Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Dirt Baked Hard

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 23•14

Cruella-glenn-close-as-cruella-de-vil-32652887-590-295Today on MoS, we discuss suffering and weakness. To give me a taste of affliction, my cohosts downgrade me from my previous title, “The Pat Benatar of Reformed Theology,” to “Cruella de Vil.” Hurtful.

But the good news is this means they must be afraid of me.

101-102-05

 

There are a few other small matters to cover before we get serious. Like Harry Styles, Carl believes that his popularity is due to his face and not his hair. And like Shatner, Todd isn’t so concerned that people know him, but that they believe his version.

But on to serious stuff, do we have a problem with a soft prosperity gospel in Reformed theology? What implications does the weakness of the message have on those who preach it, and those of us who try to live according to it? How can we be encouraged to remain theologians of the cross when we are so tempted to a theology of glory?

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the guys seem to be a bit uncomfortable with the hiring of our new producer, and the resulting sisterhood. They have tried to bring back their majority with by bringing on their own intimidating Jack Bauer of MoS. Since Todd emphasizes in the podcast today that he shouldn’t be treated better than he deserves, I just want to reassure him that the Mad Woman in the Attic and I will make sure that doesn’t happen for him. But don’t worry, nothing to fear here. Or is there?

Take a listen.

images-2

Reality in the Christian Life

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 22•14

Schaeffer-on-the-Christian-lifeI’ve been looking forward to taking Bill Edgar’s Schaeffer on the Christian Life to the beach with me this summer. One thing that I have been enjoying about Crossway’s On the Christian Life series is that you get to know two people: the biographer and the one whom the book is about. That is especially the case in this book, because William Edgar became both a Christian as a result of Schaeffer’s witness and his good friend. So he is part of his own story.

Both Edgar and Schaeffer have proven to be great companions to take to the beach. Without any disrespect, I would say that they have become “Bill and Fran” to me over the last few days. One reason I’ve been looking forward to this biography is the influence Schaeffer’s writings had on me in my early twenties. Fresh out of college, when I read Schaeffer’s teaching on the “upper story” and “lower story” categorizations that we tend to put faith and “reality” in, I was hooked. That is exactly what I noticed, but could not articulate, in my university years. Schaeffer’s teaching on “true truth,” “the God who is there,” and the “mannishness of man” (see Edgar’s summary on p.66) is both gritty and inspiring. This short little man who stuck out in the 60’s and 70’s with his goatee and knickers was resonating with me as a young woman in the late 90’s.

However, as I read some of Schaeffer’s later works and learned more about his involvement with the Religious Right, I became a bit confused by how political he had become. And I was saddened and perturbed when I heard about his son Franky’s book, Crazy for God, that painted an ugly picture of his dad. Kim Riddlebarger’s Academy series on Schaeffer was helpful, and I recommend them to anyone who would like to learn more about the life of Schaeffer  (scroll down from link to that series). That’s when I first learned about the crisis of faith he encountered and how that influenced his writing. That series also gave me a better understanding about the climate that lead to Schaeffer’s political influence in his later years. I appreciate how both Riddlebarger and Edgar discuss Schaeffer’s strengths while being upfront about his shortcomings. In his book, Edgar also focuses in on this crisis and it’s impact on Schaeffer’s teaching. And he gives a personal take on how the Schaeffer’s extreme hospitality affected Franky, leading to some of his unfair accusations, without excusing Franky’s error.

Anyway, this spiritual crisis Francis Schaeffer encountered had to do with the reality of his faith—not only an evidence of the historicity of it, as important as those issues are, but the effect. He was discouraged that his own life and those who professed an orthodox confession did not show forth the fruit or reality of that faith. The description of his long, reflective walks during this year actually made me crack a smile because I thought of the scene in Forrest Gump when he ran and ran after Jenny had left. Edgar explains that Schaeffer came out of this “Slough of Despond” with a stronger resolve. “The apologetic answers are important, but knowing the present value of Christ’s work of redemption is paramount…This crisis sent Fran to look into the present meaning of the finished work of Christ for our lives in a way he had never done before” (82-83).

Isn’t this a question we are faced with every time we are called to resist a strong temptation to ungodliness? When we find ourselves rejected and tempted to retaliate in an ungodly way, or disrespected, lonely, or even if we are just feeling rebellious, we are faced with what we really believe to be true about God and it’s reality in our life at that very moment. Christ’s person, his love, his work, his sacrifice, his presence, his intercession, and more all have meaning in this very moment, not just in our prayer for salvation or in his glorious return.

Schaeffer was “obsessed” with this reality. That is what so attracted me to his writings. Edgar summarizes it well in his biography. Here are a few great lines:

The final reality is not chance, or even the Bible, but God himself.

