. I introduce to you Dana’s first blog appearance as a housewife theologian:

images-4Recently, I enjoyed a great dining experience with family and friends at The Wine Kitchen in Frederick, Maryland. We joined two families together, along with friends, to celebrate a birthday. As the food was served and the wine was poured in this comfortable atmosphere, we began to relax, eat, drink and share.

Before long, we were all tasting each other’s meal choices, and sipping different wines.  Arms were crossing, forks were stabbing and lots of  “yum” noises were being made from one end of the table to the other. We were becoming family and as the mother of the birthday girl said, “There was love all around the table.”

The Wine Kitchen did not disappoint. Just as they claimed on their website, “We have always believed the most comfortable and inviting room in the house is the kitchen. We also notice all good parties inevitably end up in the kitchen. So we invite you to visit our kitchen, to enjoy our comforting hospitality, food, and wine. We have created a relaxed, inviting place for friends and family to gather and explore the world of food and wine with us.” And that is exactly what we experienced that evening!

Rarely after a meal at a restaurant do I wake up the next day and think about how good the bite of steak was, or how enjoyable my glass of red wine was, or the Riesling that had a hint of honey and flowers, but it was all that I could think about! I continued to savor all the flavors in my mind as I made my way to church that morning. I was looking forward to the service that would conclude with Christ’s invitation to his table to share a meal and wine with him among my family of fellow believers.

I was unaware of how my pastor’s message would connect all the thoughts in my head and my experience at dinner. He is currently preaching through the gospel of Mark and was at the place where Jesus conducted the Passover meal with his disciples the night before his arrest and crucifixion. My pastor briefly made some interesting observations about the Passover meal. He mentioned the 4 cups of wine that are customarily served during the meal and pointed out how Jesus, after instituting the New Covenant in his blood with the 3rd cup, then declares, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Mat. 26:29).

He makes the observation that Jesus did not drink the last cup and left the meal unfinished. He encouraged us to look forward to finishing the meal with him in his Kingdom. This really got my brain working and I was compelled to go straight home and do some more research on the custom of the 4 cups of wine in the Passover meal.

As a Jew, Jesus observed the Passover meal every year as required by the Law of Moses. From the time of Moses, Jews have celebrated the Passover in the same way. There is a set order of service that has varied little for more than 3,500 years.

The 4 cups of wine that are served during the meal represent the 4 promises of God in Exodus 6:6-7, “I will bring you out…I will deliver you…I will redeem you…I will acquire you…” They are called The Cup of Sanctification, The Cup of Plagues, The Cup of Redemption (this 3rd cup is where Jesus instituted the “new covenant in my blood”), and The Cup of Completion (this 4th cup is the one Jesus refused).

Yes, it is true that Christ’s redemptive work is finished (3rd cup), but there still remains a cup of completion when Jesus will drink again with us in The Wine Kitchen of his Heavenly Father. As Michael Horton says in his book, The Gospel Driven Life, “For on that day, Christ will be the Host rather than the Meal and we will eat and drink with him in an everlasting exchange of gifts.”

The theme of eating and drinking in the presence of God is continual from the garden in Genesis to the Marriage supper in Revelation. Christ himself proclaims, “The Son of man came eating and drinking…” (Matt.11:19). And Proverbs shouts of Wisdom’s invitation to her table, “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:1-6).

A seat has been reserved for you! You have been invited to The Wine Kitchen of the Heavenly Father where his Son, Jesus Christ awaits to complete the meal with you. There is one more cup to drink. Will you drink it with him?

Dana Tuttle is a housewife theologian who is obsessed with headless queens. She is the mother of 7-year-old twin boys, and the wife of King Henry, ahem, she meant to say Troy. She daydreams about owning a pub, but is happy with her role as the crazy theme mom and scrapbooking fool. Dana is an over-achiever in Book Review Club, and can often be found hiding in her closet reading books written by dead theologians while eating the latest leftover holiday candy.

Gospel-Centered Cupcakes?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 09•14

For this week’s MoS Bully Pulpit, I invited Carl and Todd over to sit in my kitchen and have a casual conversation about gospel-centered food. To get in the spirit, I made every square inch brownies, almond butter blossom cookies with dates substituting for chocolate kisses, sustainable Sundays, fair trade coffee, and  sent them off with some detox Little Debbies.

We discuss questions like “How do we make our vocations gospel-centered?”, “Do our cultural goods and vocations play a role in the redemption of the earth?”, and “What is the mission of the church?” This is a conversation that we’d like to continue in a longer podcast, and it is one with which every Christian wrestles. We surely are sent out into the world as Christians that want to glorify God in all we do. And our faith informs the motives behind our cultural work. But as we share our cultural tasks in common with the unbeliever, are we to try to sanctify our vocations and participate in the redemption of the whole earth? Is a Christian’s engagement in a category such as baking different from an unbeliever’s?