Indeed, love is real because there is a real reason to keep the human race alive and not plunge humanity into death.

Further, the reason one can trust in the historic Christian position at all is that it is realistic about evil. Without this realism there is no hope. The Christian view is neither optimistic nor nihilistic, but realistic.

Science can succeed because the same God who created the real world also made our minds to recognize it.

About eating in our future, resurrected bodies, he says, “Among the many things which are marvelous about this is the very reality of it—the solidness of it.” Many of us love the picture in the Gospels of the disciples marveling at the sight of the resurrected Jesus as he says, in effect, “Got anything to eat?” (Luke 24:41). 

While Schaeffer taught that we should expect progress in the Christian life, he strongly warned against perfectionism. Only the reality of Christ’s accomplishment can keep us where we need to be. (92-94)

In reading through this book, I am thinking about the life of Schaeffer, the Christian life in general, and the irony of how “countercultural spirituality” is a challenge to live according to the reality of God. Indeed, the gospel is real, and that changes everything.

Your Naked Truth

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 18•14

I read an article the other day that is still bothering me. I think that it captures a lie that many men and women believe about beauty and love. A 59-year-old wrote it, but this is the same problem I see in 18-year-olds.

The article starts out with a brave, naked, woman really looking at herself in the mirror, trying to just get honest with herself after a cold rejection. You see, she had met someone on the Internet, and he seemed like a good match. He made an effort to make the drive to meet her in person. She describes him as gentlemanly, and interested in the same active lifestyle as herself. So she was looking forward to getting to know him better by spending the weekend together.

They get in bed together. Naked. He doesn’t really make a move. (Did I mention that this wasn’t a “Christian” article?) All her attempts at “intimacy” were dodged over the three nights and four days together.

Confused after returning home, this woman had to know what the deal was. So she calls him up to ask. He answers matter of factly:

“Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young women. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

He then proceeded to offer her suggestions on how she could distract from her age, dress in a way in which he was attracted, and maybe move their physical relationship forward.

Read more

The Last Bastion of Freedom

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 16•14

Being an honorary guy has its perks.

I was able to be smuggled into a frat house with Carl and Todd to discuss a development and trend in college campus ministries. For this week’s Bully Pulpit we react to a First Things article written by Robert Gregory, Bowdoin Told Us To Go, where he explains why the campus ministry that he was a part of is now leaving the campus due to their new policy. New laws are allowing universities to implement policies so that there is no discerning criteria for the leadership of all student-led groups. What this means in a Christian ministry is that one doesn’t need to confess belief in the most basic tenets of the faith, belief in God for example, to be able to lead a group. The ministry cannot have standards in picking their own leaders. We discuss what this means for the culture, campus ministry, the Christian witness, and the church.

Meanwhile, there is a downside to being an honorary guy as well. While Carl and Todd discuss whether the tobacco shop is the last bastion of freedom, they think of a more humorous way to corrupt their West Virginian co-host. Not going to happen, guys.

Take a listen here.

Hopefully obvious disclaimer: This. Is. Not. Really. Me.

Hopefully obvious disclaimer: This. Is. Not. Really. Me.

Women of the Word

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 14•14

Wilkin women of word pic_1405028999Books at a Glance has posted my review of Jen Wilkin’s new book, Women of the Word. Here’s a short teaser:

“The Bible does not want to be neatly packaged into three-hundred-and-sixty-five-day-increments” (75). No, no it doesn’t. But too often we think this is the only way to spending personal time in God’s Word. While we all know we are to be good Bereans (Acts 17:11), the sixty-six bound books of God’s living Word can be intimidating. And so Jen Wilkin begins her book disclosing the “mountain of biblical ignorance” she had after church hopping her whole life. Growing up visiting many different denominations, she wondered who had it right:

“Was there a rapture or not? Did God have to answer our prayers if we prayed a certain way? Did I need to be baptized again? How old is the earth? Were Old Testament believers saved differently than New Testament believers?” (16-17)

You can read the rest here.

Sunday Mornings

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 11•14

So I was sitting on my back porch, all ready to answer my own journaling questions for Housewife Theologian, Chapter 10. As it turns out, making the questions is a lot easier than answering them. I was preparing to lead a small group, and thought I would breeze through number one pretty quickly. It’s meant to be more of an introduction question before we get into the theology of the church:

1. How would you describe your current attitude toward regularly attending church on Sunday mornings? How do you think your attitude affects your family’s view of the church service?

This one should be easy enough, since I love going to church. And yet, I have found that the devil works the hardest in the Byrd household on Sunday mornings. It’s inevitable: I will be challenged with multiple obstacles while we try to get out of the door by 9:00 AM. One child will come waltzing in my bedroom with a ridiculous outfit choice, the dog will NOT come in, and there is of course the expected breakfast stain all over someone’s (by someone, I usually mean me) church attire. This shouldn’t be difficult, since I’m awake three hours before “go time.” But it’s seems like the Sunday morning version of myself is like those slow-motion dreams when you’re being attacked. I’m clumsy, ineffective, and can’t seem to get the right words out of my mouth.

Sure, we always make it out of the door. But often my family ends up seeing an annoyed, stressed version of me on Sunday mornings. So I titled my answer: What I want my family to see on Sunday morning. Here’s my bulleted notes that provoked some great discussion that evening:

Read more here, and I’d love for you to come back and comment about some practical ways that you and your family try to iron out the Sunday morning wrinkles.

 

MoS Catches Trillia’s Vision

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 09•14

trillia-newbell-unitedTrillia Newbell is one spunky woman. And she is driven by a passionate, biblical goal. As a matter of fact, Trillia has written a book about it: United, Captured by God’s Vision of Diversity. She takes John’s vision recorded in Revelation seriously and is working to encourage Reformed churches to represent this future reality:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)

Trillia pushes us to move outside of our comfort zones for the sake of getting to know our brothers and sisters in Christ better. After reading her book, I got to thinking that Carl and Todd needed to experience this in a concrete way. So I invited them to your typical women’s small group, crafting time to have our discussion with Trillia. And I think they really enjoyed themselves.

Trillia pointed out that diversity isn’t always about race. She noticed that Carl, Todd, and I are very different from one another as well, and yet we come together for our podcast. Boy, was she right! As a matter of fact, the three of us have done all kinds of different exercises to move past our differences and become more unified. It just seems like no matter how hard we try, there is always an odd man out:

how-i-met-your-mother-salt-and-pepper-and-cumin-trio-halloween-costumes-himym-500x281how-i-met-your-mother-lewis-and-clark-and-their-canoe-2000-himym-lily-marshall-ted-costume-himym-500x281how-i-met-your-mother-C3PO-R2D2-and-the-robot-Lukes-Uncle-almost-bought-from-the-Jawas-2007-himym-lily-marshall-ted-costume-himym-500x281

I guess we need to take Trillia’s advice and direct our unity to the One who truly created us differently and unites us in Himself. Take a listen here. And if you visit the Mortification of Spin website, you can enter to win a copy of Trillia’s book, United, where she writes about God’s vision for unity and diversity.

The Pastor’s Wife

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 07•14

sabinaWhat are you all reading on summer vacation? My friend, Anna Anderson, commented about a book she just read at the beach and I asked her to write something about it for the blog. Maybe it will be one you would like to pack in the suitcase:

On the bookshelf of the beach house where we recently vacationed, I found a treasure: Sabina Wurmbrand’s autobiography, The Pastor’s Wife. I usually prefer autobiographies to biographies, and I have not changed my mind since reading this one. Transparency with humility resonated on every page. Sabina writes of the trials and suffering that she endured as a Christian in post-WW2 Romania. A Jew in Bucharest during the German-occupation, she lost most of her extended family in the Holocaust, only to face the next wave of persecution as a Christian under Communism.

First her husband, a pastor, disappeared, and then the authorities came for her. For the next three years, she lived in severe deprivation, both in prison and labor camps. Interestingly, her account really did not center on her physical suffering, which reduced her and her fellow workers to eating grass in the fields where they worked. They lived in absolute squalor, at times denied even the most over-looked blessings of our existence, like circulating air and sunlight. They endured abuse by their guards, which threatened Sabina’s life more than once.

Instead, she focused on her inward journey. And not the author’s alone, but what she could read in those that suffered beside her — prostitutes and other common criminals, Gypsies, the Romanian aristocracy and elite, as well as political prisoners, and idealists who had fought for Communism, only to be betrayed by comrades reaching for the next rung of a ladder they had sworn to destroy. It was regret that haunted them most as a never-ending reel of misdeeds played in their minds and drove them to despair and eventually insanity. Sabina’s journey led her instead to a deeper understanding of the  gospel and the sanity of seeking Jesus, as suffering did the promised work of purifying, and she found true His words, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

There are so many lessons to take away from this book, yet it will take a conscious effort to retain them. Sabina’s world seems far away this morning as I sit at my computer in my bright kitchen overlooking my garden beds. What I believe I have glimpsed through Sabina is something of the essence of our lives, interred in our abundance until it is dug up and revealed as life or death within us. There is nothing like the winds of suffering to separate the chaff and prove to us what has substance in us.  On page 85, Sabina wrote this:

“Society” women were often the most pitiful. Life was harder for them than for anyone. They’d lost most, in the material sense; and they had fewest inner resources to fill the gap. A rubble of old games of bridge, hats, hotels, first-nights, lost weekends and lovers rattled about in their heads like junk in the back seat of a car. Their nerves gave way first, as did their soft white hands ….Those of us who had faith realized for the first time how rich we were. The youngest Christians and the weakest had more resources to call upon than the wealthiest old ladies and the most brilliant intellectuals … (who) when deprived of their books and concerts, often seemed to dry up like indoor plants exposed to the winds. Heart and mind were empty.