We need to be careful that we aren’t getting too caught up in political ideologies that are veiled with Christian language. As you can see, it can happen to the best of us. This picture proves my point. Carl just realized his chicken wasn’t fed organic hazelnuts. Take a listen here.

chef_gordon_ramsay_calls_out_the_orders_during_the_first_dinner_service_on_tuesday_nights_hells_kitchen

Hold the Bread?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 07•14

bread-caution

My pastor mentioned Luke 14:15 in his sermon yesterday while preaching on Proverbs 9. I remembered this article I wrote last year, and now find it even more pertinent and timely than when I wrote it.

I can’t seem to keep up with the latest health food trends. It’s exhausting.

Back in college when I gained that unhelpful freshman weight, the diet craze was to go high carbs and low-fat. Bagel shops were popping up everywhere. So I exercised my butt off (literally) and ate bagels, cereal, and pasta with my roommates. I will admit that I never cared for low-fat cheese or fake butter. And it’s unrealistic to expect a college student to avoid the soft-serve ice cream machine in the dining hall. Nevertheless, my roommates and I made it back to our goal weights with this diet trend (which also works well with a college budget) and plenty of exercise.

But if you were caught following this diet now you would look more out of date than the stonewashed overalls I wore to the bagel shop. I think it all started way back with the Atkins and the South Beach diet. All of the sudden, carbs were evil, and it was all about packing in the protein. You could once again feel confident eating bacon.

As I became a health-conscious mom, the list of evil foods grew. We became bread connoisseurs. White flour was out, but whole wheat, spelt, and other grains I had never heard of were healthy ways to feed our families. The mantra was “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” Suddenly, every cereal box and package of cookies sported flashy marketing in its top corner boasting its whole grain goodness.

And now even this party is coming to an end. The latest news is that any and all bread is just plain bad. Gluten is evil, and we all need to start eating our meat and cheese sandwiched by thoroughly-washed arugula. The supposed dangers of bread range from poor test scores to heart attacks. After a conversation with the “healthier mom,” or reading the latest article, you would think that you have been serving up poison in your child’s lunches.

We’ve become really good at labeling what’s “out there” as evil to avoid the evil in our own hearts. My response to the anti-bread craze is that if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. In fact, I look forward to eating bread with him.

“Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15b).

This statement was perhaps flippantly made to change the subject as Jesus was teaching through a parable. But it is a pivotal beatitude highlighting the significance of Jesus’ response. The controversy then wasn’t the evil of bread, rather, it was the table full of sinful people who Christ would be ushering into his great banquet.

All this was in my thoughts as I participated in the Lord’s Supper this past Sunday—the significance of bread. As it was being distributed by our elders, I thought about the feeding of the five thousand. Christ’s sacrifice, the body that the communion bread signifies, is enough to ratify all those for whom he died. There will be a great multitude feasting together at the heavenly banquet. Just like the five thousand, we will all be satisfied. But it isn’t because of the bread. We will be satisfied in him.

Providentially, I read this yesterday in Arthur Just Jr.’s, The Ongoing Feast:

The satisfaction and abundance at the feeding of the five thousand is a proleptic manifestation of the complete satisfaction and abundance the hungry will receive at the messianic banquet…(176).

And expounding on our Luke 14:15 verse:

This unique Lukan beatitude is a summation and culmination of all previous beatitudes because it focuses squarely on the blessings of God in the table fellowship of Jesus. Luke 14:14 already anticipates this state of blessedness for those who invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind to sit at the table with them. The ultimate blessedness is to eat bread in the kingdom of God. The banquet parable that follows is merely a commentary on this beatitude and the beatitudes that lead up to it (178).

I don’t mean to be snarky to the health-conscious. But I do want to point us to the true killer of the body and soul—sin. We are all hungry for holy communion with our Creator and Savior. His table fellowship is the ultimate blessedness.

Let me close with encouragement from Michael Horton’s, The Gospel-Driven Life:

Jesus told his disciples that he would not drink wine with them again until he returned in his kingdom of glory. Our Eucharistic table is not the heavenly wedding banquet. For now, it is a sacrificial meal in which Christ is the food and drink. Yet each time we gather, we not only proclaim Christ’s death until he comes; we participate in the renewing powers of the age to come. We taste the morsels of the wedding banquet when the meal of Christ’s sacrifice will become the feast of unending delight. For that day, Christ will be the host rather than the meal and we will eat and drink with him in an everlasting exchange of gifts (242).

I doubt we will be asking Jesus to hold the bread.

 

Highway to the Danger Zone

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 04•14

Matt and I have found ourselves in a completely different parenting stage. Gone are the days where we can control our children’s environment and make every decision for them. With a daughter in high school and one in middle school, we are painfully realizing that our job has now changed to preparing them for leaving. The other evening, the two of us were sitting on our back porch discussing some drama that one of the girls has found herself involved in, and I made a strange connection.