Since our return from vacation, I have been concentrating on 1 Timothy 6 to combat the ever-present temptation to forget what my life is about. Is it not a blessing to be surrounded by reminders of transience as well as transcendence? I was busy airing out clothes that had begun to mildew in our basement, when I began to see corruption everywhere—its work without, and more especially its work within, that leeches on the corruptible. And I ask God (yes, with trepidation) for a pure heart unto the sweet blessedness that Sabina tasted, that I might use what time and energy are left me to seek the kingdom of “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15,16).

Anna Anderson is a housewife theologian from Greencastle, PA. She and her family attend Hope Reformed Presbyterian Church in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania​

Lock Up Your Daughters?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 02•14

Carl, Todd, and I thought we would discuss ”The Feminist Father” T-shirt for our MoS Bully Pulpit since it has gone viral. Take a look yourself:

a3883330-f7cf-11e3-bce2-a717fd482cb8_tumblr_n7874dGwId1qh2dw2o1_500

It’s quite a conversation piece. Of course, that is a play off of this popular shirt:

image

I’m pretty sure that the original “Rules For Dating My Daughter” is to be taken more as an intimidating joke. But feminist father is serious.

So what is the responsibility between dads and daughters? And is it just our daughters that we should be worried about? Is it okay to intimidate? Can we feel confident that our daughters will make good choices if we raise them strong? Take a listen and please, leave us some valuable advice in the comments. Funny advice will also be accepted…

Will There Be Mulligans in Heaven?

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jun• 30•14

My daughter asked me such a good question the other day. She wanted to know, if Adam and Eve did not sin, would we do everything right on the first try? Would there be mulligans and mistakes? Would everything we do be just right? Would everything we create be perfect? I found myself wishing she would have asked something about the dinosaurs, or about pets in heaven. This one had some hairs to split.

So I began with the reaffirmation about sin and all the consequences of sin: our minds are depraved, we are constantly tempted to usurp God’s glory, to disobey his law, and to sin against one another. There is pain, decay, sickness, death, sadness, and yes, interference in our work. I talked about the new heavens and the new earth, where all temptation to sin will be removed and we will have eternal health. There we will joyfully serve God without all the intrusions and interferences of sin.

But still, is sin to blame for everything we don’t do well on the first try? Are we all going to be experts at everything in heaven, all equally gifted and equipped? Will there be no more striking out in baseball? Will we automatically know how to solve difficult math equations without making mistakes? Will everyone be artists and every work be a masterpiece?

While the Bible doesn’t give us details here, I don’t think that’s the way it works. There will certainly be no error that is a result from sin on the new heavens and the new earth. And I guess a pitcher will never have to worry about throwing out their arm. But I don’t think we are all going to magically become experts in every field. I know God is a worker of miracles, but he has given me no clues that my husband will ever be an exceptional chef. I believe we will still be gifted with different capacities to serve in our vocations, although we will be able to grow in our knowledge and sharpen our skills. We are different from God in that way.

I’m confident that there will still be learning in heaven. For one thing, we will always be learning about God. How could we ever exhaust our knowledge about the almighty, eternal God? I look forward to forever learning about his Person and his work without error. This is hard for us to comprehend because we are finite beings. Our capacity to learn will be like nothing we can fathom in the state we are in now.

Think about the new creation. As I look forward to beholding the beatific vision of Jesus Christ who is our great reward, I’m also in wonder of the beauty that he has shared with us now. One thing that is apparent is that beauty is diverse. We are not going to all look the same in our new resurrected bodies; we will all be different. And I believe that just as God has equipped us to serve differently now, he will do the same for eternity. We will have eternity to discover and explore God’s great artistry as we serve alongside one another. And if we will still be serving God and one another with our gifts, fulfilling the great commandment, how can we do this without further growth? As we learn more about God, more about our brothers and sisters in Christ, and more about the new heavens and the new earth, I would think we will become even better in our vocations.

And what if I wanted to learn something new, like how to play the harmonica? Will I just pick one up and automatically know how to play it well? Or will I have to learn from scratch with much practice to become good? I think the latter will still be the case. There is joy in learning, putting in the time, and being rewarded with improvement.

So while I do not believe that there will be mistakes on the new heavens and the new earth in the sense that we will have clear minds and bodies that can function without the interferences of sin, I don’t believe everything we do on the first try will be as good as it can be. I think we will be able to improve upon our work as we learn and grow.

What do you think? And what about mulligans?