I had just read another article (HT: Megan Hill) about over-protective, over-parenting. As much as I like to combat this hyper-parenting trend, I know that I am still guilty. But my response to articles like this is changing as I reflect on this propensity to supervise our children’s activities to the point of their own detriment. I’m no longer fretting on whether I should let them go up the slide on their own, or if I should physically stay at the birthday party they’ve been invited to. Rather than worrying over the nearby creek or sketchy neighbor, I’m concerned over the worlds that I need to let my children enter independently.

That is exactly how the article The Over-Protected Kid begins. Hannah Rosin writes about a playground in North Wales called “The Land.” This fenced-in acre is basically a glorified junk yard, where children are encouraged to explore, discover, take risks, and play like kids did before parents became helicopters. There are beat up mattresses, tires galore, old couches, stacks of wooden pallets, and tin drums from which they can light a fire in. Sure, there are some responsible “playworkers” who make sure that there are no horrible injuries or sinister acts, but they watch with more of a hands-off approach.

Most parents would say this “adventure playground” is a major danger zone! Landscape Architect, Lady Marjory Allen, challenges the sterilized play environments that we have so calculatingly supplied, encouraging a “’free and permissive atmosphere’ with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like ‘really dangerous risks’ and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.”

But I think about the danger zones in social media that Matt and I are trying to coach our children how to best navigate, as we ourselves are learning at a slower rate than they are. I think about the school dances, the football games, and the independence they now want in hanging out with their friends. Part of this new territory is downright scary, and yet we know that there is much good to explore, experience, and learn for our kids during this new stage in still very formative years.

I remembered an article I wrote a couple of years ago titled Teenage Wasteland. Parents can easily coddle their teenagers and try to protect them from all pain and risks because we look at them as too young and incapable of traversing through the playground on their own. And so we shadow their every move and build a different kind of playground, couched with recycled tire flooring to protect them when they fall. And by fall, I mean, get a “B” on their test or don’t make the travel team.

We are the ones telling them they are too young. It seems that lack of experience distances the youth from gaining any respect from the middle-aged crowd (argh, is that me?), as well as the wise sages above them. So teenagers seem to roam around in the land of wild oats and technological advances. Maybe our hope is that they get all those wild oats out of their system before they have to really be responsible like us.

And let’s just say it, in much of the Christian culture, wild oats means shorts above finger tip length or listening to Justin Beiber.

This year was a strange reality check for me. A couple of months into the school year, it hit me. My daughter is a freshman in high school. The three years of middle school just flew by. I realized something very scary when my she was apprehensive about taking a pizza out of the oven herself (to her credit, it was on one of those heavy, awkward pizza stones, and I would let her have it if she broke it). I had been doing way too much for her, and now I only have 3 ½ years before she will likely be out the door and headed to college. The “pizza incident” clarified just how far her dad and I had to go in getting Solanna ready for real life.

I’ve coddled my daughter so much that she’d never taken a pizza out of the oven and she was scared to do it! She was the over-cautious kid that those helicopter parents I’ve made fun of produce! I’m glad to say that I have made some major changes since the fall. However, one thing that I realized with all this helicoptering is how we look at all the evils and dangers as outside elements, and fail to address the danger zone that is in our children’s hearts. Maybe much of this safety and health obsession is a clever distraction to the spiritual issues that are much harder to parent.

Pastors and Blogs

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 02•14

If pastors and elders are to serve their congregation well, what are their responsibilities when it comes to being aware of what Christians are reading? I’m sure that a mere twenty years ago, aspiring pastors never thought that reading or writing blogs would be a valuable resource to their ministry.

theMuddPuddleSignThis is the topic I just wrote about over at Reformation21. Click here to read the article, and to figure out what this awesome picture of my old coffee-house door has to do with any of it.

Hear Me Calling?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 02•14

Carl, Todd, and I learned the hard way that you can’t always trust the label. For instance, the brother who will not be named decided to invest in a non-fat yogurt shop. To our amazement, the yogurt is delicious! Maybe a little too delicious…

As it turns out, Carl and I packed on a few pounds. So I had the yogurt tested at the lab. Oh, let me tell you, there’s fat in there alright! Meanwhile, Todd is so traumatized that he has some kind of uncontrollable arm spasm every time we mention the name that got us into this mess. (He’s really distraught that ACE will no longer supply us with the falsely advertised yogurt.) Here we are when we enjoyed our delicious yogurt in ignorant bliss:

seinfeldthenonfatyougurt

On a more serious note, the three of us do have a casual conversation on this week’s Mortification of Spin about Sarah Young’s claims in her book Jesus Calling. This leads us to question how Christians can be better equipped to discern the message in the latest popular books so that we are not susceptible every time the wind blows. You can’t always trust the label. Take a listen here.